"Very legal & very cool"—Individual 1
December 7, 2018 8:10 AM   Subscribe

The Special Counsel's office has been busy lately, beginning with Michael Cohen's surprise court appearance last Thursday to plead guilty to lying about the Trump Tower Project in Moscow (PDF) and then Michael Flynn's heavily redacted sentencing memo on Tuesday (PDF). While Cohen's guilty plea filing was expansive—finally linking "Individual 1" (Donald Trump) formally to the Special Counsel investigation (WaPo)—here's how to read between the lines of Mueller's blacked-out memo on Flynn (CNN). Mueller’s sentencing memo for Flynn doubles as a warning to Manafort (Natasha Bertrand, The Atlantic), and it should worry Kushner and Trump (Bloomberg). But what's behind those lengthy redactions? One clue: As Flynn case winds down, investigation of Turkish lobbying persists (NYT). It's all leading up to a big day Friday (CNBC), with expectations of Michael Cohen's sentencing memos, new details in Paul Manafort's case, James Comey's closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill, and George Papadopoulos's release from prison.

• The ACA enrollment deadline in many states is approaching fast: December 15. Get yourself and your family covered today at healthcare.gov. With enrollment currently down 11% compared to last year, Why Is Obamacare Enrollment Down? (NYT).

• Lame Duck Roundup: "Republicans in four key swing states—Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina—are undertaking unprecedented efforts in lame-duck legislative sessions to strip newly elected Democratic officials (Mother Jones) of their power to oversee state voting laws and rushing to pass new laws that will make it harder to vote." The GOP’s 2018 Autopsy: Democracy Is Our Enemy (NY Magazine); The Lame-Duck Power Grab (Slate)

• NC-09 Roundup: As Nate Silver facetiously changes his rating in the race to "Lean Prison," new evidence has emerged that Republican officials had early warnings of voting irregularities in North Carolina (WaPo), but the party ignored these warnings from the primary. New evidence links Republican candidate Mark Harris to ballot harvester McCrae Dowless, who may have been doing this for eight years. BuzzFeed takes us Inside The North Carolina Republican Vote Machine: Cash, Pills — And Ballots as the New Yorker lays out the full story in A Republican Operative Faced Prior Allegations of Election Fraud in a Disputed North Carolina District. Now, former NC elections officials say they've reported similar instances of absentee ballot fraud, and prosecutors have been uninterested in the cases (News & Observer). On Thursday, Democrat Dan McCready withdrew his concession, and CNN reported ballot irregularities tied to Dowless in neighboring Robeson County as well. Yet more new revelations in “I Don’t Vote” — But He Did. Here’s How Alleged Election Fraud Works In North Carolina (BuzzFeed).

• China Trade Deal/Trade War Round-up: Following Trump's fraught G20 meeting (NYMag), Trump's aides have been struggling to detail the deal he says he cut with Xi (Bloomberg); Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, accused of violating US sanctions on Iran (Globe and Mail), and now an administration official is saying the arrest could be used as leverage in trade talks (CNN). UCLA economists predict the U.S. economy will downshift In 2019 and 2020—The United States is “playing with fire” in launching a trade war with China (LA Times); Donald Trump could be the first president since Jimmy Carter to run for re-election during a recession (CNBC)

• Whitaker Round-up: Whitaker’s Ascent at Justice Dept. Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud (NYT); No Clarity On Whether Whitaker Sought Ethics Advice On Potential Conflicts In Russia Probe (CNN); Senate Democrats demand details from DOJ on any conflicts of interest for Whitaker (Politico); The Whitaker Solution—The Supreme Court has a chance to rebuke President Trump and reaffirm judicial independence. Will the justices take it? (TNR); meanwhile, the Justice Department Still Hasn't Told The Federal Accountability Office That Jeff Sessions Quit (Buzzfeed)

• House Investigations Round-up: Which Investigations Will the Dems Launch First? They will have plenty of targets to choose from come January. (David Corn, Mother Jones); Inside House Democrats’ Plans to Investigate the FCC and Net Neutrality—Ajit Pai has been able to escape scrutiny as head of Trump’s FCC. That’s about to change.

• Victorina Morales/Bedminster Roundup: Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers (NYT); Housekeeper Who Worked Illegally at Trump Golf Resort Alleges Mistreatment (WaPo); Trump Personally Employs Undocumented Immigrants? That May Be a Federal Crime (Law & Crime). This sort of thing has happened before (Time)… Also, Trump Stiffs Chauffeur For Overtime After 25 Years of Service (court filing)

IN OTHER HEADLINES:

• Blue Wave keeps rolling: With Valado's (R-CA-21) concession to Democrat T.J. Cox, the blue wave has officially reached 40 House seats.

• Following news of a major cyber-hack in April of GOP e-mail servers (Politico), top Republican donors aren’t getting any information about the House Republican campaign arm getting hacked—“You would expect a little better customer service,” one NRCC donor said of the communication about the hack. (Buzzfeed)

Documents Point to Illegal Campaign Coordination Between Trump and the NRA (Mother Jones). The Trump campaign and the NRA used linked consultants to buy closely related ads during the 2016 campaign, leading to questions about violations of campaign finance law, which prohibits such coordination.

The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow (BuzzFeed)

Ajit Pai Admits Russia Interfered In Net Neutrality Process Amid Lawsuit (Daily Dot)

• Pelosi Casts Doubt on Passage of Trump's New NAFTA Without Changes to Bolster Its Labor and Environmental Protections (Politico)

Trump to Nominate State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert as U.S. Ambassador to U.N. (WaPo); Trump Says He'll Nominate William Barr To Be Attorney General (CBS)

‘Enough was enough’: How CNN boss reached the boiling point with Sarah Sanders (WaPo); CNN v Trump Might Be Over. But the Dangers Are Just Beginning. New White House rules governing the press corps threaten the First Amendment. (Politico). And yesterday, hours after Trump tweeted about "Fake News Media", CNN's NYC offices received a bomb threat one minute before Trump tweeted, yet again, "FAKE NEWS - THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!" (After evacuating the Time Warner Building, police found no devices.) (NBC).

Today is the 685th day of the Trump administration, during which he has said 3,924 false things (Toronto Star). There are 696 days left until the 2020 elections.

Keeping Track: The Weekly List (Amy Siskind); What The Fuck Just Happened Today?; The Weekly Sift; The “Everything Terrible The Trump Administration Has Done So Far” Omnibus; Perjury Chart: Trump Associates’ Lies, False, or Misleading Statements on Russia to Federal Authorities (Just Security)

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "I would give myself an A+, is that enough? Can I go higher than that?"

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites:
Bring Democracy To America (John D. Dingell, The Atlantic)
George H. W. Bush obituary thread
How a serial sex abuser got an extraordinary deal (Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein)
Boycott Fox News
Truth Sandwiches (George Lakoff, framing, etc.)
Save me from tomorrow (US Election Day, cont.)
• OnceUponATime's Active Measures site
• Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: On MeTa, what Mefites are doing to improve things; and on AskMe, nonpolitical volunteering from home and fighting fascism and building a movement.


As always, please consider MeFi chat and the unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack for hot-takes and live-blogging breaking news, the new MetaTalk venting thread for catharsis and sympathizing, and funding the site if you're able. Also, for the sake of the ever-helpful mods, please keep in mind the MetaTalk on expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter. Thanks to box, ragtag, and Zachlipton for helping to create this thread. U.S. Politics FPPs are generally collaborative, and a draft post can be found on the MeFi Wiki.
posted by Doktor Zed (574 comments total) 144 users marked this as a favorite
 
UN Ambassador nominee Heather Nauert once cited D-Day as the height of German-US relations. The best people.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:13 AM on December 7 [24 favorites]


I would like a Congressional investigation into organized voter fraud involving absentee ballots. The GOP has never kept a good ratfucking local. There’s no fucking way it was only in one district.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:28 AM on December 7 [65 favorites]




I would like a Congressional investigation into organized voter fraud involving absentee ballots. The GOP has never kept a good ratfucking local. There’s no fucking way it was only in one district.

Let's start in Michigan and Wisconsin.
posted by azpenguin at 8:38 AM on December 7 [33 favorites]


UN Ambassador nominee Heather Nauert once cited D-Day as the height of German-US relations.

I mean, it‘s hard to admit this, and won‘t pad her allegedly ‚thin résumé‘, but the German anti-fascist in me kind of agrees...
posted by The Toad at 8:44 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


After reading this interview with Seth Abramson at Salon and this comment in particular --

None of Trump's attorneys, I would say, seem to be very skilled. I don’t know whether they know the truth or simply suspect the truth, but I will tell you this is the advice Trump's attorneys are likely giving him: "You need to stay in the Oval Office for as long as you possibly can, because the moment you leave the Oval Office, you are going to be indicted. If you can find a way to hold on to 2020 and stay in office another four years after that, then that is what you need to do, because once you leave office you'll be indicted."

That case can be stretched out to a number of years with appeals and so on and so forth. The hope is for Donald Trump to simply -- and I'm going to try to say this as delicately as I can -- he is advanced in years and just in terms of his natural lifespan, there are only so many years that he has left. As his attorney, you would say, “Let’s try to run out the clock essentially on your natural lifespan without you ever having to go inside a prison cell.” That’s the advice you’d be giving Donald Trump right now.


-- I wonder if Mueller's endgame is to indict everyone surrounding Trump. Every cabinet member, all of his advisors (especially the ones he's related to), everyone he has hired. They are all complicit in one form or another. If you can't get Trump until he leaves office, you can at least take down everyone connected to him.
posted by pjsky at 8:46 AM on December 7 [57 favorites]


Bloomberg: Putin’s ‘American’ Oligarch Privately Boasted of Trump Ties. Then He Lost Billions—A chance New York encounter between onetime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and a relative of Viktor Vekselberg has cost the Russian dearly.
This saga, much of it previously unreported, began with a chance encounter between Cohen, Trump’s now-disgraced former lawyer, and Vekselberg’s American cousin, Andrew Intrater, in the fall of 2016. Soon, Trump would be in the White House and Vekselberg would be privately boasting of having the pull needed to help achieve the sanctions relief the Kremlin was craving, people familiar with the matter said. Instead, he became the richest victim of the most dangerous standoff between the U.S. and Russia since the Cold War.[...]

