Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) on Wednesday named Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) to fill Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) soon-to-be vacated Senate seat.
Smith said she intends to run in November 2018 to complete the remaining two years of Franken’s term.
“It is up to Minnesotans to decide who they want to complete Senator Franken’s term. I will run in that election, and I will do my best to earn Minnesotans support. And I believe the way to do that is to be the best senator I can be,” Smith said.
Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign described him as an “idiot” and “loathsome human” in a series of text messages last year, according to copies released on Tuesday.
West Long Branch, NJ - Donald Trump's current job approval rating is the lowest registered in the Monmouth University Poll since he took office, with the biggest drop coming from independent women. Most voters think that the president has not been successful at moving his agenda through Congress and feel his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel will destabilize the Middle East. Monmouth's initial generic House ballot match-up for the 2018 election finds Democrats holding a 15 point advantage over Republicans.
Pres. Trump's current job rating stands at a net negative 32% approve and 56% disapprove. This marks his lowest rating in Monmouth's polling since taking office in January. Prior polls conducted over the course of the past year showed his approval rating ranging from 39% to 43% and his disapproval rating ranging from 46% to 53%.
An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office.
Republicans thought the Senate seat in Alabama was safe, too. Think carefully about how you vote.
According to Russian news site The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a Russian citizen working for a hacker group called Lurk, confessed to hacking Clinton’s emails during a hearing about his arrest in August. An audio recording and minutes from the hearing were posted on Kozlovsky’s Facebook page, and their authenticity was reportedly confirmed by The Bell.[...]
[I]t is tempting to view Kozlovsky's confession as the smoking gun needed to link the Kremlin to the hacks. Nevertheless, experts say there are reasons to be skeptical of the confession.
Many of the individuals implicated in Kozlovsky's letter are currently on the bad side of the Russian government. For example, Kozlovsky identified his FSB handler as Dmitry Dokuchaev, a cybersecurity expert who worked as a hacker before joining the FSB. [...] The Kremlin has accused him of being a double agent working with U.S. intelligence services. [...]
To some, it appears that Kozlovsky’s confession conveniently targets enemies of the Kremlin and provides Putin with an opportunity to claim that the hack was ordered by rogue elements.
“[The confession] puts the blame on a narrow group of people who are already in prison, and it moves the blame to an outsourced hack. This would allow Putin to pretend to be shocked that there are hackers in Russia doing this,” Mark Galeotti, a researcher on Russian crime at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, told Newsweek.
Cernovich claims he is trying to find the hoaxer.
“This is the journalist process CNN doesn’t go through,” Cernovich said on Periscope on Tuesday. “CNN, they go ‘oh shit, Don Jr. got an email about Wikileaks before anybody else? Boom boom boom front page news.’ But me, I go oh, wait, hold on a minute, let’s chill.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican said Wednesday that two of President Trump’s nominees for open seats on the federal bench will not be confirmed, just a day after urging the White House to “reconsider” them.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that based on his discussions with the White House, the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley would not move forward through the confirmation process.
In an on-the-record interview, outgoing NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] Director Nick Rasmussen told reporters recent anti-Muslim rhetoric is making counter-terrorism “more difficult”. “I don’t think it’s arguable it’s more difficult when the environment is contaminated by mutual suspicion,” he said. “If you’re increasing the amount of suspicion and distress on these communities, it places more challenges in our way,” Rasmussen added. Rasmussen made clear he was not referring to any single tweet or statement by any single person. However, noting comments by the president and administration policies such as the travel ban, I asked: “Does the environment today make your job more difficult?” He said “Yes”.
For years, I excused myself because I believed that the casual degradation of women that emanated from Judge Kozinski’s orbit was the death rattle of an old America: a symbol of the sad, broken longing for the world of Mad Men, a world that ended as soon as women reached parity with men in law school. Donald Trump and his foot soldiers are proof that this old America is very much alive, and that it’s in fact a full-scale project to treat women as trivial and ornamental and to hold them back. It keeps brilliant women from accessing power and dismisses other brilliant women as hysterics—the “nutty and slutty” character assassination used to trash Anita Hill. It’s disturbing to realize that, even today, the main markers I relied on to confirm Kozinski’s bad behavior were the shocked reactions of normal, good men: my husband, my friend, my co-clerk. Sure, I felt dirty after each interaction, but my feelings didn’t feel like enough.
I always figured I would feel better when Judge Kozinski’s #MeToo came home to roost. I don’t. His reactions to the accusers—belittling their allegations, shaming Bond for writing sex scenes in romance novels—were the reactions I was trying to avoid bringing down on myself when I failed to insist that Article III judges not talk to and about women this way, not at work, and not as we struggled to find purchase in the profession of our choosing. Somewhere along the way I managed to create a career for myself. In part, I did it by keeping secrets. I’d like to be done with that now.
In Burns’s account, he was standing behind Trump, who was seated at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, when he noticed a white spider the size of a half-dollar making its way up the president’s back.
“I just thought I was dreaming,” recounted Burns in a telephone interview. “Is that really a spider running up the back of the president of the United States?”
It was. Burns, for the record, hates spiders, but didn’t see any other choice but to step in. Before the spider got to the president’s neck, Burns whacked it — and Trump — with his bare hand.
“It made such a loud noise, and I think people were bewildered and were like, ‘What did you just do?’” said Burns, who then quickly tried to explain himself: “Security, please don’t shoot me! He had a spider on his back.”
Reporting regarding Secret Service personnel physically removing Omarosa Manigault Newman from the @WhiteHouse complex is incorrect.
The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex. Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual's pass which grants access to the complex.
One comment from the congressman was especially personal. Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle -- it will be the last time." He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola's now-wife could wear white on her wedding day -- a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex.
In a response to questions from CNN, Farenthold denied in a statement ever making comments to Rekola about receiving oral sex from his then-fiancée or whether she could wear a white dress. He acknowledged that he regularly referred to aides as "f**ktards," but that it was "in jest, not in anger."
"In hindsight, I admit it wasn't appropriate," Farenthold said. He also denied that he engaged in regular verbal abuse of his staff.
A nominee for a District of Columbia judgeship took a beating at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday when he could not define motion in limine.
U.S. district court nominee Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission, has never tried a case, has taken fewer than 10 depositions, and demurred when asked—twice—if he knew what a motion in limine is.
The question that stumped Petersen came from Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana.
Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, who was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation, has committed suicide.
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell said Johnson killed himself on a bridge on Greenwell Ford Road in Mt. Washington, and the gun was recovered.
According to court documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the alleged molestation took place on New Year's Eve in 2012. The alleged victim, who was 17 at the time, told authorities that she was staying in a living area of the Heart of Fire City Church where Johnson was pastor, when Johnson, who had been drinking a lot, approached her, kissed her and fondled her under her clothes.
Johnson was never criminally charged. He vehemently denied the allegations at a press conference Tuesday.
One senior Trump aide stressed early Tuesday that Trump would take a Jones upset “very, very” hard—not least, the aide said, because it would rob the president of the ability to goad his predecessor, Barack Obama, over getting involved on Jones’ behalf.
@realDonaldTrump: "@AngieSteinberg: GET THAT POS WSJ LIAR FANTASY PUNDIT @marykissel OFF THE AIR. Blah blah. A real dummy!
I am appalled that unqualified candidates are being nominated for lifetime judicial appointments, and I greatly appreciate your inquiries into their knowledge of the law. I am grateful to you for the integrity and care you are exhibiting in your work on the Judiciary Committee.
I'm certain there've been a few votes where he isn't as bad as a real Republican but he's always going to be a problem.
President Donald Trump’s slow pace of hiring for key government jobs has left stand-ins occupying positions for so long that it may violate time limits on acting appointments, potentially resulting in decisions being overturned in court.
Enforcement actions as well as policy decisions on a variety of topics, such as easing restrictions on methane emissions from oil wells or permitting schools to offer 1 percent milk, could be challenged on the grounds that they were enacted by officials who had been in acting roles too long or were improperly delegated authority.
“For almost all positions, if you’re serving in violation of the Vacancies Act, anything that you do is void as a matter of law,” said Anne Joseph O’Connell, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
I’m much more comfortable writing a song than a political opinion column. Calling members of Congress, knocking on their doors and asking you to do the same is strange territory for me. I can already imagine the online comments: “Stick to entertainment.” I wish I could. But the news is full of scandals and tragedies, and every day is a struggle to keep Puerto Rico in the national conversation.
Puerto Rico needs a lifeline that only Congress and the Trump administration can provide. The list of needed actions is short, straightforward and agreed upon by Puerto Ricans of all political stripes. First, drop the crippling 20 percent excise tax on Puerto Rican products. This is an easy one given that the tax doesn’t exist yet. It can simply be removed from the tax-reform bill right now being finalized in House-Senate conference negotiations.
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said he had gotten lots of feedback from White House aides after saying Bannon “looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered on to the political stage.”
“They say, keep it up, let him have it,” King said.
When the House Freedom Caucus gathered Monday night, members spent part of their meeting discussing a theory circulating on Capitol Hill and among the downtown Christmas parties that Ryan may believe he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform and decide he’s finished.
“Is it a Boehner-meeting-the-pope moment?” one Freedom Caucus member rhetorically asked HuffPost, referring to Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio), who hosted Pope Francis for a joint address to Congress in September 2015 and then announced his retirement the next morning.
-- Dems at +15 in Monmouth generic ballot poll. 538 generic average stands at +11.
-- Linked earlier, but if you missed it, 538: Special Elections So Far Point To A Democratic Wave In 2018 [tl;dr: Dems outperforming, and doing so in all kinds of districts]
-- The Hill: Republicans fear deep losses in 2018 elections
-- If you are in TX, there is a metric ton of info about who has filed for election in this DKE thread (filing deadline just passed).
-- Inside Elections: 10 Takeaways from AL Senate Election (Did you hear? Doug Jones won!)
-- As noted above, KY state Rep Dan Johnson committed suicide after credible sex abuse allegations. This will trigger a special election for the seat. I respectfully disagree with ErisLordFreedom's analysis above, I don't think this seat is very winnable. Johnson won very narrowly (less than a point), but I think that's attributable to him being a total nutjob. District went 72-23 Trump, 66-33 Romney, so it's pretty red. All things possible in current environment, but it's not an easy flip for sure.
