Posted: April 19, 2018 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
As usual, there’s a massive amount of news this morning. To provide a bit of distraction, I’m illustrating this post with one of my favorite things in Boston: Back Bay doors.
There are stories about various Trump advisers who are involved in scandal or at odds with the “president.” Yesterday voter suppression advocate Kris Kobach was found in contempt of court by a federal judge. It looks like EPA chief Scott Pruitt may soon be buried by his multiple scandals. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has angered Senators with his refusal to brief them on his contacts with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Will that affect the committee vote on his appointment as Secretary of State? Nikki Haley is standing up to Trump, but can he fire here when there are rumors she could run against him in 2020? Finally, Ronan Farrow has a piece about Rex Tillerson’s “last days and chaotic tenure as Secretary of State.”
James Comey continues his book tour, and his former colleague Andrew McCabe calls him a liar. Awkward.
And in the wake of the raid on Trump attorney Michael Cohen, various lawsuits are being dropped. Former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougall was freed yesterday from her contract with The National Enquirer and can now talk publicly about her relationship with Trump. In addition, Michael Cohen has dropped his libel suits against Fusion GPS and Buzzfeed. Will Trump and Cohen give up their fights with Stormy Daniels soon as well? They have to be living in fear that discovery in these civil cases could reveal embarrassing information related to the FBI searches of Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room.
The biggest story of course is Michael Cohen, his likely criminal indictment, and the danger he poses for Trump.
You probably heard about that Wall Street Journal story (behind paywall) about a former Trump lawyer, Jay Goldberg, warning him about Cohen. Not behind paywalls:
Gloria Borger at CNN: Former Trump lawyer says he warned the President that Cohen could turn against him.
‘Anybody who is facing 30 years never stands up,” Goldberg says he told the President. “Without exception, a person facing a prison term cooperates.”
Goldberg also added that in addition to cooperation, the person “may also wear a wire.”
Goldberg was adamant that anyone facing a long prison term “will testify because they need the government’s affection,” he said. “That way, the government can say they have testified in a truthful manner.”
Goldberg said the President had no response.
Gloat over more details at CNN.
Politico: Trump allies worry Cohen will flip.
Two sources close to the president said people in Trump’s inner circle have in recent days been actively discussing the possibility that Michael Cohen — long seen as one of Trump’s most loyal personal allies — might flip if he faces serious charges as a result of his work on behalf of Trump.
“That’s what they’ll threaten him with: life imprisonment,” said Alan Dershowitz, the liberal lawyer and frequent Trump defender who met with the president and his staff over two days at the White House last week. “They’re going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings.” [….]
“When anybody is faced with spending a long time in jail, they start to re-evaluate their priorities, and cooperation can’t be ruled out,” said one Trump ally who knows Cohen.
Since the raid, the president and his advisers have been singularly focused on the risk of a potential federal prosecution of Cohen, which they view as a much bigger existential threat to the presidency than former FBI Director James Comey, whose book “A Higher Loyalty” has dominated headlines and even Trump’s Twitter feed even before its Tuesday release.
Trump has regularly ranted to friends and advisers about the investigation into Cohen, according to two other people familiar with the conversations. He believes strongly that the FBI raid has pushed the boundaries of attorney-client privilege, telling friends that he and his associates are being unfairly targeted.
“He’s not happy about it,” said one White House official.
Well isn’t that just too bad.
Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Lawyer Forgets to Pretend He’s Innocent, Also Compares Him to Mobster.
In a conversation with Trump last Friday, Jay Goldberg, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned the president, “Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, according to TheWall Street Journal. But why would Trump have anything to worry about, unless … Trump committed a crime that Cohen knows about?
In an interview with the Journal, Goldberg elucidated his concerns about Cohen’s loyalty and the devastating impact it would have if he cooperated with the government. “The mob was broken by Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence,” Goldberg explained.
Again, this makes a lot of sense as a legal defense strategy for a businessman who has probably done a lot of illegal stuff. But as a public-relations strategy, isn’t Trump’s lawyer supposed to say he believes Cohen is innocent, and would be shocked to learn if he did something wrong, because of course Trump has never engaged in any illegal behavior and would never tolerate it among his employees? He’s probably not supposed to casually liken the president of the United States to the boss of a criminal syndicate.
At this point, I think just about everyone knows that Trump’s business was a crime syndicate and he’s busy using our government to rake in more profits for his crime family.
Two big investigative stories about Michael Cohen and his criminal background were published yesterday.
Trump, Inc.: The Company Michael Cohen Kept.
