Thursday Reads: Constitutional Crisis in CrazytownPosted: September 6, 2018 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Burck, Brett Kavanaugh, Cory Booker, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Kamala Harris, Kasowitz Benson Torres, Marc Kasowitz, Senate Judiciary Committee 55 Comments
It’s difficult to know where to begin. Trump is isolated, melting down, we are certainly in a Constitutional crisis. Here’s a summary of the current situation from Politico: Trump, Alone.
LINE OF THE MORNING … THE WASHINGTON POST’S PHIL RUCKER, ASHLEY PARKER and JOSH DAWSEY said the combination of the Woodward book and the Times op-ed “landed like a thunder clap, portraying Trump as a danger to the country that elected him and feeding the president’s paranoia about whom around him he can trust. … According to one Trump friend, he fretted after Wednesday’s op-ed that he could trust only his children.” WaPo
IN SOME WAYS, this is a version of the same story we’ve been living for the past three years. The Washington establishment appalled, and Trump unmoved. This will, of course, heighten Trump’s distaste for the media, and fuel the media-and-swamp-out-to-get-me narrative.
THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: Trump’s own administration is criticizing him behind the cloak of anonymity. Whereas TRUMP HAS NO ARTIFICE. He just says what he thinks publicly. JUST THIS WEEK HE …
— SAID he might shut down the government if he doesn’t get what he wants on immigration policy. This came after SPEAKER PAUL RYAN sheepishly said Trump knew better than that.
— LASHED OUT AT ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS for allowing the indictment of two Trump supporters in Congress.
— INTIMATED he wouldn’t be terribly critical of Nike because it paid him big rent for its Midtown Manhattan store.
JUST LOOK HOW HE RESPONDED ON TWITTER — @realDonaldTrump at 6:11 p.m.: “TREASON?”
… at 7:40 p.m.: “Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”
… at 11:22 p.m.: “I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!”
WHAT’S THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE? How is it sustainable for the president to operate in an environment in which he trusts nobody? We’re about to find out.
Right now Democrats are staging a rebellion in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the unprecedented way that Republicans are trying to ram through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh while keeping secret hundreds of thousands of documents about the nominee’s past history.
Cory Booker threatened to release a document having to do with racial profiling, and he challenged Republicans to bring charges against him if he has broken a committee rule. Most other Democrats are supporting him.
Several Democrats have spoken about the process by which an outside private attorney, Bill Burck, who used to work for the nominee and currently works for George W. Bush has been permitted to decide which documents will be made public. Burck is also the criminal attorney for Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon in the Russia investigation!
Vox: Who is Bill Burck? Meet the former Bush attorney vetting Kavanaugh documents.
Bill Burck, a private attorney employed by former president George W. Bush and a longtime Republican, is a key linchpin in the process for reviewing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s lengthy paper trail. In fact, he’s running the show — and Democrats see his involvement as yet another sign of how far norms have shifted in the way the Republican majority has conducted Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
Burck’s name may sound familiar because he’s a deeply entrenched player in Republican legal circles. Not only is he reportedly a longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, he’s also more recently represented at least three current or former Trump White House officials — Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon — regarding special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He’s currently a co-managing partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Burck’s representation of McGahn has particularly raised eyebrows, since McGahn is the main Trump White House official in charge of getting Kavanaugh confirmed. It’s also prompted questions given the potential role that Kavanaugh himself could have in ruling on elements of the Mueller investigation, if he advances to the high court.
What’s more, Burck and Kavanaugh were once colleagues in the Bush White House. He was a former special counsel and deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, while Kavanaugh served as White House counsel and staff secretary for the same administration. Certain Democrats argue that his ties across all these venues make him “triply conflicted,” per the Washington Post.
Democrats have also questioned why Burck — a private attorney as well as a very politically charged figure — has now been authorized to analyze and filter through all of Kavanaugh’s former White House records, documents that could include damning evidence about the nominee’s involvement in decisions on wiretapping, torture, and the detention of enemy combatants.
Read the rest at Vox.
Democrats on the Judiciary committee claimed last night that they have evidence that Kavanaugh lied in a previous confirmation hearing. In addition, they are suggesting that Kavanaugh discussed the Mueller investigation with someone in the a law firm that represents Donald Trump, Kasowitz Benson Torres. Kamala Harris questioned Kavanaugh about this last night and he was visibly rattled.
Vox: Kamala Harris’s mysterious Kasowitz question during the Kavanaugh hearings, explained.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday had the entire hearing room on tenterhooks, as she opened her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a somewhat mysterious inquiry. Her question centered on a meeting Kavanaugh may have had about the Mueller investigation — with a member of a law firm founded by President Trump’s personal lawyer.
A meeting like this could underscore an inappropriately cozy relationship between Kavanaugh and the Trump administration, adding yet another potential conflict of interest to those that Democrats have been hammering throughout the hearing. And it’s one that a Democratic aide told Vox they believe might have taken place. (Democrats have argued that Kavanaugh’s nomination by Trump already poses a conflict of interest since he could potentially rule on elements of the Russia investigation.)
Kavanaugh, meanwhile, didn’t do much to settle the issue as he repeatedly deflected questions on the subject.
“Have you discussed the Mueller investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?” Harris asked. “Be sure about your answer, sir.”
“I’m not remembering but if you have something, you want to …” Kavanaugh said, adding, “I’m not sure if I know everyone who works at that law firm … I’m not remembering.”
Harris continued this line of questioning for roughly five minutes, a move that not only seemed to make Kavanaugh uncomfortable but also elicited some broader confusion in the hearing room since she declined to provide immediate specifics about a person or meeting. “I think you’re thinking of someone and don’t want to tell us,” she said.
Democrats said last night that they believe a meeting did take place and they are working to get more information about it.
It looks to be another big news day today and tomorrow the Mueller grand jury meets. ABC News: Two Roger Stone associates to appear before Mueller grand jury Friday.
Two past associates of President Donald Trump ally and veteran political operative Roger Stone are expected to appear before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on Friday in response to subpoenas from special counsel Robert Mueller, ABC News has learned.
Jerome Corsi, who until recently served as D.C. bureau chief for InfoWars, the alt-right program hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and political humorist and radio show host Randy Credico are the two latest Stone associates to be summoned to testify in Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Read more at the link.
There is so much to read today that I’m going to list some stories of possible interest, links only.
Historian Sean Wilentz at The New York Times: Why Was Kavanaugh Obsessed With Vince Foster?
The Washington Post: ‘The sleeper cells have awoken’: Trump and aides shaken by ‘resistance’ op-ed.
The New York Times: Trump Lashes Out After Reports of ‘Quiet Resistance’ by Staff.
LA Times: Now Trump is targeting Vietnamese refugees.
The Washington Post: Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants.The Washington Post: McCain’s former chief of staff says he’s considering Senate bid as a Democrat.
There has been a shooting in Cincinnati, so cable new switched over to covering that. I’m going to keep watching the Kavanaugh hearing on C-Span. What stories are you following today?