No one outside the Department of Justice has seen the Mueller report. Neither Congress nor the public has seen even one full sentence of the Mueller report. All that’s been seen is a summary created by Attorney General William Barr, who, in just over a day, not only turned the report into less than four pages, but took time out to personally absolve Donald Trump of obstruction.
But Trump and Republicans are certainly trying to get the most out of the Barr letter. And that includes trying to smash the First Amendment by silencing critics, demonizing the media, and threatening reporters who provide the facts. Not only is Trump continuing to deploy his violent Stalinist “enemy of the people” rhetoric in describing the media, but Trump’s campaign has actually sent a letter to television stations telling them to not book Democratic politicians as guests because they made statements about Trump’s collusion with Russia. That letter accuses politicians from Adam Schiff to Eric Swalwell of making “outrageous claims” and argues they shouldn’t be allowed on the air.
What the letter doesn’t say is that everything in the quotes included as evidence of these outrageous statements remains absolutely true. Not one of these things is changed by the letter that Barr issued: Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including using military forces to conduct operations that broke into servers owned by U.S. citizens and stealing private emails. The Trump campaign, and Donald Trump personally, were aware that this action had taken place even before it was known to authorities. Trump personally, along with his campaign, welcomed the Russian interference and invited more. Members of Trump’s staff met with Russian officials and operatives over 100 times and repeatedly lied about those meetings to the public, the media, the Congress, and investigators. When his son was caught lying about meeting with Russian operatives at the campaign headquarters in Trump Tower, Donald Trump personally dictated a cover letter from Air Force One that provided a false narrative to mislead the press and investigators. Trump’s campaign chair, deputy campaign chair, national security adviser, and campaign foreign policy adviser were all convicted of felonies alongside the dozens of Russian operatives charged by the investigation.
If the media really wants to improve its on-air accuracy, there’s one step it could take that would bring immediate and enormous improvements: It could stop carrying the man who lied knowingly and openly over 8,000 times in two years. And before the White House pounds on the Barr summary of the Mueller report as a basis to attack anyone, it might think about attacking the man who called that investigation “biased” and “conflicted” and “illegal” and “a hoax” and “a witch hunt” not just dozens, but hundreds of times.
Read more at the link above.
The Washington Post: GOP congressman quotes Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to slam Trump’s adversaries as liars.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took to the House floor on Monday to portray President Trump’s detractors as Nazis but ended up slurring them using an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory drawn verbatim from Adolf Hitler’s writings.
It’s 2019, and the Führer’s magnum opus, “Mein Kampf,” has become a playbook for political combat in Congress, at the very moment that Trump is calling the Democrats “anti-Jewish. ”
Brooks, a five-term Republican, accused Democrats and members of the media of propagating a “big lie” about collusion. The expression was first coined by Hitler to describe how Jews used their “unqualified capacity for falsehood” to blame a top German military commander for the country’s losses in World War I. A lie could be so big, Hitler claimed, that it perversely defied disbelief.
It was unclear if Brooks grasped that by leveling charges of the “big lie,” he had inverted his own analogy, making Democrats the equivalent of interwar German and Austrian Jews. He set out to compare the other side to fascists, but he was the one employing a fascist smear — one that, ironically, came to define Nazi propaganda.
“America can either learn from history or be doomed to repeat it,” Brooks warned.
A spokesman for the congressman didn’t return a query from The Washington Post inviting him to elaborate on his analysis.
Natasha Bertrand is a voice of sanity in the wilderness: The Critical Part of Mueller’s Report That Barr Didn’t Mention.
Mueller’s full report has not been made available to the public yet, so it’s not clear whether it sets forth everything the special counsel’s office learned over the course of its nearly two-year investigation—including findings about conduct that was perhaps objectionable but not criminal—or whether it is more tailored and explains only Mueller’s prosecution and declination decisions. But national-security and intelligence experts tell me that Mueller’s decision not to charge Trump or his campaign team with a conspiracy is far from dispositive, and that the underlying evidence the special counsel amassed over two years could prove as useful as a conspiracy charge to understanding the full scope of Russia’s election interference in 2016.
“As described by Barr, at least, Mueller’s report was very focused on criminal-law standards and processes,” said David Kris, a founder of Culper Partners, who served as the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division under former President Barack Obama. “We won’t know for sure if that is the case, and if it is the case, why Mueller confined himself in that way, until we see the full report.” Kris noted, however, that “there is no question that a counterintelligence investigation would have a wider aperture than a strict criminal inquiry as applied here, and would be concerned, for example, with the motivations and any sub-criminal misconduct of the principal actors.”
A counterintelligence probe, he added, would ask more than whether the evidence collected is sufficient to obtain a criminal conviction—it could provide necessary information to the public about why the president is making certain policy decisions. “The American people rightly should expect more from their public servants than merely avoiding criminal liability,” Kris said.
A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee said in a statement on Monday that in light of Barr’s memo “and our need to understand Special Counsel Mueller’s areas of inquiry and evidence his office uncovered, we are working in parallel with other Committees to bring in senior officials from the DOJ, FBI and SCO to ensure that our Committee is fully and currently informed about the SCO’s investigation, including all counterintelligence information.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
Meanwhile, as the mainstream media allows itself to be absorbed into the Trump cult, the “president” is working overtime to inflict as much damage on the American people as he possibly can. Some cases in point:
In a significant shift, the Justice Department now says that it backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature Obama-era health law.
It presented its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power” and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans in 2017.
At first, the Trump administration had not gone as far, arguing in a brief last June that the penalty for not buying insurance was legally distinct from other provisions of the law, which could still stand. Justice Department officials said there were grounds only to strike down the law’s consumer protections, including those for people with preexisting health conditions.
But in the new filing, signed by three Justice Department attorneys, the administration said that the decision of U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor should be affirmed and the entirety of the ACA should be invalidated.
The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary.
Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.
And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities.
Puerto Rico will again need the federal government’s help to stave off drastic cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor and disabled, as well as for the disbursement of billions in hurricane relief aid that has not yet been turned over to the island.
Trump wants to cut off all assistance to Puerto Rico. People are going to die.
After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week.
But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the president’s private remarks.
The meeting — an afternoon session focused on Department of Housing and Urban Development grants — ended abruptly, and Trump has continued to ask aides how much money the island will get. Then, Trump said he wanted the money only to fortify the electric grid there.
Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island.
This man is a monster.
I’m sorry this isn’t much of a post. This is an open thread.