Posted: March 7, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Axios, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, DNC, DOJ, EDVA, Fox News, Jane Mayer, Jared Kushner, John Kelly, JT Smith, Judge TS Ellis III, Margaret Sullivan, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, political scandals, primary debates 2019, Spiro Agnew, William Barr
By Maugham Casorati, born 1897 in London, UK died 1982 in Turin, Italy
I wish we could go back to the days when we weren’t overwhelmed with breaking news every single morning. I’ve got a mish-mash of articles for your this morning.
The biggest news today will probably be what happens at Paul Manafort’s sentencing hearing at 3:30 this afternoon in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Courthouse News: Manafort Faces Decades in Prison at Virginia Sentencing.
Manafort, 69, faces up to 24 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. During his trial last August, spread over 12 rigorous days, prosecutors unfurled a complex web of fraud he coordinated in multiple countries with the help of his business associate, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and testified against Manafort as the star witness.
Accused of failing to report roughly $16.5 million in income from his political lobbying work on behalf of Ukraine and its onetime President Viktor Yanukovych, the jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud after four days of deliberations….
By Bego Tojo
Though none of the charges Manafort faced in Virginia directly involved any of his work on President Donald Trump’s campaign, Mueller’s underlying task – to unearth American activity connected to Russian meddling in the election – placed the spotlight firmly on the president’s onetime campaign chairman….
Manafort will go before Judge Ellis on Thursday afternoon for his sentencing.
Federal sentencing guidelines in the Virginia case suggest Manafort should serve 19 to 24 years in prison but Judge Ellis can impose any sentence he sees fit – including one well below the guidelines. Mueller has recommended Manafort be sentenced in the upper range of the guidelines.
As you probably recall, Judge Ellis is kind of eccentric and usually makes very blunt remarks. Remember, he asked prosecutors whether they had considered charging Mike Flynn with treason and told him “You sold your country out.” Read Ellis quotes at CNN: Baked Alaska and birthday cake: Memorable lines from the Manafort trial judge, T.S. Ellis.
I really dislike the conservative site Axios, but they have a good piece today: The biggest political scandal in American history.
Historians tell Axios that the only two scandals that come close to Trump-Russia are Watergate, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, and the Teapot Dome scandal of the early 1920s, in which oil barons bribed a corrupt aide to President Warren Harding for petroleum leases.
Mueller has already delivered one of the biggest counterintelligence cases in U.S. history, author Garrett Graff points out — up there with Aldrich Ames (a former CIA officer convicted in 1994 of being a KGB double agent), or Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (executed in 1953 for spying for the Soviets).
By Guillermo Marti Ceballos (Barcelona 1958)
Watergate yielded more charges than Mueller has so far: A total of 69 people were charged in Watergate; 48 people and 20 corporations pleaded guilty. Mueller so far has indicted 27 people; seven have been convicted or pleaded guilty.
But historians say that both Watergate and Teapot Dome were more limited because a foreign power wasn’t a central player, and a much narrower band of potential offenses was under investigation.
A fourth notable scandal, the Iran-Contra affair of the mid-1980s — in which arms were traded for hostages held by Iran, with the money usRed to fund rebels in Nicaragua — also involved a more limited range of issues.
Read the rest at Axios. It’s actually quite a bit more comprehensive than most of their stories.
J.T. Smith, who was executive assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson under Nixon, has an op-ed at The New York Times today: What if the Mueller Report Demands Bold Action?
Most people take for granted that both Mr. Mueller and the new attorney general, William Barr, accept the current Justice Department legal position — reached in a 2000 opinion — that a sitting president cannot be indicted. In a June 2018 memo, Mr. Barr said that under “the Framers’ plan,” the “proper mechanism for policing the president’s” actions “is the political process — that is, the People, acting either directly, or through their elected representatives in Congress.”
Yet since 1973, the Justice Department has revisited its position five times on the question of indicting a sitting president and reached different conclusions. In fact, as executive assistant to President Richard Nixon’s attorney general, Elliot Richardson, I can speak to the circumstances that delivered that first opinion: The principal purpose of the 1973 Watergate-era legal opinion — which concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted — was to aid in removal from office of a criminally tainted vice president, who, the memo concluded, could be indicted.
But it was not intended to set an ironclad precedent that would forever shape how a president might be treated.
By Jerry Weiss
My experience makes me believe that Attorney General Barr should reconsider Justice Department policy. If the evidence gathered by the Mueller investigation on the actions of the president and his advisers indicates a crime, an indictment might be the proper course to hold the president accountable. Further, the indictment policy does not stand in isolation: It has repercussions for a Mueller report and access to it for Congress and the American public.
As Rachel Maddow reported recently, the 1973 policy was written when Nixon’s VP Spiro Agnew was being investigated for “bribery, extortion and tax evasion.” (he was subsequently indicted and forced to resign). You can read more details about the history at the link. Smith’s conclusion:
Mr. Mueller’s investigation has brought us to face similar questions of institutional integrity and transparency for the American public. If Mr. Barr determines that Mr. Mueller’s findings compel legal action, he should reconsider the policy against indictment of a sitting president.
But if Mr. Barr holds to the view that a president’s actions should be policed by the political and not criminal process, it will be imperative that he share a Mueller report with Congress and, to the extent practicable, with the public, redacting only information that is classified or otherwise prohibited by statute.
In light of the gravity of our circumstances, it would be timely and appropriate for the Justice Department to reconsider the shaky policy regarding indictability of a sitting president and provide Congress and the public with the Mr. Mueller’s full findings and conclusions. Only through sunlight and transparency can we preserve confidence in our national institutions and leadership.
Yesterday the DNC announced that they will not hold a primary debate in conjunction with Fox News, citing Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Article. This is nothing unusual; the Democrats have refused to work with Fox News since 2007, but mainstream journalists are criticizing the decision.
Now media critic Margaret Sullivan has weighed in at The Washington Post: It’s time — high time — to take Fox News’s destructive role in America seriously.
Chris Wallace is an exceptional interviewer, and Shepard Smith and Bret Baier are reality-based news anchors.
By Dibujo de Eduardo Estrada
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the overall problem of Fox News, which started out with bad intentions in 1996 and has swiftly devolved into what often amounts to a propaganda network for a dishonest president and his allies.
The network, which attracts more viewers than its two major competitors, specializes in fearmongering and unrelenting alarmism. Remember “the caravan”?
At crucial times, it does not observe basic standards of journalistic practice: as with its eventually retracted, false reporting in 2017 on Seth Rich, which fueled conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton had the former Democratic National Committee staffer killed because he was a source of campaign leaks.
