Comey Is Not Trump's Homey
April 15, 2018 7:00 PM   Subscribe

On April 17, former FBI Director James Comey will publish his much-anticipated memoir, A Higher Loyalty. Kicking off his month-long, multi-state book tour, his first interview since Trump fired him a year ago will air Sunday night with George Stephanopoulos in a primetime special of 20/20 (ABC). The Trump White House, currently without a communications director or a counter-Comey media strategy (Politico), has outsourced the spin to the RNC (CNN), while Trump heads off to Mar-a-lago for a summit with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe (Palm Beach Post). Reviews of the book so far are favorable (New York Times, NPR), but not uncritical (Washington Post).

• Yesterday, Trump declared "Mission Accomplished!" (CNN) following Friday night airstrikes on three Syrian chemical weapons facilities by U.S., French, and British forces (CNBC) in retaliation over a deadly gas attack on the town of Douma last weekend (Reuters). Today, American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Russia and Iran about new sanctions over supporting the Assad regime (CBS), while Russian President Vladimir Putin predicted "chaos in international relations" if the West attacked Syria again (Reuters).

• On Monday, the FBI, authorized by the US Attorney for Southern District of New York, executed search warrants on the office, home, and hotel room of Trump lawyer/fixer and RNC Deputy National Finance Chairman Michael Cohen (New York Times), who is now under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and violations of campaign finance law (Washington Post). Looking in particular for evidence pertaining to hush-money payments, federal agents seized business information, including on his taxi companies and real estate ventures (Yahoo), and his audio recordings , including conversations between Cohen and lawyer Keith Davidson, who at the time represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in their NDA negotiations about their affairs with Donald Trump. (CNN)

• Because of Trump's extreme reaction to these raids (New York Times), Trump's legal team suggests that an interview with Robert Mueller is now unlikely, but Mueller's investigation is moving forward regardless (NBC). In the New Yorker, Adam Davidson argues that this unprecedented raid spells the end stage of the Trump Presidency as public opinion approaches a possible tipping point, though 538's Nate Silver and TNR's Jeet Heer caution against underestimating the political factor.

• Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Mueller has evidence that Cohen did indeed make a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign (McClatchy DC), corroborating the Steele Dossier's allegation he went there to meet with Kremlin-backed hackers to discuss the DNC e-mail cybertheftpotentially a huge development in the Russia probe (Washington Post). He also has new information that in 2016, a former GRU agent conducted negotiations on behalf of the Trump Organization for the financing of a Moscow Trump Tower with a Russian state-owned bank under US sanctions (BuzzFeed News).

• On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan abruptly announced (New York Times) he will not run for reelection, and anonymous GOP sources suggest he'll step down as speaker soon, too (Axios). He joins Florida Rep. Dennis Ross (Tampa Bay Tribune) in the growing ranks of retiring Republicans (Pew Research) (not to mention those who have just resigned, such as the scandal-ridden Rep. Blake Farenthold (CNN)).

• Also, on Friday a week ago, a four-alarm fire at the New York Trump Tower killed a resident and injured six firefighters on a floor without sprinklers (NY1). Trump, who had lobbied against mandatory sprinkler regulations (Yahoo) and called his tenant a "crazy Jew" (People), initially claimed on Twitter the fire "is out. Very confined (well built building)." while the FDNY was in fact still battling it. And the news vortex spirals along…

Time Until Trump's Current Term Is Over: 2 Years,  9 Months,  6  Days (there are 205 days left until the 2018 midterm elections).

Please consider MeFi chat for hot-takes and live-blogging breaking news and the new MetaTalk venting thread for catharsis and sympathizing. And please bear in mind the MetaTalk on expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter.
posted by Doktor Zed (2331 comments total) 130 users marked this as a favorite
 
[To reiterate, please familiarize yourself with the new(er) expectations for participation in politics megathreads. Thanks!]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:03 PM on April 15 [19 favorites]


Here's the full Comey transcript, but my scandal tolerance is so high that I'll only be impressed if they run the pee tape live.
posted by lalex at 7:03 PM on April 15 [38 favorites]


At least they posted the transcript for those of us who live west of Chicago. Tape delays are so antiquated.
posted by SakuraK at 7:07 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


The transcript is also unedited, corresponding to something like five hours of interview that was condensed way down for TV.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:18 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
--CA-48: Rohrabacher approval in low to mid-30s, not good for an incumbent in a Clinton district.

-- WI-01: Internal poll from Randy Bryce campaign has him tied or leading various possible GOP candidates. Sample may be wonky, though, as Trump approval seems too low (-15) for the district.

-- Weekly check-in on the generic ballot average has it as D+6.9 (46.4/39.5). As mentioned earlier regarding the latest NBC/WSJ poll, polling has also consistently found considerably higher levels of enthusiasm among Dems.

-- WP: GOP pulling out all the stops in an effort to keep majority.

-- Politico: GOP worried about second-tier seats - not enough resources to help everyone who may be vulnerable.

-- Decision Desk is doing a deep dive on a new district each week. First up, CT-05.
-- MS Senate special -- Chamber of Commerce dumping in money to support interim senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and torpedo Chris McDaniel candidacy.

-- 2018 Senate:
-- PA: Three recent polls all give Casey leads in the high teens.

-- WV: GOP is getting very worried about the possibility of convicted murderer Don Blankenship getting the nomination, launches effort to torpedo him.
** Odds & ends:
-- NY gov: Marist poll has Cuomo up 68-21 on Nixon. There's also been some controversy about Nixon being endorsed by the Working Families Party (NY has electoral fusion) - major unions may pull their support of the party and other backers (see Nixon thread).

-- PA gov: Muhlenberg College poll has Dem gov Wolf with high teens leads against all three GOP candidates.

-- Latest ABC/WP Trump approval poll has huge disparities in approval:
*Non-college white men: 70%
*College white men: 48%
*Non-college white women: 49%
*College white women: 34%
***

This week: not a single special election! Lots of them next week, though.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 PM on April 15 [59 favorites]


The transcript is also unedited, corresponding to something like five hours of interview that was condensed way down for TV.

For those who want a more condensed version of the transcript, the New York Times has you covered with some select highlights and annotations: James Comey’s Interview on ABC’s ‘20/20’: Annotated Excerpts
posted by Fizz at 7:28 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


The New York Times: While many of Mr. Trump’s critics believe that the proper remedy for his perceived transgressions is impeachment, Mr. Comey insisted that would just “let the American people off the hook.” He said the public was “duty bound” to vote Mr. Trump out of office in the next election.

“You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and independents treasure,” Mr. Comey said. “That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short-circuit that.”


"Letting the American people off the hook" of an additional 2.75 years of being ruled by someone you describe as "morally unfit" and compare to a mob boss seems pretty good, actually.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:43 PM on April 15 [109 favorites]


I'm watching it on TV and I don't feel like Comey's coming across very well. Stephanopolous (who I don't think is all that great an interviewer) asking him, "why didn't you do this, why didn't you do that?" is making Comey seem less like the upstanding Lawman he wants to think of himself as, and more like a coward.

(Also all the physical details about Trump -- too-long tie, average-sized hands, etc. -- are gross and unbecoming coming from Comey. Trump is a ridiculous person who chooses to present himself in a ridiculous fashion, but that's for late night TV to mock, not the director of the FBI.)

Overall he is coming across as very, very self-impressed. I think his account of Trump's shady activities would be more persuasive if Comey spent less time trying to self-justify. Stormy Daniels was a better interviewee, who came across as more honest and straightforward than Comey is, IMO.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:47 PM on April 15 [103 favorites]


I hope books go unsold.
posted by armacy at 7:49 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


One of the things I’ve struggled with my whole life is my ego and — and a sense that I — I have to be careful not to fall in love with my own view of things.
Says the man who wrote a book about leadership to share his own view of things with the the world, who spends the entire interview pushing back against anything that would challenge that view. Christ what an asshole.

(Also all the physical details about Trump -- too-long tie, average-sized hands, etc. -- are gross and unbecoming coming from Comey. Trump is a ridiculous person who chooses to present himself in a ridiculous fashion, but that's for late night TV to mock, not the director of the FBI.)

Thank you. Comey’s main purpose is to be a witness to obstruction of justice right now. His cheap shots at Trump just undercut his ability to appear as impartial as possible. There are plenty other of people in the country available to mock Trump’s ties. Comey is actively doing harm to the case when he does it.
posted by zachlipton at 7:52 PM on April 15 [60 favorites]


And then I started to tell him about the allegation was that he had been involved with prostitutes in a hotel in Moscow in 2013 during the visit for the Miss Universe pageant and that the Russians had — filmed the episode. And he interrupted very defensively and started talking about it, you know, “Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?”

This is the second time I've read this, and I just...how can anyone who isn't wrapped up in self-delusion think the answer to this is ANYTHING but yes? Yes, Donald Trump, you look like someone who has to pay for sex. You have to pressure, coerce, or pay for it. Your wife got riches and citizenship. You paid a porn star $130,000. No, you are not inherently attractive to women. Dear god, what a sick, delusional man.
posted by threeturtles at 7:53 PM on April 15 [106 favorites]


I have no idea if this adheres to Cheeto thread rules. It's a short anecdote.

I am visiting my parents in North Carolina, a state that currently has a Koch legislature and which had aggressively implemented the voter-suppression readguard plan that both empowered Trump in the primaries nationally and which has led to the amazing incompetence and foolishness in Congress.

I got a drink with an old, old, old friend, who is now among the oldheads of NC political reporting. Things are terrible. Crooks, incompetents, fools, and idiots are in office and attempting to defend what they see as their natural right.

We're both, at base, pretty optimistic. He deals with these goons every day. They're fun to write about! They are deluded, dangers to themselves. It's astounding that they hold office. They won't keep the positions, and this is true as far as he can see from dogcatcher to whatever the highest GOP held office is here or nationally.

The bad news is that the Dems are just the people who would have been the reasonable Republicans. He (and I) foresee the complete collapse of the modern Republican party. I see that as creating an actual incipient possibility for an American democratic socialist party. Not sure about his views, but that is not germane.

Here's hopin'.
posted by mwhybark at 7:54 PM on April 15 [32 favorites]


Comey says “actually” a lot for a dude that’s trying to convince us that he didn’t apply an extremely sexist standard to his prosecutions. TIL that Comey prosecuted Martha Stewart for insider trading yet managed to snooze through an entire decade of men doing insider trading before waking up and prosecuting Hillary Clinton.
posted by SakuraK at 7:55 PM on April 15 [129 favorites]


Self-serving or not, I take his recollections as honest. There was a detail that struck me in his recollections, about Trump asking him to dinner:

And so I just said to him, "Sir-- certainly, sir." And he said-- "6:00 or 6:30?" And I said, "It's up to you, sir." And he actually say, "And if you're-- if you're busy tonight, I can do it tomorrow. I'm here all weekend."

That’s a President speaking to his FBI Director, but because it’s Trump, it’s all wrong. Trump occasionally wants to charm people, but he doesn’t have it in him, so he does it by being oddly submissive for a minute or two, then getting back to bluster ASAP. He did this when circumstances required him to be nice to Hillary and Obama. It’s a little sad.

I couldn’t watch this on TV. I couldn’t watch more archival footage of the election. Not for years yet, I think.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:03 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


My feelings summed up:
Jim Comey can be a sanctimonious egotist whose inappropriate actions disrupted an election and still be a valid source of damning information about Donald Trump.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 PM on April 15 [161 favorites]


Comey, describing his neutrality the first time he violated FBI protocol to give a press conference:

We're in such-- we're still in such a vicious partisan time. I don't know whether folks notice this, but in Washington Democrats tend to wear blue-- men tend to wear blue ties. Republicans tend to wear red ties. And so I chose a gold tie that morning 'cause I didn't want to wear either of the normal gang colors.
posted by SakuraK at 8:09 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


So I've read the entire Comey transcript (and that's a long read) and the thing I came away with from it is: Comey expressly and repeatedly compared Trump and his loyalists in the administration to the Mafia.

Given his involvement in prosecuting the Gambinos, this seems like something he'd know. The comparison is super unflattering, and given Trump's historical rumored ties to the Family, seems like a pretty dead-center shot on Trump's ego.
posted by Archelaus at 8:20 PM on April 15 [55 favorites]


TIL that Comey prosecuted Martha Stewart for insider trading yet managed to snooze through an entire decade of men doing insider trading before waking up and prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

It shouldn’t be possible to be both this satisfied in a suspicion predictably vindicated and this angry at the same time.

Christ, if we hate him this much... His priggish assholery is so potent it might derail the political future of the country again.

These writers. I can’t.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:27 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


I have tickets to see Comey speak here in Kansas City at the end of May and am really looking forward to it. I'm still not 100% sure what I think of him, but right now I'm leaning towards the fact that he recognizes the fact that he fucked up bigly before the election, and now recognizes his mistake. Maybe I'm too optimistic there, who knows. I'll go pick up my copy of the book on Tuesday, and report back after reading.
posted by jferg at 8:29 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


"Letting the American people off the hook" of an additional 2.75 years of being ruled by someone you describe as "morally unfit" and compare to a mob boss seems pretty good, actually.

I’m torn. On one hand, having a mob boss for president is, obviously, pretty bad. On the other hand, the guy who would replace him sees the US as a christian caliphate as a pretty good idea.

~ flips coin...
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 PM on April 15 [19 favorites]


I still firmly believe to this day that Comey's big reveal that the investigation was re-opened barely a week before election day was intended as a shot across Clinton's bow, telling the new incoming President who (by all available info) he profoundly personally disliked not to mess with him.

Turns out the shot across the bow happened to strike, right under the water line.
posted by tclark at 8:34 PM on April 15 [71 favorites]


I'm only reading the transcript, but I am particularly fond of this bit.

JAMES COMEY: I worry that the norms at the center of this country-- we can fight as Americans about guns or taxes or immigration, and we always have. But what we have in common is a set of norms. Most importantly, the truth. "We hold these truths to be self-evident," right? Truth is the fourth word of that sentence. That's what we are. And if we lose that, if we lose tethering of our leaders to that truth, what are we? And so I started to worry. Actually, the foundation of this country is in jeopardy when we stop measuring our leaders against that central value of the truth.

I forget sometimes that most Americans aren't tuned into the megathreads. Like, for me, it's so obviously obvious that Trump is a lying grifter, but then I think of my sister, who isn't necessarily ride or die with Trump but still defends him, and I think of where and how she gets her political news. She and I... we each have a different relationship with the concept of truth. She's the type of person who uses zero critical thinking skills before clicking share on a random Facebook post. I'm the type of person who facts checks and cites sources in comments.

So I love the quote because, yes, let's keep arguing about taxes, because that's how we roll, but surely it's not partisan to expect our elected officials to not, I don't know, maintain such a distant relationship with the truth as Trump does. But then I get depressed, because maybe we as a people are losing our tethering to truth. And I don't know how we fix that.
posted by Ruki at 8:36 PM on April 15 [50 favorites]


I have no sympathy for Comey. But the FBI has always been political. I personally loved the pull quote:
“I would frequently joke with the FBI ‘Going Dark’ team assigned to seek solutions, ‘Of course the Silicon Valley types don’t see the darkness—they live where it’s sunny all the time and everybody is rich and smart.’ “
First, it’s typical disingenuous crap from Comey and the FBI. Perhaps, he didn’t get the memo that law enforcement agencies can and do easily crack cell phone encryption with the help of commercial software.

Secondly, I have seen the darkness too, of the FBI - from J. Edgar’s files, to the surveillance of anyone on the left, the targeting of ecological activists, and the agency’s infiltrators, agent provocateurs, and their sting operations.

Trump is a disaster but, hopefully, short-lived. The FBI, however, should be burned down, for the good of the country.
posted by sudogeek at 8:39 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


It looks like Comey believes he was asked to drop the Russia investigation and was fired because he wouldn't drop it, but still believes there's enough of a gray area that Trump shouldn't be impeached. All hopes for that are now firmly pinned on Mueller finding damning new information.

Mueller did a great job talking about why Trump is unfit for office. I totally thought he was going to dodge that question.
posted by xammerboy at 8:39 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Early in Comey's interview George Stephanopoulos mentions that Comey worked on Mafia cases earlier in his career. I presume that was a setup, because Comey keeps coming back to this analogy: Trump and his circle are like the Mafia. The Mafia tries to seduce you, and make you complicit, and then you're someone they own, "amica nostra". Comey uses that phrase a lot. According to his account he started seeing things that way right from the start, when he first briefed the incoming team about attempted Russian interference in the election, and that's why he carefully left a paper trail of unclassified memos about Trump's improper pressure for Comey to exonerate him.

I don't know if Comey's later recollection of his thoughts is accurate, but it sounds plausible. It would be kind of hilarious if it turned out that Trump was ultimately brought down not over any explicit wrongdoing, but because Comey was offended by the way Trump's cronies talked sbout press management.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:40 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Comey reminds me of my uncle who is a very old-school conservative Republican. He worked for the state of Michigan's welfare agency tracking down deadbeat dads or some shit. He has never, to my knowledge, exceeded the posted speed limit while operating a motor vehicle. I remember he once told me that if he were hiding Jews in Nazi Germany and the Gestapo came to the door to ask if he were hiding Jews, he would not ethically be able to lie.

Unfortunately people with this sort of personality / ethical stance are not great at resisting fascist omnishambleses.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:50 PM on April 15 [117 favorites]


Damnit, if they hadn't released 5th edition D&D then Lawful Neutral would still be obsolete, James Comey couldn't exist, and we wouldn't be in this mess.
posted by jackbishop at 9:01 PM on April 15 [30 favorites]


I’m torn. On one hand, having a mob boss for president is, obviously, pretty bad. On the other hand, the guy who would replace him sees the US as a christian caliphate as a pretty good idea.

Pence's administration would be bad but it'd be predictably bad. The Christian Right is based a horrible ideology & awful, hypocritical morality but they're consistent about it. As a hacker the things I look for most in a system I'm attacking are predictability & structure. It gives me something to hold onto & manipulate. Everything about Trump is chaos, randomness & unpredictability. How do you prepare defenses against someone who goes in multiple directions at the same time? I'll take Pence over Trump any day of the week.
posted by scalefree at 9:05 PM on April 15 [21 favorites]


Polite request that we don't do "Who's Worse? Pence vs Trump" for the 3 millionth time.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 PM on April 15 [115 favorites]


Rollover from previous topic:
Cohen is not a lawyer. Trump's his only client, and he does no legal work for him.

At this point, Broidy is a confirmed second client, and Don Jr. is likely in connection with the 2013 affair HE had, that Cohen also covered up. They're all perpetrators in nasty unknown scandals, and who knows, there may be many of them.

The good part of that is that tomorrow, Cohen is required to declare in court his full list of clients, which should be a Xmas list for investigative journalists. With any luck, he'll be required to give dates of representation too, which will further narrow the search for scandals.
posted by msalt at 9:20 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


Random thought - Not that I think we could pass anything of the sort right now, but we need a constitutional amendment preventing the president from pardoning anyone for a crime they haven’t been convicted of yet.
posted by azpenguin at 9:30 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


I don't do a lot of broadcast TV so kudos to lalex for posting the transcript. I don't know how Comey came off on the teevee, but I felt the long read was worth it, since it THOROUGHLY covered the entire scope of the events, and gave good insight.

My take away is that Comey was "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't", and as someone who, retrospectively, SHOULD HAVE spoken to the CTO when the OWNER came and asked me to do something for him, but didn't and the CTO got pissed, and... long story short, that gig ended -- am somewhat sympathetic to "no option is GOOD", and the sense I got was that his actions were internally consistent with "What can I do that's acceptable, even if exceptional ( the discussions of cases ).

So, in summary, I believe that Comey tried his best in a bunch of shitty situations, and made mistakes, big mistakes. And he knows that. And it bugs the shit out of him. Which is just, in my opinion.
posted by mikelieman at 9:31 PM on April 15 [12 favorites]


My take away is that Comey was "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't"

Coincidentally, This American Life this week: "It’s one thing to weigh pros and cons. But sometimes all you have is con and con. This week, stories of people having to make a choice, when no good options exist."
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:34 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


Cohen is required to declare in court his full list of clients, which should be a Xmas list for investigative journalists.

Unless Cohen's clients trust the lawyers representing him (ha) I think a lot of amica nostra are going to want to be amici curiae.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:34 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


James Comey: The cause of, and solution to, the 2016 election
posted by gottabefunky at 9:36 PM on April 15 [56 favorites]


Two things about Comey’s interview:
1. His best wasn’t good enough.
2. He seems to be getting enjoyment out of bugging Trump.

Oh, and three, he said we when referring to having a hand in getting Trump elected. ‘We’ for the bad thing but the rest of the interview was personal pronouns, I or me. That is classic spreading the blame talk there, maybe unconscious?
posted by Gadgetenvy at 9:37 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


The bit of the interview where they discuss the classified information that's still out there is interesting:
JAMES COMEY: Reason number two. And I have to talk about it very carefully. Classified information came into the possession of the U.S. intelligence community in the early part of 2016 that indicated there was material out there that raised the question of whether Loretta Lynch was controlling me and the F.B.I. and keeping the Clinton campaign informed about our investigation.

Now, I don't believe that. And I don't believe that's true. But there was material that I knew someday, when it's declassified, and I thought that would be decades in the future, would cause historians to wonder, "Hmm, was there some strange business going on there? Was Loretta Lynch somehow in -- carrying water for the campaign and controlling what the F.B.I. did?"

Again, it wasn't true. But there was material that would allow that to come out someday in the long future when it's declassified. That all changed when someday, in my mind, became maybe tomorrow. That was in the middle of June, when the Russian government, using some fronts, started dumping stolen material that had been hacked from organizations associated with the Democratic party in the United States. And all of a sudden, it dawned on me that that someday decades from now when this material comes out actually may be now, tomorrow. And again, even though I didn't believe it, the material was real. Whether what it said was true or not, I didn't know. But it would allow people, partisans and even people who were partisans, to strongly argue that something was wrong with the way the investigation--
[...]
JAMES COMEY: Yeah, that's tricky for me 'cause-- 'cause the F.B.I.'s told me that I have to be very careful speaking about this 'cause it's still classified. What I can say is the material is legitimate. It-- it is real. The content is real. Now, whether the content is true is a different question. And again, to my mind, I believed it was not true.

I-- I didn't see any indication that Loretta Lynch was trying to cover this investigation for the Clinton campaign or direct me in any way. She stayed away from it as far as I could tell. But the point of it is I knew there was material that might hit the public square any moment, that would allow people to argue powerfully that there was monkey business going on--

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But then wouldn't-- your obligation then be you get up and say, "No, there's no monkey business. I know that. I've investigated it. I've looked into it. It's not true"?

JAMES COMEY: Well, sure, if I could do that, given the rules of classified information, but I couldn't. But what I could do instead is offer unusual transparency to the American people about the investigation. Tell them, "Here's what we did, here's what we found, here's what we think about it. You can trust us because we're showing you our work." Again, which Department of Justice policy permits in an unusual case.

And so, it was frustrating. I'm sure it's frustrating to Loretta Lynch that-- that this material was out there. But it-- to my mind, it added to the case that we need to do something unusual to offer the American people transparency. And then the capper happened at the end of June.
Comey is acknowledging that his decision-making was influenced by disinformation, and that he wouldn't be able to refute it without revealing classified information, so that caused him to say more about the Clinton investigation than is normal. What a shittastic way of fighting Russian disinformation; no wonder they did nothing about Russia throughout the entire election. This false document could have been the most successful Russian operation of them all, and nobody can acknowledge it even happened. Forget Comey's hubris for a second (I know, it's impossible, right?); he got himself painted into a corner by Russia and gave the "extreme carelessness" speech as a result. Comey was running scared because of a Russian op, and we can't even publicly acknowledge it? Forget Comey's advice on ethical leadership; where the hell is his explanation for that?

The first step in coming to terms with 2016 needs to be a public reckoning with everything Russia did. This letter was likely far more effective than the internet trolls or even the hacked emails, and we barely know anything about it. And those were fairly straightforward operations; if Russia went so far so as to prepare and spread a fake document about Loretta Lynch, just how complex did this thing really get?

I'd also recommend reading the "conceal" or "speak" segment about the emails on Weiner's laptop. Comey presents this as a binary choice, with no consideration given to trying to figure out what the emails even are before he speaks (despite the FBI's initial claims it would take way too long to go through the emails, it wound up being quite fast after all). And he does seem to acknowledge that fear of leaks played a role in this decision.
posted by zachlipton at 9:38 PM on April 15 [92 favorites]


My initial fear about the Mueller investigation was that even with a full team of full-time investigators, there would be so much criminality in Trump world that Mueller would literally never be "done" enough for a report or recommendations or whatever. Like they would think they have it wrapped and then find out about some crazy organ-harvesting operation out of his hotel in some other country or some shit.

And now I feel like somebody out there is going to spend their entire career unraveling Cohen's shit, too. He really comes off--like Trump--as a guy who does shady shit out of habit. Even when these guys could get things done just as easily by playing it straight, they still look for ways to be sketchy as fuck.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:39 PM on April 15 [29 favorites]


At this point, Broidy is a confirmed second client, and Don Jr. is likely in connection with the 2013 affair HE had, that Cohen also covered up.

...yea...drafting likely illegal coverups really stretches the definition of attorney-client relationship, and Cohen doesn't seem to have performed much actual "legal" work for either of those two apart from structuring coverup payments.

There's sort of an existential issue here, if the only thing your attorney is doing for you is help you commit crimes, is he your attorney?
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:39 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


In my world, we are taught that written communications with attorneys are only privileged if they involve a direct request for legal advice. I’m sure Drumpf gets mulligans on this just like he does in golf and with Christians, but I can only imagine what would come to light if he had to live by the rules that the rest of us do.

If my understanding is correct, Hope Hicks and/or his secretary did all of his email - printing it out, then answering it based on his written notes or spoken orders. So hey, lawyers, how does that work? Does Hope Hicks then automatically also get her commo privileged, acting as go-between? If that's the case then just daisy chain everything through the whole staff and it is all privileged? WTF?
posted by Meatbomb at 9:47 PM on April 15


Will there be a place to watch the interview?
posted by gucci mane at 9:52 PM on April 15


Will there be a place to watch the interview?

The interview is over but you can probably catch it on abc news’ website?
posted by dis_integration at 9:56 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Remember when Don Jr. thought attorney-client applied because they had a lawyer on the conference call? So clearly they were free to commit any kind of crime. That appears to be the entire TrumpOrg's understanding of attorney-client. Like Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy, I DECLARE PRIVILEGED!

...the worst part is now we have actual (formerly) respected lawyers making that argument to defend the Trump Administration.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:58 PM on April 15 [18 favorites]


Trump's lawyers filed a fairly remarkable document intervening in Cohen's suit to stop the review of his files (MonkeyToes linked this in the tail of the last thread, and I think it bears extra note). The President, who ultimately oversees the Department of Justice, is intervening in a lawsuit against the Department of Justice to argue that the Department of Justice can't be trusted to run a "taint team" (for the love of god can we stop using this term?) and wants the court to let Cohen and Trump himself decide for themselves what evidence isn't privileged.

Seems to me this should be settled by bringing in the President to testify. He wants to intervene in the lawsuit? He should show up. He told us on Air Force One that he doesn't know about the Stormy Daniels payment. If he wants to argue that Cohen really is his lawyer and that communications about that matter should be privileged, it seems reasonable to put him on the stand and make inquiries as to the nature of this purported attorney-client relationship. If Trump isn't willing to testify he knew what his lawyer was doing, and his public statement is that he didn't know, why should a court conclude the privilege exists at all?
posted by zachlipton at 10:02 PM on April 15 [74 favorites]


"Trump Dismisses Russia Probe As A 'Witch Hunt,' But Mueller Keeps Finding Witches":

Cohen cigar buddy is the CFO of Deutsche Bank

TPM: Choose Your Caption

Captured Saturday night in Alameda CA

And the new #MAGA hat: My Attorney Got Arrested
posted by growabrain at 10:15 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


for the love of god can we stop using this term?
zachlipton launches quaint taint restraint complaint

posted by kirkaracha at 10:25 PM on April 15 [133 favorites]


Can someone please explain like I’m five the people in the Michael Cohen photo? I’ve tried. I’ve really tried, but there are just too many assholes to keep track of. (I’m like THIS CLOSE to breaking out a bulletin board and some red yarn.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:28 PM on April 15 [18 favorites]


Comey is acknowledging that his decision-making was influenced by disinformation, and that he wouldn't be able to refute it without revealing classified information, so that caused him to say more about the Clinton investigation than is normal. What a shittastic way of fighting Russian disinformation; no wonder they did nothing about Russia throughout the entire election. This false document could have been the most successful Russian operation of them all, and nobody can acknowledge it even happened.

Holy shit. I missed this before. This is why it's so important to investigate the Kremlin's meddling in the 2016 election. Yes, the Cambridge Analytica stuff matters, and yes, the Russian troll farms matter, but I believe these kinds of actions at best pulled on the margins of the vote. That doesn't mean they aren't serious attacks on the U.S.; they absolutely are. But if the Kremlin was pursuing these kinds of operations, they were certainly pursuing others -- and this seems to be one of them. Comey's actions in 2016 absolutely influenced the outcome of the election. Clinton's poll numbers crashed after he announced they were reopening investigation into her emails, suggesting that it very probably cost her the election. If Comey was manipulated into his actions by Russian psy-ops, that to me is the strongest evidence yet that Putin and the other Russian oligarchs really did manage to effectively rig the election.
posted by biogeo at 10:36 PM on April 15 [88 favorites]


There's sort of an existential issue here, if the only thing your attorney is doing for you is help you commit crimes, is he your attorney?

Whether or not you "have an attorney" in some existential sense, if all the person with the law degree is doing for you is help you commit crimes, then your communications are not privileged and can be subpoenaed in any case - not just cases against one or the other of you, but any case, civil or criminal, in which those records might be relevant.

Once there's an official record that Cohen broke the law with his quasi-lawyering, the whole concept of privilege gets thrown out.

... How long has he "been trump's lawyer?" Did he work on any of the business bankruptcy cases? On the one hand, there's statutes of limitations on criminal charges; on the others, if you can prove an ongoing string of criminal activity - like a coverup - you can sometimes claim the crime is still going on.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:17 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


The first step in coming to terms with 2016 needs to be a public reckoning with everything Russia did.

I suspect that this is how an intelligence officer might respond:
"We collect a huge amount of intelligence from a wide variety of sources. Some of the information is reliable, some of it isn't, and sometimes the most significant thing about the information is its source. Revealing all the information we have collected wouldn't help you, because much of it is contradictory or is only meaningful when viewed in a context you don't have access to. But, revealing our information would help the Russians enormously because it would reveal our sources.

"The Russian document claiming that Loretta Lynch was muzzling the FBI is clearly wrong, so wrong that we think it may have been deliberately planted to distract our investigation. That would mean they know we have access to that source. It also means we need to go back and reassess our beliefs based on information from other sources, in case that information has also been planted. They don't know for sure which other sources we have, though, until and unless we do something reckless like reveal everything at once."
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:50 PM on April 15 [27 favorites]


There's so very much wrong with the idea of classified disinformation, with every facet of it, it could be, like, none more wrong. Maybe this belongs in the existential facepalm thread.
posted by riverlife at 12:10 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Cohen doesn't seem to have performed much actual "legal" work for either of those two apart from structuring coverup payments. There's sort of an existential issue here, if the only thing your attorney is doing for you is help you commit crimes, is he your attorney?

There's a key distinction here: did he help clean up messes after they happened? That's what all defense lawyers do, and it's totally legit (if distasteful).

Once there's an official record that Cohen broke the law with his quasi-lawyering, the whole concept of privilege gets thrown out.

If he helped his client(s) plan and prepare crimes, that crosses the line and removes privilege for that conversation, though I don't think it's a "one strike and you're out" situation. In other words, that violation does not eliminate your attorney-client privilege in other incidents where you played by the rules. It's case by case.
posted by msalt at 12:15 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


I'm really running late so can't read the transcript yet, but what you are all writing fits so much with my perception of Comey: he should be discussing this with a therapist, not the rest of the world. He's done something terrible to America, and keeps trying to amend it but I don't think he really can yet.
The other thing is: he says it, but doesn't realize it describes himself too: Trump soils everyone he touches, and that includes Comey. I wonder what Comey would have said if Obama had invited him to a private dinner? (Completely unlikely, I know). But I think that in this hypothetical situation, Comey would have known how to say no. Still, he gets caught up into Trump's meat loafing for a moment. I think that's why he needs to talk about the vulgarity of the experience, he's soothing himself, though a more balanced man would know it makes him look bad.
posted by mumimor at 12:20 AM on April 16 [39 favorites]


This is the entirety of my reaction to everything Comey. Fuck that guy until proven otherwise.

That is an entirely appropriate response to anyone who's been the head of the FBI, even if allegations of foolishness are proven otherwise.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:23 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Comey probably (or almost assuredly) made a bad decision there, but the media treated it as if it was the first scandal of the Clinton administration, after already pounding on Clinton relentlessly for “her emails” and other horse race bullshit.
posted by gucci mane at 12:31 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


weeping angel: Can someone please explain like I’m five the people in the Michael Cohen photo? I’ve tried. I’ve really tried, but there are just too many assholes to keep track of. (I’m like THIS CLOSE to breaking out a bulletin board and some red yarn.)

OK -- Let's standardize on this photo (here's some video too)

There are eight gentlemen in the photo. From left to right:
1) Jerry Rotonda, former CFO of Deutsche Bank America's Wealth Management Branch until 2017 and still an advisor to them.
2) Dan Elituv
3) Not yet identified
4) Probable bystander
5) Michael Cohen
6) Not yet identified
7) Rotem Rosen (married to Alex Sapir's sister Zina)
8) Eyal Ben-Yosef

Note 1: Rotonda and Rosen formed a real estate development firm (MRR Development) in 2017 with Indian billionaire Anand Mahindra. Rotonda is often incorrectly ID'ed as [current] CFO of Deutsche Bank [globally].
Note 2: Alex and Zina Sapir are children of the late Tamir Sapir, a billionaire emigre to NYC with KGB ties (acc. to NYT) who Trump called "a great friend"
Note 3: This epic and highly detailed report in Politico details the ties between this circle, Trump's associates Felix Sater and Tevfik Arif, and Putin's oligarch buddies Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich. The group is connected through a Chabad-Lubavitch community center in Port Washington on Long Island.

Hopefully you're a precocious five-year-old.
posted by msalt at 12:38 AM on April 16 [50 favorites]


3) Not yet identified
4) Probable bystander
6) Not yet identified


Certainly one of these guys must be Pepe Silvia
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:09 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


Rotonda's a nasty piece of work; the guardian has a writeup on 1998 case when he made racist threats at a metermaid.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:21 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Ugh, I hate how many of these loathesome human beings are Israeli or Jewish or both, have Jewish-sounding names, or at least ones that will sound Jewish to folks who don’t travel much. One of the most plausible endgames for all of this, it has always seemed to me, is for the broad center to accept that there were high crimes and misdemeanors committed, but to shunt off all responsibility for same onto a shadowy cabal of malefactors pulling the idiot Trump’s strings – no points awarded for guessing who that shadowy cabal would turn out to be, in this telling.

If Don DeLillo has it that all plots tend deathward, I’d argue as a corrollary that all conspiracy theories in the end resolve to good ol’ Protocols-style anti-Semitism, and the optics of this vile crowd only reinforce that narrative. It turns my stomach.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:48 AM on April 16 [51 favorites]


Ugh, I hate how many of these loathesome human beings are Israeli or Jewish or both, have Jewish-sounding names, or at least ones that will sound Jewish to folks who don’t travel much

Since the influx of Jews from the Soviet Union into Israel in the 1990's, there seems to be a depressingly increasing link between Russian and Israeli organised crime.
posted by PenDevil at 3:18 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


It should probably be noted that one of the easiest ways of getting out of the USSR was to persuade the Israeli government that one was Jewish; they would then move heaven and earth to get you out. Some of the people who did this actually practiced Judaism or had Jewish ancestry, others, not so much.

There was an underground industry in the USSR that would, for a fee, teach you enough about Judaism and Russian Jewish history to be able to pass an interview, as well as rumours of candidates submitting to backyard circumcisions for extra verisimilitude. As with all underground industries, they disproportionately select for, shall we say, individuals of extraordinary moral flexibility.
posted by acb at 3:31 AM on April 16 [61 favorites]


Perry seems in favor of emergency order to bail out coal, nuclear plants
Comments suggest struggling firm FirstEnergy could get help from the DOE.
At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry expressed his willingness to help coal and nuclear plants out with an emergency order similar to one requested by energy firm FirstEnergy earlier this month.

Two weeks ago, FirstEnergy asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to invoke Section 202(c), which allows the department to order certain US power plants to keep running during wartime or during a natural disaster. The energy firm then filed for bankruptcy a few days later.

There has been skepticism within the DOE that Section 202(c) should be used for any purpose other than a disaster. But at Thursday's hearing, Perry seemed to play up the dire state of the American grid throughout his comments in front of the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy, where he took questions from representatives about the Trump administration's budget request for 2019.

The secretary said that Americans were having to choose between keeping their families warm and turning the lights on, and he repeatedly invoked national security as a reason to maintain existing coal and nuclear plants. However, major grid operators have contended that resilience can be improved without keeping uneconomic coal plants online.

Earlier this week, the DOE opened an unofficial comment period on whether the department should use Section 202(c) to bail out FirstEnergy, updating the department's Section 202(c) landing page with an email address people can send their comments and concerns to.
The email address currently listed at the latter link above is "AskOE@hq.doe.gov".

While unsuccessfully searching for video of the hearing I found a ½-hour film released by the DoE in 1978 entitled Energy: The American Experience (starts about two minutes in.) I won't be able to watch it until later, so I cannot report on its contents yet, but the intro music and the opening scene of a frontiersman vigorously chopping wood seem to indicate it will be awfully exciting.
posted by XMLicious at 4:26 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]


Greg Sargent - WaPo: An important detail from the Comey interview: Comey suggests it's still an *open question* whether Trump knew Mike Flynn had lied to the FBI when Trump pressed him to drop the probe into Flynn.

Comey says this is something Mueller is likely looking at:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you knew at this point that Mike Flynn was in some jeopardy.

JAMES COMEY: Yes.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Serious jeopardy.

JAMES COMEY: Yes.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did the president know that?

JAMES COMEY: I don't know. That is obviously an area that a special prosecutor would want to investigate. I don't know the answer to that.
posted by chris24 at 5:01 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler: Overnight I realized that SDNY is going to have to talk about crimes the president was party to in today's hearing.

And Stormy will be present as a reminder.


Matthew Miller (MSNBC Justice analyst, ex-DOJ): The filings by Trump and Cohen do seem to be asking for this kind of response, just as the Manafort filings brought about the howitzer responses from Mueller.

---

And IANAL, but a lot of smart people who are – Renato Mariotti, Orin Kerr, Norm Eisen – think this motion will fail.
posted by chris24 at 5:13 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Comey comes off to me as an upstanding guy who made a lot of dumb decisions.
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 5:28 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Ugh, I hate how many of these loathesome human beings are Israeli or Jewish or both, have Jewish-sounding names, or at least ones that will sound Jewish to folks who don’t travel much

Since the influx of Jews from the Soviet Union into Israel in the 1990's, there seems to be a depressingly increasing link between Russian and Israeli organised crime.
posted by PenDevil at 7:18 PM on April 16 [5 favorites +] [!]


Where goes a diaspora go the criminals. Organized crime loves nothing more than an exit. Don't feel disgust at yourself for feeling that the particular people involved of a certain identity are icky, but do feel disgust at the people involved for being icky. You'll find the same in many diaspora communities, precisely because of the disgusting things enabled by YAY NEW LAND WHERE THEY DON'T KNOW WE GET UP TO SHIT.

It's not about being anti-Semetic, or at least it better not be. Nasty fuckers is some nasty fuckers and they cluster by some rules that are discernible and that just how it be.
posted by saysthis at 5:44 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Since the influx of Jews from the Soviet Union into Israel in the 1990's, there seems to be a depressingly increasing link between Russian and Israeli organised crime.

Not just Israel. After '89, when restrictions were lifted under Gorbachev, most Russian/Soviet Jewish emigres were coming to the US. One wonders if tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been mirrored in conflicts in those organizations...
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:48 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Russian reporter Borodin dead after mystery fall. A Russian investigative journalist who wrote about the deaths of mercenaries in Syria has died in hospital after falling from his fifth-floor flat.
posted by scalefree at 5:53 AM on April 16 [74 favorites]


From the BBC article linked:

What did Borodin write?

In recent weeks, the journalist had written about Russian mercenaries known as the "Wagner Group" who were reportedly killed in Syria on 7 February in a confrontation with US forces.

Last week, the outgoing head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, said that "a couple hundred" Russian mercenaries died in the clash in Deir al-Zour province. The mercenaries were apparently taking part in an attack by pro-Syrian government fighters on the headquarters of a US ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Last month, Borodin had written that three of those killed had come from the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals, in which Yekaterinburg is the main city. Two of the men were from the towns of Asbest and one from Kedrovoye, he said.

He had also investigated political scandals, including allegations made by a Belarusian escort known as Nastya Rybka in a video posted by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

posted by snuffleupagus at 5:59 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


[Cohen] has suggested to people close to him that perhaps he should act as his own attorney, because he may be the most apt person to defend himself.
Vanity Fair, hyperlink mine

Why not? He's had a fool for a client for years.
@hrhacl

my favorite thing about skeevy mob lawyer Michael Cohen is that he's too stupid to understand how much trouble he's in, which makes him stupider than Trump, which is impressive all by itself
@jefftiedrich
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:11 AM on April 16 [53 favorites]


Michael Cohen seems more and more like Michael Scott if he was a character on The Sopranos. Good.
posted by rc3spencer at 6:23 AM on April 16 [58 favorites]


One more step towards authoritarianism.

Without mentioning Mueller, Trump lawyers urge high court to bolster his power to fire executive officials.
The Supreme Court is set to hear a seemingly minor case later this month on the status of administrative judges at the Securities and Exchange Commission, an issue that normally might only draw the interest of those accused of stock fraud.

But the dispute turns on the president's power to hire and fire officials throughout the government. And it comes just as the White House is saying President Trump believes he has the power to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump's Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in the SEC case to urge the high court to clarify the president's constitutional power to fire all "officers of the United States" who "exercise significant authority" under the law.

"The Constitution gives the president what the framers saw as the traditional means of ensuring accountability: the power to oversee executive officers through removal," he wrote in Lucia vs. SEC. "The president is accordingly authorized under our constitutional system to remove all principal officers, as well as all 'inferior officers' he has appointed."

In addition to representing the administration before the Supreme Court, Francisco, a former law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, could be in line to oversee the Mueller inquiry if Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein is fired. Atty. Gen Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation.
posted by scalefree at 6:26 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


That Vanity Fair article does a good job setting the stage for this week's proceedings. When we last saw our fearless zero, Mikey Cohen, he was holding court on hotel benches. Meanwhile...

Further downtown, however, Judge Kimba Wood was asking Cohen’s attorney, Todd Harrison, the whereabouts of his client. Wood, the Senior United States District Judge for Manhattan’s Southern District, was herself no stranger to the harsh glare of the media. In 1993, her chances of an appointment as U.S. Attorney General were famously dashed by ["nannygate."]... [in] a hearing over whether she would grant the temporary restraining order (T.R.O.) that Cohen’s legal team had asked for...Harrison argued that the thousands of documents were protected by attorney-client privilege, and that Cohen or an independent lawyer should be allowed to review them first, rather than a so-called “filter team” of impartial government prosecutors. Judge Wood had asked Harrison to provide her with a list of Cohen’s clients...but Harrison could not offer an accurate estimate and asked for more time. Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued that their investigation focused on his business dealings, not his legal work, and that Cohen...was “performing little to no legal work,” and had exchanged zero e-mails with his famous client.

Meanwhile, Joanna Hendon, a lawyer hired by Trump two days earlier, addressed the court on her new client’s behalf. She asked Judge Wood for more time, too, arguing that she needed to get up to speed. “Those searches have been executed, and the evidence is locked down,” Hendon, said in court. “I’m not trying to delay,” she continued, “I’m just trying to ensure that it’s done scrupulously.” Her client, who she punctiliously noted was the President of the United States, had an acute interest in these proceedings. “Ultimately,” she said, “this is of most concern to him.”

As the session adjourned, Judge Wood granted Harrison until Monday to come up with a client list and ordered him to appear alongside Cohen for another hearing on Monday.


That's today.

REUTERS: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen expected at court hearing over searches

A longtime personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to appear Monday in Manhattan federal court as he seeks an order limiting federal prosecutors’ ability to review documents seized in raids on his home and office last week...

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels plans to attend Monday’s hearing, her lawyer Michael Avenatti, said on Sunday...

In a court filing Sunday night, lawyers for Trump asked to be allowed to review documents that in any way relate to the president...

The judge ordered that Cohen himself be present Monday so that he could answer questions about his clients.

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:28 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Dan Scavino, the Secretary of Offense
Robert Draper, NYTimes
Today Trump has not so much drained Washington’s swamp as convulsed it with daily electroshocks of presidential id. Journalists now routinely awaken to the sound of a notification on their smartphones, telling them that the president is already up and driving the news in 280-character gonzo fusillades. A far more common spectacle today than a legislative signing ceremony is the image of House Speaker Paul Ryan facing the microphones and, with a mortician’s smile, trying to explain away his party leader’s latest tweet: “It’s what he does. We’ve kind of learned to live with it.” (Or maybe not: Ryan made it less than halfway through Trump’s first term before announcing his retirement from Congress.) The question of whether Trump’s social media outbursts constitute actual news has been rendered moot by his front-page-worthy announcements on Twitter: that his secretary of Veterans Affairs has been replaced, that he considers his own attorney general “beleaguered,” that “trade wars are good,” that “DACA is dead.” The Trump presidency’s defining feature — its resolute abnormality — is above all the handiwork of @realDonaldTrump. It therefore stands to reason that Trump’s most valued aide is the one whose job description has no precedent.
It's sad.
posted by mumimor at 6:31 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


my favorite thing about skeevy mob lawyer Michael Cohen is that he's too stupid to understand how much trouble he's in

At this point I’m not sure if it’s stupidity or just pure hubris that his friends will fix this all for him.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 6:34 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


Trusting Trump is indistinguishable from stupidity.
posted by chris24 at 6:39 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


> At this point I’m not sure if it’s stupidity or just pure hubris that his friends will fix this all for him.

Although none of these people seem very smart I'm pretty sure it's mostly the latter (this goes for Kushner, Trump's kids and...you know, everyone in that gang who hasn't already pleaded guilty and cut a deal), and it remains to be seen if he will be proven wrong.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:41 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


At this point I’m not sure if it’s stupidity or just pure hubris that his friends will fix this all for him.

Por que no los dos? It's stupidity and hubris. Two great tastes that taste great together (brought to you by Dunning-Kruger!).
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:41 AM on April 16 [24 favorites]


Comey comes off to me as an upstanding guy who made a lot of dumb decisions.
This is my take. I can't dislike Comey, no matter how I try. He's flawed, and I think he knows it, but I think he's always tried to do the right thing. Unfortunately, his overthinking led to really lousy decisions.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 6:46 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


In the last few years, I’ve known two people with family who were in the NY commercial real estate business. One’s immediate family member did a lot of sketchy business with Felix Sater and I think was contemplating getting out of town, the other’s immediate family member worked out of the Port Washington area and died, suddenly and unnaturally, in an accident that nobody else witnessed. It was as traumatizing for my friend as it sounds.

I would fucking love it if, as a side effect of ridding our country of this fascist piece of shit via ruthless prosecution, we cleaned up organized crime in NY real estate. It is predatory as fuck, it has the direct effect of screwing over New Yorkers who don’t have millions of dollars to launder, and it has been operating brazenly, out in the open, for fucking ever.

Fuck it, let’s not limit it to NYC. If the response to this whole climactic shitticane is not a wave of anti-corruption zealotry, we will have failed. We can’t keep letting rich people get away with whatever they want and maintain a society. It’s not sustainable.

So if Trump manages to accidentally drain the swamp by bringing this much attention to it...Christ, that would actually be perfect. The writers would love it.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:46 AM on April 16 [104 favorites]


At this point I’m not sure if it’s stupidity or just pure hubris that his friends will fix this all for him.

This is a thing I've been thinking a lot about since 2016, and which was actually reinforced by the Comey interview in a way he probably wouldn't have enjoyed. There is this part where he says he doesn't think Trump is mentally impaired, but morally impaired, and I agree with that. But he also said Trump is above average intelligent, and that really made me realize that the acceptable average intelligence level for white males is something like 20-30 points below that of non-white people or women. I don't think Comey is lying or exaggerating, I think he is speaking from an experience I to some degree know, and its scary.

Apart from the above, these people have being getting away with crimes for 50+ years. Why would there suddenly be repercussions now?
posted by mumimor at 6:46 AM on April 16 [35 favorites]


Update: I've tried three or four different classification methods, and so far I can't get any of them above about 70% or so accuracy. (My record is ~73%, which I think came from a random forest classifier.)

Either I'm not picking the right features (or not enough of them), or my sample size, much like Donny's hands, is too small to be useful. Bleah.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:51 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


It may interest you to know, though, that so far the readability score and ratio of capital letters to all other characters seem to be winners as Trump-ian tweet features.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:56 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I can't dislike Comey, no matter how I try. He's flawed, and I think he knows it, but I think he's always tried to do the right thing.

He didn't try to do the right thing. He did absolutely the wrong thing at every turn. He broke department rules that were designed specifically to prevent people like Comey from doing the wrong thing. And every time he did it because he was afraid of Republicans saying bad things about him. That's cowardice.

He thinks he did the right thing. But that is just his holier than thou hubris. It's the hubris that got him in trouble, causing his wrong decisions. All he had to do was follow the rules. He didn't. There's no excuse for it.
posted by JackFlash at 6:57 AM on April 16 [84 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: The New York Times: While many of Mr. Trump’s critics believe that the proper remedy for his perceived transgressions is impeachment, Mr. Comey insisted that would just “let the American people off the hook.” He said the public was “duty bound” to vote Mr. Trump out of office in the next election.

That's the plan: the blue wave we're working for later this year should also wash over the current administration and finally do what the GOP should have done long ago: impeach Trump and Pence, and clean out this administration's corruption from the top down.

(And for good measure, there are a number of federal judges appointed by Trump (Wikipedia list) that should be re-evaluated, to ensure that those lifetime appointments weren't made in error.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:58 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


I don't know if this is derail-ish, but as a comment to my above comment, I have noticed that among the truly above-normal intelligent men I know, more than usual are not as successful as expected.
posted by mumimor at 6:59 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


But he also said Trump is above average intelligent, and that really made me realize that the acceptable average intelligence level for white males is something like 20-30 points below that of non-white people or women.

IQ points don't say much, at least about intelligence. But I think it's safe to say that white men in our society have been able to attain higher levels of success with less observable cleverness due to masking it by better access to education, control of the academe, gatekeeping access to the professions or to technical careers, prejudiced hiring and advancement practices, etc. Perceived intelligence has a component of social ascription.

I don't know if this is derail-ish, but as a comment to my above comment, I have noticed that among the truly above-normal intelligent men I know, more than usual are not as successful as expected.

I'd hazard a guess that this is true for people of above-normal smarts generally. That being smart leads to being successful is something of a platitude. As often as not, being smart leads to being depressed, because, have a look around.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:04 AM on April 16 [83 favorites]


If the response to this whole climactic shitticane is not a wave of anti-corruption zealotry, we will have failed. We can’t keep letting rich people get away with whatever they want and maintain a society. It’s not sustainable.

This riposte should be the standard Democratic response every time a Republican whines about "job-killing regulations" -- "Republicans want the rich to be able to get away with everything!" -- until complaining about regulations polls so badly in Frank Luntz's focus groups that Republicans quit doing it.
posted by Gelatin at 7:04 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]


IQ points don't say much, at least about intelligence.
Yeah, I first made a long disclaimer, then realized it would make no sense as a comment, but obviously I agree. On the other hand, some people are obviously smarter than others and this is where I have observed that white men get away with less "smartness" than everyone else, and also that really smart white men sometimes don't.
And then let's end this derail and I apologize for starting it.
posted by mumimor at 7:11 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Mr. No Comment: Meet the Utahn who speaks for the special counsel’s Russia-Trump probe, but don’t expect him to say too much
Carr, a Bountiful native who previously worked as press secretary for Sen. Orrin Hatch, serves as Mueller’s spokesman, fielding requests from The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and a slew of media outlets repeatedly asking for reaction from the special counsel on the latest revelation in the ongoing investigation.

The standard reply: “No comment.”

In Washington, Carr may be the most quoted person saying absolutely nothing. And that’s by design.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:13 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


The NYT editorial board can also use all-caps: THE PRESIDENT IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW. "The president is not a king but a citizen, deserving of the presumption of innocence and other protections, yet also vulnerable to lawful scrutiny. We hope Mr. Trump recognizes this. If he doesn’t, how Republican lawmakers respond will shape the future not only of this presidency and of one of the country’s great political parties, but of the American experiment itself."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:15 AM on April 16 [32 favorites]


Russian reporter Borodin dead after mystery fall.

