Thursday Reads: The Trump Crime Family

The Basket of Apples, by Paul Cezanne, 1895

Good Afternoon!!

Remember when people used talk about the “Bush crime family?” Well, the Trump crime family makes the Bushes look like pikers.

Just a couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published a stunning 18-month report on Trump’s “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.” Of course that story has been buried in the rubble of the Kavanaugh hearings and more Trump criminal behavior, including his current efforts to cover up a murder perpetrated by the Saudis.

Now Trump, Inc. (at ProPublica) has released the results of an 8-month study of the Trump Organization’s business model, Pump and Trump.

Since Donald Trump’s fortunes came surging back with the success of “The Apprentice” 14 years ago, his deals have often been scrutinized for the large number of his partners who have ventured to the very edges of the law, and sometimes beyond. Those associates have included accused money launderers, alleged funders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and a felon who slashed someone in the face with a broken margarita glass.

Trump and his company have typically countered by saying they were merely licensing his name on these real estate projects in exchange for a fee. They weren’t the developers or in any way responsible.

But an eight-month investigation by ProPublica and WNYC reveals that the post-millennium Trump business model is different from what has been previously reported. The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.

Autumn Patterns. Mary Gibbs. Watercolour.

Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated. One common pattern, visible in more than half of those transactions, was a tendency to misstate key sales numbers.

In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California ; Panama City, Panama ; Toronto  and New York’s SoHo neighborhood . These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.

Another pattern: Donald Trump repeatedly misled buyers about the amount (or existence) of his ownership in projects in Tampa, Florida; Panama; Baja and elsewhere. For a tower planned in Tampa, for example, Trump told a local paper in 2005 that his ownership would be less than 50 percent: “But it’s a substantial stake. I recently said I’d like to increase my stake but when they’re selling that well they don’t let you do that.” In reality, Trump had no ownership stake in the project.

The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away.

Read the rest and listen to the Trump, Inc. episode at the link.

At The New Yorker, Adam Davison summarizes the findings of the two studies and asks: Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model?

It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools, the Trump Organization’s core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud. There are many ways to make money in real estate. The normal way is to identify a need in the market, raise money by convincing lenders or investors that your plan is sound, build the structure, then either profit through ongoing rent or by selling units. The key variables in such a business are what is known as product-market fit—the accuracy with which a developer understands the housing or commercial needs of a place—and the ability to execute well by keeping costs down without sacrificing the right level of quality. Perhaps more than anything, practitioners of a successful real-estate business obsessively focus on maintaining the ability to borrow money cheaply. The profit on many real-estate projects often comes down to simple math: the cheaper you can borrow money to build, the more money you make. The more trustworthy you are, through a long period of successful projects, the less interest banks will demand on their loans, so the more profit you can make, and the more successful you will be.

Autumn Still Life by Ruslan Smorodinov

Rather famously, Trump overinvested in luxury housing, spent too much on his casinos, and completely blew his brief foray into a regional airline. Far worse, Trump did the very opposite of insuring a long record of fiscal prudence that would allow him to borrow money cheaply. Despite the company’s mixed record, it has survived and grown. It’s doing something well, so what is it?

This month, two incredible investigative stories have given us an opportunity to lift the hood of the Trump Organization, look inside, and begin to understand what the business of this unusual company actually is. It is not a happy picture. The Times published a remarkable report, on October 2nd, that showed that much of the profit the Trump Organization made came not from successful real-estate investment but from defrauding state and federal governments through tax fraud. This week, ProPublica and WNYC co-published a stunning story and a “Trump, Inc.” podcast that can be seen as the international companion to the Times piece. They show that many of the Trump Organization’s international deals also bore the hallmarks of financial fraud, including money laundering, deceptive borrowing, outright lying to investors, and other potential crimes.

It’s still difficult to believe that the thug who head’s this crime family is currently the “president.”

We know that with Trump, everything is about his personal money and power, not the nation he supposedly leads. So what is this all about?

The Washington Post: Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to U.S. amid crisis over Khashoggi.

The United States received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeoarrived in Riyadh to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a State Department official confirmed Wednesday amid global calls for answers in the case.

Saudi Arabia publicly pledged the payment to support U.S. stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria in August, but questions persisted about when and if Saudi officials would come through with the money.

Autumn Still Life, William Merritt Chase

The timing of the transfer, first reported by the New York Times, raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh seeks to manage the blowback over allegations that Saudi agents were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance. The State Department denied any connection between the payment and Pompeo’s discussions with Saudi officials about Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist.

Could there be a more obvious bribe? Yet the Trump thugs expect us to believe it’s just a coincidence.

“We always expected the contribution to be finalized in the fall time frame,” Brett McGurk, the State Department’s envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, said in a statement. “The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit.”

But, the WaPo continues,

Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich monarchy and staunch U.S. ally, has long relied on its financial largesse to persuade partners to support its foreign policy objectives. Western diplomats suspect that the kingdom will also compensate Turkey for its willingness to launch a joint investigation on Khashoggi’s disappearance — a payback that could come in the form of large-scale debt relief, strategic buyouts or other arrangements that boost Turkey’s ailing economy.

We’re most likely never going to get that audiotape from Turkey, folks.

Trump won’t even let Republicans in Congress know what’s happening with the murder cover up.

The Hill: Corker: Trump administration ‘clamped down’ on Saudi intel, canceled briefing.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that the Trump administration is restricting access to information about a missing Saudi journalist, a move that comes as President Trump has publicly echoed denials of wrongdoing from top Saudi officials.

Joke Frima (b.1952) — On the Woodpile, 2010

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Washington Post that the administration had “clamped down” on sharing intelligence about Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who has been missing for more than two weeks.

“I can only surmise that probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to Saudi Arabia,” Corker told the Post.

According to Shane Harris at The Washington Post, the Trump administration is openly working with the Saudi’s to come up with a plausible cover story:

The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.

But it will be difficult for the young ruler to escape scrutiny, as mounting evidence points not only to the Saudi government’s knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but also to a connection by Mohammed to his disappearance.

U.S. intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi’s friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed’s desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.