If you’ve seen video or images of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, they’ve probably been set in locations that exude power and importance: Cohen berating a CNN anchor in a TV studio, for example, or striding across the sleek marbled interior of Trump Tower, or more recently, smoking cigars in front of Cohen’s temporary residence, the Loews Regency Hotel on Manhattan’s Park Avenue.
But to understand how Michael Cohen arrived in those precincts, you need to venture across New York City’s East River. There, in a Queens warehouse district in the shadows of an elevated No. 7 subway line, is a taxi garage that used to house his law practice. The office area in the front is painted a garish taxi-cab-yellow, with posters of hockey players on the wall and a framed photo of the late Hasidic rabbi, Menachem Schneerson. Cohen practiced law there and invested in the once-lucrative medallions that grant New York cabs the right to operate.
Or you could drive 45 minutes deep into Brooklyn, near where Gravesend turns into Brighton Beach. There, in a desolate stretch near a shuttered podiatrist’s office, you’d find a medical office. According to previously unexamined records, Cohen incorporated a business there in 2002 that was involved in large quantities of medical claims. Separately, he represented more than 100 plaintiffs who claimed they were injured in auto collisions.
At the same time, in Brooklyn and Long Island, New York prosecutors were investigating what Fortune magazine called possibly “the largest organized insurance-fraud ring in U.S. history.” That fraud resulted in hundreds of criminal prosecutions for staging car accidents to collect insurance payments. Cohen was not implicated in the fraud.
A distinctive pattern emerged early in Cohen’s career, according to an examination by WNYC and ProPublica for the Trump, Inc. podcast: Many of the people who crossed paths with Cohen when he worked in Queens and Brooklyn were disciplined, disbarred, accused or convicted of crimes.
It appears that Cohen was Trump’s liason to the Russian mafia and to sleazy deals involving Russian and Ukrainian mobsters. Read all about it at the link.
At Rolling Stone, Seth Hettena offers an excerpt from his upcoming book Trump / Russia, A Definitive History: A Brief History of Michael Cohen’s Criminal Ties.
Cohen joined the Trump Organization in 2006, and eventually became Trump’s personal lawyer, a role once occupied by Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s heavy-lidded hatchet man during the Red Scare who advised Trump in the 1980s. Michael Cohen’s bare-knuckled tactics earned him the nickname of “Tom,” a reference to Tom Hagen, the consigliore to Mafia Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather. He grew up on Long Island, the son of a physician who survived the Holocaust in Poland, and like Tom Hagen spent a childhood around organized crime, specifically the Russian Mafiya. Cohen’s uncle, Morton Levine, was a wealthy Brooklyn doctor who owned the El Caribe Country Club, a Brooklyn catering hall and event space that was a well-known hangout for Russian gangsters. Cohen and his siblings all had ownership stakes in the club, which rented for years to the first Mafiya boss of Brighton Beach, Evsei Agron, along with his successors, Marat Balagula and Boris Nayfeld. (Cohen’s uncle said his nephew gave up his stake in the club after Trump’s election.)
I spoke to two former federal investigators who told me Cohen was introduced to Donald Trump by his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ukraine who arrived in the U.S. in 1975. Shusterman was in the garment business and owned a fleet of taxicabs with his partners, Shalva Botier and Edward Zubok – all three men were convicted of a money-laundering related offense in 1993. “Fima may have been a (possibly silent) business partner with Trump, perhaps even used as a conduit for Russian investors in Trump properties and other ventures,” a former federal investigator told me. “Cohen, who married into the family, was given the job with the Trump Org as a favor to Shusterman.” (“Untrue,” Cohen told me. “Your source is creating fake news.”)
Shusterman, who owned at least four New York taxi companies, also set his son-in-law up in the yellow cab business. Cohen once ran 260 yellow cabs with his Ukrainian-born partner, the “taxi king” Simon V. Garber, until their partnership ended acrimoniously in 2012. Glenn Simpson, the private investigator who was independently hired to examine Trump’s Russia connections during the real estate mogul’s presidential run, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Cohen “had a lot of connections to the former Soviet Union, and that he seemed to have associations with organized crime figures in New York and Florida – Russian organized crime figures,” including Garber.
Read the rest at Rolling Stone.
If you don’t want to read long exposes, you can check out Josh Marshall’s coverage of Cohen at Talking Points Memo. Marshall has been researching Cohen for a long time too. Here’s his latest: More on the Michael Cohen Money Trail. Marshall provides links to his previous posts on Cohen.
So . . . what stories are you following today?
Posted: April 16, 2018 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: James Comey, Michael Cohen
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Well, I watched the ABC interview of disgraced FBI Director James Comey by George Stephanpolous and came away underwhelmed. I really don’t feel any news was made. The only thing I saw was a good case study of the White Male Savior prototype who just refuses to embrace the idea that he’s done wrong, he didn’t save the world, and likely caused an assault on all he says he holds dear. Comey is fighting to stay in denial. His demeanor spoke volumes.