I think I've reached peak cynicism when I find myself genuinely surprised that such "accidents" haven't happened here in the US. As much as Trump acts like a very petulant Jersey goodfella (Donny Tiny Hands?) it just doesn't seem out of the question anymore that a reporter or activist hasn't had an "accident" yet. It makes me ill that I even think such things would possible now.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:19 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


-- WV: GOP is getting very worried about the possibility of convicted murderer Don Blankenship getting the nomination, launches effort to torpedo him.

No mention of Blankenship should neglect to add that the guy literally poisoned his own town's water supply, and then paid to run a water line from the next town over to his house (and only his house.)
posted by ocschwar at 7:19 AM on April 16 [58 favorites]


Either I'm not picking the right features (or not enough of them), or my sample size, much like Donny's hands, is too small to be useful. Bleah.

Are you utilizing the tens of thousands of tweets from before the campaign that he almost definitely wrote himself? Would seem a good baseline for TruTrumpTweets™.
posted by chris24 at 7:20 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


genuinely surprised that such "accidents" haven't happened here in the US

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:22 AM on April 16 [44 favorites]


> No mention of Blankenship should neglect to add that the guy literally poisoned his own town's water supply, and then paid to run a water line from the next town over to his house (and only his house.)

I love that a guy who gets described in news stories as a coal "baron" and who actually served prison time for Mr. Burns-style business crimes actually has the balls to run a anti-establishment/elites/drain-the-swamp campaign.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:24 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]


Some people, esp. EPA chief Scott Pruitt, are using "drain the swamp" as a weird euphemism for slashing red tape. It's weird. Like taking a phrase and forcing it to mean something else.
posted by puddledork at 7:26 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


It's weird. Like taking a phrase and forcing it to mean something else.

The first thing that comes to mind:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”

Also, that these guys aren't smart enough to come up with their own catchphrases, so they just copy the existing ones and use them as shibboleths.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:30 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


(This where the ecologist in the room points out again that draining swamps is bad for biodiversity and clean water, and that Scott Pruitt is also bad for those things.)
posted by hydropsyche at 7:32 AM on April 16 [112 favorites]


I don't know if this is derail-ish, but as a comment to my above comment, I have noticed that among the truly above-normal intelligent men I know, more than usual are not as successful as expected.

Even if one were naive enough to believe our society rewards merit, they would have to admit that the primary success-determining merit is aggressiveness, not intelligence.
posted by rocket88 at 7:32 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


Some people, esp. EPA chief Scott Pruitt, are using "drain the swamp" as a weird euphemism for slashing red tape. It's weird. Like taking a phrase and forcing it to mean something else.

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words." -- George Orwell, 1984
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:33 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


Like tivalasvegas's uncle, people like Comey follow the rules to the myopic letter, as long as the rules are in their favor. When the rules proscribe what they want they suddenly find flexibility, perceive moral ambiguity, and engage in "strategic thinking". It's banal, pedestrian, everyday hubris and exceptionalism.

Plus, because much of Comey's justifications hinge on his intentions at the time, we will never know to what extent they have been created, consciously or subconsciously, post hoc.

He's neither an angel or a devil, but he sure isn't as self aware as I would hope for in a director of the FBI.
posted by Horkus at 7:36 AM on April 16 [55 favorites]


I was struck by how strong his criticism was of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Of all the terrible decisions made, he seemed to be most critical of the first black woman to be attorney general. There is absolutely no evidence she did anything wrong. He was clearly deceived by Russian propaganda about her, and even seems to acknowledge that. But he really digs into her and expresses doubts of her decision making in a way he doesn't do even for Michael Flynn who is very clearly a Russian agent. But Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch, y'all, they made some bad decisions.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:44 AM on April 16 [128 favorites]


Well isn't that interesting.

@Spy_Stations Russian GLONASS system went offline for a while in April 14
posted by scalefree at 7:48 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


"Drain the swamp" now just means "beat the other team." The "swamp" doesn't mean corruption or elites or anything like that, it just means Them, however you want to define that as at any particular moment.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:48 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


(This where the ecologist in the room points out again that draining swamps is bad for biodiversity and clean water, and that Scott Pruitt is also bad for those things.)

Yeah, to this Miami-born boy the most notorious swamp-meddling that always comes to my mind is how much of the everglades were fucked with over decades, often at the nation's expense using the Army Corps of Engineers, in service of those sugar-growing fucks in middle Florida.
posted by phearlez at 7:49 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


But Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch, y'all, they made some bad decisions.

He’s a Clinton email truther through and through, baffled that he kept finding nothing and at least sane enough to admit that was what he found, but dogged by the insistent thought that something should have been there.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on April 16 [28 favorites]


GLONASS is Russia's GPS system, just for reference.
posted by scalefree at 7:52 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Also, that these guys aren't smart enough to come up with their own catchphrases, so they just copy the existing ones and use them as shibboleths.

The Koch, Club for Growth, Bannon etc. A/B test them on the base and then distribute the winners that make old white racists froth, see e.g. "amnesty"
posted by benzenedream at 7:52 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


He’s a Clinton email truther through and through, baffled that he kept finding nothing and at least sane enough to admit that was what he found, but dogged by the insistent thought that something should have been there.

Not unlike the whiff of bafflement from the NYT editorial board that the lengthy investigation into Bill Clinton turned up only a lie about an affair. To the point that they draw an equivalence between the Democrats' view the investigation (led by a Republican) was partisan and the current Republican claim that the investigation (led by a Republican) is supposed to be partisan too.
posted by Gelatin at 7:53 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


What did Borodin write?

In recent weeks, the journalist had written about Russian mercenaries known as the "Wagner Group" who were reportedly killed in Syria on 7 February in a confrontation with US forces.


The Wagner Group is owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a.k.a. "Putin's Cook". He also owns the Internet Research Agency - named in Mueller's indictment as a defendant, along with Prigozhin's Concord Catering - and has now embarked on a proxy lawfare campaign to fight these charges.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:56 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


(And for good measure, there are a number of federal judges appointed by Trump (Wikipedia list) that should be re-evaluated, to ensure that those lifetime appointments weren't made in error.)

Fruit of the poisoned tree. Impeach each and every one of them. If they're so great, they'll be nominated a second time.
posted by mikelieman at 7:58 AM on April 16 [31 favorites]


We need an American Truth and Reconfirmation Commission.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:59 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


(reminder that Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Wylie claims that said outfit tested Trump campaign messages like "drain the swamp" and "deep state" for their effectiveness) (WaPo)
posted by salix at 8:00 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


Upon further reflection, Trump's obsession with the word "collusion," which as previous discussions have established, is not a crime, reveals much about the difference between the scandals Mueller is investigating versus those that dogged both Clintons.

As noted above, Republicans love to deploy words that provoke an emotional response in their supporters -- "Whitewater!" "Benghazi" "Butteremails!" But while they deployed those words to refer to a situation in which their pundits and opinion leaders want their audience to presume connotes wrongdoing, like "Watergate" encompassed an actual set of scandals, the trouble is that it's difficult to say what specific wrongdoing any of their words are supposed to be about.

Whitewater? The Clintons lost money on a real estate deal. So what? Hillary Clinton used a private email server? So what?

But Trump's involvement with the Russians is summed up accurately by one word: Collusion. Trump's campaign pretty obviously worked with the Russians to help him win. That in itself is probably illegal, and it's probably driven by Trump's likely indebtedness to the Russians for other illegal matters like money laundering.

So yes, while Republicans are forced to eventually concede that with Whitewater and Hillary Clinton's email server and Loretta Lynch and et cetera that there's nothing actually there, the very word "collusion" invokes the many dirty deeds Donald did. And every time he denies it, he invokes it all over again.
posted by Gelatin at 8:04 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Fruit of the poisoned tree. Impeach each and every one of them. If they're so great, they'll be nominated a second time.

Up to and including Gorsuch. And make clear that McConnell's refusing to grant Garland a hearing is directly responsible. McConnell likes to crow about the benefit his bad faith got the Republicans; let him take the blame for Gorsuch's removal, too.
posted by Gelatin at 8:08 AM on April 16 [66 favorites]


Alternatively, restore the same effective balance by adding two justices (with control of the Presidency). Political impeachments of sitting SCOTUS Justices is a dangerous road to embark on. However they got there.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:11 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


The ability of a single party controlling the Presidency and the Congress to pack/expand the Supreme Court is a theoretical Constitutional problem which is as yet unaddressed... but the ability of a hostile Congress to refuse to consider a President's nominee is a no-longer-theoretical Constitutional problem which can be addressed by spamming the fuck out of the previously-mentioned problem
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:14 AM on April 16 [34 favorites]


Listen, I know we're all getting just horny as hell for impeachment/indictment but neither of those things is a magic undo button, no matter how much we want it to be. Judges are not going to get un-nominated.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:16 AM on April 16 [28 favorites]


I'd hazard a guess that this is true for people of above-normal smarts generally. That being smart leads to being successful is something of a platitude. As often as not, being smart leads to being depressed, because, have a look around.

Something I learned last week about one of the founders of MENSA: "Berrill was an unashamed elitist, who regretted the passing of an aristocratic tradition. He regarded Mensa as "an aristocracy of the intellect". He noticed with some disappointment that a majority of Mensans appeared to have come from humble homes."*

I'd guess that there's a sweet spot in the matrix scatterplot of: "intelligence", gender, culture, colour, dark-triad pathologies, aggressiveness/hubris, and luck where the dunning-kruger effect advantages individuals. It's odd (but believable) to think that Trump could be the exemplar. Could be quite a meta-research project, although IIRC most studies have pointed at luck being the biggest factor, though that wouldn't entirely account for the obvious white male bias. Also a potential proxy value for measuring how broke the system is in order to unbroke it.


Are you utilizing the tens of thousands of tweets from before the campaign that he almost definitely wrote himself? Would seem a good baseline for TruTrumpTweets™.

It could also be worth flipping it and trying to detect Not-Trump. Presumably now Hope is lost they're largely going to be from Stephen Miller or Sarah Sanders - https://twitter.com/PressSec


* An*hic*dotally SWIM went to a bunch of their meetings in their youth and can confirm they are mostly ordinary low-to-mid wage earners (council employees, bus drivers, accountants) and the primary topic of conversation is generally regarding quantum sobriety and who can make a run into the village for booze when the shops open in the morning.
posted by Buntix at 8:16 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I think I've reached peak cynicism when I find myself genuinely surprised that such "accidents" haven't happened here in the US.

I know you're talking about Russian operations with this comment, but I think it is important to acknowledge that these "accidents" do happen, notably to Black Lives Matters activists in Ferguson:

"This is the third “suspicious” death in the past two-and-a-half years of a prominent Ferguson activist being found dead in their car from a gun shot.

In November 2014, DeAndre Joshua, 20, was found dead in his burning vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head. In September of 2016, Darren Seals also was found dead in his burning car after being shot."
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:19 AM on April 16 [108 favorites]


Yes. Essentially, McConnell found a loophole in the Constitution that allowed him to violate the spirit, but not the letter, of the law, by preventing Garland's hearing. The ability to pack the court by expanding it is another such loophole. If and when the Democrats have control over the government, they should use the latter to remedy the former, and then legislatively close both loopholes, by Constitutional amendment if necessary. They should also be very clear about what they're doing and why; this is purely an act to address McConnell and the GOP's overreach, which is necessary as a one-time corrective measure but should not be used again.
posted by biogeo at 8:21 AM on April 16 [35 favorites]


Political impeachments of sitting SCOTUS Justices is a dangerous road to embark on.

True, but Clarence Thomas has been operating in such bad faith and for so long over his conflicts of interest – to say nothing of his wife's – that he should be impeached on general principle.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:22 AM on April 16 [72 favorites]


I know I'm a broken record at this point. I had a lot of sympathy for Comey's position before the interview and having read it all, now I have even more. There's so much anger here, which I also understand, for his having made the wrong choices, which makes it hard to imagine convincing anyone else to view the situation in the way I do.

I think at the very least he's nailed two issues: 1. a key problem that we must deal with in our democracy is the devaluation of knowing or seeking the truth and 2. though it be, in a strict sense, unknown what crimes Trump has committed, he fundamentally thinks and acts like a crook.
posted by Jpfed at 8:25 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Listen, I know we're all getting just horny as hell for impeachment/indictment but neither of those things is a magic undo button, no matter how much we want it to be. Judges are not going to get un-nominated.

Overton Window. Demanding to rip out everything Trump did, whether rulemaking, appointment, bill signing or nomination, makes it easier to undo the more vulnerable bad shit in the end.

(Also, Gorsuch could be impeached for headlining a Trump bribeathon....er, a fundraiser at the Trump Hotel in DC, after joining the court, given a Congress that's enough of a stickler on emoluments.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:27 AM on April 16 [40 favorites]


I think we're in need of a couple Constitutional amendments re the court. The first is just to clarify "advise and consent" in confirming judges: if the Senate doesn't confirm or reject in 30 days, that's implicit consent. The second is to just fix the number of justices.
posted by Jpfed at 8:28 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


I'd like to call my senators (and tell my political mailing list to call their senators) to push them to hold Trump to account for a) letting in only 11 Syrian refugees this year and b) conducting a military operation without the proper consent of the Senate.

Anyone have good ideas for scripts? I think I've become overwhelmed with the obvious wrongness of everything this administration is doing and I can only splutter incoherently.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:32 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I don't even expect Democrats will apply "the McConnell rule" even if they retake they Senate and there is another SCOTUS opening between 2018 and 2020. Democrats do not play the same game. They don't do constitutional hardball. If Trump gets another appointment, he will be allowed to fill it and he will do it with Democratic votes, no matter how right wing the nominee. Gorsuch got 3 Democratic votes after everything.

We can fantasize about everything Democrats SHOULD do in retaliation, or just to correct past wrongs and close future loopholes. But every shred of evidence we actually have tells us that the party we live with in the real world will do zero of those things.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:32 AM on April 16 [24 favorites]


I'd like to call my senators (and tell my political mailing list to call their senators) to push them to hold Trump to account for a) letting in only 11 Syrian refugees this year and b) conducting a military operation without the proper consent of the Senate.

I think that sounds pretty good, more or less? It doesn't need to be fancy, just:
Good morning, I'm calling to urge Senator Name to hold Trump accountable for only letting in 11 Syrian refugees this year. We should let in more refugees [if you want to say why like "especially when we are bombing their home go for it]. I am also concerned that he is conducting a military operation without the proper consent of the Senate. Please hold him accountable for both of these and urge your senate colleagues to do likewise. Thank you.
It's basically just what you said with "Good morning" tacked on the front (:
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:40 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I was struck by how strong his criticism was of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Of all the terrible decisions made, he seemed to be most critical of the first black woman to be attorney general. There is absolutely no evidence she did anything wrong. He was clearly deceived by Russian propaganda about her, and even seems to acknowledge that. But he really digs into her and expresses doubts of her decision making in a way he doesn't do even for Michael Flynn who is very clearly a Russian agent. But Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch, y'all, they made some bad decisions.

“A Comey” should be an entry in the taxonomy of misogynists.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:44 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


ABC News: EPA broke spending law on Pruitt phone booth: government watchdog
A government watchdog agency concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency violated federal law in spending more than $43,000 to install a private phone booth in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office, according to a report obtained by ABC News.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the EPA did not comply with the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by spending more than $5,000 on the phone booth without notifying Congress.

The EPA “was required to notify the appropriations committees of its proposed obligation,” the GAO wrote in the report. “By failing to provide such advance notice, EPA violated section 710” of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
...
The agency also found that the EPA violated the Antideficiency Act by spending more than the amount approved by Congress for office renovations.

“Because EPA did not comply with the notification requirement, the funds were not legally available at the time EPA incurred the obligation,” the GAO wrote in the report.
I think that headline should really be 'Pruitt broke spending law,' since it's not like the EPA would have done this absent him, but.
posted by cjelli at 8:48 AM on April 16 [24 favorites]


“A Comey” should be an entry in the taxonomy of misogynists.

It should be a mass noun for undeservingly elevated servitors of the establishment who wildly overestimate their own talents and freeze out anyone not like them: "a Comey of pinstriped assholes."
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 AM on April 16 [28 favorites]


We can fantasize about everything Democrats SHOULD do in retaliation, or just to correct past wrongs and close future loopholes. But every shred of evidence we actually have tells us that the party we live with in the real world will do zero of those things.

It's important that we tell politicians what they should ideally do, because things can change fast. Look at how quickly gay marriage went from an impossible fantasy to something required by Democrats and broadly regarded as inevitable or beneficial by Republicans.

If Trump is charged and judged by the American people to be guilty of morally unconscionable crimes, the Republican politicians who supported him in full knowledge of his likely guilt will suffer his taint. They will be a Tainted Team. Democrats may be motivated by their base to treat the guilty parties with severe measures.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:55 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


Political impeachments of sitting SCOTUS Justices is a dangerous road to embark on.

Runaway truck ramps are very dangerous roads to embark on. If you use one, you have high odds of ruining the undercarriage of your vehicle and totalling it.

But if you need to use one, it's better than not using it.
posted by ocschwar at 8:58 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


They will be a Tainted Team.

I'm not usually one for derisive nicknames, but "Taint Team" as a descriptor for the complicit Republican establishment does have a certain special something.
posted by contraption at 9:01 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


I have zero sympathy for Comey. He acted out of self-interest in violation of the specific directives of his office. He put his thumb on the scales in favor of Republicans because he figured that if he demonstrated loyalty by providing them with an October Surprise, he would be repaid in kind. And he was. The minute he became a convenient scapegoat to provide a distraction, he was fired. Now he’s angry that what he did was in turn done to him. Fuck him.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:06 AM on April 16 [52 favorites]


Democrats do not play the same game. They don't do constitutional hardball.

Pre-2018 Dems. Post-2018, things just might change, y'know...
posted by eclectist at 9:07 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Snerk alert: This Medium post guessing at the congressional Safeway ranter's identity contains a bonus long list of alternate epithets for Erick Erickson, including man whose middle name we hope is also Erick, 6 Polo Shirts in Search of an Authoritarian Regime, and Samwise Gangrene.
posted by salix at 9:08 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Clinton's longtime Communications Director Nick Merrill has a thread responding to the Comey interview. It's too long to post here, but is a detailed breakdown and rebuttal of the interview and is a must read to see how the Clinton camp feels. It's... unflinching.

From the end of it...

@NickMerrill: Yes, being "extremely careless" is not a crime. But carelessness can be destructive. With emails, it was the revelation that HRC doesn't know how to use her DVR & some paper wasted from "Pls Print" requests. In the case of Comey, it was the arc of American history.

@NickMerrill: But yes, Hillary Clinton is the one that should go away.
posted by chris24 at 9:08 AM on April 16 [115 favorites]


Political impeachments of sitting SCOTUS Justices is a dangerous road to embark on.

Oh come on. We have an actual illegitimate sitting justice right now. We all saw it happen. If you still have confidence in SCOTUS I'm not really sure I understand why. That seat was stolen, in the open, and it continues to be an absolute disgrace.
posted by odinsdream at 9:11 AM on April 16 [85 favorites]


man whose middle name we hope is also Erick, 6 Polo Shirts in Search of an Authoritarian Regime, and Samwise Gangrene

My favorite is Father of Erickson Ericksonson.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:12 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


But yeah, adding additional Supreme Court seats is both more achievable and more unquestionably Constitutional than impeaching and convicting Gorsuch without clear evidence of "high crimes and misdemeanors".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:13 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


We have an actual illegitimate sitting justice right now.
Two. We have two. Because no rational person would consider Clarence Thomas a legitimate choice.
posted by teleri025 at 9:14 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


Clarence Thomas is much more clearly illegitimate than Gorsuch. Gorsuch himself isn't guilty of anything other than being a smug douche. Thomas is a harasser.
posted by Jpfed at 9:16 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Clinton's longtime Communications Director Nick Merrill has a thread responding to the Comey interview.

Consolidated into a post for the Twitter adverse.
posted by chris24 at 9:16 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


I want to believe. /mulder

@gelliottmorris (Crosstab, Economist)
New special election polling just in!

Poll from @EmersonPolling shows the Democrat Hiral Tipeirneni within 1 point of Republican Debbie Lesko in the #AZ08 special election. Donald Trump won this seat by 21 points. http://bit.ly/2H4KHQQ
- A poll last week found #AZ08 to be a ten point race for the GOP candidate Debbie Lesko, which is closer to where I peg the district
- Also worth noting that the early vote (take with grain of salt) shows Republicans have pretty good advantage here, median age of voters so far is 57.
posted by chris24 at 9:22 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


long list of alternate epithets for Erick Erickson

Some of which, by right, should contain Viking references.
posted by acb at 9:22 AM on April 16


We have an actual illegitimate sitting justice right now.
Two. We have two. Because no rational person would consider Clarence Thomas a legitimate choice.


OH METAFILTER, what won't you relitigate?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:23 AM on April 16 [42 favorites]


I scrupulously avoid making firm predictions, but I will be *quite* surprised if that Emerson poll of AZ-08 is anywhere near reflective of the outcome.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:23 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I scrupulously avoid making firm predictions, but I will be *quite* surprised if that Emerson poll of AZ-08 is anywhere near reflective of the outcome.

Same here. The demographics of that district are very firmly conservative. We're talking a ton of retirees who moved here for low taxes and sunshine. If this race ends up being within 10 then o me, that's a win because of what it portends for the November elections.
posted by azpenguin at 9:26 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Big Cases Bot on Twitter: New filings in the Cohen case. Lawyers have given up asking for first access to the documents and are limiting their request to a "special master".

"Federal prosecutors have seized the data and files of the personal attorney of the President of the United States. This is completely unprecedented."

I mean... that's true, it is completely unprecedented. I kinda blame your client for that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:26 AM on April 16 [47 favorites]


We can fantasize about everything Democrats SHOULD do in retaliation, or just to correct past wrongs and close future loopholes. But every shred of evidence we actually have tells us that the party we live with in the real world will do zero of those things.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:32 AM on April 17 [8 favorites +] [!]


That's why you take to the streets, donate, polemicize, and make good of every right the got darn founders gave you. Government on autopilot was not their gift to us, coming straight off monarchy as they did. We prove the cynics wrong by existing and denting the armor and assailing the cracks until the walls fall. Women can vote now, Jim Crow is over, etc etc. We can win this sumbitch.
posted by saysthis at 9:26 AM on April 16 [29 favorites]


ABC News: EPA broke spending law on Pruitt phone booth: government watchdog

There's a place in my metaphorical poetic justice trophy case especially for this one. The damn phone booth. I want Pruitt to go down because of the phone booth.
posted by saysthis at 9:29 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Cohen also listed his legal "clients." Three. Trump, Broidy (misspelled), and a third he refused to name and who he said required him to file suit to protect the identity of if compelled.
posted by chris24 at 9:30 AM on April 16 [31 favorites]


Clarence Thomas is much more clearly illegitimate than Gorsuch. Gorsuch himself isn't guilty of anything other than being a smug douche. Thomas is a harasser.

And although Senate Republicans succeeded in suppressing testimony corroborating Anita Hill, it's now clear that Thomas lied during his confirmation hearing.
posted by Gelatin at 9:30 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


Russian GLONASS system went offline for a while in April 14

What’s the implication? That some plane or missile was aloft that they didn’t want tracked?
posted by msalt at 9:32 AM on April 16


...and a third he refused to name...

The nerve of this guy, thinking he can get away with not even disclosing the NAMES of his clients. Come the fuck on.
posted by odinsdream at 9:34 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


Democrats do not play the same game. They don't do constitutional hardball.

It's true that the GOP has been much more aggressive in their norm-breaking than the Democratic party has been, but it's actually been a fairly tit for tat process for a while now. For the GOP, they still hold a grudge about Robert Bork's nomination, and in a way this all began as retaliation for that. It's petty bullshit, but each side has a list of grievances dating back to the Carter administration basically to justify their actions.
posted by dis_integration at 9:34 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I'd like to plant a seed with all of you.

If Trump fires Mueller, I want to see protests on the streets of DC. Not a protest - but protests every weekend, in perpetuity, until Trump is removed from office. (Yes, like the candlelight vigils in South Korea.)

It may start small, but it will grow.

I mean, do you have something to do on the weekends that's more important? I didn't think so.

If Trump is allowed to fire Mueller without consequence, then the President of the United States (an office currently occupied by a racist, fascist criminal) is above the law, and American democracy is over.

That must not be allowed to happen. We must not allow it to happen. Don't wait for permits, organizers, or instructions. Just cancel your plans, get to DC, and make your intent clear: impeach now.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:34 AM on April 16 [53 favorites]


Cohen also listed his legal "clients." Three. Trump, Broidy (misspelled), and a third he refused to name and who he said required him to file suit to protect the identity of if compelled.

By refusing to be named, is this client (and their idiot lawyer) effectively waiving their attorney-client privilege with regard to anything seized in the raid?
posted by rocket88 at 9:37 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


if the Senate doesn't confirm or reject in 30 days, that's implicit consent. The second is to just fix the number of justices.

I wouldn't want a deadline on hearing times - but I'd be happy with "they've got 30 days to begin public deliberations." President's busy; the court shouldn't be left at partial capacity for long stretches; if they've got objections to a candidate, that's what the hearing is for. If it takes two months to bring up and discuss various bits of evidence, fine--but we have the right to have a functional court, barring extreme circumstances. "We don' wanna until the next president is sworn in" is not extreme circumstances.

And yeah, increase the number. The more justices on the court, the more valid legal perspectives there are to drown out whoever's pet issue the current case is.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:37 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


they still hold a grudge about Robert Bork's nomination

You mean the guy who got full hearings and a vote that he lost 42-58 with 6 Republicans voting against. Yeah, totally the same.
posted by chris24 at 9:38 AM on April 16 [60 favorites]


but it's actually been a fairly tit for tat process for a while now. For the GOP, they still hold a grudge about Robert Bork's nomination, and in a way this all began as retaliation for that.

Bork's rejection, besides being a perfectly cromulent exercise of the Senate's advise and consent function (unlike Garland, he was granted a hearing and a vote) was arguably payback for his role in the Saturday Night Massacre, and therefore also a perfectly cromulent exercise of the Senate's oversight function.

For that matter, the doomed exercise of the Clinton impeachment was arguably payback for Nixon resigning rather than face impeachment for his own many crimes.

Yes, Republicans hold grudges when they are held to account for their misdeeds. That doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't exact a political price for those misdeeds.
posted by Gelatin at 9:38 AM on April 16 [27 favorites]


By refusing to be named, is this client (and their idiot lawyer) effectively waiving their attorney-client privilege with regard to anything seized in the raid?

The name might be revealed under seal to the court, without mentioning it in public. But again - we're back to "if the only thing he did for them was aid criminal activity, there is no privilege."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:39 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Oh come on. We have an actual illegitimate sitting justice right now. We all saw it happen. If you still have confidence in SCOTUS I'm not really sure I understand why.

I'm not sure how you get from a failure of Congress to a failure of SCOTUS. Reasons to have some confidence in SCOTUS include Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor and on some issues Kennedy and maybe even Roberts (given how much he seems to dislike Gorsuch).

That seat was stolen, in the open, and it continues to be an absolute disgrace.

That's true, but it's foolish to pretend that the GOP wouldn't abuse a new norm that Justices can be impeached because the party in control of Congress decides to take issue with their confirmation, after the fact. The Democrats would do it to correct these kinds of egregious abuses, the Republicans would do it to change the balance of the Court after an unfavorable decision. And they might try to extend it to the rest of the Federal judiciary.

Sometimes it makes sense to sink to their level, this isn't one of them. On the other hand, if there are actual reasons pertaining to judicial misconduct or manifest incompetence then have at it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:41 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


If Trump fires Mueller, I want to see protests on the streets of DC. Not a protest - but protests every weekend, in perpetuity, until Trump is removed from office. (Yes, like the candlelight vigils in South Korea.)

I agree. I'm not sure we need a Color Revolution per se, but we might need something awfully close. The only other thing I can think of is a general strike.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


That all assumes that not sinking to the Republicans' level, and allowing their nominees to hold control of the Supreme Court for however long it takes to naturally appoint liberal judges, will placate them sufficiently to prevent them from sacking said liberal judges because {Chewbacca Defense here} once the pendulum swings back their way and they have the means to do so.
posted by acb at 9:45 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Cohen also listed his legal "clients." Three. Trump, Broidy (misspelled), and a third he refused to name and who he said required him to file suit to protect the identity of if compelled.

"Ivan Doesky"
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:46 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


When you've gone too far for Dersh...

Dershowitz Slams Trump For ‘Dead Wrong’ Tweet: Comey ‘Did Not Commit Many Crimes
After saying that James Comey should have told the president he was wrong to his face about the Hillary Clinton probe, he contended that he would tell the president “you’re dead wrong” about the tweet he just shared.

“[Comey] did not commit many crimes,” Dershowitz said. “Let’s not try to criminalize what he did. If you don’t like what Comey did, come on the show, say you don’t like what Comey did, but don’t try to invent crimes against your political enemies.”

After some back-and-forth, Brian Kilmeade asked of the Clinton probe: “Why wouldn’t she say something that would bend the truth if the truth didn’t make her look bad? How can you draft an exoneration letter without talking to her, and say that’s the proper procedure?”

“That is not proper procedure but it is not criminal,” Dershowitz explained. “In order to charge somebody with a crime, you have to find something that is criminal.”
posted by chris24 at 9:47 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


He acted counter to Trump's will, which in Trump's mind is the worst crime of all.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:50 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


We prove the cynics wrong by existing and denting the armor and assailing the cracks until the walls fall. Women can vote now, Jim Crow is over, etc etc. We can win this sumbitch.

At the very least, I want to make sure that if we fail to achieve those things it will NOT be because I failed to do my part.

And it doesn't really take each and everyone one of us doing everything within their power. If your circumstances and ability are such that you're able to go out and protest every weekend and make calls to your reps every day that's awesome and I hope you keep at it. But I think everyone else should basically just try to do a little more, be a little more active than they were. What exactly that means is up to each of us. Maybe it means you do more than you did in 2016, maybe it's more than you did last week, maybe both of those, or something in between.

Maybe it means you sign up to make calls or knock on doors, maybe it's writing post cards, maybe it's just donating or donating more. Maybe you were already doing a lot but you feel like you have room to do more and you want to run for office. Just figure out how you want to contribute and try to do more of it and maybe stick a toe outside of your comfort zone. When you comfort zone eventually expands (and it might not and that's okay), stick that toe out a little farther.

There are a LOT of us and if each of us that's able does just a little more, it adds up to TON more activity and the rest it kind of out our hands, all we can do is try.
posted by VTX at 9:50 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


But yeah, adding additional Supreme Court seats is both more achievable and more unquestionably Constitutional...

I suggest you ask FDR's ghost about that.

Impeaching a sitting member of SCOTUS is a horrible, destructive precedent to set. You would empower state-level pols to impeach their own supreme court justices any time they feel justified. See also: What Pennsylvania pols threatened to do following their supreme court justices re-drew the gerrymandered districts. If you successfully impeach a SCOTUS member, the gloves will be off in the states.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:53 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


The only other thing I can think of is a general strike.

I’d like to see blue states refuse to send the Feds money. A general strike on a state level. With lots of states participating.

(I admittedly have no idea how or if this would work; if the Federal government gets most of its blue state money through withholdings on personal income taxes then...idk. But we have smart wonks, they can figure it out.)
posted by schadenfrau at 9:53 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


He acted counter to Trump's will, which in Trump's mind is the worst crime of all.

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders declared this behavior that of a tyrant. In the Constitution, they put forward due process protections specifically so a President could not declare someone guilty of a crime at whim.

Trump's behavior is not at all consistent with the founding documents of this country. (I almost said principles, but a rich white man throwing a tantrum might qualify at that.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:54 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure we need a Color Revolution per se, but we might need something awfully close.

Josh Marshall, in Oct 2016:
For all this, what is Putin trying to accomplish exactly?

The best explanation I’ve seen is that he is trying to pull off a so-called ‘color revolution’ in the US. ‘Color revolutions’ are a short-hand for a series of electoral/popular uprisings in post-Soviet successor states on Russia’s borders and also in the Balkans. (To a degree the Arab Spring uprisings are seen in the same light, especially in Russia.) The big examples for Russia were the so-called ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004. The Russians have viewed these electoral uprisings as America-backed subversion using among other things novel communications technologies. They viewed the protests in Russia in 2012 tied to that year’s Russian presidential election as evidence that the US was no longer satisfied with overthrowing client states in what Russia has historically called its ‘near abroad’ to trying to overthrow the Russian state itself.

Is any of this true? Well, sort of, yes. The US has long been focused on fomenting democratic change, greater transparency and the rule of law abroad – especially in non-friendly states.
...
That’s why I think the color revolution model is the best framework for understanding what’s happening here. Some of it is bad faith. A lot of it. But at some level they believe this is what was done to them.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:55 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


That’s why I think the color revolution model is the best framework for understanding what’s happening here. Some of it is bad faith. A lot of it. But at some level they believe this is what was done to them.

I think the irony of successfully fomenting a color revolution in the US, only of the wrong color — the oligarch hating color — will appeal to the writers. Very much so.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:00 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


The nerve of this guy, thinking he can get away with not even disclosing the NAMES of his clients. Come the fuck on.

The identity of a client is considered confidential information that an attorney may not disclose without the client's consent or some other superseding exception to the ethical rules, one of which is that “A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to comply with other law or court order.” The ABA wrote a Formal Opinion in February 2016 [pdf] explaining (in a non-binding fashion) what it thinks that exception means. The bottom line:
A lawyer receiving a subpoena or other compulsory process for information or documents relating to the representation of a client has several obligations. If the client is available, the lawyer must consult the client. If instructed by the client or if the client is unavailable, the lawyer must assert all reasonable claims against disclosure and seek to limit the subpoena or other demand on any reasonable ground.

If ordered to disclose confidential or privileged information and the client is available, a lawyer must consult with the client about whether to produce the information or to appeal.
...

When disclosing documents and information—whether in response to an initial demand or to a court order and whether or not the client is available—the lawyer may reveal information only to the extent reasonably necessary. The lawyer should seek appropriate protective orders or other protective arrangements so that access to the information is limited to the tribunal ordering its disclosure and to persons having a need to know.
Basically, Cohen is correct to refuse to name the client, if that's what the client wants, but he will probably end up being forced to reveal the client's name in the end, possibly under seal. My guess is that the public will learn the name of the client when they are indicted shortly thereafter.
posted by jedicus at 10:00 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


Bork's rejection, besides being a perfectly cromulent exercise of the Senate's advise and consent function (unlike Garland, he was granted a hearing and a vote) was arguably payback for his role in the Saturday Night Massacre, and therefore also a perfectly cromulent exercise of the Senate's oversight function.

Oh, yeah, I mean I think they have idiotic grievances. But the argument with Bork is that the supreme court nomination process was supposed to be "a-political" and focus solely on the nominees qualifications as a jurist (we still make this bullshit claim). Bork was perfectly qualified to be a Supreme, but the Democratic party voted against him for political reasons. Ever since then, the GOP has given themselves carte blanche to use judicial nominations as political weapons instead of giving deference to the president and voting on them on qualifications alone.
posted by dis_integration at 10:02 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Impeaching a sitting member of SCOTUS is a horrible, destructive precedent to set. You would empower state-level pols to impeach their own supreme court justices any time they feel justified. See also: What Pennsylvania pols threatened to do following their supreme court justices re-drew the gerrymandered districts. If you successfully impeach a SCOTUS member, the gloves will be off in the states.

I respectfully submit that that genie is already out of the bottle. Gorsuch's very presence on the SCOTUS proves that Republicans are willing if not eager to cheat to bolster the conservative faction on the Court. The abortive effort in Pennsylvania failed not because Pennsylvania Republicans are great respectors of political norms, but because they didn't have the votes.

And, likely, neither will Democrats, when it comes to impeaching Gorsuch. But if a political price isn't exacted for stealing Obama's nomination, no Democratic president will ever get a nominee thru a Republican Senate again. There's no appealing to their better natures to change their behavior, so it has to be about avoiding unpleasant consequences.

Checks and balances, in other words.
posted by Gelatin at 10:02 AM on April 16 [25 favorites]


In other words, we've devolved to a Hobbesian world order, and the only way the liberals can prevail is by putting aside Kantian high-mindedness and moving to crush the conservatives with overwhelming force and make sure they stay crushed?
posted by acb at 10:06 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


There's a debate to be had over whether Democrats need to (a) establish ironclad checks and balances, rather than norm-based ones, to keep Republicans from shredding government again when they're back in power; or (b) assume that if Republicans ever take power again we're fucked no matter what, and just do whatever it takes to thwart Trumpism right now.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:09 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Is any of this true? Well, sort of, yes. The US has long been focused on fomenting democratic change, greater transparency and the rule of law abroad – especially in non-friendly states.

Yes, that is exactly how I would describe American interventions abroad. Fomenting democratic change and the rule of law, that is precisely the American project.

Honestly, as long as people don't understand how the United States operates abroad, we're going to be completely wrong-footed by Russia, ISIS, pretty much everyone, really, and liberal media outlets that want to win rather than pander should get their heads right. We are not the world's good guys. Lots of people have legitimate grievances against the United States, and that's the swamp, as it were, in which some unattractive actors are swimming. Drain that swamp and we'll have a chance; continue to talk as though the CIA is out there "fomenting democracy" and we simply don't.

Please remember Victor Jara in the Santiago Stadium, as the fellow said.
posted by Frowner at 10:12 AM on April 16 [29 favorites]


...and a third he refused to name...

The nerve of this guy, thinking he can get away with not even disclosing the NAMES of his clients. Come the fuck on.

"Surely, your honor, you can see that any unknown client of his would have their reputation seriously damaged by merely being associated with Mr Comey at this point."
posted by jaduncan at 10:17 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Frowner, did you click through? I didn't want to quote more than was needed to make the irony clear, but Marshall does qualify that statement.
... especially in non-friendly states. The mix of idealism and interest and hypocrisy and obliviousness in all this has always been of a piece. It’s not one or the other. They all combine. The US long funded various pro-democracy and civil society groups in Egypt, for example, under Mubarak. But it’s certainly the case that this was always tempered by the US’s deep investment in Mubarak’s regime.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:17 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


And it doesn't really take each and everyone one of us doing everything within their power. If your circumstances and ability are such that you're able to go out and protest every weekend and make calls to your reps every day that's awesome and I hope you keep at it. But I think everyone else should basically just try to do a little more, be a little more active than they were.

For those who don't have the energy or resources for formal activism, just refusing to normalize the current regime is useful.

Don't laugh at racist "jokes." When someone says, "it's just locker-room talk," reply with "if I heard it on TV, it's not staying in the locker rooms" or "I don't want my sons talking like that, no matter where they are." Call bigots bigots. When someone bitches about "politically correct" labels, ask why they object to using the terms people prefer to call themselves. Or if you're not up to being confrontational, or are in a position where it's not safe, just... don't smile. If someone pesters you about it, just shrug and say, "I don't think that's funny."

We need activism, but we also very much need to move the Overton window back, and that's done by individual participation in community standards. Follow the standards you wish your community had.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:17 AM on April 16 [76 favorites]


In other words, we've devolved to a Hobbesian world order, and the only way the liberals can prevail is by putting aside Kantian high-mindedness and moving to crush the conservatives with overwhelming force and make sure they stay crushed?

I didn't say that; I said that Republicans should pay a political price for transgressing norms. They don't have to stay crushed if they're willing to abide in good faith by the rules. And if they aren't, then either conservatives are crushed or our republic is.

I take a "why not both?" approach to HZSF's choice: Thwart Trumpism now, and put ironclad, law-based checks and balances in place later. Like many of the campaign finance laws that were put in place after Watergate, which endured (more or less) until John Roberts assured us that there would be no perception of corruption following his ruling that money is speech.
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


SakuraK: TIL that Comey prosecuted Martha Stewart for insider trading yet managed to snooze through an entire decade of men doing insider trading before waking up and prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

There's a whole lot of white collar crime in this country that goes some combination of unnoticed, unremarked, or unprosecuted. It usually only seems to end up noticed, remarked, and prosecuted when it's somehow newsworthy enough that the FBI and federal prosecutors have their hands forced, either by political pressure or news coverage (or both). Sucks for Martha that she was one of the few people to get caught and prosecuted, but I'm not sure that one's on Comey. The Hillary Clinton stuff is certainly a fair and accurate representation of events (and also the Loretta Lynch stuff looks super problematic).

zachlipton: Comey is acknowledging that his decision-making was influenced by disinformation, and that he wouldn't be able to refute it without revealing classified information, so that caused him to say more about the Clinton investigation than is normal. What a shittastic way of fighting Russian disinformation; no wonder they did nothing about Russia throughout the entire election. This false document could have been the most successful Russian operation of them all, and nobody can acknowledge it even happened.

This, though, is really interesting to me. I thought it was safe to assume at the time that there was a Trump investigation going on, and that if there were such an investigation it wouldn't be public until they filed indictments. And what hey, that's exactly what turned out to be true. The FBI's opsec is better than, say, Jason Chaffetz's, and they would have known that to be true, so they had nothing to gain (and a lot to lose) by confirming what was then still clandestine activity.

It's hard to think that the NYT's coverage of the email mess would have been what it was without Comey as its standard bearer, but any real or fake documents that made the Democrats and/or Clinton look bad would have come out by way of the Russian ties to Trump's campaign, with or without FBI involvement.
posted by fedward at 10:20 AM on April 16


As far as blue state revolts go, California has given some thought to cutting off revenue, though it's come to nothing - yet; probably because the last time Trump (or rather, Sessions) tried to get tough with California, Governor Brown and AG Becerra basically laughed in his face.

If you look at GDP, California is the five-hundred-pound gorilla, or, rather, grizzly bear. If Cali cuts off her federal revenue, Washington DC will hurt. Also, too, you know that Xavier Becerra would just love to get his hands on Trump just as much as New York AG Schneiderman does.

#BlueWave2018 for local and state governments as well as federal! Elect Democrats to all offices and your state, too, can have nice things!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:22 AM on April 16 [27 favorites]


(I'll add that both thwarting Trumpism and putting laws in place that reinforce norms is not only the right thing to do, but also the popular and (small-d) democratic thing to do. Looking at the evidence of a building wave from recent election results, a majority of loyal Americans don't want to live under a would-be tyrant. And I'd bet that a majority of Trump supporters wouldn't want a Democrat to assert the kind of power Trump has -- indeed, much of their opposition to Obama was rooted in racism pretending he already had. )
posted by Gelatin at 10:22 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


But the argument with Bork is that the supreme court nomination process was supposed to be "a-political" and focus solely on the nominees qualifications as a jurist (we still make this bullshit claim). Bork was perfectly qualified to be a Supreme, but the Democratic party voted against him for political reasons.

Since when has "belief in the rule of law" not been part of the qualifications of a jurist? Bork willingly took part in obstruction of justice in the hopes of being personally rewarded after the fact. If not for refusing to confirm a candidate so tainted as Bork, why the fuck is there a confirmation process at all?

The Republicans are pissed because their incredibly tainted guy wasn't rubber-stamped, and have thus been retaliating by pushing back against qualified candidates ever since. To call his failure to be confirmed "political" is buying into bullshit framing.
posted by tocts at 10:23 AM on April 16 [43 favorites]


I'm so sick of the Republicans' continuing ability to thrive as the "do as I say, not as I do" party. There continues to be no bottom. A Republican politician or appointee can get away with any crime or repugnant act as long as they say the right things. Bork is very much in that tradition. Of course they defend him.
posted by prefpara at 10:25 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


Since when has "belief in the rule of law" not been part of the qualifications of a jurist? Bork willingly took part in obstruction of justice in the hopes of being personally rewarded after the fact. If not for refusing to confirm a candidate so tainted as Bork, why the fuck is there a confirmation process at all?

I'm not disagreeing, but I think the responses to this show exactly how the tit for tat game gets played and how our democracy is thrown into chaos because of these sorts of grievances. Republicans genuinely believe that Bork was eminently qualified (shit, a large number of them didn't think Nixon did anything wrong! Reagan certainly didn't), Democrats genuinely believe various aspects of his career disqualified him. Both think *they're* making the just and correct judgment, and that the other side is playing politics. And so the grudge match goes on and on forever.
posted by dis_integration at 10:30 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Betcha the unnamed client is DJT Jr.
posted by azpenguin at 10:35 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


There's a whole lot of white collar crime in this country that goes some combination of unnoticed, unremarked, or unprosecuted. It usually only seems to end up noticed, remarked, and prosecuted when it's somehow newsworthy enough that the FBI and federal prosecutors have their hands forced, either by political pressure or news coverage (or both).

Yes, and plenty of white people use the restroom at Starbucks and then wait for their friends to arrive before ordering drinks, but the barista only calls the cops when black people do it.

Selective enforcement of the law is wrong. If we don't have enough FBI agents to prosecute all the rich white men engaged in insider trading or using private emails servers as federal employees, then lets hire more agents, rather than just waiting until women get all uppity and then prosecute them like they are the worst criminals in the world.

Because misogyny and racism aren't going anywhere anytime soon (if there's one thing the events of the past 2 years have taught us all, surely it's that).
posted by hydropsyche at 10:35 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


But the argument with Bork is that the supreme court nomination process was supposed to be "a-political" and focus solely on the nominees qualifications as a jurist

Nonsense. There's nothing in the advise and consent clause that says the Senate must confirm a judicial nominee willy-nilly simply for meeting some standard of "qualification." Being willfully blind to a jurist's opinions is also a political act, as much as is voting to confirm ideologically friendly judges who espouse radical opinions or refuse to disavow them.
posted by Gelatin at 10:36 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]



Frowner, did you click through? I didn't want to quote more than was needed to make the irony clear, but Marshall does qualify that statement.


On the one hand, I think it's a really well-chosen thing to quote, and I think that Marshall is right in identifying the color-revolution model and Russian perception that the color revolutions were primarily (rather than partially) an outgrowth of US interference, but...

Okay, I didn't click through, I won't lie. But now that I have clicked through, I just don't think he really qualifies it. That whole essay takes for granted that what the US has been doing really is "democratic" even if it's also mixed in with self-interest, and I think that except in extremely unusual circumstances, this is not the case. Even leaving aside Kissinger-esque interventions, we tend to undercut genuinely popular movements and support astroturf "democractic" ones that serve our interests, and/or hang activists out to dry once they're no longer useful. The US is not interested in democracy; it's interested in leveraging whatever it can leverage in the interests of US hegemony.

I just think there's this terrible need in people to have heroes and good examples from among our politicians and foreign policy actions, and it leads us down stupid paths because there are no heroes and there are no good actions.
posted by Frowner at 10:36 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


but the Democratic party voted against him for political reasons.

The Republicans who voted for him absolutely did so for political reasons, which was stated overtly back in '87:
Administration officials also indicated that by forcing a vote in the full Senate, they hope to inflict political damage on conservative, southern Democrats who oppose Bork.

Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey (R-N.H.) urged Reagan "to continue to stand firm because we shall win one way or another -- either by confirming Robert Bork or by making this process a political issue in 1988 and beyond."
Republicans genuinely believe that Bork was eminently qualified

Not the six Republican Senators who voted against him, though. Many Republicans, sure; 'Republicans,' no -- but it was, and remains, in the interest of the Republican party to frame Bork's rejection as a partisan political issue while acting as though his nomination was not.
posted by cjelli at 10:36 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


Avenatti just released the opposition to Cohen's motion to stay the case "based on his intention to plead the Fifth Amendment."

Avenatti also noted the similarity between what Trump's lawyers are up to in New York and the attempted "Stennis Compromise" during Watergate (which preceded the Saturday Night Massacre).
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:38 AM on April 16 [24 favorites]


Ari Berman: Top Republican Official Says Trump Won Wisconsin Because of Voter ID Law
“We battled to get voter ID on the ballot for the November ’16 election,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who defended the law in court, told conservative radio host Vicki McKenna on April 12. “How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Sen. [Ron] Johnson was going to win reelection or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter ID to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?”

The law, which went into effect in 2016, required specific forms of government-issued photo identification to vote. In a cover story last year, Mother Jones reported that the law kept tens of thousands of eligible voters from the polls and likely tipped the state to Trump. A federal court found in 2014 that 9 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin did not possess the identification necessary to vote. In a University of Wisconsin study published in September 2017, 1 in 10 registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County who did not cast a ballot in 2016 cited the voter ID law as a reason why. That meant that up to 23,000 voters in the two heavily Democratic counties—and as many as 45,000 voters statewide—didn’t vote because of the voter ID law. Trump won the state by 22,000 votes.

African Americans, who favored Hillary Clinton over Trump by an 88-to-8 margin, were three times as likely as whites to say they were deterred from voting by the law.

Indeed, turnout fell most sharply in black neighborhoods of Milwaukee that heavily supported Clinton. Nearly 41,000 fewer people in the city—where Clinton received 77 percent of the vote to Trump’s 18—voted in 2016 than in 2012.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:38 AM on April 16 [93 favorites]


Republicans genuinely believe that Bork was eminently qualified (shit, a large number of them didn't think Nixon did anything wrong! Reagan certainly didn't), Democrats genuinely believe various aspects of his career disqualified him. Both think *they're* making the just and correct judgment, and that the other side is playing politics. And so the grudge match goes on and on forever.

There is an objective reality and allowing people to opt out of it in favor of believing what makes them feel good enables the most heinous crimes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:41 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]






Trump jokes about being jealous of Bolton

Trump acknowledged Bolton, who was standing along the wall of a gym near Miami where the president was participating in a tax event. The crowd gave Bolton a raucous standing ovation.

“John, that’s pretty good. I didn’t expect that. I’m a little jealous,” Trump quipped. “Are you giving him all the credit? Uh oh, you know that means the end of his job.”


Trump does not joke, ever: he floats what he wants to do and gauges the reaction. The warmongers had better stifle their enthusiasm for Bolton's offerings to the BloodGod or he'll be out in two shakes.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:52 AM on April 16 [45 favorites]


He said the public was “duty bound” to vote Mr. Trump out of office in the next election.

Comey wants the public to vote Trump out of office in 2020 instead of Congress impeaching Trump. I agree we have a moral duty to vote him out, but we can accomplish that by electing people that will impeach him. Also, waiting until the 2020 election also gives a pass to his Republican enablers in Congress.

Impeachment and removal from office is the proper remedy for the crimes he has committed in office as president. Obstruction of justice is the most egregious one, then violating the emoluments clause. (Honestly, if he isn't impeached for violating the emoluments clause, why do we even have it? See also the electoral college.)

If he committed crimes during the election, he should be tried and sent to prison if convicted. I don't believe he should be impeached for crimes he may have committed before becoming president. I think it's possible he wasn't directly involved with the Russians, but he has certainly obstructed justice as president.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:55 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


Comey's the only other person I can think of offhand that Trump said he was jealous of .
posted by kirkaracha at 10:58 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


The nerve of this guy, thinking he can get away with not even disclosing the NAMES of his clients. Come the fuck on.

Jedicus is exactly right. The identity of a client is in itself privileged information, which the client may waive or the Court to direct disclosed *however*.

There are good reasons for this. Say a wife consults a lawyer about ending her marriage. If that lawyer has to name the wife as a client, that would reveal to the world that she has consulted that lawyer -- information she might have very good reasons to keep to herself. Same for a business partner consulting a lawyer different from her partnership's usual lawyer. Same for an employee considering his future options, without wanting his current employer to know. There are any number of scenarios.

Cohen is quite correct in refusing to disclose the names of his clients, either until the clients themselves waive that privilege, or the Court tells him to.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:04 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


the unnamed client is DJT Jr.

I mean, we can speculate all day. And I recognize that we probably shouldn't. But my favorite speculation so far is Steve Wynn.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:06 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


As always, God bless the Onion.

Comey: ‘What Can I Say, I’m Just A Catty Bitch From New Jersey And I Live For Drama’


Previously -

16 April 2018 Washington Post: Daily 202: How James Comey's battles with the Bush White House prepared him to stand up to Trump

16 May 2007: Mefi: "I am not the attorney general. That's the attorney general."

2007: Daily Show - Comey Don't Play That (autoplaying video)
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:08 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Could the hacked RNC emails have something to do with their fundraising and finances?
posted by gucci mane at 11:11 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Selective enforcement of the law is wrong. If we don't have enough FBI agents to prosecute all the rich white men engaged in insider trading or using private emails servers as federal employees, then lets hire more agents, rather than just waiting until women get all uppity and then prosecute them like they are the worst criminals in the world.

Oh, in case I wasn't perfectly clear, I agree with you that selective enforcement is wrong. My point was simply that I don't think the decision to prosecute Martha Stewart (and let however many other [white men's] white collar crimes slide) was on Comey (or at least solely his responsibility). That particular case, at least, was a symptom of multiple systemic problems of which selective enforcement and inadequate staffing are only two.
posted by fedward at 11:12 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Scott Lemieux, LGM: The “NY Bureau Made Comey Do It” Defense Is Exceptionally Weak
[...] The favorite current angle of Comey apologists is to argue that the threat of the NY Bureau leaking the re-started investigation left him no choice but to violate longstanding norms and the explicit guidelines of the Attorney General and send a prejudicial letter about the investigation into Hillary Clinton (but not the investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign.) [...]