-- Mentioned upstream, Monmouth poll has Trump at 32/56, his all time low. He's at 37/56 in a Marist. The 538 approval average is now 36.7/56.8.
-- Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register poll has Trump approval in Iowa at 35/60. This was a state he won 51-42. We note in passing that Iowa has a gubernatorial election in 2018 (she pulls a 51/30, which isn't great, but not awful).
-- Things are looking good for Michigan anti-gerrymandering forces getting an initiative on the ballot to change the redistricting process. Subject to legal challenges, of course.
-- Dems providing support and training for Secretary of State candidates, in concerted effort to take back these offices.
-- Part 2 of a "what happened in Virginia" deep dive from the VA Dems pollster.
Trump, disdain for Trump, and disappointment in Trump and Republicans were key factors in higher Democratic turnout and suppressed Republican turnout. Feelings about him generated increased interest among Democrats, and there was no way he would not be featured in paid communication. The question was “how,” not “if.” [...]
[...] The challenge was in trying to push energy against Trump down the ballot so that voters would hold Republican Delegates accountable for him. It was tough. We learned it could not be about Trump the person. It was not enough that he was divisive or that he was dangerous; that wasn’t a reason to vote against a Delegate they had supported for many cycles. Instead, what the focus groups taught us, was that we needed to show how the Delegates shared the Trump agenda and how the Trump agenda was dangerous for Virginia. [...] Finally, if the Republican did or said something stupid in the past, like introducing Trump at the convention or saying Trumpcare “was a good start” or Trump “is my ideal candidate,” we would use specifics to tie Trump to that Republican.
That helped us to understand how to use Trump to negatively define our opponents, but we still needed help knowing how to use him to define our Democrats. This is where good survey work came into play. In almost every positive battery this cycle, we tested a positive message that said the Democrat would stand up to Trump and not allow Republicans to do in Richmond what Trump was doing in Washington. We decided to split-sample this question so that half of the sample heard this as the first message in the battery and half heard it as the last message in the battery. Among those voters who heard the message first, the Trump message universally tested as the weakest message in the survey. Voters did not want the first lines they heard from someone they did not know to be about Trump. Among those voters who heard the message last in the battery, it was almost always a top tier message. The lesson was clear: we could not just lean in strongly against Trump to undecided or persuadable voters; we would need to first define the positive agenda and then show how Republican candidates and Trump put that agenda at risk.
“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to president Trump,” Manigault said. “It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
Gillespie told Axelrod he ran those ads because message testing suggested it would help him win. But he said they were not the issues he wanted to focus on.
“Are those the issues I would have chosen to run on as opposed to the tax cuts and frankly even the criminal justice reform innovative proposals I put forward?” said Gillespie. “That’s where I rather the race have been about, but those weren’t what was indicating was going to move numbers and help me win.”
“The issue that looked like it was going to move voters in the suburbs of Northern Virginia was public safety,” he said. “Clearly, (the MS-13 ads) didn’t work. Did it create a backlash? I don’t think so. But I don’t know.”
Florida SERT @FLSERT
Since Oct. 3rd, more than 239,000 individuals have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico through @FlyTPA @MCO and @iflymia
If we had used a less strict standard, Trump would look even worse by comparison. He makes misleading statements and mild exaggerations – about economic statistics, his political opponents and many other subjects – far more often than Obama.
...We have used the word “lies” again here, as we did in our original piece. If anything, though, the word is unfair to Obama and Bush. When they became aware that they had been saying something untrue, they stopped doing it. Obama didn’t continue to claim that all Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance under Obamacare, for example, and Bush changed the way he spoke about Iraq’s weapons capability.
Trump is different. When he is caught lying, he will often try to discredit people telling the truth, be they judges, scientists, F.B.I. or C.I.A. officials, journalists or members of Congress. Trump is trying to make truth irrelevant. It is extremely damaging to democracy, and it’s not an accident. It’s core to his political strategy.
...Over all, Obama rarely told demonstrable untruths as president. And he appears to have become more careful over time. We counted six straight-up falsehoods in his first year in office. Across his entire second four-year term, we counted the same number, six, only one of which came in his final year in office.
In all, we found 18 different bald untruths from Obama during his presidency. Trump told his 18th separate untruth in his third full week in office, and his list keeps growing.
The party is powerful and dominant, and it has a huge geographic advantage that has been fortified through aggressive gerrymandering and voter ID laws. It’s Democrats’ good luck that Republicans are squandering much of that advantage by repeatedly choosing such weak candidates.
The CBS News/YouGov poll was conducted on December 5-11, among 2073 U.S. adults.
McMaster gained an internal ally on Russia in March with the hiring of Fiona Hill as the top Russia adviser on the NSC. A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Hill was best known as the author of a respected biography of Putin and was seen as a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners.
Her relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start.
In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it.
When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.
McMaster followed Hill out the door and scolded her, officials said. Later he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill’s damaged relationship with the president.
Hill’s standing was further damaged when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty after details about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — in which the president revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests — were leaked to The Post.
The White House subsequently tightened the circle of aides involved in meetings with Russian officials. Trump was accompanied only by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting with Putin at a July summit of Group of 20 nations in Hamburg. In prior administrations, the president’s top aide on Russia was typically present for such encounters, but Hill has frequently been excluded.
A senior administration official said that the NSC “was not sidelined as a result” of Hill’s difficult encounters with Trump, that Hill is regularly included in briefings with the president and that she and her staff “continue to play an important role on Russia policy.”
showing a lack of respect for voters who cast their ballots for him
Congressional Republicans are looking at shortening the duration of tax cuts that their plan would give to families and individuals, a leading lawmaker said Thursday.
That change would free up more revenue for additional changes to their tax overhaul, but it could also heighten complaints that the bill prioritizes cuts for corporations over households.
Under a tax overhaul bill passed by the Senate earlier this month, tax cuts for all American households would expire at the end of 2025. But Republicans are now considering having those tax cuts expire in 2024.
This is the Comcast cable contract of tax bills.
LOW PROMOTIONAL RATE!!!*
*Your rate increases by a billion next year and you are locked in and you get horrible customer service and everything's terrible
Ms. Newman’s official title was director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, but she was better known by a title that reflected the breadth and depth of her job responsibilities: director of nothing. Her firing puts the White House in a real jam. Who in the administration is going to do nothing now?
Traditionally the position of director of nothing in a presidential administration falls to the vice president, whose main responsibility is standing around waiting for the president to die, but Mike Pence left an N.F.L. football game a couple of months ago, so his resume’s too full. Given that Ms. Newman made the maximum White House staffer salary of $179,700 a year, it’s clear that director of nothing is too important a position to go unfilled.
Ms. Newman was theoretically supposed to do African-American outreach. Without her there, no one will do nothing to reach out to black people, which is a huge loss for everyone who was dedicated to Ms. Newman’s particular style of ignoring African-Americans.
But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018. [Politico]
Following reports indicating that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is seriously considering retiring from Congress, a spokeswoman for the speaker said that he is “not going anywhere anytime soon.”
Strong indicated that Brendan Buck, a counselor to Ryan, would have additional comment, but he had not yet weighed in early Thursday afternoon.
Ryan also addressed speculation that he is thinking about retiring on Thursday. Asked as he was leaving his weekly press briefing whether he was quitting any time soon, Ryan replied, “I’m not.”
She defended her decision in the face of the group’s challenges that previous Republican promises for the tax bill had been broken, including a commitment to not add to the deficit and to not benefit the rich, and that written agreements are not law.
“I do not believe that I’ve given up leverage,” Ms. Collins said. “I’ve used my leverage to negotiate agreements that are promises to me.”
She added, “I’m sorry that you don’t believe in the agreements.”
...around the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday, Ms. Collins appeared to be increasingly comfortable with voting for the tax cuts.
It is slowly dawning on Republicans and the right-wing media echo chamber that President Trump’s assault on democratic norms and the rule of law, his betrayal of his own populist campaign themes (with tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid spending cuts, for example), his misogynist and xenophobic rhetoric, his mean-spirited vendetta against hardworking immigrants and his dangerous, erratic behavior on the world stage have ignited a backlash that could deliver in 2018 House and Senate majorities to Democrats, who barely had a political pulse a year ago. Trump’s inability to distinguish his grandiose fantasies from reality will also give the midterms an urgency rarely seen in a non-presidential election.
Call them the “Stop the Madness!” elections. Voters will be asked whether they want to reverse a huge tax giveaway to the rich (presuming that the GOP rams through its tax bill by then) and stop rubber-stamping corrupt, extreme and incompetent executive branch and judicial appointments. Democrats will run on populist measures (e.g. an infrastructure bill) as well as the promise to end the scapegoating of immigrants and exercise real oversight over an executive branch rife with self-dealing, self-enrichment and nepotism. In other words, Democrats will ask voters: Do they want to bring the Trumpian nightmare to an end?
A top congressional ethics official who oversees investigations into misconduct by lawmakers is accused in a federal lawsuit of verbally abusing and physically assaulting women and using his federal position to influence local law enforcement, according to a complaint filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania last month.
The ongoing lawsuit against Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, stems from his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, and includes a range of allegations relating to his behavior that evening and in the following two-and-half years.
Voters will be asked whether they want to reverse a huge tax giveaway to the rich (presuming that the GOP rams through its tax bill by then)
Lebsock, who remains a candidate for state treasurer, claimed in a news release on Thursday that he “was exonerated this week when he voluntarily participated in and passed a polygraph test asking critical questions about allegations made against him by Faith Winter.”
…When the accusations surfaced a month ago, Lebsock offered an apology to Winter, saying that he had a “number of drinks” at the party and “I do not remember ever saying anything that was out of line.”
Based on the transcript of the polygraph posted to his campaign website Tuesday morning, Lebsock’s memory appears to have improved.
Though Trump has at times acknowledged that such sabotage did take place, he has mostly refused to do so. This has long appeared to reflect an inability to view discussion of Russian interference as about anything other than himself. To acknowledge Russian meddling can only be an acknowledgement that his victory may have reflected unsavory external factors along with his blinding greatness, and thus may have been in some sense tainted, and since in Trump’s mind that cannot be true, it also cannot be true that Russia meddled at all.