My basic question remains despite the supposed answer of because he was saving Clinton from entering the Presidency under a cloud. Why did he say he’d do it all over again? Why didn’t he listen to Yates and Lynch who said don’t do it? I mean sheesh… he had to know the Republicans would make hay with all of that. They were gunning for Clinton for years. Why ignore Yates and Lynch (read this Vanity Fair piece for a good reminder) and tell Chavetz of all pseudo people? One hint to Chavetz that both candidates were under investigation would have knocked the wind right out of Chavetz leaking shit. The finer points of game theory do not mean you’re putting your finger on a scale. It just directs responses to a more manageable path. If you’re going to play great white male savior at least set the chess board up right. My answer keeps coming back to the white male savior complex. He ignored the advice of the powerful women around him convincing himself he’d be able to rescue the powerful damsel in distress and save the country.
Anyway, the only heads exploding over this interview are in the FBI itself. I’m just gobsmacked by the level of hubris personally even though it was wrapped up in a body language and facially expression that suggested a lot of counselling is required.
FBI sources who did not support Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation still stood by him at the time and were outraged at the way in which Trump fired the director. He learned of his dismissal after reading it on a television screen inside the Los Angeles FBI building where he was speaking to agents.
Those same current and former FBI agents and officials—and others—did not respond well to Comey’s interview Sunday night.
Support for Comey has dwindled as those who worked closely with him and initially supported him began to see his book and his public interactions—including Twitter selfies in Iowa—as self-serving and gauche, four sources said.
Their anger has grown in recent months as agents have come to see Comey as the reason for the “current shitshow… that is the Trump presidency,” one former official, who voted for Trump, explained.
Here’s Lanny Davis writing Op Ed for The Hill that portrays Comey as a liar. The White House has been screaming “Leaker” and “Liar” for weeks now. Frankly, I think the only one Come has lied to is himself.
On Saturday night, the great Wolf Blitzer interviewed one of his panelists about James Comey’s justification for violating over a half-century of Justice Department policies in Republican and Democratic administrations when he sent his October 28 letter to Congress in 2016, which cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
Comey has repeatedly claimed that he was “obligated” to write his speculative letter because of a promise he had made to Congress to do so if “anything new” came up after his July 5, 2016, press conference announcing a new prosecutable case could be brought against Clinton.
When one of Blitzer’s panelists on Saturday night inaccurately repeated the Comey lie that Comey was “obligated” to send his game-changing letter to Congress because he had promised to do so, Blitzer should have interrupted and corrected the record. “No that is not correct — Comey only promised to ‘look at’ any new evidence, not to write his letter in the closing days of the election.”
Another form of a lie is by omission.
Comey knows — and knows that we all now know — that if he had done what in fact he had told Congress he would do, i.e., looked first before writing his letter, he and the FBI would have completed their review within six days, as we know happened between Oct 30, 2016, when they first began to look at Clinton emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop, and Nov. 5, when they completed their review. And we know that they would have determined — as they announced on Nov. 6, two days before the election— that there was no “there” there in the Clinton emails, i.e., nothing new to change their July 5 non-prosecution decision. Thus, there would have been no need for Comey to write the history-changing Oct. 28 letter. And hence, Hillary Clinton, as all the data prove over the last 11 days in crucial battleground states, would be president today. During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.results were viewed as legitimate.
Of course the Trump Hate machine was locked and loaded this morning.
President Trump took fresh aim at fired FBI director James B. Comey on Monday, lambasting his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and asserting again that Comey and another FBI official had committed crimes.
Trump’s comments on Twitter were his first since Comey’s high-profile television interview Sunday night in which he said he believes Trump is “morally unfit” to be president and that he hopes Trump will be voted out of office.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump had watched “bits and pieces” of the interview but not the entire thing.
In his tweet, Trump complained that Comey “drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her” and asserted that in deciding how to handle the case, Comey “based his decisions on her poll numbers.”
This was the statement that galled me most. So, I’m calling it out again. This allowed the Trump Team venom to target Clinton again.
During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election9 that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.
There is a lot of other news today. Cohen hasn’t released his client list and is headed back to court hoping a Trump-filed injunction will save his ass from its destiny in jail. The EPA chief is in serious trouble for all kinds of things.
I will likely watch the Consigliere match up this afternoon.