This defense fails on every possible level:
  • Controlling the agents at the NY bureau is Comey’s job. Even taking it at face value, the argument boils down to “my managerial failures left me with no choice but to compound the issue by improperly sending a prejudicial letter.” This…isn’t much of a defense.
  • The argument also assumes that rumors of an investigation leaked by rogue elements at the FBI who couldn’t go on the record would have the same impact as the Director of the FBI explicitly confirming the existence of the investigation, and in so doing strongly implying that there was a very real chance that Clinton was guilty of serious wrongdoing. But this is absurd. [...] Comey putting his sterling (justified or not) reputation for Nonpartisan Integritude behind the story makes a yoooooge difference, and the extremely unusual nature of his actions created the strong impression that the FBI really had something on Clinton although they had absolutely nothing. [...]
Comey made his choice and he owns the consequences. He wasn’t forced to issue a selective and prejudicial letter by other forces.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:13 AM on April 16 [28 favorites]


For your Michael Cohen hearing livetweeting needs:

@KlasfeldReports (Courthouse News)
@eorden (WSJ)
@chrisgeidner (BuzzFeed)
@ambiej (BuzzFeed)

Elliot Spitzer is there for some reason, because apparently the courthouse is the largest drama magnet in the NY area.
posted by zachlipton at 11:14 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


From the prior thread: Republican voters are being hurt right now by Trump policies. The opioid crisis is largely a rural, red state, crisis. Republican voters are disproportionately affected by red state spending policies and cuts in services, education and health care. They don't care, because Trump is white and loves Republican Jesus.

Related to this, I saw a short film at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival about one (of the many) tattoo artists in Appalachian Ohio who offer free obscuration of racist and Nazi tattoos to any and all. It was called Beneath the Ink and it was quite moving to see the people having swastikas, falming crosses, and such covered up and hear them tell their stories. The filmmaker, a commercial artist who was on location for a commercial shoot, met the inker and decided to shoot the documentary at that time. The scenes of poverty, demise, and decay the film showed were depressing and certainly explain why so many from areas like that feel abandoned by society. They see their communities disappearing as the businesses and infrastructure that supported them go away. The turning to opiates and meth as a way to dull the pain is understandable. But the tattooist was also cognizant of the large number of frankly racist people in the area, and their impact on the tone and mood of those communities. I was quite moved by this small film and it not only gave me insight into the problems faced, but also the hardened racism that is only slowly being chipped away at in the face of new encouragement by the people at the top of society. This man, covered in tattoos, said he knew he had to do something to make a difference and was using the only tool he knew.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:15 AM on April 16 [43 favorites]


From the Courthouse News reporter's updates:

"AUSA McKay: Cohen has more attorneys than he has clients."
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:18 AM on April 16 [51 favorites]




Elliot Spitzer is there for some reason

I want a moratorium on straight white men rising to power

Send them all to therapy instead
posted by schadenfrau at 11:20 AM on April 16 [29 favorites]


WaPo, Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions, reversing Haley’s announcement
President Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”

Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. Haley said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that sanctions on Russian companies behind the equipment related to Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack would be announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

But as officials in Moscow condemned the planned sanctions as overly punitive, Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan.

Administration officials said the economic sanctions were under serious consideration, along with other measures that could be taken against Russia, but said Trump had not given final authorization to implement them. Administration officials said Monday it was unlikely Trump would approve any additional sanctions without another triggering event by Russia, describing the strategy as being in a holding pattern.
See also yesterday's story about Trump swearing about expelling Russian diplomats.

I'm not saying he's being blackmailed by Russia, but all of this behavior seems consistent with being blackmailed by Russia.
posted by zachlipton at 11:21 AM on April 16 [84 favorites]


Oops, she accidentally told the truth: Kellyanne Conway To ABC: Comey ‘Swung The Election’
posted by kirkaracha at 11:24 AM on April 16 [29 favorites]


@andyriga: Evidence presented at Alexandre Bissonnette's sentencing hearing this morning includes a list of some of the Twitter accounts he was checking in the month before he killed six men at a Quebec City mosque.

If you want to know who radicalized him, just look to Ben Shapiro and Breitbart and Tucker Carlson and Baked Alaska and Richard Spencer.
posted by zachlipton at 11:24 AM on April 16 [57 favorites]


I fail to see how the Democrats stopping the payment of Nixon's bribe to Bork is in any way a bad thing or an excuse for future Republican misbehavior. Bork was promised a seat on the Supreme Court if he'd make the Watergate investigation go away, that's not a valid reason to confirm a person to the Supreme Court, in fact I'd argue it's a valid reason for a long prison sentence and a lifelong ban on practicing the law at any level.

acb In other words, we've devolved to a Hobbesian world order, and the only way the liberals can prevail is by putting aside Kantian high-mindedness and moving to crush the conservatives with overwhelming force and make sure they stay crushed?

Yup. Sounds about right.

Or, rather, we're in a situation where there are rules, but no agency that actually enforces those rules, which means the rules effectively don't exist.

In any situation like that the only behavior that stops the breaking of norms is tit for tat retaliation. This is game theory 101 level stuff here. It's how a player can "win" the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: begin by being honest and if cheated retaliate.

There are no refs here. There are no authorities we can appeal to when the Republicans break norms, rules, and even laws.

Another way of looking at it is that we're in a sort of forced honor society situation where in order to avoid being bullied you must be aggressive, repay any slight with a fight, and sometimes push the other person's boundaries just to make sure they know you're too strong to easily beat. We've got to show the Republicans that fucking with us hurts, or they'll keep fucking with us.

It'd be a lot better if people followed the rules, I'm 100% in agreement there. But since there's no referee, no parent, no authority, to actually enforce the rules and penalize rule breakers then if we don't retaliate when the Republicans hurt us we aren't claiming the high ground, we're just victims.

Now, personally I'm also 100% in favor of stomping conservatism until its either dead or so defeated it never rises again. I see no value or merit in that position and I see harm in permitting it to fester. There is no gain in delaying necessary civil rights, there is no profit in slowing or putting off equality and justice. I want those fuckers who "stand[s] athwart history, yelling Stop" to be crushed utterly and have no power at all.

But my personal level of commitment to progressive causes is irrelevant here. I'm bloodthirsty, no denying it, but when we subtract the blood thirst game theory tells us we must retaliate and hurt them back when they hurt us, or else we'll be perpetual victims and we'll wind up being he ones crushed with overwhelming force to make sure we stay crushed.

When there are no refs and one person fights by Marquess of Queensberry rules and the other fights dirty, the person fighting Marquess of Queensberry loses. I want to win for a change thanks.
posted by sotonohito at 11:31 AM on April 16 [40 favorites]


MetaFilter: what won't you relitigate?
posted by scalefree at 11:33 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


Politico: Senate poised to allow Duckworth’s newborn on the floor
posted by Chrysostom at 11:36 AM on April 16 [27 favorites]


>and charged with running an international underage prostitution ring

>>In the fullness of time, we will discover that just as with everything else, Pizzagate was pure projection.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:58 PM on April 15 [49 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


I smell inoculation. Any charges that Trump is involved in such dealings will be looked on by the faithful as pure "I know you are, but what am I?"
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:38 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


What’s the implication? That some plane or missile was aloft that they didn’t want tracked?

No, that we turned it off for them during the missile strike.
posted by scalefree at 11:41 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Basically, Cohen is correct to refuse to name the client, if that's what the client wants, but he will probably end up being forced to reveal the client's name in the end, possibly under seal.

From the ongoing court thread by Adam Klasfeld @KlasfeldReports:
Cohen's other attorney Steve Ryan says the third client is a "publicly prominent individual," and he didn't want the name to be released from the public.

"We are protecting that persons identity, but not from the court," he claims, if there will be a sealed in camera review.

Jargon explanation: In camera = for the judge's eyes alone.

Judge Wood wants to know the "legal grounds" for withholding the client's name.

After commenting on Cohen's responsibilities, Ryan says: "I'm simply trying to protect the privacy of that individual."

An attorney for the press objects, notes that the public also has a right.

That attorney's name is Robert Balin, who reads a citation indicating that a client's fear of guilt by association is not enough to prevent disclosure.

The reason this is so, Balin says, is, "So that We the People, and the press, can monitor our institutions."[...]

BREAKING: Judge Wood rules that the name "must be disclosed publicly now."
(This is unexpectedly good legal drama, though I doubt playwrights in the future will be inspired to write anything on the level of Inherit the Wind.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:45 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


Cohen attorney Steve Ryan regarding mystery third client: "The client is a publicly prominent individual."

Probably coincedence, but Paul Ryan announced his retirement the day after the search warrant on Cohen was executed and it has been speculated that Trump has dirt on him.
posted by stopgap at 11:45 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


The problem with focusing on Comey or any other specific actor's actions in 2016 is that if our democracy is so fragile that a single act by an FBI director can make or break the system, we have much bigger issues. It's common in industrial accidents to blame human error instead of the systemic conditions which made it possible for that error to result in loss of life. That's a recipe for allowing some version of the same problem to occur again.

"Ultimately, a quite normal variation in somebody's behaviour can then release an accident. Had this particular 'root cause' been avoided by some additional safety measure, the accident would very likely be released by another cause at another point in time. In other words, an explanation of the accident in terms of events, acts, and errors is not very useful for design of improved systems." —Rasmussen, Risk Management in a Dynamic Society

"An accident model should encourage a broad view of accident mechanisms that expands the investigation beyond the proximate events. A narrow focus on operator actions, physical component failures, and technology may lead to ignoring some of the most important factors in terms of preventing future accidents. The whole concept of "root cause" needs to be reconsidered." —Leveson, Engineering a Safer World

It also appears that our "checks and balances" need to be refreshed:

"In any well designed work system, numerous precautions are taken to protect... the system against major accidents, using a 'defence in depth' design strategy. One basic problem is that in such a system having functionally redundant protective defenses, a local violation of one of the defenses has no immediate, visible effect and then may not be observed in action… Therefore, in systems designed according to the defence-in-depth strategy, the defenses are likely to degenerate systematically through time..." —Rasmussen

Then, quite naturally, the result is a "systematic migration toward the boundary of functionally acceptable performance, and, if crossing the boundary is irreversible, an error or an accident may occur".

You might say the Russian efforts have been a form of fuzz testing of our democratic system, nudging various components of that system in various directions. And since that system was already operating at the boundary of failure, any slight nudge of any of its components would be sufficient to push it across that boundary.
posted by hyperbolic at 11:46 AM on April 16 [37 favorites]


Judge Wood ordered Cohen's third client has to be disclosed publicly (turns out there's a rather high bar to keep it a secret, and it doesn't sound like Cohen's team had much of an argument): Sean Hannity
posted by zachlipton at 11:50 AM on April 16 [111 favorites]


...Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them...

Mr. "trade wars are easy to win!" wasn't comfortable rolling out economic sanctions.
posted by XMLicious at 11:50 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Welp. That explains why Hannity's gone so far out on the Trump Train.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:52 AM on April 16 [43 favorites]


You know O'Reilly must be so pissed he had to pay $30m to keep his affair hush hush, meanwhile everyone else is going to Michael the Mob Lawyer and getting deals cut for $130K.
posted by PenDevil at 11:53 AM on April 16 [66 favorites]


WaPo, Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions, reversing Haley’s announcement

It's like Trump is hellbent on being the punch line to Johnny Carson's old mentalist routine, "How can Trump prove he's beholden to the Russians?"
posted by Gelatin at 11:54 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


HMMMM Leann Tweeden was a friend of Hannity.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:55 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


hyperbolic I'd argue that you're right, and that the deeper problem that has weakened our system to the point where a single rogue FBI agent can derail an electon is that America is fundamentally and perhaps irrevocably split on the essential question of what the nation is supposed to be.

On the Republican side they believe "America" means a white, Christian, ethnostate with a hierarchical system of law enforcement where the higher on the social hierarchy you stand the less the law binds you and the more the law protects you, and the lower you stand the less the law protects you and the more it binds you.

On the Democratic side they believe "America" means a multi-ethnic nation where all people are accorded equality under the law, and everyone has more or less equal liberty, civil rights, government protection, and so on.

That fundamental divide has been present since the founding of the nation and isn't really possible to compromise on. The left has been slowly (painfully slowly) chipping away and winning a trickle of victories that expand legal protections and liberty to one group or another, while the right has been fighting that every step of the way and doing their utmost to undermine the official legal equality that the left has won.

Which is what brings us to Comey being able to tip the election, or at least add some significant weight to the side he favors. We're perilously balanced and both visions of America have more or less equal numbers. It doesn't take much to push things one way or the other.

I have no idea if one or the other side will eventually prevail and we'll have something approaching national unity on the question of what America is and means. But for now we're fairly close to perfectly balanced, in large part because of increasing urbanization.

I'd say I don't think the situation can last much longer, but it's lasted a very long time already, so we'll see.
posted by sotonohito at 11:56 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


(Judge Kimba Wood! Folks of a certain age may remember her as Bill Clinton's 2nd unsuccessful Attorney General pick in a series of events known as Nannygate.)
posted by lalex at 11:56 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Hannity? My god, that’s delicious. It means blood in the water where there was merely placid ocean moments before, and a tightening gyre of lawyers who’ve scented it. Sharks, if you will – real killers.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:57 AM on April 16 [71 favorites]


Hannity!!

Steve Bannon Sees #MeToo As An 'Existential Threat' To Trump, Says Journalist

"From your lips to God's ear," we all said.

God seems to have heard.
posted by notyou at 11:57 AM on April 16 [45 favorites]


Beyond the Pee Tape, What the Steele Dossier Got Right
If Mueller actually has evidence [of Cohen going to Prague] as described by McClatchy, it is yet another confirmation of what was reported by Christopher Steele. The next step would be to confirm the purpose of the trip. That is the truly explosive part of the dossier. To summarize, it reported that initially Paul Manafort was the Trump campaign’s chief contact with the Russians, but when he was fired, Michael Cohen took over.
...
In other words, one of the main topics of the meeting in Prague was to discuss how to handle payments to the hackers who had “worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.” About those payments, it was reported that they “had been paid by both Trump’s team and the Kremlin.” If that turns out to be true, it is game, set and match for a criminal conspiracy.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:58 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Can some explain to me why it's important that it's Hannity?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:59 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


AT&T and cable lobby are terrified of a California net neutrality bill -- ISPs hate California bill even more than the FCC rules they helped kill. (Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica, April 16, 2018)
AT&T and the lobby group that represents Comcast, Charter, Cox, and other cable companies have been making their displeasure known to lawmakers in advance of hearings on a bill that could impose the toughest net neutrality law in the nation. The California bill implements the FCC's basic net neutrality rules from 2015, but it also bans paid zero-rating arrangements in which home or mobile Internet providers charge online services for data cap exemptions.
Brodkin notes that there are other, less stringent net neutrality bills up for debate in California, but it's proposal submitted by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that has AT&T writing a comparison (18 page PDF) of of the old FCC rules (that Pai killed) and showing how much farther Wiener's go.

Good on you, California - you can make that a reality! Set the threshold for the rest of the country, and make it easier to make this a national standard!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:59 AM on April 16 [81 favorites]




Can some explain to me why it's important that it's Hannity?

Cohen's other two clients employ him seemingly solely to cover up affairs and abortions.
posted by PenDevil at 12:02 PM on April 16 [88 favorites]


Can some explain to me why it's important that it's Hannity?

Hannity is the most virulently, absurdly pro-Trump voice on basic cable. Every show is sixty minutes of Trumpist horse excrement.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:02 PM on April 16 [37 favorites]


Beyond the likelihood of Cohen arranging a hush NDA for Hannity, there's the unseemliness (maybe an actual conflict?) of Trump and Hannity sharing the same personal attorney.

Hoo boy.
posted by notyou at 12:03 PM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I've been saying that I kinda expected Michael Cohen's file cabinet would be full of nothing but spiders and right now I feel pretty vindicated.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:03 PM on April 16 [41 favorites]




PenDevil: Cohen's other two clients employ him seemingly solely to cover up affairs and abortions.

And if Cohen's work for Hannity was bad enough that Cohen didn't want to mention Hannity's name? I imagine people who are good at digging into legal records will have fun today, and we'll get a scoop or two within 24 hours.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


If this means Hannity's downfall, I will make a raindrop cake and savor it as sweet, sweet conservative tears.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:05 PM on April 16 [51 favorites]


Among the many issues here, Hannity has been using his show to rant about the horrible unfairness of the Cohen raid. Not that Fox News cares about ethics, but not providing commentary on the raid of your own lawyer's office (particularly when you are just one of three clients of said lawyer) without mentioning that is a pretty minimal ethical bar. Did he really think this wasn't going to come out?
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on April 16 [83 favorites]




Also, POTUS (Cohen client) urged the country to watch Hannity (Cohen client) right after the FBI raided Cohen.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:06 PM on April 16 [38 favorites]


Jimmy Kimmel just lit a cigar.
posted by valkane at 12:06 PM on April 16 [56 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: I've been saying that I kinda expected Michael Cohen's file cabinet would be full of nothing but spiders and right now I feel pretty vindicated.

Hey, that's not a nice thing to say about spiders, especially as they're likely to have more company than Trump, Broidy and Hannity
A number of other previous clients are referred to in the letter. The clients are not named. Cohen's lawyers said in their letter that they do not know if work for those clients was seized in the raids, or whether Cohen's work for them was relevant to the information sought by the search warrants authorizing the raids.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Those wacky time traveling Trumpers are at it again.

@KellyannePolls Astonished by the all-out assault on Comey by Team Clinton. Suggesting he is a partisan interfering with the election is dangerous & unfair.
1:10 PM - 29 Oct 2016
posted by scalefree at 12:07 PM on April 16 [27 favorites]


Listening to Hannity's live stream and there is currently a LOT of dead air...
posted by Rhaomi at 12:07 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Can some explain to me why it's important that it's Hannity?

Mainly insofar as Hannity was basically marching in front of the Trump bandwagon way back in the beginning, when most conservative politicians and media personalities were still squirming in indecision or telling anyone who would listen that Trump was either A) a ridiculous assclown who was going to be laughed out of the primaries any moment now or B) the literal death of movement conservatism and the republic. Knowing now that Hannity has a formal business/legal connection to Trump's inner circle sheds some light on why he was so quick to support the man.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:07 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Right-wing news must have been blindsided. Fox is covering the trial but hasn't updated since, and Drudge doesn't even Ctrl-F for "Cohen".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:08 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


My birthday is on Wednesday. I used to be a reporter. I'll gladly accept an early Hannity-related present. Just sayin.'
posted by martin q blank at 12:08 PM on April 16 [34 favorites]


What are the chances they're forced to put Hannity on leave now that he's part of the story?
posted by cmfletcher at 12:11 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Hi Sean! First-time caller, long-time (involuntary) listener. Say, what'd you hire Cohen for?
posted by saturday_morning at 12:11 PM on April 16 [46 favorites]


It means Hannity, arguably the most popular news reporter in America, was always owned by Trump. It means the separation between the press and state was broken. It means Hannity was Trump's tool.

Cohen deals in dirt. Whatever matter he was handling for Hannity was likely a radioactive situation that could end Hannity's career if it became public. Cohen is little more than Trump's proxy. He does Trump's bidding. He's practically family. So, Hannity's always been aware that Trump likely knows career killing information about him that Trump could release any time he was unhappy with him. Hannity has been Trump's puppet for forever, and never could have said a bad word about him even if he wanted to. This is outrageous.
posted by xammerboy at 12:12 PM on April 16 [150 favorites]


Y'all for the sake of thread size can we cool it with the one-liners?
posted by Tevin at 12:12 PM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Hannity: there's a part of me that really wants to build this up into something massive and make the media go nuts. I had no idea all these media people like me so much and now they have to listen to the program...I actually think it's pretty funny.

Then he starts playing clips from the Comey interview and says "I'm going to have to decide whether I'm going to put out a statement."
posted by zachlipton at 12:12 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Knowing now that Hannity has a formal business/legal connection to Trump's inner circle

Hard to believe that "Trump's inner circle" didn't also use this as a sort of blackmail. It's organized crime 101: have your underlings participate in something illegal/unseemly, or find out about their preexisting bad acts and exploit that knowledge so you have control over them.
posted by stopgap at 12:13 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Hannity is just playing back bits of the Comey interview to buy time. Not worth a listen.
posted by prefpara at 12:13 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


The show so far has been repeated jingles, dead air, and commentary-free clips from the ABC Comey interview. Hannity just broke in, sounding disturbed, and saying he thought it was funny to see his name taking up the bottom third of the screen on Fox News, and funny that people in TV claim to hate him but will now have to learn all about him. Then he said "I'll decide whether to make a statement, but let's go back to the Comey interview". He's now once again just playing long commentary-free clips of the ABC Comey interview.

This is fine.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:14 PM on April 16 [25 favorites]


@oneunderscore__: Fun fact: Neither Fox News, Hannity, nor Julian Assange would respond when I asked what "other channels" Hannity used to talk to Assange.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:15 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


Hannity's endless playing of Comey clips is basically his version of the Soviet Union's televising Swan Lake on a loop in '91.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:15 PM on April 16 [126 favorites]



Right-wing news must have been blindsided. Fox is covering the trial but hasn't updated since, and Drudge doesn't even Ctrl-F for "Cohen".


Asking from across the Atlantic: at what point does ordinary not really news-following Americans begin to get what this is all about? Today was the first time our tabloids really revealed the Trump chaos, but at the same time there were plenty other news pretending the administration was normal.
posted by mumimor at 12:15 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Just spitballing here, but doesn't Hannity (like Roger Stone) also have a history of trading Twitter DMs with Julian Assange? And "other channels"? This really is the stupidest possible timeline.
posted by stopgap at 12:16 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


Right-wing news must have been blindsided. Fox is covering the trial but hasn't updated since, and Drudge doesn't even Ctrl-F for "Cohen".

Apparently Shep Smith reported it on his show, at least.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:18 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Asking from across the Atlantic: at what point does ordinary not really news-following Americans begin to get what this is all about?

When they tell their grandchildren that they understood all along.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:18 PM on April 16 [24 favorites]


Hannity has chosen not to address the Cohen thing and is just repeating the complaints from the Nunes memo. I'm going to switch off now!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:19 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I hope Cohen made recordings of his conversations with Hannity. Please, someone leak those to the Press!!!
posted by W Grant at 12:20 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Hannity, arguably the most popular news reporter in America

Hey, he's "not a journalist jackass. [He's] a talk show host."
posted by stopgap at 12:20 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Did Fox News as an organization know? Are there any possible consequences for them? If they got blindsided, then lol. I mean, it probably doesn't matter, because nothing does, but it'd be nice if Hannity got shitcanned for this.
posted by yasaman at 12:21 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


A Vanity Fair reporter on MSNBC whose name I didn't catch says early reporting points to Hannity using Cohen to look into and counter (through nebulous methods) left-wing groups that called for boycotts of his program after Bill O'Reilly got kicked off the air. Notably, this would mean he hired Cohen after Donald Trump took office.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:21 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


@jefftiedrich: first they came for Sean Hannity and I did not speak out— because seriously, fuck that guy
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:22 PM on April 16 [137 favorites]


It means Hannity, arguably the most popular news reporter in America, was always owned by Trump.

I'd argue that Hannity isn't even necessarily that popular as a media figure per se, outside of his traditional middle-aged meatheads and angry senior-citizens demo. But yes, if I were Trump and wanted to control any one right wing media figure to tilt coverage in my favor, Hannity is the one I'd pick.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:23 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


OK - this is as good an explanation as any from @KrangTNelson:

Sean Hannity spent every single ounce of his time and energy for the last two years breathlessly supporting Donald trump and all it got him was all of his sex pervert secrets revealed in federal court
posted by Sophie1 at 12:23 PM on April 16 [69 favorites]


[Folks, I know this whole Hannity thing is nutty and delicious but let's keep it to a dull roar, please.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


A Vanity Fair reporter on MSNBC whose name I didn't catch says early reporting points to Hannity using Cohen to look into and counter (through nebulous methods) left-wing groups that called for boycotts of his program after Bill O'Reilly got kicked off the air.

You hire a reputable PR firm to do this for you, not Cut Rate Consigliere.
posted by PenDevil at 12:23 PM on April 16 [36 favorites]


Cohen scrambled to try to be the one who got to review emails for privilege. Trump hired a lawyer to protect himself in a case where he supposedly wasn't a target. Now Hannity gets blindsided.

That SDNY raid hit them in the nuts.
posted by azpenguin at 12:25 PM on April 16 [35 favorites]


Contra Vanity Fair: Just because Hannity might have used Cohen to dig up muck on potential boycotters doesn't mean he didn't also use Cohen's services for any number of other prior shady purposes.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:26 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


The right-wing reality bubble has no room for Hannity to even acknowledge that he is Cohen's client. He's babbling about Comey as if HE isn't the story right now.
posted by Yowser at 12:31 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Hannity's mentions of "Cohen," courtesy of the Internet Archive caption search.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:35 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


At the risk of stating the obvious and/or something already upthread: we already know Cohen was doing lots of non-lawyerly work for Trump. He handled a lot of Trump's business deals. This is really sounding more and more like Cohen wanted to throw an attorney-client privilege over literally everything he has ever done to hide it from the court.

At some point they're gonna pull out his accounting sheets for his child slavery ring and he's gonna claim it's inadmissible because it's under attorney-client privilege.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:36 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


You hire a reputable PR firm to do this for you, not Cut Rate Consigliere.

OMG this. As fixers go, Cohen’s no Fred Otash. Hannity’s closets gonna empty themselves of their skeletons with a mighty whoosh, like a crosstown shuttle pulling into Grand Central at rush hour. Those of you who’ve been talking about the fractal nature of these investigations are about to learn just how right you are.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:39 PM on April 16 [20 favorites]


B.S. C-SPAN Facebook poll is showing Trump more trusted than Comey, FWIW.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:39 PM on April 16


B.S. C-SPAN Facebook poll is showing Trump more trusted than Comey, FWIW.

He's number one with bots, Russian trolls and deplorables who take the time to brigade Facebook polls for Dear Leader, alright.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:44 PM on April 16 [26 favorites]


I hope Cohen made recordings of his conversations with Hannity. Please, someone leak those to the Press!!!

Ironically, those recordings (if they exist) might be the only thing in Cohen's files that actually IS legitimately covered by attorney-client privilege.
posted by msalt at 12:45 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Alexandra Erin theorizes, based on a source saying that no third parties were involved in any of the matters Cohen handled for Hannity, that Cohen's role vis-a-vis Hannity and Trump was to sit on the phone while the two of them talked through subjects that made them nervous (like, say, how to respond to various TrumpRussia findings), such that they could later claim attorney-client privilege. That theory is consistent with the simplistic and incomplete understanding of attorney-client privilege evident in Trumpworld.
posted by carmicha at 12:45 PM on April 16 [78 favorites]


In case you're wondering, right now in court they're arguing about Attorney-Client Privilege theories, of the completely insane variety, held by Trump and Cohen's attorneys, so it's slowed to a crawl. And we still haven't heard from Stormy Daniels or Avenatti! So there may be more fireworks to come, if not exciting Hannity-esque revelations.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:46 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


A random thought. The judge asked for a client list on Friday, and it was to be produce today. It wasn’t a secret, it was in the news. Hannity apparently thought he was untouchable if he didn’t have some strategy ready to handle this info coming out, because the chances were good.

These are not bright people.
posted by azpenguin at 12:46 PM on April 16 [24 favorites]


Wouldn't Fox News be the party that hires someone to deal with the boycott, not Hannity himself? Fox sells the ad time.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:48 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


hannity claiming he 'never retained [cohen] in the traditional sense of retaining a lawyer' and 'never received an invoice' but that 'i have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions'
'not one issue.... ever, EVER involved a matter between me and a third party'
hannity claims he has 'over eight attorneys' but that Cohen wasn't one, and 'never sent me a bill' but that 'michael would very generously give me his time, and i'd say "attorney/client?" and he'd say "yeah"...'
posted by halation at 12:48 PM on April 16 [28 favorites]


Those of you who’ve been talking about the fractal nature of these investigations are about to learn just how right you are.

Right now, the Taint Team is going over all of Hannity's communications with Cohen, and maybe they're finding things of note. Obviously, there'll be questions about privilege attached to that and whether they can use that information directly, but even so, the team will get a few good leads out of it which they *could* use.

Assuming there's anything to find, of course. And not for me to suggest there is.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:48 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Hannity eventually comes back to the subject at hand: "I've known Michael a long long time and let me be very clear to the media. Michael never represented me in any matter. I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael. But I occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal issues about I wanted his input and perspective...Not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever ever involved a matter between me and any third party...We definitely had attorney-client privilege because I asked him for that."
posted by zachlipton at 12:49 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


claims he has 'over eight attorneys' but that 'michael would very generously give me his time, and i'd say "attorney/client?" and he'd say "yeah"...'

Isn't this a condition of employment? If I talk to a lawyer about the weather, I don't get attorney-client privilege
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:50 PM on April 16 [28 favorites]


hannity claiming he 'never retained [cohen] in the traditional sense of retaining a lawyer' and 'never received an invoice'

How magnanimous of him. Cohen's generosity truly beggars belief.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:51 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael.

Translation: I paid in services to avoid blackmail, and am also stupid
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:52 PM on April 16 [62 favorites]


Apparently Michael Cohen sucks at invoicing his clients. So what.
posted by carmicha at 12:52 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Isn't this a condition of employment?

i mean, hannity went on to claim that he 'may have slipped [cohen] like ten bucks' at some point
he doesn't seem to perceive that this seems shadier than just admitting he retained the dude's services
posted by halation at 12:52 PM on April 16 [29 favorites]


claims he has 'over eight attorneys' but that 'michael would very generously give me his time, and i'd say "attorney/client?" and he'd say "yeah"...'

This is akin to Michael Scott's understanding of how to declare bankruptcy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:53 PM on April 16 [71 favorites]


By the time this is all over, they'll have renamed Dunning-Kruger "Hannity-Cohen."
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:54 PM on April 16 [82 favorites]


So, Hannity is saying that Cohen was not his attorney, but that his communications are subject to attorney/client privilege because Cohen said they were. This is a novel theory of evidentiary privilege similar to the famous "No-Tagbacks" rule (Sawyer v. Finn, 539 U.S. 306)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:54 PM on April 16 [110 favorites]


Just because Hannity might have used Cohen to dig up muck on potential boycotters doesn't mean he didn't also use Cohen's services for any number of other prior shady purposes.

Put it this way: what is the probability that Cohen et al fought tooth and nail not to have to reveal the fact that Hannity hired him to perform perfectly legit non-incriminating sunshine and rainbows
posted by saturday_morning at 12:55 PM on April 16 [22 favorites]


@popehat: Protip: if possible avoid having a federal judge say this to you.:

>@PPVSRB:
>Judge Wood, to Cohen's attorneys: "It’s not that you’re not good people. It’s that you’ve miscited the law, at times."

posted by mosk at 12:56 PM on April 16 [74 favorites]


It also doesn't really help Cohen's claim that he has all these sensitive client files the government shouldn't be going through. This 'I never paid a bill, ok maybe I slip him a tenner, and he answers random legal questions' relationship doesn't sound like the kind of operation that involved a lot of note-taking and work product.
posted by zachlipton at 12:57 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


If you want to liveblog the goings-on in court today, and the hot-takes on Twitter, may I recommend, chat?
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:58 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


i really want to know what kind of legal question DOESN'T involve a client and 'any third party'
he keeps insisting on this point and, like... if no other party was ever involved... what was your 'legal question,' then???
posted by halation at 1:00 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I sure hope Cohen declared that $10 on his 1040.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:00 PM on April 16 [23 favorites]


I'm trying to wrap my head around this from Hannity:
Not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever ever involved a matter between me and any third party

What legal issues could possibly fall under this umbrella? Maaybe this meant Cohen never represented Hannity in any matter. But it sounded strange to me.
posted by Green With You at 1:00 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Hypothetical risk analysis, for one. But who cares what nonsense Hannity is spouting right now? Except for in whatever ways in which it winds up conflicting with the actual facts that we are likely to learn soon.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:02 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Colorado Democrats to education "reformers": GTFO:
Delegates at the Colorado Democratic state assembly Saturday sent a clear message to the state chapter of Democrats for Education Reform: You don’t have a place in our party.

After booing down the head of the education reform organization, who described herself as a lifelong Democrat, delegates voted overwhelmingly Saturday to call for the organization to no longer use “Democrats” in its name. While it’s unclear how that would be enforced, the vote means a rejection of DFER is now part of the Colorado Democratic Party platform.



The platform amendment reads: “We oppose making Colorado’s public schools private or run by private corporations or becoming segregated again through lobbying and campaigning efforts of the organization called Democrats for Education Reform and demand that they immediately stop using the party’s name Democrat in their name.”
Good riddance to bad rubbish. This has been a long time coming.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:02 PM on April 16 [96 favorites]


Ten bucks, same as in town.
posted by monospace at 1:02 PM on April 16 [39 favorites]


Interesting how Hannity's initial, seemingly off-the-cuff explanation (he wanted Cohen's "input and perspective", never contracted with any third party, assumed they were privileged, etc.) has been repeated on-air near-verbatim at least once and the same was just texted live to a CNN commentator. Prepared statement?

Edit: And on Twitter.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:03 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael.

Alternate translation: I paid Michael through my shell company LLC.

Seriously, an anonymous source tells CNN's Gloria Borger: "From source familiar with legal relationship between Cohen and Hannity - Hannity did not get billed, there was no formal attorney client relationship, called from time to time and got input from Cohen on legal issues."

So how on earth does that translate into attorney-client privilege? Hell, even Saul Goodman would ask you to slip a dollar into his pocket to establish the formal relationship.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:04 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Prepared statement?

Prepared in the studio while they were running long raw clips of the Comey interview I guess
posted by saturday_morning at 1:05 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


What legal issues could possibly fall under this umbrella? Maaybe this meant Cohen never represented Hannity in any matter. But it sounded strange to me.

I think he meant that he never hired Cohen to pay off a mistress. Mistress = third party.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:07 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


This ongoing web of political scandal is starting to link so many different personalities and office-holders within the Republican Party that we should just start calling it #YouToo.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:07 PM on April 16 [71 favorites]


i really want to know what kind of legal question DOESN'T involve a client and 'any third party' he keeps insisting on this point and, like... if no other party was ever involved... what was your 'legal question,' then???

That's actually totally legitimate and what most lawyers actually do. (Trial lawyers are a small subset of the entire attorney business. It's like the Art of War said about battles: the best generals are the ones that don't fight at all, because they convince others not to attack them, whether by intimidation or appearing unthreatening or whatever.)

EG Hannity might ask, "Say I'm dating this lady, what do I have to do to make sure I don't get charged with sexual harassment or something like that?" And a real lawyer would discuss evolving standards of behavior, legal responsibilities, advise him to drink less on dates, that sort of thing.

That is classic legal advice, which is what attorney client privilege is designed to protect.
posted by msalt at 1:07 PM on April 16 [21 favorites]


Genuine question: are there any major US media outlets that are or have been as closely connected to a specific political party or regime as Fox News (and Breitbart, for some definition of major) and the GOP?

I don't mean just ideologically but in terms of close personal and business connections, a revolving door on personnel and so on. I remember when George Stephanopoulos went straight to ABC after leaving Clinton, and Corey Lewandowski went straight to CNN. But on the whole it's not something I've paid a lot of attention to and I don't know if my perspective's accurate, so if the current level of connection between Fox and the GOP isn't unprecedented I'd like to learn about it.
posted by trig at 1:09 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Is attorney-client privilege somehow a more nebulous and complicated concept than I had previously thought? My understanding was you hire an attorney, tell them about your troubles, and they give advice, and those talks are privileged. That's pretty simple. How have these grown men completely misunderstood this concept? I had previously thought Hannity to be a craven, disgusting, self-serving, pig of a man, but I'm starting to feel that I was too harsh on him, since apparently he's deeply, pathologically, stupid. and maybe he just can't help himself.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:10 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Sean Hannity then: "I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael."

Sean Hannity right now: "Sean Hannity just explained on his radio show that his conversations with Michael Cohen were privileged because, 'I might have handed [Cohen] 10 bucks and said, I definitely want privilege on that.'"

So, yeah, Cohen is Trumpland's Saul Goodman, except not as wily.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:12 PM on April 16 [33 favorites]


The man has devoted his entire life to the belief that if you repeat something enough it is taken as truth. We're witnessing a dealer who is now very high on his own supply.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:14 PM on April 16 [55 favorites]


Hannity claiming the government can't see his conversations with Cohen because they're "assumed to be confidential" is the same as Trump equating the criminal dissemination of classified material with Comey's discussion of "confidential" conversations, i.e. anything Trump doesn't want Comey to talk about. Desperate people often make dubious claims.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:16 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Reality is starting to make Pizzagate look oversimplified.
posted by benzenedream at 1:18 PM on April 16 [27 favorites]


wabbittwax: They may have simply assumed that nobody would look too closely at material claimed to be privileged, because for a prosecutor or plaintiff to prove that an attorney-client communication isn't privileged is an extraordinary thing....and now have been caught completely blindsided when the extraordinary happened.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:18 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


The DOJ is sifting through mountains of incredibly rich dirt from Michael Cohen's files on Russian spies, mafia financing, threats and intimidation of witnesses, undoubtedly disgusting sexual escapades of the president, etc..

I guarantee that Cohen's advice to Sean Hannity on how to stay out of court is of no interest to them whatsoever.
posted by msalt at 1:18 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I don't know about you guys, but the latest revelations being what they are, I think it's time Special Counsel Mueller brought in a certain Rupert Murdoch for questioning.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:19 PM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Potentially, Hannity went to Cohen for "input" on the Schussel affair, and is able to say that the matter didn't involve a third party because no one filed suit.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:20 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Sean Hannity then: "I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael."

Sean Hannity right now: "Sean Hannity just explained on his radio show that his conversations with Michael Cohen were privileged because, 'I might have handed [Cohen] 10 bucks and said, I definitely want privilege on that.'"


Why did he ever say the first thing at all? What was the point of doing that?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:20 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


That he's on the horns of a dilemma: privilege (implying some real representation), or journalistic ethics (coverage involving your personal attorney without any disclosure).
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:22 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Why did he ever say the first thing at all? What was the point of doing that?

It's possible he's not been getting top notch legal advice.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:23 PM on April 16 [123 favorites]


"Why did he ever say the first thing at all? What was the point of doing that?"

Maybe he's not getting the best legal advice. [Atom beat me]
posted by parm=serial at 1:23 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Why did he ever say the first thing at all? What was the point of doing that?

Turns out that everyone in Trumpland's legal varsity is well versed in Sovereign Citizen law, and not so much the actual US Code.

See Also: Judge Wood, to Cohen's attorneys: "It’s not that you’re not good people. It’s that you’ve miscited the law, at times."
posted by mikelieman at 1:23 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


Judge Wood is notably not saying that they are good people, just that the factor was not dispositive.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:25 PM on April 16 [25 favorites]


Genuine question: are there any major US media outlets that are or have been as closely connected to a specific political party or regime as Fox News (and Breitbart, for some definition of major) and the GOP?

Actually, newspapers used to be more openly aligned and allied with political parties. Fox News is a holdover from that, but it didn't set the trend.

posted by mudpuppie at 1:26 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


See Also: Judge Wood, to Cohen's attorneys: "It’s not that you’re not good people. It’s that you’ve miscited the law, at times."

I am begging for a judge to tell Cohen that he can't represent himself because the whole point of the trial is that he's a shitty lawyer.
posted by Etrigan at 1:26 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


"Turns out that everyone in Trumpland's legal varsity is well versed in Sovereign Citizen law, and not so much the actual US Code. "

Hey now, even I know that's not how attorney-client privilege works. That's not how any of this works! Even when there isn't gold fringe on the flag!
By my own hand :Noted-Moon::Lawyer:
posted by Noted Moon Lawyer at 1:27 PM on April 16 [22 favorites]


Erica Orden @eorden
Judge Wood: "I have faith in the Southern District U.S. attorneys office that their integrity is unimpeachable." She says a taint team is a "viable option" but adds that a special master "may have a role here."
Adam Klasfeld ‏@KlasfeldReports:
Wood warns: "I would want opposing counsel to move very fast."

"If" there is a special master, she adds.

She solicited proposals on how to move fast.

"I'm denying the motion for a TRO because it's currently moot," she said.

The gov't isn't accessing the material now anyway

Hendon: So your honor has denied the TRO, but not the preliminary injunction.
Wood: Right
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:27 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Alert (TA18-106A)
Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Targeting Network Infrastructure Devices

"This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). This TA provides information on the worldwide cyber exploitation of network infrastructure devices (e.g., router, switch, firewall, Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) devices) by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors. Targets are primarily government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the Internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors."

Original release date: April 16, 2018
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:27 PM on April 16 [29 favorites]


So, yeah, Cohen is Trumpland's Saul Goodman, except not as wily.

Cohen doesn't need the money and he probably doesn't even need a law license anymore. Saul Goodman has to work in a Cinnabon once he's not practicing law.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


my favorite thing about skeevy mob lawyer Michael Cohen is that he's too stupid to understand how much trouble he's in, which makes him stupider than Trump, which is impressive all by itself
@jefftiedrich

posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:11 AM on April 16 [40 favorites +] [!]


Ah, THAT Jeff Tiedrich, creator of Smirking Chimp, named for a previous POTUS. Good aggregator and blog site.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:46 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Erica Orden @eorden:
Judge Wood says she hasn't decided whether to appoint a special master.

The parties are supposed to propose names for a special master. That won't happen today.

Hearing is over.
Quite an eventful day in court, and we haven't even heard anything from Michael Avenatti.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:49 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Sean Hannity then: "I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid an invoice from Michael."
Why did he ever say the first thing at all?


He wanted to insist that there were no financial shenanigans to cause unwanted federal attention.

It didn't occur to him that by saying "he is not my attorney," he was also saying, "our communications are no more private than any random people's discussion, and every shred of conversation we've ever shared may be subpoenad by any court.

Now that what he wants to avoid is testimony, not financial review, he's claiming the opposite. It'll be interesting to see if the courts get around to asking him if he was lying the first time.

(He's not currently the target, but every new twist of Mueller's investigation is like flypaper for R scumbags. I wouldn't be surprised if Cheney gets dragged into this morass at some point.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:51 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


@seanhannity: In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.

@markpopham the only thing i ever talked about with the guy who was almost certainly laundering money through real estate was *checks notes* real estate
posted by zachlipton at 1:53 PM on April 16 [136 favorites]


Stormy made a very concise, pointed statement just now, the jist of which is "Fuck you Michael Cohen, you misogynist dick."
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:53 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


I wouldn't be surprised if Cheney gets dragged into this morass at some point.

Well, the recently-pardoned Scooter Libby was Cheney's aide...
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:55 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


The Pulitzers are out: Winners include the NYTimes for public service, for coverage of Harvey Weinstein, the Washington Post for investigative reporting, for digging into the Roy Moore allegations, the Arizona Republic and the USA Today Network for explanatory reporting, for detailing the implications of the Wall, and both the Post and the Times for national reporting, for "deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration."
posted by adamg at 1:57 PM on April 16 [48 favorites]


I'm trying to wrap my head around this from Hannity:
Not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever ever involved a matter between me and any third party

What legal issues could possibly fall under this umbrella? Maaybe this meant Cohen never represented Hannity in any matter. But it sounded strange to me.


Drafting a will, or an advanced directive, for example. You could make an argument that the government/courts are a future third party for such things but I don't think many people would think that way. Drafting a privacy policy for your website, or a blanket release of some sort might qualify in the same way. I once asked a lawyer friend to look at a proposed contract between myself an a video production agency because I had concerns about the scope of the release. While I offered to pay him for the work he just scanned it as a favor, but either way I would not have used his as an intermediary between myself and that agency. So mayyyybeeeee you say that's not between me and a third party because he just did document review and wasn't involved in any communication.

If you get into specialties like IP you could be paying a patent attorney to do a search; whether you would call the USPTO a third party in that is arguable but I'd again say no unless you then ask the attorney to file a patent for you. Ditto trademarks.

Now, do I think this H/C relationship is anything that legit? Heelllllllllllll no. But such things exist and happen.
posted by phearlez at 1:58 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Hopefully Teen Vogue will win one some day.
posted by Melismata at 1:59 PM on April 16 [62 favorites]


In response to "Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency", see Cohen Isn't the Biggest Catch from Trump World.
posted by Jpfed at 1:59 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Actually, newspapers used to be more openly aligned and allied with political parties. Fox News is a holdover from that, but it didn't set the trend.

Thanks, mudpuppie. I should have specified that I meant national media in the modern era - basically since the point where media outlets started explicitly claiming that they were independent and not party organs. That was a good read, though.

posted by trig at 2:03 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I just got an work e-mail from one of those legal news things about how Cohen's counsel was claiming that Morgan Lewis and Squire Patton Boggs materials were among those seized.

Squire Patton has been pretending that they just let Cohen use some space in their offices. Good luck getting the bottom-feeder slime off your fancy biglaw shoes now,
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:05 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


"...my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding."

Real estate wasn't it. Michael Cohen is not a real estate lawyer. Real estate is a fairly specialized field, and something lawyers cannot just dabble in. If you do not do real estate law on a regular basis, there is a high probability you will get things wrong, and it will be bad for you and your client.

Michael Cohen may be able to answer general, academic-type questions about real estate law, as any lawyer could. But get into a specific scenario requiring specific solutions, and there is simply no way a non-practitioner can (or would want to) get into that.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:07 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


MediaMatters' Angelo Carusone: Newsflash everyone: Cohen is not the first lawyer that Trump and Hannity have shared. He's actually the second! Last year, Hannity ALSO hired Jay Sekulow who is on Trump's Russia legal team.

Relevant image
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:11 PM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Real estate wasn't it. Michael Cohen is not a real estate lawyer. Real estate is a fairly specialized field, and something lawyers cannot just dabble in. If you do not do real estate law on a regular basis, there is a high probability you will get things wrong, and it will be bad for you and your client.

Michael Cohen may be able to answer general, academic-type questions about real estate law, as any lawyer could. But get into a specific scenario requiring specific solutions, and there is simply no way a non-practitioner can (or would want to) get into that.


But he certainly could have been talking real estate deals and things with Cohen, who has been doing that sort of business with Trump for over a decade. Unfortunately for Hannity that doesn't become A/C privileged just because your contact has a JD.
posted by phearlez at 2:14 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Michael Cohen may be able to answer general, academic-type questions about real estate law, as any lawyer could. But get into a specific scenario requiring specific solutions, and there is simply no way a non-practitioner can (or would want to) get into that.

Another example of how this works - an attorney handling a family member's estate explained that there would be some tax issues, and you were likely to see x, y, and z. Very general stuff. But once the specific questions came up, he recommended they talk to another lawyer or a CPA and gave a couple of names.

Now, would not specializing in a field stop Cohen? He's probably not THAT stupid, although anything's possible. Remember that these guys aren't used to getting called on things.
posted by azpenguin at 2:20 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


@MikeDrucker
I know it's easy for all of us to make fun of Sean Hannity, but please remember that he pushed a conspiracy theory that forced the parents of a murdered man to beg him to stop so fuck him, fuck him in his dead lego face
posted by chris24 at 2:24 PM on April 16 [185 favorites]


Cohen Isn't the Biggest Catch from Trump World

Bloomberg gets the Trump Org relationship exactly backward when they claim Trump chief legal counsel Jason Greenblatt is more important than Cohen because he signs off on all the official deals. That might be true in a regular company, but as Jim Comey points out, Trump runs his organization like a mafia family. Cohen's role is to deal with the dirt behind the scenes, getting filthy in the process, maybe eventually cleaning things off enough to hand over to Greenblatt if he has to be involved at the end. Greenblatt covers the public-facing affairs of the Trump Org and puts his sterling imprimatur on them as legitimate business. (Greenblatt's came into Trump's employ after working out at the prestigious Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Cohen at the middling Phillips Nizer LLP.)

Greenblatt would be like the chief counsel of Pizza Connection, LLP, while Michael Cohen would be in charge of turning pizza parlors into fronts for selling cocaine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:26 PM on April 16 [21 favorites]




He's probably not THAT stupid, although anything's possible.

Oh, no, he really is. That's been clear any time he opened his mouth. One of the most remarkable aspects of this whole thing is that 45 managed to find a lawyer who's actually stupider than he is -- no mean feat.
posted by holborne at 2:29 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Interesting development in the Greitens scandal in Missouri:
@RGreggKeller: Whoa: #MOLeg State Rep from estimable @missouriscout today: “Lots of people, including me, have been threatened that if we go against the Governor, we will never get financial support from any of the major donors in MO.”

@clairecmc: That is rampant corruption. Hope someone in law enforcement investigates.
That's Senator McCaskill on the response there.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:29 PM on April 16 [83 favorites]


Imagine, if you will, that the FBI now has a recording of Cohen and Hannity discussing Trump's involvement in pushing the false Seth Rich conspiracy on Fox News. Wouldn't that be interesting?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:33 PM on April 16 [33 favorites]


@KT_So_It_Goes
this tweet seems ummmmm highly problematic
@realDonaldTrump: Big show tonight on @seanhannity! 9:00 P.M. on @FoxNews. 7:48 PM - 11 Apr 2018
on the same day Cohen’s office was raided two of three of Cohen’s clients - one the sitting president, the other a cable news megastar - arranged a nationwide broadcast hit villainizing the investigation. is that textbook obstruction? I dunno, maybe it’s not, but when you purposefully organize a very public poop in the very public pool *and then your subsequent legal defense becomes “the public pool has too much poop in it”*, you’re on pretty dangerous ground
posted by chris24 at 2:35 PM on April 16 [72 favorites]


Comey's the only other person I can think of offhand that Trump said he was jealous of .

He said something similar about Nikki Haley a while back, and she smartly didn't say anything in public for several weeks.
posted by Etrigan at 2:38 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]




Judge Kimba Wood! Folks of a certain age may remember her as Bill Clinton's 2nd unsuccessful Attorney General pick in a series of events known as Nannygate.

This is just going to feed the conspiracy theorists.
posted by Rumple at 2:42 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Fox News is America's RT.
posted by gucci mane at 2:47 PM on April 16 [21 favorites]


Fox News is America's RT.

They certainly have the same owners.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:49 PM on April 16 [46 favorites]


[A few comments removed, let's not start the Trump Tower fire stuff all over again. See previous thread or two for existing discussion of the whole "how is that up to code/legal" thing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:52 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


That would be amazing if FBI has recordings of Hannity debriefing Cohen on intel from Asange/WikiLeaks. Attorney client privilege to hide a backchannel? Explains why Cohen didn’t get a White House job? Am I in the weeds here or is this a big deal? It seems like a big deal.
posted by H. Roark at 3:04 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


So, if someone for example had a civil suit against Fox and Sean Hannity for pushing the Seth Rich story in a fraudulent and defamatory manner, would their attorneys be able to subpoena evidence that the SDNY DOJ investigators might have just found? How does that work?
posted by msalt at 3:18 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


In my experience, the recorded evidence of wrongdoing is the tip of the iceberg. There are many events and connections that are explained best by crooked behavior in Trumpland, but the case for these is circumstantial. It's hard to predict which will have enough evidence to bring charges and bring him and his shady stooges down.

That's why following every trail and not leaking is so important to the investigation. Mueller seems to be doing it right.

(I really respect competence. I wish HRC were running things.)
posted by Emmy Noether at 3:21 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Rod Wheeler filed a lawsuit for defamation claiming that he didn't say the things he said? Huh.
posted by Yowser at 3:21 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Not just Shep...

Mediaite: Fox News' Juan Williams Calls Out Hannity: Why Didn’t He Disclose Relationship with Michael Cohen? (VIDEO)
posted by chris24 at 3:25 PM on April 16 [23 favorites]


Another interesting detail on Judge Kimba Wood: in addition to having degrees from Harvard Law School and the London School of Economics, she at one point in her youth trained for five days on how to become a Playboy Bunnie.

I imagine this has a certain restraining effect on any temptation by Cohen's attorneys to use slut-shaming insinuations and rhetoric in their attempt to defend Cohen's coverup behavior in these cases.
posted by msalt at 3:26 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


CNN: 'Law & Order' star Waterston comes to Rosenstein's defense

Speaking direct to camera in a new two-minute web video, Sam Waterston -- who played Manhattan district attorney Jack McCoy on NBC's hit crime series "Law & Order" for 16 years -- expressed concern about reports that President Donald Trump is considering firing Rosenstein and urged people to commit to peaceful protests if that happens. "In America, there's a simple rule: no person is above the law," Waterston said

I mean, good, but things seem past the point of no return regarding the merging of fictional entertainment media and actual geopolitics. We're pretty close to Captain Planet corporealizing to produce anti-Pruitt PSAs.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:27 PM on April 16 [58 favorites]


One notable thing about all this is that, in this morning's filing, Cohen's lawyers said that the as-then-unnamed third client "did not authorize their name to be publicly filed in connection with this matter and directed Mr. Cohen to appeal any order to disclose their name."

Such an appeal really isn't going to, you know, work, but it's quite the example of Cohen's lawyering skills (or those of his lawyers anyway):

'My client demands his identity be kept secret and he's specifically instructed me to appeal any order to name him'
'Nope. Name him.'
'Ok it's Sean Hannity'

I can't even imagine the set of terrible lawyers that would be involved in Sean Hannity suing Michael Cohen for malpractice though. I don't think we've done enough to deserve to witness that spectacle.
posted by zachlipton at 3:28 PM on April 16 [36 favorites]


Hannity would never want Cohen to get discovery on him.

