Posted: April 23, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
Painting by Edmund Tarbell, American impressionist.
On cable news and on Twitter, the main argument over the past few days is about whether Democrats will or should open impeachment hearings. Quite a few Democrats have attacked Nancy Pelosi, claiming she is refusing to allow impeachment of the fake “president” to go forward. Actually, that’s not true. She has argued for public oversight hearing that may well lead to impeachment. That is essentially what happened in the Watergate scandal.
The Watergate investigative hearings began in May, 1973, but articles of impeachment hearings did not begin until February, 1974, when Congress voted to empower the House Judiciary Committee to “investigate whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach Richard Nixon.” One year after Congressional investigation began, articles of impeachment were approved.
The only differences are that the Watergate investigation began with a select committee, before the appointment of a Special Counsel. Now we have the (redacted) Muller report, which lays out a clear road map for Congressional action. We also know that there is a counterintelligence investigation which was not included in the Mueller report. So I think it makes sense for the House Intelligence Committee to focus on counterintelligence issues while the Judiciary Committee examines the case for removing the “president.”
1898 Jean Édouard Vuillard (French artist, 1868-1940)
USA Today: Pelosi to Democrats: If facts support impeaching Trump, ‘that’s the place we have to go.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left open the possibility Monday of impeachment of Donald Trump during a conference call with Democrats, saying “if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.”
“We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,” Pelosi said in a call with her colleagues, according to a source on the call. But Pelosi also urged Democrats to first focus on following the facts.
“Whether it’s articles of impeachment or investigations, it’s the same obtaining of facts. We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts,” she said.
The nearly hour-and-a-half call was the first time Democrats had all spoken following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian election interference.
“There’s real consensus that we need to take this responsibility seriously and people are very sober about the implications about the work that lies ahead and committed to making sure that we hold the president accountable,” said Rep. David Cicilline, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which helps the party with messaging. [….]
“The speaker has been very clear that Congress will not shirk on its responsibility to hold the president accountable, but that we must proceed in a judicious responsible manner,” he said.
I think that makes sense. Pelosi has been very effective in dealing with Trump since she took over as House Speaker, but the press and many Democrats continue to attack her just because she doesn’t want to rush headlong into an official impeachment process. I have said many times that public hearings are needed in order to education Americans who haven’t followed the investigation minute by minute. I think that’s what Pelosi is hoping to do. If she didn’t want hearings, they wouldn’t happen; and they are going to happen.
1927 Jane Rogers Interior Scene
In the meantime, the media and Democrats should be focusing on why Republicans don’t care if our democracy dies.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times: The Great Republican Abdication. A party that no longer believes in American values.
So all the “fake news” was true. A hostile foreign power intervened in the presidential election, hoping to install Donald Trump in the White House. The Trump campaign was aware of this intervention and welcomed it. And once in power, Trump tried to block any inquiry into what happened.
Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion or obstruction of justice. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed his country. And the question everyone is asking is, what will Democrats do about it?
But notice that the question is only about Democrats. Everyone (correctly) takes it as a given that Republicans will do nothing. Why?
Because the modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans may not think of it in those terms, but that’s what their behavior amounts to.
The truth is that the G.O.P. faced its decisive test in 2016, when almost everyone in the Republican establishment lined up behind a man fully known to be a would-be authoritarian who was unfit morally, temperamentally and intellectually for high office.
Click on the link to read the rest.
Abby Rubinstein Man Reading A Newspaper 2010
The White House continues to obstruct Congress’s investigation. CNN on the latest attempt: White House tells official not to comply with Democratic subpoena over security clearances.
The White House has instructed a former official who was in charge of the security clearance process to not comply with a House subpoena demanding his appearance for an interview, the latest move by the Trump administration to thwart Democratic-led investigations into all aspects of the presidency.
After a day of tense negotiations, the White House late Monday told the former official, Carl Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, to not appear at Tuesday’s deposition, contending that Democrats were seeking access to confidential information that should be off limits.