The analysts and officials said it was inconceivable that such a brazen operation as the one alleged by Turkish officials, involving a team of 15 agents sent to Istanbul, who then killed and dismembered Khashoggi, could have been pulled off by a group of “rogue killers,” as President Trump speculated this week, moments after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Even one of the president’s closest advisers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said many senior members of the administration concluded more than a week ago that the Saudis had killed Khashoggi.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More stories on the Kashoggi murder:

NYT: Aide to Saudi Crown Prince, Suspect in Khashoggi Case, Is Shown Walking into Consulate.

NYT: U.S. Spy Agencies Are Increasingly Convinced of Saudi Prince’s Ties to Journalist’s Disappearance.

Ahval: Saudi suspect in Khashoggi disappearance reportedly dies in car accident – pro-gov’t Yeni Şafak.

The Washington Post: Secret recordings give insight into Saudi attempt to silence critics.

Nicholas Kristof at the NYT: A President Kowtowing to a Mad Prince.

One more Trump crime story before I call it quits for today, this time about the stolen election. 

The Guardian: Revealed: Russian billionaire set up US company before Trump Tower meeting.

A Russian billionaire who orchestrated the June 2016 Trump Tower meetingformed a new American shell company a month beforehand with an accountant who has had clients accused of money laundering and embezzlement.

The billionaire, Aras Agalarov, created the US company anonymously while preparing to move almost $20m into the country during the time of the presidential election campaign, according to interviews and corporate filings.

The company was set up for him in May 2016 by his Russian-born accountant, who has also managed the US finances of compatriots accused of mishandling millions of dollars. One of those clients has its own connectionto the Trump Tower meeting.

In June 2016, Agalarov allegedly offered Trump’s team damaging information from the Kremlin about Hillary Clinton, their Democratic opponent. The offer led Trump’s eldest son to hold a meeting at their Manhattan offices that is now a focus of the inquiry into Moscow’s election interference by Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

Agalarov’s previously unreported shell company is another example of intriguing financial activity around the time of the Trump Tower meeting.

Read the rest at the Guardian.

Now, what stories are you following today?

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Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I am completely burned out on politics today. I can’t handle any more Trump madness. It makes me feel sick even to type his last name. I can’t stand anymore Hillary bashing. I don’t really care that much for Elizabeth Warren, but I’m fed up with the attacks on her family stories. I can’t stand the media focusing on these meaningless stories and ignoring the administration’s failures to help hurricane victims and it’s torture of immigrant children and their families.

Ever since the Kavanaugh confirmation, I can barely stand to watch cable TV. Reading about politics makes me angry and depressed. I really think this state of mind is going to be with me until election day at least. I wonder if there is any chance that we as a country can come out of this dark tunnel into the light of democracy?

Here’s what’s happening. A New York Times financial reporter posted this tweet:

So far the tweet has received 1.4K replies and only 33 retweets and 116 likes. At least this ratio shows that lots of people thought the tweet was offensive and ridiculous. But why are people still relitigating something that happened 20 years ago, and why are they blaming Hillary, who was actually the victim in the events? Why is it strange that a woman would refuse to attack the husband she obviously loves?

Here’s another one–also from a woman in the media:

Sigh . . . I can’t stand any more of this. When I finish this post, I’m going to read novel and pretend everything is OK, just for today.

From The Daily Beast: Trump Hangs ‘Tacky’ Fantasy Painting of Himself With GOP Presidents in White House.

President Trump’s latest addition to White House decor is a kitschy fantasy painting that shows him relaxing with Republican presidents of the past—an update to a best-selling image commonly found in tourist gift shops and online galleries.

The print, “The Republican Club” by Andy Thomas, could be seen in the background of a photo tweeted by 60 Minutes, which aired an interview with Trump on Sunday night.

It shows a slimmed-down Trump sandwiched between Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, directly across from Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes are also in the imaginary scene.

Amateur art critics sneered on social media that the artwork was “tacky,” “a travesty,” or “blasphemy.” Some said it looked like the political version of the famous “dogs playing poker” painting.

Here’s the painting:

 

 

Trump also has a framed map of his electoral college win hanging in the White House. He’s so embarrassing.

In more serious news, Trump is still defending the Saudis for murdering a Washington Post journalist. CNN: Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ behind Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

President Donald Trump suggested Monday that “rogue killers” could be behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about the case.

Trump told White House reporters that Salman offered him a “flat denial” in relation to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2.

Later Monday, the Saudis were preparing to admit that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Washington for Riyadh at around midday to meet with the Saudi King on Trump’s orders.

Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained that Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but have provided no evidence to support the claim. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge.

Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia right now, and judging by the photos I’ve seen and reports of his meetings with King Salmon and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo didn’t even give the Saudi rulers a stern talking to. In fact, they are both grinning ear-to-ear in all the pictures.

CNN: Pompeo meets Saudi King as Khashoggi family calls for inquiry into ‘death.’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with top Saudi leaders Tuesday as sources told CNN that the Kingdom is preparing to acknowledge that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pompeo had a short discussion with King Salman before a longer meeting with the King’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo “thanked the King for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” of the Khashoggi case and expressed “concern” about the case to the foreign minister.

Nauert described the meetings as “direct and candid.”

Pompeo meets King Salmon

CNN’s sources say Saudi Arabia plans to contend that the Washington Post columnist died when an interrogation went awry, but there was no public mention on Tuesday of any new Saudi explanation of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, back in Turkey:

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish officials, who searched the consulate for nine hours on Monday, are looking into “toxic” and “painted over material” as part of their investigation. “My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters.

Kashoggi’s family wants and international investigation. I doubt if Trump and Pompeo will support that.

Business Insider: Saudis reportedly preparing to claim Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a botched interrogation.

The Saudi government is preparing to a release a report claiming that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a botched interrogation, CNN reported on Monday, citing two sources.

The interrogation was reportedly supposed to lead to Khashoggi’s abduction from Turkey. CNN described one source as saying the report is likely to claim that the interrogation was conducted without clearance or transparency.

In other words, he was tortured to death by “rogue” operators. Yeah, right.