I have to wonder, though: Hannity surely has access to decent lawyers. Odious as he is, I don't see him as so much of a bridge-burner because careerism is a fundamentally conservative project. That is, why would he ever go to a crappy lawyer like Cohen for anything?
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


That is, why would he ever go to a crappy lawyer like Cohen for anything?

Because he needed Cohen's very particular set of skills.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:41 PM on April 16 [64 favorites]


Here's a very nice video of Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle rushing past the Hannity reveal as fast as possible.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:45 PM on April 16 [34 favorites]


That is, why would he ever go to a crappy lawyer like Cohen for anything?

Trump wanted Cohen in the room or on the phone in conversations about hacked emails, fake stories like Seth Rich, etc. to create what he thought was a cone of immunity that lawyers magically cast in a large radius around themselves. Otherwise Hannity could be subpoenaed to testify about these things. I wish I was joking.
posted by msalt at 3:50 PM on April 16 [61 favorites]


Man this all must really distract Michael Cohen from his important work helping Dr. Pinder-Schloss and Gordon get their hands on the Addams fortune.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:53 PM on April 16 [20 favorites]


Here's a very nice video of Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle rushing past the Hannity reveal as fast as possible.

We've all heard of the Gish Gallop. Would this be an example of the Fox Trot?
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:54 PM on April 16 [80 favorites]


Trump wanted Cohen in the room or on the phone in conversations about hacked emails, fake stories like Seth Rich, etc. to create what he thought was a cone of immunity that lawyers magically cast in a large radius around themselves. Otherwise Hannity could be subpoenaed to testify about these things. I wish I was joking.

Ah this is so much better if you picture Patton Oswalt’s character in Reno 911.

“But I cast the cone of privilege! You can’t hear anything inside this cone!”
posted by schadenfrau at 4:01 PM on April 16 [28 favorites]


FWIW someone is attacking Syrian airfields with missiles tonight; Pentagon says no coalition activity.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:12 PM on April 16


Is there a source for that? I see a Russia Today article from an hour ago claiming that the real target for last weeks attack was airfields, but thats it. (Won't link here because RT, but "Syrian airfields" finds it easy enough).
posted by thefoxgod at 4:23 PM on April 16


Annnnd now I see the current reports too, although it seems to be just Syrian/Russian media so far.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:24 PM on April 16


thefoxgod: Is there a source for that?

Journalist Sulome Anderson (daughter of journalist Terry Anderson who was held hostage by Hezbollah for six years in the 80s) says she has unconfirmed reports the Israelis hit an airfield near Homs and a base allegedly used by Hezbollah and the Iranians in Qalamoun.
posted by bluecore at 4:31 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I'm confused on the number of clients Cohen has/had. When the court asks for a number are they asking for all the clients Cohen has ever had or only the clients that Cohen has represented and still has files on? I thought that Cohen acted for Don, Jr. by hushing up the US magazine article about Junior's affair with O'Day but today in court Cohen's lawyer says he has 3 clients: Trump, Broidy, & Hannity.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:34 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


When the court asks for a number are they asking for all the clients Cohen has ever had or only the clients that Cohen has represented and still has files on?

They're asking for clients since 2017. From the NYT:
In a legal filing before the proceeding on Monday, Mr. Cohen revealed that he had worked as a lawyer since 2017 for 10 clients, seven of whom he served by providing “strategic advice and business consulting.” Of the other three, two were President Trump and the Republican fund-raiser Elliott Broidy, the filing said. The third person remained unnamed — at least until Judge Wood forced Mr. Cohen’s lawyers to identify him as Mr. Hannity before a packed courtroom.
posted by palomar at 4:39 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


So Trump unilaterally walked back some Russian sanctions today, effectively sawing off the limb that Haley had walked out on. And so far as I can tell the total number of casualties from Trump's big Syrian strike was... zero. Which, hey, I'm glad because it was bullshit in the first place. But taken together those things pretty much completely shred the right wing talking points from the last week that, see, Trump isn't a Russian puppet! He's strong on Russia! More sanctions! Big airstrikes!

Nope, he called off the sanctions and we spent like $200million dollars to blow up 3 empty buildings. No puppet. No puppet. You're the puppet.
posted by Justinian at 4:40 PM on April 16 [86 favorites]


As Syria has just been mentioned again here is Robert Fisk on the last piece of theatre.
posted by adamvasco at 4:43 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


FWIW someone is attacking Syrian airfields with missiles tonight; Pentagon says no coalition activity.

It's Israel.

Senior IDF official admits Israeli responsibility for Syria T-4 strike.
posted by scalefree at 4:49 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I can't get over this Hannity thing. In the real world, Cohen's secret client could and should have been any one of a million anonymous shady rich guys. In this world, it's a character The Writers introduced in the first chapter.

Also: @Scaramucci: "Sean, We are all clients of Michael Cohen now. That includes everyone on the left. All of us."

Does anyone know what this means?
posted by lalex at 5:04 PM on April 16 [35 favorites]


Photos indicate that Russia's missile defense in ineffectual.

Finally something good from this: a diminution of Putin's credibility on the world stage.
I'll take my comforts where I can.
posted by ocschwar at 5:08 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


Apparently, Israel was unamused by the shed strike and decided to (a) blow some stuff up properly (b) not tweet it first. Which is, as far as I can tell, a more effective military strategy.

A quick poke around the feeds also shows that iran is getting more feisty, Israel is not liking that either and is thus in no mood to play footsie.

It's at this point that you stop being able to hide the fact that you have no foreign policy, no ability to forge one, and no detectable chance of changing those two things. I'm also wondering if the 'we gonna smoke Iran' as-close-as-he-gets-to-policy may be tempered by 45's deathly cowardice when faced with things that might bite back.
posted by Devonian at 5:09 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


"Sean, We are all clients of Michael Cohen now. That includes everyone on the left. All of us."

So everyone has attorney-client privilege, at all times, with everyone.
posted by MrVisible at 5:13 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I’m reading the Scaramucci tweet as an I AM SCARTACUS sort of attempt at showing solidarity and/or distracting people. Mostly it looks dumb, though.
posted by fedward at 5:14 PM on April 16 [14 favorites]


I think they are using "clients" in the sense of someone you pay so they don't do something.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:14 PM on April 16


Also: @Scaramucci: "Sean, We are all clients of Michael Cohen now. That includes everyone on the left. All of us."

Does anyone know what this means?


It's an attempt to buttress Trump's claims that attorney-client privilege is uniquely threatened by the warrant against Cohen.
posted by thelonius at 5:15 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


In a legal filing before the proceeding on Monday, Mr. Cohen revealed that he had worked as a lawyer since 2017 for 10 clients, seven of whom he served by providing “strategic advice and business consulting.” Of the other three, two were President Trump and the Republican fund-raiser Elliott Broidy, the filing said. The third person remained unnamed — at least until Judge Wood forced Mr. Cohen’s lawyers to identify him as Mr. Hannity before a packed courtroom.

Hannity's description of his legal dealings with Cohen sounds an awful lot like that of those seven clients who just got consulting and advice, but I can't find any information on who those seven are or if anyone is even pushing for their names to be revealed. Are they relevant, and if not, why not, if Hannity is relevant and claims the same (but even less formal!) kind of client relationship with Cohen? Why wasn't Hannity just put under this blanket “strategic advice and business consulting” category in the first place if there's nothing sketchy about the work Cohen did for him? Interesting.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:27 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Basically, Hannity really doesn't want Cohen as his lawyer, unless there are tapes of him talking dirt with Trump. He can't be sure, so Hannity's answer is he doesn't remember if Cohen is his lawyer or not. Wow.
posted by xammerboy at 5:27 PM on April 16 [15 favorites]



At the rate this is going Hannity is going to be a Russia asset/spy and Cohen is the go between. They've stumbled into the backchannel.

It's weird that this even is a semi-plausible thought.
posted by Jalliah at 5:34 PM on April 16 [49 favorites]


It's weird that this even is a semi-plausible thought.

We're going to need another color of yarn for the board.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:36 PM on April 16 [74 favorites]


Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch thinks Trump should just pardon everybody. (FWIW, their tagline is still "Because no one is above the law!")
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:44 PM on April 16 [12 favorites]


[Couple deleted; let's ease back on the one-liners.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:50 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]




Why wasn't Hannity just put under this blanket “strategic advice and business consulting” category

Attorney-client privilege only covers information shared for the purpose of seeking legal advice; "if an attorney provides non-legal business advice, that communication is not privileged." So, communications with those other 7 clients are not privileged, and their identities would not be relevant to the privilege hearing. Those communications may very well be relevant to the Mueller investigation, however, and will presumably be available to Mueller. We may hear about it when and if there are additional indictments...
posted by Emera Gratia at 5:52 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


If I were a coward, a criminal, and a general pantload like Cheeto, I would only appoint utter scum to office. The constant, never-ending stream of scandals is only going to be to my benefit, either via their distraction value, actual graft, settling scores, accruing favors or just moving the definition of competence so far from its original meaning that when people blanch at the "c" word, that's what they're thinking of.
posted by maxwelton at 5:59 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Thanks, Emera! I was a little confused about that because the article includes those seven as clients of Cohen's in his capacity as a lawyer, but the work he supposedly did for them doesn't seem to be legal work, just garden variety business consultant work. But I suppose you could probably hire a lawyer to clean your gutters or whatever and they can invoice you through their solo practice for it and technically you weren't given legal advice but you're a client.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:59 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** AZ-08 special: Mentioned earlier, Emerson poll has Dem Tipirneni up 46-45 on GOPer Lesko [MOE: +/- 5.2%]. Pretty much everyone is super skeptical of this, though - it's a Trump +19 district, and the early vote so far has been considerably GOP on balance. Election is next week.

** 2018 House:
-- Monmouth poll in New Jersey has some eye-popping numbers. Dems lead on the generic ballot 54-35. However, in GOP-held districts, Rs are up 46-44. That's really bad - the average lead in 2014 and 2016 was R 60-38. NJ experts are saying Dems could pick up at least three, maybe as many as all five of the GOP seats.

-- 1Q fundraising numbers are coming in, and National Journal finds at least 40 GOP incumbents outraised by one or more Dem challengers.

-- WI-01: Lots of possible GOP candidates have passed on the Paul Ryan seat, looks like it is coalescing around UW Regent Bryan Steil, whom I confess I don't know much about, other than he is buddies with Ryan.
** Odds & ends -- NBC/WSJ poll finds the GOP tax law is pretty unpopular - only 27% think it was a good idea.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:06 PM on April 16 [39 favorites]


"[Comey] was asked tonight why if he thought AG Lynch was compromised he didn't just go to her deputy, Sally Yates. Yates has an impeccable reputation.

This wasn't just another option, this was the obvious next step if you are trying to act without bias and within Department protocols. He couldn't answer the question."

Gee, what might Loretta Lynch and Sally Yates have in common?

This guy is the worst.
posted by JackFlash at 7:09 PM on April 16 [92 favorites]


Carter Page is on Laura Ingraham. I repeat, Carter Page on Laura Ingraham.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:21 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


This is a crucial moment for Democrats. They need to get R’s on the record NOW, defending Trump or standing up to him. Russia, Mueller protection, applying conflict of interest to President, anti-gerrymandering, etc.

Trump will implode soon enough, and none of the cowards supporting him now can be allowed to weasel out of their guilt after the fall.

Also, draw up a 10 point Fairness package and make it the national issue in this fall’s election. Make sure state’s rights on marijuana is in there, too.
posted by msalt at 7:24 PM on April 16 [38 favorites]


Ken Popehat White, Lawsplainer: Michael Cohen's Attempt To Delay The Stormy Daniels Litigation. That's not today's hearing, but about the California case and Cohen's attempt to enforce the arbitration agreement except he also maybe wants to take the fifth now. Anyway, it's a lot of drama and it's all explained here.

Politico, Jennifer Haberkorn, Abortion foes seize on chance to overturn Roe, in which the right is arguing over how quickly to try to ban abortion entirely or find out how close to that line they can get. Related infuriating awfulness from the Texas Observer: Indoctrinated, in which a huge Catholic hospital system in the Austin area forces patients who miscarry to consent to fetal burials, which take place in a Catholic cemetery with Catholic iconography, and they provide the parent's name to the cemetery even if it's against their wishes.

Wired, The White House Loses Its Cybersecurity Brain Trust, in which everyone who seems to know anything about the topic keeps fleeing the White House, but that's ok because it's not like hacking is at all a matter of national interest or something we should have any leadership from the White House on.

FastCo, Glenn Fleishman, Thousands Of Advertisers Shun Breitbart, But Amazon Remains. Where Amazon continues to allow Breitbart as an affiliate, and continues to refuse to comment. Google's Adsense and Facebook's Audience Network still serve ads on the site as well.

WaPo, How Congress’s and Trump’s latest deficit binge paved the way for the next one: "By 2022, the U.S. government is projected to spend almost as much money on interest payments for its massive debt as it will on the Pentagon, more than $600 billion every year."

I also want to call attention to the Times Mag story Dan Scavino, the Secretary of Offense, which mumimor posted this morning but it got lost in all of today's madness. There's a lot in here worth reading, but I want to highlight this paragraph on the ways Scavino brings alt-right figures into the White House:
More than anyone else in the White House, the director of social media spends his day online, monitoring the #MAGA congregation. “Dan talks to the base more than anybody else after the president,” one senior White House official told me. “He’s the conductor of the Trump Train, and these people know he’s true blue, and he also knows all the influencers.” A year ago, the former chief strategist Steve Bannon shared a West Wing office with Scavino. “He has his hands on the Pepes,” Bannon recalls, referring to the cartoon frog that serves as mascot to the alt-right. “He knew who the players were and who were not. He’d bring me Cernovich — I didn’t know who Cernovich was until Scavino told me.” Bannon was referring to the alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich, who has frequently promoted debunked and scurrilous conspiracy theories.
posted by zachlipton at 8:12 PM on April 16 [38 favorites]


Regarding the sanctions update, as it's been a long process and the occasional updates often get lost in the news overload, here is where we're at:
  • July 2017 - Congress passes the CAATSA almost unanimously (419-3 in the House, 98-2 in the Senate)
  • August, 2017 - Trump signs the bill, but calls it "seriously flawed" and "clearly unconstitutional."
  • October, 2017 - Congress calls out the State Dept for ignoring their deadline for providing a list of names to sanction.
  • January, 2018 - Treasury Dept squeaks in before their 180-day deadline for a report to identify sanction targets. 210 names were given including Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs. The administration made it clear that no sanctions were actually being implemented yet, and moreover considered them unneccessary.
  • March, 2018 - Sanctions finally implemented, but only against 19 individuals, 13 of whom were already indicted by the Mueller probe in connection with the Internet Research Agency. State officials promised there would be more sanctions coming.
  • April, 2018 - Nikki Haley recently promised a new round of sanctions were imminent before today's news that Trump won't allow the sanctions as he's "not yet comfortable executing them."
posted by p3t3 at 8:28 PM on April 16 [43 favorites]




Here's "Sean Hannity setting the record straight about Michael Cohen" if you really want to put yourself through that. Leni Riefenstahl it ain't.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:39 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Best reply to the tweet about Avenatti's prediction:

If it's what you say I love it, especially later in the summer.
posted by medusa at 8:53 PM on April 16 [110 favorites]


Can I just say that I think Steven Bannon is lying when he says he didn't know who Cernovich was before Scavino told him? Considering GamerGate was largely Breitbart's brainchild, it doesn't pass the smell test.
posted by Yowser at 9:17 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


"Subtle reminder that Sean Hannity made 36 million last year. He's the highest paid cable news personality in the entire world.

He can afford any attorney he wants.

He chose the same fixer as Donald Trump for a reason."
posted by vverse23 at 10:47 PM on April 16 [97 favorites]


Dr. Emma Briant conducted a series of interviews about Brexit and SCL (Cambridge Analytica's parent), which were taken into evidence by Parliament and published. The segment that's receiving a lot of attention is this one with Nigel Oakes, founded and CEO of SCL (Cambridge Analytica's parent company), in which he compares Trump's campaign strategy to Hitler's (audio clip):
Emma Briant: It didn’t matter with the rest of what he’s [Donald Trump] saying, it didn’t matter if he is alienating all of the liberal women, actually, and I think he was never going to get them anyway.
Nigel Oakes: That’s right
Emma Briant: You’ve got to think about what would resonate with as many as possible.
Nigel Oakes: And often, as you rightly say, it’s the things that resonate, sometimes to attack the other group and know that you are going to lose them is going to reinforce and resonate your group. Which is why, you know, Hitler, got to be very careful about saying so, must never probably say this, off the record, but of course Hitler attacked the Jews, because... He didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all, but the people didn’t like the Jews. So if the people... He could just use them to say... So he just leverage an artificial enemy. Well that’s exactly what Trump did. He leveraged a Muslim-I mean, you know, it’s-It was a real enemy. ISIS is a real, but how big a threat is ISIS really to America? Really, I mean, we are still talking about 9/11, well 9/11 is a long time ago.
posted by zachlipton at 10:51 PM on April 16 [34 favorites]


but of course Hitler attacked the Jews, because... He didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all, but the people didn’t like the Jews.

Apologies if this is a derail, but isn't that utter nonsense? My impression from Shirer's book, at least, was that Hitler was a true believer, that from the time of his first forays into German politics he had already acquired a bone-deep and monomaniacally ferocious hatred of Jews. And, you know, the fact that he concluded his suicide note with one last antisemitic harangue. Motherfucker didn't really have much to gain by keeping up appearances at that point.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 2:36 AM on April 17 [64 favorites]


Apologies if this is a derail, but isn't that utter nonsense?

Yes, it's at the very least a bizarrely misconstrued understanding of history. Whether it's motivated by anything darker, I don't think we know enough about Mr Oakes to tell. But, yeah, completely and demonstrably false.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:07 AM on April 17 [9 favorites]


My rant about Hannity/Cohen demonstrating that the entire network is corrupt as hell seems to have been the final straw.

This morning, my guy changed channels from Fox and Friends to Good Morning America.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:35 AM on April 17 [128 favorites]


He (Hannity) can afford any attorney he wants.

He chose the same fixer as Donald Trump for a reason."

posted by vverse23 5 ¾ hours ago [24 favorites +] [!]


That twitter link, the second sentence doesn't expand on what that reason might be, frustratingly, but there is a very revealing link to a Rolling Stone article that seems to have slipped through the net here but is well worth the read.

Tl/dr: Cohen's uncle owned a hang out for Russia Mafiya types _and_ Cohen and his immediate family have poured a good 20million or so into various Trump properties. After reading the article it seems pretty obvious why Mueller would fixate on him - his ties to Russians of arguably criminal background and extensive .
posted by From Bklyn at 4:39 AM on April 17 [35 favorites]


That twitter link, the second sentence doesn't expand on what that reason might be, frustratingly, but there is a very revealing link to a Rolling Stone article that seems to have slipped through the net here but is well worth the read.
That article has several gems, like this:
In an observation that several people I spoke with echoed, Kenneth McCallion, a former prosecutor who tracked the flows of Russian criminal money into Trump's properties, told me, "Trump's genius – or evil genius – was, instead of Russian criminal money being passive, incidental income, it became a central part of his business plan." McCallion continued, "It's not called 'Little Moscow' for nothing. The street signs are in Russian. But his towers there were built specifically for the Russian middle-class criminal."
And I think we've seen this before, but it is worth putting back front of mind:
What Cohen called his old friend's "colorful language" attracted attention from congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office: "Michael I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin," Sater emailed Cohen in November 2015. "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this."
It's really amazing what they have gotten away with, for ages. Not so strange they thought they could keep going with Trump as president.
posted by mumimor at 6:10 AM on April 17 [60 favorites]


Lest there be any doubt that the Trumpists doesn't know exactly who Michael Cohen is and the threat his investigation poses to his boss, Axios has posted this assessment from one of its many anonymous sources ("a former Trump campaign official", which might as well be code for "Steve Bannon" at this point):

"The guys that know Trump best are the most worried. People are very, very worried. Because it’s Michael fucking Cohen. Who knows what he’s done? [...] People at the Trump Organization don’t even really know everything he does. It’s all side deals and off-the-books stuff. Trump doesn’t even fully know; he knows some but not everything. [...] Cohen thinks he’s Ray Donovan [the Showtime series starring a fixer for Hollywood's elite]. Did you see the photos of him sitting outside on the street with his buddies smoking cigars? Makes it look like a Brooklyn social club."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:26 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]




ocschwar Photos indicate that Russia's missile defense in ineffectual.

I'm in favor of LOL Putin as much as the next person, but all missile defense is pretty ineffectual. Turns out that shooting down a missile is really damn hard because missiles are small and move at high speed.

The actual success rate of any missile defense system is classified, but it's fairly well known that that the US Patriot missile defense system is not so great. During Bush the Elder's attack on Iraq the Iraqi Scud missiles got through the Patriot defense on several occasions, and the Scud has no jamming or other system to help it defeat anti-missile defenses.

More recently there was social media video released of the Patriot system the US had sold Saudi Arabia failing spectacularly during the March 25 attack on Riyadh. As near as can be told by examining publicly available data none of the incoming missiles were stopped by the Patriot system and at least one Patriot missile suffered catastrophic guidance failure, reversed course, and hit an area near its launch point.

This is because shooting down a missile with another missile is hard, even when the incoming missile isn't trying to spoof the defenses.

The Navy's Phalanx system tries to solve the problem by throwing a wall of bullets at the incoming missile and hoping a few hit and it too has a classified success rate. The US Navy likes to claim it's perfect, or at least close to it, others claim its total crap. Probably, like the Patriot system it has a moderately good success rate but is far from really great.

So I can't say i'm surprised that Russia's missile defense system is ineffectual. That's about par for the course. It might be **MORE** ineffectual than the American systems, but we can't really say because the actual tested success rates are classified and, of course, I'd be a bit iffy about the honesty of the tests even if they weren't classified.
posted by sotonohito at 6:33 AM on April 17 [26 favorites]


I think the phalanx CIWS is largely being replaced by a missile system now, which makes me a little sad as someone who is perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about gatling gun robots.

I have a suspicion that being mounted on the incoming missile’s target in the middle of a very large very flat surface (the ocean) helps a bit.
posted by Artw at 6:43 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


North and South Korea expected to announce an end to their (technically still ongoing) war. (SLCNBC, byline is Sam Meredith.)

Good? Good. Good?

The entire situation is so complicated and I am so admittedly igorant of the politics and history of the region that I feel like I have to hedge, but...good? Less threat of imminent death for like 30 million people in Seoul seems like it’s pretty much gonna outweigh any other possible complication that comes with this, so. Yes. Hopefully that’s what this is.

And all it took was the United States turning into such an angry, drunk toddler that we became, in effect, a nonentity and got the fuck out of the way. Am I reading that right?
posted by schadenfrau at 6:51 AM on April 17 [28 favorites]


This morning, my guy changed channels from Fox and Friends to Good Morning America.

Imagining this same event repeated in several other homes across the country has sincerely given me more hope than I've had in quite some time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 AM on April 17 [56 favorites]




This may be the dumbest question ever, but what does "SL" in front of the source mean? It's not in the thread reference, but I see it all over.

At one time I briefly harbored the belief that people here were linking to a renegade publication called the St. Louis Atlantic, but I feel confident in saying there is no St. Louis CNBC or St. Louis New York Times....
posted by shenderson at 6:58 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]




Big ups to the Washington Post for going with the headline: "Hannity Insanity"
posted by Twain Device at 7:01 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


This morning, my guy changed channels from Fox and Friends to Good Morning America.

Imagining this same event repeated in several other homes across the country has sincerely given me more hope than I've had in quite some time.


Same here! I hold Fox responsible for much of the mess this country is in. I've said before they are basically a cult that especially brainwashes older people who still get their news from TV and radio. In The Brainwashing of my Dad, Jen Senko relates how her father turned from a middle-of-the-road guy into a perpetually angry right-winger because he started listening to right-wing talk radio when there was nothing else to listen to on a long commute. I like to think that more tech-savvy folks who have access to podcasts will listen to them instead - but there are still parts of the country where both local news and broadband are hard to come by.

But if Fox - or at least its worst hatemongers like Hannity - starts losing viewers, ratings, and influence, there will be CAKE FOR DAYS at Chez Banks. Cake for breakfast, cake for lunch, cake for dinner. And champagne. Maybe CNN isn't the greatest, but at least it's not hate-filled, and if we can peel off voters by simply weaning them off Fox, it's a victory.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:02 AM on April 17 [51 favorites]


I'm in favor of LOL Putin as much as the next person, but all missile defense is pretty ineffectual. Turns out that shooting down a missile is really damn hard because missiles are small and move at high speed.

What's important is that now that it's more public, if Putin invites any other nation with "come troll with us, we'll keep you covered", they're more likely to say LOL no.
posted by ocschwar at 7:03 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Interesting Wikipedia find: scroll down to "American-led intervention in Syria" to see Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE listed on both sides of the al-Qaeda/US-Allied conflict, Palpatine-style. Fun!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:26 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Justinian: we spent like $200million dollars to blow up 3 empty buildings

Just like last year, when Trump directed US forces to strike an airbase ... but warned Russia, who warned Syria. Except last year, there were some casualties, including children. That strike was on the morning of April 7, 2017, a year and a week before this year's bombing of Damascus and Homs.

If Trump is still president next year, this might be his April tradition: look tough for the cameras by blowing up (mostly) empty buildings, after a series of reported chemical weapons attacks in the months prior. And in a few days, Syria will be back to where it was before the bombings, more or less, making the bombing just a bit of expensive posturing.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Fresh from Rep. Charlie Dent, R.-Pa.: "After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks. .. It is my intention to continue to aggressively advocate for responsible governance and pragmatic solutions in the coming years."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:36 AM on April 17 [46 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS: Gorsuch... did a good thing!

CNN: The Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated a provision of federal law that requires the mandatory deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of some crimes, holding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

As expected after the oral argument, Justice Neil Gorsuch joined with the more liberal justices for the first time since joining the court to produce a 5-4 majority invalidating the federal statute.


Writers, stop!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:37 AM on April 17 [68 favorites]




And all it took was the United States turning into such an angry, drunk toddler that we became, in effect, a nonentity and got the fuck out of the way. Am I reading that right?

Well, and South Korean just went through two right wing hardline administrations that were plagued by scandals and impeachment, replaced by a liberal administration that openly advocated a peace process if not reunification. They changed approaches really dramatically. Insane Trump may have accidentally scared North Korea into coming to the table, but most of the credit probably goes to the South Koreans doing real diplomacy in America's absence of it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:44 AM on April 17 [68 favorites]


Writers, stop!

Don't worry, there's bad precedence being set by SCOTUS to balance this good: Supreme Court shields a police officer from being sued for shooting a woman in her front yard (David G. Savage for Los Angeles Times, April 02, 2018)
The Supreme Court on Monday shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, once again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force, even against an innocent person.

With two dissents, the high court tossed out a lawsuit by a Tucson woman who was shot four times outside her home because she was seen carrying a large knife.

The ruling — which comes at a time of growing controversy over police shootings nationwide — effectively advises courts to rely more heavily on the officer's view of such incidents, rather than the victim's.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This "decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public. It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later," Sotomayor wrote.
...
In an eight-page unsigned opinion in Kisela vs. Hughes, the justices did not rule on whether officer Andrew Kisela acted reasonably when he used potentially deadly force against Amy Hughes, who was standing in her driveway a few feet away from her friend and roommate, Sharon Chadwick. The police had been called after a neighbor reported seeing a woman acting strangely and carrying a large knife.

Rather than decide whether Kisela used excessive force, the court instead ruled he could not be sued because the victim could not cite a similar case involving a police shooting of a person holding a knife.

"Police officers are entitled to qualified immunity unless existing precedent squarely governs the specific facts at issue...This is far from an obvious case in which any competent officer would have known that shooting Hughes to protect Chadwick would violate the 4th Amendment" and its ban on unreasonable seizures, the court said Monday.

The decision reversed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had allowed the woman's lawsuit to go before a jury.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on April 17 [20 favorites]


Fresh from Rep. Charlie Dent, R.-Pa.: "After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks

In September Dent announced that he wouldn't seek reelection, so he moved the schedule up by almost a year. Dent had called on the party to force Trump off the presidential ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape. In the end, though, he has voted with Trump 92.9% of the time, 12.3% more than you'd expect based on Trump's margin of victory in Dent's district. So...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

"Police officers are entitled to qualified immunity unless existing precedent squarely governs the specific facts at issue...This is far from an obvious case in which any competent officer would have known that shooting Hughes to protect Chadwick would violate the 4th Amendment"

This is an absurd Catch-22. You can't win without a prior nearly-identical example, and there won't be any prior examples unless you win. Qualified immunity is a destructive moral hazard that should be abolished entirely.
posted by jedicus at 7:58 AM on April 17 [37 favorites]


A question on Dent and Pa.'s 15th CD: Can anybody here comment on likelihood of a special election? Does Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, get to name a replacement? What does the timeline look like (that is, is there a law/statute/rule about special elections having to take place within a certain window w/r/t an upcoming election? Is the timing of Dent's departure important as far as naming a replacement or holding a special election?)?
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:58 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This "decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public. It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later," Sotomayor wrote.

I do not see how the Conservatives concluded that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms doesn't include edged weapons on your own property.
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 AM on April 17 [41 favorites]


Representatives can’t be appointed. Article I: “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”

Not sure whether they will have a special election or just do it with the regular elections.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:04 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


schadenfrau (re: Korea): And all it took was the United States turning into such an angry, drunk toddler that we became, in effect, a nonentity and got the fuck out of the way.

Living in Japan, my impression from local news is sort of the same- but not so much that getting out of the way helped so much as it wouldn't have mattered what the US did anyways (ok, except for maybe dropping actual bombs) since South Korea is driving most of this.

The Atlantic had a story about President Moon last month, who has made this a main objective since taking office last year, and he seems much more driven on the issue than previous administrations.

It's a potentially promising first step, but their ultimate reunification goals will be WAY harder of course. Also, how long until 45 tries to take credit for this?
posted by p3t3 at 8:04 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]


I do not see how the Conservatives concluded that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms doesn't include edged weapons on your own property.

Because no one's getting filthy rich in the edged weapons arms trade.
posted by biogeo at 8:05 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


Edged weapons really are a weird case when it comes to citizenry carry. I've been a concealed weapons permit holder for most of the last 20 years but they're actually explicit to let you know that it doesn't extend to bladed weapons here in Virginia. Shove a giant 45 that holds ten rounds under my coat? Perfectly okay. A bowie knife? Nope, explicitly illegal. I suspect the combination of lack of lobby and police pants-wetting over knives explains most of it.
posted by phearlez at 8:10 AM on April 17 [25 favorites]


[One deleted. Enough on "why knives not guns".]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:19 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


If you are interested in missile defense and want to make fun of some very bad math (that's not how probability works!!), the old Arms Control Wonk episode about ballistic missile defense is a good one. This episode focuses mostly on ICBMs but I think the underlying problems are probably relevant to shorter range things too?
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 8:30 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Washington Post: Pruitt upgraded to a larger, customized SUV with bullet-resistant seat covers

How many bulletproofed items are we up to now? There's the bulletproof booth, the bulletproof desk, now this. Presumably his plan is to wriggle and squirm his way under the SUV seat covers when he sees someone who appears about to try and avenge his attempted murder of the planet? It seems like both too much self-awareness of the harm he's causing and also too much risk-taking if he genuinely believes the job is that dangerous.

Unless....

Guys I think Pruitt is a bulletproofing fetishist. I think the easy bulletproofing-grift is why he took the job. I think that if he were given a bulletproof house in the desert containing a nesting doll of bulletproof chambers he'd happily slither into its silent darkness and disappear from public life. We can do this, people.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:34 AM on April 17 [51 favorites]




Why Sexual-Harassment Legislation Stalled in the Senate - Michelle Cottle, The Atlantic
Unless reformers can figure out a way to get iron-fisted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to say “MeToo,” Congress may very well miss its reform moment.
...
McConnell had problems with a provision that would make individual members financially responsible for harassment and discrimination settlements against them. (Currently, members can use taxpayer dollars to handle such unpleasantness.) More specifically, McConnell was said to be more-or-less OK with putting members on the hook for harassment, but discrimination liability was too much for him to swallow. And so the omnibus left the station sans a reform package.
...
When asked about that sticking point, McConnell's sent out a statement that only talked about harassment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


The composite pic of the man who threatened Stormy Daniels Via @JuddLegum

Look, to be honest, I'm shocked it's not an immediately recognizable public figure.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:43 AM on April 17 [86 favorites]


More specifically, McConnell was said to be more-or-less OK with putting members on the hook for harassment, but discrimination liability was too much for him to swallow.

The party of personal responsibility, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Gelatin at 8:44 AM on April 17 [50 favorites]


At this point, given the demonstrated stupidity and arrogance of the Trump team, I figure its about 50/50 that the person was a random Trump cultist driven to an act of stochastic threats by a diet of hate radio slamming Daniels, or that it was someone actually hired by one of Trump's minions.

In a smarter administration I'd have assumed it was just a random person who took the bait that hate radio was holding out and decided that his "patriotism" required him to threaten the evil woman who was an inconvenience to Dear Leader. That's been the standard for US conservative violence for recent history. Don't hire people directly, just let hate radio do the targeting and count on that to produce a supremely deniable actor to do the actual violence.

But with Trump being both so supremely confident in his own invulnerability and so utterly incompetent I wouldn't be surprised if it came out that some Trump fixer had arranged for the threat themselves rather than trusting in FOX and the AM radio screamers to drive someone far right wing to it.
posted by sotonohito at 8:48 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I should be working, damn it. I'm up to around 85% accuracy now. I added tweet text length and a couple of more "advanced" features like hashtag and URL occurrence, because Trump can't Twitter.

Those and adding a few sentiment words--"weak", "sleazy", and "disaster"--to my existing list of Trump's all-time favorites seem to have gotten me an additional twelve to fifteen percentage points.

Why do I keep doing this?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:50 AM on April 17 [54 favorites]


At this point, given the demonstrated stupidity and arrogance of the Trump team, I figure its about 50/50 that the person was a random Trump cultist driven to an act of stochastic threats by a diet of hate radio slamming Daniels...

It happened in 2011.
posted by chris24 at 8:51 AM on April 17 [28 favorites]


But if Fox - or at least its worst hatemongers like Hannity - starts losing viewers, ratings, and influence, there will be CAKE

While Fox News still has the largest market share in cable news, their ratings have slid down 18% over last year and Maddow had higher ratings than Hannity in March. CNN is down 16% while MSNBC is up ~20%.
posted by gwint at 8:51 AM on April 17 [31 favorites]




re: korea

It's also a nice change of pace. The war that they're seeking to end? The negotiating parties in 1953 who had representatives were:

- Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
- People's Republic of China
- UN Command, but really, just the United States.

You may notice that there's one relatively important country that some would say was at least minimally involved in the war that wasn't given a seat at the table.

---

As far as the right-wing administrations, the corruption scandals aren't anything new, really; that's just typical of right-wing administrations (and South Korean ones, honestly...).

Ask A Korean, who's referenced in the immediately preceding thread, gives a good lay of the land w/r/t how the right-left divide actually breaks down in South Korean politics. Essentially, conservatives have hardline stances that don't really work, and liberals have doveish stances that don't really get anywhere because either conservatives get elected or hawks in the rest of the world throw spanners into the works.
posted by anem0ne at 9:16 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


And all it took was the United States turning into such an angry, drunk toddler that we became, in effect, a nonentity and got the fuck out of the way. Am I reading that right?

Called it! (twice, even)
posted by jackbishop at 9:17 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


MonkeyToes: "A question on Dent and Pa.'s 15th CD: Can anybody here comment on likelihood of a special election? Does Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, get to name a replacement? What does the timeline look like (that is, is there a law/statute/rule about special elections having to take place within a certain window w/r/t an upcoming election? Is the timing of Dent's departure important as far as naming a replacement or holding a special election?)?"

As Huffy Puffy mentioned, you can't appoint replacements for House members. You can leave a seat vacant for a period - imagine if a rep died in mid-October of an even-numbered year, it wouldn't make sense to try and cram an election in before the general. That period varies by state.

In PA's case, governor Wolf must set an election date within 10 days of the seat becoming vacant. Dent has said he'll step down in the coming weeks, so we'd probably know the date for sure in May. The election date must be at least 60 days out from the scheduling date. The suspicion is that Wolf will just schedule it to coincide with the general election in November.

In PA specials, a party cabal selects the candidate, so my guess is that the parties just choose as nominees for the special for the old PA-15 whomever ends up as the nominees for the new PA-07 (which is about a 70% overlap with old PA-15). They probably wouldn't get a lot of takers for someone to just be a rep for a couple of weeks.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:20 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


The 5-4 split in Dimaya is the result of Roberts, Kennedy and Thomas claiming that when they said that language defining a "crime of violence" was unconstitutionally vague in Johnson, a case punishing a white supremacist, they didn't mean to imply that extremely similar language in this case, which is about punishing immigrants, is also unconstitutionally vague. If it were, that would mean that immigrants might not be automatically deported. Here's a nice part of Kagan's Opinion of the Court:

In ACCA [The Johnson question], that threshold
was “serious potential risk”; in §16(b) [the Dimaya question], it is “substantial
risk.” See supra, at 2, 4. But the Government does not
argue that the latter formulation is any more determinate
than the former, and for good reason. As THE CHIEF
JUSTICE’s valiant attempt to do so shows, that would be
slicing the baloney mighty thin.

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:23 AM on April 17 [35 favorites]


Why do I keep doing this?

Because once you've sufficiently trained your discriminative model, you can use it to build a generative model, and then quietly when no one's looking replace Trump with that, thereby saving the Republic?
posted by biogeo at 9:24 AM on April 17 [57 favorites]


Salon: The fall of the “alt-right” came from anti-fascism

Argues against the usual narrative that far-right groups just naturally self destruct. Traces the collapse of Richard Spencer's college tours to organized anti-fascist movements.

Which makes sense - it's one thing to anonymously harass people or share dogma online, and a very different thing to actually go out and face real opposition.
posted by happyroach at 9:30 AM on April 17 [111 favorites]


As I've been saying over and over, alt-right's current decline is DIRECTLY related to the work of antifascist organizers. And by "work" I mean, tons of really fucking hard, dangerous, thankless work entirely in their spare time apart from the jobs they hold to actually survive.

I do keep saying this everytime it comes up, because I am going to be royally pissed if/when future centrist know-nothings are all "look, ignoring Nazis worked fine last time! they just dissolved all on their own! I was right!" cause wow that is so wildly incorrect. It was incorrect historically, and it's incorrect now. We all need to internalize this lesson and truly, deeply understand that antifascist organizing is everyone's responsibility.
posted by odinsdream at 9:35 AM on April 17 [189 favorites]


Does anyone have a supercut of Hannity freaking out about the Cohen investigation from before the news broke that he was a client now made all the more schadenfreude-y by that revelation? This popcorn ain't gonna eat itself.
posted by ckape at 9:47 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


Greitens Watch: Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he believes there’s enough evidence to bring a criminal charge and pursue impeachment of Gov. Eric Greitens for allegedly using a charity donor list for political purposes.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:51 AM on April 17 [34 favorites]


Any chance of Greitens being criminally charged after impeachment and conviction? If so, can he pardon himself first?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:53 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Missouri’s chaotic, contentious Senate race, explained - Ella Nilsen, Vox
Sen. Claire McCaskill is facing an extremely tough election in 2018.

The Missouri senator is considered the most embattled Democrat incumbent facing reelection in 2018; she’s near or at the top of nearly every list of toughest Senate races. A Democrat in an increasingly red state, McCaskill has survived the past two cycles in 2006 and 2012 with nothing short of political jiujitsu.

“It’s going to be a squeaker in my view,” said Adrianne Marsh, McCaskill’s campaign manager in 2012 and her communications director in 2006. “The dynamics, they’re tough.”

Missouri voted for Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016, and McCaskill needs to peel off some of those Trump voters to hang on to her Senate seat. Her challenger will likely be the state’s 38-year-old attorney general, Josh Hawley, the current frontrunner in the Republican primary. At the same time, McCaskill is struggling to hang on to her Democratic base, particularly black voters.

But Hawley also has a problem: Missouri’s scandal-ridden Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. ...
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:56 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Come on Hawley. Despite Greitens' blackmailing of the victim of his brutalization and sexual assault, it's the donor list, at this late date, that gives grounds for impeachment?!? I mean, sure, add on whatever else you find in the closet, but we all know this situation did not become a situation because of any donor list.

As someone raised and educated in Missouri--and long gone due to this pervasive level of shit--they're now going to have to Show-Me that they have and know the words me and too in Kansas City, in Jefferson City, in the Bootheel, in St. Louis, the Ozarks, Cape Girardeau, Kirksville. A lot of other words too.
posted by riverlife at 10:12 AM on April 17 [21 favorites]


Does anyone have a supercut of Hannity freaking out about the Cohen investigation...

There's this supercut of Hannity defending Cohen after the raid from Mother Jones including a lol-worthy Gorka cameo.
posted by peeedro at 10:18 AM on April 17 [15 favorites]




Here's another cut of Hannity freaking out from The Daily Show. The cut itself starts at 2:00 but Noah's lead-up from the beginning is fun to watch.
posted by mochapickle at 10:26 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


I'm about 80% sure that composite sketch is Scaramucci.
posted by hanov3r at 10:29 AM on April 17 [16 favorites]


I just realized, that time when Comey got an Instagram and posted that vagueblog bible quote about justice was probably precisely the point when his book deal was finalized and he got a publicist. I don't know if there's any significance to that. Just puts that in context.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 10:44 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


Seriously, I'm shocked that we haven't gotten a tweet yet from Trump taking credit for "ending the Korean War" by forcing Little Rocket Man to back down with his tough talk. Seems like something his base would uncritically eat up.
posted by Rykey at 10:46 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


I was chuckling about Hannity's rants about the search warrant and raids on Michael Cohen, because it's such a blatant case of privileged whining, 'rich white people like us aren't supposed to get investigated like this!' Then it turns out Hannity was one of Cohen's three clients. Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee! What turns up in the seized documents is probably going to be fun.
posted by nangar at 10:56 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


As I've been saying over and over, alt-right's current decline is DIRECTLY related to the work of antifascist organizers. And by "work" I mean, tons of really fucking hard, dangerous, thankless work entirely in their spare time apart from the jobs they hold to actually survive.

I think we often fall into the trap of thinking that because the alt-right is largely made up of online trolls, it must mean that they somehow feed on people pushing back at them. While this may be true on the internet, where they are protected by anonymity and the illusion of being part of a vast army of Extreme Bad-Asses, in real life they are mostly sad, insecure, maladjusted little men for whom fears of social interaction and physical confrontation are the driving motivators of both their outward prejudices and their internal self-loathing.

And while the egotistic leaders of their movement (Richard Spencer, Milo, etc.) might be energized by fomenting protest and being shouted down by an angry crowd, the mass majority of the rank-and-file are so terrified of being outnumbered and drawn into a fight that they are easily cowed by strong opposition, even of the non-violent variety.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:57 AM on April 17 [22 favorites]


rc3spencer: Comey on Fresh Air now.

Is Comey Risking Anything By Speaking Out About Trump Administration? (NPR, April 16, 2018)
AILSA CHANG, HOST: ... Comey has a lot more interviews lined up this week, including with NPR. Comey is also a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. So I wondered, what risks does Comey face by speaking out so publicly before the probe is over? We're going to put that question to someone who knows this sensitive territory all too well. John Dean was White House counsel for Richard Nixon, and his testimony at the Watergate hearings helped bring down the Nixon administration. But he turned down book deals and media appearances until the investigation was over. John Dean, welcome to the program.

JOHN DEAN: Thank you.

CHANG: So why wait? When you were in Comey's position in 1973, why did you decide to wait until it was all over before telling your story?

DEAN: It wasn't that it wasn't tempting because I had offers dangled in front of me.

CHANG: I'm sure.

DEAN: That - as soon as I broke rank with the White House and left, there were offers. But I had long conversations with my criminal defense lawyer. And he said John - he said they're going to - inevitably, if you do a book, they're going to cross-examine you on everything in the book. They will - you'll, you know, book tour, make statements that may be slightly inconsistent, which they will make it seem greatly inconsistent. So he said, I'm just telling you you'd be smart not to do it. I thought that was good advice, and so I followed it. I didn't do a book. I didn't do interviews. I didn't do anything. In fact, I didn't even talk to the defense lawyers on the other side at my lawyer's advice.
...
CHANG: Do you see any upsides to having someone as integral to the investigation as Jim Comey beating the drum out there?

DEAN: I really don't.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Other than the fact his family will get some money for the book - it's the only upside I can see.
I think Dean lacks imagination, and possibly he's being quiet about his thoughts on the role Comey played in the 2016 election (or doesn't believe Comey played a significant role in getting Trump elected, intentionally or not). I think Comey is trying to set his own narrative, both through the book and through his book-related interviews. And there I agree with Dean that doing interviews is a bad idea. The book is a scripted thing, and one could write a book and ensure a certain story is told, complete with wordsmithing. And then you could stand back and let other people pick apart the book, with 3rd parties coming in to offer their perspective, but keeping yours intact. On the other hand, interviews open you up to "mis-statements" that could get you in trouble.

In short, Comey's book and book tour looks like a cash-grab and desire for attention, to re-cast himself as an uwitting pawn, not an intentional actor in getting Trump elected. Which is dumb, but seems in line with his dumb actions before the election, which did make him look like he was trying to smear Hillary, which would then result in Trump winning the election.

Yeah, so it's probably sexism.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:03 AM on April 17 [35 favorites]


The big difference with John Dean of course is that everyone knew he had committed crimes. Comey violated DOJ policy but it’s very unlikely he did anything illegal. So any inconsistencies will only affect his value as a witness, not put him in jail. And he’s getting rich.
posted by msalt at 11:08 AM on April 17 [13 favorites]


the rank-and-file are so terrified of being outnumbered and drawn into a fight that they are easily cowed by strong opposition, even of the non-violent variety.

Yes, that’s why the alt-right hiding within the necrotic folds of /pol/ make heroes of violent sociopaths like based stickman.
posted by valkane at 11:09 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah, so it's probably sexism.
Agreed. And Gross takes him to task on air a couple times. Pointing out to him that the uncomfortableness he felt interacting with transactional Trump is how women feel ALL THE TIME.
Also playing for him Clinton's interview comments on him, asking why broadcasting the sudden Weiner laptop investigation is fair when NOT broadcasting the ongoing(as of July 2016) Russia/Trump investigation.
posted by rc3spencer at 11:10 AM on April 17 [28 favorites]




It has now been 0 days since an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
posted by jaduncan at 11:26 AM on April 17 [57 favorites]


In PA, the Governor sets a special election, which is what Wolf has done. No date yet, but my guess is late June.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:28 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Well Eric Greitens has made a statement.

Good lord, why can't these idiots use Tom Steyer as their moneyed boogeyman rather than Soros? At least update your propaganda, people.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 AM on April 17 [17 favorites]


You mean a special election date in late June? I think that's very unlikely. Wolf has ten days from whenever Dent actually resigns, which is supposedly a couple of weeks from now. But even if he resigned today, and Wolf set a date today, the election itself has to be at least 60 days out.

From all indication, there's little appetite for the additional expense of a separate special, particularly given the district will be going away with the seating of the new Congress.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:33 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Oh, I assumed Dent was gone already, but yeah, 60 days from whenever
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:39 AM on April 17


Because once you've sufficiently trained your discriminative model, you can use it to build a generative model, and then quietly when no one's looking replace Trump with that, thereby saving the Republic?

I'm envisioning a cyberpunk Man in the Iron Silicon Mask where Trump is replaced by an android while his consciousness is trapped forever in a phone without a SIM card.
posted by Behemoth at 11:42 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]


And while the egotistic leaders of their movement (Richard Spencer, Milo, etc.) might be energized by fomenting protest and being shouted down by an angry crowd

Okay see. Even this is wrong, though. Richard himself canceled his college tour when it was drawing antifascist organizers to actually protest it in all available forms (e.g., letting the hosting organizations know about who he was, engaging local community in vocal activities against it, showing up in person, showing up online, etc.). None of these Nazis are in it "for the protests". They actually hate them, because it makes it more expensive and more risky to speak anywhere. They don't like angry crowds, as evidenced by their canceling events where such crowds are guaranteed.

What doesn't work: ignoring nazis
What does work: no-platforming, showing up, documenting their behaviour, and outing them at every opportunity as exactly what they publicly are
posted by odinsdream at 11:42 AM on April 17 [103 favorites]


@GeoffRBennett: NEWS: Why did Trump block additional Russia sanctions after Nikki Haley announced them? Larry Kudlow -- Trump's top economic adviser -- says Haley's "momentary confusion" is to blame. Adds "Steve Mnuchin in Treasury will tell you the same thing. They're in charge of that."

Most administrations go to great lengths to avoid identifying their policymaking process on one of the most important issues of our time as 'confusion,' but here it's just what you say to avoid the question of whether the President is compromised. Between this and the Haley/Pence advisor situation, it's open war with Haley.
posted by zachlipton at 11:51 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


And honestly, the only reason the Nazis are as much of a factor as they are, is they have free platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and the Chans. They only thrive where they're allowed to do so.
posted by happyroach at 11:54 AM on April 17 [47 favorites]


I have a wild theory about Comey. Announcing the reopening of the investigation into her email server was supposed to be his way of positioning himself as her chief critic in her new administration. He may have even been thinking he would essentially lead the legitimate Republican opposition to her presidency, once that other guy was consigned back to Twitter. His eventual book on leadership would have featured Hillary as the counterpoint to the first two examples of ethical presidential behavior. He'd try to paint himself as a moderate Republican, uniter of the country that Hillary had torn apart, when he ran against her in 2020.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:55 AM on April 17 [19 favorites]


A leader in the anti-abortion movement who writes for the Dallas Morning-News has become a white nationalist since Trump's election
Hatten wrote in late 2016 that she found Trump to be so “creepy, gross and tacky” and such a “repugnant chauvinist” during his campaign that she quit the internet for a while to avoid reading about him. But after he won, something changed. Hatten began sharing white supremacist content on social media. She self-identified on Twitter as alt-right and “ethnonationalist” ― the same term used by white nationalist icon Richard Spencer. She mused on Facebook that immigrant “invaders” are replacing white Europeans in their own countries, and shared a post imploring Trump to grant “asylum” to white South Africans.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:03 PM on April 17 [28 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS: Gorsuch... did a good thing!

He's also not terrible at hiring diverse law clerks.
posted by zakur at 12:03 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


ClickHole which is apparently now a Kinja joint: Step Right Up And Feast Your Eyes On The Unfathomable Comey, The Man Who Is Both Good And Bad! The Beautiful Monster Who Makes Resisters’ Minds Spin! Betrayer Of Hillary! Enemy Of Trump! Behold This Freak Of Nature!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:08 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


Larry Kudlow -- Trump's top economic adviser -- says Haley's "momentary confusion" is to blame

Talk about misogyny. "Nikki honey, don't worry your pretty little addled head about this. Let the men straighten this out."
posted by duoshao at 12:10 PM on April 17 [24 favorites]


Kristen Walker Hatten says the quiet part loud. The One True Sin.
posted by Yowser at 12:10 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


That article on the Hatten person is worth reading if only to learn about the connections between "pro-life" people and the white nationalism that might not be known to people outside those groups.
posted by emjaybee at 12:15 PM on April 17 [14 favorites]


re: Hatten.
It's not really that far from anti-women's choice to racist. Both want to control all 'others', whether women or non-'whites'.
posted by rc3spencer at 12:16 PM on April 17 [17 favorites]


I never thought about the anti-abortion / fourteen words overlap, but ... yeah.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:18 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS: Gorsuch... did a good thing!

Don't get caught up looking at the lone tree of a pro-immigrant decision in your face, and miss the expanding forest of insanely right-wing judicial doctrine that would wipe out literally the entire modern federal regulatory state: Neil Gorsuch voted with the liberal justices, but his opinion should chill you to the bone
Gorsuch’s opinion in Dimaya, in other words, should not give even a moment of comfort to liberals. If anything, it should chill anyone who believes that a modern society must have robust labor and environmental regulation. Mr. Gorsuch does not outright endorse Thomas’ view of agency regulation, but Gorsuch’s opinion in Dimaya is another data point suggesting that he and Thomas have similar views on this subject. Gorsuch just chose to express his broader anti-regulatory view in a decision involving an immigrant.
...
But Gorsuch’s decision to vote with the liberals in Dimaya should not be read as a sign that he is more moderate than the consensus view suggested when Gorsuch was nominated for his current job. Indeed, if anything, Gorsuch’s opinion in Dimaya suggests that he is quite conservative indeed. He’s just willing to sweep a handful of immigrants and criminal defendants within a broader framework designed to hobble government.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:20 PM on April 17 [25 favorites]


>>Yes, that’s why the alt-right hiding within the necrotic folds of /pol/ make heroes of violent sociopaths like based stickman.

Ditto Mike Cernovich, the steroidal weight-lifter alpha-male. It's a bunch of vicious losers waiting for macho messiah to arrive and save them, which is why the cuckhold fetish is the most distinctive part of their ideology. They want a strong white cuckholder to save them from the scary black cuckholders they think are emasculating them now. Race is a huge part of the cuckhold fetish.