The move raises the prospect that the House Oversight Committee could seek to hold Kline in contempt, a step that Chairman Elijah Cummings warned Monday he would take. And it’s the latest White House effort to stonewall Democratic investigations, coming the same day the Trump Organization filed a lawsuit to prevent an accounting firm from complying with Cummings’ subpoena for President Donald Trump’s past financial records.
Michael Purpura, deputy counsel to Trump, argued that Cummings’ subpoena of Kline “unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests,” according to a letter obtained by CNN.
Kline’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said his client would listen to his employer.
Lock him up!
1936 Herbert Badham (Australian artist, 1899-1961) Breakfast Piece
We were repeatedly told that the White House had prepared a response to the Mueller report, but Rudy Giuliani now says it won’t be released. Bloomberg: Giuliani Puts Off Formal Rebuttal to Mueller as He Defends Trump.
Donald Trump’s legal team has decided to shelve a plan to issue a formal rebuttal to Robert Mueller’s report, said Rudy Giuliani, even as the president unleashes his own attempts on Twitter to discredit the special counsel and his findings.
The president’s lawyers will focus instead on knocking down specific accounts in Mueller’s report as they surface in news media, Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said Monday in an interview.
Giuliani said Mueller misrepresented the facts multiple times in his 448-page report. He declined to cite specifics, other than to say former White House Counsel Don McGahn — who gave a damaging account of Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation into Russian election interference — was “confused.” [….]
“There are numerous areas that were mischaracterized and some where it is flat-out false,” Giuliani said of Mueller’s report. “But I can only take one or two at a time. It is hard to digest all at once. You have to wait for certain ones to come up and then show if they are false or inaccurate.”
Trump’s legal team had spent months putting together a lengthy counter-report that they planned to release challenging Mueller’s findings, which they assumed would be unfavorable to Trump. But lawyer Jay Sekulow said on Friday that nothing more would be coming.
André Deymonaz, 1946
I’ll end with two articles by close followers of the Russia investigation, who have been poring over the report pulling out interesting nuggets that others may have missed. Here are their latest revelations:
Darren Samuelson, Kyle Cheney, and Natasha Bertrand at Politico: What you missed in the Mueller report. An excerpt:
Who didn’t get prosecuted
The special counsel made some of his biggest headlines when he brought charges against the likes of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. But Mueller’s report also showcases his under-the-radar decisions on potential indictments that were never brought.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions avoided a perjury prosecution over his Senate confirmation testimony when he memorably told lawmakers that he had no communications with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. It later came out that he had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States on multiple occasions during the campaign.
Mueller’s team looked at that January 2017 exchange and a pair of follow-up written responses before determining that the election-year meetings that Sessions did have weren’t “sufficient to prove” he gave knowingly false answers to lawmakers. Most notably, Mueller informed Sessions’ lawyers in March 2018 that he was in the clear — eight months before Trump pushed Sessions out of his job.
Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort all escaped prosecution for their role in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt about Hillary Clinton. Mueller’s report said the office looked into whether the senior campaign leaders should face charges for violating laws banning foreign campaign contributions. But ultimately they opted against pushing for indictments out of concern a conviction wasn’t a sure thing. The special counsel acknowledged lacking evidence to prove any of the three men acted with general knowledge of the crime they’d be committing and said that the promised opposition research wouldn’t necessarily qualify as an illegal donation since it was unclear the information was “a thing of value.”
Amelin Albin (Swedish artist, 1902 – 1975) Two Women by the Window
On the hacking front, Mueller’s team also considered charging Russians with trafficking in stolen property, a reveal buried in a footnote. Prosecutors were contemplating bringing the additional charges — they did indict the Russians on conspiracy and identity theft charges — under the Depression-era National Stolen Property Act. Ultimately, however, the special counsel’s office found that hacked emails in electronic form wouldn’t qualify under the law’s almost century-old definition of “goods, wares or merchandise.”
Read the rest at Politico.