Fox, you might recall, was a welcoming haven for “birtherism” — the racist lies about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. For years, it has constantly, unfairly and inaccurately bashed Hillary Clinton.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Jared Kushner recently traveled to the Middle East and met privately with Saudi prince MBS. Now he won’t tell anyone what went on in his meetings. The Daily Beast: Embassy Staffers Say Jared Kushner Shut Them Out of Saudi Meetings.
Officials and staffers in the U.S. embassy in Riyadh said they were not read in on the details of Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia or the meetings he held with members of the country’s royal court last week, according to three sources with knowledge of the trip. And that’s causing concern not only in the embassy but also among members of Congress.
By Henry McGrane
On his trip to the Middle East, Kushner stopped in Riyadh. While there, he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman to discuss U.S.-Saudi cooperation, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and economic investment in the region, according to the White House.
But no one from the embassy in Riyadh was in the meetings, according to those same sources. The State Department did have a senior official in attendance, but he was not part of the State Department team in Saudi. He is a senior member of the department focused on Iran, according to a source with direct knowledge of the official’s presence in Riyadh.
“The Royal Court was handling the entire schedule,” one congressional source told The Daily Beast, adding that officials in the U.S. embassy in had insight into where Kushner was when in Saudi Arabia. “But that is normal for his past trips.”
Click the link to read the rest. A related article from the WaPo editorial board: Trump is covering up for MBS. The Senate must push for accountability.
New York Times gossip columnist Maggie Haberman relays former WH Chief of Staff John Kelly’s attempted cleanup of his mangled reputation following the revelations about Jared and Ivanka’s security clearances: John Kelly, Out of White House, Breaks With Trump Policies.
The former White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, on Wednesday declined to answer questions about the existence of a memo he wrote saying that President Trump had ordered officials to give his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a security clearance in May 2018.
By Mario Tozzi 1920
Mr. Kelly also broke with Mr. Trump on key aspects of his approach to immigration and the NATO alliance, and said that his top concern about decisions made by the president was whether they were objectively right for the country when divorced from political concerns.
Mr. Kelly, who kept his voice level during a 90-minute question-and-answer session at Duke University, would not specifically address Mr. Kushner’s clearance being ordered by Mr. Trump, which The New York Times reported last week.
“I couldn’t — and I’m not dodging — I couldn’t comment on that for a couple of reasons,” Mr. Kelly said, citing clearances being among the things that he could not discuss, and that conversations with the president “at that level would certainly” be kept confidential under executive privilege.
Some of what Kelly did talk about:
Mr. Kelly, who left at the end of December, also made clear he did not consider himself working for Mr. Trump, but doing his civic duty to serve. If Hillary Clinton had won, he said, he probably would have worked for her as well.
Mr. Kelly defended the utility of the NATO alliance, which Mr. Trump has often criticized as an unfair financial drain on the United States.
On a wall at the border with Mexico, Mr. Kelly said that there were specific areas where it could be effective but constructing one “from sea to shining sea” was a “waste of money.”
The issuance of the zero-tolerance policy for border crossings that resulted in family separations “came as a surprise” to him and to other officials, Mr. Kelly said, defending his replacement as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, from criticism. He appeared to place most of the blame on the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who announced the policy.
I have a few more links to share, but this post is getting long. I’ll put them in the comment thread. What stories have you been following?
Posted: March 6, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, Political and Editorial Cartoons
Sorry this is running late…I have gotten caught up in the Leaving Neverland documentary. If you have seen it, you know what I am talking about. Disturbing as fuck….
‘Leaving Neverland,’ Michael Jackson HBO documentary, will turn you off MJ for good – The Washington Post
It’s remarkable what happens when you take Michael Jackson out of the latest Michael Jackson scandal. Remove the usual “King of Pop” soundtrack and all that glitters, and things get so much clearer. The details are still appalling, but what we see and hear in Dan Reed’s riveting and sharply convincing four-hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland” (airing in two parts Sunday and Monday on HBO), supplies the viewer with an unexpected measure of calm. Even the outrage feels at last like the real deal, instead of the manufactured byproduct of tabloids and TMZ.
Already the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Leaving Neverland” is the story of two men — noted pop choreographer Wade Robson, 36, and James “Jimmy” Safechuck, 41 — who each tell us, with the resolute certainty that they lacked as younger witnesses deposed and questioned in other cases, that Jackson sexually molested them when they were boys, starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s and continuing into their teenage years.
What Coverups???: 03/06/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
F.A.S.T.: 03/05/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
Party Symbols: 03/04/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath
Screwed: 03/06/2019 Cartoon by Ed Hall
Red Tails: 03/05/2019 Cartoon by Ed Hall
Poster Child: 03/04/2019 Cartoon by Ed Hall
03/06/2019 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker
03/05/2019 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker
A Fool to Rule: 03/06/2019 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen
This is an open thread.
Posted: March 5, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
Congressional oversight has finally arrived, more than two years into the Trump “presidency.” For the first two-plus years, Republicans did nothing but run interference for Trump’s obstruction-in-plain sight of the Russia investigation. But voters elected a Democratic House of Representatives in November of 2018, and those voters knew that Democrats would investigation Trump’s crimes and corruption. And now Jerry Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee has fired the first salvo.
The New York Times: With Sweeping Document Request, Democrats Launch Broad Trump Corruption Inquiry.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee delivered a flurry of demands for documents from the executive branch and the broader Trump world on Monday that detailed the breadth and ambition of a new investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration….
[T]he newest requests from Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, opened perhaps the most perilous front to date for Mr. Trump — an inquiry that takes aim at the heart of his norm-bending presidency and could conceivably form the basis of a future impeachment proceeding.
Mr. Nadler was explicit on Monday in saying that the House was no longer content to await the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and would delve into many of the same issues, but with a different standard of evidence not wedded to a criminal indictment.
“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do.” […]
The letters from Mr. Nadler, dated March 4, went to 81 agencies, individuals and other entities tied to the president. They included the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign, the Trump Foundation, the presidential inaugural committee and the White House. The Justice Department and the F.B.I., which have collected substantial evidence on Mr. Trump’s behind-the-scenes interactions with federal investigators, were also recipients.
Letters also went out to dozens of the president’s closest family members and aides who counseled him as he sought to suppress the story of a pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels, whose claim of an affair threatened his presidential campaign, and later as he began attacks against federal investigations into him and his associates, the news media and the federal judiciary.
The Times hastens to add that witnesses could put up resistance.
…the Judiciary Committee could face significant hurdles to obtaining some of the material it seeks. Aides to the committee said that they had intentionally limited their initial requests to material already provided to other congressional committees or federal investigators to ensure substantial compliance.
But witnesses could still choose to slow-walk production or defy subpoenas. Mr. Trump could choose to go further and assert executive privilege over certain materials, as well.
We’ll see. I think pressure from the American people could influence what happens. At least it did during the Watergate scandal. Congressional hearings will educate the public on Trump’s corruption, as MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said last night.