>None of these Nazis are in it "for the protests". They actually hate them, because it makes it more expensive and more risky to speak anywhere.

Don't get too comfortable. There are definitely vicious, street-brawling neo-Nazis eager to fight, as Charlottesville demonstrated. Michael Tubbs of the League of the South, for example, an ex-GI convicted of stealing M-16s from the Army and building a massive arsenal of explosives and weapons for a race war -- since released, he led much of the street fighting in Charlottesville.

Or Matt Heimbach, who was leader of the mysteriously-well-funded Traditionalist Workers Party and led many street brawls until his recent arrest for wife-beating in an incident where he was caught literally cuckholding his father-in-law and co-TWP leader Matt Parrott.
posted by msalt at 12:24 PM on April 17 [16 favorites]


[Borodin] had also investigated political scandals, including allegations made by a Belarusian escort known as Nastya Rybka in a video posted by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Meanwhile, Nastya Rybka, a.k.a. Anastasia Vashukevich, briefly appeared at a closed legal hearing yesterday: Sex Worker Who Claims Dirt on Russian Oligarch Appears in Court (CBS):
A Russian sex guru and his followers, one of whom claims to have evidence of Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, emerged briefly on Tuesday for a Thai court hearing after being held virtually incommunicado in an immigration jail. The group's leader, Alexander Kirillov, and the woman making the election claims, Anastasia Vashukevich, were among about half a dozen people taken to a court in the resort town of Pattaya, where they were arrested Feb. 25 while holding a sex training course.

The two were able to briefly shout back answers to reporters' questions as they arrived Tuesday at the court in Pattaya.

"Asked what he wished to tell the U.S., Kirillov responded in English: "Help us. Help us any way because we don't know what is happening."
Their earlier claims to fear for their personal safety hardly seem paranoid in the context of Putin's penchant for assassination.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:25 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


the connections between "pro-life" people and white nationalism

I'm surprised that more people aren't aware of the fundamentally white supremacist background of anti-abortion campaigning? That was one of the big arguments used back in the 1870's, in the first wave of anti-abortion hysteria; that "inferior" immigrants would outbreed the sturdy Anglo-Saxon colonial stock. The same thing is very much an undercurrent of anti-abortionism in the US today (if anything moreso, considering the demographic shifts of the past 40-odd years).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 12:29 PM on April 17 [33 favorites]


That article on the Hatten person is worth reading ... because it is fucking nuts! She is or inhabits a nexus of misogyny, the alt-right, confused thinking, racism, and casual violence. Holy cow!
posted by Horkus at 12:30 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


Don't get too comfortable. There are definitely vicious, street-brawling neo-Nazis eager to fight

Oh, absolutely. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I just disagree with the "protesting nazis is falling into the trap! nazis *want* you to protest! you should ignore them instead!" thing.
posted by odinsdream at 12:31 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


I have a wild theory about Comey. Announcing the reopening of the investigation into her email server was supposed to be his way of positioning himself as her chief critic in her new administration ... He'd try to paint himself as a moderate Republican, uniter of the country that Hillary had torn apart, when he ran against her in 2020.

On the most recent episode of Pod Save America, the hosts discuss something similar to this idea, but they frame it more as a character flaw and do not ascribe any explicit political intent. Essentially they say that Comey seems to confuse the appearance of ethical behavior with ethical behavior itself. Acting under the belief that Clinton would win the election, this was what looked like ethical behavior to him.

To add my own thoughts to that interpretation: I suppose it's possible that Comey was so intent on trying to remove personal motivations from decision-making that he failed to ask himself, "What is the ethical thing for me to do?" Instead he asked, "What does an ethical outcome look like?"

This is perhaps a charitable interpretation of Comey's actions based on my own tendency to ascribe benign motives. The most solid evidence I can point to is Comey's apparent reluctance to examine or re-evaluate (at least in public/on the record) his own actions during the 2016 campaign. But that can be read any number of ways depending on your point of view.
posted by compartment at 12:31 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]




Thing is, Comey had an ethical out, even under the false belief that he was somehow obligated to disclose the Clinton email investigation 10 days before the election.

He knew that the Trump / Russia connection was under FBI investigation, and he knew that there were incorrect media reports that such an investigation did not exist.

He could have written a letter simply "Correcting the facts regarding two major party candidates" which correctly stated that a) Anthony Weiner got emails from his wife so the FBI is reading them, and b) The FBI is investigating the connection between the Trump campaign and Russia, contrary to prior media reports.

That was the ethical thing to do. I'm not going to entertain backflips to recast his partisan attack as some moral principle.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:38 PM on April 17 [43 favorites]


Here's some fresh fuckery:

Politico: GOP maneuver could roll back decades of regulation

It's a novel (read: warped) use of the Congressional Review Act, which ordinarily allows Congress to overturn regulations within 60 "legislative days" of them being issued. That deadline officially starts running when the rule is formally "reported" to Congress or appears in the Federal Register. The Senate is now taking the view that if an agency neglects to file that report, and the rule doesn't have to appear in the Register, then the 60-day deadline never starts to run, and the CRA can be used to throw out, e.g., everything the CFPB has ever done, without a filibuster.

Koch-aligned anti-regulatory groups were pushing this interpretation back in the transition, but it got no traction at the time -- the CRA was only used within that 60-legislative-day window. Apparently Pat Toomey never gave up on the idea and has found enough support for a floor vote.

CRA resolutions are exempt from the filibuster but can be vetoed, so they only work when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. Until now, that plus the short deadline has meant it only gets used at presidential transitions, against recently issued rules. If this interpretation becomes the norm it would allow "claw-backs" of rules from decades ago. Not good.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:39 PM on April 17 [40 favorites]


Comey's reasoning for not disclosing the Trump investigation is that the Clinton investigation was part of a publicly known investigation, while the Trump investigation was not. Disclosing it publicly could have, according to him, hurt the investigation.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:40 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


He could have written a letter simply "Correcting the facts regarding two major party candidates" which correctly stated that a) Anthony Weiner got emails from his wife so the FBI is reading them

The best reason to never bring up Comey's name again is that it inevitably leads to seeing/hearing Anthony Weiner's name again.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:41 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Politico: Several House Republicans endorse bill to protect Mueller
Rep. Charlie Dent introduced a version of the bill on Friday, and on Monday, fellow Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick signed on as a cosponsor. On Tuesday morning, Rep. Ryan Costello — a third Pennsylvania Republican — endorsed the measure, according to an aide. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) signed on to an identical version of the bill that Democrats introduced last week.
...
Dent and Costello are both leaving Congress this term — in fact, Dent announced Tuesday he would resign his seat next month — and Jones has said this November will be his last election. Fitzpatrick is the only member of the early group of House Republican supporters who hasn't announced an intention to leave Congress.
Since that went to press earlier, a fifth Republican representative signed on:
Rep. ROS-LEHTINEN has become the 5th Republican to sign onto the bill protecting the Mueller investigation. She’s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Ros-Lehtinen announced last April that she would not be running for reëlection.
posted by cjelli at 12:42 PM on April 17 [19 favorites]


Any charitable reading of Comey's October actions is over shadowed by his grossly inappropriate partisan attacks in the July statement, which was inexcusable.

I don't understand why liberal podcast hosts and commentators keep treating Comey like he was acting in good faith. He wasn't. At best he broke every DOJ guideline because he couldn't control leaks from his own agency. At worst he actively wanted to sink Clinton's presidency, and instead ended up sinking her campaign before he got the chance to bring her down as President.

And either way he's now making millions pimping his historic fuckup and masquerading as the third way hero America needs.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:45 PM on April 17 [31 favorites]


I have a thing I need to vent about.

In the Stephenopoulos interview, Comey went to great lengths to defend having drafted the summer closure of the Clinton investigation, even before she testified. He explained thoroughly that the vast majority of the investigation had turned up nada, and their overwhelming expectation was that her testimony would be consistent with those findings, and so they drafted text already. When it turned out to be so, and she failed to be crooked in testimony, case closed. Fin.

But when The Laptop turned up backups later, that approach and logic flew the fuck out the window.

Comey explained that had Clinton been elected, it would have been a travesty to have re-opened an investigation before the election but said nothing, so of course he had to notify Congress. What he implied was: it would have been a failure to have re-opened an investigation that turned out to reveal criminal behavior without saying so. He let the public fill in the Crooked, jail her! part.

But he failed to address the other, and by HIS OWN STATED APPROACH, MUCH MORE LIKELY explanation. That the overwhelmingly likely outcome of the laptop would be consistent with all of the other evidence gathered thus far: nothingburger. Risotto recipes. Regular boring work email. Kind social gestures. Let's fill in the end of the sentence again: it would have been a failure? to re-open an investigation that ... turned up nothing?

It's that internal inconsistency that kills me. They knew very well from terabytes of evidence, by the time Clinton testified about Her Emails, that it was all a nothingburger. That likelihood of prior expectations cannot have changed with the laptop. They knew the laptop was overwhelmingly likely to be nothing new or inconsistent with so many terabytes of evidence already in hand. They could see, at least on first glance, that it really was nothing.

But Comey abandoned the coolheaded guided-by-the-evidence approach, in favor of drama before the election. That's where the Fake News thing really started, for me. I get that the President* just flat out makes shit up and hope it's true. But the FBI .... made shit up and hoped it would be supported by evidence later, when they damn well knew it was extremely unlikely.

And that's leaving the utter neglect of the Trump investigation -- which, in contrast, had to have terabytes of this looks baaaaaad, they already had the Steele dossier, alone.
posted by Dashy at 12:49 PM on April 17 [54 favorites]


Several House Republicans endorse bill to protect Mueller

Oh, that would be a source of some extra-delicious schadenfreude, if enough Republicans who're on their way out the door because they know they're fucked in November sign onto a bill to protect Mueller from being fired in the interim.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 12:53 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Why American Pragmatists Saved Postwar Europe is a NYTimes book review by history professor Timothy Naftali. More importantly, the book that I now want to read, is by Benn Steil, and about the Marshall Plan, maybe the most successful US foreign policy strategy ever.
Behind this American pragmatism — which would ultimately translate into $14.3 billion of assistance between 1948 and 1952 (approximately $130 billion in 2017) — was neither philanthropy nor dreams of hegemony. Secretary of State George Marshall and the powerful thinkers at the department of that era — Will Clayton, George Kennan and Charles “Chip” Bohlen in addition to Acheson — were looking for a way to stabilize the continent without long-term American economic and security commitments. Although anticommunism and the Keynesian approach to capitalism animated the effort, the Marshall Plan was nonetheless not some clever attempt to sell American surpluses to broken economies. As Steil notes, to help Western Europeans get back on their feet the Truman administration “orchestrated a shift in policy at home away from protectionism and toward encouragement of imports.”

The Marshall Plan was successful, though, as Steil, the senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, demonstrates, American intervention in postwar Europe did not quite work out as expected. While the Marshall Plan helped restart Europe’s economy, it did not provide a glide path for the United States to avoid a long-term security entanglement.
Convincing voters that foreign aid and international cooperation will lead to good outcomes for the nation and its population is really hard. But it is worth it in the long run. The Marshall Plan is not the only example — the German reunification after 1989 is another, though many wouldn't see it as such, and the EU expansion shortly after that was too. The latter examples aren't all rosy, but neither was post-war Europe. Baader-Meinhof, anyone?
I don't imagine a scholarly work will convince the current US administration or anyone else. But I'll read it and use it to remind my students and children of that effort of the Great Generation.
posted by mumimor at 12:54 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


That was the ethical thing to do. I'm not going to entertain backflips to recast his partisan attack as some moral principle.

I suppose I could have worded my comment more clearly. That's not what I was trying to do and not what I was trying to describe. I think it's an obvious moral failure if Comey was more concerned about the appearance of ethics than with actual ethics.
posted by compartment at 1:07 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


NBC News: Trump campaign paid Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller's lawyers
Donald Trump's campaign paid more than $66,000 to the law firm that represents Keith Schiller, his former longtime bodyguard, newly filed campaign records show.

Schiller, who left a White House job in September, testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November that someone made an offer to send five women to Trump's hotel room in Moscow in the lead-up to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant...It is presumed by congressional investigators that Schiller told the same story to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Stuart Sears, a lawyer for Schiller, said he could not comment on whether the Trump campaign's payment was related to Schiller's legal fees.

Federal election law allows the use of campaign money for legal fees, but only if the fees are related to a matter connected to the campaign, legal experts say.
...
The Schiller situation could be [illegal], given that Schiller has been questioned about matters that occurred in 2013, well before Trump declared his candidacy...That said, investigators likely also asked Schiller about matters that arose during the campaign.

The campaign made a single payment of nearly $66,000 to Schiller's lawyers, Schertler & Onorato LLP, in January, records newly filed with the Federal Election Commission show.
posted by cjelli at 1:07 PM on April 17 [35 favorites]


the connections between "pro-life" people and white nationalism

I'm sure a lot of this runs through Evangelical Christianity and good-ol'-fashioned American authoritarianism.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:08 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


It's that internal inconsistency that kills me. They knew very well from terabytes of evidence, by the time Clinton testified about Her Emails, that it was all a nothingburger.

That's not quite correct. The laptop contained emails from the very beginning of the private-server setup (and just before), which could have spoken to her intent in setting it all up and the extent to which she was aware that this setup was improper. Up until then, they thought she had acted sloppily, but not maliciously; if they had uncovered emails from that early period that betrayed a more malign intent (or a more serious disclosure of classified information) that would have changed the case. From the interview:
"...And something much more important than that. Thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's Blackberry domain."

She used a Blackberry for the first three months or so of her tenure as secretary of State before setting up the personal server in the basement. And the reason that matters so much is, if there was gonna be a smoking gun, where Hillary Clinton was told, "Don't do this," or, "This is improper," it's highly likely to be at the beginning.

And we never found those emails. And so now they're telling me, "For reasons we can't explain, thousands of those Blackberry emails are on Anthony Weiner's laptop."
posted by Jpfed at 1:09 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Rosie Gray, Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers, in which Victoria Toensing and Jay Alan Sekulow sent a cease and desist letter for Hannity last year in response to allegations against him by Debbie Schlussel.
posted by zachlipton at 1:13 PM on April 17 [31 favorites]


I don't think that the crossover between white supremacy, misogyny, and right-to-life-ism is just American racism, because there are similar movements in other countries. In the US, however, there is a direct line between the Confederacy and these movements, as Fred Clark points out. They are people who want to turn the clock back and make civil rights, feminism, LGBT rights, etc. not exist. It's a kind of malevolent communitarianism.

From the Atlantic article zachlipton linked above:
The letter was sent in response to accusations against Hannity made by the controversial conservative activist Debbie Schlussel. During an appearance on the Pat Campbell show on KFAQ last April, Schlussel said Hannity had been “creepy” towards her and had invited her to his hotel room.
Hannity as Creepy Creeperson harasser doesn't surprise me. I wonder how many other accusers are going to come forward? Tarana Burke and #metoo are the pebbles that caused an avalanche that - I hope! oh please! - will bring down a right-wing media empire?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:28 PM on April 17 [16 favorites]


If this interpretation becomes the norm it would allow "claw-backs" of rules from decades ago. Not good.

And keep in mind that once a regulation is annulled under the Congressional Review Act, it cannot be reissued by a future president unless specifically authorized in law by Congress. (This is the sort of obviously terrible idea that could only come from a mind like Newt Gingrich's.)

It's also been proposed that the Republican Congress could pre-empt future liberal regulations by having Trump tee up a Democratic wish list expressly so the Republicans can majority-vote it into oblivion for all time. Yet another reason to take back Congress and repeal the CRA toute fucking suite.
posted by Iridic at 1:39 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


De-clickbaited headline: Blake Farenthold quit Congress in order to avoid being punished by House Ethics Committee.

HuffPo: Here’s Why Congressman Blake Farenthold Resigned So Abruptly
The House Ethics Committee was about to rule against Farenthold in its investigation into whether he sexually harassed members of his staff, used official money for campaign purposes and lied in previous testimony to the committee, according to the office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

The committee gave Farenthold a heads-up about its coming decision, so he quit, per Speier’s office. Speier, who is not a member of the committee, has been one of Farenthold’s biggest critics and a vocal advocate for changing how sexual harassment allegations are handled in Congress.

By stepping down, Farenthold was able to avoid whatever punishment the committee was about to hand down. A House Ethics Committee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not clear what Farenthold’s punishment would have been. The panel might have required him to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he spent to settle a previous sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former female aide. The Texas Republican promised in December that he would pay back that money immediately, but he never did.
Prediction: he's not paying it back.
posted by cjelli at 1:42 PM on April 17 [34 favorites]


So I’m not all that familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr’s work, other than the stuff that everyone knows. Obviously Niebuhr’s writing has made a deep impression on Comey, though, or at least so sez Alexandra Petri. Based on that, what is the ethical framework that Comey’s operating in, or at least the ethical framework that he’d like to be operating in?

It’s rare for public figures of Comey’s notoriety to wear their philosophical influences on their sleeves quite so much as Comey does, so applying a Niebuhrian lens to Comey’s actions might be a good way to know the man’s mind and what moves him.

(I’m definitely not the reclusive novelist for the job, though; the Niebuhr I’ve read starts and ends with the serenity prayer)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:46 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


@caphilltrish: @SenateMajLdr just told Cavuto re-Mueller protection bill: “We will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate.” Says he doesn't believe Trump will fire Mueller. [video]

McConnell's instance on backing Trump on everything is one of the oddest things about this whole situation. This was a Fox interview, but I wish there was some follow-up about the repeated times Trump has ordered Mueller fired already.
posted by zachlipton at 1:50 PM on April 17 [34 favorites]


Wouldn't any Mueller protection bill need a veto-proof majority, anyway? That seems hard to achieve.
posted by uosuaq at 1:54 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I think forcing trump to veto a Mueller protection bill would have some political worth.
posted by mrgoat at 1:56 PM on April 17 [60 favorites]


For some angles on the conservative religious tendency to cleave to authoritarian regimes, watch Theologians under Hitler, a doc on YouTube that I found... enlightening.

(Please don't use this for a derail; it goes some way towards answering the 'How could they even' issue, so perhaps it'll move things on a bit in this regard)
posted by Devonian at 2:00 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


I don't understand why liberal podcast hosts and commentators keep treating Comey like he was acting in good faith.

My kindle app tells me I'm 41% through Comey's book so far. Trump hasn't really made an appearance yet. But here are some incidents he does write about in the first half which I think shed some light on why people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

1) Making the decision, when he was a US Attorney, to indict Martha Stewart and...
...hesitating to bring on the criticism and the circus I knew would come. Then, while I worried about myself and my image, I remembered a young black minister.
...
The young minister was indicted and convicted of lying during the investigation.
...
As I stared out of my Manhattan office window and remembered that young minister, I was suddenly ashamed of myself. He was not famous. I was probably the only person outside Richmond who even knew his name. And here I was, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, hesitating to prosecute Martha Stewart because it would bring criticism. I was actually considering letting her go because she was rich and famous. What a miscarriage of justice. What a coward I was. I asked Dave Kelley to find out how many people had been indicted in the United States the previous year for lying to federal investigators. How many “regular people” lied and then paid dearly for it? The answer was two thousand. Kelley told me I needed to stop wringing my hands; this was the right thing to do and I should get on with it. He was right.
2) Being asked to write a justification saying that there's "Stellar Wind" surveillance program was legal when he was convinced it was not.
The president had reauthorized the program despite our warnings. [...] I knew this would be my final night in government service. The same for Bob Mueller. Like me, he could not continue to serve in an administration that was going to direct the FBI to participate in activity that had no lawful basis. I drafted a resignation letter and went home and told Patrice I was quitting the next day. Again, I had to leave out the particulars of why.
(Instead of resigning, Comey and Mueller ended up racing against Alberto Gonzales to the bedside of the hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft, to convince the Ashcroft not to sign off on the legality of the program. They won. He didn't.)

3) Being asked to write a justification saying that the CIA torture program was legal when he believed it was not, after Alberto Gonzales had been appointed as Attorney General.
Knowing I’d never be able to plead the case to others on the National Security Council, Philbin and I did our best to buck up Gonzales to make the case on the department’s behalf. We protested that just because something was deemed to be legal—based on an opinion we disagreed with—and allegedly effective did not mean it was appropriate. I again reminded him, and hoped he would remind the others in the cabinet, that someday the interrogation methods used, and the shaky legal support for them, would all become public—adding that I had heard there was a videotape of one of these CIA interrogations—and this would reflect very poorly on the president and the country. Then I showed Gonzales a heavy-stock, cream-colored three-by-five card I’d compiled. On it I had written a list of the things that could be done to another human being under the CIA program as currently written and authorized by the Gonzales Justice Department. Reading from the card, I painted a picture for him [...]

No policy changes were made. CIA enhanced interrogations could continue. Human beings in the custody of the United States government would be subjected to harsh and horrible treatment. And I never got my card back. I left government service two months later. I was never going to return.
4) Trying increase diversity at the FBI.
I was amazed at the talent, but I was frightened by one trend. The special agent workforce since 9/11 had been growing steadily more white. When I became director, 83 percent of the special agents were non-Hispanic Caucasians. As I explained to the workforce, I had no problem with white people, but that trend is a serious threat to our effectiveness. In a country that is growing more diverse, which, in my view, is wonderful, if every agent looks like me, we are less effective. Eighty-three percent could become 100 percent very quickly, if the FBI became known as “that place where white people work.” I
[...]
During my third year at the FBI, a huge new-agent class at Quantico was 38 percent nonwhite. Our standards hadn’t changed; we were just doing a better job of showing people the life they could make by joining us, which is contagious in a positive way.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:01 PM on April 17 [31 favorites]


McConnell can't actually believe that Trump won't fire Mueller, though. Trump already tried twice! What more is he waiting for?!?

I try to understand people from the perspective that at least they think they're doing the right thing. But I can't think of any actual justification for McConnell's (or, let's face it, most Congresspeople's) words here. Nothing in the situation warrants their ostensible certainty. The words must be some sort of dodge; they have never explained their thinking in much detail. Just "he won't do it".
posted by Jpfed at 2:01 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Forcing pols on both sides to vote Yea or Nay on a Mueller protection bill would have some political worth, which is probably enough to explain McConnell's reluctance to allow a vote. For the Dem side, it's an easy low stakes vote in favor of the American way. For the GOP? That's a lit bomb.
posted by notyou at 2:02 PM on April 17 [21 favorites]


The laptop contained emails from the very beginning of the private-server setup (and just before), which could have spoken to her intent in setting it all up and the extent to which she was aware that this setup was improper.

She testified in the summer to explain the reasoning behind her setup. Again: remember that her testimony was regarded as truthful, and consistent with all previous facts. There was no reason to expect that this would be some smoking gun that she'd been lying about all along.

A consistent and led-by-evidence approach would be to expect that the Blackberry emails would AGAIN show what she'd explained all along. Yes -- there's an eeeeeeeeeensy probability of "could have spoken" differently, but: that was not supported by incredibly consistent evidence, neither before nor after.

The terminology "much more important that that" and "smoking gun" and "For reasons we can't explain" -- drama and more drama.
posted by Dashy at 2:03 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


@JenniferJJacobs: Scooplet: Trump will do a rally in Washington, MI on Saturday, April 28, per a person familiar with Trump’s schedule. That’s the same time as the WHCA dinner.

Such a coward.
posted by zachlipton at 2:05 PM on April 17 [29 favorites]


Based on that, what is the ethical framework that Comey’s operating in, or at least the ethical framework that he’d like to be operating in?

Niebuhr has a rather long history of being picked up and wielded in a variety of ways, at times contradictory, by various DC types. Not exactly a cypher, but not exactly easy to interpret Comey's take -- honestly, the tenor of his writing is both sweepingly broad and vague to the point of occasional emptiness and if I'm being uncharitable he reads, at times, like History's Original High-Minded Concern Troll.
...which, when I think about it, does sound about right for comey...
posted by halation at 2:07 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


NBC/WSJ poll on impact of tax-cut:
- in Dem-controlled districts - 35% positive, 58% negative
- in GOP districts: 42% positive, 49% negative

---

@LOLGOP
Paul Ryan's greatest accomplishment -- coming up with a tax cut for the rich even Republicans don't like
posted by chris24 at 2:13 PM on April 17 [53 favorites]


Is there any plausible scenario where McConnell becomes toxic to the GOP rank-and-file?
posted by whuppy at 2:19 PM on April 17


I've been thinking about The Corrections

It's been a while since I read it; mostly I remember the talking poop and the fish in the pants and the kicking the presents up the stairs, but one thing that struck me about the book, for the first time, is the nature of a stock market correction, because I'd had no interest in such things until I ran into it as a metaphor in the book.

I'm on board I guess the Adam Davidson train with the 'we may be near the end of the beginning' thing, but--how is that comforting. Because it has all been sooo much badness. What happens when we correct from this?

Especially when it seems like the critique that is for me the most trenchant against Obama, that he was too idealistic, is out there?

I don't know. I'd like to believe in a happy ending.

Which, by the way, WTF is Comey going on about letting the voters off the hook w/r/t impeachment? Yeah, Trump is mob boss but just hang on there and be sure you enjoy every bit of your bitter medicine.

Or maybe he's just legitimate all, 'no way the Senate gets took in 2018'

/goes off to look at cat videos
posted by angrycat at 2:24 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


McConnell can't actually believe that Trump won't fire Mueller, though. Trump already tried twice! What more is he waiting for?!?

I think McConnell does believe that Trump won't fire Mueller. Because they've all agreed that the smart thing to do is fire Rosenstein.

Ol' Mitchell "Oderiferous Tubule" McConnell

Petebest, you gotta warn us before saying something like this. I almost fell the fuck off of my chair. LMFAO
posted by duoshao at 2:25 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


The Hill: Coast Guard won’t ban transgender members without direct policy barring them
The head of the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday said it will continue allowing transgender members to serve in the military branch until a policy officially bans transgender troops.

Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told lawmakers that the Coast Guard is “certainly committed” to transgender individuals’ continued service in the military branch.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:29 PM on April 17 [42 favorites]


Politico: McConnell considering vote to make tax cuts permanent
The Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday the chamber "may" hold a vote this year on extending the tax cuts. While the 2017 law provided permanent tax cuts on corporations, tax cuts for regular people expire in 2027 due to Senate rule constraints.

House GOP leaders are planning a similar effort. However, because Senate Republicans aren't using the "reconciliation" procedure to pass a tax cut bill on party lines, Democratic support would be needed — an unlikely scenario. At least nine Democrats would have to join with Republicans to pass such a bill and break a 60-vote threshold.
posted by hanov3r at 2:33 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


In his book, Comey is Skinner from X-Files. A man in a tough position who's asked to make moral choices that aren't always correct. In real life, Comey is Skinner from The Simpsons. A man who burned his dinner and tries to pass off fast food as steamed hams.
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:35 PM on April 17 [172 favorites]


Then I showed Gonzales a heavy-stock, cream-colored three-by-five card I’d compiled.

JFC, is that Comey's memoir or American Psycho?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:45 PM on April 17 [63 favorites]


I look forward to Comey's next book, a collection of office-supply-themed erotica.
posted by medusa at 2:55 PM on April 17 [49 favorites]


Is there any plausible scenario where McConnell becomes toxic to the GOP rank-and-file?

No. Trump has pretty much proven that the Republican rank and file will support human pond scum if it advances their agenda.

Around 650,000 people voted for Roy Moore in Alabama last December.
posted by zarq at 2:58 PM on April 17 [15 favorites]


@JoeNBC: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
~UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Like I said, open war between the administration and Haley at this point.
posted by zachlipton at 3:11 PM on April 17 [80 favorites]


> It's a potentially promising first step, but their ultimate reunification goals will be WAY harder of course. Also, how long until 45 tries to take credit for this?

That happened today, from the WaPo's Trump says U.S. and North Korea have had direct talks at ‘very high levels’:
Greeting visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort here, Trump took some credit for the rapid developments related to North Korea, whose nuclear and ballistic missile tests his administration has considered the gravest national security threat to the United States.

“They’ve been very generous that without us, and without me in particular, I guess, they wouldn’t be discussing anything and the Olympics would have been a failure,” Trump said of South Korea and the Winter Olympics held there in February.
[...]
“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war. People don’t realize the Korean War has not ended. It’s going on right now,” Trump said.
In other words, the Korean Armistice Agreement is being recognized more and more.
posted by peeedro at 3:14 PM on April 17 [19 favorites]


"... without me... the Olympics would have been a failure," Trump said...

Every time I think he can't possibly get his foot farther into his mouth, he manages to surprise me. Every. Single. Time.

In other words, the Korean Armistice Agreement is being recognized more and more.

I mean, technically, the North called the Agreement invalid in 2013 after a set of UN sanctions.
posted by hanov3r at 3:23 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Every time I think he can't possibly get his foot farther into his mouth, he manages to surprise me. Every. Single. Time.

Well there was also this today: "Trump opened the meeting by praising the Japanese aides, in matching black suits, as looking like they were direct from a movie. youre perfect."

The exact quote was: Pres. Trump at summit with Japanese Prime Minister Abe: "I just want to say your representatives look right out of a movie. You're absolutely perfect.

Which is somewhat between Trump's racism and his weird obsession with whether people look like they were sent over from central casting instead of whether they can do their jobs.
posted by zachlipton at 3:28 PM on April 17 [41 favorites]


Second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says 'sex compass' app gathered more Facebook data beyond the 87 million we already knew about.
"I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities."
posted by lazaruslong at 3:37 PM on April 17 [14 favorites]


It must be aggravating for Abe (not that I feel sorry for him) to know that his own scandal, which seems at this point likely to mean his departure this year, would barely register in the ocean of scandals and stupid comments and irresponsible actions that is Trump. And yet Trump is far more secure in his job.
posted by thefoxgod at 3:44 PM on April 17 [14 favorites]


Like I said, open war between the administration and Haley at this point.

The location of the last duel of note in the US is not 5 miles from where I'm sitting. I vote we set something up there for its 159th birthday.
posted by rhizome at 3:53 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
States and Cities throughout our Country are being cheated and treated so badly by online retailers. Very unfair to traditional tax paying stores!

Amazon-grievance normally corresponds with the Washington Post publishing something he hates. Any ideas? Might could be he was asked to comment ahead of a bad 'un.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:10 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


If there is a summit in North Korea with Trump present, I suspect the table setting will include rolled up magazines next to the glasses of water.
posted by ecco at 4:11 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


It's not (just) an Amazon grievance. Today the Supreme Court heard a case, SD vs Wayfair, regarding online tax collection and remittance. Ruling expected in June.
posted by yesster at 4:16 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Another update in this idiotic drama.

@juliehdavis: Kudlow just told me he has spoken to Haley & apologized to her, saying he was "totally wrong" to call her confused & didn't have complete info. "The policy was changed & she wasn't told about it, so she was in a box."

I'm really not sure that "she was in a box" is a substantial improvement over saying she had "momentary confusion" if by some weird chance this apology was actually intended as an apology. And who changed the policy, and why?
posted by zachlipton at 4:17 PM on April 17 [20 favorites]


Like I said, open war between the administration and Haley at this point.

If Nikki Haley's preparing to run against Trump in the 2020 primary, or succeed him if he doesn't make it, she has set herself up perfectly to this point. She established her foreign policy credentials, did as good a job as anyone in this administration, and now take an obviously correct and moral stand on Trump's biggest weak spot, Russia.

Getting fired by Trump at this point would be the best possible outcome for her political career. She gets all the benefits from being part of his administration and none of the taint. Hell, she could even pull the "Trump had a great vision before he was compromised by foreign agents, I served him proudly" card.
posted by msalt at 4:20 PM on April 17 [29 favorites]


That’s fucking rich. Donald Trump complaining about online retailers not paying their fair share of taxes. Hey, you know who else doesn’t pay their fair share of taxes?
posted by Autumnheart at 4:22 PM on April 17 [56 favorites]


Amazon supports online sales taxes. They pay them in every state that has a sales tax (though they don't charge sales tax for third-party sales on the platform, which is another can of worms that looks extremely similar to the first can of worms). From Amazon's perspective, they have physical presence in a lot of states now, so they have to charge tax anyway, but they're hurt by competitors that don't charge sales tax and would like a law forcing them to do so as well.

I presume Trump doesn't know this. Also, where is his damn tax return?
posted by zachlipton at 4:24 PM on April 17 [22 favorites]


Also, where is his damn tax return?

Mueller’s office.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:25 PM on April 17 [70 favorites]


Point of clarification: is it not the duty of the consumer to ensure that any sales tax they owe has been paid? My limited understanding (being an Oregonian) is that businesses may be required to collect sales tax on behalf of their customers but they do not themselves pay sales tax. I believe the reason that online retailers were exempted from this requirement is that it would be prohibitively difficult for small businesses to keep track of and adhere to the patchwork of sales tax laws that vary from state to state.
posted by SpaceBass at 4:28 PM on April 17


Atlantic on Octoberish surprises and secrets that will live in infamy.
"That fact pattern establishes a clear story: Current or former FBI officials involved in investigating the Clinton Foundation apparently leaked information; Comey made his late-October announcement about the Clinton email investigation in part to get ahead of additional leaks; and McCabe publicly confirmed the existence of the separate Clinton Foundation investigation for similar reasons.

“The FBI agents had a legal and professional obligation to maintain the secrecy of the Clinton investigation,” Green said. “As law-enforcement agents, they, of all people, had an obligation to play by the rules. Violating their secrecy obligations in order to try to swing an election shows a fundamental lack of respect for the law.”

While the motivations of all of the actors here were not the same, their actions, in concert, may have substantially influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election."
posted by rc3spencer at 4:31 PM on April 17 [17 favorites]


It's not (just) an Amazon grievance. Today the Supreme Court heard a case, SD vs Wayfair, regarding online tax collection and remittance. Ruling expected in June.

I will bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in your pocket that he doesn’t know that, or at least no more about it than you wrote here.
posted by Etrigan at 4:32 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Just delete this if it's too much of a hot-take one liner but what kind of a world do we live in when North and South Korea announce plans for peace and it seems like a light news day?
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:33 PM on April 17 [92 favorites]


Amazon didn’t mind when being an online-only retailer and not having to charge sales tax hurt the fuck out of brick-and-mortar retailers. That was the cornerstone of their business model for 15 years, they were going to “make stores obsolete” and turn other retailers into “Amazon’s Showroom”. Individual states responded by requiring Amazon to pay sales tax, and retailers figured out how to compete by price-matching, improving their distribution models, and pointing out that being able to go to a store and bring something home that day is actually very convenient! Now, I am firmly on the side of “all businesses should pay sales tax” but Amazon doesn’t get points from me for talking out of the other side of their mouth now that they’re on a level playing field with the other major retailers. I guess file this under “Trump is worse but that doesn’t make Amazon good”.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:35 PM on April 17 [14 favorites]


My limited understanding (being an Oregonian) is that businesses may be required to collect sales tax on behalf of their customers but they do not themselves pay sales tax.

No, the opposite - businesses are required to pay sales tax; they are allowed to collect it from customers but this is not required. They can say "We pay the tax/we don't charge sales tax!" but they still have the obligation to pay that percentage to the state, even if they don't collect it.

Small businesses (flea market sellers, craft businesses) often say "tax is included in the price," and then calculate backwards to decide on the actual sales price.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:38 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]




I guess file this under “Trump is worse but that doesn’t make Amazon good”.

This isn’t about Amazon. Not at all. Don’t let Trump frame it as though it is.
posted by Etrigan at 4:41 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


Dumb quote of the day, via the WaPo, from Lindsey Graham explaining why he is "not at all" concerned about VA nominee Ronny Jackson’s lack of management experience:
“The VA is not a management problem. It’s an attitude problem. You don’t need a manager to run an organization. You need somebody with the right attitude,” Graham said. Asked whether Jackson had that attitude, the South Carolina senator responded: “Oh hell yeah.” 
When they say run government like a business they don’t mean a successful one.
posted by peeedro at 4:44 PM on April 17 [46 favorites]


This isn’t about Amazon. Not at all. Don’t let Trump frame it as though it is.

I assure you, I know.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:46 PM on April 17


Sorry about the weird deleted comment upthread. What seems to have happened is that Trump answered "yes" when asked if he had spoken directly to Kim Jong-un, setting off all the news alarms. Then there was a follow-up question where he was asked again, and he said "well let's leave it a little bit short of that." Then the White House clarified that Trump misunderstood or misheard (there were apparently a lot of questions at once) and they've had high-level talks but not talks with Trump directly.

This has been your 7:50pm edition of "the President cannot answer a yes/no question correctly."
posted by zachlipton at 4:48 PM on April 17 [32 favorites]


zachlipton: "@caphilltrish: @SenateMajLdr just told Cavuto re-Mueller protection bill: “We will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate.” Says he doesn't believe Trump will fire Mueller. [video]"

I know this is very boring good government of me, but whenever the Democrats retake each house, they need to pass rules that a bill can be forced to a floor vote if, say, 40% of members vote for it. This bullshit where the Majority Leader/Speaker can bottle up popular legislation has got to stop.

For decades, this same shit was pulled by the committee chairs. Now, it's one level higher, but it still stinks.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:49 PM on April 17 [83 favorites]


fluttering hellfire: "Well Eric Greitens has made a statement."

Claire McCaskill has come out with a statement about Hawley's saying the fundraising should be impeachable, hitting him from the other direction - he was grossly incompetent for not moving on this a long time ago.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:54 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


What seems to have happened is that Trump answered "yes" when asked if he had spoken directly to Kim Jong-un, setting off all the news alarms. Then there was a follow-up question where he was asked again, and he said "well let's leave it a little bit short of that." Then the White House clarified that Trump misunderstood or misheard (there were apparently a lot of questions at once) and they've had high-level talks but not talks with Trump directly.

I can't wait for Mueller to interview this guy.
posted by rc3spencer at 4:54 PM on April 17 [13 favorites]


Overton Window Watch: Kirsten Gillibrand is floating a federal jobs guarantee.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:58 PM on April 17 [67 favorites]


Ok here's the actual story, broken by the Post. CIA Director Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend
posted by zachlipton at 5:03 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


Sure, why not? Why not have the CIA Director do the Secretary of State's job? Saves a lot of trouble having to confirm him.
posted by runcibleshaw at 5:08 PM on April 17 [51 favorites]


That's RIDICULOUS.
posted by odinsdream at 5:18 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


If anything, I'm annoyed that Trump sent Pompeo to North Korea and THEY DIDN'T KEEP HIM.
posted by delfin at 5:22 PM on April 17 [36 favorites]


Ken Starr subpoenaed Clinton and Clinton had to testify under oath. I think the rules should be the same.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:28 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Yes, though it should be noted that Clinton was (legally) perfectly free to answer every question by invoking his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Republicans of course would have reacted to such an invocation in exactly they way they would react if and when Trump does the same.
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Trump wouldn't take the fifth; he can't concentrate on a course of action that doesn't involve him declaring how awesome he is. He might be able to invoke the fifth amendment for one or two questions, but he'd be easy to hit with something that has implications that he's dying to "set the record straight" about.

"Explain your relationship with Stormy Daniels" might not work (he'd be strongly coached to prepare him for that), but "Do you trust your sons to manage your businesses for the next few years?"(1) and "Do you understand that Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016?"(2) would get him answering.

Questions about, "what did you mean by this tweet: _______" should also get past the "I take the 5th" response, especially if introduced as, "Agency X mentions Fact Y, which you deny in this tweet. Can you explain why you believe Agency X is mistaken?"

(1) Setup for questions about business ties with Russia.
(2) Setup for questions about Russian influence on key electoral college districts.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:42 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile, Fox News reaffirms its journalistic integrity: Fox News Gives Sean Hannity 'Full Support' as Critics Slam Him for Hiding Link to Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen (CNBC) "'While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support,' the cable channel said in a statement."

Not even rightwing media critics are willing to go that far: "Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group, agreed that Hannity erred by failing to publicly state a potential conflict of interest. 'He probably should have disclosed that,' said Don Irvine, the group's publisher. 'If you're going to be reporting on these stories,' he said, 'your listeners have a right to know.'"
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:50 PM on April 17 [16 favorites]


Ok here's the actual story, broken by the Post. CIA Director Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend

I'm sure this leak of a top secret meeting has nothing to do with building up Pompeo so he gets confirmed. Wonder who leaked it? Gee Donny, are you gonna call for this leak to be investigated?
posted by chris24 at 5:57 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


I dunno, I can see Ivanka getting a little peeved at Pompeo stepping all over her portfolio.
posted by rhizome at 6:00 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


@JamesFallows: Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, to @NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, on why he is retiring right now: “There’s a big wave coming. Sometimes you’ve got to get off the beach.”

*TTTCS*
posted by zachlipton at 6:08 PM on April 17 [69 favorites]


The Trump condolence statement on First Lady Barbara Bush's passing is dated April 17, 2017.
posted by Caxton1476 at 6:32 PM on April 17 [41 favorites]


"Loved her in Funny Girl."
posted by rhizome at 6:49 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


WaPo, Hannity’s rising role in Trump’s world: ‘He basically has a desk in the place’
Advisers, at times, refer to Hannity as the “shadow” chief of staff, rivaling White House chief of staff John F. Kelly in terms of influence. Whenever Trump is irritated by his staff, he turns to outside allies, and Hannity is usually atop the call list.

Hannity’s relationship with attorney Jay Sekulow played a part in Sekulow signing on to Trump’s legal team on the Russia investigation, they said, adding that Hannity’s work with lawyers Victoria Toensing and her husband, Joseph diGenova, also contributed to the pair being considered to come aboard, although they did not ultimately do so.

Hannity long urged Bill Shine — who was Fox News’s co-president and had been Hannity’s first producer at Fox News but resigned last year — to join the Trump administration and has spoken highly of Shine to White House advisers. Shine, however, has declined to engage in serious talks about a job, an official said.

Hannity’s relationships with Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, have served as the “glue” of his relationship with the president, one White House official said.
"Eric and Don Jr are supposed to be off running the business having nothing to do with politics!" he shouts, into a void, and not a sound was heard.
posted by zachlipton at 6:59 PM on April 17 [40 favorites]


The thing that infuriated me about the Comey NPR interview is that there was no real followup. Comey claimed that he was stuck between two bad options: tell the world that he was re-opening the Clinton investigation, or "suppress" the story and thereby do irreparable harm to the reputation of the FBI.

No one asked him if he didn't think that maybe having the FBI be known as "those assholes who gave the election to Trump" might cause irreparable harm do the reputation of that agency.

because, speaking as a hardcore lefty, I've gone from thinking the FBI sucks but maybe could be reformed to thinking the FBI needs to be burned to the ground and anyone who ever worked for it forbidden from having anything at all to do what the agency we build to replace it.

The interviewer also failed to ask why, instead of screaming "WOO HOO MOTHERFUCKERS, WE GOT MORE CLINTON EMAIL AND ITS SUPER DUPER CRIMINAL!" he might have, you know, actually investigated the email on Weiner's computer and determined its value, or lack thereof, before taking action he knew would tip the scales strongly for Trump.

Also no one ever asked him if he thought the fact that he was a lifelong conservative Republican might, possibly, have maybe clouded his judgement a little.

Also, no one asked him why, if he felt that Trump was morally unfit to be President, he took action that strongly helped Trump become President.

Softball questions, no followup, exactly the sort of power worshiping tripe I've come to expect from NPR.

I said earlier that Comey did everything in his power to help Trump get elected and was rightly corrected. He did not. He merely did everything in his power that he could justify to himself as "impartial" to get Trump elected.
posted by sotonohito at 7:02 PM on April 17 [26 favorites]


sotonohito: Softball questions, no followup,
Hopefully, Stephen Colbert will grill him, comedians do the real job of journalism anyway these days
posted by dhruva at 7:27 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


The laptop contained emails from the very beginning of the private-server setup (and just before), which could have spoken to her intent in setting it all up and the extent to which she was aware that this setup was improper.

For the record, there is nothing improper about using a private email server. There has never been and still is not a law prohibiting use of private email.

In fact, Congress took the opportunity to clarify this in 2014 after Clinton left office. The new law simply states that private email about official business must be copied to the federal archives within 20 days rather than after leaving office as was the case in the past.
posted by JackFlash at 7:27 PM on April 17 [59 favorites]


NYT: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged President Trump to get congressional approval before the United States launched airstrikes against Syria last week, but was overruled by Mr. Trump, who wanted a rapid and dramatic response, military and administration officials said.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:28 PM on April 17 [21 favorites]


Greitens updates:

* More top GOP leaders call for governor to quit immediately; otherwise, impeachment proceedings to begin asap.

* Greitens response: You'll never take me alive, coppers!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:32 PM on April 17 [15 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump

Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!

Only the finest of brains directs twitter readers to wonder just how much of a spy it is.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:40 PM on April 17 [76 favorites]


NYT, Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House, mostly a recap of what we discussed, but also a recounting of an earlier episode:
At one point recently, he saw Ms. Haley on television sharply criticizing Russia over its intervention in Ukraine. “Who wrote that for her?” Mr. Trump yelled angrily at the screen, according to people briefed on the moment. “Who wrote that for her?”
Again, not saying Trump is being blackmailed by Russia, but the fact that he has repeated outbursts whenever someone criticizes Russia is surely a clue.
posted by zachlipton at 7:46 PM on April 17 [70 favorites]


I don't think it even requires that Trump be blackmailed by Russia.

He quite possibly sees Russia as valuable friends and allies. Russians have given him lots of money, bailed him out of sticky situations, and generally done what he wanted, so inasmuch as he's capable of feeling friendly to anyone, he's doubtless quite fond of Russia.

He's also inherently contrarian so people criticizing Russia have doubtless driven him to decide that Russia must be the best place ever.

At this point Trump probably sees criticism of Russia as, by extension, criticism of himself so of course he throws a fit.

No blackmail required.

Putin was KGB, he knows how to handle compromised assets, and some people (like Trump) respond much better to gentle steering and false friendship than they do to threats and blackmail.
posted by sotonohito at 7:53 PM on April 17 [25 favorites]


At a certain point once an asset is in deep enough, facing the truth or backing out would break their entire self-image and worldview. Like Marsha on The Americans, she learns the truth and still gets on the plane to Russia. At that point the distinction between blackmail and true belief doesn't really matter, and Trump was at that point decades ago. He's been utterly compromised for decades. Way more than Marsha. The exact mechanism isn't really important, because its not one thing, it's his whole existence. At this point he might as well BE Russian.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:01 PM on April 17 [21 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.

@jasonfurman: South Korea is not in TPP.
posted by zachlipton at 8:05 PM on April 17 [77 favorites]


@realghostfacekillah: Me and my brother @methodmanofficial Workin on getting that album back from the feds… wu Tang forever @comey
posted by Going To Maine at 8:09 PM on April 17 [40 favorites]


Sméagol Pruitt has finally attracted the Eye:

Head of Senate committee now seeks answers on Scott Pruitt’s email practices at EPA (Juliet Eilperin, WaPo)
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is now scrutinizing whether Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is fully complying with public records requests, given the fact that he has multiple government email addresses. […]

Until this week, Barrasso has refrained from criticizing any of Pruitt’s actions while in office, instead praising the EPA administrator’s deregulatory agenda. On Monday, however, Barrasso raised concern about the Government Accountability Office’s report that EPA had violated federal spending laws by failing to notify Congress before installing a private phone booth in Pruiit’s office last year at a cost of $43,000.

“During your confirmation hearing, I specifically asked you to ‘refrain from taking any action — that makes it difficult or impossible for the public to access your official written communications under the Freedom of Information Act,’ ” Barrasso wrote Pruitt. “You agreed to my request.”

“Can you affirm that the EPA does in fact search all your official email accounts when responding to FOIA requests?” Barrasso added.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:11 PM on April 17 [24 favorites]


> @jasonfurman: South Korea is not in TPP.

Ah, the joys of having an aggressively ignorant doddering racist for a president.

It's like that throwaway comment in the (magnificent) New Yorker piece about how the crown prince of Saudia Arabia has been manipulating Trump and Kushner (A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East, much linked previously):
After the [Saudi-led] blockade [of Qatar] began, President Trump tweeted his support, writing, “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar—look!” (The former American diplomat suggested that his enthusiasm was partly motivated by ignorance: “I am convinced that Trump didn’t know that we had a military base in Qatar. He had no idea.”)
And it's just so believable - not even a surprise. Of a piece with the sloppiness of condolences on Barbara Bush's death, dated 2017.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:15 PM on April 17 [14 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS:

** 2018 House:
-- (old) PA-15: Mentioned earlier, Charlie Dent (R), who had already announced his retirement, has upgraded that into a resignation. A special election will be required, based on the 2016 district lines. Likeliest outcome is that the special is scheduled concurrently with the regular general, and that the nominees for new PA-07 (which is mostly the same geography) will be the nominees for the special.

-- That Muhlenberg poll mentioned yesterday also has the PA generic ballot at 47/38 Dem. [MOE: +/- 5.5%]

-- GOP putting down $38M for early ad slot reservations in 20 top threatened districts. Interesting to see who didn't make the cut, and thus may already be considered dead meat by the party (Comstock, Rod Blum, etc.).
** AZ-08 special: Dem Tipirneni released an internal poll showing her tied 46-46 with GOPer Lesko. [MOE: +/- 4.9%]I'm still pretty skeptical, but Lake Research has a decent reputation, and it does address the observed GOP advantage in the early vote. If Tipirneni loses by 10 points or less, it's a good night for Dems. If she actually won, we're deep into tsunami time.

** MS Senate special -- Triumph Campaigns poll has interim GOP Senator Hyde-Smith tied with Dem Espy at 33%, nutbar McDaniel way back at 13%. In head-to-head matchups, Hyde-Smith leads Espy, 42% to 36%, while Espy leads McDaniel, 43% to 24%. [MOE: +/- 3%]

** 2018 Senate -- AZ: Magellan Strategies poll of the GOP primary has Rep McSally in the lead with 36%, with a tight race for second between scumball Arpaio at 26% and whackdoodle Ward at 25%.

** Odds & ends:
-- New Jersey became the latest state to enact automatic voter registration today. This starts out as "narrow" (DMV interactions only) but with provisions to broaden that to other government interactions after further study.

-- There's been a lot of eye-glazing back and forth over Maine's ranked choice voting initiative, but the state Supreme Court has ruled it *will* be in effect for the June primaries.

-- NY gov: Siena poll of the Dem primary has Cuomo up 58-27 on Nixon. That's a considerable narrowing from their March poll (66-19).
posted by Chrysostom at 8:15 PM on April 17 [33 favorites]




AZ: Magellan Strategies poll of the GOP primary has Rep McSally in the lead with 36%, with a tight race for second between scumball Arpaio at 26% and whackdoodle Ward at 25%.

If one of them dropped out the scumball/whackadoodle vote could combine for another Roy Moore situation.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:35 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


That's very true. McSally is definitely the strongest candidate in the general, but getting there is her challenge. Dems would be fairly confident of a pickup with either Ward or Arpaio as the GOP candidate.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:40 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Colbert's show put the full Comey interview (32 minutes) up. I presume the edited version as broadcast will be posted tomorrow.
posted by zachlipton at 8:48 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is.

This springs from the same perverse compulsion that inspires Trump to recite "The Snake" allegory every chance he can at his rallies. Because he considers himself to be smarter and slicker and all-around better than everyone, he takes an especially nasty pleasure in making these mock-confessions and getting away with it. This is the Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder on full display.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:14 PM on April 17 [24 favorites]


@MSNBC Is Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder running for president?

"Yeah, I'm thinking about it," he tells @chrislhayes

Watch.
posted by scalefree at 9:25 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


Comey:
"He's tweeted at me probably 50 times. I've been gone for a year, I'm like a breakup he can't get over. He wakes up in the morning. I'm out there living my best life. He wakes up in the morning and tweets at me....

My first reaction to those kinds of tweets is a shrug, like well there he goes again, but actually then I cought myself and I said wait a minute. If I'm shrugging, are the rest of the country shrugging, and does that mean we've become numb to this. It's not ok for the President of the United States should be in jail. It's not normal. It's not acceptable. It's not ok. But it's happened so much there's a danger we're now numb to it and the norm has been destroyed, and I feel that norm destroying in my own shrug. And so we can't allow that to happen."
Ok, but didn't you just destroy the whole norm about the FBI not interfering in an election (Colbert even says as much a bit later in the interview)?

Colbert goes on to show the clip from when he announced the Trump fired Comey and his audience cheered (it happened during the taping) and asks "have you made everyone in the world mad at you?" Comey: "when [the Clinton email case, which he calls a "nightmare"] began, I knew we were going to piss of at least half of partisans. It never occurred to me we would piss off all of them"

Colbert does press him on the classified Loretta Lynch documents, which Comey says he doesn't believe are true, "but I believe that what was in those documents, if released, would allow reasonable people to question whether the investigation was being done in a fair way, and that's why it worried me." Then he launches into blaming Obama for giving interviews where he said Clinton didn't do anything wrong. Colbert straight-up calls the documents "a 'you can't blame me' card that we don't get to see."

Comey says nobody from the FBI went to check out the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton while he was Director and asks Colbert (who did go) if the room is "big enough for a germophobe to be at a safe distance from the activity." Colbert is saying he met people while he was there who claimed to have knowledge of Trump's attendance at the party in question.