The Washington Post Editorial Board points out that the U.S. really doesn’t need Saudi Arabia for anything –although Trump and Jared Kushner may be concerned about personal losses to their  businesses interests.

…it’s worth considering just how much the United States might have to lose if its relationship with Saudi Arabia ruptured. What about that oil, and the $110 billion in arms purchases Mr. Trump keeps talking about? What about the war on terrorism?

Start with the oil. Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, supplied 9 percent of U.S. petroleum imports in 2017, or about 960,000 barrels a day. But thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is essentially energy independent: It, not Saudi Arabia, is now the world’s largest crude-oil producer. Last year, U.S. daily oil exports averaged 6.38 million barrels, or nearly seven times the Saudi imports. If the Saudis cut back production or boycotted the United States, they could temporarily drive up prices, but the beneficiaries would be U.S. shale companies, which over time would fill the gap — and deal a devastating blow to the Saudi oil industry.

Jared and Ivanka with MBS

As for arms sales, someone needs to brief Mr. Trump on the actual results of the promises made to him when he visited Riyadh last year. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution sums it up, “The Saudis have not concluded a single major arms deal with Washington on Trump’s watch.” Moreover, an end to supplies of U.S. spare parts and technical support, something Russia cannot provide, would quickly ground the Saudi air force. That would have the welcome effect of ending a bloody bombing campaign in Yemen that a U.N. investigation concluded was probably responsible for war crimes.

Saudi Arabia does supply the United States with counterterrorism intelligence. But as Andrew Miller of the Project on Middle East Democracy points out, stopping it “would be a colossal error . . . when there’s already a strong perception in Congress and with Americans that Saudi Arabia has fueled extremism.” Mr. Miller notes that a law passed by Congress in 2016 opens the way for civil suits against the Saudi government for any terrorist acts it enables.

The reality is that Saudi Arabia, which, as Mr. Trump himself has crudely pointed out, would not survive without U.S. security support, has everything to lose from a break in relations, while the United States no longer needs the kingdom as much as it once did. Mr. Trump has overvalued the relationship and encouraged Saudi leaders to believe they can behave recklessly and even criminally without consequence.

So all the concern from the administration must be about Trump’s and Kushner’s private finances. That is just sickening.

One more story before I escape into my book.

The Washington Post: ‘Blue wave’ or ‘left-wing mob’? Anti-Trump fervor fuels a new movement aimed squarely at winning elections.

If the Nov. 6 midterm elections turn into what many Democrats hope will be a “blue wave,” swamping Republican majorities from Congress to state legislatures nationwide, it will have been powered in part by a new and sprawling network of activists on the left who, like Wilburn, have leaped into action over the past two years — energized by their deep desire to thwart the rise of Trump and his agenda.

Like the conservative tea party groups that rose up after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and that helped Republicans retake the House and gain power in state legislatures in 2010, this new liberal movement has emerged largely outside the traditional party structure.

It is led by hundreds of thousands of mostly white, college-educated, middle-aged women who trace their inspiration to the inaugural women’s marches in January 2017 and whose ambitions have only grown amid a succession of disagreements with Trump, including over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Read the rest at the link. If anyone saves this country from Trump it will be women.

What stories are you following today?


Wednesday Reads: Hurricane Michael and Cartoons

This is the most current NHC forecast for Hurricane Michael.

You can find more alert information here: HURRICANE MICHAEL

 

This is a GIF image from last night:

 

From the reports, it looks like the panhandle of Florida is gonna get the shit kicked out of ’em….and according to the MSNBC dude on Brian Williams show…”towns will no longer be recognizable.”

Ever since last years Irma, and the aftermath of that tree making our house into something of a taco shaped ruin…any breeze over 15 mph gets me nervous.

Here are your cartoons, starting with some from Facebook…

 

 

Thanks Susie: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Thanks Susie

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Peas in a pod: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Peas in a pod

Fab: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Fab

10/09/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

10/08/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

That one was from a few days ago….

10/09/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Beers For Brett: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Beers For Brett

Senate Confirmation: 10/06/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Senate Confirmation

10/08/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

 

Invertebrates: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Invertebrates

A distrubing pattern: 10/08/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - A distrubing pattern

Trump finances: 10/05/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Trump finances

Attacking Dr. Ford: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Attacking Dr. Ford

Judge of character: 10/04/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Judge of character

Senator McConnell and Mr. Hypocrite: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Senator McConnell and Mr. Hypocrite

It’s a Hard Knock Trump: 10/07/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - It's a Hard Knock Trump

10/07/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

HOW ????: 10/07/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HOW ????

 

I know this one was in the comments yesterday…

10/10 Mike Luckovich: Credible witness

10/09 Mike Luckovich: Boilin’ in style

 

 

Hat Check-Head Check: 10/09/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Hat Check-Head Check

I will end with that one.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads

Reading in the Valley of Arconville, Theodore Robinson, c. 1887

Good Morning!!

Can’t we ever have a day without Trump drama? Axios: Scoop: Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation.

President Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as UN Ambassador, according to two sources briefed on their conversation. The timing of her departure is still unclear, the president promised a “big announcement” with her at 10:30 a.m.

What we’re hearing: Haley discussed her resignation with Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, these sources said. Her news shocked a number of senior foreign policy officials in the Trump administration.

The “big announcement” will come while I’m working on this post. Is he going to move her to another post? Surely it can’t be for corruption. Trump doesn’t care about that does he?

Charleston Post and Courier: Watchdog wants investigation of Nikki Haley’s private jet flights to SC.

COLUMBIA — A federal government watchdog asked the State Department on Monday to investigate whether U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley broke any regulations by accepting seven flights on private jets from three South Carolina executives last year.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, also questioned how Haley values the flights on “luxury private aircraft,” most of which also included her husband, Michael.

By Dee Nickerson

The former South Carolina governor based the cost on first-class commercial airline tickets for the flights from New York to three South Carolina cities. Her total was $3,219.

But the four flights Haley took on a plane belonging to Jimmy Gibbs, chief executive of Gibbs International in Spartanburg, were alone worth up to $24,000 based on publicly reported operating costs of a private jet, CREW said.