In January 2017, just after Trump assumed the presidency, Columbus Nova signed a $1 million consulting contract with Cohen, who would later become deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. The firm eventually wired a total of about $500,000 to the same legal entity that Cohen used to pay hush money to an adult film star who claims to have had an affair with Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.[...]

Intrater met Cohen by accident in a mid-town Manhattan restaurant in the fall of 2016, when a mutual friend introduced them, a person familiar with the matter said. In early January 2017, after his $250,000 gift but before Trump took office, Intrater escorted Vekselberg to Trump Tower in New York for an impromptu meeting with Cohen, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.[…]

In May, after Vekselberg was forced to seek about $1 billion of funding within Russia for his overseas operations, the government’s special sanctions bank charged him about 11 percent interest, far more than he was paying in Europe using the same assets as collateral, and demanded that he personally guarantee the loan, a person familiar with the matter said.[…]

Since liquidating his most valuable Russian asset, Vekselberg has focused on his remaining Russian holdings, including a stake in Rusal that he co-owns with [Len] Blavatnik, as well as his overseas investments and various philanthropic endeavors. In 2014, as chairman of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, he oversaw a fundraising gala that was attended by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.
Bloomberg's timing this article's publication to coincide with Cohen's sentencing memos is intriguing in every way.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:56 AM on December 7 [19 favorites]


I'm sincerely curious about this - James Comey is in a closed-door hearing, but I heard that he actually requested a public hearing and it was Congress who said no. Can anyone explain why they may have wanted to do that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


Because the Republicans are still calling the shots and they can't selectively leak quotes from an open-door hearing to make it sound like he said Trump's innocent/was right to fire Comey/etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:03 AM on December 7 [59 favorites]


It's quite possible that there's something deeper at work here, but when I heard about his request, it seemed like a pretty straightforward motivation: Comey wants to make sure that what he says is accurately reflected in the public record, and the (R) Congress wants to be able to cherry-pick and/or ignore anything he says that doesn't help their narrative.
posted by bluemilker at 9:03 AM on December 7 [24 favorites]


His agreement to testify includes a promise by Repubs that a transcript will be released within 24 hours. Not sure if he ensured that that means a full, unedited, un-redacted transcript.
posted by achrise at 9:11 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


"As his attorney, you would say, “Let’s try to run out the clock essentially on your natural lifespan without you ever having to go inside a prison cell.” That’s the advice you’d be giving Donald Trump right now."

I was talking with some other lawyers a few nights ago and we all agreed that was basically the advice we'd give him -- "You've got to stay in office as long as you possibly can, because you're fucked without abusing the power of the presidency to protect yourself, and your best-case scenario right now is dying in office. Your second-best is to hire lawyers with no shame who will delay the lawsuits and criminal trials to the maximum extent of the law." (Actually given that it's Trump, his second best is to hire lawyers who will delay the lawsuits and criminal trials to the point of obstruction and disbarment, but if he had a competent lawyer, to the maximum extent of the law.) Literally his only way out of this legal mess is by dying, and your job as a lawyer would be to delay everything you could in the hopes he dies before he goes to jail.

Unfortunately I think the Republican Party's best-case scenario right now is ALSO him getting re-elected in 2020 and then immediately dropping dead so whoever the next VP is can have three years to consolidate their power before the 2024 race. The Machiavellan among the GOP will be pushing that scenario hard, including disenfranchising as many people as possible. There's no momentum in the party for a reckoning or a house-cleaning -- the party seems prepared to white-knuckle it out, because any reckoning would be so utterly dire.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:12 AM on December 7 [116 favorites]


meanwhile, in North Carolina, it's starting to become clear why the GOP is making conciliatory noises about a possible do-over election:

AP: Mark Harris Owes $34K To Consultant Subpoenaed In Ballot Fraud Probe
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Republican candidate in North Carolina’s unresolved congressional race has acknowledged owing $34,310 to a political consultant subpoenaed in a ballot fraud probe, according to a federal campaign filing that refers to work at the heart of the investigation.

The Mark Harris campaign listed its debt to the Red Dome Group in a late Thursday filing with the Federal Election Commission. The form said the nature of the debt included “Reimbursement Payment for Bladen Absentee” and “Reimbursement Door to Door.”

Bladen County’s absentee ballots are at the center of a fraud probe that has prompted the North Carolina Elections Board to refuse to certify Harris as the winner over Democrat Dan McCready. The board cited allegations of “irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities” involving mail-in ballots, and subpoenaed both the Harris campaign and Red Dome for documents.

The board could order a new election after meeting later this month to consider the evidence. For now, the vote count remains unofficial, with Harris leading McCready by 905 votes.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:14 AM on December 7 [40 favorites]


The Nate Silver tweet of "NC-09 Leans Prison" was both funny and not at all a joke.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:17 AM on December 7 [70 favorites]


If I were Iran, I'd be shaking in my boots right about now.
posted by Optamystic at 9:27 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]


Lol, Nick Ayers for CoS. He was part of Greitens getting elected in Missouri.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:33 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


“You would expect a little better customer service,” one NRCC donor said of the communication about the hack. (Buzzfeed)

Indeed! One would expect a certain level of discretion and anonymity when one is out and about purchasing congressmen for their friends and loved ones this holiday season!
posted by sexyrobot at 9:35 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


As mentioned above:

Attorney and author Seth Abramson: Donald Trump sets “new paradigm for treachery.” Part 1 of 2

Author and attorney Seth Abramson on why Mueller “will ultimately be victorious.” Part 2 of 2 (Chauncey DeVega, Salon)
With all of the recent developments in Mueller's investigation, where are we in the timeline of the Russia-Trump scandal?

It is unlikely, even if things proceed pretty expeditiously, that we could reach the terminus of this story before the very beginning of 2020. That of course is itself enormously complicated because then you're looking at the [presidential] caucuses and primaries in January and February of 2020.

Part of that delay in getting to a just conclusion with Mueller's investigation and Trump's Russia connections is that there are almost certainly going to be some legal battles. These could potentially involve subpoenaing the president -- which Muller may try to do -- as well as executive privilege claims from Trump's legal team with respect to the Mueller report.

As far as Mueller’s side of things, no one knows for sure how much time he has left. But you can look at his progress and project out from there that we might be seeing a final report sent to the Department of Justice sometime in very late spring or early summer. But of course that does not mean that the American people and the world get to see it immediately. It all just mean that is when the legal battles begin.
Oh boy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:42 AM on December 7 [12 favorites]




cross posted from the last mega thread:

Mueller investigators questioned John Kelly in obstruction probe

Washington (CNN)White House chief of staff John Kelly was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team in recent months, three people with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Kelly responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators after White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller's request to do the interview earlier this summer, the sources said. Kelly is widely expected to leave his position in the coming days and is no longer on speaking terms with President Donald Trump, CNN reported earlier Friday.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:47 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


Rex Tillerson makes rare public appearance in Houston (Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle)

Rex Tillerson Breaks His Silence: Trump Is Impulsive, Hates Reading, and Floated Illegal Plans (Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones)
“So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,'” Tillerson recalled, according to the Houston Chronicle, “and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.'”

“I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day who told him he can’t do that,” Tillerson said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:52 AM on December 7 [46 favorites]


Adam Schiff:
What Trump is saying: It’s a witch hunt. We will have our own report. Mueller is bad. Comey is worse. Rosenstein is no picnic. Why don’t they go after Hillary and Brennan, anyone but me?
What he means: When Mueller’s report comes, it will be bad.
posted by growabrain at 9:52 AM on December 7 [32 favorites]


"John Kelly is out" is the second-most common story of the Trump presidency, after only Infrastructure Week, and narrowly edging out "Trump is increasingly isolated."
posted by msalt at 9:57 AM on December 7 [36 favorites]


Children's singer Raffi on criticizing Trump: "You have to fight fascism with everything you’ve got"
posted by porn in the woods at 9:58 AM on December 7 [72 favorites]


Wisconsin sabotage: Republicans approve 82 Scott Walker nominees in one day (Igor Derysh, Salon)
The mass confirmations come after Wisconsin Republicans pushed through several bills to weaken the governor’s office before Evers is sworn in. Republicans lost the governor’s race and attorney general race but held on to both chambers of the legislature as a result of a heavily pro-Republican gerrymander. Republicans won 64 percent of state assembly seats despite winning only 45 percent of the popular vote.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:58 AM on December 7 [26 favorites]


(It is normal in the Wisconsin legislature to approve batches of executive appointments, but that is by far the biggest batch ever; a normal batch is 15, maybe 20.)
posted by Jpfed at 10:04 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


> "As his attorney, you would say, “Let’s try to run out the clock essentially on your natural lifespan without you ever having to go inside a prison cell.” That’s the advice you’d be giving Donald Trump right now."

With changes in federal sentencing guidelines first from US v. Booker, then an amendment in 2010, "age, physical condition and mental health may be relevant", so he only needs to run out the clock until home confinement is likely. Then his problem is seizure of Trump Org. docs to find out what financial crimes prosecutors didn't already know about from Cohen's docs. He might have to be confined to an apt he can rent on $207,800 a year when the apartment in the tower is taken and the fees for money laundering dry up.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 10:05 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


He can't just bunk with 60% of his kids, because they'll be in jail too lolololol
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:07 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


on $207,800 a year

And according to that link, only if he hasn't been removed from office.
posted by Melismata at 10:10 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


mikelieman: Given it was known he was compromised by Russia prior to Inauguration, I would hope they gave [Trump] a fake [nuclear] football.