The Post reporting leaves little doubt that Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian sabotage undermines the government’s ability to mount a response commensurate with the destructiveness of those intentions. The Post quotes one official insisting that Trump’s views are “not a constraint” on the government’s ability to fend off Russia’s “destabilizing activity.” But this assertion undercuts itself: It acknowledges both that this is an urgent goal and that the president cannot bring himself to accept it as an imperative.
A UN official who just returned from several days speaking with North Korean officials in Pyongyang has told CNN that he is "really worried about an accidental move toward conflict."
Jeffrey Feltman, an American who is the United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs, told Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that he is concerned about a "lack of communication" and the "high risk of some kind of miscalculation."
“It’s total nonsense,” Eric said, referring to the 21 sexual misconduct allegations that range from harassment to assault and rape. “That’s been the playbook in our government for so long: distract, disrupt, hurt, bash, defame, do whatever you can for your own political gain. It’s sad that we don’t have more morals or character or whatever it is.”
It is first degree murder to kill another by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary, or abduction.
Two FBI employees who used to work for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have already been criticized by Republicans for texts they shared insulting President Donald Trump.
A review of their correspondence shows Mr. Trump wasn’t their only target: They held dim views of other prominent figures, from Chelsea Clinton to Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder to their new boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ...
Although many of their texts targeted Mr. Trump, others also drew their ire. Over the course of 16 months of correspondence, starting in August 2015 and ending on Dec. 1, 2016, that was culled from their work phones, Mr. Strzok said he loathed Congress and called presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) an “idiot.” He suggested the death penalty was appropriate for Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor who pilfered reams of sensitive information. He said Ms. Clinton, daughter of Bill and Mrs. Clinton, was “self-entitled.” And he described House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) as “a jerky.”
He said, “I’m worried about what happens if HRC is elected,” apparently referring to Mrs. Clinton. He didn’t elaborate on his concerns.
Ms. Page described Mr. Sanders’s supporters as “idiots,” and said a Republican presidential candidate has “long been suspected of being gay.” She said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) looked like a “turtle.” They agreed a well-known reporter was “schlubby.”
Parscale's letter mirrored those written by the RNC data firms and used virtually the same language — with one notable exception. Whereas the firms' letters included a line denying that they had had contact with any "foreign government or foreign actor," Parscale's did not.
"Giles-Parscale and Cambridge Analytica did not deny that they had contacts or communications with foreign governments or foreign actors during the 2016 campaign," Cummings and Nadle wrote in a letter on Thursday to House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte.
President Donald Trump plans to keep pushing his legislative agenda in 2018 by releasing his long-promised infrastructure proposal in early January, a senior administration official said.
Infrastructure advocates question whether a Republican-led Congress will be able to pass a spending plan with enough federal funding if it’s already approved a tax measure that official estimates say would bloat the budget deficit. Some say the administration missed its best opportunity to deliver a meaningful public works initiative by not incorporating it into the tax bill, which is nearing approval.
“If they’d taken up infrastructure, we’d have a bill today and have the money to fund it,” said Ray LaHood, a Republican and former transportation secretary under President Barack Obama. “Nothing happened this year, so the prospects of anything happening next year I think are pretty slim,” said LaHood, who is a co-chairman of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition that promotes infrastructure.
The White House plan is essentially complete and Trump recently reviewed it, the official said. It calls for allocating at least $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in spending by states, localities and the private sector.
In both cases [of public-private partnerships, aka P3, where private companies take the risks for project development and funding by collecting the rewards of tolls, and the traditional case of government agencies contracting with private companies and paying them for their work], a private company is contracted to do the work with financing from private sector capital, and all of us bear the cost burden either through tolls or taxes. There is no “new” source of funding.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Thursday said he’d “love to see” President Trump resign, joining a growing group of Democratic senators calling for Trump to step down.
"I believe the president is unfit for office, and I would love to see the president resign,” Van Hollen said on MSNBC’s “Meet The Press Daily."
“But again, I think the best way to address the harm that the Trump agenda is doing to the country and all the broken promises, is in 2018. That has to be our focus,” he continued.
The July 2015 offer by publicist Rob Goldstone came about a year before he set up a meeting for Trump’s eldest son with a Russian lawyer who he said had incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Goldstone’s overture came as he unsuccessfully urged Trump to travel to Moscow later that year to attend a birthday celebration for his client’s father.
“Maybe he would welcome a meeting with President Putin,” Goldstone wrote in a July 24, 2015, email to Trump’s longtime personal assistant, Rhona Graff. There is no indication Trump or his assistant followed up on Goldstone’s offer.
White House confirms that President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin today and promises a readout tonight. Kremlin has already released its readout.
-- Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg
President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia today. President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging Americas strong economic performance in his annual press conference.
The two presidents also discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.
In March, Fox viewers were 40 points more likely to view Trump positively than were voters overall. By December, they were only 24 points more likely to do so — even though the numbers for Republicans — with which Fox viewership overlaps to some extent — remained fairly high.
-- Gravis poll of TN race has Dem Bredesen up 42-40 over likely GOP nom Blackburn.
-- Nate Cohn calls Senate control a toss-up.
-- Mentioned upstream, Blake Farenthold is not running for re-election, in the wake of sexual harassment charges in his office. TX-27 is pretty red: Trump 60-37, Romney 61-38.
-- Lots of generic ballot polls being published this week. PPP has Dems as +11 (51/40). 538 average is +10.9 (48.7/37.8).
-- Sabato has an article claiming that a 4 point lead in the generic ballot would be enough for the majority. Politics nerd reactions are skeptical - it's generally thought to be more like 8 points.
-- Independent Mary Norwood is seeking a recount in the Atlanta mayoral race. Norwood lost by 832 votes, less than 1%.
-- VA HOD update #1: Mentioned earlier, recount concluded in HD-40, with GOP incumbent Hugo holding on. The remaining three recounts will be in the next few days.
-- VA HOD update #2: A judge has set a date of Jan 5 for a hearing on whether to hold a new election as a remedy for the voters in HD-28 who were given ballots with a different district HOD race. The state elections commissioner said the board has no way of providing relief, and supports the court providing an appropriate remedy. Jan 5 is only five days before the new HOD class is seated; I'm not sure what would happen if a decision was not yet reached (can't be the incumbent, he retired).
-- Part 3 of 538's gerrymandering podcast series, focusing on VRA/racial gerrymandering.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Mueller asked the firm in the fall to turn over the emails of any Cambridge Analytica employees who worked on the Trump campaign, in a sign that the special counsel is probing the Trump campaign’s data operation
"We were treated like slaves,” Rahim Mohamed, 32, told Newsweek. A diabetic truck driver and father of two, he has lived in the U.S. since 2002.
“We were shackled for nearly two days,” he continued. “We weren't allowed to use the bathroom or get out of the plane. I was not given the medication I need. I peed into a bottle, and then I peed on myself. It was a horrible thing, man. I thought my life was pretty much over."
For Rebecca Sharpless, an immigration law professor at the University of Miami who has been following the situation, it was a gross violation of basic decency.
"If you shackle someone to a chair for almost 46 hours with very little food and very little water with no access to a bathroom, it's a violation of their human rights. It's reminiscent of a slave ship experience," she said.
Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency.
According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt’s office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Following Romney’s defeat, Rhoades established America Rising, an ostensibly independent political action committee that works closely with the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to mine damning information on opponents. Other higher-ups at Definers include former RNC research director Joe Pounder, who’s been described as “a master of opposition research,” and senior vice president Colin Reed, an oppo-research guru billed as “among the leaders of the war on [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren.”
[Author’s note: These responses were given on August 27, just two days after President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. With former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty Friday to lying to the FBI, the question in August was the same as it is today: If Trump attempts to use his pardon power to undercut Mueller’s investigation, does he have the authority to do it? I reached out to each of these experts to ensure that their assessments still hold, and they do.]
While it’s impossible to predict what Trump will do, nearly all the experts I spoke to agree on one thing: If Trump does use his pardoning powers to thwart the Russia investigation, it’s very likely to backfire.
If someone like Flynn or Kushner were preemptively pardoned, he wouldn’t be able to plead the Fifth Amendment if he were called to testify against Trump. The Fifth Amendment protects citizens against self-incrimination. But if someone has been pardoned, they no longer face the threat of prosecution, and so they can’t use a desire to avoid incriminating themselves as an excuse not to answer a question.
So in addition to potentially obstructing justice, Trump would only leave himself — and his colleagues — more vulnerable if he decided to pardon anyone currently under investigation. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t pull the trigger anyway. But he might want to think long and hard about the implications before he does.
There is, however, one scenario in which Trump could save himself and others from potential prosecution. It’s what Susan Bloch, a law professor at Georgetown, calls the Nixon scenario: “Trump pardons them [Flynn, Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr.] as he is exiting the White House and Trump exits early, allowing Pence to become president, and Pence then pardons Trump. Trump will then have successfully shielded himself and his colleagues from criminal liability.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton says that President Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not "revise the historical facts" of his case — and that she will not vacate her ruling that found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt.
On Thursday, Bolton quoted Black's Law Dictionary to say that a pardon "releases the wrongdoer from punishment and restores the offender's civil rights without qualification." But she then added a further interpretation in her own words: "It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings."
Citing legal precedents, Bolton said that while a pardon removes the threat of punishment, it does not "blot out guilt." Instead, she wrote in her decision, accepting a pardon implies a confession of guilt. Bolton also suggested that the timing of President Trump's pardon — when Arpaio had not appealed her verdict — played a role in her decision to preserve it.
The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.
Rosenstein testified that if Trump asked him to fire Mueller, “I would follow the regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not.” He said he had not thus far seen good cause to act and later added, “I won’t take any action unless he’s violated his duties.”
Four in 10 Americans think the president has done something illegal when it comes to Russia, while an additional 3 in 10 say he’s at least done something unethical. And 68 percent disapprove of his response to the investigations.
The president and CEO of the conservative advocacy group The Family Leader says Americans have a right to know if President Trump engaged in past sexual misconduct. Bob Vander Plaats says the allegations made by a number of women against the president should not be ignored simply because he says he’s innocent.