Natasha Bertrand details some of the document requests at The Atlantic: The House’s Latest Move Could Be a Big Threat to Trump’s Presidency.
Many of the individuals who received a letter from Nadler—including Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and the former top White House aides Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer, and Steve Bannon—have already testified before Congress and provided documents in conjunction with the various probes into Trump’s ties to Russia. In the new letters sent out on Monday, which addressed everyone from the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, Nadler wrote that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating “a number of actions that threaten our nation’s longstanding commitment to the rule of law, including allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power … President Trump and his administration face wide-ranging allegations of misconduct that strike at the heart of our constitutional order.” He added that “Congress has a constitutional duty to serve as a check and balance against any such excesses,” and that the House Judiciary Committee “has also played a historic role as the primary forum for hearings on the abuse of executive power.”
The document requests varied in subject and scope. In a request to the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, for example, Nadler appears to be homing in on alleged collusion between the campaign and Russia. (Trump said on Monday that he cooperates “all the time with everybody … You know the beautiful thing — no collusion. It’s all a hoax.”) Nadler asked for all documents relating to changes to the Republican platform in 2016 dealing with Russia and Ukraine, discussions of sanctions policy with regard to Russia, and the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer. In a letter to the FBI, meanwhile, Nadler seems to be zeroing in on questions of potential obstruction, asking for any communications involving Trump and his associates about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. And in a letter to the CEO of American Media, David Pecker, Nadler requested more information about payments made to the benefit of the Trump campaign that might have violated campaign-finance laws. The Trump campaign’s digital director, Brad Parscale (now Trump’s 2020 campaign manager), received one of the most extensive document requests, covering everything from plans for a Trump Tower Moscow in 2016 to Trump’s conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 and 2018.
Two House Judiciary Committee sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment freely on the investigation, said some witnesses were asked specific questions “because we’re pretty sure they know” the answer, while other questions were more speculative in nature. But none of the witnesses were hit with completely new document requests that haven’t been asked of them before, by either the special counsel, the Southern District of New York, or various congressional committees. Even more document requests could be sent out to additional witnesses as the investigation moves forward. “This is just the first wave,” one source said. “The committee will continue to make news as the weeks go on.”
Click on the link to read the rest.
More specifics from Aaron Black at The Washington Post: 7 intriguing names on the list of Democrats’ Trump-world documents requests.
The House Judiciary Committee on Monday sent 81 letters requesting documents from President Trump’s businesses, the Trump campaign, Trump’s family, Trump allies and people who have unwittingly found themselves mixed up with Trump. It represents the first big onslaught of requests stemming from the new majority status House Democrats enjoy.
But while some of the names on the list are no surprise, a few are worth picking out. Here are some of the more intriguing inclusions — and one notable omission.
The individuals (and one group) that Blaka provides background and comments on are: Hope Hicks, Allen Weisselberg, Michael Flynn Jr., K.T. McFarland, the estate of Peter Smith, Trump’s long-time secretary Rhona Graff, and Irakly Kaveladze/Rinat Akhmetshin/Anatoli Samochornov/Rob Goldstone. Read what he has to say at the WaPo.
Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: The Guy Trump Called ‘Fat Jerry’ Is Chairman Nadler Now.
Long before there was Crooked Hillary and Lyin’ Ted there was Fat Jerry.
That 1995 bit of name-calling by Donald Trump was aimed at Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democrat from New York who now serves as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Nadler long ago lost 100 pounds, but he’s still someone for Trump to hate and fear.
Their original object of contention was Television City, a metropolis within a metropolis that Trump proposed on a 52-acre tract he acquired on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1980s. The initial plan was for eight towers and 5,700 apartments, as well as television and movie studios.
Nadler met with Trump as the state assemblyman who then represented the area. Trump excitedly told him that the centerpiece would be a 150-story building, the tallest in the world. The lower floors were to be NBC’s new headquarters. Trump would of course occupy a palatial penthouse apartment at the very top.
“Above the clouds,” he told Nadler.
“New Yorkers want the tallest building,” Trump also said. “And so do I.”
Nadler was more of the opinion that New Yorkers wanted an affordable apartment. He opposed Trump’s project, viewing it as a neighborhood destroyer. Enough of the neighborhood agreed with him that he was elected to Congress after the incumbent, Rep. Ted Weiss, died the day before the primary in 1992.
Read more history of the Nadler-Trump relationship at the link.
This article precedes the Nadler letters, but it’s obviously relevant. Adam Davidson at The New Yorker: Fifteen Questions for Allen Weisselberg, the C.F.O. of the Trump Organization.
It now seems likely—at long, long last—that Weisselberg will be a central focus of the many sprawling investigations of Donald Trump and his businesses by the Democratic-controlled House. Weisselberg has been Trump’s primary accountant since Trump entered his father’s business, in 1973. Journalists who cover Trump’s finances have heard, from source after source, some variation of “I don’t know, but Allen does” about questions regarding Trump’s unorthodox accounting practices. Weisselberg is obsessively private, but he did give a deposition in a Trump Foundation lawsuit that revealed his willingness to engage in practices that appear far outside financial norms.
It seems likely that Weisselberg knows more than any other person—including Trump himself—about the specifics of how Trump made his money and who supported him financially. It is impossible to imagine a thorough investigation of Trump’s potential conflicts of interest without a full accounting from Weisselberg.
Click the New Yorker link to read Davidson’s questions.
Two more useful pieces to check out at Emptywheel:
Puzzling Through the House Requests.
In this one, Marcy Wheeler tries to break down the recipients of requests into logical groupings according to what we know about the Russia investigation.
The Metadata of the HJC Requests.
While the rest of us were looking at the content of the letters the House Judiciary Committee was sending out to witnesses yesterday, @zedster was looking at the metadata. The requests have dates and times reflecting three different production days: towards end of the work day on March 1 (Friday), a slew starting just after 3PM on March 3 (Sunday), with some individualized documents between then and Sunday evening, with a ton of work being done until 1:30 AM March 4 (Monday morning), and four more trickling in after that.
I think the production dates likely reflect a number of different factors.
First, the letters are boilerplate, which may explain why most of those were done first. Three things might explain a delay on any of those letters: either a late decision to include them in the request, delayed approval by SDNY or Mueller for the request, or some difficulty finding the proper addressee for the letter (usually, but not always, the person’s counsel of record). Not all of these addresses are correct: as one example, Erik Prince reportedly has gotten a new lawyer since Victoria Toensing first represented him, but has refused to tell reporters who represents him now; his letter is addressed to Toensing.
Read more at Emptywheel.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.