I bet they gave him an actual leather football, with the word "nuclear" written in magic marker block letters on the side. And he nodded somberly, and carries it with him everywhere.
posted by msalt at 10:15 AM on December 7 [50 favorites]


oh god his next act is going to be a reality show about his life as a disgraced ex-president crashing on tiffany's couch, isn't it
posted by murphy slaw at 10:15 AM on December 7 [35 favorites]


"John Kelly is out" is the second-most common story of the Trump presidency, after only Infrastructure Week, and narrowly edging out "Trump is increasingly isolated."

Close behind is "Trump is finally becoming Presidential".
posted by scalefree at 10:16 AM on December 7 [14 favorites]


I call dibs on posting that the minute Trump resigns.
posted by msalt at 10:18 AM on December 7 [52 favorites]


"John Kelly is out" is the second-most common story of the Trump presidency

(Alexandra Petri, WaPo) from November: Every John Kelly piece I’ve read for eight months, but maybe it’s real this time?
In the tumultuous Trump White House, reports swirl that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly may be on his way out.

Although the president stated on the record that John Kelly was his best friend ever, that he was literally holding John Kelly’s hand as he was speaking, and that he hoped Kelly would stay until at least 2050, if not longer, because a day without Kelly was like a day without sunshine (after which he gave Kelly a noogie while Kelly laughed and said, “Oh, you”), sources painted a different picture. […]

Kelly is barely keeping it together, according to another senior official, and the only thing that keeps him motivated is shouting F-bombs at an effigy of John Bolton each night until he is so exhausted he drops to the floor in a swoon, murmuring, “I don’t know that I can take much more of this,” as dreamless slumber claims him.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:30 AM on December 7 [14 favorites]


Raffi is the solidarity-personifying Antifa icon we needed to balance out Gritty.
posted by contraption at 10:30 AM on December 7 [54 favorites]


Wisconsin sabotage: Republicans approve 82 Scott Walker nominees in one day (Igor Derysh, Salon)

The shit going on here in WI and next door in MI is insane and so reprehensible.

What is the remedy at this point? Democracy has failed in the laboratory. We're living under authoritarian minority rule. We literally cannot vote the bastards out. What are we supposed to do?

John Locke suggested an appeal to God when you get no justice from the established authorities. What he meant by that was to grab a musket.
posted by dis_integration at 10:40 AM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Close behind is "Trump is finally becoming Presidential"

Current WaPo:
Trump is failing everywhere. Here are some fresh signs of it.
The latest round of Trump chaos: No one but himself to blame

Current NYT:
President Trump, Under Siege

Current Boston Globe:
Khashoggi killing complicates commerce for President Trump
Trump’s pick for UN ambassador went to Pine Manor College

(No, they are not all rah rah Trump all the time, or even most of the time, but I just wish they had a spine...)
posted by Melismata at 10:44 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


can any of the artist people who hang out in these threads draw up a battle standard depicting a baby beluga eating Nazis plz

I can't do this because I can't draw but I DO enjoy doodling whales so I've got this if it's helpful.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:46 AM on December 7 [18 favorites]


I want a Mueller advent calendar like they did on The Daily Show.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:47 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]


Wisconsin sabotage: Republicans approve 82 Scott Walker nominees in one day

Is the USA the only democracy with lame duck sessions of government? I know in Canada, UK, and other parliamentary systems elections take place while the legislature is in recess, and take effect immediately before parliament resumes.
For a country that often claims to have perfected democracy you have some very strange antidemocratic loopholes.
posted by rocket88 at 10:53 AM on December 7 [94 favorites]


Politico, Abby Livingston, The Hardest Glass Ceiling in Politics: "This was supposed to be the year of the woman. But dozens of female political operatives say they weren’t invited to the party." A detailed feature based on interviews with 50+ women in politics

----

WSJ, The Secret Way Seniors Can Keep Deducting Gifts to Charity. With the increase in the standard deduction, millions more taxpayers will no longer receive a separate charitable tax deduction, leading to concerns about a drop in giving. This article discusses a trick available only to IRA owners over 70½ to still get a tax break from donating even while getting the standard deduction.

Love to give tax breaks to the people who least need them.

----

@anniekarni: Trump just commended a law enforcement agent for his work fighting "rival gangs, right here in St. Louis." Members of the audience in Kansas City did a double take.

So this event is going great.
posted by zachlipton at 10:55 AM on December 7 [67 favorites]


Luck and circumstance

I can truthfully say that I would not have this job, this marriage, these children, and this life if I had not decided to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam out of what was, essentially, spite. Passing the exam was hard work, but I certainly did not need to take it - it was at the time irrelevant to my then-plans.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:56 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Is the USA the only democracy with lame duck sessions of government? I know in Canada, UK, and other parliamentary systems elections take place while the legislature is in recess, and take effect immediately before parliament resumes.

This is due to the fact that we have no mandatory recess for the legislature. I don't know how many other democracies share that feature.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:00 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


For a country that often claims to have perfected democracy you have some very strange antidemocratic loopholes.

To be fair, we were a pretty state-of-the-art democratic republic in 1781, with major updates in 1865, 1933 and 1964-5.

I think the Westminster operating system is still better though, it's really changed a lot since the 1832 overhaul.
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:11 AM on December 7 [16 favorites]


Justice Department Still Hasn’t Said That Sessions Quit

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the head of the Justice Department was to report the vacancy in the office of attorney general… ‘immediately.’ It’s been a month since Trump forced then-Attorney General Sessions to resign and then tweeted that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, would be the acting attorney general.

... As to Whitaker's appointment itself, the White House has simply said there is a memorandum and that it was sent to Whitaker.

... Neither the White House nor the Justice Department has provided a copy of the memorandum, despite repeated requests, with the White House refusing to turn it over.


Trump later tweeted that the new US flag was his underwear and all of Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies were retroactively unreleased.
posted by petebest at 11:22 AM on December 7 [15 favorites]


I'm not sure whether colluding with a foreign power to hack an election is better or worse than protecting a child rapist, or perhaps even being one yourself. It's just evil all the way down and it all blurs at some point.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:27 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]




Living in Germany as I have for the last number of years, I feel like the German constitution is what you get when you take all the lessons learned since the US one was written and start again with a clean piece of paper.

What's the first thing in it? "Human dignity is inviolable". Followed by a whole load of stuff about fundamental rights, and then eventually, after all that is laid down, stuff about how the country is to be governed.

What's the first thing in the US constitution? A lengthy description of who's in charge. Habeas corpus gets a mention nine sections in. Other than that, human rights don't feature at all until they started amending it.
posted by Buck Alec at 11:32 AM on December 7 [111 favorites]


From the Department of No Shit, Sherlock:
Trump is reportedly ‘glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them


I'm guessing Individual One has some investments in the stock market, because I can't imagine a world where he's worried about anyone else's 401k.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:40 AM on December 7 [20 favorites]


Vanity Fair, Peter Hamby, Democrats Face a Generational Reckoning: The choice in the 2020 primary ultimately comes down to one thing: who is best prepared to beat Trump at a time when Trump owns the culture? Someone who actually understands culture would be a start.
“If we think about American politics as dramatically polarized and tribal, and you look for ways to puncture the tribal nature of it, I think youth and cultural currency is a significant way of puncturing it against Trump,” said Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Clinton and Obama did not become presidents because they were younger than their aging Republican opponents. That they looked fresh and different was part of it. But their youth, and their attendant instincts, allowed them to plug into mass culture at a time when voters wanted change. Both won because they were able to command the most prized commodity in politics: attention. They were new, and the political media in particular has always been obsessed with new.
...
The best current practitioner of this behavior is Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president. But she is already more famous than pretty much every other member of Congress and several presidential candidates. Yes, that’s owed to her upset victory over Rep. Joe Crowley earlier this year, and the creeping influence of the Democratic Socialists on the left. But it’s also due to the fact that she, an attention-merchant like Trump, understands that social media is the most powerful way to both create a narrative and influence the media. Ocasio-Cortez uses her tweets and Instagram posts to rally support for her causes, to give voters an authentic behind-the-scenes look at her life, and to punch down at buffoonish right-wing targets, endearing her even more to her supporters. Social media amplifies her uncanny ability to get under the skin of conservatives and rile up the frustrated beta males of Fox News. By being herself online, she both creates and controls her own powerful feedback loop of media coverage, without being drawn into fights she doesn’t want. Much like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, who used Twitter to go after powerful interests and politicians, Ocasio-Cortez is a dominant communicator on social media, simply because she grew up with social media. It is her native tongue. Who needs a press release?
There's a lot of casual ageism in here that I'm pretty uncomfortable with, but I do appreciate that this article tries, at best, to make some distinction between age and cultural currency. While the latter is often a thinly veiled way of talking about the former, Sanders is, setting aside anything else one might want to say about him, an indication that they aren't entirely synonymous.
posted by zachlipton at 11:40 AM on December 7 [27 favorites]


I just came in here to say that I entertain the thought that Manafort was sold out by his lawyers.
posted by ouke at 11:40 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


Does any other democratic system in the world allow legislators to pass legislation after they've been voted out?
posted by clawsoon at 11:40 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


What's the first thing in the US constitution? A lengthy description of who's in charge. Habeas corpus gets a mention nine sections in. Other than that, human rights don't feature at all until they started amending it.

As anyone who watched Schoolhouse Rock (or Star Trek) knows, the first thing in the US Constitution are the words "We, the People," meaning that the power of the government derives from the consent of the governed. Which is why any political party ruling despite receiving a significant minority of votes, or retroactively passing laws to thwart the expressed will of the voters, should be unconstitutional on the face of it, if not outright treasonous.
posted by Gelatin at 11:44 AM on December 7 [46 favorites]


The best current practitioner of this behavior is Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president. But she is already more famous than pretty much every other member of Congress and several presidential candidates.

Not running, and can't run for six more years because she isn't old enough. She'll barely pass 35 right before election day 2024, though, if she wants to try for a nearly-unbreakable "youngest US pres" record.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:45 AM on December 7 [26 favorites]


The best current practitioner of this behavior is Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president. But she is already more famous than pretty much every other member of Congress and several presidential candidates.