Garrett M. Graff at Wired: 14 Mueller Report Takeaways You Might Have Missed.
Robert Mueller’s final 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election—and Donald Trump’s apparent attempts to obstruct justice along the way—takes some time to read fully. On close examination, it turns out to be a deeply compelling document, full of tantalizing revelations and details.
Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada called the Mueller Report “the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency.” New York Times columnist Ross Douthat said the report is “a more rigorous, capacious version” of Michael Wolff’s bestseller Fire and Fury. Its two volumes paint a picture of Donald Trump as deeply narcissistic and incompetent, alternately conned and ignored by everyone around him.
Nearly every page of the report contains fresh insights, even to those who have closely followed the ins and outs of this complex, multifaceted investigation. But assuming you didn’t spend your Easter and Passover holiday weekend plowing through it, here are some key tidbits that recent headlines have overlooked.
Michael Ancher (Danish painter, 1849-1927)
Two of Graff’s takeaways:
1. This was as much a counterintelligence investigation as a criminal one. One of the new details in the report is that the FBI “embedded” approximately 40 personnel in the Special Counsel’s Office. Their role was not to contribute to the criminal probe, but instead to pore over the collected materials and pass written summaries of key counterintelligence findings to FBI headquarters and other agencies across the country.
3. Anyone demanding the unredacted version of the report is stalling. Democrats have spent the last four days hemming and hawing about impeachment, saying they need to read the unredacted report before they make a decision. That’s baloney. For the most part, the redactions aren’t that material to the underlying narrative. Mueller establishes all the damning evidence he needs to point to a pattern of obstruction in unredacted portions of Volume II of the report. (The clear exception where redactions could shed substantial new light: the six-page Appendix D, where Mueller lists the 12 still-secret ongoing cases referred to other prosecutors.) Throughout the remainder of the document, many redactions clearly deal with either Roger Stone or Jerome Corsi. The bulk of the rest appear to focus on operational details of the GRU and the Internet Research Agency.
Two of the most intriguing redactions come on page 12, where the report outlines five (or maybe six) individuals Mueller was specifically authorized to investigate. Two (or maybe three) of those are redacted. Because of the alphabetical list and way the lines fall—there’s a tiny two-letter redaction that spills over to the next line—the final redacted name is almost certainly “Donald Trump Jr.” The other is still unknown, falling somewhere in the alphabet between “Gates” and “Stone.”
Read more at Wired.
What stories are you following today?
Posted: April 18, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barr Cover-Up Report, Donald Trump, live blog, open thread, Robert Mueller muzzled, Russia investigation, William Barr
The Barr cover-up report reportedly will go public sometime today. The schedule is vague. At 9:30, Cover-Up General Barr plans to give a “press conference” about a report that no one except unknown DOJ officials and White House lawyers have read.
Yes, according the NYT, the White House has been briefed and very likely has had the full report for some time. In addition, DOJ attorneys have been helping the White House prepare their counter-report!
The New York Times: White House and Justice Dept. Officials Discussed Mueller Report Before Release.
Not all of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings will be news to President Trump when they are released Thursday.
Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.
A sense of paranoia was taking hold among some of Mr. Trump’s aides, some of whom fear his backlash more than the findings themselves, the people said. The report might make clear which of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said and how much damage they did to the president — providing a kind of road map for retaliation.
Reporters should use the “press conference” to ask Barr about his past cover-ups, his connections to Russia, his conflicts of interest, and his general corruption. They won’t, of course. They also should not refer to whatever redacted mess the Cover-Up General releases as the Mueller Report, but of course they will do just that.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s not the Mueller report; it’s the Barr report. If Robert Mueller wanted to endorse Barr’s cover-up, he would be appearing at the “press conference.” But his isn’t going to be there. Mueller has been muzzled.
Tom Scocca at Hmm Daily: It’s the Barr Report, Not the Mueller Report.