Posted: March 4, 2019 Filed under: morning reads
It’s a very cold Lundi Gras and I’m just grading and waiting for the frenzy to be over this time out. The usually quiet lead up days to Fat Tuesday are no longer quiet in my neck of the woods.. But, staying home and out of the way of the crazy means I get to see the crazy that corrupts our political system. We’ve all known that Fox News has had a toxic effect on the political environment pushing conspiracy theories and baldfaced lies as something other than what they are. Jane Mayer–writing for The New Yorker–has discovered they covered up the Stormy Daniels story prior to the election. A Fox reporter knew the details and she was told to hide it. This story involves Bill Shine who is now sitting in the White House as a public official. Nothing in Trumplandia surprises me any more. We just need to arrest the lot of them.
Shine led Fox News’ programming division for a dozen years, overseeing the morning and evening opinion shows, which collectively get the biggest ratings and define the network’s conservative brand. Straight news was not within his purview. In July, 2016, Roger Ailes, the co-founder and C.E.O. of Fox, was fired in the face of numerous allegations of chronic sexual harassment, and Shine became co-president. But within a year he, too, had been forced out, amid a second wave of sexual-harassment allegations, some of them against Fox’s biggest star at the time, Bill O’Reilly. Shine wasn’t personally accused of sexual harassment, but several lawsuits named him as complicit in a workplace culture of coverups, payoffs, and victim intimidation.
Shine, who has denied any wrongdoing, has kept a low profile at the White House, and rejects interview requests, including one from this magazine. But Kristol contends that Shine’s White House appointment is a scandal. “It’s been wildly under-covered,” he said. “It’s astounding that Shine—the guy who covered up Ailes’s horrible behavior—is the deputy chief of staff!”
This is a really long read so I’ll take you to the punchlines. The story winds between the sordid relationship between all the Fox personalities, the Fox News Management, and to what is clearly a movement to push Trump into office despite all appearances that Rupert Murdoch didn’t think much of him.
Fox’s embrace of Trumpism took some time. Sherman has reported that, when the network hosted the first Republican Presidential debate, in August, 2015, in Cleveland, Murdoch advised Ailes to make sure that the moderators hit Trump hard. This put Ailes in an awkward position. Trump drew tremendous ratings and had fervent supporters, and Ailes was afraid of losing that audience to rival media outlets. Breitbart, the alt-right Web site led by Stephen K. Bannon, was generating huge traffic by championing Trump. What’s more, Ailes and Trump were friendly. “They spoke all the time,” a former Fox executive says. They had lunch shortly before Trump announced his candidacy, and Ailes gave Trump political tips during the primaries. Ken LaCorte contends that Ailes took note of “Trump’s crazy behavior”; but Trump’s growing political strength was also obvious. According to the former Fox executive, Trump made Ailes “nervous”: “He thought Trump was a wild card. Someone Ailes could not bully or intimidate.”
Anthony Scaramucci, a former Fox Business host who was fleetingly President Trump’s communications director, told me in 2016 that the network’s executives “made a business decision” to give on-air stars “slack” to choose their candidates. Hannity was an early Trump supporter; O’Reilly was neutral; Megyn Kelly remained skeptical. Trump had hung up on Kelly after she ran a segment about his 1992 divorce from Ivana Trump, which noted that Ivana had signed an affidavit claiming that Trump had raped her. (Ivana later insisted that she hadn’t meant rape in the “criminal” sense.)
And so this … And there will be a mic drop
When Shine assumed command at Fox, the 2016 campaign was nearing its end, and Trump and Clinton were all but tied. That fall, a FoxNews.com reporter had a story that put the network’s journalistic integrity to the test. Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, hadobtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels. Falzone had worked on the story since March, and by October she had confirmed it with Daniels through her manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, and with Daniels’s former husband, Mike Moz, who described multiple calls from Trump. Falzone had also amassed e-mails between Daniels’s attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract.
But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.
Despite the discouragement, Falzone kept investigating, and discovered that the National Enquirer, in partnership with Trump, had made a “catch and kill” deal with Daniels—buying the exclusive rights to her story in order to bury it. Falzone pitched this story to Fox, too, but it went nowhere. News of Trump’s payoffs to silence Daniels, and Cohen’s criminal attempts to conceal them as legal fees, remained unknown to the public until the Wall Street Journal broke the story, a year after Trump became President.
This tears at the very idea of a free press. They suppressed a story of the Republican Candidate for Congress committing a crime. The Raw Story headline is more blunt: “Fox News spiked Stormy Daniels payoff story before the election: ‘Rupert Murdoch wants Donald Trump to win’.” It’s enough to make you wanna say “Rosebud” over and over and over …
“In January, 2017, Fox demoted Falzone without explanation,” reports Mayer. “That May, she sued the network. Her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, declined to comment but acknowledged that a settlement has been reached; it includes a nondisclosure agreement that bars Falzone from talking about her work at Fox.”
The second bomb shell is disturbing too. I expect hearings galore from this one. Vox explains: “Trump tried to kill the AT&T/Time Warner deal”.
Mayer’s story also reveals that from within the White House, Trump tried to push the Justice Department in the summer of 2017 to squash AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
Trump’s opposition to the deal was no secret — he criticized it as soon as it was announced, and his ongoing battle with CNN, which Time Warner owns, cast a heavy political shadow over the merger and the government’s objection to it. There have long been suspicions that Trump might try to intervene, and according to Mayer’s report, he did:
[I]n the late summer of 2017, a few months before the Justice Department filed suit [to block the deal], Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then the director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the Justice Department to intervene. According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, “I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it fifty times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”
Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, evidently understood that it would be highly improper for a President to use the Justice Department to undermine two of the most powerful companies in the country as punishment for unfavorable news coverage, and as a reward for a competing news organization that boosted him. According to the source, as Cohn walked out of the meeting he told Kelly, “Don’t you fucking dare call the Justice Department. We are not going to do business that way.”
The government eventually lost its lawsuit to block the deal in court.
There are legitimate reasons to be skeptical about the AT&T/Time Warner merger. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias explained, other lawmakers opposed it, including Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), top members on the Senate’s antitrust committee. And Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal, a similar deal, has had some negative effects.
But the president isn’t supposed to weigh in on antitrust enforcement in order to exact some sort of revenge plot on a perceived enemy — in this case, CNN. And Trump isn’t some media monopoly skeptic; he reportedly congratulated Murdoch about 21st Century Fox’s deal to sell its entertainment assets to Disney.
It’s hard for me to move beyond this story today. It’s like a compilation of all the things the Republican party has done recently to make this a full throttle banana republic kleptocracy. And of course, there’s this …
Well, I’m pretty sure this is going to be on all the news networks–with the exception of Faux Fucked up News–today.
There’s other headlines out there. Please share them down thread. I’m going back to grading.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: March 3, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, open thread, Women's Rights | Tags: Katherine Helmond
Some observations, and if I had the the time…this motherfucker would…
Union County High School, here in Banjoville, has a problem. A rape culture problem.
