Friday Reads

Illustration by Alan Baker

Good Morning!!

Dakinikat has a doctor’s appointment, so I’m filling in for her today. I’m illustrating this post with fantasy animal houses (mostly bunnies), just because.

So what’s happening?

House Democrats are inching toward impeachment hearings. They aren’t going to have much choice, since Trump and Cover-Up General Barr are stonewalling on releasing the full Mueller report along with the underlying evidence.

The New Yorker: House Democrats Debate Impeachment. The article notes that after two years of caution about impeachment from Democratic leaders, even moderate Democrats are now calling for it.

In recent days, however, even more moderate Democrats have begun speaking about impeachment, in response to Trump’s stonewalling of House investigations. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” he told reporters last week. “Look, these aren’t like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win in 2020.” In response, Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Times that he is open to a limited impeachment inquiry, adding, “President Trump’s defiance of Congress is far more comprehensive and sweeping than anything Congress experienced during the Watergate period.”

Bunny Dream House by Sandra Steffensen

After Attorney General William Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, rejecting the committee’s condition that staff attorneys question him, other House members echoed Raskin’s warning. That morning, on CNN, Representative Ted Lieu said, “If the Trump Administration wants impeachment, they’re doing a good job of pushing Democrats there, because we want to first gather facts to decide if we should impeach. If we can’t gather facts, then we’re going to launch an impeachment.” Of the three articles of impeachment presented against Richard Nixon after Watergate, Lieu noted, the third was contempt of Congress.

For now, Democrats are pursuing a strategy that, in practice, could easily turn out to be the first, informal phase of an impeachment inquiry. They’re investigating, but without formally signalling that they believe Trump committed impeachable offenses. When I spoke to several members of the House Judiciary Committee last week, none ruled out the possibility of impeachment. “That’s another possible reasonable course,” Representative Madeleine Dean said. “I happen to like the course we’re on better, and here’s why. I have several key takeaways from the Mueller report that, for me, demand answers to questions. So I’d rather not pre-frame it with ‘We’re doing it in order to impeach or with the hope of impeaching.’ ”

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, Gerry Nadler gave a strong speech at the Judiciary Committee hearing that Barr was supposed to attend. I hope you’ll listen to it.

Nadler has a long history with Trump in New York, and I don’t think he is going to put up with Trump’s and Barr’s obstruction much longer. Yesterday we learned that his committee is in direct talks with Robert Mueller about testifying. The Hill reports:

Bunny tree house

Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team is in direct talks with the House Judiciary Committee about whether he will testify before Congress, according to multiple reports.

NBC News and ABC News reported that the committee is now speaking with Mueller’s team when it was previously dealing with the Justice Department. NBC reports that a hearing has not been finalized and a date was not set.

That’s good news. It’s about time Mueller started speaking out. He really should have done so sooner.

CNN: Mueller’s silence let Trump supporters fill the void.

All his life, the Vietnam War Marine veteran has lived out a code of discreet personal values — elevating government service, the rule of law and respect for the chain of command.

But now, the uproar triggered in the wake of Mueller’s Russia investigation raises the question of whether his time-honored methods have left him vulnerable to exploitation in a new political era of hyper-partisanship and self-aggrandizing.

And the discord is increasing calls for Mueller to break his silence in the most public way — in hearings being demanded by House Democrats, which would become one of the most hotly anticipated congressional appearances in years.

Pookie house, by Ivy Wallace

Mueller’s habitual reticence earned him a reputation for integrity that made him the ideal choice for the radioactive mission of investigating a sitting president’s campaign.
But in retrospect, it let others — who do not necessarily follow his blueprint for life — tell his story themselves.

Ultimately, the special counsel’s absence allowed Attorney General William Barr to step in and provide his own interpretation of Mueller’s report — with which Mueller now differs.
That left the long-held assumption that Mueller’s words in his report would speak for themselves undermined — to the political advantage of President Donald Trump, who is claiming blanket exoneration that the report does not confer.

Read the rest at CNN.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: Mueller Can’t Get Away With Silence Anymore. The gist:

If Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday demonstrated anything, it was that a deep rupture has yawned open between these two old friends and Washington lifers. It wasn’t just that Barr denigrated Mueller as a “political appointee” or dismissed his March 27 letter as “snitty,” and thus clearly the work of underlings. It wasn’t just that Barr implied that Mueller was either too timid or too incompetent to come to a conclusion on the question of whether Donald Trump had obstructed justice. And it wasn’t just that Barr suggested that since the entire Mueller probe had been proven to be “based on false accusations,” it was illegitimate, which certainly suggests that Mueller devoted two long years to a—you guessed it—witch hunt. Presumably, from now on, if the president decides any legal investigation is “based on false accusations,” he can just go ahead and impede it, a framing that makes a hash of everything Mueller sought to do. When pressed Wednesday on Mueller’s bona fides, Barr snapped that “Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. Attorney. … His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. At that point, it was my baby.” This is not how you talk about a colleague you respect.

Secret World of Rabbits Above and Below, by Vince Desjardins

But it’s not just that. At the most basic level, Barr has distorted Mueller’s actual work product, including his polite and confidential and lawyerly letter asking (twice) that Barr correct his inaccurate summary of Mueller’s careful report. It’s a letter that Wired’s Garrett Graff, who wrote a book about Mueller, described thusly: “I’ve read just about every word Bob Mueller has ever said publicly or published. He’s written precisely one letter like the angry one he sent to Barr: It excoriated Scotland for letting the Pan Am 103 bomber out of prison.”

Read the whole thing at Slate.

Last night, Rachel Maddow made an argument for what I’ve been saying all along. Cover-Up General Barr effectively fired Mueller for Trump. He likely shut down the investigation, with the help of Rod Rosenstein. Here’s Rachel’s take on it, in case you missed it.