“Ambassador Haley should have been conscious of the appearance concerns surrounding her acceptance of gifts of private luxury air travel at a time when her colleagues in the administration were making news with their own lavish air travel,” CREW wrote.

Commentators on MSNBC are saying she could be out because of conflicts with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hey, maybe she plans to primary Lindsey Graham. Graham has announced that he’s running in 2020 and has “zero interest” in being Attorney General.

So after the spectacle of Rod Rosenstein flying to Florida on Air Force One yesterday, and after the fake FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, and Rosenstein’s presence at the political rally Trump held for Kavanaugh last night, some of us are getting nervous about which side Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray are really on in terms of the Russia investigation. Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa wants us to calm down.

The New York Times: The Mueller Investigation Is Bigger Than Rod Rosenstein.

On Monday, President Trump said he has no plans to fire [Rosenstein], and many Americans may have breathed a sigh of relief. But while it’s true that his departure would have been cause for worry for those who seek to protect the independence and integrity of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, at this stage of the inquiry, even a replacement dead set on shutting it down would find such a maneuver nearly impossible to accomplish — and with each day that goes by, it becomes even harder.

Claire Atwood, 1943

To begin with, there is no such thing as a single “Russia investigation.” The F.B.I. pursues cases against individuals and organizations, not topics — this allows each case to have the flexibility to go in the direction the evidence leads, regardless of what happens with other, related cases. After the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, “Pentbomb” was the umbrella name for hundreds of discrete cases on the hijackers, their networks and Al Qaeda.

Further, existing cases spawn new cases. This is especially true of counterintelligence and conspiracy investigations, where every newly discovered contact or association of a subject already under investigation could form the basis of a new case. That’s why the current Russia investigation, originally referred to in the F.B.I. as “Crossfire Hurricane,” isn’t just a single case on Russian election meddling. Rather, at this stage it is a spider web of tens or dozens of cases on intelligence officers, their agents and individuals and organizations helping Russia that are investigated independently, cross-referencing pertinent information to other cases as necessary.

Nor is an investigation of this magnitude limited to a single office. Each case generates leads — threads of inquiry, like an interview or surveillance of an intelligence officer who might be traveling to another state — that span the country. When this happens, F.B.I. agents don’t hop on a plane. Rather, the “home” office for the case (called the “office of origin”) will send a lead to the field office with jurisdiction over that area.

Lady with a Cat – Nikolai Yaroshenko

Mr. Mueller’s investigation is more closely held than most, but its tentacles have already clearly spread to other field offices — consider the investigation against President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, run out of the Southern District of New York office, or the plea deal of a California man, Richard Pinedo, who assisted Russia in executing its disinformation campaign on social media. Field offices are evaluated in part based on their success in following through on leads and making cases that result in arrests and convictions. No case agent worth their salt would remain quiet if their cases were closed in the face of a continuing threat. To “shut down” the investigation at this point would require not just a face-off with Mr. Mueller but also with special agents in charge of multiple field offices with a vested interest in seeing their responsibilities through, and possibly even a battle with the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Well that nasty old Hillary Clinton has dared to speak up again, and the menfolks are in an uproar. This morning Lawrence Tribe tweeted that Clinton should “button it up” for the next month, and was surprised to get a backlash from people who love Hillary–didn’t he notice that she won the popular vote in 2016? I can’t post the tweet, because Tribe has now deleted it and others that criticized Clinton.

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says Trump turned Kavanaugh ceremony into a ‘political rally.’

“What was done last night in the White House was a political rally,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “It further undermined the image and the integrity of the court, and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

Clinton’s comments referred to a boisterous event in the East Room on Monday night that began with Trump apologizing to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” he said they were forced to endure during a chaotic confirmation process.

Trump later praised Kavanaugh’s fortitude while facing allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct and profusely thanked Republican senators who advocated for him, culminating in a 50-to-48 confirmation vote largely along party lines on Saturday.

Among those Trump recognized was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who received resounding applause after the president asked him to stand up.

It was a disgusting partisan display, and Kavanaugh himself joined in with an embarrassing speech in which he thanked specific Republicans for putting him on the Court.

At the Guardian, Ian Samuel recommends fighting back by packing the Court: Kavanaugh will be on the US supreme court for life. Here’s how we fight back.

Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and he will serve as a justice on the supreme court for the rest of his life. This event assures rightwing dominance of the court for a generation – or so we are told. After all, at 53, he is not even the youngest conservative: Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51. The chief justice, who has been there for more than a decade, is only 63. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by contrast, is 85, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 80. We are in, it seems, for decades of misery for labor unions, voting rights, regulation of businesses and all the rest….

The ray of hope, if there is one, lies in contradiction of the first of those premises. Nothing in the constitution fixes the number of supreme court seats at nine. The size of the court is set by legislation, and has varied over time. We started with six. We’ve gone as high as 10 (when Abraham Lincoln was president, and Congress worried about a reactionary supreme court invalidating his wartime measures). Only recently, Republicans held the court to eight members for a year in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death.

By Stan Moeller

So, then, the next time the left has some political power, why not just expand the size of the supreme court and add another handful of justices? Make Brett Kavanaugh a gifted and energetic member of a 10-to-5 minority. Don’t get mad, in other words: get even.

This is called “court-packing”. And although it enjoys a long and distinguished history in America, anyone who suggests it today will be met – swiftly – by serious and sober realists, all of whom who are eager to explain the reasons that this cannot possibly work.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

As Daknikat wrote yesterday, we’ve been seeing human rights violations increasing around the world lately, and the Trump administration seems unconcerned. Most recently, Saudi Arabia disappeared a journalist in Turkey and reportedly murdered him and dismembered the body; and China arrested the head of Interpol. Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Trump Gives Dictators the Green Light.

In September 2017, the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had gone into exile, wrote a column in The Washington Post headlined, “Saudi Arabia Wasn’t Always This Repressive. Now It’s Unbearable.”

As of this writing, Khashoggi is thought to be dead. Last Tuesday, he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document certifying his divorce so that he could remarry. He hasn’t been seen since. The Turkish government claims he was murdered inside.