You can read the pdf of the story here:
Just 57 boys sharing sexting pictures…nothing to see here. Send them to church, it will be ok…
Can you believe this shit…fucking hell.
(BTW, 57 boys, is about the entire team.)
I don’t know, I think we need some W.I.T.C.H.s up in here:
Feminist Fight Club on Instagram: “The only thing more powerful than a confident woman? An army of them. For the 31 days of #WomensHistoryMonth, we’re highlighting 31 badass…”
The only thing more powerful than a confident woman? An army of them. For the 31 days of #WomensHistoryMonth, we’re highlighting 31 badass feminist fight clubs you may not know, but should. Like, W.I.T.C.H., or the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, that formed on Halloween 1968 to protest sexism, racism and patriarchy. With chapters called “covens” (13 members in each), WITCH staged colorful hit and run protests called “zaps”—once gluing the doors to the New York stock exchange shut (the Dow fell five points the following day 😹); staging a “hex” on a Manhattan bridal fair in which they released 100 white mice into the convention hall; and organizing an “ogle-in” on Wall Street where the witches catcalled men. Today, WITCH is still active — with chapters in Boston, Seattle, Portland and more. From the original WITCH Manifesta: “There is no ‘joining’ WITCH. If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a WITCH. You make your own rules.” 💫 #31daysofFFC
Check it out:
These two articles from last year….
How the Socialist Feminists of WITCH Use Magic to Fight Capitalism – Broadly
The first incarnation of WITCH performed their inaugural action—a hex on Wall Street—on Halloween in 1968. Now a new generation of witches is taking up the mantle from the infamous provocateurs.
Is It OK to Hex a Nazi? How Anti-Fascist Witches Are Mobilizing Under Trump – Broadly
As Trump supporters and antifa clash throughout the country, witches are turning their magical attention towards the new administration—and their spells are not all about love and light.
I seriously wish there was a local chapter around here.
Just a few links on the Global Women’s Rights movement, Global women’s rights movement SheDecides event concludes in Kathmandu
The flagship event of SheDecides Day 2019 concluded in Kathmandu with a firm commitment from participants to advance the movement in their home countries, and plans taking shape in Nepal to build local momentum.
Only 6 countries give women the same work rights as men. The U.S. isn’t one of them. – The Washington Post
A decade ago, no country in the world treated men and women equally under the law, according to a gender equality index from the World Bank. Today, only six countries do — and the United States isn’t one of them.
A new index released this week by the World Bank analyzes how each country’s laws affect women at every stage in their working lives — from applying for a job to having a child to receiving a pension — and the extent to which legal gender equality has progressed over time.
The study shows that over the past 10 years, the majority of the world moved closer to gender equality under the law, raising the global average score from 70.06 to 74.71 today.
Well, we could always find ourselves living in a cubby hole: Will these be the worst new ‘rabbit hutch’ flats in Britain? | Money | The Guardian
Wearing one of these thingamabobs, Scold’s Bridle, a Metal Mask Was Used to Punish Mainly Women Found Gossiping, Nagging, Brawling With Neighbors or Lying ~ vintage everyday
Scold’s bridle is a metal mask meant to bring upon public humiliation. It originated from Britain and spread to other European Countries and was used to punish and torture women till about the 1800s. Scold’s bridle was assigned by the local magistrate to women found gossiping or quarrelling.
The device was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head (although some bridles were masks that depicted suffering.) A bridle-bit (or curb-plate), about 2 inches long and 1 inch broad was slid into the mouth and either pressed down on top of the tongue as a compress or used to raise the tongue to lay flat on the wearer’s palate. This prevented speaking and resulted in many unpleasant side effects for the wearer, including excessive salivation and fatigue in the mouth.
We lost Katherine Helmond this week, Katherine Helmond Golden Globe-Winner of ‘Who’s the Boss?’ Dies at 89 · Guardian Liberty Voice
Katherine Helmond’s talent agency APA informed CNN on Mar. 1, 2019 that the actress who was best known for her roles on “Who’s the Boss” and “Soap” died on Feb. 23 at her home in Los Angeles from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 89 years old.
Katherine Helmond, ‘Soap’ and ‘Who’s the Boss?’ Star, Dies at 89 – The New York Times
On “Soap,” ABC’s prime-time parody of daytime soap operas, which ran from 1977 to 1981, Ms. Helmond played Jessica Tate, a lovable aristocrat who was one of the show’s main characters. Some viewers, as is often the case, wrongly assumed that the character was her.
“After I did ‘Soap,’ ” she told The Boston Globe in 1998, “people thought that the casting director had gone to a dinner party or something and found this dizzy lady and brought her to Los Angeles. People are surprised to find out that I’m from a very working-class Irish Catholic family and that I didn’t come from a lot of money and go to a nice finishing school and live in a grand house in Connecticut.”
…more important to her was the example the character set for women in midlife, especially if they had been widowed or were otherwise facing an uncertain future.
In a videotaped oral history, she recalled in 2008, “I got letters from people saying, ‘When my husband passed away I thought it was the end of the world for me, but by watching your silly show I found out that there were other things in life.’ ”
Katherine became involved in local community theaters in junior high school and high school.
“I did everything,” she said in the oral history, for the Archive of Television History. “I pulled the curtain, I learned to do the lights, I did the props, I held the script. And I truly learned everybody’s job that contributed toward the total piece.
“I think that that helped me tremendously when I became a professional actor. I didn’t have the deluded notion that I was ‘it.’ ”
That community theater experience was essentially her acting training; she did not go to college or acting school. After graduating from high school she worked for several years with a professional theater in Houston, then went to New York. She began landing Off Broadway and summer-stock roles, and with several friends ran a summer theater in the Catskills for three seasons.
Ms. Helmond became a well-regarded stage actress in New York and beyond. In 1966, working with the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, R.I., she took on the role of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
“Miss Helmond gives all of Blanche’s irritating mannerisms,” Kevin Kelly wrote in a glowing review in The Boston Globe, “the coquettish come-on, the infuriating pretense, but she makes us understand (far more persuasively than many actresses I’ve seen in the role) the demons driving her beyond the brink. I’m not ashamed to admit that Miss Helmond brought tears to my eyes in three scenes.”
I always loved Katherine Helmond, especially fond of her performance in Brazil.
20 Beautiful Vintage Photos of Katherine Helmond From Between the Late 1970s and 1980s ~ vintage everyday
More pictures at the link.
I’ve got a few more items to share:
10 ‘Little People’ Myths From Around The World – Listverse
In Slavic folklore, they have house spirits called domovoi. They look like a small man with either a beard or hair all over. Some stories say that they end up looking like the owner of their house, just with a grey beard and sometimes also a tail or horns. These spirits live behind the oven and protect the house, its inhabitants, and their animals. Every house has one, but it is never seen. Instead, people are only aware of it through the noises it makes, such as through footsteps or murmuring.