Withstanding the hearing is only the beginning of what could be an ugly legal situation for Cohen. No charges have been filed against him, but prosecutors asserted that he is under criminal investigation. Cohen, who professes a devout fealty to his boss, has spent more than a decade working alongside the Trumps, devoting his professional life to protecting them. He may now be in a position where he could be forced to choose between continuing that line of defense, or putting himself and his own family first. In my interviews with Cohen, he has always stated plainly, repeatedly, and in a Godfather-esque lingua franca, how unfailingly loyal he is to the president and to the Trump family. Over the summer, Cohen told me that he would take a bullet for Trump. In February, as the Stormy Daniels controversy heated up, he told me that he would do it again today for Trump and again for him tomorrow. “No question,” he said. Last month, he told me that it was his job to protect his client—his friend—and the Trump family.
Maybe, I’ll just take a nap instead.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: April 15, 2018 Filed under: morning reads
Some things are Twitter are so funny…take this for instance:
Seriously. Of course there is more to the story, I mean it has to deal with “gaiety” or should I say “gayiety”.
There has been so many stories of late, I’m just going to review a few…
And the tRump White House continue to gets it wrong:
And the responses to this latest Sanders shit:
Earlier this morning, tRump was off his nut:
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, suggests ex-FBI director deserves ‘jail’ – The Washington Post
President Trump sharply attacked James B. Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, suggesting that the former FBI director deserves to be imprisoned and serving up several of his favorite theories and unsubstantiated allegations of misdeeds.
Trump’s tweets are part of a wider effort by the White House and the Republican National Committee to discredit Comey, who has written a damaging tell-all book, titled “A Higher Loyalty,” to be released Tuesday. A Sunday night interview on ABC News will kick off his national book tour.
Comey’s book is a scathing depiction of his interactions with Trump, whom he likens to an “unethical” mob boss, and casts his inner circle in largely unflattering terms, saying it was more focused on politics than national security.
More analysis at the link.
We all know that Paul “Munster” Ryan is not seeking re-election, this tweet is so on point.
Earlier this past week, there was a bunch of incidents against black people. When they happened, so much other shit news was breaking, many missed them. Now I’ve noticed an uptick in attention on twitter.
Another bit of news from last week, RIP Milos Forman:
Milos Forman, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 86 – The New York Times
Milos Forman, a filmmaker who challenged Hollywood with his subversive touch, and twice directed movies that won the Oscar for best picture, died on Friday. He was 86.
His death in Connecticut was confirmed by Dennis Aspland, Mr. Forman’s agent, and by Vlastislav Malek, a representative of his hometown, Caslav, in the Czech Republic.
A native of what was then Czechoslovakia, Mr. Forman came to the United States in the late 1960s as a rebellious young filmmaker whose satirical bent was little welcomed at home in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion.
Just a few years later, Mr. Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” — a tragicomic story of revolt and repression in a mental institution — won five Oscars, including those for best director and best picture.
The film put Mr. Forman in the front rank of those who struggled to make big, commercial films with countercultural sensibilities. His sympathy for the odd man out was always apparent, even as his movies grew in scope.
“Amadeus,” a 1984 adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s stage play, presented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a genius who undermined authority with his art. Again, Oscars for best director and best picture were among its many honors.
Still, Mr. Forman, by then a United States citizen, said one of his greatest pleasures from the film — which was shot in the Czech Republic — was the chance to return in triumph to his homeland.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest director Miloš Forman dies aged 86 | Film | The Guardian
Forman was born in the Czech town of Caslav in 1932; after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, both his mother and father died in concentration camps. (Forman later discovered his biological father was actually a Jewish architect who had survived the war and escaped to South America.) After being raised by relatives, Forman joined the Prague Film Academy, and began writing scripts in the late 1950s, gradually moving up the ranks in the postwar Czechoslovak industry. His debut as director, Black Peter, about a teenager in his first job, incurred the dislike of the Communist authorities for its irreverent attitude, but after its prizewinning appearance at the Locarno film festival enabled Forman to continue directing.
The Fireman’s Ball was released in 1967 and Forman was then invited to the US by Paramount Pictures to make a film in America. After attempting to get the rights to the musical Hair, Forman began work on an original screenplay, for the film Taking Off. In August 1968 Czechslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces aiming to suppress Alexander Dubček’s liberalising reforms; Forman opted to stay in the US, where he was joined by fellow director Ivan Passer.
Taking Off was a flop on its release in 1970, and Forman suffered a breakdown, living in the rundown Chelsea Hotel in New York but determined not to return to Czechslovakia. At his lowest point he was offered the chance to direct One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, another anti-authoritarian parable adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel. Producer Michael Douglas later told the Guardian the hiring was on the strength of The Fireman’s Ball: “It took place in one enclosed situation, with a plethora of unique characters he had the ability to juggle.” With a cast led by Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, Cuckoo’s Nest emerged as a massive success, a seminal product of the New Hollywood and winner of all top five Academy awards.