“If the reports of Khashoggi’s murder are true, it’s so brazen, it’s so outlandish,” Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told me. Saudi Arabia has killed people before, and put dissidents and bloggers in prison. “But this is at a whole different level,” she said.

Ohan Krouthen, Three reading women in a summer landscape, 1908

It’s not surprising, however, that the Saudi government would think it could get away with it. The United States has long maintained a close strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s abysmal human rights record, and tacit American support for its brutal war in Yemen began during Barack Obama’s administration. But there’s never been an American president as enthusiastically pro-Saudi as Trump.

Sure, he sees the country as an ally against Iran. But it’s more than that: Trump seems to feel a real affinity for the gaudy kleptocratic opulence of the country’s leaders. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, appears to view M.B.S. as a kindred spirit; both, after all, are rich millennials making world-altering decisions thanks to extreme nepotism.

Read the rest at the link. Be warned though, Goldberg sees Bernie Sanders as part of the solution.

One more before I turn the floor over to you: a mom tries to support Trump/Kavanaugh and in the process humiliates her son before the world. The Washington Post: ‘This is MY son’: Navy vet horrified as mom’s tweet miscasts him as #HimToo poster boy — and goes viral.

Pieter Hanson was in the middle of a marketing exam when his phone started blowing up, buzzing and buzzing until he was convinced something terrible had happened. Too anxious to focus, he whizzed through the rest of his test, handed it in to his University of Central Florida professor and bolted into the hallway to pull out his cellphone and find out what was going on.

Reading outdoors with cat above, by Marcus Stone, 1840-1921

Sure enough, something terrible had happened indeed: His mom accidentally turned him into a viral Twitter meme.

“This is MY son,” began his mom’s viral post, which featured a photograph of Hanson posing in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”

“Hey, Pieter, we want you to know that this is going on,” one friend texted him.

“We know this isn’t you,” said another.

It was all rather disorienting. The tweet, since deleted, had been widely shared, immediately casting Hanson as the poster boy for the #HimToo movement. The movement has more recently been seen by some as the antithesis of the #MeToo movement, suggesting in the wake of the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings that men are frequently victims of false sexual assault accusations and that many accusers are liars.

The problem: Hanson, a 32-year-old Navy veteran, doesn’t support this movement, considering himself an ally of the #MeToo movement, he told The Washington Post. Nor is he fearful of “solo dates.”

Wow. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner will be like in that family?

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: I Have No Words

Judith Slaying Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi

Good Morning!!

I have no words today.

Thanks to Delphyne for this article at The Guardian: More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil.

Two women are holding a man down on a bed. One presses her fist against his head, so he can’t raise it from the mattress, while her companion pins his torso in place. They are well-built with powerful arms but even so it takes their combined strength to keep their victim immobilised as one of them cuts through his throat with a gleaming sword. Blood spurts from deep red geysers as she saws. She won’t stop until his head is fully severed. Her victim’s eyes are wide open. He knows exactly what is happening to him.

The dying man is Holofernes, an enemy of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and the young woman beheading him is Judith, his divinely appointed assassin. Yet at the same time he is also an Italian painter called Agostino Tassi, while the woman with the sword is Artemisia Gentileschi, who painted this. It is, effectively, a self-portrait.

Susanna and the Elders, artemisia gentileschi

Two big, blood-drenched paintings of Judith and Holofernes by Gentileschi survive, one in the Capodimonte in Naples, the other in the Uffizi in Florence. They are almost identical except for small details – in Naples Judith’s dress is blue, in Florence yellow – as if this image was a nightmare she kept having, the final act to a tragedy endlessly replaying in her head.

“This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises!” yelled Gentileschi as she was tortured in a Rome courtroom in 1612. Ropes were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tight. The judge had advised moderate use of the sibille, as this torture was called, for she was after all 18. Across the court sat the man who had raped her. No one thought of torturing him. Defiantly, Gentileschi told him her thumbscrews were the wedding ring he’d promised. Again and again, she repeated that her testimony about the rape was reliable: “It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true.

Tassi was hired by Gentileschi’s father to give her painting lessons.

Tassi tricked his way into her room and started making unwanted offers of sex, she testified. “He then threw me on to the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, he placed a hand with a handkerchief on my mouth to keep me from screaming.”

She fought back. “I scratched his face,” she told the court, “and pulled his hair and, before he penetrated me again, I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh.” But she couldn’t stop him. Afterwards, she rushed to a drawer and got out a knife. “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonoured me,” she shouted. He opened his coat and said: “Here I am.” Gentileschi threw the knife but he shielded himself. “Otherwise,” she said, “I might have killed him.”

1498 self portrait, artemisia gentileschi

Read the rest at The Guardian. It’s a story that still rings true today. Gentileschi’s rapist was found guilty but wasn’t punished, and she was tortured. It’s a story as old as time and as modern as today when a Senate dominated by old, white Republican will elevate an attempted rapist, sexual abuser, and right wing political activist to the highest court in the land.

Centuries after Gentileschi was tortured by the legal system of her day, women are still routinely raped, sexually abused, and even murdered in the name of male supremacy. And when they dare to speak about what was done to them, they are abused again by the “justice” system and betrayed by colluding women like Maine Senator Susan Collins.

What is wrong with these men, beginning with Donald Trump, pretender to the presidency? Because I’m feeling mean, I’m going to post this Twitter thread.

I’m not sure I agree with this analysis, but I have always seen Trump as effeminate. His vanity, his hair, his odd hand gestures, he’s so far from masculine. Is that why he hates and abuses women? Because he feels weak and inadequate? That’s what I suspect.

Here’s piece by Jaco at The St. Louis American: Brett Kavanaugh and Republican white maledom.

Like most 68-year-old white males, I’m disgusted that an ideologue and perjurer accused of sexual assault is about to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

That sentence, of course is a lie. And the lie is in the first seven words. Most 68-year-old white males want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The respected Quinnipiac University poll shows 48 percent of Americans polled oppose Kavanaugh, while 42 percent support him. But 59 percent of white men want Kavanaugh, along with 45 percent of white women.