To keep the domovoi happy, people would leave milk or bread in a corner near the oven. When the domovoi feels respected, he does his best to protect the family, but if they upset him, he causes mischief. He does so by riding their horses or cows all night so that they’re too tired to work during the day, tripping them in the dark, or making milk go bad. If people moved, the domovoi would come with them; otherwise, they wouldn’t be safe.
I saw that bit come through my Newsblur service and I had no choice but to post it here…y’all know my weakness.
And since we started this post about teenagers….and women, and stuff, here is a compare and contrast….
45 Cool Pics Show What Teenage Girls Looked Like in the 1850s ~ vintage everyday
28 Cool Snaps That Defined the ’80s Teen Hairstyles ~ vintage everyday
It is funny, the clothes and hairstyles may change, but the expressions are similar…
This is an open thread.
Posted: March 2, 2019 Filed under: just because, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Amy Berman Jackson, cats, Chelsea Manning, David House, Eastern District of Virginia, John Dean, Julian Assange, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller, Roger Stone, Russia investigation, weather
By Didier Lourenço
It’s March 2, but winter is still hanging on. It’s snowing here in the Boston area, and we expect several more inches on top of what we got earlier this week. It’s also supposed to snow again tomorrow night. I guess that’s going to come from this major cross-country storm.
USA Today: Major weekend winter storm packing heavy snow begins 2,500-mile cross-country sprint.
A major, fast-moving winter storm is racing across the country this weekend, bringing forecasts of heavy snow from California to New England and threats of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms along the 2,500-mile path….
In parts of the Midwest, the snow — falling at up to 1 or 2 inches per hour — could pile up fast enough to strand motorists along major highways, AccuWeather warns.
Sections of Pennsylvania, New York and northern and western New England could see up to a foot of snow.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings Saturday for parts of Colorado, northern New Mexico, southern Wyoming and much of Kansas.
By Galina Kim
Snow was expected to move into the Central Rockies on Saturday and develop over parts of the Northern and Central Plains by Saturday evening, the NWS says. The snow will expand into parts of the Southern Plains and Middle Mississippi Valley overnight as it rolls eastward.
We didn’t get any new indictments from Robert Mueller yesterday, but there’s still quite a bit of Russia investigation news.
Roger Stone apparently failed to tell Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he has a book coming out that may violate his gag order. Late last night she ordered him to explain WTF is going on.
The Washington Post: Judge orders Roger Stone to explain imminent release of book that may violate gag order.
Republican operative and longtime Trump friend Roger Stone faced fresh legal trouble Friday after a federal judge ordered his attorneys to explain why they failed to tell her before now about the imminent publication of a book that could violate his gag order by potentially criticizing the judge or prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
The order by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia late Friday came barely eight days after Jackson barred Stone from speaking publicly about his case, prompted by a photo posted on Stone’s Instagram account that placed a crosshairs next to a photo of Jackson’s head….
By Adrie Martens
In the new controversy, Jackson, in a brief order posted on the court’s electronic docket after office hours Friday, said she was allowing Stone’s defense team to file under seal a motion apparently to clarify the court’s gag order and an unspecified accompanying exhibit, and ordered a court clerk to make public Stone’s request.
But Jackson also ordered Stone’s attorneys to explain by Monday why they waited until now in making that request to disclose the “imminent general rel[e]ase” of a book, which Jackson said “was known to the defendant.” [….]
On Jan. 16, Stone announced via Instagram that he would be publishing a book titled “The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Trump Really Won.” He included an image of the book cover. At the time, a source familiar with the publication plans told The Washington Post that the book consisted of a new introduction attached to a previous book that Stone had written about the 2016 presidential campaign. On Feb. 15, he announced via Instagram that the book would be published March 1, and he accompanied the post with hashtags such as #noconspiracy and #norussiancollusion.
According to Bloomberg, this may be an updated version of a 2017 Stone book.
At Buzzfeed News, Zoe Tillman writes about Paul Manafort’s latest sentencing memo: Paul Manafort Didn’t Just Ask For Less Prison Time In His Latest Court Filings — He’s Attacking Mueller Too.
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort on Friday continued to attack special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing Mueller’s office of not only vilifying him, but also of “spreading misinformation.”
Manafort and his lawyers have used pre-sentencing memos not only to lobby for a lower prison sentence, but also to criticize the special counsel’s office — something they’ve had limited opportunities to do, given a gag order imposed early on. In a sentencing memo filed Friday in Manafort’s case in federal court in Virginia, his lawyers wrote that Mueller had unfairly impugned Manafort’s character.
By Catriona Millar
“The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” Manafort’s lawyers wrote. “The Special Counsel’s conduct comes as no surprise, and falls within the government’s pattern of spreading misinformation about Mr. Manafort to impugn his character in a manner that this country has not experienced in decades.”
Manafort’s lawyers repeated their claim that Mueller pursued Manafort for crimes largely unrelated to his work on President Donald Trump’s campaign in order to pressure Manafort to flip on the president. Political and legal pundits have speculated that Manafort is angling for a pardon; Trump in November told the New York Post that a pardon for Manafort was not “off the table.”
“The Special Counsel’s strategy in bringing charges against Mr. Manafort had nothing to do with the Special Counsel’s core mandate — Russian collusion — but was instead designed to ‘tighten the screws’ in an effort to compel Mr. Manafort to cooperate and provide incriminating information about others,” his lawyers wrote, quoting language Manafort’s judge in Virginia, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III, had previously used to question the special counsel’s office’s motivations.
Manafort is due for sentencing in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on March 7. Earlier this month, Mueller’s office said in a sentencing memo that it believed Manafort should face a sentencing range of between 19.5 to 24 years in prison. It also wrote that Manafort’s penalty could include a fine of up to $24 million.
Lock him up!
At The New York Times, John Dean has suggestions for Michael Cohen: John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice for Michael Cohen.
There are several parallels between my testimony before Congress in 1973, about President Richard Nixon and his White House, and Michael Cohen’s testimony this week about President Trump and his business practices. Setting aside the differences regarding how we got there, we both found ourselves speaking before Congress, in multiple open and closed venues, about criminal conduct of a sitting president of the United States. This is not a pleasant place to be, particularly given the presidents involved.
The field cat, by Isabella Bryer
There are some differences: Unlike Mr. Cohen, who testified in public for a day, I testified for five days. His prepared statement was about 4,000 words; mine was some 60,000 words. Nielsen reports over 16 million people watched his testimony. I am told over 80 million people watched all or part of mine….
Mr. Cohen should understand that if Mr. Trump is removed from office, or defeated in 2020, in part because of his testimony, he will be reminded of it for the rest of his life. He will be blamed by Republicans but appreciated by Democrats. If he achieves anything short of discovering the cure for cancer, he will always live in this pigeonhole. How do I know this? I am still dealing with it.