Miloš Forman: the director who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood | Peter Bradshaw | Film | The Guardian
The divine inspiration of madness – its ambiguity, its creativity, its higher sanity, and the cover and legitimacy it gives to protest against oppression and bullies of all stripes – these were the ideas which energised Miloš Forman in his remarkable work. He was the Czech new wave émigré who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood and made its sly comic strategies and humanist passion flower in dozens of different ways. He also became one of the many directors whose work was shaped by working with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière.
Forman was a sensational Oscar winner with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) starring Jack Nicholson as the hyperactive crook who fakes madness to get what he thinks is the soft option of a psychiatric facility; and Amadeus (1984), the gripping myth about F Murray Abraham’s thin-lipped Antonio Salieri planning to kill Tom Hulce’s impish Mozart – the mediocre rational careerist enviously destroying the disorderly genius. Forman became feted for conjuring drama and star performances from the bristling ensemble of smaller roles. And the madhouse scene, in all its poignant farce and Foucauldian political surveillance became a keynote of his movies…
So be sure to read up on those obituaries.
I am still dealing with wedding stuff, can’t wait until the day has come and gone…lately I’ve been working on arranging flowers:
I hope everyone is doing ok…this is an open thread.
Posted: April 13, 2018 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: A Higher Loyalty, James Comey, Pee tape. FBI investigation, Trump Family Crime Syndicate
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
It’s going to be the usual chaos on steroids as former FBI Director Jim Comey’s tell all comes out. The media began leaking excerpts yesterday of the book even as the official release date still looms on Tuesday. KKKremlin Caligula is not a happy Mad King as Comey even appears to have taken gratuitous pot shots at the size of his hands. Yes, De Hair Fury is in Teapot Tempest mode. Hide that damn football!
President Donald Trump went into attack mode against James Comey on Friday morning, calling the former FBI director an “untruthful slime ball” and a “liar & leaker” after Comey suggested in an ABC News interview that it is “possible” that salacious allegations about the president and prostitutes in Moscow are true.
“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” Trump wrote in a statement that stretched across two Twitter posts. “He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
Well, this is certainly an adult conversation! These items are from Politico and the keyboard of Louis Nelson.
Recalling his first meeting with Trump, the former FBI director told Stephanopoulos that the January, 2017, briefing he gave the then-president elect about his alleged rendezvous with prostitutes inside a Moscow hotel was “really weird” and “almost an out-of-body experience.” During their one-on-one briefing in Trump Tower, the former FBI director said Trump responded “very defensively” and “started talking about, you know, ‘do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’”
Comey said that earlier, upon briefing Trump and his transition team about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, the then-president elect’s first question was whether or not those efforts had affected the outcome and then discussion turned immediately to a conversation about messaging and drafting a press release. At no point did Trump or any member of his team ask Comey or the other intelligence chiefs present at the briefing what might come next from Russia or how to stop future cyberattacks from Moscow, the former FBI director said.
“The reason that was so striking to me is that that’s just not done, that the intelligence community does intelligence, the White House does PR and spin,” Comey said. “It was all, what can we say about what they did and how it affects the election that we just had.”
Folks that have read the book say that Comey found a President obsessed with getting the FBI to disprove the existence of the Pee Pee tape. Evidently Cohen was busy fixing other Trump mishaps and couldn’t see to it. Can you imagine how he saw the FBI as his personal clean up crew?
Trump did not stay quiet for long. Comey describes Trump as having been obsessed with the portion dealing with prostitutes in the infamous dossier compiled by British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, raising it at least four times with the FBI director. The document claimed that Trump had watched the prostitutes urinate on themselves in the same Moscow suite that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had stayed in “as a way of soiling the bed,” Comey writes.
Comey writes that Trump asked him to have the FBI investigate the allegations to prove they were not true, and offered varying explanations to convince him why. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.” Later, the president asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.
Phillip Rucker of WAPO additionally unveils Comey’s real thoughts about Trump’s lack of ethics. This is a description of a sociopath.
In his memoir, Comey paints a devastating portrait of a president who built “a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.” Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.
Comey narrates in vivid detail, based on his contemporaneous notes, instances in which Trump violated the norms protecting the FBI’s independence in attempts to coerce Comey into being loyal to him — such as during a one-on-one dinner in the White House residence.
Interacting with Trump, Comey writes, gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”
The result, in Comey’s telling, is “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”
“What is happening now is not normal,” he writes. “It is not fake news. It is not okay.”
But again, Comey makes quite personal remarks. From David Moye at HuffPo:
You have to hand it to former FBI Director James Comey: He knows a good way to troll Donald Trump is to bring up the president’s reportedly small hands.