"A lot of these ladies came forth in the election, and for whatever reason, the American people said 'we're going to give the presidency to Donald Trump.' That doesn't mean their issue went away because he became president."
"I think if these ladies need to be heard on this—and I think they probably should be heard, then let's let the facts play out. I don't think it should be really dismissed," he says.
Vander Plaats says he supports a Congressional investigation of President Trump if the charges prove credible. He backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz during the Republican presidential primary race and was a national co-chair for the Ted Cruz campaign for president in 2016.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed focused this week on rebooting his image as a beleaguered Cabinet member on the outs with his boss and his own employees — holding a rare town hall with employees, promising foreign trips into 2018 and saying he is “learning” to enjoy his job.
But then he went off script by offering another invitation for diplomatic talks with nuclear-armed North Korea, putting him at odds once again with President Trump and senior White House officials, who are increasingly exasperated with the secretary of state and say he cannot remain in his job for the long term. [...] Tillerson, one White House official said, “had not learned his lesson from the last time,” when Trump publicly rebuked his top diplomat on Twitter over the wisdom of talking to North Korea.[...]
Another White House aide said White House officials, diplomats and other Cabinet secretaries largely deem the former ExxonMobil chief executive “irrelevant.” [...] “I think our allies know at this point he’s not really speaking for the administration,” this Trump official said — a particularly sharp slap given that Tillerson has sought to be a buffer and interpreter for allies angry or bewildered by some of Trump’s actions.
...what's to prevent them from simply refusing to cooperate with the Feds and risking a contempt charge, knowing they'll just be pardoned again for that?
Cochran had to be guided by staffers around a security checkpoint inside the Capitol. He started to walk into a first-floor room — though the Senate chamber is on the second floor. He was then ushered by an aide up to the Senate.
When another reporter asked whether leadership had pressured Cochran to return for a vote on the budget resolution — a key moment in the tax reform debate — Cochran smiled and responded, “It’s a beautiful day outside.”
I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month.
Here’s why: Since March, our investigation has made important progress. We’ve interviewed numerous key witnesses behind closed doors, held public hearings, reviewed thousands of documents, identified new leads — all to understand and expose Russia's meddling and protect our democracy. Yet, Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on. It appears Republicans want to conduct just enough interviews to give the impression of a serious investigation. Next week, they scheduled critical witness interviews out of state, when we are voting on the tax bill and vital government funding bills and no Members will be able to ask questions, in an effort to squeeze them in before end of year. These witnesses are willing to come to DC. Despite our repeated urging, Majority has declined to issue subpoenas in numerous avenues of the investigation, where there's simply no other way to get the information. Some refusals we’ve made public, like witnesses hiding behind nonexistent privileges, many others we haven’t. The responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation, or to prevent one, ultimately falls on @SpeakerRyan. I’m concerned he's heeding the calls of Bannon and @POTUS to “DO SOMETHING” by closing down the Russia investigation & opening up another investigation of Hilary Clinton. Beyond our investigation, here’s what has me really concerned: The attacks on Mueller, DOJ and FBI this week make it clear they plan to go after Mueller’s investigation. Aggressively and soon. By shutting down the congressional investigations when they continue to discover new and important evidence, the White House can exert tremendous pressure to end or curtail Mueller’s investigation or cast doubt on it. We cannot let that happen.
The Trump administration’s top environmental policymakers are engaged in a new war with their adversaries — over how much information to release to the media and outside groups, who are often perceived as enemies, as part of a heavy stream of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Text messages obtained by American Oversight under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that SBA staff exchanged a series of messages as they attempted to take a photo of the administrator’s speech that didn’t include the large Trump logo on the front of the lectern.
After one staffer successfully took a photo without the Trump logo, another replied that she would try to “crop the opulence” out of the image when posting it on social media with excerpts of the speech.
“Months after the State Department used taxpayer resources to promote a Trump property, we still have no clear answers about why this happened, and the State Department has established no guidelines to prevent employees from advertising the president’s businesses in the future
American Oversight obtained Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' calendars from her first six months in office. Our analysis found that she took at least 11 long weekends, and she only completed a full day of work about 2/3 of the time.
So. Yea. Review your "what to do when they fire Mueller" plans.
As Republicans prepare to vote on their tax plan without honoring the will of Alabama voters, new polling from Not One Penny and Public Policy Polling shows Alabama voter’s deep dislike of the Republican plan to give tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations. Just 38 percent of Alabama voters express support for the tax plan being considered by Congress while 44 percent oppose the plan. Opposition rises to 50 percent amongst voters who have heard, seen, or read “a lot” about the plan.
Alabama voters also see the wealthy and large corporations as the biggest beneficiaries of the plan — 53 percent think they will benefit more from the tax plan, while just 35 percent think that the middle class and small businesses will benefit.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania temporarily blocked the Trump administration's recent rules allowing moral and religious exceptions for ObamaCare's birth control requirement.
The injunction comes after state Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the administration, arguing the changes to the mandate undermine women's health.
Senior White House official Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm, according to four people familiar with the matter.
Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has quietly called at least two firms, these people said. The inquiries have occurred in the past two weeks and officials at the firms were asked not to discuss the conversations with others.
In a statement, Lowell confirmed he was looking for a firm that would handle media for all high-profile clients that receive attention from the press. His other clients include Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose months-long corruption trial ended last month when jurors deadlocked. The Justice Department has not announced whether it plans to retry him.
Lowell said “this inquiry” from The Washington Post is a prime example of why such a firm, which he has yet to hire, is needed.
The United Nations monitor on poverty and human rights has issued a devastating report on the condition of America, accusing Donald Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress of attempting to turn the country into the “world champion of extreme inequality”.
Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has completed a two-week official tour of the US by releasing an excoriating attack on the direction of the nation. Not only does he warn that the tax bill currently being rushed through Congress will hugely increase already large disparities between rich and poor, he accuses Trump and his party of consciously distorting the shape of American society in a “bid to become the most unequal society in the world”.
“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations,” he writes. “But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”
In his most stark message, Alston warns that the Republicans’ declared intent to slash crucial welfare programs next year in order to pay for some of the $1.5tn tax cuts could cost American lives. “The consequences for an already overstretched and inadequate system of social protection are likely to be fatal for many programs, and possibly also for those who rely upon them,” he writes.
Alston’s piercing findings present the Trump administration with a challenge. The charge that the US president is actively seeking to harm millions of Americans may be difficult to ignore, given that the report carries the imprimatur of the UN human rights council in Geneva.
Trump has frequently been dismissive of the world body, complaining during the 2016 presidential campaign that “we get nothing out of the United Nations other than good real-estate prices”. But he has also shown himself to have a thin skin when it comes to criticism of him or his administration. At a press conference launching his preliminary report in Washington, Alston quipped about possible Trump reaction: “I’m hoping for a tweet”.
As a general rule, they may not change a provision on which both houses agree, nor may they add anything that is not in one version or the other. Furthermore, conferees are to reach agreements within the “scope” of the differences between the House and Senate positions.
[W]hen the Senate passes a House bill (or the House passes a Senate bill) with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that totally replaces the text of the bill. In this situation, which arises nearly all of the time, there is only one amendment in conference—for example, a Senate substitute for the House version of a bill. The two versions of the bill can take very different approaches to the same subject, making it difficult for the conferees to isolate every point of agreement and disagreement and to identify the scope of each disagreement. Under these circumstances, the conferees may write their own conference substitute, so long as it is a germane modification of the House and Senate versions.
If a conference agreement exceeds the scope of the differences or deals with a matter that is not in disagreement, the conference report is subject to a point of order when the House or Senate considers it...the Senate can waive its rule with a three-fifths vote of Senators duly chosen and sworn.
a Senator can make a point of order against one or more provisions of a conference report. If the point of order is not waived...the presiding officer rules whether or not the provision is in violation of the rule. If a point of order is raised against more than one provision, the presiding officer may make separate decisions regarding each provision.
Modification of child tax credit: $2,000 not indexed;
refundable up to $1,400 indexed down to nearest $100
base year 2018; $2,500 refundability threshold not
indexed; $500 other dependents not indexed; phase outs
$200K/$400K not indexed (sunset 12/31/25)
President Donald Trump's private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President's team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller's probe, according to sources familiar with the matter.
While the lawyers have met with Mueller's team before and might again, the sources believe the upcoming meeting has greater significance because it comes after the completion of interviews of White House personnel requested by the special counsel and after all requested documents have been turned over. Mueller could still request more documents and additional interviews. No request to interview the President or the vice president has been made, sources tell CNN.
But Trump's team, led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, is hoping for signs that Mueller's investigation is nearing its end, or at least the part having to do with the President.[...] The sources acknowledge that Mueller is under no obligation to provide any information and concede they may walk away with no greater clarity.
The sources did not specify who requested the meeting.
Deutsche Bank AG has been asked by U.S. government authorities to hand over information about transactions that could be linked to former national security adviser Michael Flynn or entities connected to him, according to people familiar with the matter.
The information was requested as part of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the people said. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Deutsche Bank has received several subpoenas in the investigation, and the German lender is continuing to provide information to authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty this month to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Russian contacts and is cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s probe. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn declined to comment.
Deutsche Bank AG earlier this year flagged around $30 million in potentially suspicious transactions as part of an internal investigation into its role as a conduit for money involving Paul Manafort or people and entities connected to him, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The findings, which were discussed inside Deutsche Bank in late spring and early summer, primarily concerned cash flows tied to Mr. Manafort, who for about five months was President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, and Mr. Manafort’s former business partner Richard Gates III, the person said. [...]
As scrutiny around several of Mr. Trump’s former advisers was heating up, Deutsche Bank executives were assessing the bank’s role in handling hundreds of transactions that might have involved people in Mr. Trump’s orbit, have originated in Russia, or both, said some of the people familiar with the matter.
In recent months, the German lender has received several subpoenas in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, according to some of the people. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment on any flagged transactions and referred to a previous statement that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.”
Deutsche Bank previously reported some of the transactions to U.S. anti-financial-crime authorities and shared at least some of its internal findings with officials in the U.S., said the person briefed on the matter.