Her courage at pulling back the veil of the corporate influences that begin already during the orientation period is astounding. Ocasio-Cortez is an amazing person.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:50 AM on December 7 [75 favorites]


who is best prepared to beat Trump at a time when Trump owns the culture?

assumes facts not in evidence
posted by leotrotsky at 11:51 AM on December 7 [15 favorites]


Ammon Bundy Is Quitting The Militia Movement After Breaking With Trump On Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric
"To group them all up like, frankly, our president has done — you know, trying to speak respectfully — but he has basically called them all criminals and said they're not coming in here," Bundy said in the video. "What about individuals, those who have come for reasons of need for their families, you know, the fathers and mothers and children that come here and were willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually?"

Bundy went on, dispelling conspiracy theories that billionaire George Soros was behind the caravan or that terrorists were using the group to sneak into the US....

"I expected to get a decent amount of pushback, but I also believed that I could explain to them why I'd taken those positions and why," he told BuzzFeed News. "But you know, I've always had these kinds of thoughts that people were not really listening to the principles of things, that they had aligned with me for some other reasons, and that some of those [reasons] are good and some of those might not be, but this last video kind of confirmed that."... "It's like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening," he said. "The vast majority seemed to hang on to what seemed like hate, and fear, and almost warmongering, and I don't want to associate myself with warmongers."... "I believe President Trump, the best way I could explain it, is that he's a nationalist, and a nationalist in my view makes the decision that best benefits the nation, not the individual," Bundy said. "That is not freedom, and that is not what America was built upon."... "Fear is the opposite of faith, faith is the opposite of fear, and we have been asked by God to help, to be welcoming, to assist strangers, to not vex them," he said in his video. "As we do that, the Lord is going to bless us and bless them."

"The time we find ourselves in now that is closest found in history is Germany in the 1930s, and they had a leader that was loved, and it was the same kind of following," he said. "I don't want to say there is that extreme similarity, but it very well could go that way, and people just give up their thinking, their rights, and they give up their government because they were so willing to follow him."
posted by BungaDunga at 11:52 AM on December 7 [90 favorites]


who is best prepared to beat Trump at a time when Trump owns the culture?

assumes facts not in evidence


He owns a culture. The problem is we have two.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:52 AM on December 7 [18 favorites]


to punch down at buffoonish right-wing targets

not to nitpick, but this is punching up
posted by murphy slaw at 11:56 AM on December 7 [44 favorites]


BETO BETO BETO BETO

Right? Only now the ratfucking begins...
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:00 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


Her courage at pulling back the veil of the corporate influences that begin already during the orientation period is astounding.

Seeing the entire orientation infrastructure from a first-hand perspective is both interesting on a nerdy level and also shows what's considered entirely ordinary in the weird small company town that is political DC.

He owns a culture. The problem is we have two.

Isn't the problem more of multiple fragmented cultures that, like the American party system, end up lumped into two messy oppositional coalitions? That's why clashes over the things and people that retain some claim to mass culture -- the NFL, the Oscars, Taylor Swift -- take on such symbolic weight.

(That also got me thinking about how JFK was only four years younger than Nixon in 1960, and both were under 50.)
posted by holgate at 12:04 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


El Presidente Supremo: Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!

I guess Tillerson did call him a moron.
posted by PenDevil at 12:05 PM on December 7 [55 favorites]


Trump owns the entire culture in the sense that he has latched onto everyone's brains. Everything is now defined in terms of Trump or Not-Trump. That's the sort of ownership Peter Hamby was talking about, and it's the backdrop for any 2020 candidate.

In fact, that Buzzfeed story about Ammon Bundy is a perfect example of an "exception demonstrating the rule". It's surreal. I still can't wrap my mind around what process lead to a Bundy supporting the rights of migrants, except for a kind of actual consistency in his views, and a personal definition of "human" that... includes all humans, which, again, is really weird for an otherwise Trumpite-type person. (He even makes the comparison to 1930s Germany! With the understanding that the Third Reich was a bad thing. Just, wow. Vaguely uplifting stuff.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:05 PM on December 7 [92 favorites]


My first- definitely uninformed- thought is that it might come from Bundy's Mormonism, which is probably a bit more skeptical of Washington enforcing arbitrary laws on "those people" than the current incarnation of evangelical Protestantism due to not-that-distant history between LDS and the feds.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:10 PM on December 7 [24 favorites]


(That also got me thinking about how JFK was only four years younger than Nixon in 1960, and both were under 50.)

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump are all 72.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:10 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


Speaking of Beto, my current twitter feed resembles the D-Day sequence from Saving Private Ryan, only instead of Allies vs. Nazis, it's Democrats who believe there's a leftist conspiracy to kneecap a potential 2020 Beto run vs. leftists who believe there's a Democratic conspiracy to blacklist all leftist critics of Beto's ostensibly centrist politics. And both sides make good points, but too many of them are coming across as thin-skinned and extremely paranoid.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:10 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


how about we just let everybody who wants to run run in what we'll call a "primary" election, and we can talk up the things we like about the candidates we're backing but maybe not get too deep into the weeds shit-talking the ones we don't like, because we'll all agree to support whoever wins the "primary" in the general election and anyway is 12pm too early to start drinking
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:14 PM on December 7 [133 favorites]


Melismata:
Current Boston Globe:
Khashoggi killing complicates commerce for President Trump
Trump’s pick for UN ambassador went to Pine Manor College
(No, they are not all rah rah Trump all the time, or even most of the time, but I just wish they had a spine...)

That second headline from the Glob is actually throwing a bit of shade: for the paper of record in "America's Athens" to point out her time at Pine Manor, they are emphasizing its limited and rather déclassé reputation and painting her with that.

When I worked at a nearby pizzeria in the 90s, the drivers called "Pine Mattress" or just "the Mattress."
posted by wenestvedt at 12:21 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


Ocasio-Cortez's response to Individual One Jr. I love her.

‏@Ocasio2018
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Retweeted The Washington Post
I have noticed that Junior here has a habit of posting nonsense about me whenever the Mueller investigation heats up.

Please, keep it coming Jr - it’s definitely a “very, very large brain” idea to troll a member of a body that will have subpoena power in a month.

Have fun!

posted by bluesky43 at 12:23 PM on December 7 [116 favorites]


Star-Tribune via AP via NYT: Trump Drilling Plan Threatens 9 Million Acres of Sage Grouse Habitat
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday detailed its plan to open nine million acres to drilling and mining by stripping away protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-nesting bird that oil companies have long considered an obstacle to some of the richest deposits in the American West.

In one stroke, the action would open more land to drilling than any other step the administration has taken, environmental policy experts said. It drew immediate criticism from environmentalists while energy-industry representatives praised the move, saying that the earlier policy represented an overreach of federal authority.

“This is millions and millions of acres of Western land that stretch across the spine of this nation,” said Bobby McEnaney, an expert in Western land use at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “With this single action, the administration is saying: This landscape doesn’t matter. This species doesn’t matter. Oil and gas matter.”

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an association of independent oil and gas companies based in Denver, said in an email, “These plans will conserve the sage grouse without needlessly stifling economic activity.”

The plan is the latest in a series designed to promote more oil and gas drilling on public land in support of what President Trump has called a policy of American “energy dominance.” Last December, Mr. Trump signed a law that opened the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, and the administration has since moved with unprecedented speed to allow exploratory work to begin there. In January, the Interior Department proposed opening up almost the entire American coastline to offshore drilling.
Just a marker so when people ask what's Trump done that's so terrible this'll be easy to add to the list.
posted by notyou at 12:24 PM on December 7 [20 favorites]


House Republicans who lost re-election bids were more moderate than those who won
(Pew Research)
When Republicans lost their House majority in this year’s midterm elections, the toll was especially high among GOP moderates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Among the Republican House incumbents who lost their re-election campaigns, 23 of 30 were more moderate than the median Republican in the chamber. No Democratic incumbents running for re-election in the House lost their seats. (This analysis excludes the election in New York’s 27th Congressional District, where votes are being recounted. Incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Collins ran for re-election against Democrat Nate McMurray.)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:25 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


Great news out of Philadelphia and a reminder that local political work is crucially important to a more democratic and healthier future for US residents.

A bill approved by City Council on Thursday and expected to be signed into law by Mayor Kenney could help him get those hours. The “Fair Workweek” legislation, part of a national movement to provide more predictability in the lives of retail, fast-food, and hotel workers, passed by 14-3, nearly a year after advocates and workers launched a campaign to fight for more predictable scheduling.

The bill would require employers with more than 30 locations and 250 employees to give workers two weeks' advance notice of their schedules and offer “predictability pay” if schedules change after that. It also would requires employers to offer available shifts to existing employees rather than hiring new ones, a move that could help bring part-time workers, like Wiggins, closer to full time.

Council members David Oh, Al Taubenberger, and Brian O’Neill voted against the bill. O’Neill said he doesn’t think unionized workers, who are covered in the bill, need those protections. This was a part of the bill that labor advocates had fought for. Thursday’s vote makes Philadelphia the second-biggest city in the country, after New York, to pass a scheduling law.

posted by Bella Donna at 12:27 PM on December 7 [60 favorites]


In other news, from the WSJ: Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal criminal charges as soon as next week against hackers linked to the Chinese government who have allegedly engaged in a sophisticated multiyear scheme to break into U.S. technology service providers in order to compromise the networks of their clients, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. officials have described the hacking campaign as one of the most audacious and damaging orchestrated by China to date, intended to steal intellectual property and support Beijing’s espionage goals. The hacks have allowed intruders potential access to scores of American companies and government agencies that rely on the service providers for a wide range of digital tasks, such as the remote management of technology infrastructure or cloud storage.


Just never a dull moment, ya know?
posted by Bella Donna at 12:38 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


So not only is it weird enough today that Ammon Bundy is coming across as reasonable, but I now have to be on the side of an Ashcroft.

nb Jay Ashcroft is son of former W AG John Ashcroft
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:45 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi On North Carolina Election Fraud: We Can Refuse To Seat That Congressman
Any newly elected House member can object to the swearing-in of Republican Mark Harris amid his election scandal. (HuffPo).