Just as Mr. Nixon had his admirers and apologists, so it is with Mr. Trump. Some of these people will forever be rewriting history, and they will try to rewrite it at Mr. Cohen’s expense. They will put words in his mouth that he never spoke. They will place him at events at which he wasn’t present and locations where he has never been. Some have tried rewriting my life, and they will rewrite his, too.
There’s much more at the link.
This isn’t a Mueller case, but it could be related: Chelsea Manning has been subpoenaed. Politico: Chelsea Manning fights grand jury subpoena seen as linked to Assange.
Lawyers for convicted WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning are asking a federal court to block a grand jury subpoena she received in what her supporters believe is a federal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Manning’s attorneys filed the motion Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., a spokesperson for Manning said. The motion was put under seal and no information about it was immediately available from the court clerk’s office.
By Peter Mitchev, Bulgarian painter
The subpoena sent to Manning in January does not specify any crimes or particular investigation, but it was issued at the request of a federal prosecutor assigned to handle the fallout from an error that led to the disclosure late last year of the strongest indication so far that Assange is the subject of sealed criminal charges in the U.S.
In a statement Friday, Manning blasted the process and said she plans to fight the subpoena, which was first reported by The New York Times.
The rest of the article is mostly whining from Manning and her attorneys. Frankly, I don’t see why should shouldn’t be willing to testify. Another former Julian Assange associate has done so.
Kevin Poulsen at The Daily Beast: WikiLeaks Veteran: I ‘Cooperated’ With Feds ‘in Exchange for Immunity.’
Chelsea Manning isn’t alone.
Late Thursday, Manning revealed that she’s fighting a subpoena to testify before a grand jury that’s been investigating Julian Assange for nearly nine years. But Manning isn’t the only one being dragged into the aging probe of WikiLeaks’ first big haul. A former WikiLeaks volunteer who was also personal friends with Manning was subpoenaed last May. But unlike Manning, he did not fight the subpoena. He accepted an immunity deal offered by prosecutors….
Manning’s subpoena is the latest surge of action in an old case given new life under the Trump administration. Though the paperwork doesn’t specify what she’s expected to testify about, a case number is visible at the top of the page. It’s the known case number for a grand jury probe into WikiLeaks that began nine years ago in the middle of Assange’s dump of the hundreds of thousand of diplomatic cables and Army field reports leaked to him by Manning.
Friends, by Ljudmila Vasina
The existence of case 10GJ3793 first became public in early 2011 when prosecutors were papering companies like Google and Twitter with demands for records of key WikiLeaks activists. With the government’s consent, Twitter notified five users that the feds were after their records, and three of them went to court to challenge the lawfulness of the search, backed by the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Paulsen expends quite a bit of verbiage on the history of the government’s pursuit of this case (I get the feeling he thinks it’s terrible) before he gets around to telling us who the cooperating witness is. His name is David House.
The Daily Beast has learned that David House, the former WikiLeaks volunteer and Manning friend, was subpoenaed last May for an encore appearance before the Alexandria grand jury. This time he didn’t take the Fifth. “I decided to cooperate in exchange for immunity,” said House, who provided a copy of the subpoena. “You know, I’m walking around on the street out here. I’m not in an embassy.”
House spoke briefly with prosecutors and then testified for about 90 minutes in front of the grand jury, he said. “They wanted to know about my meetings with Assange, they wanted to know broadly about what we talked about,” he recalled. Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks. The identities of some American collaborators were exposed in Assange’s release of State Department cables and Army field reports from Afghanistan, which triggered internal debate and led to the departure of some of WikiLeaks’ key staffers early on.
“They showed me chat logs in which I was arguing vehemently with him about releasing documents that would leave people vulnerable and put people’s lives at risk,” said House, a computer science graduate and political activist now working on a centrist movement called the Pilot Party. “That was the only thing they put in front of my face that made me think, ‘This may be what they’re going after him for.’”
That’s all I’ve got for you today. What stories are you following?
Posted: February 28, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barbara McQuade, Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Joyce White Vance, Kim John Un, Matt Gaetz, Michael Cohen, Otto Warmbier, Vladimir Putin, women reading
Trump’s “summit” with Kim John Un accomplished nothing, but he did manage to disgrace himself and our country by once again sucking up to a murderous dictator.
The Daily Beast: Trump on Otto Warmbier: I Believe Kim Jong Un When He Says He Didn’t Know.
Donald Trump has sided with Kim Jong Un over the death of U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea for 17 months for stealing a propaganda poster and died days after being returned home to his family in a coma. Trump said he discussed the case with Kim, and repeatedly absolved him of any blame. Trump said, “Those prisons are rough, rough places, and bad things happened, but I really don’t believe [Kim] knew about it… he felt badly about it, he felt very badly, he knew the case very well but he knew it later.” Trump, speaking at a press conference after talks aimed at persuading Kim to give up his nuclear weapons collapsed, added: “You have a lot of people. And some really bad things happened to Otto. Some really, really bad things. But [Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.
Just like he took Putin’s word and MBS’s word over the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.
Trump also found time to call Rep. Matt Gaetz to think him for threatening Cohen before the hearing, so now we know who told Gaetz about Cohen’s alleged “girlfriends.”
So now Trump is implicated in Gaetz’s witness tampering.
Trump is also pissed off because the U.S. media largely ignored his kabuki theater in Hanoi in order to cover Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee yesterday.
The Wall Street Journal:Trump: Democrats Did a ‘Terrible Thing’ by Scheduling Cohen Hearing During Summit.
HANOI, Vietnam—President Trump on Thursday said the House Oversight Committee did a “terrible thing” by scheduling a hearing with his former lawyer Michael Cohen to coincide with the timing of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Having it during this very important summit is sort of incredible,” Mr. Trump told reporters during a press conference in Hanoi after announcing that talks with Mr. Kim failed because of an impasse over sanctions relief.
It’s behind the paywall, but that’s all you need. Trump also said it was a “fake hearing.”
The Washington Post on the aborted summit: Trump and Kim abruptly cut short summit after failing to reach nuclear deal.
HANOI — President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit Thursday after they were unable to reach an agreement to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
Talks collapsed unexpectedly amid a disagreement about economic sanctions, with the two leaders and their delegations departing their meeting site in Vietnam’s capital without sitting for a planned lunch or participating in a scheduled signing ceremony.
Kim said he was prepared in principle to denuclearize, and Trump said an agreement was “ready to sign.” But Trump said the main impediment to a deal was Kim’s requirement that the United States lift all economic sanctions on North Korea in exchange for the closure of only one nuclear facility, which still would have left Pyongyang with a large arsenal of missiles and warheads.