What could inspire more hope and despair than a whole bunch of people who messed something up being granted a do-over? Tomorrow, all the reporters and publications who gave Donald Trump his “MUELLER FINDS NO COLLUSION” headlines, based on a few sentence fragments in a letter from attorney general William Barr, are supposed to get another document to analyze and quickly write headlines about.
Already, journalists are calling this document “the Mueller report.” It is not the Mueller report; that is, it will not be the report prepared by the special counsel investigating Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. It will be some other document. Its text, like the quotes used in the Barr letter, will be based on the text of the Mueller report, but it will have been edited down for release by William Barr, whose implicit and explicit theory of his job duties is that he is there to protect the president.
This isn’t speculation. It’s a description of what’s publicly known about the process, informed by Barr’s prior work with the Mueller report, his written record of his own thoughts on presidential immunity, and his history as a middleman in previous scandal coverage. Barr is a partisan, not a broker of facts, and it is a basic reporting error to treat material that’s passed through his control as definitive—a basic reporting error that major media outlets eagerly made, last time around.
The Daily Beast: Mueller Report Rollout Won’t Have Mueller.
The Justice Department will hold a press conference Thursday morning about the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report—but Mueller won’t be there and the document may not be released until after Attorney General William Barr speaks about the nearly 400 pages he went through to redact.
The House Judiciary Committee has been told it will not get the Mueller report from DOJ until 11 a.m. or noon—after Barr’s press conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
“They are making Al Capone look straight,” one committee member told The Daily Beast.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler ripped Barr’s plan to speak about the report before lawmakers, the media and public have a chance to review it.
“Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation,” Nadler said at a press conference on Wednesday night.
“The Attorney General appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report,” he added.
If the report is heavily redacted, Nadler said, “we will most certainly issue the subpoenas in very short order.” He said they “will probably find it useful” to ask Mueller and members of his team to testify.
Just send out the subpoenas as soon as you get the report. No more fooling around.
Axios insists on calling the Barr Report “the Mueller Report.”
Mueller report: What witnesses expect ahead of its release
Mueller witnesses and their lawyers say that they expect the special counsel’s report to include a mass of detailed scenes in which President Trump lashed out about Mueller, Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and the FBI.
The big picture: They believe that if Mueller’s report presents the material in the same relentlessly detailed way as his prosecutors asked the questions, the accumulation could lead a casual observer to think that the president tried to obstruct justice.
Posted: April 13, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
These are dark days in the United States of America, as our Congressional representative leave town for their 2-week spring recess. Cover-Up General Barr deliberately waited for this. while the Capital is deserted, he’ll reportedly release his heavily redacted version of the Mueller report just when it will be more difficult for Democrats to respond to his treachery.
Have we finally reached the breaking point? Are we at last in a constitutional crisis? I think so. David Rothkopf posted an important thread on Twitter yesterday. I’m going to post the whole thing.
Colors of Thought’ by Anna Wach
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo: In the Dark Times: Understanding a Critical Four Weeks of History.
Over the last three weeks a series of events have taken place which may seem individual but need to be viewed in a joined context. Together they’ve put us in a much different, darker place as a country. I think many of us sense this intuitively. I see it in public reactions. I see it in your emails but more as an attitude. But what it is needs to be sketched out explicitly and seen for what it is.
Back on March 24, Attorney General Barr released his initial letter, the clear purpose of which was to hide the findings of the Mueller probe and issue a unilateral exoneration of the President. President Trump picked up the ball and ran with it. More than Trump’s personal lawyers or the White House Counsel’s Office, Barr was operating as Trump’s personal lawyer and advocate. Wednesday he went up to Capitol Hill and intentionally validated the conspiracy theories about Deep State “spying” on the President’s 2016 presidential campaign. He then caveated and quibbled and danced around the wording to provide some veil of plausible deniability. But his intention was clear. He also explained that he is on his own going to review whether laws were broken (whether the President’s campaign was “spied” on) during the election. There was already an Inspector General’s probe into just this question. Another is underway. Barr provided no rationale for launching this new probe, apparently under his direct control, other than his belief that something may have been amiss and his desire to do so.