Finally, the provision specifies that nothing in this section shall prevent an unborn child from qualifying as a designated beneficiary. For these purposes, an unborn child means a child in utero, and the term child in utero means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.
Some have asked how tax plan can permanently cut taxes on corporations on net if Senate rules require no increase in deficits after 10 years. It does so through two permanent stealth tax increases on individuals: slower inflation indexing and repealing individual mandate. JCT has said that slower inflation indexing in tax plan raises at least 3 times as much in second decade as first. So about $400B in 2nd decade. This is largely how bill pays for permanent net corporate tax cut. Slower inflation indexing largely exempts the wealthy b/c most of their income is already in the top tax bracket. Really hurts middle class and poor b/c more of their income taxed at higher brackets over time, and reduces value of tax benefits like EITC.
Individual mandate repeal results in 13 million Americans no longer having health insurance, and 10% higher premiums in individual market.
You can see how the tax plan pays for permanent net tax cuts for businesses by raising taxes on individuals if you look at JCT revenue estimates in 2027. Big tax cut for businesses paid for by even bigger tax hike on individuals. [GRAPH]
The Justice Department’s spokeswoman was adamant in a series of email exchanges with Right Turn on Thursday evening that Rosenstein had no choice but to publicly release the information. “The IG personally cleared the release of these text messages saying that his investigation was nearly closed and he didn’t see any legitimate reason to keep them from Congress,” insisted Sarah Isgur Flores, director of public affairs. “Then career ethics officials cleared the release of these texts for privacy, legal and ethics concerns. So at that point, we had a number of requests from Congress and no legitimate reason we could decline to turn them over.” She defended the decision, reiterating: “We are all doing the best we can over here to ensure a fair and consistent process for all parties.”
The Deparmtment did not consult with the OIG in order to determine whether releasing the text messages met applicable ethical and legal standards before providing them to Congress...The Department did not consult with the OIG before sharing the text messages with the press.
Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.
Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.
Nine more women say that Alex Kozinski — a high-profile judge who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — subjected them to sexual comments or other conduct, including four who say he touched them inappropriately.
Kozinski, known for his libertarian views and colorful written opinions, already had been accused of subjecting several women to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments, and the circuit’s chief judge on Thursday took the first step in launching an investigation into his behavior. The matter was assigned Friday to the 2nd Circuit judicial council.
The new allegations — which span decades and include not just those who worked for Kozinski but those who encountered him at events — bring the total number of women accusing the judge of inappropriate behavior to at least 15.
Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders. [...]
In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik's political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.
In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund. [...]
And consider Steve Mnuchin, Trump's campaign finance chairman. Could he have known that the Trump Victory Fund, jointly managed by the Republican National Committe and Trump's campaign, took contributions from Intrater and Kukes? Mnuchin owned Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune with Blavatnik until he sold his stake to accept Trump's appointment as the Treasury secretary. [...]
Even if the donations by the four men associated with Russia ultimately pass muster with Mueller, one still has to wonder: Why did GOP PACs and other Trump-controlled funds take their money? Why didn't the PACs say, "Thanks, but no thanks," like the Republicans said to Shustorovich in 2000? Yes, it was legal to accept their donations, but it was incredibly poor judgment.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke brought the leader of a California park to his office last month to reprimand him for climate change-related tweets the park had sent via Twitter, two sources close to the situation said.
Zinke did not take any formal disciplinary action against David Smith, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. And the tweets at issue weren’t deleted, because they didn’t violate National Park Service or Interior Department policies.
But Zinke made it clear to Smith that the Trump administration doesn’t want national parks to put out official communications on climate change.
“So look,” the text from Page to Strzok reads, “you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein demanding a fuller explanation for Page’s message, saying, “The mention of ‘Hillary’ may refer to Secretary Clinton and therefore could indicate that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page engaged in other communications about an ongoing investigation on a different phone in an effort to prevent it from being traced.’’
People familiar with the matter said that, although Page’s message may appear to suggest that she and Strzok used a separate communications channel for discussing the Clinton case, the point of her text was to advise Strzok how to explain to his wife why the two of them had been texting each other.
Page and Strzok used their work on the Clinton case as a cover story for the affair, these people said, adding that there was not a separate set of phones for untraceable discussions of the Clinton case. The text had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation, these people said.
On FBI deputy director McCabe and his scheduled House Intelligence interview Tuesday, panel Republicans have wanted to talk to him for a long time about how the FBI used the 'Steele dossier.' Now they also want to ask about Strzok text messages and Bruce/Nellie Ohr, as well.—5:45 PM
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote a June 28 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, questioning whether McCabe handled the Michael Flynn investigation “fairly and objectively.”—5:48 PM
Grassley has raised other issues about McCabe, including why he did not recuse himself from investigations involving Michael Flynn. Grassley points in part to a gender-discrimination complaint vs. FBI in which Flynn provided “a letter of support for the complainant in that case.—5:52 PM
Removing McCabe would face certain legal complications. McCabe is a career FBI special agent, not a political appointee, and he's a member of the Senior Executive Service. Civil service rules prevent a simple firing, and while McCabe can be reassigned or encouraged to retire, he cannot be reassigned for four months after installation of a new agency head without his consent. More broadly, to reassign a 21-year veteran of the FBI for political reasons would send a strong message that the FBI is no longer an apolitical organization, an identity of which FBI employees are fiercely proud, even if it doesn't run afoul of civil service protections—at least if it were done without McCabe’s cooperation.
The problem for Wray is that Trump might not care about any of these niceties: not about whether he’s making his FBI director look like a political toady, not about how the workforce understands the director and certainly not about compliance with civil service protections.
One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration, federal records show.
The firm, Definers Public Affairs, based in Virginia, specializes in conducting opposition research to aid Republican Party causes, meaning that it seeks to find damaging information on Democratic political candidates in an effort to undermine their election bids.
A vice president for the firm, Allan Blutstein, federal records show, has submitted at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the E.P.A. since President Trump was sworn in. Many of those requests target employees known to be questioning management at the E.P.A. since Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, was confirmed.
Mr. Blutstein, in an interview, said he was taking aim at “resistance” figures in the federal government, adding that he hoped to discover whether they had done anything that might embarrass them or hurt their cause.
“I wondered if they were emailing critical things about the agency on government time and how frequently they were corresponding about this,” he said. “And did they do anything that would be useful for Republicans.”
The selective rhetorical elevation of black women acts as a sort of overcorrection. For better and for worse, the gospel of individualism remains the bedrock of American identity. And yet the creed does not apply to black women, who are regarded not as varied, self-interested political actors, or as people to be served or scrutinized in meaningful ways, if they are regarded at all. Instead, the black female voter is thought to make decisions, with infinite patience and piety, in response to the strident acts of self-determination around her. Hers is a reactionary, not a visionary, politics, a righting of the ship of state. (The veteran congresswoman Maxine Waters, in her charismatic crusade against Trump, has made clever use of this presumption, subversively embracing the colloquial title of Auntie.) As opposed to Trump, the black female voter is especially invoked as a check on the moral void that would, in the case of Alabama’s special election, allow the election of a candidate who had pursued underage girls and spoken fondly of family life under slavery. Just search for the phrase “Black women warned us” on social media to see the degree to which she is sanctified. Her lack of power and ego makes her the right arbiter of justice. Materially, though, she is ignored, and her efforts to safeguard her own welfare are instead regarded as efforts toward a national salvation. She is of America only because she works for it.
Clinton: Well, here we go again. I have been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years starting when I was a Senator from New York. But that's not the point here.
Trump: Why didn't you do it? Why didn't you do it?
Clinton: Because I was a senator with a Republican President.
Trump: You could have done it. If you were an effective senator, you could have done it. But you were not an effective senator
-- Franken plans to resign in early January.
-- Legal intrigue is brewing, as Republican Senate President Fischbach claims she can keep her seat while serving as the new lt gov, in an effort to avoid the possibility of the Dems taking control of the Senate. Dems say that's contrary to state law.
-- Cook Political moved race from Likely R to Lean R.
-- Daily Beast: Dems starting to feel optimistic about this one
-- Payday Report has a deep dive into the history of the region and how labor is treating this as a big election.
-- A Paul Ryan retirement would make a pickup in WI-01 much more likely, as he seems to have greater than normal incumbent advantage.
-- Mentioned earlier, a PPP poll has a Dem challenger down only a few points to NRCC chair Steve Stivers in OH-15. That's the kind of thing that should make a lot of Republicans nervous - it's an R +7 district, Stivers has been around awhile, and hasn't done anything unexpectedly egregious, etc. Cook Political just moved the district from Solid R to Likely R.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) told KQED Newsroom on Friday that she believes Republicans are trying to shut down the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Speier also said, “The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22nd, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller.”
If this were to happen, Speier said, it would cause a constitutional crisis. “That is Saturday massacre 2.0,” she said. “Without a doubt there would be an impeachment effort.”
SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT
Caller: Hi! I’m a constituent from [part of state] I’m calling to urge [MoC] to use every tool in the toolbox to prevent Trump from firing Special Counsel Mueller. I’m concerned he may do that, launching a constitutional crisis. Will [MoC] speak out and tell the President that firing Mueller would be a red line he must not cross?
Staffer: Thank you for your call. [MoC] is monitoring the various investigations closely and is letting them run their course.
Caller: That’s good, but it’s really important for Congress to assert its power now to prevent Trump from firing Mueller. I’d like to see [MoC] issue a clear statement on this, and co-sponsor [H.R. 3771/S. 1735 or S. 1741] to show [his/her] support for protecting Mueller and the investigation.
Staffer: We’ll take a look at that legislation.
Caller: Great, I’ll be following to see if [MoC] co-sponsors and speaks out on this.
But there is another path Trump could take to remove Mueller, according to Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar. The regulations that govern the special counsel were issued by the Department of Justice and could be rescinded by the Department of Justice. If the regulations were rescinded, Trump would no longer be required to cite any cause in removing Mueller. Still, however, he would likely have to go through Rosenstein to rescind the regulation, a move Rosenstein would likely resist.
If Trump moves to fire Mueller, then, it is likely Mueller won’t be the only official heading for the exits. And a slew of resignations or firings at DOJ in order to get rid of Mueller would only deepen the sense of crisis.