The New Book (1920). Harold Harvey (British 1874-1921)
“We had some options, but at this time we decided not to do any of the options,” Trump said. He added, “Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”
For Trump, the surprising turn of events amounted to a diplomatic failure. The president flew 20 hours to Vietnam with hopes of producing demonstrable progress toward North Korea’s denuclearization, building upon his first summit with Kim last summer in Singapore.
More from The New York Times:
The premature end to the negotiations leaves the unusual rapprochement between the United States and North Korea that has unfolded for most of a year at a deadlock, with the North retaining both its nuclear arsenal and facilities believed to be producing additional fissile material for warheads.
It also represents a major setback at a difficult political moment for Mr. Trump, who has long presented himself as a tough negotiator capable of bringing adversaries into a deal and had made North Korea the signature diplomatic initiative of his presidency.
Even as the talks began, Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, was delivering dramatic and damaging testimony in Congress, accusing him of an expansive pattern of lies and criminality.
Aaron Shikler 1922-2015
Word of the collapse of the Hanoi talks sent stocks lower in Asia, and Wall Street futures were down as the opening bell neared.
Mr. Trump had flown across the world to try to work face-to-face with Mr. Kim for the second time, an effort to reduce what American officials regard as one of the world’s foremost nuclear threats. Experts estimate that the North has 30 to 60 nuclear warheads as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles that can hit the United States, though it has not demonstrated the technology to protect warheads as they re-enter the atmosphere.
In other international news, Trump/Kushner close friend Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted. The Times of Israel: Netanyahu to stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending hearing.
In a decision that drastically shakes up Israeli politics less than six weeks before general elections, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe, pending a hearing.
The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister has been told he faces criminal charges, and casts a heavy shadow over Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.
by Iman Maleki, Iranian, born 1976
Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, unless he can persuade Mandelblit to reconsider in the course of the hearing process.
The attorney general detailed the allegations in a 57-page document that was released on Thursday evening.
Mandelblit, in his decision, wrote that according to suspicions the prime minister “damaged the image of the public service and public trust in it” and is suspected of abusing his position and status, and of “knowingly taking a bribe as a public servant in exchange for actions related to your position.”
If Israel can indict Netayahu, then the U.S. should be able to indict Trump.
Some reactions to Michael Cohen’s testimony:
Barbara McQuade at The Daily Beast: The Case Against Trump Has Never Been Stronger After Cohen Testimony.
One brick does not make a wall, but many bricks do.
When I was a federal prosecutor, a supervisor of mine frequently used this metaphor to remind us that one piece of evidence alone is rarely enough to prove a crime, but enough pieces of evidence are sufficient to prove guilt.
Michael Cohen’s public testimony on Wednesday did not constitute a wall of evidence, but it did provide several new bricks that could be used to build a case against President Donald Trump. Depending on other evidence in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, these pieces of evidence may be enough to prove Trump guilty of criminal or impeachable offenses.
Trump’s former lawyer testified about several facts that are significant bricks in the figurative wall of evidence.
by Edouard John Mentha
First, Cohen testified that he was present when Trump spoke to Roger Stone on speakerphone in July 2016, when Stone said that he had talked to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about an upcoming “massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” According to Cohen, this call came just days before the Democratic National Convention. If Cohen is correct on the timing, this event also occurred after the DNC had announced in June that it had been hacked by Russia, and so Russia’s involvement in the release would have been known by Trump. Cohen said that Trump responded by saying words to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”
Read the rest at the link. It’s interesting.
Joyce White Vance at The Washington Post: Yes, Michael Cohen’s a liar and a criminal. So how come you believed him?
Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday was a master class in how prosecutors can present cooperating witnesses who have lied and engaged in criminal conduct, and use their testimony to obtain convictions from juries. This is stock-in-trade for prosecutors because of one simple truth: Choirboys don’t often end up in the middle of criminal conspiracies. Prosecutors don’t pick their witnesses; defendants do.
Although Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney, did not testify in a criminal trial, under questioning from a prosecutor, but rather in a congressional proceeding, under questioning from lawmakers, what we saw was an example of how someone who has stood before a judge at the lowest moment of his life, acknowledging participation in criminal acts, can become a credible witness.
Shelley Thayer Layton, the Library Window
It is the very fact of a defendant’s criminality that creates the baseline for this transformation. Prosecutors require witnesses with firsthand knowledge. Witnesses with firsthand knowledge are mostly high-level participants in serious crimes. But how does the conversion take place? How does a defendant who has been involved in sustained criminal activity, who has threatened people, who has lied, who has participated in fraud and is generally subject to being excoriated on cross examination by the defense because of that behavior, become a witness whom jurors, or a country, can believe, even if they don’t like him or his conduct?
It starts with the nonnegotiable commitment by the defendant to cooperate fully and truthfully, to assist as requested in other investigations and cases. We know that the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III believes that Cohen did this — it told us so in its sentencing recommendation for him. Cohen himself told us on Wednesday that he was in “constant contact” with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. To be caught lying again can render the cooperator potentially unredeemable — a Paul Manafort, so to speak.
Again, there’s much more at the link.
Charles Pierce lambastes the Republicans who neither addressed Cohen’s testimony, nor defended Trump: The Republican Party Completely and Utterly Disgraced Itself at Michael Cohen’s Hearing.
On July 24, 1974, a congressman named Thomas Railsback leaned into the microphone in front of him on the broad, curving dais of the House Judiciary. Railsback was a Republican from Moline, Illinois. The issue before him that night was whether to vote to send to the full House of Representatives articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, a Republican from California who, at that moment, was the President of the United States. You could see the anguish on Railsback’s face the way you can see the current still running in a river that is only thinly iced. “I wish,” Railsback said in a ragged voice,”that the president could do something to absolve himself.” Then, Tom Railsback, Republican of Illinois, voted “Yea” on all three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.I mention this bit of history only to illustrate how utterly and completely the Republican Party disgraced itself on Wednesday when Michael Cohen, the current president*’s former king fixer, sat before the House Oversight Committee to describe some of the garish and baroque offenses against the law and the republic committed by Donald Trump. There was not a single Railsback to be found. Not one Republican asked a question about the specific offenses that Cohen had illuminated in his opening statement.Instead, they hammered away at Cohen’s own crimes—which, of course, did nothing but remind the folks watching at home on whose behalf Cohen had told so many lies and paid off so many women. They spent great chunks of their time trying to get Cohen to promise he wouldn’t sign a book deal after he gets out of the federal sneezer in three years. Rep. Michael Cloud of Texas told Cohen that any subsequent book deal would be “kind of sweet,” as though he’d be willing to spend three years in a federal prison if an editor from Random House would be waiting on the day he got out.
Nakamura Daizaburo [Japanese Nihonga painter 1898-1947
Read the rest at Esquire.
It’s been an exciting week so far. I wonder if we’ll get any news from the Special Counsel’s office tomorrow? What stories have you been following?