Finally, Colbert asks about Comey's comments about impeachment from the Stephanopoulos interview, asking if Comey is blaming the voters:
Comey: Maybe partly. And I mostly blame those who haven't voted
Colbert: Did you vote?
Comey: No. I was the FBI Director
Colbert: Are you going to vote in 2020?
Comey: Yes I will. [...] The law and the facts will drive whether there's an inpeachment process. What I was saying to George Stephanopoulos was in a way that would short-circuit something we need. We need a moment of clarity and inflection in this country. We need the people of this country. I hope the great middle to get off the couch, get out of their busy lives, and say the values of our leadership matters. And more than policy disputes, more than the rest of it. We stand for something in this country. And we need to send a signal that we know that and we treasure it.
And then James Comey, the guy who wrote a book about preserving norms after becoming famous for violating them, says he's optimistic enough that the country will "not only survive this; we will thrive."
posted by zachlipton at 9:42 PM on April 17 [17 favorites]


As for the AZ Senate GOP primary - I don’t expect Arpaio to drop out, but at the same time I would not be surprised if he did. He’s in his 80s and loves to keep his name out there, but I don’t know that he really wants the office as much as he wants to reminding everyone he’s still there and still able to raise money. Ward ain’t dropping out absent something extraordinary. If Arpaio does indeed drop out, McSally could have some serious trouble. She may still likely beat Ward in that case, but as it is she’s trying to move far right enough to win the primary and then she’ll move back toward the middle for the general. Having to compete with Ward for the far wingnut vote could haunt her in the general. It’s worth noting that McSally was likely toast in AZ-02, and stood a better chance running for Senate, so when state party leaders encouraged her, she was ready to go.

Another complicating factor: there’s some talk rattling around that McCain is in worse health than has been let on. If that is indeed the case, we could see both of Arizona’s Senate seats on the ballot this year. If this happens then I don’t know what to expect next. There’s a lot of people that will jump in for a GOP primary. The Dem bench here isn’t anywhere near as deep. It would be a free for all here. I could see either Arpaio or Ward jumping to the other Senate race in this scenario. What I would expect is to see the national GOP put a very heavy priority on Arizona because if the Dems were to take both Arizona Senate seats, then there’s a very strong chance of the Republicans losing their Senate majority.
posted by azpenguin at 9:47 PM on April 17 [13 favorites]


Does anyone reading this thread know anything about OGE Form 278e? ProPublica has put together a nifty tool called TrumpTown, a database of personnel records for thousands of Trump appointees. This financial disclosure form is one type of FOIA'ed document that they have in their database.

I looked up some names from a Department of Interior (DOI) press release, and many of the appointees have filed financial disclosure forms — but most of the forms seem sparse. See for example this disclosure form from one of Zinke's former staffers, who is now Deputy Director of DOI's Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs​​. It reports no assets, liabilities, compensation, or past employment. But his resume (PDF) reports that he worked for a lobbying and consulting firm during what I believe would have been the reporting period.

Is this level of "nothing to see here" normal on a 278e? Would it usually raise some kind of red flag if the employee answered "none" or "N/A" to literally every single question on the form? Is this the sort of thing that an ethics official would normally let through?
posted by compartment at 9:59 PM on April 17 [13 favorites]


Comey & his homeys. Click for pic.

@samjcharles Method Man and Ghostface Killah are hanging out with James Comey and may be discussing the Wu-Tang album that Martin Shkreli bought.
posted by scalefree at 10:20 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


Another complicating factor: there’s some talk rattling around that McCain is in worse health than has been let on. If that is indeed the case, we could see both of Arizona’s Senate seats on the ballot this year.

If he leaves before May 30, there will have to be a special in November. Arizona law is a little vague, but the consensus is that if he leaves after, there wouldn't be one, and the appointed senator would serve through 2020.

Obviously, the thin Dem bench would definitely be a problem in a two race situation. Of course, you might have either Arpaio or Ward decide to run in the special, which would put the GOP in sticky situations in both races.

Trivia: the last time there were two Senate elections at the same time where the voters split and elected one D and one R was in 1966 (South Carolina, Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings).
posted by Chrysostom at 10:29 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


Read.

@CoreyRobin Woke up this morning, scratched my head, and wondered, "Whatever happened to that green lantern theory of the presidency I used to hear so much about?"
posted by scalefree at 10:48 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's a very fair description of the Green Lantern theory. The point was that Americans - certainly the mainstream media - tend to think the presidency is basically a monarchy and that a president should be able to get stuff done by sheer force of will. And that if they don't, it's because they are "weak."
posted by Chrysostom at 10:56 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Was “the Green Lantern theory of the presidency” something people used to talk about a lot? This is the first time I’ve heard the phrase, and it doesn’t make much sense to me (a non-comic book reader.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:59 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


It was a Matt Yglesias coinage from 2006, it was kind of popular for a while in the blogosphere days.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:02 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Was “the Green Lantern theory of the presidency” something people used to talk about a lot? This is the first time I’ve heard the phrase, and it doesn’t make much sense to me (a non-comic book reader.)

Speaking *as* a comic book reader it makes no sense to me whatsoever as well.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:02 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]




I've made many criticisms of Obama's weak rhetoric here over the years, but while Robin is right that there's a disanalogy between how Obama and Trump's rhetoric have been treated -- and while he may even be somewhat right in his implied criticism that the left defended Obama's weak rhetoric out of partisanship -- he doesn't do enough to explore the true roots of why Trump's rhetoric has the capacity to be so much more powerful than Obama's, no matter what Obama might have done. The basic point, which various folks in that Twitter thread make too, is that when your goals are to build things within an existing system of laws and legislative practices where thousands of players (legislators, bureaucrats, special interests, voters) have significant power, rhetoric is relatively weak. But when your goals are the destruction of that apparatus and vigilante violence, the capacity for rhetoric to directly achieve significant outcomes is much greater.
posted by chortly at 11:05 PM on April 17 [42 favorites]


Got it. So basically because people haven't been given a good civics education no one knows we have checks and balances and that the president isn't a king with a power ring- so people think he can just Hal Jordan world peace/war/your policy goal here into existence and then get all mad when he can't.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:05 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Yes, the president should just should just concentrate and boom - Middle East peace is achieved! Etc.

Your Chuck Todds of the world like to bring up FDR and LBJ, but a) it's telling that they have to reach back decades for relevant examples, b) both of them had Congressional support, and c) both of them had plenty of failures, too. The American system isn't a parliamentary one, and frequently the presidency is hamstrung.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:09 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


Comey was more concerned about the appearance of ethics than with actual ethics.

Even if all Comey was concerned about was whether or not the FBI would appear biased, he absolutely trashed Hillary Clinton in the process of protecting their reputation. Even if she had become president, he would have greatly weakened her presidency by calling her grossly irresponsible in his first press briefing. This is still hugely unethical.
posted by xammerboy at 11:09 PM on April 17 [34 favorites]


Mitch McConnell says the president hasn't given him any indication that Mueller will be fired, so there's no need to protect him.... Has Trump given anyone any indication they've been fired before the fact? So far, it seems like they all learn about it from the television or a tweet.
posted by xammerboy at 11:13 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Has Trump given anyone any indication they've been fired before the fact? So far, it seems like they all learn about it from the television or a tweet.

He does tend to telegraph his moves & express his displeasure with them, sometimes weeks in advance. The firings themselves though he likes to keep his fingerprints off of.
posted by scalefree at 11:36 PM on April 17


To the extent anybody talked about the green lantern theory (that's the Brendan Nyhan blogpost where it started, though it comes directly from Yglesias's green lantern theory of geopolitics), it was responding to people who blamed Obama for legislative compromises in cases where Congress forged ahead on whatever they could cobble together the votes for as opposed to preferred more left policies. The green lantern theory comes into play when people, say, picket the White House because they think Obama isn't trying hard enough to get Joe Lieberman to drop his opposition to a public option. Obama is so powerful, people who don't understand the presidency think, that Lieberman hasn't caved because Obama isn't making him, and therefore it makes more sense to picket the White House than Lieberman's office.

And I think that theory still holds. And it matters what those words are and how you use them. Would Obama giving a speech trashing Lieberman and demanding a public option have achieved that goal or would it have blown up the prospects for ever passing the ACA? Would Obama throwing a Trump-like tantrum at that moment have helped? We can't hop back in a time machine and try it, but if you believe Robin's criticism, you ought to have a convincing plan for what Obama should have done differently at that point in time that would have achieved your (and my, to be honest) desired outcome. The issue isn't simply, as Robin suggests, that people calling on Obama to say certain things were delusional because they thought the President's words mattered when they didn't; but rather the people calling on Obama to say certain things expected outcomes from those utterances that did not appear to be forthcoming.

I don't think there's any credible reading of the Obama administration where you can conclude he thought his words didn't matter; he was an incredibly careful and reflective speaker precisely because he knew the power of his words. In contrast, I'd argue that the entire Trump Presidency has been a big experiment of Trump trying to figure out what he can and cannot do and say in the job.

Ultimately, Robin concludes that Trump's words have had little effect on Congress (personally, I think he's had more of an effect that Robin gives Trump credit for, but I also think Trumpism is a lot closer to mainstream GOP policy than most people are capable of acknowledging), and that undercuts his entire thesis. Robin's complaint, summarized, is essentially:
1. During the Obama administration, we wanted Obama to say stuff to make stuff happen
2. People told us we expected too much from the power of the presidency
3. Obama didn't say our stuff and so we didn't get all our preferred policy outcomes
4. Trump now says lots of stuff
5. Saying that stuff hasn't gotten him his preferred policy outcomes out of Congress either

Well ok then. The green lantern theory is still true: the President's failure to achieve certain outcomes occurs because Congress mostly does its thing regardless of how much political will the President applies to make it do his thing. That Robin twists it around because he's aggrieved Obama didn't make a lot of noise while not achieving certain things is really irrelevant.
posted by zachlipton at 11:40 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


He's certainly started the firing cycle with Mueller (maybe Rosenstein too, can't remember for sure). Been tweeting about him a lot, after many months of leaving him out of his Twitter tantrums.
posted by scalefree at 11:40 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Someone needs to distract the president by talking about kids marching for gun control. He can't hold two thoughts in his head at once; the Mueller investigation will go back into deep storage while he tries to parse the confusion of "I want to (be seen to) protect kids" and "I want to protect guns."

That, or get him to demand adulation for all the tax cuts he brought, since it's that time of year. Let him make some statements about how awesome "his" tax bill was (nevermind that he didn't write it and didn't even read it), and give the media a stack of incomprehensible "alternative facts" to play with for a couple of weeks.

He will assume that, since he's not thinking about Mueller, Mueller isn't thinking about him (the man has no sense of object permanence), and will be shocked anew when the next set of indictments roll around.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:46 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


I haven't read the whole thread, but if this tweet from (Mefi's own) owillis hasn't been linked yet, then that should be rectified.
posted by asok at 1:55 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


“Dear Stanley, I have reached the conclusion that Mr Nixon is a bad man …” Stanley Cloud was part of Time magazine’s Watergate team, and went on to become Time’s Washington DC bureau chief, and here tells the Guardian readers about his experience back then.
posted by mumimor at 2:05 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


This seems out of character for this administration: Trump Administration Defends Obama’s Atlantic Monument. Defending something Obama did? Protecting the environment, like at all?

The monument must be a cover story for something military, is the only way it makes sense to me.
posted by ctmf at 2:26 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I read Corey Robin's post on FB. I think I understand his point better through where he's coming from.

1) He's been arguing that Trump isn't as much of a deviation from conservatism as liberals think. His book on conservatism has the thesis that behind a facade of virtuous restraint, conservatism is essentially about co-opting revolutionary fervor to fight back against the loss of power by society's upper strata.

Liberals have seen Trump as an anomaly, and according to Robin, have, in their fear of him, over-stated his anomalousness and also his effectiveness.

2) Robin is I think to the left of most liberal pundits.

So his point about the Green Lantern Theory falling by the wayside: it shows excessive liberal fear of Trump as able to buck history and institutions (earlier the mantra was that the President didn't have magic superhero powers). And maybe a lot of liberal pundits were Ok with Obama being so constrained because they themselves were a bit neoliberal and wanted any more populist left initiatives of Obama to fail.
posted by Schmucko at 2:30 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


OK, you're gonna like this one, let me summarize it for you.

Michael Cohen's uncle Morton Levine owned and ran a Brooklyn social club, El Caribe. From the 1970s until at least the 1990s, the bosses of the Russian mafia in the US had their primary office in El Caribe.

Like much of his family, Michael Cohen owned a stake in El Caribe. He sold it only when Donald Trump was elected President.

This is from Talking Points Memo.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:07 AM on April 18 [73 favorites]


Wow, I have family that live a few blocks from El Caribe and, while I didn't know it was there, it is in like literally the most perfect location I could imagine for being a Russian mob headquarters. Take a google street view tour of Mill Basin and check out some of the houses/cars. . .
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:13 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


This is a low-spec alternative to Grand Theft Auto 4.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:17 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Most of that was in the Rolling Stone article from last week that was posted here yesterday, no? It really is incredible, though. Cohen isn't really a lawyer in any traditional sense, unless money laundering is generally considered part of the legal profession. And it makes perfect sense why he'd be tied up in so, so much Russian money laundering.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:21 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


"High levels" is D.C. press code for the whitehouse, and "very high" is for POTUS or VPOTUS (if I'm recalling correctly), but when Trump tries to say "high level talks" he can't help but inflate it, "we have had talks at VERY high levels, EXTREMELY high levels" [real], it's like a verbal tick, he doesn't know what the hell is coming out of his mouth, and he certainly doesn't care what it means. The only thing he didn't say was, "the HIGHEST levels, way higher than Obama."
posted by Horkus at 5:22 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


From a Politico piece at the end of last year about the make-up of Mueller's team...

Spearheading the criminal case against Manafort and his longtime deputy Rick Gates are three prosecutors schooled in money laundering, fraud, foreign bribery and organized crime: Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres and Kyle Freeny.

Let's pull up a report from Huffpo in 2009 (updated 2011);

The Bonanno crime family mobster who was whacked in a pre-dawn hit in Staten Island as he waited for a bus to take him to his city construction job was allegedly thinking the unthinkable, Mafia-wise.

Sources tell Gang Land that soldier Anthony (Little Anthony) Seccafico was being investigated for possible involvement in an imprisoned mob chieftain’s plan to kill Greg Andres, a top federal prosecutor who has been a plague against the crime family in recent years.


How about Andrew Weissmann? From the LA Times earlier this year:

That tells you everything about Andrew Weissmann, the #2 official in the special counsel's investigation. [...] made his mark as a federal prosecutor in New York City in the 1990s, leveraging evidence and threats of lengthy prison sentences to "flip'' mob underlings to testify in trials of organized crime bosses.

[...]

Weissmann's approach — and his expertise in uncovering perjury, obstruction of justice and complex financial crimes — now could pose a mortal threat to Trump's presidency.

[...] Weissmann [is] a prime target of Trump's allies and surrogates, especially on cable TV. Sean Hannity, whose weeknight Fox News show pummels Trump's presumed foes, has said Weissmann "not only needs to be fired but fully investigated."

Hannity vilified the prosecutor during 14 episodes in December and January alone,


So, yeah. I'd say Mueller may have just the right people to hand to help understand the details of a recent shareholder in the Russian mob's HQ and his clients. No wonder Cohen looked defeated, and Hannity terrified, after the raid. As for 45... what delights await!
posted by Devonian at 5:44 AM on April 18 [48 favorites]


Is he now full pants-on-head insane?
@realDonaldTrump: There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!
Revolution? "Breeding concept"? What is going on with him?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 5:47 AM on April 18 [47 favorites]


-- GOP putting down $38M for early ad slot reservations in 20 top threatened districts. Interesting to see who didn't make the cut, and thus may already be considered dead meat by the party (Comstock, Rod Blum, etc.).

This morning, NPR aired a clip about Republicans spending lots of money to defend a seat in the upcoming special election in Arizona. They quoted a Republican saying something to the effect of "We're going to prove to Democrats that they can't win in red states."

How colossally stupid. The very fact they're spending money to defend a safe seat proves that Democrats can win in red states, and more, that Republicans know it. That quote -- which got no pushback or comment, of course -- should not have been run at all.

NPR seems to rely on its listeners to think critically enough to see thru Republican obfuscation, but that doesn't excuse them from airing palpable nonsense that doesn't even make sense on its face.
posted by Gelatin at 5:47 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


Trump is tweeting about the Stormy Daniels composite sketch. Someone must be getting closer…
posted by mumimor at 5:49 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Your Chuck Todds of the world like to bring up FDR and LBJ, but a) it's telling that they have to reach back decades for relevant examples, b) both of them had Congressional support, and c) both of them had plenty of failures, too. The American system isn't a parliamentary one, and frequently the presidency is hamstrung.

I recall a lot of commenters on various media bringing up FDR and LBJ and why doesn't Obama just bully Congress and/or sway them with the power of his leaderly leadership? And I sighed and shake my head. FDR/LBJ had all of the above (Congressional majorities and their own failures) plus they had vast popular mandates because of national crises - the Depression and WW2 for FDR, Kennedy's assassination for LBJ. You really can't compare Obama's situation.

I think part of the problem is that the Democrats, in general, have focused on winning the Presidency above all else, and think that's all we really need to do. Witness voter engagement in 2008 and then right back to apathy in 2010 (where we got shellacked because apathy).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:50 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Trump is tweeting about the Stormy Daniels composite sketch. Someone must be getting closer…

Surely his lawyer (does he have any now) told him to keep shtum about this case?
posted by PenDevil at 5:52 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Surely his lawyer (does he have any now) told him to keep shtum about this case?

Seriously. Why bother bringing him in for under-oath testimony, when the Public Record is sufficient?
posted by mikelieman at 5:54 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!
Revolution? "Breeding concept"? What is going on with him?


As a Californian, I can confidently say that we are laughing at, not with, The Donald. Most of us are happy with our sanctuary cities and our blue overlords. People like it here, which is why it costs so much to buy and/or rent. Any "revolution" will not be in the Republicans' favor, trust me - it will be more like "we're going to take our sweet, sweet, trillions with a "T" in tax revenues away from your racist, misogynist asses."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:15 AM on April 18 [46 favorites]


Colbert: Did you vote?
Comey: No. I was the FBI Director
And yet somehow you still had a voice in the election. <Yakov_Smirnoff >I love dees country!</Yakov_Smirnoff >
posted by wenestvedt at 6:19 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Oh yes, about that composite photo. The chap to the right is the head of security for Trump Org, one Michael Calamari Jr. Or perhaps it's the one on the left. Hard to tell.

So, absolutely no idea why 45 is so exercised. None whatsoever. No sirree.

(But Calamari? Really?)
posted by Devonian at 6:19 AM on April 18 [25 favorites]


What is going on with him?

He is a bad person and a terrible President.

Oh: but specifically, I would guess that Trump misunderstood what Brown's agreement to use the national guard actually agreed to, and that Brown has been clear and consistent (about using them in a non-law-enforcement capacity, iirc) which Trump is reading as flip-flopping because Trump is a bad listener who frequently assumes that his understanding of things is correct and won't admit he ever got things wrong.

Either that or he's trying make people angry at California because he cares more about the state as a rhetorical wedge than anything else and is making stuff up (ie, lies).

He's not the best president.
posted by cjelli at 6:21 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


I have a favor to ask people: I need us to start focusing on what broad cross aisle coalitions look like. It’s fun to jeer at “the other side” and smugly talk about taking riches off the table but y’all need to know this: the only reason I as a trans woman can pee in Texas is because a republican. A single republican. A fucking beloved democrat in the Texas Senate misgendered me personally at a senate hearing And voted for the bill.

I need broad coalitions. I need your help.

When we fracture the coalitions the occulted minorities suffer. Do you part to help me.

That sole republican who stymied the anti-trans bill retired. Because the republican party is too busy jeering at progressives to build coalitions. I see us progressives doing the exact same damn thing. Neither side is doing their part to protect people like me.

I need republicans and Democrats to stop acting like a bunch of yobs at a football match and start being adults.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:27 AM on April 18 [77 favorites]


Crooks and Liars discusses Stormy Daniels' composite photo, which the President claims does not depict a real person (although how he would know this other than if he was hanging out in a Las Vegas parking garage in 2011 is unclear), and its resemblance to Matthew Calamari Jr. who is not a mini-boss from Splatoon but instead Director of Surveillance for the Trump Organization, like his allegedly violent father Matthew Calamari Sr (also not from Splatoon).
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:34 AM on April 18 [40 favorites]


WAPO: California limits National Guard’s border mission, risking clash with Trump
The state of California has rejected the terms of the Trump administration’s initial request to deploy National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, U.S. military officials and the head of the Border Patrol said Monday, the latest sign of persistent tension with the White House over immigration enforcement.

The troops in California are under the command of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who last week said he would send up to 400 personnel in a limited role.

Just how limited became clearer Monday after California’s National Guard told Homeland Security officials the state will not allow soldiers to do the types of things they’re doing elsewhere on the border: monitoring surveillance cameras, performing maintenance and transporting U.S. border agents.
posted by notyou at 6:53 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Why does a real estate company have a “director of surveillance?”
posted by chrchr at 6:57 AM on April 18 [61 favorites]


FDR/LBJ had all of the above (Congressional majorities and their own failures) plus they had vast popular mandates because of national crises

They also had large majorities in both houses of Congress.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:06 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


This isn’t a totally fully formed thought, but I feel like one of the reasons Avenatti is getting so much traction is that it feels like he plays the game the way Trump does. A little schoolyard, a little back of the class. He is much classier and doesn’t stoop that much, but let’s be honest, any front of the class attacks roll off trumps back, but his stick in the public sphere. He orchestrates the drama well.
posted by Brainy at 7:06 AM on April 18 [30 favorites]


This isn’t a totally fully formed thought, but I feel like one of the reasons Avenatti is getting so much traction is that it feels like he plays the game the way Trump does.

Agreed. Avenatti's PR strategies are exactly the same as Trump's, but Avenatti is much better at it.

Michael "Mikey the Squid" Calamari
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:11 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


That sells Avenatti really short, or else really overestimates Trump's personal capacity for "strategy."
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


[A few deleted; eh, let's not get rolling on dozens of comments making fun of Calamari's name; yes, I know.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:17 AM on April 18 [28 favorites]


1) He's been arguing that Trump isn't as much of a deviation from conservatism as liberals think.

Since when do liberals think Trump, with his abhorrence of facts and monumental bad faith, is all that much of a deviation from conservatism? From what I've seen it's conservatives like David Brooks and Jonah Goldberg who have been trying to claim, unconvincingly, that Trumpism wasn't really what conservatism is about.
posted by Gelatin at 7:18 AM on April 18 [42 favorites]


The chap to the right is the head of security for Trump Org, one Michael Calamari Jr. Or perhaps it's the one on the left. Hard to tell.

No problemo, we'll just get some well-respected, unbesmirched witnesses to verify he was in NY that month or whenever and badda boom accusatory clouds cleared.

/cut-to-commercial-music
posted by petebest at 7:19 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


That sells Avenatti really short, or else really overestimates Trump's personal capacity for "strategy."

Let's put it this way: What Avenatti is doing is what Trump thinks he's doing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:20 AM on April 18 [45 favorites]


There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.

Full-throated white-supremacist talking points.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:22 AM on April 18 [71 favorites]


There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.

But enough about how they feel about your administration.
posted by azpenguin at 7:27 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Colbert: Did you vote?
Comey: No. I was the FBI Director


Is that a thing? That's a stupid thing. Right?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:27 AM on April 18 [21 favorites]


Since when do liberals think Trump, with his abhorrence of facts and monumental bad faith, is all that much of a deviation from conservatism? From what I've seen it's conservatives like David Brooks and Jonah Goldberg who have been trying to claim, unconvincingly, that Trumpism wasn't really what conservatism is about.

The recurring problem in this whole conversation is that no one is specifying who they're talking about because it's more convenient to lump everyone together. Liberal can mean the NYT editorial page, Vox/Talking Points Memo, right wing liberals, progressives, people who call themselves liberal even though their politics are left because that's how we frame things in this country (like, meet my dad), Mother Jones, the Nation, Harper's, the New Yorker...I mean, there's a lot of liberals out there, with a lot of different understandings of conservatism.

It's convenient to say that all liberals think this or that, just as it's convenient to say that all radicals are upper middle class white college students who've never had to work, etc, because this means that you never have to face any complex disagreements - just select the stupidest and most self-serving of people you disagree with and pretend they stand in for the whole.

It's also convenient to assume that your opponent doesn't have a point. It's never convenient to say, "In some ways Trump represents a continuity with the GOP and a continuity with the Obama administration, in others he represents an alarming rupture; discuss", because that requires at least some detailed knowledge about recent history and the mechanisms of government.
posted by Frowner at 7:28 AM on April 18 [25 favorites]


Guys, "breeding" is meant to modify "crime". It's saying that sanctuary cities breed crime.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:34 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Colbert: Did you vote?
Comey: No. I was the FBI Director

Is that a thing? That's a stupid thing. Right?


It's an old-school thing. Eisenhower is known not to have voted while he was in the Army, and was not alone in that (it's possible that the first vote he ever cast was for himself).

(And it's also indicative of a certain level of privilege and self-regard, where you think that you personally are so important that none of these mere candidates would affect your life unduly.)
posted by Etrigan at 7:40 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


I know many journalists who don’t vote, too. They say it’s because they don’t want to have a stake in the success of any candidate or party, which might interfere with their ability to report objectively.
posted by Superplin at 7:43 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


It’s somewhat common for high ranking members of the military or federal law enforcement to abstain from voting. "I am in the pay of the United States government," Gen. George S. Patton said, "If I vote against the administration, I am voting against my commander in chief. If I vote for the administration in office I am being bought."
posted by peeedro at 7:44 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


Andrew McCabe also says he didn't vote in the general election because he was deputy director of the FBI.

I think it's probably a good idea, seeing as these guys have to work directly with whoever wins.

Voting for one particular candidate or party could be taken as a sign of loyalty to that party, especially if done consistently. But these guys don't want to be seen as loyal to a specific candidate or party or politician. They're supposed to be serving the law and finding the truth, not serving the political ends of some faction which is trying to get or keep power.

(Interesting, though, McCabe did vote in the Republican primary. He wouldn't say for whom, but presumably if it had been for Trump, he would still be employed.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:49 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


[Couple deleted; let's not go off into the weeds over this "fuck them if they don't vote" thing; if nothing is happening current eventswise at this very instant, there are a lot of other threads and there's Chat.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:55 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Content aside, I'm so sick of having a President who can't write, whether that's defined as grasping the rules of grammar, avoiding mechanical spelling and punctuation mistakes, or expressing thoughts cogently, let alone lyrically. It's "unpresidented." Even George "Is our children learning?" Bush did better. Trump's defenders, especially his fellow anti-intellectuals, laud his "plain language" but that's Hemingway, not this horrorshow.

I've certainly made stupid errors in my posts on Metafilter and elsewhere--and there are many reasons to loathe everything about Trump and his ideas--but his every tweet enrages me and embarrasses our country. Then again, we elected this moron.
posted by carmicha at 7:59 AM on April 18 [53 favorites]


"breeding" is meant to modify "crime". It's saying that sanctuary cities breed crime.

Yeah, they’re breeding crime because they’re “infested”. Y’know, like infested with vermin that should be exterminated. Thanks for clearing that up; doesn’t sound problematic at all.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:05 AM on April 18 [53 favorites]


There's really no universe in which "breeding" isn't a major red flag.
posted by Slothrup at 8:08 AM on April 18 [113 favorites]


Remember the Green Lantern Theory oath?

In brightest day, in blackest night
no compromise escapes my sight
let those who would avoid some fights
beware my power: detached hindsight!

posted by EatTheWeak at 8:19 AM on April 18 [23 favorites]


There's really no universe in which "breeding" isn't a major red flag.

Especially with a figure like Trump who basically has no internal monologue, and whose every public utterance basically functions as a wide-open picture window to his psyche. His use of the word "breeding" in this case isn't anything so subtle as a Freudian slip; it's a direct articulation of his xenophobic reasons for hating sanctuary cities.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:43 AM on April 18 [28 favorites]


Hey instead of Trump saying "they're bringing crime, they're rapists" as his very first act as a presidential candidate, imagine that he said "they're breeding crime, they're rapists." Not racist at all now, right?
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:45 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


California violent crime has dropped by 61% over the last 25 years. Using the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics and using their legacy definition of rape (which applies to both time points), California had 1,119.7 violent crimes per 100,000 in 1992. In the most recently reported year (2016), it had 437.3.

Seriously, crime that does not exist, illegal voting that doesn't exist, Trump is raging against imaginary people. In anyone else that would be called schizophrenia.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:47 AM on April 18 [53 favorites]


For the record, there is nothing improper about using a private email server. There has never been and still is not a law prohibiting use of private email.

You wanna beat the drum about it not being illegal, that's fine. You want to talk ambiguous/subjective words like improper then I'm gonna say no, it absolutely was and is improper and it was improper when Powell did it and improper when Clinton did it and it's improper that Pruitt uses a half-dozen different email accounts that may or may not be under the government's management.

It was unacceptable that sufficient support and resources were given to Clinton to create the necessary email infrastructure for her to do her job and she cannot be called a dereliction of duty to create the framework needed to do the work. But it is unquestionably improper for people in an accountable position to set up a system that makes hiding government business as easy as simply not doing something; ie, subsequently failing to copy those messages which should be stored and accountable. I am not upset at my five-year-old because he hit the glass with his elbow and knocked it on the ground. I am upset that he put the glass where it could so easily be hit with an elbow.

The people who work for government need to conduct themselves in a way that presupposes and lends itself to accountability. (And that doesn't even address doing it in a way that lends itself to proper security, which isn't having some half-trained aide doing sysadmin work when there's a few spare minutes) It is improper both for a SoS to use such a system and it is improper for the government machine not to have sufficient resources in place such that they need to.

The way Clinton was treated and the presupposition of impropriety was and is wrong. That is not a reason to claim this bad process is okay.
posted by phearlez at 8:50 AM on April 18 [54 favorites]


The Associated Press: President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, is facing so much opposition from Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the panel could be forced to take the unusual step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation.

Keep up the pressure!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:52 AM on April 18 [52 favorites]


Is it unusual when it's not the first time in this administration a candidate was brought for a floor vote after a committee said nay? That happened already, didn't it?
posted by phearlez at 8:54 AM on April 18


Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA): Today I received a candidate questionnaire from @NRA. This is how I answered it.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 AM on April 18 [64 favorites]


Ok, I looked into the “director of surveillance” thing. It is, in fact, a position at a casino. Casinos use surveillance to protect the games from cheating and from fraud. Trump, of course, has had casino interests in the past, though one still wonders why the Trump Org would have surveillance staff after the divestiture of the Atlantic City casinos.
posted by chrchr at 9:04 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]




runcibleshaw: "breeding" is meant to modify "crime". It's saying that sanctuary cities breed crime.

Maybe, but I (speaking as one descendant of the Yellow Peril) take it literally as meaning that Santuary Cities Let The Primitive Hordes Breed & Outnumber You [White people] Like Rats. Or Roaches, or insert your favorite Object Needing Extermination here. Crime is a part of the perceived evil, but they've demonstrated over and over that they don't want even law-abiding people of color here. Maybe "White Ethnostate" is too abstract for a lot of well-intentioned white people to understand in their guts.

I've got to quote one of Conspire's stellar comments here: when you, as a "white person", try to step into the shoes of a person of color, you make the mistake of putting aside "white" when it is actually "person" that you should be discarding.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:11 AM on April 18 [67 favorites]


I fixed this up a bit, parts of it didn't parse. Let me know if I misread your intent.

It was unacceptable that sufficient support and resources weren't given to Clinton to create the necessary email infrastructure for her to do her job and she cannot be called guilty of a dereliction of duty to create the framework needed to do the work.

This is a thing that nearly everybody on both sides misses about the situation, that the State Dept's email system was (& probably still is) basically unusable, so if she wanted to do her job she pretty much had to setup her own server. Now the implementation she ended up with was deeply flawed & she certainly holds some culpability for that. But she was trying to solve a real problem even if she did it poorly.
posted by scalefree at 9:26 AM on April 18 [22 favorites]


Vox, I’m a former reality TV star who almost became a conservative pundit. I couldn’t stomach it.
We hear a lot of rhetoric about how the mainstream media is liberal, but when it came to “my type,” the demand seemed to come from conservative outlets. I’d have to proclaim a “war on Christmas” or conduct sympathetic interviews with bakers refusing to make cakes for gay couples. I didn’t have to believe it; I just had to say I believed it. If I did, there could potentially be a huge payday, I was told.
[insert clever one-liner about Soros]
posted by saysthis at 9:29 AM on April 18 [36 favorites]


WTAE-TV: Pittsburgh police ordered to prepare riot gear until further notice in case Mueller is fired
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:32 AM on April 18 [21 favorites]


Hey, remember when the government did a crap job responding to the hurricane in Puerto Rico?

CNN: Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage
Puerto Rico has suffered an island-wide power outage, Puerto Rico's power authority said Wednesday -- nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island's infrastructure and its electrical grid.

The authority said it estimates power will be restored within 24 to 36 hours. The cause of the blackout is unclear.
posted by hanov3r at 9:34 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


Seriously, crime that does not exist, illegal voting that doesn't exist, Trump is raging against imaginary people. In anyone else that would be called schizophrenia.

TBH this is just a thing right-wingers do: lie a lot, to everybody including themselves. A bunch of conservatives believe that Sweden routinely euthanizes old people to avoid paying for their healthcare so that they can feel good about opposing universal healthcare and accuse liberals of wanting to enact mass murder on the elderly. Similarly, it's a popular belief on the right that certain cities (the most prominent ones are Dearborn and Stockholm) are so "overrun" by feral Muslim immigrants that they're "no-go zones" for the police where evil jihadists patrol the streets, because pretending to believe that makes them feel good about white supremacy.

Trump, as ever, isn't really a new thing. He's just the old thing without enough sense to wear a mask.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:35 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


To be clear, I wasn't saying that the tweet wasn't portraying immigrants as a ravening horde of criminals. It's definitely some racist, xenophobic bullshit. People just seemed to be genuinely confused what "breeding" had to do with "crime" in it. Apologies if no one was and it was an unnecessary "um, actually" on my part.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:36 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Yes, that indicates what I was trying to say, scalefree. But the article you linked to covers this, though it hand-waves it away quite a bit.
But career personnel at the State have little or no experience with how to procure the best systems or are hamstrung by the procurement process, itself. Moreover, the details of managing programs is often left to those at the lower levels who don’t have the political sway to demand modernization of systems. And the people at the top are rarely invested in making those kinds of changes. Fixing the IT infrastructure is not a very appealing topic for any high ranking political appointee doing a finite tour of duty. They are trying to achieve “big things” during their time at the helm.
To which I say HAI THAT'S THE FUCKING JOB and it's why I am such a strident jackhole about not letting it be called anything but improper. Sure, you may not be able to fix this problem during your tenure and you may need to stand up some temporary shit along the way. But, without getting way into the weeds about the ways you can do this more properly, part of that is acknowledging that this is a half-assed hack and doing it in as many above-board ways as possible. And if you're going to be a responsible steward of a department/division/institution/company that will still be there after you're gone then you start up improvement projects that will need to continue after you're gone.

We're all very reasonably up in arms about the ways the Trump administration is burning down these organizations and how long it will take to rebuild them after they're gone. Well, new projects and renovations are part of the basic maintenance of keeping something going. Not doing them is just slow-motion destruction. See: our national bridge infrastructure. Powell and Clinton had a basic duty to fix this shit while they were there, and oh it's not sexy or interesting and they want to do more Big Things so they can't be bothered. Fuuuuuucccckkkkkkk that excuse. You need a specialized server to get shit done right now? Okay. What did you do at the same time to move towards not needing it in a month/year/decade? When the answer is nothing then you absolutely have behaved improperly.
posted by phearlez at 9:42 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


Updated race ratings from Cook. Seven moves, all towards D.
AZ-08: VACANT (Franks) | Solid R to Likely R
AR-02: Hill | Likely R to Lean R
IL-14: Hultgren | Likely R to Lean R
MI-01: Bergman | Solid R to Likely R
OH-14: Joyce | Solid R to Likely R
SC-05: Norman | Solid R to Likely R
VA-05: Garrett | Likely R to Lean R
They also note that Dem challengers have outraised GOP candidates in at least 60 GOP-held seats.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:47 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition

"They got together so I feel an obligation to keep my word and move forward," Grassley said when asked if he would still give the special counsel legislation a vote.

They're going to force Mitch to choose his side. Good.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:51 AM on April 18 [87 favorites]


we are talking about Clinton's email server hahaha excuse me I need to go hurl myself into the sea
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:55 AM on April 18 [148 favorites]


I wonder if the power outage in Puerto Rico is related in any way to the recent DHS statement issued on router hacking. Focusing on routers was a bit weird, but perhaps they knew something was in the pipeline and they weren't sure what, or they wanted to issue an oblique statement that didn't telegraph their knowledge.

I mean, PR's infrastructure is in such dire straits, thanks to the complete abdication of the US government, that it certainly could have collapsed without outside interference. And a blackout not-quite-as large happened just a week ago, and that was caused by a tree. So it could be related to that incident, or the repairs after that incident. Still, it's probably one of the more vulnerable US grids given its instability, and toppling an entire island's grid might be more tempting than taking out even a major city for just a short time. And anything learned from taking out PR's grid would have applications for later efforts.
posted by halation at 9:56 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


A more optimistic take on the possibility of firing Mueller from Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect: Trump's Impotent Rage:
In short, if ever there were window when Trump might have gotten away with a Saturday Night Massacre scenario of serial firings, that window has now slammed shut. The damage to Trump himself and to his remaining political support among election-anxious Republicans would far outweigh the gains.

Even without Mueller, the investigation fueled by everything that Mueller has already unearthed would live on, whether via the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, Congress, the Justice Department, or any of several state attorneys general. A president with broad political support might have illusions of quashing all such investigations, but Trump lacks the political support, and firing Rosenstein and Mueller would further erode what remains of his political backing, even among Republicans.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:59 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


@PatBlanchfield
TIL that James Comey thinks that the phrase "mass incarceration" is inaccurate and an offensive term used against Police People. Motherfucker is sitting in the oval office with the first black president and feels compelled to argue that talking about how african americans are imprisoned at five times the rate of whites, or how we imprison more people than anywhere else on the planet, is triggering to cops.
"We talked about the impact on black communities from the extraordi-narily high percentage of black men in the criminal justice system, and how poor a job our country has done to prepare those in prison to return to pro-ductive lives. Although I agreed that the jailing of so many black men was a tragedy, I also shared how a term he used, "mass incarceration"—to describe what, in his view, was a national epidemic of locking up too many people—struck the ears of those of us who had dedicated much of our lives to trying to reduce crime in minority neighborhoods. To my ears, the term "mass incarceration" conjures an image of World War II Japanese internment camps, where vast numbers of people were herded behind barbed wire. I thought the term was both inaccurate and insulting to a lot of good people in law enforcement who cared deeply about helping people trapped in dan-gerous neighborhoods. It was inaccurate in the sense that there was nothing "mass" about the incarceration: every defendant was charged individually, represented individually by counsel, convicted by a court individually, sen-tenced individually, reviewed on appeal individually, and incarcerated. That added up to a lot of people in jail, but there was nothing "mass" about it, I said. And the insulting part, I explained, was the way it cast as illegitimate the efforts by cops, agents, and prosecutors—joined by the black community —to rescue hard-hit neighborhoods."
posted by chris24 at 10:01 AM on April 18 [60 favorites]


the State Dept's email system was (& probably still is) basically unusable, so if she wanted to do her job she pretty much had to setup her own server. Now the implementation she ended up with was deeply flawed & she certainly holds some culpability for that. But she was trying to solve a real problem even if she did it poorly.

Bears repeating: as far as we know. Hillary Clinton's private email server was never hacked by the Russians, while the State Department's servers were, repeatedly. In fact, her server may be the only major US government server that wasn't; even the NSA got hacked of it's most secret hacking tools.

And this makes sense, because if only 3 or 4 people have credentials for the server, it's a lot harder to get them through phishing operations than a system shared by 1,000 or 10,000 people.
posted by msalt at 10:08 AM on April 18 [43 favorites]


And...not sure if this should go in the Parkland thread, on the front page, or where, but...given that this is the general home of all things Trump, Republicans, politics, and OH FFS BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DID, also from Vox:
You’ve heard of David Hogg. But the right has claimed another Parkland student as its own.
Kyle Kashuv is 16 years old. And now he’s in the middle of one of the most divisive debates in America.

Before the shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, and before the March for Our Lives and Friday’s planned National School Walkout, Kyle Kashuv, a 16-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, spent a lot of his time taking Advanced Placement classes and playing video games in his spare time (his favorite is Fortnite). But since February 14, Kashuv has been too busy for video games. He’s visited Washington, met President Trump and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and made multiple appearances on Fox News.
[...]
With the help of a 19-year-old marketer, Michael Gruen, and popular conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Kashuv met with dozens of lawmakers in March to urge the STOP School Violence Act toward passage — which it did, clearing the House on March 14 and becoming law as part of the omnibus funding bill on March 23. And his profile has only grown since then.
[...]
But more recently, Kashuv’s tweets about debating other Parkland survivors on gun control have made national news. And after former Newsweek senior writer and MSNBC contributor Kurt Eichenwald went after Kashuv on Twitter, Kashuv seemed to call for a boycott of MSNBC’s advertisers. Kashuv was trying to make a point about double standards in the media about boycotts, but at least one company pulled its ads from MSNBC in response.
[...]
A month after Morse’s story on Kashuv at RedState, the outlet has promised to stop publishing any stories about Parkland student activists, including Kashuv. “The main reason is that this entire media scrum is entirely out of hand and I don’t want to be a part of it,” RedState editor-in-chief Caleb Howe wrote. “And I don’t just mean criticisms of the students, I mean those purporting to admire or praise them. And I mean the kids themselves. It’s all an ugly mess.” I reached out to Howe but haven’t received a response.
Because of course. Also, Soros.
posted by saysthis at 10:08 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Seriously, crime that does not exist, illegal voting that doesn't exist, Trump is raging against imaginary people. In anyone else that would be called schizophrenia.

Except that it's also a very effective technique in the modern world, because when everything is virtual, it's a lot easier to blur reality. Compare this to a world where Democrats' strength was rooted in unions, real-life meetings and rallies of people you work with every day, focused on issues you see played out 8 hours every day.

Trump may be an idiot savant of this strategy or the culmination of decades of false reality beginning with his fake-it-till-you-make-it preachers Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, but it's an approach that works today, which is why young right-wingers are present online and hide in real life.
posted by msalt at 10:13 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


[Enough on Clinton's email server, seriously.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:17 AM on April 18 [36 favorites]


There are so many things going on, and on the scale of scandals and problems, this barely even moves the needle. However: half a Scaramucci ago, I posted an update on "Robert Mercer's Secret Adventure, where rich assholes exploited a tiny New Mexico town's volunteer reserve police force to obtain concealed carry privileges in all 50 states" - after all the bad publicity, Tiny Town Shuts Police Program That Gave Robert Mercer a Badge.

Well, joke's on me, because these people are like cockroaches. You guessed it: Mercer is apparently part of the "sheriff's volunteer posse" in a another small town - this one in Colorado. Bloomberg: "Robert Mercer Got a New Badge, The Sheriff Got a New Dodge Ram".

The sheriff refused comment with this statement: “Some of my volunteer resources are directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in my area. It would not be safe tactically or personally to identify individuals who serve in association with those types of cases.”

(Via Matt Levine at Bloomberg, who comments, "OH BOY DO I EVER HOPE THAT ROBERT MERCER IS INFILTRATING CARTELS ON HIS DAYS OFF. Don't get me wrong: I doubt it! But if he is, then I will forever give up making jokes about writing movies based on financial news." Levine's Money Stuff column is a delightfully quirky read if you're into that sort of thing.)

[Everyone who reads these threads already knows who Robert Mercer is, right? Renaissance Technologies, the Sea Owl, Breitbart, Bannon, Cambridge Analytica, ...]
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:21 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


Amended ethics filing shows Dennis Kucinich was paid $20k by pro-Syrian government group
CLEVELAND, Ohio - After initially not disclosing who paid him to give speeches in 2017, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed an amended ethics disclosure showing he was paid $20,000 by a group sympathetic to the Syrian government.

Syria's President Bashar Assad has been accused by multiple intelligence agencies of using chemical weapons on his own people in the long-running Syrian Civil War.

The revelation comes when Kucinich has been dogged by his connection to Assad, whom he met with in 2017, in the gubernatorial race. Kucinich, a longtime critic of American involvement with foreign conflict, has questioned whether Assad used chemical weapons.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:29 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


For the record, George Soros is 87 years old and still manages to micro-manage all liberal conspiracies. I want some of that goat gland juice he must be drinking.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:29 AM on April 18 [33 favorites]


I've been watching Flint Town, Netflix's documentary about the understaffed police force in Flint Michigan. As Flint's budget issues have grown more dire, the number of patrol officers has been cut from 300 to just 98 now and they have a huge backlog of calls every day.

The first thing I thought was if Robert Mercer really wants to play cops and robbers as a way of getting a concealed carry license he should do 10 hours/month of actual ride-along policing in Flint, where they actually need some extra hands.

[edited to change link to one non-Netflix members can actually access]
posted by duoshao at 10:30 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Considering Mercers ties to Blackwater, having him hunt Mexicans seems like a license to kill, and this is bad.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:30 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


You guessed it: Mercer is apparently part of the "sheriff's volunteer posse" in a another small town - this one in Colorado.

Senator Cory Gardner is from Yuma.
posted by danielleh at 10:32 AM on April 18


Has anyone done a venn diagram on the overlap between Trump and Scientology? Just curious. "Trump Org", amongst a plethora of other things, make it seem like an interesting intersection.
posted by petebest at 10:33 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Considering Mercer's age and the fact that his participation in this play-acting is well-known enough to make it into his Wikipedia article (which also has a big picture of his face) it seems more likely to end up as a license for the cartels to kill him.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:33 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


FDR/LBJ had all of the above (Congressional majorities and their own failures) plus they had vast popular mandates because of national crises
They also had large majorities in both houses of Congress.
And FDR only got the New Deal passed, with the support of the Southern Democrats, by largely excluding black Americans from its benefits; LBJ only got what was arguably his most important legislation (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) passed by appealing to moderate Northern Republicans as "the party of Lincoln".
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 10:33 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


Trump saying "they're bringing crime, they're rapists" as his very first act as a presidential candidate

We knew he was horrible from the first moment of his candidacy, and the Republicans still nominated him and the Republicans still elected him. And despite his unending examples of being a terrible person and a terrible president, most of the Republicans still support him.

Yet when he finally goes it will shock you how quickly he becomes a Democrat in disguise and you won't be able to find anyone that admits they supported him.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:38 AM on April 18 [65 favorites]


You guessed it: Mercer is apparently part of the "sheriff's volunteer posse" in a another small town - this one in Colorado.

Here's an avenue for folks looking for an activism opportunity that's pretty low risk: Bother the hell out of these towns. Figure out who's in charge at the police station, who's in charge of the police. Is there a town council? Figure out who's on it.

Call all of these fuckers and make it very difficult for them to hand out these loophole badges to rich fuckers.

Cause, here's what I see: Mercer is shopping around precisely because public action caused his last loophole badge to become worthless. Any time he spends shopping around after getting kicked off a police force is time he can't legally conceal-carry in fucking New York City.

So, keep up the calls and emails and research, because it'll not only keep Robert himself from doing it, but discourage all the other people he "teaches" this technique to through his LLCs. Make this loophole untenable.

Also, write your congress folks about the federal laws that permit this loophole to exist. Just close off the opportunity to officers that aren't full-time-active with a timesheet to prove it, for starters.
posted by odinsdream at 10:40 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


Has anyone done a venn diagram on the overlap between Trump and Scientology? Just curious. "Trump Org", amongst a plethora of other things, make it seem like an interesting intersection.

I theorize that the ONLY reason trump hasn't already taken bribe money and filled his cabinet with Scientologists is that the Evangelicals got to him first. If their support were ever to dry up (which won't happen) you can bet he would start selling off public lands dirt cheap to Miscavige and Co. in a heartbeat.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:41 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Hey, if Trump let his kids take over management of the Trump Organization's various businesses, why is he still listed as the CEO of the Trump Hotel Management Company in its NY Secretary of State registry? I don't think they left off the "Jr.," because Junior is clearly identified as Junior in listings for some of their other businesses.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:46 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


Has anyone done a venn diagram on the overlap between Trump and Scientology? Just curious. "Trump Org", amongst a plethora of other things, make it seem like an interesting intersection.

Yep, I noticed a convergence in their TTP (tools, techniques & procedures) as soon as Trump arrived on the political scene. Lawfare, propaganda, distortion, hacking, trolls. But as far as I can tell it's purely a matter of parallel evolution; similar problems, similar mindset, similar solutions.
posted by scalefree at 10:46 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Quinnipiac: Cruz, O'Rourke too close to call in Texas Senate race

Texas voters “like Ted Cruz as a person” 47 – 38 percent. D8<
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:46 AM on April 18 [44 favorites]


It's a thing they do: Trump Trade Official Spent $1 Million on New Furniture, Blames Obama (Marisa Schultz, NY Post)

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spent more than $917,000 to furnish the two trade offices near the White House, according to contracts reviewed by The Post.

That’s a significant increase compared to the last two trade reps. [. . . ] The project to upgrade offices has been going on since 2014,” the trade office said.

But Obama-era reps say they didn’t sign off on any major remodeling plans. [. . . ]

“We told 11 other countries that we were going to do a trade deal with them, and the Trump administration found the power to unwind that,” the Obama trade official told The Post. “So furniture purchases cannot be as binding as a trade agreement that the president of the United States signed.”

posted by petebest at 10:49 AM on April 18 [50 favorites]


Stormy Daniel's lawyer is an excellent troll. He did this thing.
The sketch reveal and a $100,000 reward leading to his identification were announced by Daniels and Avenatti on ABC's "The View" on Tuesday morning. On CNN Tuesday evening, Avenatti raised the reward to $131,000.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:52 AM on April 18 [49 favorites]


the term "mass incarceration" conjures an image of World War II Japanese internment camps, where vast numbers of people were herded behind barbed wire

21% of black people can't vote in Florida. 26% in Kentucky. Comey not only dismisses the idea of voting himself, he dismisses the right to vote for millions of people by denying there's even a problem.
posted by zachlipton at 10:53 AM on April 18 [73 favorites]


That added up to a lot of people in jail, but there was nothing "mass" about it, I said. And the insulting part, I explained, was the way it cast as illegitimate the efforts by cops, agents, and prosecutors—joined by the black community —to rescue hard-hit neighborhoods."

posted by chris24 at 10:01 AM on April 18 [14 favorites +] [!]


Same mentality as in Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village to save it" = "We had to lock the neighborhood up to save it"
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:55 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


@seungminkim: Drama on the Senate floor. Cloture on Bridenstine for NASA tied at 49-49 and Pence, the tie-breaker, is in Mar-a-Lago. Flake is the GOP vote against.

Now that's just bad staff work right there.
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 AM on April 18 [62 favorites]


Cruz, O'Rourke too close to call in Texas Senate race

Bob Corker: Phil Bredesen is ahead in Tennessee Senate race

The Senate is in reach, and the closer we get, the better things look. It is not a pipe dream. Get the word out, knock on doors, give money if you can, and let's knock Mitch McConnell out on his pasty ass.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:59 AM on April 18 [51 favorites]


Noted several hours ago:
Michael Cohen's uncle Morton Levine owned and ran a Brooklyn social club, El Caribe. From the 1970s until at least the 1990s, the bosses of the Russian mafia in the US had their primary office in El Caribe.
Like much of his family, Michael Cohen owned a stake in El Caribe. He sold it only when Donald Trump was elected President.

This rabbit hole can only get deeper, because law enforcement and the media have been trying to ignore Trump & Co's organized crime links for as long as he's been "in business". I only hope that Mueller or somebody exposes that entire nest of vermin because it would most likely extend from the Trump Crime Family to the Mercers, Murdocks and/or Kochs.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:04 AM on April 18 [27 favorites]


@seungminkim: Drama on the Senate floor. Cloture on Bridenstine for NASA tied at 49-49 and Pence, the tie-breaker, is in Mar-a-Lago. Flake is the GOP vote against.

The two missing votes (in addition to Pence's) are Duckworth and McCain, yes?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:08 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Flake just switched his vote to yes, because he’s never going to be the actual holding point on anything ever. He just wants credit for it on CNN.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:12 AM on April 18 [50 favorites]


It is not a pipe dream. Get the word out, knock on doors, give money if you can

I would like to put in a plug for my Senator, Tammy Baldwin. I know she doesn't make the lists of "most vulnerable" Democrats, and certainly folks like Claire McCaskill do belong at the top of that list.

But I've lived in this state for more than 30 years, and what the GOP is managing to accomplish electorally here in America's Dairyland really scares me. Voter ID laws are real. They are the little push on the scale that the Republican party needs to get over the top.

No matter who ends up nominated to run by the GOP, either Nicholson or Vukmir represents a serious threat to one of the more liberal voices in the Senate. Senator Baldwin is a slam-dunk in favor of single-payer health care, and it would be a shame to lose her seat to whatever empty-suit dignity wraith comes out on top in the primary.
posted by rocketman at 11:13 AM on April 18 [26 favorites]


Has anyone done a venn diagram on the overlap between Trump and Scientology?