WASHINGTON ― House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that election officials in North Carolina have a few options for responding to what appears to be an egregious case of election fraud in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

Members of Congress have an option, too: They can refuse to seat the current leader of the race, Republican Mark Harris.

“The House still retains the right to decide who is seated. That is one of the powers of the House of Representatives,” Pelosi told reporters. “Any member-elect can object to the seating and swearing-in of another member-elect. We’ll see how that goes.”

Pelosi is referring to the scandal unfolding in two North Carolina counties where investigators are trying to figure out whether there’s a nefarious reason so many absentee ballots were never mailed back. In Bladen County, which has a large black population, 40 percent of absentee ballots were never returned. A whopping 62 percent of absentee ballots were not mailed back in nearby Robeson County, which is 38 percent Native American.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:47 PM on December 7 [43 favorites]


Ammon Bundy Is Quitting The Militia Movement After Breaking With Trump On Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Dude tried to incite not one, but two armed insurrections and occupied—and shit all over—a federal wildlife preserve for a month. I ain't extending him an olive branch of forgiveness even if he has decided that his economic livelihood or what-the-hell-ever relies on immigrants.
He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!
I think it is safe to say that a former secretary of state has never accused the president of not understanding the laws, not reading and not being intellectually curious -- only to have the president respond that his secretary of state was "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell."

— Josh Dawsey @jdawsey1
posted by octobersurprise at 12:50 PM on December 7 [35 favorites]


> how about we just let everybody who wants to run run in what we'll call a "primary" election

Yeah, all the pre-primary bickering and coverage is maddening to the point that I'm already sick of the 2020 election in which nobody being argued about or covered has even formally declared.

The fact that people are already splitting up into factions about this before we've even officially gotten started with anything worries me greatly, because almost none of the narrative on who may or may not be running has come from within the party or people actually close to said "candidates"... It's almost as if there's some sort of meddling from the outside, attempting to set us against each other and cause chaos.

But there's more than potential meddling at play here, it's a legitimate issue that so few people seem to be making a declaration one way or the other.... It's just a pile of people who "haven't ruled it out." And with everything at stake, that's actually a bit concerning. As I've said before, I'm hoping that they are trying to prevent a clown car primary, but it seems more like nobody is really stepping up. And literally NOBODY we talk about has officially stated "yes, I want to seek election as president of the US" - Under our current administration, it is absolutely anxiety inducing that nobody is willing to make that formal declaration. I mean, it's fucking TRUMP - We're absolutely dying to hear someone say "I'm going to challenge that treasonous motherfucker."

But that's not where we are. Here's what we know for sure...
These people have officially declared and have funds for the campaign at the six figure level or above: Andrew Yang, John Delaney, and a relatively new declaration from Hart P Cunningham - a "businessman" who got his start by launching a digital currency for teenagers.

Avenatti has said that he is no longer considering a run.

All else is an unknown, a rumor, and is "entertaining the idea" - but is not serious. But that's the playing field right now. And that, in the age of Trump, is totally absurd.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:51 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


Y'know, if that's the case, Pelosi should refuse to seat ALL the GOP NC House, since they were elected in unconstitutionally drawn districts. The courts have still refused to provide our state with any relief. All our elections are unconstitutional.
posted by rikschell at 12:55 PM on December 7 [54 favorites]


I've got no problem with an open, honest debate about the merits of various Democrats expected to explore the viability of a 2020 run before any have officially announced. With a party this decentralized, where so many different people can claim leadership of various tribes within it, the idea that these discussions in any way resemble clearing the field or stopping anyone from running is preposterous. There has always been a public opinion "primary" of sorts where someone either makes noises about running and then their people listen for the echoes to see if they have sufficient public support to take the next step.

If a candidate and/or their supporters can't withstand a circular firing squad with rubber bullets, it's really hard to imagine them surviving the Hell that's going to be unleashed upon them by the combined forces of GOP thugs and the "both sides" media.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:58 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


The Hill: Rohrabacher eyes new career as a screenwriter after losing reelection

Oh man there is a lot there that’s high comedy, but here’s some slapstick while we wait for Mueller:
None of the current projects he's working on tackle politics or life in Washington, says Rohrabacher, who was knocked ahead of the election for his perceived close ties to Russia. Instead, the congressman describes a "comedy" he's writing about a team of robbers who make their way into Fort Knox before realizing there's no gold there.
posted by notyou at 1:02 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


This is definitely one of those "Aha! It all proves that my personal hobbyhorse is the right thing to obsess on!" things... but I like to imagine that primary-election reform could cut down the pre-primary drama a little bit. Any plurality-vote system requires some thinning by voluntary drop-outs, to prevent candidates from being spoilers. That would be less of an issue if the nation followed the lead of Maine with its new ranked-choice instant-runoff system. (Also, nobody designing a sensible system would deliberately raise the importance of New Hampshire and Iowa like that.)

The result of a crowded field is often to select not the candidate who is popular, moderate, or any other possibly-desirable trait... but simply unique. (Arguably that's what happened for Republicans in 2012 and 2016 -- Romney was the main "establishment" person, whereas Individual-1 was so clownish that everyone else became "establishment" next to him -- either way, the loneliest guy won.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:03 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


America’s sexist obsession with what women politicians wear, explained
Ever since women started holding political office, American men have been fixated on their clothes. Vox.
(Note to Vox: It's not just in politics).

When she was in the Senate, Carol Moseley Braun got used to having her clothing scrutinized.

She remembers one incident in particular, she told Vox. “Women’s Wear Daily had me on its cover — actually a picture of my butt,” she said, “and it said, ‘this is what a Chanel sweater set should not look like.’”

Women in politics “are held to a different standard across the board” than men when it comes to dress, said Moseley Braun, who represented Illinois in the Senate from 1993 to 1999. And it hasn’t necessarily changed much since she was a senator.

In November, writer Eddie Scarry of the conservative Washington Examiner made headlines (and spawned countless memes) when he tweeted a photograph of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York City Democrat, with the caption, “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
posted by bluesky43 at 1:04 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


@anniekarni: Trump just commended a law enforcement agent for his work fighting "rival gangs, right here in St. Louis." Members of the audience in Kansas City did a double take.

The best part of that isn't even getting the city wrong, it's calling the police a gang. Stopped clock, etc.
posted by Foosnark at 1:06 PM on December 7 [37 favorites]


More of this, please: Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world's youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.

"Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago," said Thunberg, who has garnered international notoriety for weekly climate strikes outside her school in Sweden, during a speech on Monday.

Thunberg said that she was not asking anything of the gathered leaders—even as she sat next to UN Secretary General António Guterres—but only asking the people of the world "to realize that our political leaders have failed us, because we are facing an existential threat and there's no time to continue down this road of madness."

Thunberg explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, "there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed."

"So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future," she declared. "They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge."

posted by Bella Donna at 1:08 PM on December 7 [105 favorites]


The best current practitioner of this behavior is Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president. But she is already more famous than pretty much every other member of Congress and several presidential candidates.

I don't want to pile on, but I promised myself I would comment the next time Ocasio-Cortez was put forward as a presidential candidate. I like Ocasio-Cortez, at least, so far. I'm excited about her. But can we wait a hot minute before deciding she should be president? For her sake? She's brand new to this, and if she sticks around she's bound to make some mistakes. It doesn't do her any favors to make her out to be some kind of ultimate be all politician before she gets her feet wet.
posted by xammerboy at 1:09 PM on December 7 [94 favorites]


I am 7 time zones away for the entire week, and it's been a bit relaxing and more than a bit stressful as I try hard to keep up with the news. Two things have me quite confused:

1. Can it really be true that there is no public record of Matthew Whitaker's appointment as Acting Attorney General other than Trump's tweet? It's linked in the thread, but this seems ... unprecedented? Like, forget the sound it made, did the tree even fall in the forest at all?

2. This tweet by the Cheeto-in-chief, mentioned above: ... Rex Tillerson didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell... Do you think he's forgotten that he himself appointed Sleepy T? T-Rex was one "the best people" - wasn't he? Or is Trump counting on his audience not remembering, and maybe thinking Sleepy-T was an Obama appointee or something?
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:17 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


Can it really be true that there is no public record of Matthew Whitaker's appointment as Acting Attorney General other than Trump's tweet?

For real. Is he just not getting paid or getting health insurance? Does OPM even have him rostered?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:19 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


CNN, VA secretary praised Confederate president as a "martyr to 'The Lost Cause'" in 1995 speech
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie praised Confederate States President Jefferson Davis effusively in a 1995 speech, calling him a "martyr to 'The Lost Cause'" and an "exceptional man in an exceptional age."

Wilkie, who delivered the speech in front of a statue of Davis at the US Capitol during an event sponsored by the United Daughters of Confederacy, also said that while he was "no apologist for the South," viewing Confederate "history and the ferocity of the Confederate soldier solely through the lens of slavery and by the slovenly standards of the present is dishonest and a disservice to our ancestors."
...
A KFile review also found Wilkie attended a pro-Confederate event as recently as 2009, giving a speech on Robert E. Lee to a Maryland division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
...
"The South has many warts," he continued. "Chattel slavery and its aftermath is a stain on our story as it is a stain on every civilization in history. But slavery was a collective American tragedy. (President Abraham) Lincoln understood that there was enough guilt to be spread from Maine to Key West. To view our history and the ferocity of the Confederate soldier solely through the lens of slavery and by the slovenly standards of the present is dishonest and a disservice to our ancestors. We can't surrender American history to an enforced political orthodoxy dictated to our children by attention-starved politicians, street corner demagogues, and tenured campus radicals."