Comey touches on Trump’s hands in his new book, A Higher Loyalty, and admits the president’s mitts did appear smaller than he expected when they first met.
According to excerpts from the book posted by ABC News, the 6-foot-8-inch Comey said the 6-foot-3-inch Trump “appeared shorter than he seemed on a debate stage.”
Comey also wrote that when Trump reached out for a handshake, he couldn’t help but notice that the president’s hand “was smaller than mine” but added, it “did not seem unusually so.”
This is the type of comment liable to inspire a Trump tweet tantrum, as the president has long been sensitive to any suggestion his hands aren’t anything but “yuge.”
Steve Goldstein–DC Bureau Chief for Market Watch–argues that this puts both Mueller and Comey squarely on Trump’s turf.
If there’s any strategy in the world of President Donald Trump, it’s a simple one: Play on my field.
And the Trump playing field is a salacious one. The scandals and affairs are literally too numerous to be chronicled in a single article. Large and small, Trump University to Trump Steaks, bankruptcies and legal judgements, all manner of infidelity and aberrant behavior, real or imagined.
Former FBI Director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller were each charged with looking into an allegation of the most serious variety — colluding with a foreign hostile power to alter the presidential election.
This week the headlines emanating from Mueller’s investigation, and Comey’s book, involve a porn star, a Playboy bunny, a pee tape, the size of Trump’s hands and a doorman with a history of fibbing apparently alleging the existence of an illegitimate child.
That is playing on Trump’s field.
But wait. Isn’t it a violation of campaign law if Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels just ahead of the election? If Cohen used a home-equity loan to fund the payment, did he lie to the bank? Doesn’t it speak to Trump’s truthfulness on a variety of a matters — including alleged collusion with Russia — whether his persistent denials of engaging with prostitutes in Moscow are truthful? Doesn’t it have relevance to the question of whether payoffs were legal if Trump bought off a doorman? And didn’t Mueller actually hand off the investigation on Daniels?
Yeah, sure, all of that.
Those are all on the level of the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s perjury — legal matters, yes, that aren’t really the stuff of high crimes and misdemeanors. They’re all gotchas reinforcing what we basically knew about Trump and his behavior before the election.
By contrast, the consequences of playing on Trump’s field are enormous.
For Comey, baiting Trump into a reaction, which sure as water is wet came on Friday morning, will result in better book sales. But it will come at the expense of holding any future higher office. His legacy as FBI director — already tarnished for the ridiculous, torturous inconsistencies in how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails — is forever tarnished. Who in Washington could hire this guy? “Untruthful,” as Trump called him? No. “Slime ball?” Hmm.
Mueller, too, looks set to emerge damaged, if perhaps not as fatally. The question of whether Trump can, or should, fire him has returned. Mueller, also a former FBI director, does still have the support of both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finish his investigation, and a few key Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, have expressed willingness to support legislation to protect him. But the idea of his dismissal is definitely more plausible — and, for that matter, the outrage it would generate a good bit lessened.
It is clear is that Trump and his band of slimy hucksters in the West Wing have made for the low ground. Comey has revealed some eye poppers on many of them. However, he’s teary eyed about Obama.
Comey apologizes to Hillary Clinton, nodding to her own takedown of him in her book What Happened. “I have read she has felt anger toward me personally, and I’m sorry for that,” he writes. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why I made the decisions I made.”
Comey also says President Barack Obama reassured him after the election about his decision to send the letter about Clinton, according to the Post:
Comey writes that Obama sat alone with him in the Oval Office in late November and told him, “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.”
On the verge of tears, Comey told Obama, “Boy, were those words I needed to hear . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”
“I know,” Obama said. “I know.”
You surely know that I am no Comey fan after this particular interlude that undoubtedly helped brought us the Orange plague. I just hope Trump doesn’t wag any dogs to relieve his marital problems. his popularity problems, and his multiple personality disorders. He still may be plotting to fire Rosenstein or Mueller and who knows what else?
So, one more Trump’s latest weirdness: “President Trump poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, sources say.”
President Donald Trump is poised to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to sources familiar with the president’s thinking.
The president has already signed off on the pardon, which is something he has been considering for several months, sources told ABC News.
The move would mark another controversial pardon for Trump and could raise questions as an increasing number of the president’s political allies have landed themselves in legal jeopardy. The White House has repeatedly said that no pardons are currently on the table for people caught up in the Russia investigation.
Early in his term, Trump pardoned controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was found guilty in July on criminal contempt charges stemming from his refusal to stop imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants.