Also on Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin replied to House Ways and Means Chairman Neal refusing to provide the President’s tax returns to Neal’s Committee. It was no secret that the quest for the President’s tax returns would generate a court fight. But Mnuchin’s letter was telling. He invoked a series general areas of concern but no specific legal argument in a way that suggested very little concern for or interest in the actual law and statute. The truth is the law in this case is really pretty clear and dispositive. In constitutional terms, the Congress’s standing and need is equally clear. But in Mnuchin’s letter and other comments from administration officials and actions over the last week, the White House has made pretty clear they don’t care about that. The House just isn’t going to get Trump’s tax returns, period. Either it’s none of Congress’ business or the question was “litigated” in 2016: the bottom line, it’s not going to happen.
The big picture here is that President Trump now has lieutenants in place who will much more freely bend the powers of the state to defend his personal interests. Some of this is simply the shake-out of the 2018 election. Congress was supine for two years and either ignored presidential law-breaking or oversight or actively worked to cover for the President. Now you have a House focused on oversight. So we’re seeing more specifically and concretely how the President and his advisors see him as above the law and how they mean to protect him from the law.
Please read the rest at TPM.
By Oxana Zaika
Charles Pierce on Trump’s promise to pardon border patrol officials who break the law for him: The American Republic Is Crumbling, Piece by Piece. Soon There Won’t Be Anything Left.
Quoted from CNN:
During President Donald Trump’s visit to the border at Calexico, California, a week ago, where he told border agents to block asylum seekers from entering the US contrary to US law, the President also told the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, that if he were sent to jail as a result of blocking those migrants from entering the US, the President would grant him a pardon, senior administration officials tell CNN. Two officials briefed on the exchange say the President told McAleenan, since named the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that he “would pardon him if he ever went to jail for denying US entry to migrants,” as one of the officials paraphrased.
Not to be too much of an old fud or anything but, if the president* said this, no matter whether McAleenan stuffed his socks in his ears so he wouldn’t hear the offer or not, he committed an impeachable offense. In fact, he committed two of them. The first one was ordering a member of the Executive branch to commit a crime. The second was promising that the employee would be pardoned if he did. And this is just something that happened to come to light on an average Friday in April. Things are breaking, one after another, and pretty soon, there won’t be anything left. The government is losing the ability to defend itself against this guy.
Russia chimes in to gloat about how the U.S. has lost its leadership position in the world.
Newsweek, via MSN: Russia: World No Longer Trusts U.S., Others Stepping In.
Russia’s top diplomat has argued that the world is losing faith in the United States as a global leader and that the international community has sought a more diverse approach to global decisionmaking.
By Sandra Bierman
At an annual address to Moscow’s diplomatic academy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hailed on Friday a new geopolitical era marked by “multipolarity,” stating that “the emergence of new centers of power to maintain stability in the world requires the search for a balance of interests and compromises.” He said there is a shift in the center of global economic power to East from West, where a “liberal order” marked by globalization was “losing its attractiveness and is no more viewed as a perfect model for all.”
“Unfortunately, our Western partners led by the United States do not want to agree on common approaches to solving problems,” Lavrov continued, accusing Washington and its allies of trying “to preserve their centuries-old domination in world affairs despite objective trends in forming a polycentric world order.” He argued these efforts were “contrary to the fact that now, purely economically and financially, the United States can no longer—single-handedly or with its closest allies—resolve all issues in the global economy and world affairs.”
Jennifer Rubin: Mnuchin’s act of abject lawlessness.
The announcement that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would not provide six years of President Trump’s tax returns by the deadline given by the House Ways and Means Committee chairman was just the latest in a long series of egregious attacks on the rule of law. Perhaps it felt more egregious than some because the law at issue is so clear (the Treasury Department “shall” provide them) and the administration’s conduct is so indefensible.
by Dee Nickerson
The Post reports:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department would not meet the Wednesday deadline set by congressional Democrats to turn over copies of President Trump’s tax returns, escalating a clash between the White House and Congress.
Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the constitutional questions raised by the Democrats’ request and appeared deeply skeptical of the lawmakers’ intentions. He did not flatly reject the notion that he might ultimately comply, but his letter to the House Ways and Means Committee suggested that Mnuchin would not hold himself to any timeline.
Even jaded legal experts versed in the Trump administration’s lawlessness were taken aback by this brazen defiance of the law.
“When Democrats first made their request Trump stated that he ‘wasn’t inclined’ to turn over his returns as if he had a choice,” recalls former prosecutor Mimi Rocah. “That seemed like a preposterous statement because the law seems very clear. But it now appears that the Treasury Department is taking that same lawless position playing defense for a President that is terrified for the public and Congress to see his tax returns.” She adds, “The law is written in a mandatory way so that politics won’t influence the process. But unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happened.”
I’ll end with another Twitter thread, this time from Phillip Reines:
Our nation is in serious trouble. We must demand that our representatives act decisively to check Trump’s march toward tyranny.
(I know my chosen images are in stark contrast to the darkness of this post, but I’m leaving them up anyway.)
One more thing: HAPPY BIRTHDAY JJ!!!!!
Posted: April 12, 2019 Filed under: ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigration, Injustice system, morning reads, NSA, National Security Agency | Tags: Trump's Enemies list
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I’m busy trying to finish up grades here and get break started so I’m going to put up a series of things that clearly demonstrate that we have a lawless administration that must be stopped. Congress and the Courts must do their jobs more urgently than any time in our history. I know BB did a great job of covering this yesterday but there is more information and some astounding reporting at WAPO on Trump’s plans to disrupt the hometowns of his political rivals using Asylum Seekers and other folks seeking to cross the US Border. He has also installed an eager crony at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
There is continuing evidence that the Trump administration will clearly ignore law and the Constitution’s protections to ethnically cleanse our southern border. Trump massacred the professionals at the DHS to bring this disgrace of a human being to the top.
Most of the renditions today of Lady Liberty can be found at Web Urbanist: “Artistic Liberties: 15 Faces of the Statue of Lady Liberty”.
From Buzzfeed: “An ICE Official Who Said Detention Was “More Like Summer Camp” Will Now Lead The Agency. “It’s hard to imagine what’s tougher than what Nielsen and Vitiello were doing, but assuming there is such a thing, Matt is certainly up to the task,” said a former senior ICE official.”
Trump told reporters last week that he pulled acting director Ron Vitiello’s nomination to lead ICE because he wanted to go in a “tougher” direction. Vitiello informed ICE employees that he will leave the role and resign Friday.
“Beginning tomorrow I will be out of the office, during which time Acting Deputy Director Matt Albence will be leading the agency,” he wrote to ICE employees Thursday.
A former senior ICE official said of Albence: “He’s definitely enforcement minded and has long been working on making [deportation officers] more efficient and more effective at enforcing the immigration laws in the interior. It’s hard to imagine what’s tougher than what Nielsen and Vitiello were doing, but assuming there is such a thing, Matt is certainly up to the task.”
The former official said that Albence “will be very willing to follow through on implementation.”
The new acting leader first began his career at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in the mid-’90s before moving to the Transportation Security Administration and then returning to ICE in a position overseeing operations and field training among other things. Albence has moved up the ranks at ICE since 2012, when he became a deputy assistant director.
White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.
Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to DHS officials. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds.
(Image via Neatorama)
he actual illustration found on the U.S. patent that was filed by Frenchman Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, on January 2, 1870.
Besides using the DOJ to stall bringing his crime syndicate to justice, Trump has told Mnunchin to ignore the law that requires the IRS to turn Trump’s Taxes over to Congress. This is from the Daily Beast and David Cay Johnston.
The reason will no doubt surprise those who think Trump can thumb his nose at the law governing congressional access to anyone’s tax returns, including his. It will for sure shock Trump, who claims that “the law is 100 percent on my side.”