Professor David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale, told CNN in an interview that Wilkie's comments were "right from the neo-Confederate playbook." "That is standard Lost Cause ideology circa 1890 to 1910," he said. "This man, that language right there, is the standard defense of the Lost Cause built over the period of decades as an ideology explaining confederate defeat, but also as a racial ideology."
And yet Republicans play the "Party of Lincoln" card every chance they can.
posted by zachlipton at 1:20 PM on December 7 [40 favorites]


I think people are really pumped about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on MetaFilter in this moment partly because she's a rare politician who bridges the central socialist vs. moderate divide in today's Democratic Party. She manages to excite both the left and right flanks of the party in a way that almost never happens. So we can actually boost her without fighting about it!
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:21 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


Trump Says He'll Nominate William Barr To Be Attorney General

Just another example of a zombie ratfucker who just will not die. Like Stone and Comey and Kavanaugh, they just keep coming back, decade after decade.

You have probably heard that Trump's nominee, Barr, has publicly stated that he thinks the Trump investigation is a hoax and that it would be better to spend time investigating Hillary Clinton.

But let's go way back to 1992 and the recently departed GWH Bush. Barr was Bush's Attorney General and designated ratfucker. Bush was in a tight race against the charismatic upstart Bill Clinton so he had Barr pressure the Arkansas US Attorney who worked for Barr to indict Clinton on bogus Whitewater charges right before the election. The US Attorney balked at what was obviously illegal political interference using the justice system and Clinton won the election.

Yes, we almost had another Clinton election thwarted by justice department interference. And, Barr, the undying zombie ratfucker is back again.
posted by JackFlash at 1:24 PM on December 7 [33 favorites]


Do you think he's forgotten that he himself appointed Sleepy T? T-Rex was one "the best people" - wasn't he? Or is Trump counting on his audience not remembering, and maybe thinking Sleepy-T was an Obama appointee or something?

I took it as an inadvertent admission from DJT that he didn't appoint Rex. He just had to do what his Russians told him to do.
posted by witchen at 1:25 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


When Republicans lost their House majority in this year’s midterm elections, the toll was especially high among GOP moderates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

This is not a concern. I would think those were the districts that were already moderate and so went from lean R to lean D. The Rs that won were in districts too red to swing.
posted by M-x shell at 1:26 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


From the Department of No Shit, Sherlock:
Trump is reportedly ‘glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them


Maybe, just maybe, he'll shut up about a trade war.

Stocks dropped sharply on Friday, concluding what has been a wild week for Wall Street. A weaker-than-expected jobs report and China-U.S. trade tensions sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower by 558.72 points to 24,388.95 and erased its gains for the year.

He's going to be getting all sorts of feedback when he heads out to Mar-a-lago.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:27 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


...He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell...

Does this qualify as slander or libel? It's certainly public enough of a representation.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:28 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Trump is reportedly ‘glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them

No, he's worried that people will think he's causing them. Big difference.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:30 PM on December 7 [20 favorites]


> I like Ocasio-Cortez, at least, so far. I'm excited about her. But can we wait a hot minute before deciding she should be president? For her sake? She's brand new to this...

According to Article II of the US Constitution, no one under 35 years of age is eligible to be president. Ocasio-Cortez is 29.
posted by nangar at 1:31 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


But those people also would be correct. In any event, hopefully Trump wakes up soon. At least it shows he's not solely focused on deflecting toward Fed rate hikes as the cause of the market bloodletting.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 1:33 PM on December 7


My hope is that Sleepy Rex came out of hibernation and is going dgaf with his words because he got immunity.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:34 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


Does this qualify as slander or libel

"Laziness" is a judgement call; an opinion; a description, but not an assertion of fact. The same person doing the same thing might be called lazy by one person but not lazy by another. Slander/libel usually has to be an assertion of fact. "Lazy" is basically just name-calling, which is generally never libel.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:36 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


A recap of Tillerson tweets, beginning many many scaramuccis ago.
posted by thelonius at 1:42 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


Since I brought up Ocasio-Cortez, and we're all spinning our wheels waiting for this Cohen filing that is apparently coming at the last damn minute, let me just say that it had nothing to do with her running for President, which she is not eligible to do, so I'm not sure why we've all jumped off in that direction. The point was her communication style and expression of cultural currency is useful to look at when assessing candidates now. The next Democratic nominee's campaign is either going to have a 12-person tweet approval process or not. As norms change, what does a Presidential candidate sound like in 2019? AOC is an example of a direction some are headed, not a candidate herself.
posted by zachlipton at 1:48 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


SDNY Cohen sentencing memo (40 pages) is up, with Mueller's to follow.

@KlasfeldReports: BREAKING: Government requests that Cohen receive a "substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest downward variance from the applicable Guidelines range." Probation recommends 42 months.

@bradheath: Federal prosecutors have filed their sentencing memo on Michael Cohen. It's not kind. They say his crimes "were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life." Federal prosecutors in New York say Michael Cohen should receive a "substantial term of imprisonment," even after giving him some credit for his cooperation with Mueller's investigation.

@ryanbeckwith: This is the funniest reference to Individual-1 yet "The board of directors of a condominium building in which Cohen lived was attempting to remove from the building the name of the owner ('Individual-1') of a Manhattan-based real estate company (the 'Company')."

Personally, I like "Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."
posted by zachlipton at 1:51 PM on December 7 [87 favorites]


Cohen is such a dumbass. He sorta cooperated and thus won't get a pardon from Trump, but he didn't officially cooperate so he won't get the sentence reduction for a deal. What the hell is he thinking?
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on December 7 [17 favorites]


!!!!

@bradheath: This is new. Federal prosecutors have said for the first time in a court filing that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of" President Trump. This is significant. The Justice Department is alleging in court that the president directed his onetime lawyer to commit two felonies.
posted by zachlipton at 1:53 PM on December 7 [132 favorites]




Does this qualify as slander or libel

It is potentially defamation, in that it could (theoretically) affect Tillerson's public reputation and career options, but the terms "lazy" and "dumb" are so vague that it'd be hard to prove they're false statements. (And it'd be libel; slander is spoken and ephemeral. If it's published, it's potentially libel.)

The president's claim that Maxine Waters is "low-IQ" would be more actionable - how "intelligent" someone is, is debatable, but one's IQ score is a measurable number. But it's still a long shot for an actual lawsuit. With terms that vague, the potential accusers would need to show some kind of real damages.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:55 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


I swear I'll stop commenting, sorry, but this needs to be highlighted:
The defendant, without prompting by the SCO, also corrected other false and misleading statements that he had made concerning his outreach to and contacts with Russian officials during the course of the campaign. For example, in a radio interview in September 2015, the defendant suggested that Individual 1 meet with the President of Russia in New York City during his visit for the United Nations General Assembly. When asked previously about these events, the defendant claimed his public comments had been spontaneous and had not been discussed within the campaign or the Company. During his proffer sessions, the defendant admitted that this account was false and that he had in fact conferred with Individual 1 about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting. The meeting ultimately did not take place.
...
The defendant also provided information about attempts by other Russian nationals to reach the campaign. For example, in or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.” The defendant recalled that this person repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual 1 and the President of Russia. The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well,” referring to the Moscow Project, because there is “no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia].” Cohen, however, did not follow up on this invitation.
...
The defendant explained that he did not pursue the proposed meeting, which did not take place, in part because he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.
Needless to say, the next sentence is not "and then he picked up the phone and told the FBI that Russia was offering to help the campaign."
posted by zachlipton at 2:01 PM on December 7 [42 favorites]


A quick scan of the memos seems to me like Mueller is playing good cop to the SDNY's bad cop. Not that Mueller is proposing they go easy on Cohen aside from asking that any sentence be served concurrently, but the tone of the two memos is very different.
posted by azpenguin at 2:05 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Cohen is such a dumbass. He sorta cooperated and thus won't get a pardon from Trump, but he didn't officially cooperate so he won't get the sentence reduction for a deal. What the hell is he thinking?

I suspect he just wants to see Trump burn now. And maybe he waited too long with some things for official cooperation to matter, if Flynn or someone else talked first.
posted by dilettante at 2:06 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Everything that 45 says about Tillerson is exactly what the rest of us think about 45: dumb as a rock, lazy, and we sure the hell can’t get rid of him fast enough. Coincidence?

I was genuinely shocked when I read the original tweet and had to double check to make sure it was actually, truly 45. How low can he go? Guess we are about to find out. Hey, is this a cake weekend?
posted by Bella Donna at 2:08 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


I can't wait to find out who Individual 1 is. That dude's gonna be in some serious trouble.
posted by uosuaq at 2:08 PM on December 7 [139 favorites]


Hey, is this a cake weekend?

It is acceptable to replace cake with latkes and jelly donuts this weekend, to celebrate the holiday!
posted by Andrhia at 2:10 PM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Cohen is such a dumbass. He sorta cooperated and thus won't get a pardon from Trump, but he didn't officially cooperate so he won't get the sentence reduction for a deal. What the hell is he thinking?

"I can handle these idiots." His farts smell like vanilla.

one's IQ score is a measurable number

Sure, and so is an Enneagram. Arbitrary criteria still ain't facts, and IQ is one of the most arbitrary this side of skin color.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


@BuzzFeedNews: BREAKING: The white supremacist who drove into a crowd in Charlottesville and killed Heather Heyer has been found guilty of murder.

Good.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on December 7 [179 favorites]


"lodestar" found in the first paragraph of page 35 of the Cohen sentencing memo.
Thank you, based Mueller.
posted by onehalfjunco at 2:11 PM on December 7 [32 favorites]


America’s sexist obsession with what women politicians wear, explained
Ever since women started holding political office, American men have been fixated on their clothes.


I'll just go ahead and repost what I wrote about Clinton's pantsuits before the election:

I’ve seen a lot of people asking why Hillary Clinton’s suits are referred to as ‘pantsuits’ all the time. Like, why not just ‘suits’? The answer is more infuriating than you may realize.

Until very very recently – more recently than most people my age can probably believe (it was a shock to me) – ‘a women’s suit’ meant a suit jacket and a skirt, full stop. As in, guess when female Senators were last required - REQUIRED - to wear skirts on the Senate floor?

Fucking 1993.

NINETEEN NINETY-THREE. I was six years old and female Senators were still required to wear skirts! And it only stopped when two female Senators showed up in pants to protest it.