Unlike your average Presidential Pardon, Trump’s pardons focus on pardoning law breaking white government officials. Is this a harbinger of more mercy for predatory slime balls?
So, now I need a shower. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: April 11, 2018 Filed under: morning reads, open thread
Okay, things have been crazy in the news…and in my home as well…my daughter gets married in less than a month. So this post is just cutting to the cartoons right away, but first:
WATCH: April Ryan Stuns Sarah Sanders By Asking If Trump Has Considered ‘Stepping Down’ | Mediaite
At today’s White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions about President Donald Trump’s angry reaction to the FBI raiding his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office. At one point, one member of the press corps wanted to know if the president had considered taking a drastic personal action.
“Question: With all of this turmoil, particularly last week, has the president at any time thought about stepping down before or now?” American Urban Radio’s April Ryan asked the press secretary.
“No, and I think that’s an absolutely ridiculous question,” Sanders tersely replied, quickly moving on to another reporter.
While Sanders addressed another reporter, Ryan shouted out that it was “not a ridiculous question,” only to be ignored by the White House spokesperson.
Hey, is April giving Sarah the hand…
04/11 Mike Luckovich: Weaponized. | Mike Luckovich
04/10/2018 Cartoon by Charlie Daniel
Nick Anderson cartoon: 04/06/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson
04/06/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson
GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE: 04/09/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
04/08/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter
04/09/2018 Cartoon by John Cole
Morning Feeding: 04/10/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell
04/10/2018 Cartoon by Bob Gorrell
04/10/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies
Surrender: 04/10/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers
List of Journaists: 04/10/2018 Cartoon by Mike Keefe
Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/10/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett
Nick Anderson cartoon: 04/10/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson
04/05/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker
This is an open thread.
Posted: April 10, 2018 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics
I’m illustrating this post with some relaxing photos that you can focus on when it all gets to be too much. Personally, I have a pounding headache after surveying the news this morning, and I need something to help me relax.
Information overload has become the new normal. But can it get even worse? Honestly, I believe it will. Yesterday was a shocking day, but today could easily bring more shocks.
Yesterday the FBI executed no-knock raids on the office, home, and hotel room of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen; and Trump threw a public tantrum about it.
The Washington Post: Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations.
Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, that person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.
Some background on Cohen from Trump biographer Michael Kranish at The Washington Post: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen: The loyal ‘fixer’ now under federal scrutiny.
After setting up a committee in 2011 designed to boost the possibility of a Trump presidential bid, he described his role as “fixer” in this way: “It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”
Loyalty, he has said, spurred him to regularly threaten lawsuits against those he perceived as threats to Trump. Loyalty, he said, prompted him to use a home equity line of credit to finance a payment of $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels for her silence.
He even compared himself on Twitter to Ray Donovan, the fictional television character who goes to whatever lengths necessary to fix problems for the moguls he serves.
Basically, Cohen is a mafia-type lawyer with one big client, Donald Trump.
Axios describes the Trump tantrum over yesterdays FBI raids: Inside the West Wing with Trump enraged.
What we’re hearing: One of the sources said: “Mueller’s investigation has been drip, drip. This was a giant leap forward … a personal hit. … They were moving in inches. Today, they moved a mile.”
Some reactions to the Cohen raids and the possible repercussions for Trump:
Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Michael Cohen Has a Big Problem.
Harry Litman at The New York Times: Trump’s One-Night Stand Turns Into a Legal Nightmare.
Rick Wilson at The Daily Beast: FBI Raid on Michael Cohen Is the Most Dangerous Day of Donald Trump’s Life.
Yesterday was also the first day on the job for Trump’s new National Security Adviser John Bolton, who arrived in the midst of a crisis over a gas attack in Syria. This morning, Bolton fired Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. Business Insider reports:
President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, has been fired from his White House position, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported on Tuesday.
“The president is grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement confirming Bossert’s departure. “President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well.”
This comes the day after Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, took over as the president’s third national security adviser. Jacobs reported that Bolton asked for Bossert’s resignation, which was reportedly unexpected.
A former deputy homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, Bossert has been a stalwart defender of the president’s since he joined the administration during the presidential transition, serving as a trusted adviser on terrorism, cybersecurity issues, and natural disasters.
The Cohen raids, obliterated other stories that would have been stunning if they involved a normal president.
AP: Trump’s company asked Panama president to help in hotel spat.
PANAMA CITY (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests.
That appeal in a letter last month from lawyers for the Trump Organization to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful — an emergency arbitrator made days later declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the waterfront hotel in Panama City. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire that includes hotels, golf courses, licensing deals and other interests in more than 20 countries….