IMO Trump seems to regard Scientology as a rival real-estate scam; he's gone on record as saying that the church should lose its prized tax-exempt status. At the very least, game recognizes game.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:13 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


I only hope that Mueller or somebody exposes that entire nest of vermin because it would most likely extend from the Trump Crime Family to the Mercers, Murdocks and/or Kochs.

This is actually one of the stupidest things about Stupid Business Plot. The Mercers, Murdocks, Waltons, and Kochs, while immoral; unjust; and objectively evil. Are barely legal, but more deniably legal. The Trump Cosy Nostrum is the worst possible capitalist crime family they could have gone with.

To be fair they are working with very limited talent swimming in a depleted gene pool.
posted by Buntix at 11:17 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Has anyone done a venn diagram on the overlap between Trump and Scientology?

Not sure, but astonishingly, I actually have more respect for Scientology. I mean, that's not saying a lot — like, the amount of respect I have for Scientology might half-fill one of the larger pores on Carter Page's nose — but simply as a consequence of their tenacity and their ability to continue their scamnacious ways in the post-Clambake era, it's a grudging non-zero. Trump I have precisely zero respect for, whether as man, movement, ideology or icon.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:23 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Part of the problem with Bridenstine, by the way, (there are many) is the time he had the museum he ran, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, host a Rocket Racing League event, which he was an investor of. The museum lost money on the arrangement, and along with his other spending, went into debt.
posted by zachlipton at 11:29 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


In all my dealings with Scientology, I've never know of a connection to Trump. Admittedly, Trump was not at the forefront of my brain back during my days of protesting them so there could be a connection I missed.

THAT said, literally last week I was thinking about how many of his method's mimic Scientology. So while I don't think there's a direct relation, there is certainly some cross methodology there.
posted by Twain Device at 11:34 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Rust Moranis: "Quinnipiac: Cruz, O'Rourke too close to call in Texas Senate race"

Most of the Senate races have been super under-polled, so I'm just glad to see some kind of numbers - I think the last TX poll was in December.

I'm still pretty skeptical about TX working out, but anything that absorbs GOP time/energy is a win.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:43 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


Trump has that same powerful charismatic sleazebag thing that L. Ron Hubbard had, and I think maybe the similarities in their organizations come from those organizations essentially being outgrowths of the men at the center with no other forces in the organizations to limit the effects of that, so the concepts of sociopathic manipulation and narcissism escaped the containment of these men's minds and grew a physical form made of employees and lawyers and real estate and fixers and gaudy decorations. It's kind of terrifying if you think about it too much.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:44 AM on April 18 [19 favorites]


About a third of a scaramucci above I said Comey wasn't as self aware as I like to see in an FBI director? Well, him explaining "the insulting part" of mass incarceration to the first black President of this country is less self awareness than I want to see in a god damn hamster!

And then I imagine Obama using his reasonable-voice to say "well, I hear what you're saying, Jim" and I just cringe-rage so hard. Could Obama maybe get TWO Nobel Peace Prizes? One for "just putting up with this kind of stuff, in this millennium, for crying out loud"?

I still don't think Comey is an angel or a devil, but he could be some kind of flatworm, or cnidarian.
posted by Horkus at 11:47 AM on April 18 [43 favorites]


I thought the term ["mass incarceration"] was both inaccurate and insulting to a lot of good people in law enforcement who cared deeply about helping people trapped in dan-gerous neighborhoods. It was inaccurate in the sense that there was nothing "mass" about the incarceration: every defendant was charged individually, represented individually by counsel, convicted by a court individually, sen-tenced individually, reviewed on appeal individually, and incarcerated. That added up to a lot of people in jail


Why, yes, it did, Jim. Maybe that's because all of those individual defendants were collectively -- mass, if you will -- victims of an unjust system, and one that you therefore helped perpetuate, good intentions notwithstanding? What did you do about it?
posted by Gelatin at 11:55 AM on April 18 [40 favorites]


(All right, maybe not all of them, but statistics indicate that the number is unacceptably high.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:03 PM on April 18


Most of the Senate races have been super under-polled, so I'm just glad to see some kind of numbers - I think the last TX poll was in December.

Public Policy Polling did in late January and found Cruz with only a 8 point lead.

@ppppolls (1/24/18)
Our new poll for @StopBigMoney finds that Ted Cruz has a 38/49 favorability rating in Texas, and leads Beto O'Rourke just 45-37: http://endcitizensunited.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/TexasResults.pdf
posted by chris24 at 12:12 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Thanks, I'd remembered there was a PPP one, but not exactly when it was. But I believe this is the first polling post-primary.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:16 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


So while I don't think there's a direct relation, there is certainly some cross methodology there.

One of the similarities that occurred to me was after watching a "Scientology and the Aftermath" episode in which various church members recount their shock and awe during the moment they realized they'd been flatly lied to for so long.

Trump Train. Lotta people on it. Gonna be . . . interesting. Not the Hannities of the world - the craven, racist bastards that proliferate around money, but the actual modest-living Fox News captives who were told this guy is the guy. I have to think at some point at least a percentage of them are going to go through that moment of jaw-dropping, "holy shit, you mean . . ."
posted by petebest at 12:19 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


phearlez: "Is it unusual when it's not the first time in this administration a candidate was brought for a floor vote after a committee said nay? That happened already, didn't it?"

Erm, I don't remember that happening, but maybe I missed it. It's definitely very unusual for SecState, though - it's never happened since 1925, when the votes were made public.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:20 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Politico, Trump campaigner accused of sexual harassment picked as VA information officer. This guy annoyed enough people at Treasury to get sent to the basement and transferred to the VA, where he was accused of conspiring to get Shulkin fired, and is the defendant in a lawsuit by a fellow Trump campaign staffer for harassment. Great choice to promote him to oversee one of the most important IT modernization efforts in the federal government, right?
posted by zachlipton at 12:25 PM on April 18 [28 favorites]


James Comey is the General George McClellan of our age. Like McClellan, he was the best and the brightest in his department. A man respected for his adherence to best practices and doctrine; known for his ethical standing, and clearly the man to face down any enemy, foreign or domestic. He stood at the pinnacle of American law enforcement, representing the best version of WASP-ish Justice upper crust America had to offer.

And yet, standing at the summit of his career, he fumbled, hedged, obscured and evaded his responsibility to the constitution and the American people. His failure to defend the FBI’s decision to end the investigation of HRC is his Second Bull Run, and his inability to stop a poorly coifed can of Fanta from stealing the election is his Antietam. His self-righteousness blinded him to his inability to act when action was required. Now it is up to Mueller to “borrow” the Justice Department Comey refused to use to protect and defend the USA.

Comey’s Media tour is similar to McClellan’s ‘64 presidential campaign: maintaining himself as the best the country has to offer, and tiptoeing the middle ground by laying the blame for his failures at the feet of the Obama administration, the Clinton campaign, Trump, and tellingly, the American people. He should be resolutely ridiculed for his maudlin apologetics, and put out to pasture, away from the polis, where is probity can’t do any further harm to these USA.
posted by Roger_Mexico at 12:56 PM on April 18 [44 favorites]


In my AP US History class there was a multiple choice question about the Anaconda Plan in the Civil War. One of the choices was something like, "b. It was named for George McClellan, who was nicknamed 'the Anaconda'", and it's literally the only thing I remember McClellan or the Anaconda Plan to this day.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:02 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


I missed this LA Times article from a week ago about what Mulvaney is doing as Allegedly Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
He has scaled back enforcement efforts. He changed the bureau's mission statement to make the top goal "identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome regulations." And in his prepared testimony for the hearing, Mulvaney said the agency's new priority is "to recognize free markets and consumer choice" and take "a humble approach to enforcing the law".

Mulvaney acknowledged that although the bureau had averaged opening one new enforcement action a week under Cordray, he had launched none since taking over.

That triggered astonishment from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

"Are you telling me that every single financial institution in America has suddenly snapped into full compliance with every single consumer financial law since you took over last November?" she said. "I'm deeply disappointed that we have essentially taken the cop off the beat in terms of initiating new actions to help the consumer."

Mulvaney responded that "we are still going after bad actors," noting the bureau still had 100 ongoing probes.

But he reiterated formal recommendations he made last week for Congress to reduce the bureau's authority, which includes funding outside the regular congressional appropriation process and job protection for its director, who can only be fired by the president for cause, rather than at will.
Deputy Director Leandra English is still attempting to wrest the Acting Directorship from Mulvaney in court.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:03 PM on April 18 [23 favorites]


B was the wrong answer, Gen. Scott came up with the Anaconda Plan.
posted by Sphinx at 1:04 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Scott's Anaconda don't want none unless you've gunboats, hon
posted by halation at 1:06 PM on April 18 [38 favorites]


Public Policy Polling did in late January and found Cruz with only a 8 point lead.

I've been volunteering for Beto. It may still be an uphill battle but we have the ground game, we have a solid GOTV process backed by some very nifty software, we have the energy, most of all we have Beto.
posted by scalefree at 1:08 PM on April 18 [54 favorites]


I want Ted Cruz to be so scared of losing that he has to ask the President to come down and rally for him and hopefully not mention that Cruz's father murdered JFK
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:11 PM on April 18 [56 favorites]


the Daily News has a tiny bit more detail about the Pittsburgh Police wearing riot gear.

but the question is: does someone in pittsburgh know something we don't?
posted by murphy slaw at 1:14 PM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Sens. Murphy and Merkley introduced a new Medicare buy-in bill today (a "public option" if we still called things that), the "Choose Medicare Act", and Sarah Kliff has a nice little wrap-up of the five major proposals on the table. There are also some notes on the Murphy-Merkley bill from Margot Sanger-Katz, including the uphill battle involved in getting doctors and hospitals to accept Medicare rates from a larger pool of patients.

These bills are fantasy, they're not going anywhere anytime soon, but it's good that Democrats are continuing to move forward and campaign on health care. I came across this chart of Obamacare-related campaign ad spending. After years of Democrats running away from it and Republicans pouring tens of millions into attack ads, Republicans are finally running away from health care as Democrats seize on it as a winning issue.

On the other hand, some polling indicates 2018 voters really don't seem to care all that much, and it depends a lot on how you ask the question and whether people hear potential downsides.
posted by zachlipton at 1:16 PM on April 18 [19 favorites]


So weird, I spent most of the day thinking about George McClellan in the context of Comey and civilian oversight of the military and law enforcement and the whole Comey and McCabe not voting derail. Lincoln reassigned McClellan to a desk in New Jersey to await orders that never arrived after failing to press his advantages after Antietam, so he ran for president. An active duty general in the regular army running against Lincoln gets pretty close to Caesar crossing the Rubicon. McClellan would be a better known villian of American history if half the country wasn’t in open rebellion at the time.
posted by peeedro at 1:27 PM on April 18 [13 favorites]


Today I learned: in states such as New York, if someone is prosecuted in Federal court and pardoned by the President, they cannot be prosecuted for the same actions under state law due to double jeopardy.

This seems extremely bad under present circumstances!

The New York Times reports that New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is trying to remedy this by adding an exception to the double jeopardy law.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:30 PM on April 18 [32 favorites]


McClellan was a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge turd to Lincoln, though. I won't derail the thread to give a list, but JEEBUS CHRIST WHAT AN ASSHOLE. Who frequently refused to do his job or even let Lincoln know what was going on, would refuse to see him, and called him names constantly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:30 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


On the other hand, some polling indicates 2018 voters really don't seem to care all that much, and it depends a lot on how you ask the question and whether people hear potential downsides.

posted by zachlipton at 1:16 PM on April 18 [3 favorites +] [!]


I was struck by this graphic, but I have a question. What is the difference between Medicare buy-in for everyone and Medicare-for-all option?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:31 PM on April 18


What is the difference between Medicare buy-in for everyone and Medicare-for-all option?

All of the proposals are a bit different, and as Sanger-Katz notes, we don't have good terminology to talk about these kinds of differences. Broadly, a Medicare-for-all plan like the Sanders bill are about creating a system where there is a single government-backed health care system for all, to the extent that employers and private insurers would not be allowed to offer competing plans. A Medicare buy-in plan (essentially what we used to call a "public option") would be setting up government-run plans to compete with existing private health insurance, and individuals and employers can compare plans and buy whatever they think is best.

As usual, the devil is in the details of exactly what the plan would cover, how much it would cost, and how much it pays providers. And there are ideological questions about government competing with private businesses, along with the question as to whether such competition is even practical.
posted by zachlipton at 1:42 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Am I wrong in reading that chart as primarily about branding and less about substance? looking at prior Kaiser research it seems like they polled a variety of different names that don't necessarily correspond with substantive policy differences they note, for example, that Bernie's proposal which he called "Medicare for all" isn't technically that because it would create a new medicare-like system for everyone. They also note that many people erroneously believe that, under various scenarios that have been proposed, they would necessarily be able to keep their current non-medicare health care. I believe the phraseology "Medicare buy in" is meant to indicate that there would be a gov't backed option available to anyone who wanted it, where M4A is largely viewed as government provided healthcare exclusive of any private option.

or what, on preview, zachlipton put more concisely.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:46 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


How the fuck did Schneiderman not know about the double jeopardy exception?
posted by rhizome at 1:49 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


What is the difference between Medicare buy-in for everyone and Medicare-for-all option?
All of the proposals are a bit different, and as Sanger-Katz notes, we don't have good terminology to talk about these kinds of differences. Broadly, a Medicare-for-all plan like the Sanders bill are about creating a system where there is a single government-backed health care system for all, to the extent that employers and private insurers would not be allowed to offer competing plans. A Medicare buy-in plan (essentially what we used to call a "public option") would be setting up government-run plans to compete with existing private health insurance, and individuals and employers can compare plans and buy whatever they think is best.
My bad. I was responding to the graph I linked; it has these four options:

1. Single-payer plan (53% favor)
2. Medicare-for-all (59%)
3. Medicare buy-in for everyone (72%)
4. Medicare-for-all option (75%)

I was trying to figure out what the difference between 3 and 4 is, as they sound the same. What you describe for 4 is what I would say 2 is. I agree with your description of 3, but how does it differ from 4?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:52 PM on April 18


How the fuck did Schneiderman not know about the double jeopardy exception?

Why would we presume he didn't know about it? As the NYTimes notes,
Mr. Schneiderman has successfully backed changes to the double jeopardy law before. In 2011, the state closed what was known as the “Helmsley loophole,” named for the headline-grabbing hotelier Leona Helmsley, allowing it to prosecute tax cheats who had already been prosecuted federally.
Given that he's actively backed prior changes to state law to specifically exempt other crimes, I think it's more likely that, because it requires the legislature to effect a change, he deemed it to be not politically viable to push for until now.
posted by cjelli at 1:55 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


I don't see why double jeopardy should be a problem. There seem to be plenty of crimes - just divide 'em up between the feds and the state and start prosecuting!
posted by duoshao at 2:00 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


I wonder how double jeopardy works with pardons for hypothetical crimes which a person “has committed or may have committed or taken part in.” On the one hand, that covers everything. On the other, maybe that only covers federal crimes, and a state could still prosecute? (The defendant would then fight to remove the jurisdiction to federal court, at which point it would presumably be covered under the pardon.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:00 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]




I don't think Schneiderman will get the change he's asking for; the NY Senate is completely dysfunctional with a bunch of Democratic quislings. Real quislings not, like, Manchinesque quislings.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


IIRC the prosecution of a crime needs to have advanced to at least a minimal stage before double jeopardy can be triggered by a parallel prosecution. I don't think a jury has to have been empaneled, but there definitely needs to be actual charges and probably the case committed for trial.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:08 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I think the poll is more about testing messaging than actual policies. People like the word "option" because it sounds optional, and more options for all sound good. You can drill into some of the numbers here (I don't know where all the numbers in the tweeted graphic come from); the most popular version is when people are asked about a plan "open to anyone who wants it but people who currently have other coverage could keep what they have."

Part of the issue here is that nobody can entirely predict what these plans do. A generous enough Medicare-for-all option wouldn't compete on a level playing field and could theoretically drive all the private insurers out of business, and nobody wants to make a "if you like your plan, you can keep it" promise they can't keep. The exact benefit design of a public plan is what determines whether people would choose it or not, and defining that is hard.

CBO scored a "public plan" in 2013 (using Medicare+5% reimbursement rates and actuarially sound premiums to fully cover costs). The results there were useful but not revolutionary and would not lead to a significant change in the number of uninsured.
posted by zachlipton at 2:08 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


NYT, Ex-Playboy Model, Let Out of Tabloid Contract, Can Freely Discuss Alleged Trump Affair
The tabloid news company American Media Inc. agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had kept her from talking freely about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump, her lawyer said.

The settlement agreement, reached Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.
Seeing speculation they wanted to end this to avoid discovery.
posted by zachlipton at 2:17 PM on April 18 [48 favorites]


Seeing speculation they wanted to end this to avoid discovery.

That is the rather obvious conclusion, yes. Considering what we know about the Cohen raid, though, I would assume there's already an investigation into whether the agreement with McDougal also constituted an illegal campaign contribution. In that case avoiding discovery stems only the public flood, but doesn't do anything to stop any progress towards indictments on the matter.
posted by fedward at 2:36 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Today's extremely normal Greitens news:

@ZavalaA

BREAKING: Governor Eric Greitens has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Missouri Attorney General, Josh Hawley. Court records show it was filed in Jefferson City.

Subsequent update:

Governor Eric Greitens' restraining order against MO Attorney General Josh Hawley aims to stop Hawley from investigating him. Also wants a special prosecutor appointed for investigation into The Mission Continues.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:37 PM on April 18 [35 favorites]


@NYGovCuomo: Today I’m issuing an executive order giving parolees the right to vote. It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society. We’re also launching an investigation into bail bondsmen who extort the poor at their highest point of pain. This industry must be reformed.

Gosh, Cynthia Nixon just announced her candidacy, and look at how much good she's managed to do already!
posted by zachlipton at 2:41 PM on April 18 [157 favorites]


“The Mission Continues“ is the name of the nonprofit Greitens is accused of improperly using the donor list from, not like, the name of his pre-written autobiography of how he rose to the White House. Although it may also be that.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:42 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


The Associated Press: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt flew in coach-class seats on at least two trips when taxpayers weren’t footing the bill, despite claims he needed to travel in first class at government expense because of security threats.

Presumably he needed to keep those dollars in his bank account for security reasons
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:48 PM on April 18 [59 favorites]


The recent court decision declaring the travel ban unconstitutional. They straight up say the ban is unconstitutional because it's racist:

https://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/172231.P.pdf (quotes from about page 40)

The Government maintains that the Proclamation’s facial neutrality establishes that it is “not intended to discriminate on the basis of religion.” However...

...Rudy Giuliani, an advisor to President Trump, explained that EO-1’s purpose was to deliver on President Trump’s promise to “ban Muslim immigration to the United States.”

...Only nine days before issuing the Proclamation, President Trump tweeted, “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” J.A. 832.

...The President endorsed an apocryphal story involving General Pershing and a purported massacre of Muslims with bullets dipped in a pig’s blood, advising people to “[s]tudy what General Pershing . . . did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” J.A. 806.

...President Trump retweeted three disturbing anti-Muslim videos entitled: “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” J.A. 1497–99.

...When asked about the three videos, President Trump’s deputy press secretary Raj Shah responded by saying that the... “the President has addressed these issues with the travel order that he issued earlier this year and the companion proclamation.” J.A. 1502–03.

The Government does not—and, indeed, cannot—dispute that the President made these statements. Instead, it argues that the “statements that occurred after the issuance of EO-2 do not reflect any religious animus” but reflect “the compelling secular goal of protecting national security from an amply-documented present threat.” First Br. 52.

We cannot agree. Rather, an objective observer could conclude that the President’s repeated statements convey the primary purpose of the Proclamation—to exclude Muslims from the United States.

In fact, it is hard to imagine how an objective observer could come to any other conclusion when the President’s own deputy press secretary made this connection express: he explained that President Trump tweets extremist anti-Muslim videos as part of his broader concerns about “security,” which he has “addressed . . . with . . . the proclamation.” J.A. 1502–03.
posted by xammerboy at 2:55 PM on April 18 [62 favorites]


Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "the administration does not comment on the CIA director's travel." Hours later, Trump tweeted that "Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed." (Reuters)
(via whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com)

Fine oiled people machine tune.
posted by petebest at 3:01 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


Considering what we know about the Cohen raid, though, I would assume there's already an investigation into whether the agreement with McDougal also constituted an illegal campaign contribution.

Well, quite. NYT reported as much last week.

(Just so we’re all clear, American Media Inc. = National Enquirer, with whom Trump is known to share a bed.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:03 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "the administration does not comment on the CIA director's travel." Hours later, Trump tweeted that "Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed."
---
Fine oiled people machine tune.


Guess why!

@MattGertz (MMFA)
If you're wondering why the president suddenly confirmed Mike Pompeo's North Korea trip this morning.

Left, Fox & Friends, 6:24 am
Right, Trump, 6:42 am

SCREENSHOTS
posted by chris24 at 3:05 PM on April 18 [22 favorites]


That only raises the question: Did Pompeo really meet with Kim, or does Trump just believe he did because Fox said so?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:09 PM on April 18 [34 favorites]


IIRC the prosecution of a crime needs to have advanced to at least a minimal stage before double jeopardy can be triggered by a parallel prosecution. I don't think a jury has to have been empaneled, but there definitely needs to be actual charges and probably the case committed for trial.

Yep, pretty much. To be a bit more specific: under the New York Criminal Procedure Law, certain pretrial actions, like swearing in a jury or taking a guilty plea, act to bar state prosecution for the same crimes absent an exception -- for example, when an appeals court vacates a conviction. The problem for Schneiderman is that no exception exists in New York for when a sitting US president nullifies a federal criminal prosecution through the pardon power. So, Schneiderman is worried that a guilty plea or the swearing in of a federal jury could provide 45 with the power to invoke the NY state statute to bar prosecution for the same crimes. From Schneiderman's letter:

"[I]f a federal defendant pleads guilty to a federal crime, or if a jury is sworn in a federal criminal trial against that defendant, and then the President pardons that individual, this New York statute could be invoked to argue that a subsequent state prosecution is barred. Simply put, a defendant pardoned by the President for a serious federal crime could be freed from all accountability under federal and state criminal law, even though the President has no authority under the U.S. Constitution to pardon state crimes."
posted by holborne at 3:15 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]




Trump just adlibbed "I'll never beat that record," after saying the Bushes had been married for 73 years at the press conference with Abe
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:18 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


... and the response from the crowd was absolute silence.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:19 PM on April 18 [38 favorites]


Okay, now the Eye has well and truly found Pruitt:

Head budget official says office will open probe into Scott Pruitt's spending (Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News)
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Fucking Mulvaney said the office is opening a probe into Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's spending since he took over the helm of the agency.

Mulvaney said that OMB will look into the violation of federal spending laws on a "secure phone booth" for Pruitt's office at EPA headquarters.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:23 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


A bunch of important sounding people (including Gillibrand, Feinstein, and Schumer) have penned a Senate Resolution calling for Pruitt to resign.
RESOLUTION

Expressing no confidence in the Administrator of the Envi-ronmental Protection Agency and calling for the immediate resignation of the Administrator.
posted by hanov3r at 3:36 PM on April 18 [57 favorites]


Sean Hannity continues to uphold Fox News standards (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
We at Fox News continue to have rigorous standards, and Sean Hannity continues to uphold them.

He has not criticized Donald Trump in thought, word or deed, by anything he has done or anything he has left undone.

He has not failed to love Donald Trump with his whole heart, his whole mind, his whole strength.

He has not held any other gods before Donald Trump.

He has not sacrificed anything — food, drink, integrity — to a deity other than Donald Trump.

He has not failed to denounce Hillary Clinton and all her works.

All his graphics have pointed to Hillary Clinton as the ultimate mastermind of all that is wrong in the country — even graphics of great complexity.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:38 PM on April 18 [34 favorites]


“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

Historic, because it's probably the first time a sitting President has used the phrase "politically correct" to mean Constitutional.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:46 PM on April 18 [41 favorites]


AP: House panel moves to curb food stamps, renew farm subsidies

A bitterly-divided House panel Wednesday approved new work and job training requirements for food stamps as part of a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy. The GOP-run Agriculture Committee approved the measure strictly along party lines after a contentious, five-hour hearing in which Democrats blasted the legislation, charging it would toss up to 2 million people off of food stamps [...] Agriculture panel chair Michael Conaway said the provisions would offer food stamp beneficiaries “the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”

Wow, what deal: millions will get the hope of a job, and all it'll cost them is the hope of food. The Banality of Conaway.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:04 PM on April 18 [40 favorites]


To be fair, if anything defines political correctness it's the Constitution. I can quite see a poster with the title page and "POLITICALLY CORRECT" working well as a meme.
posted by Devonian at 4:06 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


So, um, was Trump supposed to call what happened in February in Syria a fight between US troops and Russian troops? He was trying to explain how tough he's been on Russia, but I'm pretty darn sure that stripping away any pretense of deniability over this incident was part of the playbook. My understanding is that the fig leaf of their mercenary status was the main thing keeping this from escalating.

On preview, here's a clip.
posted by zachlipton at 4:08 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Real talk: Rasputin's nightly show would be incredible, please don't compare him to Hannity.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:09 PM on April 18 [20 favorites]


No one will ever claim to have pickled Hannity's penis
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:12 PM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Hannity is literally the Trumpworld safe space.

This seems like the perfection of what Vanity Fair reported in January with “A Safe Space for Trump”:
Inside the Feedback Loop Between the President and Fox News—With Roger Ailes gone, the network’s chief de-facto programmer is the president. 'He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer.'[...]

According to conversations in recent days with current and former Fox executives, producers, and hosts, Trump looms almost as large in the minds of employees as Ailes did. Fox hosts regularly get calls from Trump about segments he likes—or doesn’t. “When you worked at Fox, you knew that at any moment Roger Ailes was watching. Every day was like a job interview with Ailes. Now it’s the same way for Trump,” says a veteran Fox News contributor. According to sources, Trump doesn’t explicitly dictate talking points the way Ailes did, but over time, the effect can be similar. “What he usually does is he’ll call after a show and say, ‘I really enjoyed that,’” a former Fox anchor told me. “The highest compliment is, ‘I really learned something.’ Then you know he got a new policy idea.” But knowing Trump always could be tuning in means the network is being programmed for an audience of one. “He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer—that ‘the liberal elites hate me; they’re trying to bring me down,’” an executive said.[...]

The hugely successful alliance is mostly transactional—privately, many at the network have a nuanced view of the president. “He’s sort of viewed as this crazy person who calls all the time,” the Fox executive said.[...]

It’s frustrating to some inside Fox that the network is now seen as the propaganda wing of Trump’s White House and lacks a post-Trump programming strategy. “It’s freaky to see him tweeting at Fox & Friends,” one staffer said. “That doesn’t help us. We’re not state television.”
Oh, my sweet summer child, yes you are.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:12 PM on April 18 [52 favorites]


It’s frustrating to some inside Fox that the network is now seen as the propaganda wing of Trump’s White House and lacks a post-Trump programming strategy.

On the other hand, it's encouraging to hear of people inside Fox talk about a post-Trump strategy when we're only 15 months into his presidency/re-election campaign. Shouldn't their post-Trump talk be six years out?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:22 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


WSJ, Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warned Trump
One of President Donald Trump’s longtime legal advisers said he warned the president in a phone call Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and close friend, would turn against the president and cooperate with federal prosecutors if faced with criminal charges.

Mr. Trump made the call seeking advice from Jay Goldberg, who represented Mr. Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president not to trust Mr. Cohen. On a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting the president, Mr. Cohen “isn’t even a 1,” he said he told Mr. Trump
...
“Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president.
I really don't understand why Goldberg decided to call up the Journal and tell us this, but here we are.
posted by zachlipton at 4:39 PM on April 18 [51 favorites]


Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warned Trump

Why would ANYONE protect Trump if criminal charges were involved? We've seen zero evidence that he protects his allies and those he believes are his underlings.

He protects people who can take action and make changes that benefit him. He doesn't protect people who've benefited him in the past; for him to pardon Cohen, he'd need more than "Cohen didn't rat him out;" he'd need to know what good Cohen is to him in the future.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:48 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


The most amazing part of this, as Benjy Sarlin notes, is that there's been zero effort to even bother to pretend that there aren't underlying crimes. It's entirely been "will Cohen turn on Trump?" without any acknowledgement that you have to have done something wrong for somebody to be able to turn on you.

Cohen himself gave an interview where he said "I'd rather jump out of a building than turn on Donald Trump." Wouldn't a normal person just focus on how nobody committed any crimes rather than explain in such detail how far they'd go to maintain a coverup? It's all in such plain sight they don't even bother to pretend it doesn't exist.
posted by zachlipton at 4:49 PM on April 18 [107 favorites]


Trump allies press Rosenstein in private meeting in latest sign of tensions (WaPo)
Two of President Trump’s top legislative allies met with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein this week to press him for more documents about the conduct of law enforcement officials involved in the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussion.

Rosenstein’s meeting at his office Monday with Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) came days after Meadows, an influential Trump confidant, warned Rosenstein that he could soon face impeachment proceedings or an effort to hold him in contempt of Congress if he did not satisfy GOP demands for documents.

Meadows, in a brief interview Wednesday, acknowledged that he met with Rosenstein earlier in the week.

“We keep getting promises that Congress will get the documents it has requested, but there has been little action that has supported those promises,” Meadows said. He called the meeting the culmination of the “dissatisfaction I’ve expressed on a number of occasions with varying degrees of passion.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Meadows claims he's just doing his job, of course.
posted by fedward at 4:49 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Politico, Male Democratic senators join push for new harassment rules in Congress
The men of the Senate Democratic Caucus are preparing to publicly join every female senator in both parties in calling for a vote on rewriting Capitol Hill’s workplace harassment rules — without support from a single Republican male.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) organized the planned appeal to the chamber’s leaders in both parties for a floor debate on modernizing the Hill’s misconduct policy in solidarity with a recent push by all 22 female senators, according to a Democratic source who insisted on anonymity to talk about the effort. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the chief GOP co-author of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) strict harassment overhaul bill, was originally courted to sign on to the Democratic men’s letter but has declined, the source said.
Leave it to Ted Cruz to be terrible even when it comes to pushing for a measure he supports.

Good news though: babies now allowed on the Senate floor by unanimous consent.
posted by zachlipton at 4:53 PM on April 18 [74 favorites]


Asha Rangappa: THREAD […] The Attorney General of NY is asking the Governor and legislature to amend its laws to permit a successive state prosecution in the event that the President pardons someone for federal crimes which are also crimes under state law. Why?

Twitter | ThreadReader
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:57 PM on April 18 [13 favorites]


I know the Bridenstine confirmation is a relative blip in the midst of all this, but the dude's got an MBA and made his name in Congress by attacking climate science. And NASA's Earth Science Directorate is a pretty significant source of funding for climate research and satellite data collection.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 5:01 PM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Politico: Kushner’s prison-reform push hits bipartisan resistance
Kushner met with Republicans and Democrats to build momentum for prison legislation that could advance to the House floor as soon as next week. But he has a problem in the Senate, where members of both parties are pushing a more sweeping criminal justice package and are loath to scale it back despite entreaties from President Donald Trump’s son-in-law-turned-adviser.
[...]
The legislation has a personal significance for Trump’s son-in-law beyond scoring a much-needed political win. Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, served 14 months in federal prison for illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering in 2005 being before released to a halfway house for the rest of his two-year sentence.
[...]
“We still have a long way to go to get it to the point where it could get substantial Democratic support,” Jeffries said. Some outstanding issues include ensuring medium- to high-risk offenders can take part in the training programs, the treatment of female prisoners and the “good time” credits that would allow a prisoner to serve part of a sentence in a halfway house or similar setting.

“If it’s going to move without sentencing reform, it’s got to be meaningful. If it’s not meaningful, what are we doing here?”[...]He added that talks have touched on the addition of a concealed carry provision that would allow federal prosecutors and judges to carry weapons, which would be a nonstarter for Democrats. Jeffries wouldn’t say whether Sessions was behind that push.
[...]
Cornyn cosponsored a broader criminal justice reform effort in the past but has narrowed his sights to a prison-only approach this year, given the Trump administration's resistance to the more expansive bill.

"I know there's some division of opinion in terms of sentencing reform, but we know that's not something the president and the attorney general support," Cornyn said.
If no one swoops in with reports of Kushner's ties to the private prison industry or something, I think...maybe...is this actually stopped clock telling the correct time? Is this actually good news?
posted by saysthis at 5:07 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


I should clarify that by "good news" I mean support for actually doing something positive about the prison system, reducing recidivism, helping former prisoners re-integrate, improving treatment of female prisoners...I'm not in any way shape or form for judges carrying guns...

I cynically think Kushner is using this to reduce his own jail time, but I have no evidence of that, so that's why the "stopped clock is right" comment.
posted by saysthis at 5:18 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


I really don't understand why Goldberg decided to call up the Journal and tell us this, but here we are.

Maybe he wants to warn us all that Trump is about to go particularly batshit.

lolno more likely he’s trying to get Cohen whacked
posted by schadenfrau at 5:19 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Ex post facto laws are unconstitutional but it isn't clear to me whether New York changing it so that a pardon is an exception to its laws concerning double jeopardy attaching to federal charges (joining a bunch of other exceptions) would count as an ex post facto law if New York doesn't pass it until after Trump issues pardons. A law making it easier to obtain a conviction would generally be considered ex post facto but the legal weeds here are pretty deep and technical and I didnt' even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

If you put a gun to my head I'd guess that New York would have to make this change before Trump issued the pardons for it to apply to Flynn, Manafort, Cohen et al but I'm pretty far out over my skies.
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Cohen himself gave an interview where he said "I'd rather jump out of a building than turn on Donald Trump." Wouldn't a normal person just focus on how nobody committed any crimes rather than explain in such detail how far they'd go to maintain a coverup?

It runs straight to all those movies where the bad guy flunkie gets caught and says he can't tell the protagonists anything because "You don't know what they'll do to me," doesn't it? That statement doesn't tell me he's loyal to Trump on principle. It's like he wants to tell the mobsters he knows what's good for himself.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:35 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


I really don't understand why Goldberg decided to call up the Journal and tell us this, but here we are.

Goldberg probably loathes his former colleague, given the standards of collegiality we've seen at Trump Org and the Trump White House.

The two most important points in the WSJ's article, though, are Goldberg adding to the chorus that (a) Trump is innocent of criminality, no matter how dirty his subordinates and (b) Trump agreeing to an interview with Mueller would be tantamount to entrapment and must be avoided. These are the two central messages that Team Trump is broadcasting everywhere they can, from anonymous leaks in the NYT to talking heads on Fox. It's not exactly a grand strategy, but it's all the defense plan they have.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:37 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


That's... is that a thing you can do? A restraining order against law enforcement officials? Has Trump considered filing a restraining order against Robert Mueller? What even is this timeline?
posted by wabbittwax at 5:46 PM on April 18 [23 favorites]


It’s such a telling example of white privilege that these criminals (Greitens, Manafort and Trump) think they can stop prosecutors by suing them. Of course they would never think “common” (poor) or “normal” (Black) criminals would be able to do that, but they’re, you know, special.
posted by msalt at 5:47 PM on April 18 [30 favorites]


soren_lorensen: "Breaking news: A federal judge found Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) in contempt of court, saying he failed to fully follow a 2016court order to make sure voters were fully registered. He is ordered to pay attorney's fees to the ACLU."

The judge also says further penalties may be coming.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:52 PM on April 18 [25 favorites]


It’s such a telling example of white privilege that these criminals (Greitens, Manafort and Trump) think they can stop prosecutors by suing them. Of course they would never think “common” (poor) or “normal” (Black) criminals would be able to do that, but they’re, you know, special.

I'm friends with several public defenders in Kentucky and Missouri, both of them I talked to over text today told me a) this is insane and b) if it even remotely works they're doing it for every single one of their clients going forward.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:52 PM on April 18 [58 favorites]


I am genuinely baffled by that restraining order filing. It seems to say that because Hawley thinks Greitens is guilty, he therefore can't investigate him.

Does this mean that law enforcement should only investigate people they think are innocent, or where guilt or innocence is of no particular concern? That's the sort of thing you do in authoritarian regi... aaaah.

OK, got it.

(Seriously, I know courts can be perverse places, but if that flies I'm booking the next ticket to Mars.)
posted by Devonian at 5:53 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


Trump allies press Rosenstein in private meeting in latest sign of tensions

I wish the media would stop using words like "tensions" and "feuds" when they're talking about entirely one-sided assaults on people, institutions, and the rule of law.
posted by Etrigan at 6:01 PM on April 18 [73 favorites]


Justinian: "I don't think Schneiderman will get the change he's asking for; the NY Senate is completely dysfunctional with a bunch of Democratic quislings. Real quislings not, like, Manchinesque quislings."

Several of said quislings are being primaried, so there is hope.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:09 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


AZ: Magellan Strategies poll of the GOP primary has Rep McSally in the lead with 36%, with a tight race for second between scumball Arpaio at 26% and whackdoodle Ward at 25%.

A new poll with that whackdoodle Ward in the lead.

@HenryJGomez (Buzzfeed)
New #AZSen poll

Ward - 36%
McSally - 27%
Arpaio - 22%
Undecided - 15%

(302 likely Republican primary voters; 5.64% margin of error)

ABC15/OHPI: Poll: Joe Arpaio trails in GOP race for U.S. Senate seat in Arizona
posted by chris24 at 6:19 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


I am genuinely baffled by that restraining order filing. It seems to say that because Hawley thinks Greitens is guilty, he therefore can't investigate him.

It's straight out of the Trump playbook. The main thesis of his defense is that the FBI is biased against him, so their investigation into his collusion with Russia is illegitimate, never mind the fact that he continues to actively thwart any attempt to sanction Russia. Similarly, the Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets are fake news because they're biased against him, never mind the fact that he literally called them the enemy of the American people in his first month in office.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 6:25 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Hmmm, that's a pretty strong showing for Ward. I'm a little skeptical, tbh.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:33 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


It's like a plan to take over the world from Pinky & the Brain, where they're going to do something to deliberately anger every individual on the planet, so then everybody will be biased against them, so a jury can never be empaneled to convict them of the real crime they're going to commit, which they'd have probably gotten away with if they just hadn't called attention to themselves. And then it turns out there are actually twelve people who like rectangular toilet paper rolls, so the plan is foiled.
posted by dirge at 6:53 PM on April 18 [32 favorites]


Finally a media story about who participated in Cohen's little cigar-chomping drum circle last friday!
posted by duoshao at 6:57 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


"Yeah we'll do, uh, we'll do sanctions as soon as they...very much deserve it, we will have, uh, that is a question, uh, there has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump."

The comments, made at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, capped a four-day stretch of confusion over whether the Trump administration would punish Moscow for its alleged role in a recent chemical attack in Syria. Trump began to walk away from the microphone, but returned to answer a shouted question about the sanctions.

(1) Russia has done nothing deserving of sanctions
(2) Nobody has been tougher on Russia than me
(3) OK.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:51 PM on April 18 [30 favorites]


"...And then it turns out there are actually twelve people who like rectangular toilet paper rolls, so the plan is foiled."

This is the United States of America. Not the circular toilet paper roll states of America, nor the square toilet paper roll states of America.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:09 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


(There's a lot of "mentioned earlier" items today - clearly the crack reporting team here is getting too quick for me. So I'm just not even calling it out this time.)

ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate:
-- AZ: State Senate GOP made an attempt to sneakily change election law so that there would not need to be a special if McCain leaves office soon, but were found out and foiled.

-- AZ: OH Predictive Insights poll of the GOP primary has Ward with 36%, McSally 27%, Arpaio 22% [MOE: +/- 5.64%]. This is in stark contrast with yesterday's poll showing McSally with a pretty healthy lead. FWIW, the poll also showed Dem nominee Sinema leading any of the three candidates.

-- TX: Quinnipiac poll has Sen Cruz up 47-44 over Dem O'Rourke. This has provoked some comment, but is probably believable, if maybe at the favorable end for Dems.

-- IN: Gravis poll has Dem Sen Donnelly up on two possible GOP opponents. 50-32 on Rokita, 46-36 on Messer [MOE: ±4.8%]. Oddly, they didn't test Donnelly versus the third GOP contender, Braun, even though they have him leading in the primary race.

-- CA: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer has endorsed Kevin de León against Sen Feinstein, and is considering funding him.
** MS Senate special -- Vox look at the special election to replace Cochran, where Dems have at least a shot.

** 2018 House:
-- Cook Political moved ratings in seven House races, all towards the Dems, in light of big 1Q fundraising numbers.

=> A brief sidebar on fundraising. There is definitely not any kind of 1:1 relationship between fundraising and electoral success - the richest candidate does not always win. That said, these numbers are a positive sign:
  1. You need to clear a certain bar to be more than a candidate in name only - you need to do stuff like rent office space, buy yard signs, book at least some ad time, etc. So we're seeing that these candidates - some of which are in pretty tough districts - are at least legit.
  2. Fundraising numbers also serve as a proxy for estimating voter enthusiasm, and who will turn out to vote. We've seen a fair bit of polling (plus the special elections) indicating high Dem enthusiasm, but this is a confirmation of that.
  3. Being outraised may also show that the race isn't being taken seriously enough by the other team. Lots of these incumbents haven't been seriously challenged in years, and we may catch some of them asleep at the switch.
So, long story short: fundraising numbers are no guarantee, but outraising the GOP is a good thing.
** Odds & ends:
-- A federal judge found Kansas SOS Kris Kobach in contempt of court for failing to follow a court order concerning voter registrations. This is Kobach's *second* related contempt. The judge directed Kobach to pay the ACLU's legal fees in the case, and indicated more punishment may be coming.

-- The Greitens scandal in Missouri took a turn for the Kafka-esque, as he sought a restraining order preventing AG Hawley from investigating him. It is amazing how McCaskill manages to make her opponents self-destruct all the time.

-- NY gov Cuomo announced plans to restore voting rights by executive order to parolees. There was later some clarification that this may possibly exclude certain violent felons. This not impact a huge number of people - some 0.3% of adults- but is symbolically important.

-- NY-25 voters are suing gov Cuomo over his failure to schedule a special election to fill the seat of Louise Slaughter, who passed away in March.

-- Maine's legislature has passed a recreational pot bill. Gov LePage to veto, but it looks like there are enough votes to override.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 PM on April 18 [49 favorites]


-- CA: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer has endorsed Kevin de León against Sen Feinstein, and is considering funding him.

Ugh, I guess I can't blame de Leon for Steyer's endorsement. But I wish Steyer would go away. Seriously, go away.
posted by Justinian at 8:34 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Steyer's pouring in big money to try to turn out young voters in key races. I'll take it.

My problems with Feinstein are well-registered in this forum, but I still don't think turning a blue-on-blue contest involving some of the most expensive media markets into an incredibly expensive race is a good use of resources compared to fighting for control of the House and Senate.
posted by zachlipton at 8:42 PM on April 18 [33 favorites]


@thedailybeast: "Report: Police investigating “suspicious” death of ex-national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s dad"

yeah, sure, why not
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:50 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


Instead of saying Fox News is state-run TV, "we should be staring more closely at the White House and saying ‘Fox-run state.’" -- Nicole Wallace on MSNBC
posted by kirkaracha at 8:59 PM on April 18 [73 favorites]


"Report: Police investigating “suspicious” death of ex-national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s dad"

His dad's name is also H.R. McMaster (Sr.). It's believably idiotic for Trump's thugs to get the names crossed and kill the wrong guy. But more likely, it was nursing home negligence and an attempt to avoid blame by doctoring the paperwork.
posted by msalt at 10:36 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Ema O'Connor, In Closed-Door UN Meetings, Trump Administration Officials Pushed Abstinence For International Women’s Health Programs
In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women’s rights issues — including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception — that were further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states, UN officials who attended the meetings told BuzzFeed News.

The Trump officials’ approach at the UN meeting makes it clear that the administration intends to extend its views on abortion, contraception, and sexual education beyond US borders to an extent that is unusual even for Republican administrations.
...
According to the delegates, the Trump officials discussed “sexual risk avoidance” programs — a coded term for encouraging teenagers to delay sex until marriage — and told the group that HHS was conducting research to show these tactics helps lower teen pregnancy and STD rates, the delegates said.

Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.
...
In order for the Commission on the Status of Women’s “agreed conclusions” to be released, there must be unanimous consensus from every member state. Notes taken throughout the negotiations and provided to BuzzFeed News show that the US contested the addition of references to “modern contraception,” “emergency contraception,” and “unsafe abortion,” among other similar phrases to the documents. According to the notes and an official involved in the negotiations, the US said that abortions can only be safe for the woman and never for the fetus.

“They were against the whole concept of sexuality education,” the UN official said, adding that the US also opposed the phrase “harm reduction,” which in the context of CSW means “accepting the fact that young people have sex and trying to teach them how to do it safely rather than just abstinence only,” the official explained. The US wanted “no mention of sexuality at all,” the official said.
This is some fucked up shit.
posted by zachlipton at 10:51 PM on April 18 [105 favorites]


This is some fucked up shit.

By the yardstick of Republican beliefs (prove me wrong GOPers!), it's actually fairly mild.

...still evil, mind.
posted by aramaic at 10:55 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Justinian: " Ugh, I guess I can't blame de Leon for Steyer's endorsement. But I wish Steyer would go away. Seriously, go away."

What? Why? I only just learned about Steyer recently (via MeFi politics threads) and I was generally impressed. Why do you want him to go away?
posted by kristi at 11:16 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.

Is rage-vomiting a thing? Because I’m about there.

Anyone I can call and scream facts at about this other than my reps?
posted by greermahoney at 11:16 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Just scream "PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH, DONALD" every time you see him...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:19 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Anyone I can call and scream facts at about this other than my reps?

Do you want to feel better, or make an impact?

If the former, then feel free to complain to everyone. That's what I'm doing (and drinking, shhhh!)

If the latter, then your reps. The "other" reps don't care, and would frankly be happier if you would just stop existing. Why can't you be reasonable and polite (*cough* self-proclaimed-Christian), or if not that then just stop existing? Really, why are you so shrill?

It's really the shrillness that's the problem here, you see. If I can just explain that to you, do you have, say, 25 minutes or so? You'll soon see why you're wrong, and anti-Christian, and anti-American. But that's OK too! All you need to do is beg forgiveness in public, and then everyone will see how forgiving I am!
posted by aramaic at 11:24 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Minor Loony left performance : I explain what the only ethical consumption under capitalism is.
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Instead of saying Fox News is state-run TV

They actually have that, you know, and it's not at all crazy like fox. So far, anyway.
posted by ctmf at 11:52 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


[T]he shrillness that's the problem here

Right? And you know who's not shrill at all though? President Trauma, the velvety Minister Hannity, the dulcet Right Reverend Rush, the entire tabernacle-cast of Our Lady of Fox News, and that beloved periclean Rabbi Levin. None of these fine champions and defenders of the rational and polite (ahem white male Christian-ish) Russublican Manifest Destiny for Murca have ever even for an understandably human moment spoken, behaved, nor--heavens!-- given the appearance of having acted shrilly. Why, those who most loudly, prominently, and publicly evangelize and defend our Russublican common-sense values and ideas are the very models of probity, reason, calm, patience, and demure persuasion our forefathers could only dream their descendants might grow up to become.

/hamburger, time for a cleansing RAGEHURL
posted by riverlife at 12:06 AM on April 19 [16 favorites]


old the group that HHS was conducting research to show these tactics helps lower teen pregnancy and STD rates

Nothing says high quality research like starting with the conclusion.
posted by jaduncan at 12:40 AM on April 19 [93 favorites]


Talking of state-funded broadcasting, Ofcom - the UK's FCC, more or less - has opened investigations into Russia Today, which has a licence to broadcast in the UK, following its coverage of the Salisbury novichok poisonings.

Russia has said that it'll eject the BBC if the UK touches so much of a hair on RT's head, so with a bit of luck we'll end up back in the days of Radio Moscow and the World Service duking it out on the 49 metre band..
posted by Devonian at 3:29 AM on April 19 [30 favorites]


Trump has that same powerful charismatic sleazebag thing that L. Ron Hubbard had, and I think maybe the similarities in their organizations come from those organizations essentially being outgrowths of the men at the center with no other forces in the organizations to limit the effects of that, so the concepts of sociopathic manipulation and narcissism escaped the containment of these men's minds and grew a physical form made of employees and lawyers and real estate and fixers and gaudy decorations.

The key difference is that Trump has none of the imagination that Hubbard has; there's no way he'd ever come up with anything as vividly outlandish as Galactic Overlord Xenu, or body thetans or the clam engram. It's like comparing H. P. Lovecraft to the Traditionalist Workers' Party guy.
posted by acb at 3:41 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Cynthia Nixon on Colbert last night.

"I'm aware of the dubious nature of my last name, but if I was given the choice, I would rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo."
posted by chris24 at 3:52 AM on April 19 [99 favorites]


The key difference is that Trump has none of the imagination that Hubbard has

Trump has always reminded me more of current Scientology head David Miscavige, especially in the lack of imagination respect.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:08 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


"so with a bit of luck we'll end up back in the days of Radio Moscow and the World Service duking it out on the 49 metre band.."
Cool!

It'll make a nice change from the current CRI vs no-one else, except VOA etc. chattering on the margins…
posted by Pinback at 4:47 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS (Josh Gerstein, Politico)
Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case — both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe.
posted by pjenks at 5:16 AM on April 19 [35 favorites]


Trump has always reminded me more of current Scientology head David Miscavige, especially in the lack of imagination respect.

I can't quite believe I'm saying this, but Trump lacks the balls that Miscavige has. I am 100% sure that Miscavige does his own hiring and firing, to pick a random example.
posted by jaduncan at 5:18 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Didn’t Buzzfeed and Fudion GPS countersue? I would guess they’d keep their suits active for the same reason - to get discovery.
posted by msalt at 5:35 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.

How do we square that circle with "grab them by the pussy," I wonder.
posted by lydhre at 5:38 AM on April 19 [17 favorites]


Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS (Josh Gerstein, Politico)

If he were innocent he'd be vindicated in the criminal investigation and clean up in the libel suit, that's an awfully big win to walk away from if there isn't something nasty waiting there for investigators to find.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:38 AM on April 19 [26 favorites]


Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.

How do we square that circle with "grab them by the pussy," I wonder.


Easy; the mindset is that it if women are raped or assaulted, it's their fault.
posted by Gelatin at 5:42 AM on April 19 [22 favorites]


Could Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS turn around and file for a Declaratory Judgment against Cohen?

(edit jinx msalt)
posted by whuppy at 6:01 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Didn’t Buzzfeed and Fudion GPS countersue? I would guess they’d keep their suits active for the same reason - to get discovery.

They'd earlier asked Avenatti to preserve all records involving Cohen's negotiations and all documentation involving Daniels's relationship with Trump, Politico reported. This was part of Buzzfeed's blitz of preservation notices that they sent to prominent Trumpland figures such as Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Keith Schiller, Jared Kushner, and Donald Jr. None of them would want to be entangled in discovery over Cohen's suit, and some of them could have exerted considerable pressure on Cohen about this.

Cohen could simply made a tactical decision not to fight this particular court battle when Stormy Daniels's is more prominent and potentially disasterous—or a practical one, if he anticipates difficulties paying legal fees in multiple high-profile lawsuits.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:22 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


How do we square that circle with "grab them by the pussy," I wonder.

Easy; the mindset is that it if women are raped or assaulted, it's their fault.


Exactly. Recall that "they let you do it."
posted by prefpara at 6:33 AM on April 19 [13 favorites]


In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women’s rights issues — including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception

This is coming right out of Nikki Haley's office as a hard core anti-abortion christer. If you were inclined to feel sorry for her because of her humiliation by Donald Trump on Russian sanctions -- don't.
posted by JackFlash at 6:56 AM on April 19 [70 favorites]


Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.

How do we square that circle with "grab them by the pussy," I wonder.


"Stand your ground" We need legislation that legalizes the use of lethal force if a woman believes that their life and/or safety are at risk. Just like Police Officers and the US Supreme Court standard for them.
posted by mikelieman at 6:57 AM on April 19 [35 favorites]


This is coming right out of Nikki Haley's office as a hard core anti-abortion christer. If you were inclined to feel sorry for her because of her humiliation by Donald Trump on Russian sanctions -- don't.


My first reaction to this was "in terms of lesser of evils she at least seems more sensible/good-governance-focused than Pence, Freedom Caucus, Trumpists, whatever" but then I realized my impression is based on almost zero concrete information.

Can anyone recommend where to look for a fairly objective/non-partisan look at Haley's time as governor?
posted by duoshao at 7:06 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


"Stand your ground" We need legislation that legalizes the use of lethal force if a woman believes that their life and/or safety are at risk. Just like Police Officers and the US Supreme Court standard for them.

I realize that the above is very likely intended as a "Modest Proposal", but if such a thing existed it would very likely only create a new legal pretense for the killing of minority persons, rather than of Rich White Sex Criminals.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:25 AM on April 19 [17 favorites]


Can anyone recommend where to look for a fairly objective/non-partisan look at Haley's time as governor?

Be prepared to separate hagiography from reality, since Haley is very good at positioning herself after the fact. For example, the Confederate flag issue.