It’s possible that Trump could circumvent DOJ entirely and fire Mueller on his own. It’s not clear that Trump has any constitutional duty to adhere by a Justice Department regulation, said Saikrishna Prakash, a professor at University of Virginia Law School and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“I don’t know how a rule of the Department of Justice can limit the president’s constitutional authority,” Prakash said, pointing to the president’s authority to remove officers of the executive branch, which could be interpreted to include a special counsel. “My view is the president can fire the special prosecutor without regard to what the rule says.”
I think we’re seeing signs that the ground is being laid to fire Bob Mueller and end all investigations into President Trump and Russia. I’m not saying it will happen or that the effort will be successful. But the effort is clearly afoot.
I don’t want to be hyperbolic. I not only believe generally but think we have seen evidence of the resilience of our system and core institutions over recent months. But we can see a number of developments, building over recent weeks and accelerating in recent days, aimed at ending the Russia investigations.
But it is the evening of December 15th. At some point, no matter how much you want to believe something, the evidence contradicting your belief can grow so great that your edifice of confidence crumbles. It can happen rapidly. Even in the Trumpian world of fictive realities, the nonsensical nature of Cobb’s assurances must be becoming clear. That dam of realization seems to have given way or is in the process of breaking. That’s perilous.
For clarity, I don’t think Mueller will be fired. But I believe the groundwork is being laid to do so. I believe there’s an effort afoot to try. It is also entirely possible Trump will fire Mueller, especially if he can get a clean bill of health from one of the House committees which he can brandish as a justification. That will trigger a grave crisis. Keep an eye on the escalating attacks on Mueller, the increasing drive to close down the congressional investigations.
The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities.
HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department’s Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.
Several key departments — including Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Large majorities say the government should play a major role in keeping the country safe from terrorism (94%), responding to natural disasters (89%) and ensuring that food and medicine are safe (87%). Somewhat smaller majorities – about six-in-ten or more – say the government is doing at least a somewhat good job in each of these areas.
In other areas, there are much wider differences between views of the government’s role and performance. For example, while 80% of the public says the government should play a major role in managing the country’s immigration system, just 32% say it’s doing a good job in this area. Similarly, two-thirds think the government should be involved in helping people get out of poverty; just 26% rate the government positively in dealing with poverty – the lowest rating for any issue in the survey.
And while wide majorities say the government should be involved in ensuring a basic income for those 65 and older (71%), access to health care (69%), access to high equality education (68%) and helping people get out of poverty (67%), fewer than half say the government is doing a good job in these areas.
Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls could be personally enriched by a real-estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill released Friday evening, according to experts interviewed by International Business Times. The legislative language was not part of previous versions of the bill and was added despite ongoing conflict-of-interest questions about the intertwining real estate interests and governmental responsibilities of President Donald Trump — the bill’s chief proponent.
The Trump organization and the Kushners (the family of Ivanka's husband, Jared) have overseen vast real estate empires, and top GOP lawmakers writing the tax bill collectively have tens of millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs. The new tax provision would specifically allow owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes, according to experts. Although Trump, who became famous for his real estate holdings, has transitioned into branding in recent years, federal records show Trump has ownership stakes in myriad LLCs.
The new provision was not in the bill passed by the House or the Senate. Instead, it was inserted into the final bill during reconciliation negotiations between Republicans from both chambers. The provision, said experts, would offer a special tax cut to LLCs with few employees and large amounts of depreciable property assets, namely buildings: rent generating apartment and office buildings. [...]
IBT previously reported that 13 GOP lawmakers directly sculpting the bill —including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — have between $36 million and $163 million worth of ownership stakes in real estate-related LLCs. Those entities generated between $2.6 million and $16 million in “pass through” income and could benefit from the new provision.
Sen. Bob Corker, who was considered a potential “no” vote on the bill, abruptly switched his position upon the release of the final legislation. Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit.
“Without a doubt there would be an impeachment effort.”
Eagle-eyed court watchers on Twitter noticed, late Monday, that there are four sealed cases listed on the U.S. District Court's docket in Washington, D.C., located on the docket between George Papadopoulos's sealed plea bargain (#182) and Paul Manafort's sealed indictment (#201).
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained “many tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails, including sensitive emails of Jared Kushner, transition team sources tell Axios.
Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses, the sources said.
The emails include 12 accounts, one of which contains about 7,000 emails, the sources said.
The accounts include the team's political leadership and the foreign-policy team, the sources said.
Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters that include potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.
The sources say that transition officials assumed that Mueller would come calling, and had sifted through the emails and separated the ones they considered privileged. But the sources said that was for naught, since Mueller has the complete cache from the dozen accounts.
A lawyer for the Trump presidential transition team is accusing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office of inappropriately obtaining transition documents as part of its Russia probe, including confidential attorney-client communications and privileged communications.
In a letter obtained by Fox News and sent to House and Senate committees on Saturday, the transition team’s attorney alleges “unlawful conduct” by the career staff at the General Services Administration in handing over transition documents to the special counsel’s office.
Officials familiar with the case argue Mueller could have a problem relating to the 4th Amendment – which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Kory Langhofer, the counsel to Trump for America, wrote in the letter that the the GSA “did not own or control the records in question.” But, Langhofer says, Mueller’s team has “extensively used the materials in question, including portions that are susceptible to claims of privilege.”
Trump for America is the nonprofit organization that facilitated the transition between former President Barack Obama to President Trump. The GSA, an agency of the United States government, provided the transition team with office space and hosted its email servers.
I'm not sure what the take-away is from that Quinnipiac poll. Maybe it's good. Maybe bad. I mean, the overall numbers look nice. But the Republican base is split 42/45 either saying "more likely to re-elect" or "won't matter." The Democratic base is strongly against. The real question is what the "Independents" say and how to interpret it.
Like if we want to apply the lessons learned in Alabama to ultra red states in 2018 it's literally "have the Republicans run a pedophile and they'll stay home".
A second HHS agency received similar guidance to avoid using “entitlement,” “diversity” and “vulnerable,” according to an official who took part in a briefing earlier in the week. Participants at that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance.
At the State Department, meanwhile, certain documents now refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.”
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Saturday night, Loewentritt [GSA Deputy Counsel] disputed the claims made in the letter sent by the Trump campaign.
"Beckler [former GSA General Counsel, who has since died] never made that commitment," he said of the claim that any requests for transition records would be routed to the Trump campaign's counsel.
Specifically, Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.
Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."
Loewentritt told BuzzFeed News that the GSA initially "suggested a warrant or subpoena" for the materials, but that the Special Counsel's Office determined the letter route was sufficient.
As to whether the Trump campaign should have been informed of the request, Loewentritt said, "That's between the Special Counsel and the transition team."
Settle in, politikids, You're going to enjoy this...
I've read the full letter Trump transition team attorneys sent to legislators re: Mueller obtaining their emails. It has a delicious reveal.
As we now know:
1) Mueller obtained ALL of the emails sent to/from Trump transition team accounts
2) The Trump gang only realized this after Mueller's team seemed to know all about their emails
3) This made them quite... upset
4) Their lawyers then wrote the letter in the link to congressmen complaining about just how upsetting all of this is.
Here's the classically amusing reveal in the letter... Earlier this year, Trump appointed the top attorney at the office responsible for providing all the electronics and email accounts the Trump transition team used. That attorney's name was Richard Backler.
Now, as background, Backler was a white collar criminal defense attorney before his appointment. He helped rich criminals beat government convictions for a firm with a name you'll find familiar: Bracewell & Giuliani.
So, Trump appointed Backler and then Backler went and ensured Trump transition team attorneys that he would not allow his org (the GSA) to provide any of their emails to investigators. One problem: Backler fell ill and ultimately passed away.
So, until Mueller's crew started asking Trump aides about those emails, they had absolutely no idea Mueller had them because they thought Trump's guy on the inside was running interference for them.
Let that one sink in.
Trump and his flunkies thought their friend at the GSA had locked their emails away *literally* in a vault no one could get to... They thought their bodies were all buried. As a result, Trump's people walked into their interviews with Mueller and team with a completely false sense of confidence that he didn't know what he already knew in spades. They thought he was fishing. He was just reeling fish in.
Can you imagine the freakout that must have occurred in Trumpland when they realized their cleanup guy hadn't actually done the cleanup after all? Alllllllll of the things they thought they had buried were not only not buried; Mueller had them in writing!
While this is just conjecture, I suspect the entire Trump orbit just realized that Mueller has a trove that entirely hangs them out to dry AND brings them down for obstruction and lying to Mueller to boot.
Trump appointed a Giuliani guy to protect him from Mueller...
...and then the guy went and died just as Mueller was coming a'calling.
Trump must be losing his freaking mind...
...even more panicked: Jared Kushner.
Mueller is gonna roast them all.
As a lawyer, there this NOTHING more fun than talking to a someone and listening to them lie about shit when you already have the proof in your hands and they don't know it. It's better than sex.
So... guess who else was part of the Trump transition team? Numerous GOP Congresspeople, including some on powerful House Committees:
Rep. Devin Nunes
House Intelligence (Chair)
Rep. Trey Gowdy
House Oversight (Chair)
Rep Cynthia Lummis
Rep. Tom Marino
Rep. Dennis Ross
Sen. Tim Scott
Rep Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Rep. Tom Reed
Rep. Lou Barletta
Rep. Chris Collins
Rep. Sean Duffy
You know how GOP Congresspeople have been very active recently in attacking Mueller? I'm guessing that they've realized that Mueller's investigation has followed the trail to the point where he can credibly start questioning them about their own communications...
It's unclear which officials the emails belong to and what they contain. But it's likely they will provide a number of new leads for the special counsel to follow.
In one instance, KT McFarland, a senior member of Trump's transition team, said in an email to a colleague on December 29, 2016 that the transition team should try to reassure Russia, which had just "thrown" the election to Trump.
McFarland wrote the email right after then President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against Russia in response to its interference in the election.
18 U.S.C. § 2381: Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
“So I look forward to . . . seeing how we can provide better service and at the same time cut costs” through “managed-care Medicaid,” he said. A managed system would involve rewarding “healthy choices,” he said. “I want people to have skin in the game. I want to incentivize people to really have good health.”