African Americans oppose Kavanaugh by 81 percent, while Hispanics dislike him by a 65 percent margin. In fact, the poll finds Kavanaugh is unpopular among every demographic group except white people over age 50, where the majority support him. Not co-incidentally, white people over age 50 vote in huge numbers and control the big money donations to the GOP.

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, Artemisia Gentileschi

The entire Kavanaugh process has been one of the most blatant examples of minority rule since apartheid fell. Kavanaugh raged in self-pity during testimony. The White House limited the FBI “investigation” into sexual assault charges. Trump mocked Kavanaugh’s accuser. Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell sniffed that the GOP “won’t be intimidated” by sexual assault survivors. In every case, conservative white men snarled about how they, not Prof. Christine Blasey Ford or the rule of law, were the victims.

Charlie Cook, founder of the often-indispensable Cook Political Report, crunched the numbers and found that conservative Republican white males make up 18 percent of the American population. And yet they make up 100 percent of the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 100 percent of Republican leadership in the Senate, and 84 percent of the GOP Senate majority.

They’re determined to put a man with the judicial temperament of Bart Simpson on the bench for one simple reason. They want him as the fifth Supreme Court vote to erase every “liberal” decision of the last 60 years that has given expanded rights to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, consumers, workers, and anyone else not part of conservative white maledom.

Click on the link to read the rest.

More recommended reads:

Yahoo News: Christine Blasey Ford’s Attorneys Reveal Statement From Corroborating Witness.

Yahoo News: Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed that it crashed.

Statement from Debbie Ramirez (PDF)

The New York Times Editorial Board: The High Court Brought Low. Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

Michael Tomasky at The New York Times: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis.

Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews: Investigation at Yale Law School.

Yahoo News: Lawsuits point to large trove of unreleased Kavanaugh White House documents.

The New York Times: House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control.

The Intercept: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh are both in the Bush family inner circle. That helps explain her vote.

The New Yorker: The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh.

That’s all I have for now. Please take care of yourselves this weekend.


Thursday Reads: Everything Trump Touches Turns to Sh*t

Good Morning!!

Honestly, I’m not capable of writing much of anything this morning. The Republicans are now directly attacking Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, Mitch McConnell is going to steamroller any objections to the fake FBI background check, and it looks like Susan Collins along with endangered Democrats Heidi Heitcamp and Joe Manchin will probably vote yes.

Trump has been “president” for less than two years and he has managed to destroy the presidency, the House and Senate, and now he may destroy any remaining credibility for the Supreme Court for decades to come. And he’s making me sick–physically, mentally, and spiritually. I promise I’m going to fight my way back from my current depressed state, but it’s going to take awhile.

 

 

The Washington Post: Adopting Trumpian strategy, Republicans level personal attacks against Kavanaugh accusers.

Republicans are aggressively challenging the credibility of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s initial accuser, a turnabout from days of treating Christine Blasey Ford gingerly after her emotional testimony alleging sexual assault decades ago.

Spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the blistering campaign to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court includes personal attacks on the women who have leveled claims against the judge, including the release Tuesday of a salacious statement that purports to describe the sex life of another accuser, Julie Swetnick.

The effort is shattering Senate norms at a critical moment for Kavanaugh, and it signals that the GOP is embracing the tactics of President Trump, who mocked Ford at a political rally Tuesday night days after calling her credible.

The strategy has drawn condemnation, and it has even raised questions about whether Republicans have violated a provision of the Violence Against Women Act by disclosing Swetnick’s purported sexual preferences.

But party leaders are undaunted, concluding that a scorched-earth strategy is the most effective way to defend Kavanaugh and rally enough support to confirm him to the nation’s highest court.

Greg Sargent at the WaPo seems to be asking if Republican Senators who where shocked shocked! at Trump’s attacks on Christine Blasey Ford will rush ahead to vote for Kavanaugh anyway: Trump’s disgusting attack on Christine Ford cannot be wished away.

When President Trump attacked Ford at a rally on Tuesday night, he did more than merely showcase his typically depraved and hateful nature. What Trump really did was inform the country in no uncertain terms that he will do all he can to ensure that the country does not — and cannot — heal its searing divisions over the Kavanaugh matter, after it is resolved.

Trump ridiculed the gaps in Ford’s memory: “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How did you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember.” Trump contrasted this mockery with an outpouring of sympathy, if he is capable of such a feeling, for Kavanaugh: “A man’s life is in tatters,” he said, adding: “Think of your husbands. Think of your sons.”

In this, Trump broke from the carefully crafted GOP strategy of refraining from questioning that the attack happened while suggesting it might have been carried out by someone else. Instead, Trump ridiculed the claim itself and insisted that the only true victim in this situation is Kavanaugh.

What Trump is really signaling here is that, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will continue to rub the faces of millions of women in excrement over it. Trump was doing precisely what that woman accused Flake of doing — telling women that their sexual assault claims “don’t matter” — and he was undertaking this provocation deliberately, using the bully pulpit of the presidency to do so.

Will Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Heidi Heitcamp, and Joe Manchin vote to ratify Trump’s cruel and repulsive attacks? If they do, women must rise up in anger and punish them.

 

 

Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker: The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh.

Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded. On Monday, President Trump said that the Bureau should be able to interview “anybody they want within reason,” but the extent of the constraints placed on the investigating agents by the White House remained unclear. Late Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the F.B.I. probe was over and cleared the way for an important procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to take place on Friday. NBC News reported that dozens of people who said that they had information about Kavanaugh had contacted F.B.I. field offices, but agents had not been permitted to talk to many of them. Several people interested in speaking to the F.B.I. expressed exasperation in interviews with The New Yorker at what they perceived to be a lack of interest in their accounts.

Deborah Ramirez, one of two women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse, said in an interview that she had been hopeful that her story would be investigated when two agents drove from Denver to Boulder, Colorado, last weekend to interview her at her lawyer’s office. But Ramirez said that she was troubled by what she perceived as a lack of willingness on the part of the Bureau to take steps to substantiate her claims. “I am very alarmed, first, that I was denied an F.B.I. investigation for five days, and then, when one was granted, that it was given on a short timeline and that the people who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I’m being silenced.”