The exact opposite is true.
Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials “shall” turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former congressional tax aides tell me.
There is, however, a law requiring every federal “employee” who touches the tax system to do their duty or be removed from office.
The crystal-clear language of this law applies to Trump, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Rettig, federal employees all.
President Donald Trump has spent the last few weeks trying to bend to his will what are arguably three of the federal government’s least political institutions – the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Reserve and Department of Justice.
Frustrated by the organizations’ deliberate pace and the substance of their decision-making, Trump has tried to remake them in his own image. He’s purging staffers who disagreed with him, or whom he felt were insufficiently loyal at DHS, and he hopes to stock the Fed with vocal political allies who can do his bidding on monetary policy.
Trump cares little about how such moves will be perceived, former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House say. They argue he always prefers to push the boundaries of what is possible, legally and otherwise. And in year three of his presidency, he’s pushing harder than ever before.
On immigration, Trump has never grasped why the U.S. government could not simply hold undocumented immigrants indefinitely as they awaited immigration court proceedings, according to one person close to DHS. This so-called “catch and release” policy frustrated him, as if the government’s due process should not extend to everyone on U.S. soil. The president reportedly clashed with now-ousted DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as he sought to bar all asylum seekers from entering the country, in violation of existing law.
Every president chafes at being stymied by Congress or the law, noted Timothy Naftali, a historian and former head of the Nixon Presidential Library. What makes Trump’s actions so unprecedented, he said, is the president’s reaction: Trump appears willing to steamroll through the constraints that American presidents have traditionally respected.
“Instead of learning to become presidential and accepting the structure of the American presidency, he is trying to reshape it,” Naftali said. “He has removed anyone, it appears, who stood up to him and said he cannot do this. This is a huge test of our institutions.”
I’m going to leave all of this here to return to grading but with the fear that the people remaining in the institutions may not have a fighting chance against all this chaos and blatant disrespect for rule of law. We can not afford complacency. This process has been put on overdrive and we must stop it. Congress has remedies. They should start using them.
Posted: April 11, 2019 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adam Schiff, Chelsea Manning, computer crimes, conspiracy theories, corruption, Fox News, Julian Assange, Maryanne Trump Barry, Richard Neal, Steven Mnuchin, Trump tax returns, William Barr
Painting by Karen Kinser
There’s way too much news this morning, but this is how we live now. Day after day the shocks come and it becomes more and more difficult to keep track of the corruption, the lawlessness, and the lack of ethics of this of this monstrous administration.
This morning Julian Assange was arrested and dragged kicking and screaming out the Equadorian embassy in London. The British courts will decide whether to extradite him to the U.S. to face charges of computer hacking and conspiracy. He is not charged in the U.S. with publishing stolen information, but for actively helping Chelsea Manning to discover the password that allowed him to break into U.S. State Department computers. More charges may be added in the future. Tweets from a British journalist.
The New York Times: Julian Assange Arrested on U.S. Extradition Warrant, London Police Say.
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who released reams of secret documents that embarrassed the United States government, was arrested by the British police on Thursday at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012, after Ecuador withdrew the asylum it had granted him.
The Metropolitan Police said that Mr. Assange had been detained partly in connection with an extradition warrant filed by the authorities in the United States, where he could face of a charge of computer hacking, according to an American official, if he is extradited.
President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador said on Twitter that his country had decided to stop sheltering Mr. Assange after “his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols,” a decision that cleared the way for the British authorities to detain him.