Just a reminder that no matter how overtly Trump coluded with Russia he did not commit treason.
"After Tapper pressed him on why Franken should have to resign when the allegations against Trump were more "horrific," Jones replied, "I go back to the fact that those allegations were made, and he was elected president of the United States, and I think the American people spoke on that at this time. There's other things out there, but I think at this point we need to move on and try to work with some real issues that are facing the country and not worry about getting at odds with the president any more than we have to."
More than that, Cramer added, the special counsel's team may not even have needed a subpoena to obtain the emails. An administrative request - a legally authorized and judicially enforceable demand for records issued by a government authority - may have sufficed, he said.
The transition team lawyer's letter to Congress appeared to confirm that Mueller's office obtained the emails via an administrative request.
"Specifically, on August 23, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (i.e., not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials associated with nine [transition team] members responsible for national security and policy matters," the letter said.
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Saturday night, Loewentritt — whose LinkedIn represents that he has worked at the agency since 1972 — disputed the claims made in the letter sent by the Trump campaign.
"Beckler never made that commitment," he said of the claim that any requests for transition records would be routed to the Trump campaign's counsel.
Specifically, Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.
Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."
Loewentritt told BuzzFeed News that the GSA initially "suggested a warrant or subpoena" for the materials, but that the Special Counsel's Office determined the letter route was sufficient.
As to whether the Trump campaign should have been informed of the request, Loewentritt said, "That's between the Special Counsel and the transition team."
Behind the new faux controversy over Mueller getting Trump transition emails is a key and probably too little discussed aspect of the Russia story: Mueller’s team has some of the most accomplished and aggressive prosecutors and legal minds of their generation. They’re facing off against a team of has-beens, 3rd or 4th rate lawyers and in some cases simple incompetents. Why? Because Trump values sycophancy above competence and because none of the top lawyers were willing to work for him.
I can’t say that I would have known on my own what the status of these emails in question was. But given what we know about Trump’s lawyers, it’s all but impossible to think they’re in the right on this. Why? Simply because they’ve shown again and again that they don’t know key elements of the law or investigative procedure. If the Trump team had a solid legal team defending them, I have little doubt they would have understood the legal status of these emails in advance. If they had some case, they would have marshaled their arguments in advance. If nothing else, I suspect there are ways, either formal or informal, that they could have known Mueller had gotten these emails, whether they thought he had a right to them or not.
The simple fact is that they were caught off guard, something that has happened numerous times through this saga. Criminal investigation is in a way like a war. Within the law, it is part of the process that you want to keep the other side guessing as much as possible. But if you’ve watched the investigation closely, there have been numerous occasions when the Trump team appears to have been caught totally off guard by developments they likely should have had at least some inkling of. They’re upset because they didn’t do their homework on the legal status of those emails. As my friend Garance Franke-Ruta archly puts it, always read the terms of service!
One might speculate that Trump’s lawyers know they have no legal case here but are playing this up as part of a “Mueller’s out of control/breaking the law” narrative. It’s certainly being played that way on Fox. Certainly there’s some of that. But my guess is that they’re genuinely surprised. And since they’re surprised they assume Mueller cheated. (Is it possible Mueller did something wrong? Sure. Who knows? If so, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. But I doubt it. And none of the legal commentary I’ve seen suggests he did.) Beyond that, however, I suspect they now fear (no doubt rightly) that Trump officials lied during their interviews with the Special Counsel’s office and the investigators already had the emails that proved they were lying. That’s a real sinking feeling for everyone involved.
As sexual harassment scandals continue to roil the media and entertainment industries, Hollywood executives are banding together to address the underlying issues.
On Friday, top players came together to form the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. Anita Hill will chair the commission.
"Following widespread revelations of pervasive sexual harassment and assault in the media and entertainment industries, executives, independent experts and advisors have come together in a unanimous effort to tackle the broad culture of abuse and power disparity," the group said in a statement.
Hill is a pioneer on the subject. In the early 1990s she came forward to accuse then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. She said in a statement about the commission that she is "proud" to be leading the "long overdue" effort.
... any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United States;
The term 'enemies,' as used in the second clause, according to its settled meaning, at the time the Constitution was adopted, applies only to the subjects of a foreign power in a state of open hostility with us. It does not embrace rebels in insurrection against their own government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday phoned President Trump to thank him for a tip from the CIA that thwarted a terrorist attack being planned in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin said.
The unusual call — countries share intelligence all the time, but presidents rarely publicly thank one another about it — was confirmed by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Putin told Trump that the information provided by the CIA allowed Russian law enforcement agencies to track down and detain a group of suspects who were planning to bomb the centrally located Kazan Cathedral and other crowded parts of Russia’s second-largest city.
@HamillHimself: Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai 🤮-but you are profoundly unworthy 2 wield a lightsaber-A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations. Btw-did you pay John Williams his royalty? @AjitPaiFCCorpShill #AJediYouAreNOT
@tedcruz: .@HammillHimself Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet. That's why giant corps (Google, Facebook, Netflix) supported the FCC power grab of net neutrality. Reject the dark side: Free the net!
@HamillHimself: Thanks for smarm-spaining it to me @tedcruz I know politics can be confusing, but you'd have more credibility if you spelled my name correctly. I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! Maybe you're just distracted from watching porn at the office again❤️-mh
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, on Sunday said a tax provision, which could personally enrich key Republican lawmakers, was added to the final tax bill as part of an effort to “cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.” Cornyn was pressed about the provision on ABC’s "This Week," after an International Business Times investigation showed that Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee suddenly switched his vote to “yes” after GOP leaders added the provision, which could boost Corker’s real estate income. A top Democratic senator, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, responded to Cornyn’s explanation by saying the language put into the bill also “would be a windfall to Donald Trump.”
A spokesman for Cochran told CBS News last week that the senator went through an outpatient procedure and "is doing well and is available for votes as needed."
Repeal of individual mandate requiring health insurance. According to CBO, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate insurance could lead to 13 million more Americans without health insurance, while saving the government $338 billion in federal health insurance subsidy payments over the next decade.
Upon returning to the White House on Sunday night, President Donald Trump said he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
"No, I'm not," Trump said when asked if he was considering it.
On the news that Mueller obtained tens of thousands of transition officials' emails, Trump said he was very upset about it and called it "very sad."
"I can't imagine there's anything on them," he said. "A lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad."
Yes, we were talking with them – of course we were! Every incoming administration does, it's totally necessary. Russia raised the issue of sanctions, which as you know were imposed in response to their actions in Crimea. And when the Russian advocates said they had information showing that Clinton's campaign had behaved illegally we said we weren't the right people to handle it, they should give it to the authorities or the press.
We must vigorously protest the president’s craven actions, but above all we need to acknowledge that what ultimately matters is not what a foreign power did to America, but what America did to itself. The crucial question of what is wrong with our country, what could have driven us to this edge of catastrophe, cannot be resolved by a special counsel or a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives or spectacular revelations about Russia’s interference.
@RadioFreeTom: You’d have set up a gallows for less only a few years ago. The weaponization of Wikileaks, the financial intertwining of Trump and the Russians, the meetings with Trump’s people, the RNC platform changes, Manafort - if this isn’t enough, nothing is.
1. There is clear evidence of contact with the Trump campaign and a hostile foreign power and its active arm in WL.
2. There is a level of contact historically between the Trump Org and Putin that should worry anyone who knows anything about how Russia works. /9
3. There is, imo, a high probability that the Trump Org and its minions have been naughty things with Russian money for ages.
4. POTUS, for whatever reason, is clearly scared of Putin and the Kremlin.
5. A lot of people in this WH have been, erm, untruthful about ALL of this. /10
The part that is really spooking people, apparently, is an announcement from Twitter linked within the post suggesting that the company will be monitoring the behavior of users "on and off the platform"—leaving open the possibility that someone’s political affiliations could play a role in how they will be treated by the site going forward.
I have and will continue to advocate for Medicaid expansion because it is a no-brainer for Virginia families, our budget, and our economy. We can also come together on smart policy choices that will allow us to deliver better care at lower cost.
Rather, Trump appeared to be contemplating changes in the Justice Department’s leadership. In recent discussions, two advisers said, Trump has called the attorney general “weak,” and complained that Rosenstein has shown insufficient accountability on the special counsel’s work. A senior official said Trump mocked Rosenstein’s recent testimony on Capitol Hill, saying he looked weak and unable to answer questions. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein as “a Democrat,” one of these advisers said, and characterized him as a threat to his presidency.
In fact, Rosenstein is a Republican. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated him to be U.S. attorney in Maryland.
Trump has watched Fox News Channel segments attacking Mueller’s investigation, advisers said, including those by Jeanine Pirro, a former judge and prosecutor whose show is a Trump favorite and who has visited with the president in the White House.
On her Saturday night broadcast, Pirro railed against Strzok and Page, as well as Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. “The only thing that remains is whether we have the fortitude to not just fire these people immediately, but to take them out in cuffs,” Pirro said.
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The new forms show that Mr. Corker had failed to properly disclose at least $2 million in income from investments in three small hedge funds based in his home state. He also didn’t properly report millions of dollars in income from commercial real-estate investments due to an accounting error. And he didn’t disclose millions of dollars in other assets and income from other financial transactions.
A letter sent to the secretary of the Senate along with the new financial reports acknowledged that the senator’s previous reports didn’t comply with Senate rules.
“I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in earlier financial disclosure reports,” Mr. Corker said in a statement to the Journal.
Washington lawyer Jeffrey Lovitky contends that Trump and Kushner failed to identify the assets owned by 30 investment funds the couple had stakes in. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington also claims the couple should have declared the value of and income they derived from two investment vehicles, but did not.
The suit notes that in a half dozen instances Kushner's report indicates that more detailed information is not being provided because a "pre-existing confidentiality agreement" precludes disclosure.
"The [Ethics in Government Act] does not allow a reporting individual to refuse to disclose the underlying assets of an investment vehicle, on the basis that such disclosure would violate a pre-existing confidentiality agreement.
... Trump is boasting to friends and advisers that he expects Mueller to clear him of wrongdoing in the coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the conversations. The President seems so convinced of his impending exoneration that he is telling associates Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him that Trump can brandish to Washington and the world in a bid to finally emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has loomed over the first chapter of his presidency, the sources said."