 

 

Mayer and Farrow talked to a former classmate of Ramirez and Kavanaugh who corroborated her story.

Several former Yale students who claim to have information regarding the alleged incident with Ramirez or about Kavanaugh’s behavior at Yale said that they had not been contacted by the F.B.I. Kenneth G. Appold was a suitemate of Kavanaugh’s at the time of the alleged incident. He had previously spoken to The New Yorker about Ramirez on condition of anonymity, but he said that he is now willing to be identified because he believes that the F.B.I. must thoroughly investigate her allegation. Appold, who is the James Hastings Nichols Professor of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary, said that he first heard about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh and Ramirez either the night it occurred or a day or two later. Appold said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told that Kavanaugh was the male student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He said that he never discussed the allegation with Ramirez, whom he said he barely knew in college. But he recalled details—which, he said, an eyewitness described to him at the time—that match Ramirez’s memory of what happened. “I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” he said in an interview. “I believe her, because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.”

Appold, who won two Fulbright Fellowships, and earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale in 1994, also recalled telling his graduate-school roommate about the incident in 1989 or 1990. That roommate, Michael Wetstone, who is now an architect, confirmed Appold’s account and said, “it stood out in our minds because it was a shocking story of transgression.” Appold said that he initially asked to remain anonymous because he hoped to make contact first with the classmate who, to the best of his recollection, told him about the party and was an eyewitness to the incident. He said that he had not been able to get any response from that person, despite multiple attempts to do so. The New Yorker reached the classmate, but he said that he had no memory of the incident.

Please read the whole thing at the New Yorker.

 

 

The Washington Post: FBI background check of Kavanaugh appears to have been highly curtailed.

Slate: I Was Brett Kavanaugh’s College Roommate. He lied under oath about his drinking and terms in his yearbook, by James Roche.

In 1983, I was one of Brett Kavanaugh’s freshman roommates at Yale University. About two weeks ago I came forward to lend my support to my friend Deborah Ramirez, who says Brett sexually assaulted her at a party in a dorm suite. I did this because I believe Debbie.

Now the FBI is investigating this incident. I am willing to speak with them about my experiences at Yale with both Debbie and Brett. I would tell them this: Brett Kavanaugh stood up under oath and lied about his drinking and about the meaning of words in his yearbook. He did so baldly, without hesitation or reservation. In his words and his behavior, Judge Kavanaugh has shown contempt for the truth, for the process, for the rule of law, and for accountability. His willingness to lie to avoid embarrassment throws doubt on his denials about the larger questions of sexual assault. In contrast, I cannot remember ever having a reason to distrust anything, large or small, that I have heard from Debbie.

I did not want to come forward. When the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow contacted me while researching a story about Debbie and Brett, I told him that I didn’t see the point. There is no way that Brett will face legal consequences after this much time. Either he will be confirmed or another conservative judge will be. There would be a high cost. I was raised in a Republican family. My mother, who has since passed away, was a Republican state representative in Connecticut. My father owns a MAGA hat. I have close friends who are very conservative. In recent years I have had disagreements over politics with some of these friends and family, but I care deeply about them. My involvement has and will come with personal, professional, and reputational damage.

Read Roche’s story at Slate.

 

 

More reads, links only:

Think Progress: White House confirms FBI’s Kavanaugh investigation only looked at what Republican senators wanted.

Electric Privacy Information Center (EPIC): National Archives Confirms Existence of Numerous Kavanaugh Records on Surveillance Programs

Buzzfeed: The Kavanaugh Situation Has Opened Up A Portal Into Everyone’s Memory.

Jonathan Chait: Republicans Have Decided to Ignore All of Brett Kavanaugh’s Lies.

Just Security: Here Are the 30 People the FBI Needs to Interview in its Kavanaugh Investigation.

 

 

That’s all I’ve got. What stories are you following?


Tuesday Reads: Will Whiny White Men Win?

Good Morning!!

Julie Swetnick, Christine Blasey Ford, and Deborah Ramirez

I’m confused. It’s not clear to me what written instructions the White House has given to the FBI for their supposed expanded background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual assault accusations against him. So far agents have not interviewed either Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford. It would seem that those interviews would provide a baseline for interviews with other witnesses. Until we see the written instructions, I don’t see how we can trust the Trump administration to do the right thing.

The New York Times is reporting that the investigation has been expanded from the original order to interview only four witnesses–Kavanaugh friends Mark Judge, P. J. Smyth, and Blasey Ford friend Leland Keyser; but they don’t seem to have any specifics about the required written instructions. Senator Diane Feinstein has sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn asking for a copy of the directive he sent to the FBI, but so far she doesn’t seem to have received it.

The New York Times: White House Tells F.B.I. to Interview Anyone Necessary for Kavanaugh Inquiry.

The White House authorized the F.B.I. to expand its abbreviated investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh by interviewing anyone it deems necessary as long as the review is finished by the end of the week, according to two people briefed on the matter.

At an event on Monday celebrating a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, President Trump said he instructed his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, over the weekend to instruct the F.B.I. to carry out an open investigation, but the president included the caveat that the inquiry should accommodate the desires of Senate Republicans.

Don McGahn

The new directive came after a backlash from Democrats, who criticized the White House for limiting the scope of the bureau’s investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The F.B.I. has already interviewed the four witnesses it was originally asked to question, and on Monday it reached out to others.

The broadening inquiry produced an unusual spectacle as friends and classmates from Judge Kavanaugh’s past provided dueling portraits of the nominee in his younger days — either a good-natured student incapable of the alleged behavior or a stumbling drunk who could easily have blacked out and forgotten inappropriate behavior at alcohol-soaked parties.

How far the F.B.I. will now delve into these questions beyond the original high school-era sexual assault allegation lodged by Christine Blasey Ford remained unclear. Senate Democrats sent the bureau a list of two dozen witnesses they insisted must be interviewed for an inquiry to be credible. Another accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has given the bureau the names of more than 20 people she said witnessed Judge Kavanaugh exposing himself to her during a college party or heard about it at the time or later, according to someone involved in the investigation.

