“Why would they expect not to be fired?” said Kurt Schlicter, a conservative political commentator and Trump supporter, referring to the roughly half-dozen prosecutors and officials who worked in special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and are still employed by the Justice Department.
Thursday Reads: Democratic Debate, Roger Stone Sentencing, and Other NewsPosted: February 20, 2020
I ended up watching the debate last night, and I have to admit it was entertaining. I’m not sure how much it accomplished for the candidates. Elizabeth Warren opened with a vicious smackdown of Mike Bloomberg, and he never really recovered as she continued the beatdown throughout the two-hour debate. I actually started to warm up to her for the first time. There’s no doubt she clearly dominated last night. Here’s the full transcript at NBC News.
Unfortunately for Warren, her efforts will likely help Biden the most. There are many more moderate voters than those who support Sanders and Warren. If those voters consolidate around a candidate, it might be possible to stop Bernie, but it would be a moderate, not Warren.
What Warren needed to do was attack Bernie Sanders; and, although she got in a couple of jabs, she didn’t really do enough. I was absolutely stunned when she went on a long rant about the dumping of toxic chemicals in poor areas without mentioning Sanders’ role in doing just that. She did criticize his health care plan, calling it a “good start.” She also tore down all the other candidates’ plans pretty effectively. She also criticized Bernie’s mean bro supporters.
Bloomberg almost gave Sanders another heart attack when he called him out for being a millionaire with three houses. Warning: there’s a lot of screaming in this video.
Biden also had a good debate. If he had done as well in the previous debates, I don’t think he would be doing as poorly as he is now.
Finally, Klobuchar and Buttigieg mostly attacked each other.
Moving on from the debate, Roger Stone’s sentencing hearing is this morning. Here’s what I’ve seen on Twitter so far.
Click here to read a long thread on the hearing by Dan Friedman.
It looks like Judge Jackson is considering a longer sentence than Billy Barr would like.
Associated Press: Trump ally Roger Stone to be sentenced as case roils DOJ.
Roger Stone, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, faces sentencing Thursday on his convictions for witness tampering and lying to Congress.
The action in federal court comes amid Trump’s unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant that has led to a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations the president has interfered in the case.
Trump took to Twitter to denounce as a “miscarriage of justice” the initial recommendation by Justice Department prosecutors that Stone receive at least seven years in prison. Attorney General William Barr then backed off that recommendation, prompting four prosecutors to quit Stone’s case.
I’ll move on to other news,, while the hearing continues.
Former California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher confirmed in a new interview that during a three-hour meeting at the Ecuadorian Embassy in August 2017, he told Julian Assange he would get President Trump to give him a pardon if he turned over information proving the Russians had not been the source of internal Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks.
In a phone interview with Yahoo News, Rohrabacher said his goal during the meeting was to find proof for a widely debunked conspiracy theory: that WikiLeaks’ real source for the DNC emails was not Russian intelligence agents, as U.S. officials have since concluded, but former DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered on the streets of Washington in July 2016 in what police believe was a botched robbery.
A lawyer for Assange in London on Wednesday cited the pardon offer from Rohrabacher during a court hearing on the U.S. government’s request to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.
Rohrabacher said that not only did talk of a Trump pardon take place during his meeting, but he also followed up by calling then White House chief of staff John Kelly to discuss the proposal. He did not, however, ever speak to Trump about it, he said.
“I spoke to Julian Assange and told him if he would provide evidence about who gave WikiLeaks the emails I would petition the president to give him a pardon,” Rohrabacher said. “He knew I could get to the president.”
When he spoke to Kelly, the then chief of staff was “courteous” but made no commitment that he would even raise the matter directly with the president.
I think we’ll eventually learn that Trump did initiate this quid pro quo. It fits the pattern.
Another one of Trump’s “best people” has been appointed acting ODNI, even though he’s completely unqualified. The Washington Post: Trump to name Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany, as acting head of intelligence.
Grenell would be the first openly gay member of the Trump Cabinet. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump was being pushed by some in the intelligence community to nominate the current acting intelligence director, Joseph Maguire, to take the job permanently, but the president has been fixated on appointing people he believes are loyal to him…
Politico: Trump allies target Mueller team, one by one.
For months, a loose network of pro-Trump commentators and outside agitators has been urging the president to purge his administration of anyone and everyone involved in the Russia probe.
They’ve celebrated as many of the FBI and Justice Department officials involved in the investigation have left government. And now, with an angry and newly liberated President Donald Trump seeking retribution in the wake of his impeachment acquittal, they’re pressing him to finish the job.
Trump’s allies have long called for a “cleaning out” of DOJ and FBI, aimed at career officials perceived as hostile to the president. Several of Trump’s top targets have been forced out, including former FBI Director James Comey, his former deputy Andrew McCabe, and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, all of whom worked on the Russia probe.
Read the rest at Politico.
The White House acknowledged what many economists considered obvious through much of last year: President Donald Trump’s trade stance depressed economic growth and business investment.
“Uncertainty generated by trade negotiations dampened investment,” Trump chief economist Tomas Philipson told reporters in a briefing on the annual Economic Report of the President released on Thursday.
The admission contrasted with Trump’s repeated assertions that his tariff tactics hadn’t hurt the economy while swelling the government’s tax coffers.
Even so, the deleterious effect of trade uncertainty got barely a mention in a 435-page economic report that frequently extolled the president’s programs and argued that they’ve led to a “great expansion” that is benefiting a broader swathe of Americans.
Philipson, who is acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, declined to say how much of an effect trade uncertainty has had.
Finally, George Conway has an op-ed at The Washington Post on Trump’s pardon spree: Trump’s ‘King Kong’ nickname has come into full fruition.