In other news, The media is vetting Bernie Sanders this time. The Washington Post has a big story on Bernie’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union.

Bernie Sanders was bare-chested, towel-draped, sitting at a table lined with vodka bottles, as he sang “This Land Is Your Land” to his hosts in the Soviet Union in the spring of 1988.

The just-married socialist mayor from Vermont was on what he called “a very strange honeymoon,” an official 10-day visit to the communist country, and he was enthralled with the hospitality and the lessons that could be brought home.

“Let’s take the strengths of both systems,” he said upon completing the trip. “Let’s learn from each other.”

The Soviet sojourn has long been an extraordinary, if little understood, chapter in Sanders lore. He has for years used it to help explain his views about foreign policy, citing it as recently as last month….

As he stood on Soviet soil, Sanders, then 46 years old, criticized the cost of housing and health care in the United States, while lauding the lower prices — but not the quality — of that available in the Soviet Union. Then, at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries, stunning one of those who had accompanied him.

“I got really upset and walked out,” said David F. Kelley, who had helped arrange the trip and was the only Republican in Sanders’s entourage. “When you are a critic of your country, you can say anything you want on home soil. At that point, the Cold War wasn’t over, the arms race wasn’t over, and I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”

I imagine Trump will have fun with that.

More stories to check out, links only:

Bloomberg: Someone Did Get to Look at Trump’s Tax Returns: Deutsche Bankers.

The Washington Post: Trump is already set to use the government to destroy the Democratic nominee.

Heather Digby Parton at Raw Story: Will Trump order Bill Barr to sabotage Joe Biden?

The New York Times: The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, Explained.

The Washington Post: Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes.

Media Matters: Study: Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average 19 times a day.

The New York Times: Woody Allen Pitched a Memoir. Publishers Weren’t Interested.

Vanity Fair: Apparently, No One Wants Woody Allen’s New Memoir.

The Daily Beast: Mark Halperin Enlists Pals Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Michael Smerconish to Rehab His Career After Sexual Misconduct Scandal.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories have you been following?

29 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. Delphyne49 says:

    Love the bunny pictures, BB! I think Luna bunny would like that bunny treehouse!

    Great post – loved the link about Annie Donaldson. I hope her notes and possible testimony are big factors in bringing 45 down along with Barr. They are consummate lowlife liars.

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Redundant but I keep asking how did we get to this?

    All for the sake of a lying criminal whose disloyalty to his own country drives the narrative.

    The fawning GOP is focused on covering up the multiple crimes of this family which in normal times would be unthinkable.


  5. RonStill4Hills says:

    It seems to me that impeachment is no longer optional.

    To take any other path is to admit that all law is mutable, every principle plastic, and that the constitution is a flexible set of suggestions.

    Only fight when you know you will win. Only stand up when the majority is on your side.

    Only leave the house when you know that every goddamned light between you and your destination is fucking green!

    Impeachment will be hard, it will be a constant pitch battle with lying unscrupulous puppets, proxies propagandists for the most evil demagogue to vever sit in the oval office.

    Think of that. Of all the “bad” presidents we have ever had, of all the times we have had to consider the question of “fitness”, this is the worst. That alone demands action.

    I reiterate from yesterday, it is tantamount to telling a victim of an assault, “Pressing charges against somebody this powerful is just to difficult honey, you should just try to get on with you life.”

    I am full up with GoT right now, so I am going to make an amendment to the words of my boy Ned Stark. “The lone wolf dies, but that pack survives…and the She-Wolf stabs evil motherfuckers in the heart so they crumble and can’t destroy the damned kingdom!”

    We need to buck up and rock a little “NOT TODAY!” in this joint.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They don’t have any other choice; but if they can get Mueller in to testify that will be an important step toward impeachment. They have to do it even if the Senate won’t convict.

    • NW Luna says:

      Stab them with the pointy end!

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        Lyanna “Little Bear” Mormont would not be pissing and moaning about energizing Il Douchebag’s deplorable base, that’s for damned sure!!!

        • NW Luna says:

          Or worry about uncivil actions, hell no!

          • RonStill4Hills says:

            When confronted by a mindless giant wight randomly fucking it up for everyone, fearlessly take his ass out by any means necessary!

  6. NW Luna says:

    Vlad supervising his puppet. They are so damned blatant.

    Trump and Putin discussed outcome of Mueller probe as part of hour-long phone conversation, White House says

  7. NW Luna says:

    I hadn’t realized the point that rural areas might not really be quite that red after all if you took away gerrymandering.

    • Enheduanna says:

      This is good to see and read. It’s past time for us to stand up to these partisan hacks.

      You guys have me coming around on impeaching Barr, too. Off with their heads!

  8. m
    Thanks, BB. I don’t know how you sort through this mess so elegantly! And with wonderfully whimsical bunny pics to boot.

    Here’s a nice headline that feels like fresh air compared to the rest of the news

    “Ultimately, this paper gives reasons to feel positive about the inevitable development of humans and the fate of the world’s forests. It implies that, at a certain level of development, forests lost or degraded in the processes of developing will begin to regenerate or repair (whether naturally or with human assistance). I sincerely hope that the Finnish team’s work encourages nations across the world, developed or otherwise, to restore as much forest as they can.”

    • NW Luna says:

      Ahhh. I know forests help me feel healthy and part of the wide natural world.

  9. Fannie says:

    About Joe and Mika huddling with Halpren. I’ve notice that Mika has an upcoming event “know your values”, where Carly Fiorina is participating! Yeah, she gave us the slicing and dicing Robert Dear who went to Planned Parenthood and shot 3 people. One was a police officer.