1993. Women wearing suits with pants was still controversial 23 years ago. And Hillary Clinton has been a woman in public life for almost 40 years.

And she was a woman who wore pants, who at first didn't wear makeup and didn't change her last name, and kept her career after her husband entered politics, and got involved in politics herself, and had strong opinions which she freely expressed.

This made her fucking Satan as far as conservatives were concerned, and she's been Satan to them ever since.

The use of the word ‘pantsuit’ to refer to Clinton’s suits, which she began wearing long before it was broadly socially acceptable, is a leftover dogwhistle from a less tolerant time. The very phrase 'pantsuit' basically means, a suit worn by an uppity woman. A suit worn by the type of woman who doesn't care that skirts are PROPER professional garments for ladies. A suit for goddamn rabble-rousing hippie bitches.

posted by showbiz_liz at 2:12 PM on December 7 [133 favorites]


Both filings are great reading but holy crap SDNY is just *kisses fingers*

This is most welcome for Friday happy hour.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:15 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


When asked previously about these events, the defendant claimed his public comments had been spontaneous and had not been discussed within the campaign or the Company. During his proffer sessions, the defendant admitted that this account was false and that he had in fact conferred with Individual 1 about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting.

Okay, I might be too hopeful about where this is going, but if it turns out that Trump had a documented strategy where he and his surrogates used ostensibly off-the-cuff comments as deliberate invitations to the Russian government, that leads directly to the least charitable possible reading of the "Russia, if you're listening" comment -- that it was an intentional, maybe even pre-arranged, signal for the hack to go forward.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:19 PM on December 7 [28 favorites]


Lame ducks only happen when elections occur during a parliamentary session. I think the US is perhaps the only democracy that does this, largely because of historical delays needed for travel, combined with the desire for fixed election dates and well-defined terms. Correct me if I'm wrong, here.

In Westminster systems, a session ends when an election is called, so it's almost impossible to have a lame duck. There are quasi lameos when a leader retires just before an election and an interim stooge leader is left holding the bag. Their fates are often flames.
posted by bonehead at 2:21 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


The point was [Ocasio-Cortez's] communication style and expression of cultural currency is useful to look at when assessing candidates now. The next Democratic nominee's campaign is either going to have a 12-person tweet approval process or not.

She's the best candidate for president because she's the best at using Twitter? In all seriousness, I'm hoping there's a constitutional amendment to prevent the president from ever using Twitter.
posted by xammerboy at 2:26 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


If its all about branding, this transcript just gave us a good one. That phrase "political synergy" seems very useful.
posted by Brainy at 2:27 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


This is new. Federal prosecutors have said for the first time in a court filing that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of" President Trump. This is significant. The Justice Department is alleging in court that the president directed his onetime lawyer to commit two felonies

Renato Mariotti: "Those statements mean that in addition to Cohen's statement under oath, the evidence that prosecutors have in their possession is also consistent with the conclusion that Trump directed him to commit crimes. If prosecutors had contrary evidence, they would say so. In addition, it is hard for me to believe that they would have made this statement if the *only* evidence they had was Cohen's say-so. If all they had was Cohen's assertion, they would have merely said that Cohen asserted that Trump directed him to commit those crimes. That statement by prosecutors indicates that they have some level of corroborating evidence that convinces them by "a preponderance of the evidence" that Trump directed Cohen to commit those crimes."
posted by waitingtoderail at 2:29 PM on December 7 [46 favorites]


And both sides make good points, but too many of them are coming across as thin-skinned and extremely paranoid.

You might want to show them this cheery little story then. Though you might end up with your motives questioned.
posted by happyroach at 2:30 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Sentencing memo notes:
The defendant’s assistance has been useful in four significant respects. First, the defendant provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts. [snip - excerpts/examples that have been posted]

Second, Cohen provided the SCO with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during the campaign.

Third, Cohen provided relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period.

Fourth, Cohen described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements contained within it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:32 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]


Keep in mind. The SDNY sentencing memo is for the 18 CR 602 indictment, while Mueller's is for the 18 CR 850 indictment. Looks like Mueller kept his word to Cohen for the help he provided, yet the SDNY nailed him to the wall for everything else.

Well done!
posted by mikelieman at 2:39 PM on December 7 [62 favorites]


SDNY Sentencing Memorandum

TABLE OF CONTENTS
BACKGROUND ...................................... 2
Cohen’s Willful Tax Evasion............................................. 4
Cohen’s False Statements to Financial Institutions ............. 8
Cohen’s Illegal Campaign Contributions............................ 11
Cohen’s False Statements to Congress ............................. 14

brb buying cake
posted by petebest at 2:42 PM on December 7 [67 favorites]


Fourth, Cohen described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements contained within it.

Which strongly implies his response was concocted by other parties. Conspiracy to lie to Congress... seems not exactly legal.

(Those three paragraphs are the sentencing memo equivalent of a subtweet.)
posted by holgate at 2:47 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


I like this footnote in the Mueller document:
This initial meeting with the SCO, on August 7, 2018, was set up at Cohen’s request. In that meeting, Cohen voluntarily provided information relevant to other aspects of the SCO’s ongoing investigation, but when asked questions about the Moscow Project, Cohen provided false answers in what he later explained was an effort not to contradict his congressional testimony.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:50 PM on December 7 [26 favorites]


To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement and is not receiving a Section 5K1.1 letter either from this Office or the SCO, and therefore is not properly described as a “cooperating witness,” as that term is commonly used in this District.

As set forth in the Probation Department’s Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”), the applicable United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) range is 51 to 63 months’ imprisonment. This range reflects Cohen’s extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct, and this Office submits that a substantial prison term is required to vindicate the purposes and principles of sentencing as set forth in Section 3553(a). And while the Office agrees that Cohen should receive credit for his assistance in the SCO investigation, that credit should not approximate the credit a traditional cooperating witness would receive, given, among other reasons, Cohen’s affirmative decision not to become one. For these reasons, the Office respectfully requests that this Court impose a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest downward variance from the applicable Guidelines range.


It doesn't sound like he trod very fucking lightly.
posted by petebest at 2:52 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


I think this is potentially a thing, from the SDNY filing:

"The Company then falsely accounted for these payments as “legal expenses.” In fact, no such retainer agreement existed and these payments were not “legal expenses”
posted by mikelieman at 2:53 PM on December 7 [35 favorites]


Cohen is such a dumbass. He sorta cooperated and thus won't get a pardon from Trump, but he didn't officially cooperate so he won't get the sentence reduction for a deal. What the hell is he thinking?

I read something where Cohen explained that his life took a turn for the worse when he met Donald Trump, that he's done things he's not proud of, that he feels he deserves time in prison. He doesn't want to stall the investigation. He wants to move on and pay his debt to society.

I know, my jaw hit the floor. I shouldn't want to give a criminal a congressional medal of honor for admitting to committing crimes, but that's the most honorable statement I've read yet from anyone associated with Trump period.

They'll probably throw the book at him. But I wish they wouldn't. I want everyone associated with Donald Trump to come clean. The country needs it, I think. The United States was attacked by a foreign power and duped by a criminal con man. We can never let it happen again.
posted by xammerboy at 2:55 PM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Whatever you read about his honorable whatever is garbage, sorry. He’s specifically asking for no jail time anyway, not that he will likely get it. Cohen is a shitty person who is cooperating only because he got caught and only to the extent that he feels he has to in order to try and save his skin. Please no hagiography for Michael Fucking Cohen ever, but especially not before he is even sentenced.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:01 PM on December 7 [35 favorites]


There's one other heroic aspect to Cohen's actions. If he had cooperated in return for a lesser sentence, half this country would be saying Cohen was lying to get a deal. The jury in Manafort's trial gave no weight at all to the testimony of the witness who arranged a plea deal.
posted by xammerboy at 3:01 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


I want everyone associated with Donald Trump to come clean.

It sounds like Cohen didn't fully come clean and affirmatively chose not to:
Indeed, his proffer sessions with the SCO aside, Cohen only met with the Office about the participation of others in the campaign finance crimes to which Cohen had already pleaded guilty. Cohen specifically declined to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past.

Cohen further declined to meet with the Office about other areas of investigative interest. As the Court is undoubtedly aware, in order to successfully cooperate with this Office, witnesses must undergo full debriefings that encompass their entire criminal history, as well as any and all information they possess about crimes committed by both themselves and others. This process permits the Office to fully assess the candor, culpability, and complications attendant to any potential cooperator, and results in cooperating witnesses who, having accepted full responsibility for any and all misconduct, are credible to law enforcement and, hopefully, to judges and juries. Cohen affirmatively chose not to pursue this process. Cohen’s efforts thus fell well short of cooperation, as that term is properly used in this District.
There's nothing illegal (or even immoral) about not talking about all your possible past crimes with the FBI, but since he didn't sit down and allow himself to be debriefed on everything, he doesn't count as a cooperating witness and won't be credited as if he did.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:02 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


"I'm mildly impressed with this guy for not being a meatloaf-eating ghoul to the bitter end" is not a hagiography
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:02 PM on December 7 [68 favorites]


Roll Call, Retiring Kansas Lawmaker Opens Lobbying Shop While Still in Office
Retiring Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins launched a new lobbying firm in her home state weeks before she officially steps out of public office, according to a local media report published Friday.

Lawmakers are restricted from working as lobbyists until they have been out of office for a year. But the federal law that restricts their activities is porous, and former lawmakers routinely find ways to trade their influence before the prohibition expires.
...
Jenkins’ office told the paper in a statement that she had consulted the House Ethics Committee. “In an abundance of caution, Congresswoman Jenkins has been working closely with the House Ethics Committee throughout this process,” Jenkins’ spokesman Lee Modesitt told the paper. “She discussed with them the potential formation of the business prior to doing so and has subsequently reported the actual formation. The business has no clients and will not be actively seeking them until she leaves office.”
This country has a deep deficit of shame.
posted by zachlipton at 3:03 PM on December 7 [22 favorites]


Your paraphrasing omits lots of important words like heroic. Heroic. Michael Cohen. Give me a fucking break.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:03 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


"The Company then falsely accounted for these payments as “legal expenses.” In fact, no such retainer agreement existed and these payments were not “legal expenses”

Yeah those were the repayments to Cohen that also included his fee and “grossed up” to cover his taxes and paid monthly for a year. Trump Org’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity to testify in SDNY re: Cohen. I haven’t followed closely enough to have noticed if he was interviewed about additional matters by SDNY or SCO.
posted by notyou at 3:04 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


> They'll probably throw the book at him. But I wish they wouldn't.