The relationship between Mr. Assange and Ecuador has been a rocky one, even as it offered him refuge and even citizenship, and WikiLeaks said last Friday that Ecuador “already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest” and predicted that Mr. Assange would be expelled from the embassy “within ‘hours to days.’ ”
Yesterday was also a huge news day. Cover-Up General Barr appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee and revealed himself to be not only a political hack and Trump lackey but also a Fox News-style conspiracy theorist when he announced that he thinks U.S. intelligence agencies “spied” on Trump’s campaign. I wonder if he thinks Seth Rich hacked the DNC too? In his testimony Barr never expressed any concern about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to help Trump. The New York Times reports:
With the Russia investigation complete, Mr. Barr said he was preparing to review “both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign,” including possible improper “spying” by American intelligence agencies.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Mr. Barr said, adding that he believed “spying did occur.” Mr. Trump and his allies have accused the F.B.I. and other government officials of abusing their power and cooking up the Russia investigation to sabotage the president.
“I am not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at them,” Mr. Barr said. Later he said he wanted to ensure that there was no “improper surveillance” — not suggesting there had been, but that the possibility warranted review.
It was not immediately clear what Mr. Barr was referring to, and he did not present evidence to back up his statement. The F.B.I. obtained a secret surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, after he left the campaign, and reports have suggested it used at least one confidential informer to collect information on campaign associates.
Mr. Barr said that he will work with the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, to examine the origins of the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, and that he would soon set up a team for that effort. He noted that Congress and the Justice Department’s inspector general have already completed investigations of that matter, and that after reviewing those investigations he would be able to see whether there were any “remaining questions to be addressed.”
It’s pretty clear no to anyone with half a brain that Barr sees his job as acting as Trump’s personal lawyer and not the top law enforcement officer in the U.S. representing the American people.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Adam Schiff just issued a stark warning about William Barr.
“I’m shocked to hear the attorney general of the United States casually make the suggestion that the FBI or intelligence community was spying on the president’s campaign,” Schiff told me. “I’m sure it was very gratifying to Donald Trump.” [….]
Schiff pointed out that the bipartisan Gang of Eight — the leaders and intelligence committee chairs in both parties — were already briefed by the Justice Department after Trump made yet another version of the assertion. At the time, the Democrats issued a joint statement saying nothing they had been told supported the notion of untoward conduct.
“It’s unclear to me what Barr was referring to,” Schiff said. He noted that he was unaware that the statement he and other Democrats put out had ever been “contested by anyone on either side of the aisle.”
“All I can make of it is that he wanted to say something pleasing to the boss, and did so at the cost of our institutions,” Schiff said.
Asked if Schiff would seek another briefing from the Justice Department on Barr’s latest claim, Schiff said: “We’ll certainly try to get to the bottom of many of the things he has been saying over the last two days — his references to investigation into the president’s political opponents.”
“His testimony raises profound concern that the attorney general is doing what we urge emerging democracies not to do, and that is, seek to prosecute your political opponents after you win an election,” Schiff continued, in an apparent reference to Barr’s vow to examine the beginnings of the investigation, precisely as Trump has long demanded….
“The big picture is this,” Schiff said. “The post-Watergate reforms are being dismantled, one by one. The Trump precedent after only two years is that you can fire the FBI director who is running an investigation in which you may be implicated as president.”
Last night, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin intervened in House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal’s demand that the IRS turn over Trump’s personal and business tax returns. The law says that the decision to turn over tax returns fall on the head of the IRS and that Mnuchin must give 30 days notice before he can get involved. But no one in the Trump administration seems to care about those silly things called laws. Axios:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to meet House Democrats’ request to hand over 6 years of President Trump’s tax returns by the Wednesday’s deadline, stating he needs more time for review, but providing no details as to whether he will comply.
Details: Mnuchin said in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) that his agency has consulted with the Justice Department to review the lawfulness of the request. He said it “raises serious issues concerning the constitutional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”
Also last night, we got a timely reminder of why we need to see Trump’s taxes.
The New York Times: Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges.
President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.
The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.
Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.
The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The people who filed the complaints were notified last week that the matter had been dropped without a finding on the merits of the allegations. The decision has not yet been made public, but copies were provided to The Times by two of the complainants. Both are involved in the legal profession.
The Trump crime family is so corrupt that it’s impossible to keep up with the daily revelations about them.
I’ll post some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?