In the March 22 letter to Varela, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, lawyers for the Trump Organization “URGENTLY” request the Panamanian leader’s influence to help reverse the company’s acrimonious eviction as managers of the 70-story luxury high-rise once known as the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower.
While never mentioning Trump or his role as president, the letter says lawyers representing the Trump Organization were aware of “the separation of powers” in Panama but essentially asks the country’s president to intervene in the judicial process anyway. It goes on to say that the eviction violates an investment treaty signed by the two countries and suggests that the Panamanian government, not the hotel’s new management team, could be blamed for any wrongdoing.
So basically, the Trump Organization threatened that the U.S. government could retaliate against a foreign government over the president’s business interests!
The New York Times: Mueller Investigating Ukrainian’s $150,000 Payment for a Trump Appearance.
The special counsel is investigating a payment made to President Trump’s foundation by a Ukrainian steel magnate for a talk during the campaign, according to three people briefed on the matter, as part of a broader examination of streams of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election.
Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearanceby Mr. Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kiev.
Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation. The contribution from Mr. Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Mr. Trump himself.
The subpoena is among signs in recent months that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is interested in interactions that Mr. Trump or his associates had with countries beyond Russia, though it is not clear what other payments he is scrutinizing.
Mr. Mueller also ordered the Trump Organization to turn over documents, emails and other communications about several Russians, including some whose names have not been publicly tied to Mr. Trump, according to the three people, who would not be named discussing the ongoing investigation. The identities of the Russians were unclear.
The payment from Mr. Pinchuk “is curious because it comes during a campaign and is from a foreigner and looks like an effort to buy influence,” said Marcus S. Owens, a former head of the Internal Revenue Service division that oversees tax-exempt organizations. He called the donation “an unusual amount of money for such a short speech.”
Betsy Woodruff reported at The Daily Beast on more legal trouble for Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort: A Second Paul Manafort Associate Has Turned on Him.
According to court documents, one of Manafort’s former employees led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The person’s name is redacted from the filings. But he’s now at the center of a fight over evidence that could play a significant role in the government’s case against Manafort….
This makes the second Manafort associate known to have aided the government in the sprawling investigation into foreign influence in U.S. politics. Rick Gates, Manafort’s long-time right hand, began cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in February.
Manafort’s attorneys revealed the information about the second former employee in an April 6, 2018, court filing. In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys asked the federal judge overseeing the prosecution to block documents found in a storage unit in Alexandria, Virginia, from being used as evidence against him. They argue the employee did not have the authority to let the FBI agent look into the storage unit, and that, therefore, the FBI violated Manafort’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Read the details at the link.
More news on the Russia investigation broke this morning at CNN: Roger Stone said in July 2016 Russians were ‘most likely’ behind WikiLeaks emails and doing it to help Trump.
Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone said several times in July 2016 that Russia was most likely the source for hacked emails released during the Democratic National Convention and that it was not far-fetched to say the purpose was to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to a CNN KFile review of Stone’s interviews and appearances.
The comments, made by Stone from late July through August 1, 2016, show Stone stated at the time that Russia was the source of the emails — a sharp contrast to his more recent posture that Russia was not the source for hacked documents released by WikiLeaks throughout the campaign.By August 4, 2016, the same day Stone claimed in an email to have dined with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the night prior, Stone abruptly changed his tune. In a conference call along with an interview with radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Stone said that Russia had nothing to do with the hacked emails and they were the sole work of hacker Guccifer 2.0….
The 2016 comments raise more questions and add to an already murky picture about what Stone knew about WikiLeaks and why he subsequently — and seemingly suddenly — began to rule out the Russians as the source of the emails.
“The reason that the Russians are probably leaking this information is because they don’t want a nuclear war either. (Hillary Clinton) is bent on a war that benefits her donors and the multinational corporations and the defense contractors,” Stone told Jones on a July 27, 2016, edition of Jones’ program.
Several days later, on July 31, 2016, Stone said again the Russians were the most likely source for the material.
“The fact that the Russians will — or whoever — are going to continue to drop bombs on the American people in the form of their own documents. Alex, these are like the Watergate tapes. The Clintons have cut their own throat because they assume that no one would ever see all of their secret illegal maneuverings,” Stone told Jones. “This is why they used the unsecured server to hide the very things that I suspect someone — most likely the Russians — is going to drop on the American people like truthbombs throughout this election. She can raise a billion dollars and it may not matter. Trump may beat her like a drum as he pounces on and helps further public knowledge of every one of the bombshells that is coming.”
Read more 2016 direct quotes from Stone at the link.
I’ll have a few more links in the comment thread below. What stories are you following today? And when it comes to storage units, you can rely on and get help from boat storage units redmond wa, they have best service and brandnew storage facility. Go check it now.