@JoyAnnReid
With all due respect to Jane Harman, Nikki Haley absolutely did NOT unilaterally decide to take the confederate flag down in South Carolina. She was responding to forces outside herself: racial, political and corporate. MSNBC: The true story of the South Carolina Confederate flag debate
- This heroic myth is very useful to Nikki Haley's future politics (and I see the same coalescing around her by the media that we saw with Marco Rubio), but it IS a myth.
- And it's a myth that steals the heroism of black women like activist @BreeNewsome who fought the flag on the ground and Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, who devised he legislative strategy that finally felled the flag, plus white and black Senators like Vincent Sheheen and Marlon Kimson.
- And let's not forget the foreign corporations who threatened to pull out of South Carolina if the flag didn't come down, and the families of Mother Emanuel Church, whose quiet heroism created the moral conditions for the flag's ultimate surrender.

---

And before all that mentioned by Reid?

Nikki Haley: It’s OK to have the Confederate flag at the statehouse because not “a single CEO” has complained
posted by chris24 at 7:29 AM on April 19 [75 favorites]


Yeah, Haley really is a nasty piece of work: Nikki Haley Makes the Case for Old-School Racism
[Dylann] Roof was a white supremacist who declared war on African Americans, and Haley, along with the majority of the Republican candidates, attempted to characterize his attack as “anti-Christian,” with no racial element whatsoever. It wasn’t until public sentiment became too overwhelming to ignore that she admitted that Roof’s actions were racial and political.

More important, there had been vigils to take down the Confederate flag for years, and Haley not only ignored them but even defended the Confederate flag during her campaign for governor. It wasn’t until nationwide protests and the actions of activists like Bree Newsome that Haley actually did anything symbolic about the Charleston shooting, and that was because her position was politically untenable if she wanted to stay in the running as a potential running mate. And if rewriting recent history wasn’t good enough, she had to ensure that she did some effective pandering to bigots, too.

Earlier in her speech, Haley spoke of “unrest in our cities” as part of Obama’s failures. This was a racial dog whistle so loud, all of Team Jacob would have had to cover their ears. The narrative believed by some in the GOP base is that Obama encouraged riots in Ferguson and Baltimore as part of some twisted supervillain scheme to 1) take guns, 2) declare martial law or 3) get revenge on white America. Take your pick.

So Haley’s snake oil that South Carolina had “hugs, not thugs” is a Republican subtweet that they know how to “handle” black protest and anger and can quell the kind of massive protests that make some white Americans uncomfortable. In one fell swoop, Haley attacked Black Lives Matter and Obama and rewrote her own behavior during Charleston. In a nutshell, what she was offering was a throwback kind of Republican racism—when candidates would say “urban voters,” “inner city” or “gangster rap culture” instead of “black” and the press would give them a pass—as opposed to the openly hostile bigotry of Trump, which might have serious political consequences. Haley’s words may not have been as blunt as Trump’s, but they were every bit as disgusting, shameful, racist and ultimately politically dangerous.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:45 AM on April 19 [49 favorites]


Nikki Haley is the kind of crazy who comes off as “reasonable” to white “moderates.” She’s a Christian fundamentalist WOC who supports white male supremacy and is particularly adept at devising political cover for herself and her evil fucking colleagues.

She worries me. Especially if she gets anti-Trump cred by being an instrumental part of his removal.

My main consolation right now is that Haley’s revisionist self-mythologizing won’t work on a national scale, because too many people are watching. But we should start taking her down now. She is the worst.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:10 AM on April 19 [43 favorites]


My main consolation right now is that Haley’s revisionist self-mythologizing won’t work on a national scale, because too many people are watching. But we should start taking her down now. She is the worst.

I would be delighted to agree, schadenfrau, were it not for all the Paul Ryan hagiographies.
posted by The Gaffer at 8:16 AM on April 19 [15 favorites]


Speaking of people dropping cases, AMI, better known as the national enquirer, has settled their case with the playboy model who says she had a ten month affair with the Orange Menace. They paid her $150k, then buried the story. She was suing to get released from the contract. They case was set to go to discovery, then Cohen got raided, and within 24 hours, AMI agreed to the model's settlement agreement.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:27 AM on April 19 [33 favorites]


One only need to look at the rest of Trump's appointees to prove that Haley is not, in fact, the worst.

Not that she isn't very, very bad, of course.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:32 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


So, nobody knows exactly what Scott Pruitt was doing in Morocco for two days.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:39 AM on April 19 [14 favorites]


Texas Governor Abbot (R) is retweeting this Forbes story about Texas' economy doing better than Russia's, and huh. That's an interesting thing for him to crow about.
posted by emjaybee at 8:39 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Both precariously balanced on fossil fuels and authoritarianism. Gotcha.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:44 AM on April 19 [20 favorites]


Texas Governor Abbot (R) is retweeting this Forbes story about Texas' economy doing better than Russia's, and huh. That's an interesting thing for him to crow about.

All this makes me think of is is the fact that several individual american states have a larger GDP than entire European nations and yet we still can't pay our teachers or provide healthcare for everyone. *sigh*
posted by dis_integration at 8:47 AM on April 19 [68 favorites]


Anti-LGBT activists subpoenaed over allegations they helped draft Trump transgender troop ban
Tony Perkins of FRC told supporters: “[LGBT activists] have resorted to one of their favourite avenues to impose their fringe agenda: the court system.

“They have issued subpoenas, demanding that we produce all communications on the topic between senior leaders at Family Research Council and the administration.

“We’ve had to hire a law firm to represent us in the case, and our lawyers have objected to this demand, asserting our First Amendment religious freedom and speech rights. The LGBT activist groups have now filed a motion seeking a court order compelling us to turn over the privileged documents.
posted by lumnar at 8:52 AM on April 19 [33 favorites]


McConnell allegedly planning longer Senate work weeks to keep Dem incumbents off of campaign trail (Washington Examiner, so grain of salt).
posted by Chrysostom at 8:54 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Won't that also keep GOP incumbents off the campaign trail? WTF? Makes no sense.
posted by eclectist at 8:55 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


If memory serves me correctly, Democrats are defending more seats than Republicans by about a 3-to-1 margin.
posted by Gelatin at 8:57 AM on April 19 [9 favorites]


Won't that also keep GOP incumbents off the campaign trail? WTF? Makes no sense.

26 Ds defending seats, 9 Rs.

EDIT: 24 Ds, 2 Is who caucus with Ds.
posted by chris24 at 8:57 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


Greitens' motion to dismiss was denied, according to ABC. Felony trial goes forward.
posted by suelac at 9:00 AM on April 19 [51 favorites]


So, nobody knows exactly what Scott Pruitt was doing in Morocco for two days.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:39 AM on April 19


Uh, guys, why is Pruitt wearing Cohen's suit?
posted by j9ac9k at 9:05 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


The troops in California are under the command of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who last week said he would send up to 400 personnel in a limited role.

Trump says he will not pay for this "charade", and in other news Democrat surprised when football is pulled at last minute.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:05 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Are you sure the framing isn't, "Trump says something, probably he has no reason for thinking he can do that."?
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


So, nobody knows exactly what Scott Pruitt was doing in Morocco for two days.

eh, we've all read Naked Lunch
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:10 AM on April 19 [46 favorites]


So there's an issue in New Jersey about the Penneast pipeline, a new pipeline intended to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, as I understand it.

I just saw an ad for it on the local News 12 station, using a lot of headlines from reputable sources to basically say "Without the pipeline you'll have to buy gas from Russia or have rolling blackouts." Capped off by a headline that said "Why turn to Putin?" I don't know how true that is, this is just like. A field report I guess. Of real Russophobia in an attempt to divide the spectrum of the left. I wonder if they know there's a lot of disagreement on the Russia, or if their understanding is as simple as "they think Russia evil".

I also don't know how to debunk it at all. It's just completely outside my knowledge base.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:11 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


>The troops in California are under the command of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who last week said he would send up to 400 personnel in a limited role.

Trump says he will not pay for this "charade", and in other news Democrat surprised when football is pulled at last minute.


No? I think the timeline on this is, as I understand it, more along the lines of Brown consistently saying that California would be willing to deploy troops in a non-immigration, non-security capacity, and Trump consistently only hearing 'willing to deploy' and not actually listening to the second part of that. We've had a week of 'negotiations' that, from the outside, looked a lot like California repeating that they're not interested in compromising, and the White House demanding they compromise; the issue here is really that Trump declared that California 'had agreed' to something it never actually agreed to. All of this is on Trump's end: he pulled the football away from himself.
posted by cjelli at 9:13 AM on April 19 [30 favorites]


One only need to look at the rest of Trump's appointees to prove that Haley is not, in fact, the worst.

I would go as far as saying Nikki Haley is the best of Trump's appointees, though again, we're kind of into "Lovecraftian horror which has devoured the fewest souls" territory there.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:22 AM on April 19 [16 favorites]


I don't assume any good faith in Grassley, who probably just wants to avoid taking blame for the constitutional crisis by forcing the buck to stop at Mitch. In any case it's never bad to see infighting among the old dust-farting Republican congressional core.

Grassley: McConnell doesn't control my committee

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday defended his decision to move legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) opposition.

"Obviously, the majority leader's views are important to consider, but they do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee," he said during a committee meeting.

posted by Rust Moranis at 9:22 AM on April 19 [18 favorites]


Trump: I'm going to give you this thing you didn't ask for.
Brown: Um, okay. Since you've given it to me, I'll use it for a purpose I think it will be good for.
Trump: No, you have to use it for the purpose I dictate!
Brown: I'd rather use it for the purpose I prefer.
Trump: Then I won't give you the thing you didn't ask for at all!
Brown: Um, okay.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:23 AM on April 19 [68 favorites]


The Democrats in the Senate need to respond to McConnell in this way:

"Whatever you do to make our election campaigning difficult in 2018, providing we have the majority, we will do in 2020 when 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats will be up for election."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:26 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


I just saw an ad for it on the local News 12 station, using a lot of headlines from reputable sources to basically say "Without the pipeline you'll have to buy gas from Russia or have rolling blackouts." Capped off by a headline that said "Why turn to Putin?" I don't know how true that is, this is just like.

Just for trivia’s sake, most of the oil the US uses is produced in the US. We import 19% of our oil, but it’s hard to trace how much we buy from which countries. But it’s not really more reasonable to assume that a) any state’s oil would have to come from Russia instead of OPEC, or b) that any state would have to choose between Russian oil or rolling blackouts any more than we do right now.

And if it did come to that, we have a third option, renewable energy, where we don’t have to depend on OPEC or Russia or even North Dakota for petroleum. So that’s how I would counter that argument.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:28 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


Counter an argument with facts? Why I never!
posted by notyou at 9:29 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


Countering an easy sound bite with facts is always tough because people stop listening to complex explanations. But “We can depend on renewable energy” might be a good start to encapsulate that issue.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:33 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


The Democrats in the Senate need to respond to McConnell in this way:

"Whatever you do to make our election campaigning difficult in 2018, providing we have the majority, we will do in 2020 when 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats will be up for election."


I'm 100% behind the idea that Democrats need to not be in a forgiving mood at all when it comes to making Republicans pay a price for their bad faith, but for McConnell, this arrangement is obviously a risk he's willing to take. McConnell is not constrained by norms when it comes to amassing power, and in fact he's better at it, with more experience, than Trump. If McConnell monkeying with the calendar helps prevent the Democrats from taking the Senate, then that's a win for him, regardless of what consequences may or may not come. Particularly because the Senate is not likely to accomplish much if anything the rest of the year.
posted by Gelatin at 9:41 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Honestly just stopping the pretense that Republicans ever operate in good faith would be a huge step forwards without stooping to emulate them.
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on April 19 [75 favorites]


I don't assume any good faith in Grassley, who probably just wants to avoid taking blame for the constitutional crisis by forcing the buck to stop at Mitch.

We've been hearing rumblings from Republican senators who are generally tired of McConnell's shit. Grassley may be positioning himself as a replacement as speaker if Republicans take a bath in the 2018 election but still hold a narrow majority.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:55 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


If a serving Governor Greitens can be prosecuted under Missouri law, is there some profound constitutional reason why a serving President Trump can't be prosecuted under Federal law?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:56 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


The US has gotten a large proportion of its imported oil from Venezuela for many years. If any drives us to Russia, it will be the Trump Administration cutting off Venezuela because they're leftist.

It almost sounds like the ad is talking about natural gas, which Russia does use as leverage against European customers (and which fracking mostly produces), but that's even crazier. Is there a sub-ocean pipeline from Russia, or a massive one over the pole?
posted by msalt at 9:59 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


It almost sounds like the ad is talking about natural gas,...

It was:
So there's an issue in New Jersey about the Penneast pipeline, a new pipeline intended to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, as I understand it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:02 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


So, nobody knows exactly what Scott Pruitt was doing in Morocco for two days.

How is that the rest of the administration is like a goddamn revolving door and this grifter is still here? Every time a Scott Pruitt story of increasing absurdity pops up (ie, like, every single day), I cannot beelieeeeeve that he continues to have a job.
posted by marshmallow peep at 10:08 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


NYT, Vivian Lee, A Marriage Used to Prevent Deportation. Not Anymore.
Thirteen years after her husband was ordered deported back to his native Brazil, the official recognition of their marriage would bring him within a few signatures of being able to call himself an American. With legal papers, they could buy a house and get a bank loan. He could board a plane. They could take their son to Disney World.

Then the officer reappeared.

“I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” he said. “The good news is, I’m going to approve your application. Clearly, your marriage is real. The bad news is, ICE is here, and they want to speak with you.”

ICE was Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency charged with arresting and deporting unauthorized immigrants — including, for the moment, Fabiano de Oliveira. In a back room of the immigration office in Lawrence, Mass., two agents were waiting with handcuffs. Her husband was apologizing, saying he was sorry for putting her through all of this.

Ms. de Oliveira kissed him goodbye. “I’ll do whatever I can to get you out,” she said.

For decades, marriage to a United States citizen has been a virtual guarantee of legal residency, the main hurdle being proof that the relationship is legitimate. But with the Trump administration in fierce pursuit of unauthorized immigrants across the country, many who were ordered deported years ago are finding that jobs, home and family are no longer a defense — not even for those who have married Americans.
posted by zachlipton at 10:09 AM on April 19 [52 favorites]


I know enough about natural gas to at least have opinions. There’s a shitton of gas in the northeast, that in the grand scheme should be developed to get off coal while renewables continue to ramp. The northeast urban areas are lacking gas infrastructure, which is why stuff like trucked heating oil and propane continue to be a thing. And yes, at least 2 ships with Russian gas unloaded in the northeast this winter. imho the best way to use these gas resources would be to colocate electric generation into the gas fields, shipping electrons instead of gas in pipelines. Also requires a lot more electric based residential heating, which would make the post-gas bridge to renewables easier. If the pipelines get built, it’ll be that much harder to transition later.

All in, I think the pipelines should get built to get off heating oil and imported gas, but it’s not ideal. When it gets real cold in the northeast the gas prices spike crazy high on shortages. At some level that’s what should be focused on alleviating first. However, im not as concerned as many about the effects of fracking, so the an stronger antifraccing opinion would probably result in a different best course.
posted by H. Roark at 10:18 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


According to the delegates, the Trump officials discussed “sexual risk avoidance” programs — a coded term for encouraging teenagers to delay sex until marriage — and told the group that HHS was conducting research to show these tactics helps lower teen pregnancy and STD rates, the delegates said.

Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.


No surprise. This was entirely predictable from the moment they were appointed.

Alma Golden is an OB/GYN who is anti-contraception and anti-choice. Valerie Huber is anti-choice and has been pushing abstinence education programs for years.
posted by zarq at 10:19 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Reuters: Russian news agencies say U.S. told Moscow no new sanctions for now

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz @ShimonPro reports a US source confirming the Russians: "A senior administration official says the Trump admin has informed the Russian government there won’t be an additional round of sanctions. The official said the call was made to the Russian embassy on Sunday."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:23 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


AP News: US easing rules on sales of armed drones, other weaponry
The Trump administration moved Thursday to make it easier for U.S. defense contractors to sell armed drones and other conventional weapons to foreign governments...the administration said it is removing restrictions that barred U.S. manufacturers from directly marketing and selling drones, including those that are armed or can be used to guide missile strikes, abroad. Previously, foreign countries had to go through the U.S. government to buy such drones. They will now be able to deal directly with the companies, although the government will retain oversight.
...
In addition to the drone-specific changes to the policies, the revisions will add U.S. economic interests as a primary consideration in broader arms export control reviews. Among other things, that could allow foreign governments to get assistance to purchase U.S. weaponry they might not otherwise be able to afford, officials said.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said the moves underscore President Donald Trump’s belief that “economic security is national security.” He noted that U.S. defense contractors support 2.5 million jobs and are responsible for nearly a trillion dollars a year in economic activity.
posted by cjelli at 10:27 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Let's just check in on what Trump is saying today... "Human trafficking is worse than its ever been in the history of the world.”

Oh. And here I was thinking Frederick Douglass really was being recognized more and more these days.

He said the same thing last year too.
posted by zachlipton at 10:31 AM on April 19 [51 favorites]


So, worse than when it was a legal industry that powered the economies of most of what is now considered the western world?
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:34 AM on April 19 [30 favorites]


an OB/GYN who is anti-contraception and anti-choice

I don’t know how this happens. It’s like being an astronaut and a flat-earther at the same time.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:35 AM on April 19 [38 favorites]


More courts blocking stuff. @o_ema: DC District Court just ordered HHS to continue funding Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs until the end of the grant period that was agreed to under Obama. HHS had previously tried to end their funding early.

This is the five year program created under the Obama administration to use science-based methodology. The Trump administration tried to end it early.
posted by zachlipton at 10:38 AM on April 19 [37 favorites]


Correction: Dr. Alma Crumm Gordon is a pediatrician, not an OB/Gyn. Here's an interview with her regarding the role of faith-based organizations as partners of USAID. (pdf)

Also:
From 2002 to 2006, Golden ran the Office of Population Affairs, the HHS division responsible for family planning funding for people with low incomes. In 2005, she was forced to revise a government website promoting teen abstinence while characterizing sexual orientation as an “alternative lifestyle.” Her update—”lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyle”—still characterized sexual orientation and gender identity as a “lifestyle.”

posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on April 19 [14 favorites]


Is there a sub-ocean pipeline from Russia, or a massive one over the pole?

Tankers. Huge, gigantic LNG tankers. That's how eastern Massachusetts gets most of the natural gas, on which it's heavily reliant, for both home heating and electricity generation, and they're quite a sight to see as they lumber through Boston Harbor, right next to the densely populated neighborhoods of the North End and East Boston and then are slowly navigated up Chelsea Creek. We used to get most of it from Algeria, but in January, a Russian tanker showed up.
posted by adamg at 10:46 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


And another playmate, Barbara Moore, who played one of the fembots in the Austin Powers movie, has come forward to say she was having an affair with Trump while Marla Maples was pregnant. Her expose includes such gems as "we went at it all the time like [Marla] didn't exist" and "we had sex at Mar a Lago while my friend watched."

I kind of wrestled with posting this, but it interests me because this story broke days ago. I have seen nothing in the news. I don't believe it's been posted here. People should understand that Trump's behavior is serial. This guy likely never had a monogamous relationship in his life, or an honest one. Like Weinstein with starlets, Trump was a non-stop predator of young pageant girls and pin-ups. It's a major part of who he is.
posted by xammerboy at 10:53 AM on April 19 [63 favorites]


Oh dear. @abbydphillip: NEWS: The Justice Office of the Inspector General has sent a criminal referral regarding Andrew McCabe to the US attorney office in DC. per @PamelaBrownCNN

Despite the fact that McCabe leaked about Clinton, I'm sure this is going to be used to discredit Comey and the FBI.
posted by zachlipton at 10:54 AM on April 19 [24 favorites]


H. Roark, that's interesting. I got the impression this natural gas would be going more towards electricity generation anyway. So the ad's implications are, to a first approximation, true; presupposing the need for natural gas, the choice between domestic and foreign natural gas is a real one, and some of it does come from Russia. That doesn't necessarily mean a pipeline is the best answer, but ... a natural gas pipeline I'm guessing probably has the same risks and impact as transmission lines through the same area. It doesn't have the risk of an oil spill.

Besides which it's probably safe to assume the companies involved in Penneast don't want to sell electricity, they don't want to be a public utility. They want to sell gas to the public utilities.

(quick note that this has nothing to do with Massachusetts or New England at all)
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 10:57 AM on April 19


How is that the rest of the administration is like a goddamn revolving door and this grifter is still here? Every time a Scott Pruitt story of increasing absurdity pops up (ie, like, every single day), I cannot beelieeeeeve that he continues to have a job.

Because nobody has been or will be fired from this administration for incompetence or scandal. The one and only thing that can get Trump to fire anyone is a real or imagined lack of total and complete loyalty to him.
posted by rocket88 at 10:58 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


One analysis I saw today was that the increasing difficulty in getting nominees confirmed means it's more likely shitty incumbent nominees won't get turfed out.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:02 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


There was Flynn, fired for outright being a criminal, but he complains about that every single day and considers it to have been a mistake.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Because nobody has been or will be fired from this administration for incompetence or scandal. The one and only thing that can get Trump to fire anyone is a real or imagined lack of total and complete loyalty to him.

Exactly. It's the same reason that Ben Carson is still there.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:03 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


There was Flynn, fired for outright being a criminal, but he complains about that every single day and considers it to have been a mistake.

And NSA doesn't require confirmation.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:06 AM on April 19


It doesn't have the risk of an oil spill.

High-pressure natural-gas pipelines have their own risks (one thing to keep in mind is that the stuff that makes natural gas smell is only added near the end points of the distribution networks - you wouldn't smell anything from a leaking high-pressure gas pipeline).
posted by adamg at 11:10 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


The one and only thing that can get Trump to fire anyone is a real or imagined lack of total and complete loyalty to him.

Nope. You can be loyal to the hilt, and beyond...but overshadow him for even one arc-second, and your goose is cooked.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:11 AM on April 19 [16 favorites]


Overshadowing is disloyalty. If you were loyal, you would make sure you weren't looming over him.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:16 AM on April 19 [16 favorites]






Ted Cruz wrote up a 2 paragraph bio of Trump for Time. Manages to balance grotesque sycophancy, cruelty, and racist/anti-semitic dogwhistles.

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature. The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. [...] President Trump [...] scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.

"My wife is ugly and my dad killed JFK, and it's worth agreeing with that if it means most of the country suffers and lives in fear."
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:39 AM on April 19 [21 favorites]


The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity ...

Personally I was blinkered by the 3 million more votes the other candidate got.
posted by notyou at 11:44 AM on April 19 [38 favorites]


A Marriage Used to Prevent Deportation. Not Anymore.

That could be trouble for visa fraudster Melania Trump.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:45 AM on April 19 [25 favorites]




I’m not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies, but I think we’re ready

I wish I could believe that Mitch McConnell wouldn't throw someone with her child out of the chamber over this if it meant the difference between winning or losing a vote.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:47 AM on April 19 [16 favorites]


Senator Tammy Duckworth has arrived and is on the Senate floor with her new baby. (Twitter links.)

I am honestly surprised by how moved I am to see these images.
posted by lalex at 11:56 AM on April 19 [67 favorites]


I’m not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies...

Not sure about the Senate, but apparently they're all the rage in the House of Representatives.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:57 AM on April 19 [22 favorites]


It turns out it that suing the government arguing that Mueller isn’t allowed to investigate you is a good way to wind up with the government insinuating you may have done bad stuff. Bloomberg, Manafort Suspected of Serving as ‘Back Channel’ to Russia, DOJ Says
Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued anew to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington that even Mueller’s appointment order permitting him to probe “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” wouldn’t cover the political consulting work that Manafort did in Ukraine for a decade.

But Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said prosecutors were justified in investigating Manafort because he had served as Trump’s campaign chairman.

“He had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians,” Dreeben told Jackson. “Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things.”
That’s a masterful use of asking a question to lead the reader where you want them to go without actually saying anything. And Bloomberg bit on the hook.
posted by zachlipton at 11:58 AM on April 19 [26 favorites]


The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity ...
The 'same coastal elites' protected Trump for decades, keeping him out of jail, in business and on TV.

In time, Trump's 'forgotten men and women of America' will realize that they are seriously worse off than Before Trump. Not today, maybe not in time for the 2018 elections, but well before 2020. The same predatory capitalists who have driven the stock market up are very soon going to take their profits and run. (My advice to anyone with a 401K... get out before they do; a final 10% profit isn't worth the risk)

what Trump is saying today... "Human trafficking is worse than its ever been in the history of the world.”
Time to apply Trump's mirror again. A serious investigation will likely show that he is personally profiting from some of the Human Trafficking. The Wall is primarily for deterring all immigrants except those being herded by employees of TrumpCo.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:01 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


TIL: Angry privileged white christian homophobic bigots are, to Republicans like Ted Cruz, the forgotten, ordinary citizens of the USA.
Bullshit like this gets published in Time magazine, just validating the idea that the reason you didn't get to buy a jet-ski last year was because a) you paid too many taxes, or b) that good paying job you just missed out on went to a gay mexican drug runner who brought his kids here to get free healthcare.

yup.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:03 PM on April 19 [19 favorites]


Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc. In Koch-Backed Deal

They’ve been dead since November, this is just the rot setting in.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


Sen. Heitkamp announces (twitter) that she supports confirming Pompeo as Sec. State; that makes Pompeo's confirmation considerably more likely.
posted by cjelli at 12:13 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]




so this: NEWS: The Justice Office of the Inspector General has sent a criminal referral regarding Andrew McCabe to the US attorney office in DC.

i dunno, it feels awfully politically motivated to me, this sort of thing...
posted by anem0ne at 12:19 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Bloomberg, Rosenstein Told Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller Probe, Sources Say
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.
I will note that Jennifer Jacobs, the lead author on this story, has been following Trump to Florida and was given a question at yesterday's press conference, in case you're wondering where this leak might have come from.
posted by zachlipton at 12:45 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


Senator Tammy Duckworth has arrived and is on the Senate floor with her new baby.

Sen. Orrin Hatch said he had "no problem" with such a rules change. "But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?" he asked.

Yeah, what if? The horror.

This guy can't go away soon enough.
posted by JackFlash at 12:46 PM on April 19 [51 favorites]


so this: NEWS: The Justice Office of the Inspector General has sent a criminal referral regarding Andrew McCabe to the US attorney office in DC.

i dunno, it feels awfully politically motivated to me, this sort of thing...


They are within their rights, especially if there's decent evidence, and McCabe is clearly not squeaky clean here, but the process has all been handled in an unusual way that's pretty stinky. Even last week, the IG's final report just coincidentally comes out right when Comey hits the book tour? Not to mention the McCabe element of the whole investigation being cherry-picked and fast-tracked from the get-go. Trump's Mirror would suggest elements of the Justice Dept. are getting a tad partisan-politicized, just in the opposite way from what Trump says.

And when it comes to the pension stuff, I literally don't care if it's Ted Bundy; you don't fuck with any human's rightfully earned deferred compensation.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:50 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


"But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?"

Then you have a Republican caucus.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:51 PM on April 19 [162 favorites]


It's been 0 minutes since the last Scott Pruitt disaster. Jeff Mason, Reuters, EPA chief's aides, security agents made $45,000 trip to Australia. The $9,000/person business class tickets aren't prohibited since the flight is over 14 hours (though, come on, it is possible with a little planning to get business class tickets that don't cost quite that damn much) but $45K for a five-person "advance" team to scout out a trip Pruitt later cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey is a problem.
posted by zachlipton at 12:51 PM on April 19 [24 favorites]


Trump judicial nominee once called illegal immigrants 'maggots'

Lifetime appointment.

posted by Rust Moranis at 12:14 PM on April 19 [14 favorites +] [!]


Don't know if it will help, but I just sent that quote and link to my senators, demanding they ask the nominee to justify calling human beings maggots.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:53 PM on April 19 [24 favorites]


No no, he called them "magnets". Referring to social welfare programs. Because that definitely tracks and is no way a sub-sitcom level trope where you say something that sounds like the horrible thing you said even though it makes no sense in context. See also: "weirdy beans at".
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:57 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


The inspector general determined that McCabe was not authorized to disclose the existence of the investigation because it was not within the department's "public interest" exception for disclosing ongoing investigations.

Funny how arbitrary that "public interest exception" seems to be.
posted by JackFlash at 12:58 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Bloomberg, Rosenstein Told Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller Probe, Sources Say

My question - is telling someone they're not under investigation a thing law enforcement can do when someone is under investigation? I seem to recall they expressly are allowed to do this until the formal charge(s) is (are) revealed.
posted by saysthis at 12:59 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Didn't we settle this difference between "target" and "Under Investigation"
posted by Twain Device at 1:03 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Didn't we just go through a huge deal about targets and subjects within the past Scaramucci or so?
posted by sporkwort at 1:03 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


My question - is telling someone they're not under investigation a thing law enforcement can do when someone is under investigation? I seem to recall they expressly are allowed to do this until the formal charge(s) is (are) revealed.

Yeah, I thought we went over this "subject" "target" stuff a week or two ago. IIRC, a "target" is a person that definitely has specific charges waiting to be filed. Subjects are less than that, just nearby possibilities.
posted by rhizome at 1:04 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Rosenstein Told Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller Probe, Sources Say

My question - is telling someone they're not under investigation a thing law enforcement can do when someone is under investigation?


"Target", as discussed here previously, is a term of art basically meaning "near-certain impending indictment". He can be under investigation without being a target, and since he's a subject of the grand jury investigation, he is, in fact, under investigation, and they've told him so, even if he chooses not to hear it.

AFAICT, Bloomberg's statement here isn't news. Trump not being a subject was put forward last week, and it's a long ways from any sort of assertion of innocence.
posted by jackbishop at 1:05 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


I thought we went over this "subject" "target" stuff a week or two ago.

I will go read up on that. Thank you.
posted by saysthis at 1:05 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe.
So when Trump does become a target, that's the right time to remove them?
posted by gucci mane at 1:08 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


Trump judicial nominee once called illegal immigrants 'maggots'

Update: Trump Judicial Nominee Probably Didn’t Call Undocumented Immigrants “Maggots” (Updated Post)
Andrew Hudson, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, contacted me after this post went up and explained that Truncale actually said “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the magnets coming in,” not “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the maggots coming in.” According to Hudson, Truncale—who was discussing immigration at a 2012 candidate forum—was “referring to entitlement programs available to illegal aliens that would draw them here and give them a reason to stay.” Hudson also pointed to a different video in which Truncale, in speaking about immigration, clearly uses the word magnet

While the audio from the 2012 candidate forum isn’t clear, it appears likely that Hudson is correct and Truncale did say “magnet” rather than “maggot.”
I mean, I still don't want this guy to have a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on April 19 [24 favorites]


AFAICT, Bloomberg's statement here isn't news. Trump not being a subject was put forward last week, and it's a long ways from any sort of assertion of innocence.

It is and also it maybe is not: there's the statement about the nature and status of the Mueller investigation, which is not new. But then there's this:
After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.
That's not a statement about the investigation, it's a statement about Trump's perception of the investigation (or possibly about the way he wants to present himself to the press). And it's a warning shot, of sorts, to Mueller/Rosenstein that there is a 'right time' to remove them -- when 'he's...the target of a probe.'

Remember how McConnell was saying that we didn't need legislation to protect Mueller because Trump 'wouldn't fire him'? This should a resounding gong-smasher of a reminder that Trump is contemplating firing Mueller if he learns that he is the target of an investigation. Whether or not Trump is intentionally leaking this to dissuade Mueller from making him the target -- that is, intentionally obstructing the investigation that is partly about his prior obstructions -- is a question I leave to the reader.
posted by cjelli at 1:15 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani in Talks to Join Trump's Legal Team
They're just talks for now.
posted by monospace at 1:15 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Oh, Marco:
“My view is that the president deserves wide latitude in their nominations, but the more important the position is, the less latitude they have.” — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), about Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be Secretary of State on January 11, 2017.

“We give great deference to the president… and the more important the job, the more discretion the president deserves.” — Rubio, about the nomination of Jim Bridentstein to head NASA earlier today.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:19 PM on April 19 [81 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani in Talks to Join Trump's Legal Team

Undoubtedly that’s an attempt to protect Giuliani froom prosecution for October 2016 DOJ leaks by hiding him under the imagined lawyer’s cone of immunity.
posted by msalt at 1:19 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


So when Trump does become a target, that's the right time to remove them?

The combination of his predictable, malleable stupidity in totally buying the "I'm just a subject, everything's fine" idea, with the sheer blatant corruption of saying out loud that making him the target of an investigation is a fireable offense has me struggling not to laugh out loud.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:23 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


I thought we went over this "subject" "target" stuff a week or two ago.

The point I'm taking from this news is that Rosenstein is well aware Trump literally doesn't understand what's going on, at all, and so he's using this to his advantage to mollify Trump by telling him something that's simultaneously true and irrelevant. This relieves Trump and makes it less likely he will fire Rosenstein.
posted by odinsdream at 1:26 PM on April 19 [46 favorites]


The distinction between "target" and "subject" is meaningful, but you'd have to be a complete idiot to find it reassuring.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:28 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


@jeffzeleny: Shadowing Comey: @CNN has learned the Republican campaign to discredit the former FBI director is now turning to lions, including this fury costumed creature who will be tailing Comey on his upcoming book tour. This gives new meaning to the role of tracker....

Please make 2018 stop.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on April 19 [22 favorites]


The point I'm taking from this news is

I was probably too short with that, I was just trying to be a soft! reminder.

Everytime Trump or whoever says "not a target!" I smirk a little bit. "Well yeah, because you probably aren't going to find out until the indictment is handed down.
posted by rhizome at 1:29 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Jeff Zeleny: Shadowing Comey: @CNN has learned the Republican campaign to discredit the former FBI director is now turning to lions, including this fury costumed creature who will be tailing Comey on his upcoming book tour. This gives new meaning to the role of tracker....

The level of discourse here is just off the (bottom) of the chart.
posted by PenDevil at 1:29 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


including this fury costumed creature who will be tailing Comey on his upcoming book tour

LOL, they're so easy. Surround the "lion" challenging them to be king of the jungle. "You think you're so tough, Mr. Lion-costume?"
posted by rhizome at 1:30 PM on April 19


Remember that Comey's impression of Rosenstein is that he's a good guy but a "survivor" and (again per Comey) you don't survive as long as Rosenstein has under various administrations without making some compromises. I think we're now seeing exactly how good of a survivor Rosenstein really is. It's fair to say Comey considered his description of Rosenstein of having to have made compromises to be a bad thing. It's also fair to point out that Comey is now sitting at home reading Reinhold Niebuhr while Rosenstein is Deputy AG and overseeing the Russia probe. So there's that.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


A nice thing about the trick Rosenstein used is that it's got to be good for another couple tries at least. (Especially given that the whole country already went over this stuff last week.) Two weeks from now:

TRUMP: What's this about me being a subject of the investigation? Someone on TV said that's almost as much trouble for me as if I were a target! This crosses a line!
ROSENSTEIN: You can relax, Mr President. See, you're not a target, you're just a subject.
TRUMP (pretending to understand): Oh, okay. In that case I'll lay off Mueller for now. But it'll be hell for him if he ever makes me a subject!
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:39 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


has learned the Republican campaign to discredit the former FBI director is now turning to lions

Oh no this is about merch

They literally can’t stop themselves from grifting
posted by schadenfrau at 1:44 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani in Talks to Join Trump's Legal Team
They're just talks for now.


Structuring the massive windfall "compensation" so that it comes from taxpayers and Russia, not Trump himself, without being obvious WOULD take some talking. It's not like Rudy wouldn't do anything for money, or Trump cares what something costs when he's not paying.
posted by ctmf at 1:45 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


John Schindler at the Observer erases all nonsuperficial distinctions between RT and Fox News: Russian-language Fox programming in Latvia is tailored to Putin's propaganda standards.

Per the report, which cites internal Fox News regulations: "Translators have to follow Russian subtitling guidelines requiring glossing over or ‘softening content’ concerning accidents, homosexual relationships, ‘anti-Russian propaganda,’ narcotics, extremist activities and suicides. For instance, the translators are instructed to ‘soften’ all negative language about the Russian military and space program, policies of the Russian president and government, while positive texts about same-sex relationships have to be made more generalized so they could be attributed to relationships of any kind." Let’s be perfectly clear here: Fox News is requiring its content being broadcast in a country that is a member of both NATO and the European Union to be edited to be more pleasing to the regime of Vladimir Putin.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:46 PM on April 19 [63 favorites]


@vicenews: BREAKING: Senator Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) changes position and says he will submit a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. See the exclusive interview on VICE News Tonight at 7:30PM on @HBO

It's not exactly going anywhere with this Congress, and yes there's the whole "where the hell have you been?" conversation, along with the whole "so when are we letting people of color out of prison for this stuff?" conversation, but it's still amazing to me how unthinkable this would have been not very long ago. And perfectly timed for voter registration drives tomorrow, I hope.
posted by zachlipton at 1:52 PM on April 19 [64 favorites]


Also in Congress news:

Vox: “Queen of the hill”: the obscure House rule that could force the House to take up immigration bills
The backers of the “queen of the hill” plan say they have 240 members in support of their procedural gambit — enough, if they wanted, to override Ryan and force the votes to the floor. [...] It would bring four bills, in a series, to the House floor for a vote, and whichever one got the biggest vote margin in favor would pass (it's 3 of the same DACA bills from last time plus a Ryan ringer)
And the Schumer marijuana thing, it's kinda like...everyone's almost scrambling to not make the midterms about Trump.
posted by saysthis at 2:07 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


It's official. WaPo, Costa/Dawsey, Giuliani says he joins Trump’s legal team to ‘negotiate an end’ to Mueller probe
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a combative former prosecutor and longtime ally of President Trump, told The Washington Post on Thursday that he has joined the president’s legal team dealing with the ongoing special counsel probe.

“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani said in an interview.
...
Trump is known to be a difficult client who does not listen to his lawyers advice, according to lawyers who are familiar with his conduct.
Yeah. Good luck with that, Rudy. I wonder how long lawyers can keep promising Trump they'll end this thing soon before he catches on.

----

Trump says he will not pay for this "charade", and in other news Democrat surprised when football is pulled at last minute.

Update: the California National Guard says the Pentagon apparently doesn't care about Trump's tweet and will continue to provide funding: "In short, nothing has changed today." So just another example of everyone ignoring what the President says.
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on April 19 [40 favorites]


@jeffzeleny: Shadowing Comey: @CNN has learned the Republican campaign to discredit the former FBI director is now turning to lions, including this fury costumed creature who will be tailing Comey on his upcoming book tour. This gives new meaning to the role of tracker....

A...lion? What am I missing? I get why union locals deploy inflatable rats in front of businesses they're picketing, but lions are generally perceived as noble, powerful and righteous, if a bit pompous, right? Is that what they're trying to suggest of Comey?

Oh no this is about merch...They literally can’t stop themselves from grifting

Now, I have heard it said that George Lucas made more from licensing action-figure rights to Kenner than he ever did from BO, so maybe they're onto something. What they're onto, I don't know. But it's definitely...something.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:07 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Lyin' Comey
Lion Comey

That's all it is.
posted by Jpfed at 2:09 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


Serious question - do you know of anyone who has created Cynthia Nixon stuff taking off on old Nixon's The One merch like this or this? Because I would be interested.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:13 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani said in an interview.

I literally don't understand what this means. How do you negotiate with a Special Counsel employed specifically to conduct an investigation, to make him end that investigation? Do you bribe him? Do you blackmail him? What other possibility is there?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:20 PM on April 19 [29 favorites]


saysthis: Vox: “Queen of the hill”: the obscure House rule that could force the House to take up immigration bills

The article doesn't say how it got that nickname, as opposed to the more common "king". Surprisingly feminist, perhaps? Or not. My first guess was the chess queen, then I figured that "king of the hill" probably means some other obscure House procedure, and this was the second such rule to exist, and that's all.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:21 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Politico: Comey's other target in new book: Rudy Giuliani
In “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey repeatedly invokes Giuliani’s craving for publicity during his tenure as New York’s most famous federal prosecutor in the 1980s, before he became mayor, and paints his flaws almost as a biblical allegory about the dangers of excessive pride and ego.
[...]
In “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey repeatedly invokes Giuliani’s craving for publicity during his tenure as New York’s most famous federal prosecutor in the 1980s, before he became mayor, and paints his flaws almost as a biblical allegory about the dangers of excessive pride and ego.
[...]
Comey acknowledges that he was initially thrilled by the cult of personality surrounding Giuliani. Comey says he considered it his “dream job” when he was hired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan in 1987.
[...]
In his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Comey did say he was aware that Giuliani was on TV in 2016 predicting surprise developments from the FBI just before the November election. Giuliani’s comments suggested he was privy to the discovery of more Clinton emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), which the FBI got while investigating him on charges of sexting with a minor.

“Yes, I saw that,” Comey said. “It’s part of what I ordered investigated.”
Comey and Guiliani used to work together in the NY U.S. Attorney’s Office, so that's a thing.
posted by saysthis at 2:21 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


InTheYear2017: "The article doesn't say how it got that nickname, as opposed to the more common "king". Surprisingly feminist, perhaps? Or not. My first guess was the chess queen, then I figured that "king of the hill" probably means some other obscure House procedure, and this was the second such rule to exist, and that's all."

Pretty much, yeah.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:23 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


@JenniferJJacobs: GIULIANI says he knows how tough Mueller’s job is. “I have great respect for Bob and my job is going to be to try to get him what he needs to wrap it up,” Giuliani says in an interview with @margarettalev.

So the friendly face is all about how cooperative they're going to be so the investigation can end sooner. But Trump also hired Jane and Marty Raskin, lawyers who tout their specialization in pushing back on search warrants. That seems like a clue of where this is actually going, no matter what Rudy says.
posted by zachlipton at 2:25 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]




Do you bribe him? Do you blackmail him? What other possibility is there?
Well, there's also extortion.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 2:28 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


InTheYear2017: "The article doesn't say how it got that nickname, as opposed to the more common "king". Surprisingly feminist, perhaps? Or not. My first guess was the chess queen, then I figured that "king of the hill" probably means some other obscure House procedure, and this was the second such rule to exist, and that's all."

Pretty much, yeah.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:23 AM on April 20 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


King - LAST bill in sequence to get majority vote wins
Queen - MOST majority votes of bills in sequence wins

That's how I understand it at least. I have no idea how "king" could even be a thing but I haven't finished reading the link yet (it's LONG).
posted by saysthis at 2:29 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


If "negotiate" means "obstruct," then he's pretty much handed over the crime-fraud exception to privilege right up front. Interesting strategy.
posted by ctmf at 2:31 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


> One analysis I saw today was that the increasing difficulty in getting nominees confirmed means it's more likely shitty incumbent nominees won't get turfed out

That suggests an uncharacteristic amount of forethought.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:44 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


WSJ, Kushner Cos. Subpoenaed Over Tenant Records
The real-estate company run by the family of White House adviser Jared Kushner in mid-March received a federal grand-jury subpoena for information related to paperwork the company filed in New York City concerning its rent-regulated tenants, according to people familiar with the matter.

The subpoena, part of an investigation by prosecutors in the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, came shortly after an Associated Press article about the company having filed documents that said it had zero rent-regulated tenants, when in fact it had hundreds, an omission that relieved them of certain rules governing developers.
Hope your prison reform initiative is moving at lightning speed, Jared.
posted by zachlipton at 2:45 PM on April 19 [46 favorites]


Politico: Comey's other target in new book: Rudy Giuliani

The most immediate thought I have about Giuliani joining the team is that there's probably evidence of his being party to whatever conspiracy they're going to all be charged with during the campaign, so I can't wait until another Trump lawyer's office is raided. Seriously, why would you bring someone who is definitely an accessory to your crime on as an attorney? Only Trump would do such a thing.
posted by dis_integration at 2:49 PM on April 19 [25 favorites]


How is Guiliani not conflicted? I mean, I guess if Trump wants to knowingly hire someone who, as a member of his campaign, is a possible witness in the same investigation he's hiring him for. And who, as conduit with the FBI during the campaign, is a possible suspect in said investigation?
posted by chris24 at 2:52 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Also on all this new North Korea business, Trevor Noah's take seems like...until actual news comes out, apt.
posted by saysthis at 2:53 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]




> It's been 0 minutes since the last Scott Pruitt disaster.

The way the news with this guy is going, I expect to read stories about him just burning taxpayer money on top of a pile of coal by the middle of next week.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:23 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


oh jesus, I had a bad feeling when the sulphuric stench of Giuliani entered the room of the news.

"negotiate an end" to the investigation yeah because the big G is known for his diplomatic skills. What Giuliani is is evil and pugnacious.

My first experience with the man was going to jail to protest his welfare policies, which (I shit you not) were promoted by the administration as 'Work Will Set You Free' until somebody pointed out the obvious.

My recollection is that Dinkins had issued DATs for mass protests before, and therefore the mass arrests at our protest was a bit of a surprise. A very bad one for the HIV+ folks who didn't have access to their meds for a prolonged period of time.

But I got to spend some time in The Tombs, so, you know, learning experience.

Anyway, Giuliani is an evil fucker and I bet it is evil keeping him alive shouldn't he be dead by now.
posted by angrycat at 3:30 PM on April 19 [58 favorites]


The die was cast with Giuliani and Trump when they joked about sexual assault together. That sketch was like some kind of rough draft a drunken Timelord used to initiate this fucked timeline.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:39 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


A Republican state senator has entered the Illinois governor's race as a third-party candidate (Politico). Rauner eked out a primary win by three percentage points. I'm gonna bake a cake.
posted by salix at 3:43 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Jeff Mason, Reuters, EPA chief's aides, security agents made $45,000 trip to Australia. The $9,000/person business class tickets aren't prohibited since the flight is over 14 hours[...]
I’m a federal employee, and I flew to New Zealand for scientific meetings recently. Out of curiosity, I priced a business-class ticket because of the length of the flight. It was irresponsibly expensive, and I didn’t actually consider requesting approval to buy the ticket. Last year, I looked into a business-class ticket to Europe because I was traveling for work and I had a broken shoulder at the time. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, even though I had enough money in my travel budget. Those folks should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, long-distance, Coach-class travel is uncomfortable and tedious, but we also have an ethical obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer resources. Their supervisor should never have approved the tickets. Shameful.
posted by wintermind at 3:48 PM on April 19 [79 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani has been "speaking to the president for weeks" about joining his legal team, and (in what surely is mere coincidence) his wife filed for divorce two weeks ago today.
posted by salix at 3:52 PM on April 19 [33 favorites]


we also have an ethical obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer resources

Hell, when I was a consultant doing government work I flew coach to London. Like you, mostly because I felt guilty about the cost, but it likely would have been approved.
posted by suelac at 3:54 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


How many of these Trumpster fellas have been divorced recently?

Giulani
Trump Jr
Dan Scavino
Scaramucci (previous to his tour of duty)
Others?
posted by notyou at 3:59 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Pruitt-watchers may be interested to know that he popped up unexpectedly in Whiting, Indiana today, along with Indiana's governor, to announce an emergency cleanup of 25 homes in a previous unacknowledged contamination area. Details on the cleanup remain sparse. No word on how he traveled to get there.

Local activists recorded the scene. Some members of Pruitt's security detail can be observed.
posted by shenderson at 3:59 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


Giuliani and Trump both cheated on Wife #1 with Wife #2, then cheated on Wife #2 with Wife #3. And Trump has cheated on Wife #3.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:04 PM on April 19 [23 favorites]


NYT, Seeking Foreign Money, G.O.P. Donor Pushed for Trump to Golf With Malaysian Premier
White House aides were worried enough about a visit last year by Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, under investigation by American prosecutors who say he embezzled $3.5 billion from a state investment fund, that he was denied the customary photo in the Oval Office with President Trump.

But that did not stop a top Republican fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, from seeking to use his White House ties to press for Mr. Trump to play a golf game with Mr. Najib, who had the authority over negotiations for a lucrative Malaysian contract with Mr. Broidy’s private defense company, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
...
Mr. Broidy also explored separate plans to force the exit from the United States of a Chinese billionaire and dissident, Guo Wengui, evidently to please Chinese allies in Malaysia while reaping payoffs from both the Chinese and, improbably, the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Broidy proposed working with George Nader, an adviser to the Emiratis who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation.

Mr. Broidy and Mr. Nader met around the inauguration and worked to sway the Trump administration on behalf the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a time when Mr. Broidy was seeking contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the two countries.

In a statement, Mr. Broidy said, “This whole narrative is a fabrication driven by hackers who want to undermine me.”
There are further details on all the graft in the article. This wasn't a casual nudge, but got to the level where Broidy was emailing Kelly to complain that Priebus had promised a golf game, but Broidy knew it wasn't on the Prime Minster's schedule. And again, this guy was a finance chair of the GOP.
posted by zachlipton at 4:06 PM on April 19 [33 favorites]


> Uh, guys, why is Pruitt wearing Cohen's suit?
The Writers, entirely bereft of Fucks, decided to mirror the omnicorruption that is Trump with a Shakesperian play-within-a-play: The Sisterhood Grifterhood of the Traveling Coat.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 4:13 PM on April 19 [20 favorites]


Isn't Guliani basically senile at this point? Obviously his presence is never good news, but I can think of more formidable opponents the Russia probe might face.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:37 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


How many of these Trumpster fellas have been divorced recently?

It's because they're scum bags
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:39 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Giuliani and Trump both cheated on Wife #1 with Wife #2, then cheated on Wife #2 with Wife #3. And Trump has cheated on Wife #3.

Their associate Newt Gingrich was way ahead of them, with the bonus perfidy that both of his wives were in the hospital with serious diseases (cancer and multiple sclerosis, respectively) when he told them he was cheating with a younger woman and was going to continue. (He asked for a divorce, the first time, and an open marriage the second.)
posted by msalt at 4:47 PM on April 19 [25 favorites]


Lest we forget, Trump forgot Rudy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:47 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


More on Pruitt:

The meeting was so secretive that only a video from environmental activist Thomas Frank captured Pruitt and Holcomb touring the site.

“We just happened to find him and his people in the alleyway,” Frank said.

There are several Superfund sites in the Whiting and East Chicago area, and new testing began two years ago near Federated Metals to see if there was any contamination at the site.

Pruitt didn’t provide any updates on the cleanup effort, and some EPA employees aren’t happy with the way the visit was handled.

“Scott Pruitt refuses to meet with EPA employees like me, who took their oath very seriously,” environmental scientist Felicia Chase said.

Other employees say that Pruitt also visited the agency’s Chicago office, holding meetings with state directors. He arrived at the meeting by underground tunnel, and reportedly did not meet with regional employees of the agency.

“He has not taken the time to meet with all of the staff to tell us about his policies and what he’s doing,” EPA union leader Michael Mikulka said.

Even with all of the efforts to keep his visit a secret, the extra security in the air and in the building left some employees and environmentalists upset that the administrator didn’t take the time to meet with the public.


So I guess this is related to his job, which is surprising and more effort than anyone would expect, but he's not actually meeting with anyone from the EPA, let alone the public?
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


I don't think Mr. Noun-Verb-9/11 is going to be all that much help.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:52 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


My god. Jay Goldberg, Trump's old lawyer who spoke to him recently.

@atrupar [Video]: Goldberg says he's thinks Cohen will talk to prosecutors because he's worried about getting raped in prison. "He's not suited to stand up to the rigors of jail life... Michael doesn't see himself walking down Broadway while people are clamoring, 'you're going to be my wife.'"

That quote omits the worst part, which is "prison has a racial overtone."

He goes on to suggest that Cohen could lie about Trump to avoid a long prison sentence.

Also, they just sent the Comey memos to Congress (the unredacted ones come tomorrow), so be on the lookout for portions to be selectively leaked to give certain apparences.
posted by zachlipton at 4:53 PM on April 19 [25 favorites]


Giuliani and Trump both cheated on Wife #1 with Wife #2, then cheated on Wife #2 with Wife #3. And Trump has cheated on Wife #3.

Their associate Newt Gingrich was way ahead of them,


According to Wikipedia, Giulliani married his second cousin on the first go-round, by accident. There was cheating before he found out, but then he found out and that's why they divorced. Is the official story.
posted by saysthis at 4:55 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I saw Jay Goldberg on CNN and he was less than impressive. Better than Cohen, sure, but he seemed a bit past his sell-by date. Okay on his prepared statements but unable to really handle even the smallest of curveballs.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


"He's not suited to stand up to the rigors of jail life... Michael doesn't see himself walking down Broadway while people are clamoring, 'you're going to be my wife.'"

That quote omits the worst part, which is "prison has a racial overtone."

I'm going to have real mixed feelings if Cohen's racism and homophobia end up being the crucial deciding factors in making him spill the regime-collapsing beans.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:56 PM on April 19 [21 favorites]


I don't think Mr. Noun-Verb-9/11 is going to be all that much help.

How many of the people on Trump's legal team spend most of their time on legal work? I won't even specify relevant litigation experience, just people who primarily do the work of an attorney. Are any of them? Most of them are his cronies, people he's seen on TV, or obvious hucksters who think they can sleaze their way into a payday from what I can tell (some are all three).
posted by Copronymus at 5:02 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


I'm going to have real mixed feelings if Cohen's racism and homophobia e