By now, most Americans know this tax bill is terrible. We know it's unfair, it's a giveaway to the rich, it cuts health care & puts other services at risk. What hasn’t sunk in yet is how it could also harm the economy, costing jobs and prosperity. I count at least 5 ways.
First and most directly, by cutting taxes on the super-rich and asking everyone else to pick up the tab, this bill will exacerbate our already sky-high levels of income inequality, as David Leonhardt correctly points out. Beyond being morally repugnant, increasing our income inequality will also cause the economy to grow more slowly and will result in more fragile growth, bringing recessions on more rapidly.
Second, by cutting both top personal income taxes and corporate taxes, this bill dramatically increases the incentives for corporate CEOs and major shareholders to hoard profits rather than invest them. We know that when taxes for the rich go down, CEO pay goes up. That’s because corporate executives have a huge incentive to bargain for an even bigger slice of the pie when the taxes on their slice just shrank (PDF). Once the corporate execs take their cut, then the major shareholders take theirs. We’ve known for some time now that when corporations get more $$ they use it to buy back stocks and increase dividend payouts (PDF). Think about what that means: it’s not just that CEOs & shareholders are enriched directly by the tax cuts. It’s also that they respond to the new incentives by TAKING EVEN MORE, which leaves even less for workers, down-stream suppliers, and investments in the future. The cruel irony of “trickle down” is that the lie at its heart is not only that nothing actually trickles down, but that, in fact, income and wealth gets vacuumed up.
Third, to the extent that we have still not fully recovered from the Great Recession, the underlying weakness is one of DEMAND not supply (PDF). There aren’t enough customers with enough $ in their pockets to spur faster growth. Giving tax cuts to the “supply side” won’t solve that problem & the tax cuts that do go to low & moderate-income families are small, temporary, and are likely to be offset by service and benefit cuts. In fact, after accounting for all the implicit spending cuts in the tax bill, the vast majority of moderate and low-income families lose out, even in the first year. That’s no way to boost aggregate demand.
Fourth, the tax bill encourages more offshoring of both profits AND operations, as Gene Sperling explains. The bill sets up 2 corporate tax rates: a higher one for home and a lower one – full of loopholes – for abroad.
Finally, this tax bill is incredibly distortionary. Conservatives used to be the ones to complain about the tax code picking “winners and losers,” but that’s exactly what happens here. Different kinds of income are treated differently. Overseas corporate income does better than domestic corporate income. Corporate income does better than small business income. Owner income does better than worker income. Inherited income does better than basically everything.
And we haven’t even begun to find all of the loopholes, mistakes, and other weird quirks that will result in strange tax avoidance strategies. David Kamin and Lily Batchelder and co-authors have found a bunch already. What will definitely happen is that people & businesses will make decisions based on tax planning (even more than now), not based on underlying economic imperatives or incentives and that will act like sand in the gears of the economy.
There you go. 5 ways the tax bill is terrible for the economy, beyond its unfairness & cruelty:
1.↑ inequality = ↓ growth
2.↑ incentive for CEO & Shareholder hoarding
3.Aggregate demand ↓
5.Economic distortions ↑
Just like the tax cuts in Kansas failed to produce the promised economic boost, this tax bill is going to further skew the economy in favor of those who already have the most, while leaving everyone else behind. As if you needed another reason to hate this bill.
Republicans favor the proposed tax reform plan by a 55% approve to 16% disapprove margin. Democrats (7% approve to 72% disapprove) and independents (20% approve to 53% disapprove) are decidedly negative about the proposed changes. The package doesn't play well in areas of the country that the GOP needs to win in 2018. Opinion of the tax reform plan is divided in "red" counties that Trump won by at least ten percentage points in 2016 - 34% approve and 37% disapprove. In "swing" counties where the margin of victory for either candidate was less than ten points, 30% approve of the plan compared with 38% who disapprove. In "blue" counties that Hillary Clinton won by ten points or more, only 15% approve while 60% disapprove.
Senior Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee tell NBC News that they hope and expect to draw their year-long investigation to an end in the coming weeks, saying they have largely completed all interviews relevant to the narrow scope of inquiry Democrats had agreed to last spring.
The committee has conducted interviews with key witnesses almost daily this month, sometimes seeing multiple witnesses on a single day, as they eyed the finish line. Though Democrats say they have requested as many as 30 additional interviews with new witnesses, none have been scheduled beyond the end of this month.
This past week, E.W. Jackson, a conservative pastor with a history of controversial remarks announced that he would be challenging Corey Stewart, former gubernatorial candidate and Trump acolyte, for the Republican primary which is roughly six months away. Jackson, previously the GOP’s 2013 nominee for lieutenant governor, has said in the past that people who want to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns indicate that they are possessed by “multiple demons” and that gay and lesbian citizens are “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” a comment for which he has recently expressed regret. He has also said that former President Barack Obama “clearly has Muslim sensibilities”—implying, of course, that that was a bad thing—and that Planned Parenthood “has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”
Stewart, meanwhile, is closely aligned with Donald Trump’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, and helped shape a campaign on the preservation of Confederate monuments in Virginia, despite hailing from Minnesota. In 2017, he launched an insurgent gubernatorial bid and almost won the nomination during which he referred to his opponent as a “cuckservative.” Stewart was fired from the Trump campaign for, as he put it, standing up against “establishment pukes” at the Republican National Committee when the Access Hollywood tape came out. Most recently, during his brief stint supporting Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Stewart revived unfounded claims made by Trump that Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent.
The two are vying for the right to square off (in all likelihood) against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who will be running for re-election with high approval ratings and in a state where Democrats won sweeping victories just a month ago. Political observers say they wouldn’t be surprised if the national Republican Party avoided the contest altogether.
...Trump voters who were basically unhappy with Trump and what they had heard of the tax bill but said, paraphrasing, "but, I'm willing to give it a shot." As if rewriting the tax code was like a trick play in football that, by golly, might just be crazy enough to work. Sigh.
TRUMP IS SO TERRIBLE THAT THEY CANCELED CHRISTMAS IN JESUS’ OWN TOWN
SCROOGE THE GRINCH AND MR. POTTER COULDN’T PULL THAT OFF IF THEY TEAMED UP
Rosenstein is the key figure since for the purposes of the Russia investigation, he is the Attorney General. If Trump replaced Jeff Sessions with someone else, Rosenstein’s status would end because the new Attorney General would not be under a recusal as Sessions is. That should make confirming a new Attorney General quite difficult. But if he fired Rosenstein as well, he could find someone else to take over on an acting basis. And the President has been quite creative in deciding who to pick in those cases.
President Trump clearly wants to fire Mueller. More specifically, he’s obsessed with ending the Russia probe, all of them, not just Mueller’s. Firing Mueller is the most obvious way to do that. But even Trump’s closest advisors and I suspect Trump himself realize that the firing of James Comey was an almost mind-bogglingly self-destructive act. There’s a good argument that whatever President Trump’s substantive wrongdoing in the larger Russia story, his legal exposure is overwhelmingly (at least based on what we currently know) based on the decision to fire Comey. But you can see the gears turning, looking for some way to can Mueller through a backdoor or cow him into going easy on the President.
Rosenstein is both Mueller’s singular protector and also the man who has been complicit in most of President Trump’s bad acts – from the firing of Comey itself to the decision last week to release a trove of private text messages between two FBI employees into the public domain.
I continue to think that there is a concerted effort to fire Mueller. You can see the plans being laid on numerous fronts, a growing number of Trump supporters being groomed into But the key decision remains in the hands of a man who acts on anger and impulse. So what will happen is impossible to predict.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fired off a series of tweets Sunday to try to quell fierce backlash from a Friday night report that the Trump administration had banned the agency from using certain terms in budget documents, including “science-based” and “diversity.”
“I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC,” Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald tweeted at the top of a thread Sunday morning, which is currently pinned.
Instead, several sources have tried to clarify that the language changes were merely suggestions to help make the agency’s budget more palatable to some Republicans and ease its passage.
In a media statement, the HHS said: "The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process. HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans."
Unnamed officials told the Times that the language changes were not bans but recommendations to basically “ease the path toward budget approval by Republicans.”
It’s not gender that increasingly divides the two parties. It is feminism.
[Between] 2004 and 2016, support for feminism—belief in the existence of “societal discrimination against women, and the need for greater female political power”—grew increasingly correlated with support for the Democratic Party. The correlation rose earlier among feminist women, but by 2016, it had also risen among feminist men.
Earlier this month, the research firm PerryUndem found that Democratic men were 25 points more likely than Republican women to say sexism remains a “big” or “somewhat” big problem. According to October polling data sorted for me by the Pew Research Center, Democratic men were 31 points more likely than Republican women to say the “country has not gone far enough on women’s rights.”
The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
Audits obtained by Newsweek also flagged deteriorating conditions after the road was privatized. While the toll road consortium reports noted an improvement in the highway’s pavement, a 2010 report said, “All bridge element conditions have worsened.” A 2014 audit showed that 21 percent of the concrete bridges over the highway had become structurally deficient. That represented a near doubling of the road’s bridge deficiency rate in the eight years since it had been privatized—and it was well above the 5 percent deficiency rate that state officials set as a maximum limit for roads in Indiana.
HHS is refusing to make public more than 10,000 comments on a Trump administration proposal to reduce federal regulations for religious and faith-based groups that could affect access to abortion and care for transgender patients, according to sources with knowledge of the decision.
The agency has instead posted 80 comments — less than 1 percent of all submissions — that overwhemingly back the administration’s anti-abortion policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration, such as a rule forcing health care providers that accept federal funding to provide services to transgender patients.
According to regulations.gov, HHS received 10,729 public comments, of which 10,649 have yet to be posted. HHS did post 71 comments that strongly support its proposal or raise related religious concerns. Those positive comments were heavily front-loaded at the start of the comment period; for the first two weeks, all 36 comments that the agency made public supported its position.
Meanwhile, HHS made public just nine critical comments, six of which were included in its final batch of posting. A person with knowledge of HHS' decision said that administrators, facing questions from outside the agency, posted a flurry of last-minute criticism in hopes of making a curated selection of comments appear more balanced.