It’s a long article, so check it out if you’re interested in more details.

Meanwhile, the media is moving much faster than the FBI on the Kavanaugh story. Two big reveals from yesterday–that Kavanaugh himself tried to short-circuit the New Yorker story about Deborah Ramirez and that he was involved in a violent drunken bar fight as a Yale student.

NBC News: Text messages suggest Kavanaugh wanted to refute accuser’s claim before it became public.

In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.

In now-public transcripts from an interview with Republican Judiciary Committee staff on September 25, two days after the Ramirez allegations were reported in the New Yorker, Kavanaugh claimed that it was Ramirez who was “calling around to classmates trying to see if they remembered it,” adding that it “strikes me as, you know, what is going on here? When someone is calling around to try to refresh other people? Is that what’s going on? What’s going on with that? That doesn’t sound — that doesn’t sound — good to me. It doesn’t sound fair. It doesn’t sound proper. It sounds like an orchestrated hit to take me out.”

The texts also demonstrate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were more socially connected than previously understood and that Ramirez was uncomfortable around Kavanaugh when they saw each other at a wedding 10 years after they graduated. Berchem’s efforts also show that some potential witnesses have been unable to get important information to the FBI.

The New York Times: Kavanaugh Was Questioned by Police After Bar Fight in 1985.

As an undergraduate student at Yale, Brett M. Kavanaugh was involved in an altercation at a local bar during which he was accused of throwing ice on another patron, according to a police report.

The incident, which occurred in September 1985 during Mr. Kavanaugh’s junior year, resulted in Mr. Kavanaugh and four other men being questioned by the New Haven Police Department. Mr. Kavanaugh was not arrested, but the police report stated that a 21-year-old man accused Mr. Kavanaugh of throwing ice on him “for some unknown reason.”

A witness to the fight said that Chris Dudley, a Yale basketball player who is friends with Mr. Kavanaugh, then threw a glass that hit the man in the ear, according to the police report, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The report said that the victim, Dom Cozzolino, “was bleeding from the right ear” and was treated at a hospital. A detective was notified of the incident at 1:20 a.m.

The police report, which described the incident as an “assault,” is reproduced in the article.

Susan Collins is calling for the FBI to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, the third woman to come forward against Kavanugh. Portland Press Herald: Sen. Collins calls for FBI to investigate 3rd woman’s accusation in broader Kavanaugh probe.

Sen. Susan Collins wants the FBI to investigate the allegations brought by Julie Swetnick as part of the agency’s probe of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Collins and Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska “advocated for the additional background investigation because she believed that it could help the senators evaluate the claims that have been brought to the Judiciary Committee,” Collins’ spokeswoman Annie Clark said in a statement to the Press Herald on Monday. “That would include the allegations that were brought by Julie Swetnick.”

Clark said FBI investigators “can determine whom they need to speak with and should follow appropriate leads. Senator Collins was encouraged by the President’s statements that he would give the FBI agents the latitude they need to do their work. It makes sense to start with the four named witnesses from the hearing and then the FBI can follow any leads that it believes need to be pursued, as Senators Flake, Murkowski, and Collins indicated at the time this agreement was made.”

There’s also breaking news this morning about the Stormy Daniels case. It’s behind the paywall at the Wall Street Journal, but here’s a report from Talking Points Memo: Trump Directed Son Eric To Oversee Restraining Order Against Stormy.

President Donald Trump was personally involved in efforts to enforce a hush agreement with porn actress Stormy Daniels and directed that his son, Eric Trump, be involved in the legal response, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

According to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the WSJ, Trump asked his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to get a restraining order against Daniels to keep her from discussing the details of her alleged affair with Trump, after he had learned that she planned to outline the alleged sexual encounter in a media interview. Trump asked Cohen to work with Eric Trump and another lawyer, who had previously worked with the President, to handle the legal work. Eric Trump then directed a Trump Organization lawyer to authorize the paperwork.

From Philip Bump at The Washington Post, a timeline of Trump’s attempted coverups of the Stormy story: The coverup uncovered: How Team Trump tried to bury or confuse the Stormy Daniels story.

One of the ironies at the heart of President Trump’s effort to hide an alleged sexual encounter in 2006 with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels is that, had the story emerged shortly before Election Day 2016, it’s not clear it would have done much damage. We say that in part because a hint of the story did come out before the election, and Trump won. We say it in part, too, because the emergence of the story after his inauguration nestled neatly into the well-worn grooves of public opinion in the Trump era: His supporters mostly wave it off while his opponents splutter with irritation.

But Trump, his campaign team, his administration and his private business all contributed to trying to bury the Daniels story. We keep learning new ways in which this coverup was constructed, with the addition Tuesday morning of a report in the Wall Street Journal indicating that Trump personally pushed earlier this year for a restraining order to be issued against Daniels.

That report runs contrary to comments from both the president and the Trump Organization, a conflict that, by now, is par for the course in the Daniels situation. But it’s still important to highlight, specifically because it reinforces the extent to which Trump and those around him tried to cover up and lie about something that, had another path been taken, might not have been a big deal at all.

Check out the cover up timeline at the WaPo.

More stories of possible interest, links only:

Politico: GOP operative who sued Trump says FBI referred hacking of her email to Mueller.

The Washington Post: Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you.

The Harvard Crimson: Kavanaugh Will Not Return to Teach at Harvard Law School.

Buzzfeed: Brett Kavanaugh’s Comments In That Hearing Raise Ethics Questions That Will Likely Follow Him Whether Or Not He’s Confirmed.

Forbes: How Trump Is Trying—And Failing—To Get Rich Off His Presidency.

Politico: Manafort meets with Mueller prosecutors.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times: The Angry White Male Caucus. Trumpism is all about the fear of losing traditional privilege.

The Washington Post: ‘The trauma for a man’: Male fury and fear rises in GOP in defense of Kavanaugh.

CBS News: Americans to receive cell phone alert from Trump in first national test.

So . . . what stories are you following today?