Posted: March 1, 2019 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Infant kidnapping by ICE, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, mardi gras, Michael Cohen, Otto Warmbier
Mardi Gras Indians! Black New Orleans tradition that demonstrates traditional art and music of black neighborhoods.
We’re deep in lead up to Mardi Gras Day! The big parades are slogging through rain and the neighborhoods are lit! I love the traditional Mardi Gras practices more than anything so you’re going to see pix today of local traditions. Hopefully, that will carry you through Mueller Friday and all the incredibly, soul sucking news about what the nation’s number one Family Crime Syndicate is up to.
Yes. The Trump family criminal syndicate and their comfort with lying is on full display today with their denials that Trump had to override his entire administration’s objections to give son-in-law Jared Kusher any kind of security clearance. Trump and Ivanka have both baldface lied about this. For some reason, Republicans are still obsessed with the former Trump Fixer Michael Cohen’s lying rather than this case of lying that clearly threatens the national security of the country.
This led is a shared byline from yesterday’s NYT and is behind appalling. “Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security Clearance.” Kushner is gallivanting around Saudi Arabia with the murderous MBS and hasn’t been actually interviewed or seen much recently. He’s undoubtedly bringing home more bacon to the family crime syndicate while selling out the country.
President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer, four people briefed on the matter said.
Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.
The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance.
The disclosure of the memos contradicts statements made by the president, who told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role in his son-in-law receiving his clearance.
Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, also said that at the time the clearance was granted last year that his client went through a standard process. Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and Mr. Kushner’s wife, said the same thing three weeks ago.
Asked on Thursday about the memos contradicting the president’s account, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said, “We don’t comment on security clearances.”
The Baby Dolls have been a neighborhood tradition since the time of the Great Depression.
Trump Family Crime syndicate is led by the nation’s leading Nation Security threat–Dictator-curious Donald J Trump–who we have seen provide apologies for the murderous Vladimir Putin, MBS, and Kim Jong Un. Today they have met with even more criticism than usual. His biggest sin of his latest dictator love affair is that of taking the word of Kim that he had nothing to do with the death of American Student Otto Warmbier. The family has spoken via this WAPO article today: “Otto Warmbier’s family responds to Trump’s defense of Kim Jong Un, saying Kim’s ‘evil regime’ is responsible for their son’s death:
The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being detained for 17 months in North Korea, on Friday directly blamed leader Kim Jong Un for their son’s death a day after President Trump said he believed Kim’s account that he was not responsible.
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuse or lavish praise can change that.”
Trump said at a news conference in Hanoi that Kim felt “very badly” about Otto Warmbier’s death in 2017, several days after being released in a coma from captivity in North Korea.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said, responding to a question from a Washington Post reporter.
In December, the Warmbier family won a $500 million judgment in federal court against North Korea, with a judge ruling that the Kim regime was responsible for the torture and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier.Warmbier, then 21, was detained in Pyongyang in January 2016 after taking part in an organized tour of North Korea. He was accused of taking a propaganda poster.
Early Mardi Gras day in traditionally black neighborhoods you might catch a glimpse of a skeleton krew.
Meanwhile, Trump’s policies continue to take on the veneer of third world dictators with extreme human rights abuse. This is from Kate Smith a CBS: “Infants as young as 5 months old are being detained by ICE, groups claim.” Oh,and don’t forget! MIcheal Cohen has a history of lying and is going to jail for it. So,yeah, these are INFANTS taken from their mother’s breasts but don’t worry, the Republicans are still frothing about the Cohen Show and Tell.
At least nine infants younger than a year old, including one who is just 5 months old, are being held in ICE custody at a rural Texas detention center without care that’s legally required.
That’s what three immigration advocacy groups claimed in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General and Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Thursday afternoon. The groups said there has been “an alarming increase in the number of infants” being held in ICE custody, and urged the department to “intervene immediately” at the Dilley, Texas, facility.
“We have grave concerns about the lack of specialized medical care available in Dilley for this vulnerable population,” said the letter from the three groups — the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Catholic Immigration Network, Inc.
The advocacy groups alleged the infants have been subject to “lengthy delays in receiving medical attention and lack of appropriate follow-up treatment.” They said one infant has been detained for over 20 days.
This Raw Story headline speaks for itself: “‘I was happy to do it for you’: Matt Gaetz overheard making stunning admission to Trump about Cohen threat”. Since Cohen’s mission of threatening over 500 Trump irritants is over, Trump now hires Republican Congressmen as Fixers.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has fallen under investigation for an apparent threat against Michael Cohen — which he may have made at President Donald Trump’s request.
The Florida Bar Association is investigating a tweet Gaetz made, and later deleted, apparently threatening to reveal Cohen’s alleged infidelities to his wife, a day before the former Trump Organization lawyer testified before the House Oversight Committee.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) suggested during Wednesday’s hearing that he should be referred for possible criminal prosecution for witness intimidation or tampering.
Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff reporter for The Atlantic, tweeted Thursday that he overheard a phone conversation between Gaetz and Trump, whom he said called the Florida Republican from Hanoi to discuss the Cohen testimony and apparent threat.
“I was happy to do it for you,” Gaetz said, according to Dovere. “You just keep killing it.”
Gaetz later refused to discuss the call, but Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, said the lawmaker’s comments should be investigated by both the Florida Bar and the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Yup. That’s my mayor with the all woman Krewe of Muses. So, that’s a big parade but I still had to put this in because this is the first Mardi Gras that all the krewes–even the big traditionally racist and sexist ones–will be saluting a Black Woman Mayor! The all women Nyx and Muses Krewes are among the most diverse in the city. Long may they roll!!
So, Fordham University has actually confirmed that Trump fixer Michael Cohen threatened them on behalf a Crime Syndicate Boss Donald J. Trump. This is via Market Watch.
Fordham University is confirming it received a letter from Donald Trump’s then-lawyer threatening legal action if Trump’s academic records became public.
Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has testified to Congress that Trump directed him to write letters warning his schools and the College Board not to disclose his grades or SAT scores.
Cohen has given the House Oversight and Reform Committee a copy of his letter to Fordham. It was dated May 2015, about a month before Trump started his presidential campaign.
Red Beans and Rice Parade on Lundi Gras in New Orleans Feb. 27, 2017. Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee – rhrphoto.com
Alex Wagner–writing for The Atlantic–writes about the Cohen Testimony. We must never normalize this crap!
It was a frenetic scene on Wednesday morning outside hearing room 2154 in the Rayburn building of the U.S. Capitol complex: Reporters, producers, cameramen, and members of the public clogged the hallways as the Capitol Police barked at everyone to Stay to the side! and Clear a pathway! as the congresspeople of the House Oversight Committee made their way into the room, invariably flanked with an assortment of aides—their faces all plastered with weary, inscrutable looks signaling that they meant business. Michael Cohen was finally making his debut on the Hill, ready to sit for nationally televised hearings, and this was going to change everything.
Perhaps it did. Ironically, Trump’s preferred medium, television, may be the one that ultimately damns him.
Scandals, in the age of Trump, have taken on a certain numbing quality: vote rigging in North Carolina, a climate-science denier placed in charge of a climate-science panel designed to refute the conclusions of actual climate scientists, official subpoenas of an inaugural committee. These things come and go, provoking various degrees of indignation and debate, but they do not sear themselves in the American imagination. Nor have they provided any truly teachable moments, save for the fact that their frequent, passing nature tells us something broadly damning about our human appetite for behaving unethically.
But Michael Cohen’s testimony was something different. Here was a made-for-TV drama in the middle of a television presidency, an inflection point that drove home how unusual this moment is—in its sordidness and absurdity and lawlessness. Yes, cameras were everywhere, but Cohen’s testimony was made for the screen independent of the fact that many, many screens all over the nation were carrying it.
Foremost, Cohen offered a powerful indictment, clearly transmitted: The president of the United States is poison to our democracy. “He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat,” Cohen intoned in his opening statement. The description was, and likely will remain, impossible to forget. Equally so, the fact that not a single member of Congress chose to defend the president against these allegations—or even address the toxicity of the assessment.
Our newest small walking krewe parade: La Vie Boheme! Krewe du Boheme
Cohen will return this month to the halls of Congress before he does his 3 year stint in jail. Clearly, the Southern District of NY is not done with him as we got some tantalizing tidbits that there are investigations we do not know about quite yet. The best headline I’ve read today is this one from USA Today. “Is anyone safe?” That strikes a note on so many levels that it almost seems a moment of zen.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lead lead defense attorney, largely dismissed Cohen’s testimony as the product of a “tainted witness” whose own convictions related to financial fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations called his credibility into serious question.
“Look, this whole thing started with allegations of collusion with Russia,” Giuliani told USA TODAY. “They haven’t proved that. All the rest are process crimes that don’t involve the president.”
While Cohen drew fresh attention during his congressional testimony to hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, he indicated that Manhattan prosecutors were continuing to review the involvement of Trump Jr. and Weisselberg in that plan to conceal an alleged affair with Trump. The Trump Inaugural Committee also is in the sights of prosecutors in New York, having recently acknowledged receipt of a subpoena seeking information related to possible fundraising irregularities.
And late into Cohen’s marathon House testimony Wednesday, after the the former Trump attorney offered a searing account of his dealings with the president, he dropped another stunner in a matter-of-fact exchange with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
“Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?” Krishnamoorthi asked.
“Yes,” Cohen responded, declining to elaborate because the issue is “currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York,” a reference to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
This circus may not leave town for some times but, at the very least, we could jail the clowns and the ring masters.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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?