Eh, this is where you lost me. It may be true that Cohen feels genuine remorse. It may be true that he got in over his head with some of his earlier crimes, which left him vulnerable to being used as a proxy for Individual-1 and others to commit their crimes. It may even be true that he's the most honorable of the many thieves in Individual-1's orbit, including I-1 himself.

But after all is said and done, he had the option to commit the crimes or to not commit them. After he committed them, he had the option to tell the truth immediately or try to continue spinning webs of lies. After he was caught spinning the webs of lies, he had the option to cooperate fully or do this pseudo-cooperation thing to try to keep one foot in each boat as they drifted away from each other. At each step, he chose the dishonorable path -- the criminal path. That is not conduct deserving of leniency.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:04 PM on December 7 [29 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: Totally clears the President. Thank you!

@petersagal: He's right. It just incriminates this "Individual 1" guy.
posted by zachlipton at 3:05 PM on December 7 [143 favorites]


Yeah those were the repayments to Cohen that also included his fee and “grossed up” to cover his taxes and paid monthly for a year. Trump Org’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity to testify in SDNY re: Cohen.

NY Penal Law S 175.10 Falsifying business records in the first degree.
A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.
Falsifying business records in the first degree is a class E felony.
posted by mikelieman at 3:07 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


The Cohen narrative is that when he knew SDNY was coming after him for his personal financial crimes and campaign finance crimes, he ran to Mueller to save his rear, and even then lied during his first proffer. So Mueller is happy to be good-but-stern cop while SDNY is all-out-of-fucks-to-give cop.
posted by holgate at 3:10 PM on December 7 [17 favorites]


At each step, he chose the dishonorable path -- the criminal path. That is not conduct deserving of leniency.

I get you. Cohen's no hero. A big part of the reason I hope the courts don't throw the book at him is the same reason Mueller doesn't want them to. I think it's vital Trump's entire cadre comes clean. I don't want to be arguing with Republicans over whether or not Trump was a crook five years from now. I want total clarity on what happened.
posted by xammerboy at 3:10 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


> I think it's vital Trump's entire cadre comes clean. I don't want to be arguing with Republicans over whether or not Trump was a crook five years from now. I want total clarity on what happened.

Maybe you and I just differ in our estimates of how much detail Mueller has already? Everything I see suggests he doesn't really need any more cooperation, and that any leniency / reductions he hands out to felons above Cohen on the org chart are going to be out of genuine mercy, not a lack of sufficient detail about what happened.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:12 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Bwahaha - his millions in tax fraud he blamed on his accountant for not finding his squirreled away money! Ah! *snort* ahh ... Oh man. Dammit Eddie, you let me keep all the effing money!! BHa!
posted by petebest at 3:13 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


Manafort breached the plea deal filing.

I'm enjoying Twitter tonight.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:14 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


And now it's Manafort time.

@bradheath: Mueller's office says ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort met with investigators 12 times, where he "lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions." Mueller's office says Manafort remained in contact with a "senior" Trump administration official though February 2018, well after he was indicted, and lied about it. They confirmed his contacts with administration officials by search his electronic documents.

@JoshNBCNews: MANAFORT filing: Special counsel says he lied about:
1) His interactions with Kilimnik
2) Kilimnik's participation in count 2 of superseding information
3) wire transfer to firm working for Manafort
4) another DOJ investigation
5) His contacts with administration officials

That's a lot of lies, and he's a really shitty liar.
posted by zachlipton at 3:15 PM on December 7 [47 favorites]


[Guys, other people are allowed to feel what they feel about different parts of this whole situation and different people in it, and I'm going to be deleting people telling other people their feelings are incorrect, because it leads us in wildly unproductive circles and because enforcing a narrow orthodoxy on other people's thoughts and feelings about a complex and huge issue is dumb.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:15 PM on December 7 [84 favorites]


That Trump tweet...I am literally, vicariously losing brain cells. Like, the sheer idiocy is a horrible prion disease spread via twitter.

Is this...is this going to be the spin? "I'm exonerated! I, the President, am innocent!"

"But Cohen 'acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,' to commit literal, actual crimes. That's...hmmm, let me think of the word....collusion? Sounds like collusion."

"Yeah, yeah, Individual-1 did that! Not me!"

"Individual-1? Individual-1 who is the President of the United States? That Individual-1?"
posted by yasaman at 3:19 PM on December 7 [25 favorites]


oh man, just the opening of the manafort filing is brutal
We are prepared to prove the basis for the defendant's breach at a hearing that will establish each false statement through independent documentary and testimonial evidence, including Manafort's subsequent admissions.
emphasis mine. pauly's fucked, y'all.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:20 PM on December 7 [26 favorites]


It's yet more damn news, from the Daily Beast gang: Michael Cohen Was Paid More Than $4 Million by Promising Access to Trump, Prosecutors Say: And The Daily Beast can reveal the Cohen had another previously-unreported, politically-connected business partner.
“Cohen successfully convinced numerous major corporations to retain him as a ‘consultant’ who could provide unique insights about and access to the new administration,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed on Friday. “Some of these corporations were then stuck making large up-front or periodic payments to Cohen, even though he provided little or no real services under these contracts. Bank records reflect that Cohen made more than $4 million dollars before the contracts were terminated.” Among Cohen’s confirmed consulting clients were telecom giant AT&T, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, and Columbus Nova, the investment fund linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

But Cohen had at least one more previously unreported and politically connected business partner.

Two individuals familiar with the relationship told The Daily Beast that Cohen met Imaad Zuberi, a venture capitalist and a major Obama donor, in 2016 several times throughout the year and into 2017. Those sources said Zuberi initially spoke with Cohen about attending Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and inquired about access to high-level events. Zuberi was told that he would need to pay upward of $1 million to attend the events, where he would rub shoulders with senior administration officials including President-elect Trump himself.

Zuberi donated more than $900,000 to the inaugural committee and corresponded with Cohen directly about that donation, according to sources with first-hand knowledge of those conversations.
posted by zachlipton at 3:23 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


NOW Manafort? I'm going to run out of bourbon at this rate!

THANK YOU BOB MUELLER, FOR GIVING US THIS BOUNTY!

AMEN!
posted by mikelieman at 3:25 PM on December 7 [29 favorites]


Hoo boy, that Manafort memo says "he's lying, and if the defense wants to call the government out on it, we're more than happy to prove it in court." They're looking to nail his ass to the wall.
posted by azpenguin at 3:25 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]


This seems like another moment to be grateful for Stormy Daniels.
Her case may be nowhere near the Russia stuff, but the pressures all add up. If anyone's making a list of heroes, her name better be on it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:26 PM on December 7 [86 favorites]


One of the more interesting segments of the Manafort doc is 5. Contact With The Administration, in which Manafort told Mueller's team he had "no direct or indirect communications with anyone in the Administration while they were in the Administration." Then we find out he lied, a lot. He authorized someone in May 2018 "to speak with an Administration official on [his] behalf." "Another Manafort colleague" reports that in February 2018, Manafort said he'd been in communication with a senior Administration official. Then they searched his electronics and found more contacts with Administration officials.

For all the "everyone in the White House is scared of Mueller and doesn't want to get near the investigation because they can't afford the legal bills" stories, it sure seems like there's a lot of people currently in the White House happy to chat with the astonishingly radioactive Paul Manafort.
posted by zachlipton at 3:31 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


Her case may be nowhere near the Russia stuff

Her case is kinda connected to the Russia stuff, actually. "Essential Consultants, LLC" is the shell company Michael Cohen set up to make the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

It's also the company that took payment of at least $500,000 (on a $1 million contract) from Columbus Nova, the investment fund linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and mentioned a couple comments up.

The reason we know about those payments is thanks to Michael Avenatti in his capacity as Stormy Daniels' lawyer. Someone leaked the info to him, and he put it on Twitter, and reporters followed up.

I keep waiting for those payment to be as big a deal to the rest of the world as they seem to me.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:31 PM on December 7 [51 favorites]


I know Cohen got a lot of other money too, in his access selling scheme.

But fundamentally, Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130k from that account, and then a company linked to a Russian oligarch deposited $500k (at least) into that account.

Were they reimbursing hush money payments? Helping the Trump campaign by helping to pay off his mistresses? Or were they just buying access?

I mean either one is illegal, but the first one is REALLY collusiony.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:34 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


Were they reimbursing hush money payments? Helping the Trump campaign by helping to pay off his mistresses? Or were they just buying access?

turns out it was a hush money payment after trump slept with mother russia
posted by murphy slaw at 3:36 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]


5 takeaways from the Michael Cohen sentencing filings (Aaron Blake, WaPo)

1. SDNY: Cohen has overstated his cooperation with Mueller
2. “Individual-1” is back
3. It directly implicates Trump in crimes
4. Cohen was contacted by a Russian national in 2015
5. Mueller appears to be looking at Russia ties in Trump’s business

(#3 seems important.)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:37 PM on December 7 [23 favorites]


Her case may be nowhere near the Russia stuff, but the pressures all add up. If anyone's making a list of heroes, her name better be on it.

Stormy Daniels is at the center of the felonies that Individual-1 directed Michael Cohen to undertake -- and the effort to mask repayment for same -- seem meatier than the Russia ones do, at least for the moment, as the evidence in public is much clearer and independent of Cohen's statements (money exchanged, that snippet of iPhone "tape" Team Trump released, the attempt to route and cover up the payments through the Org). We have far less solid material, at least in public, on the Russia stuff. Maybe we never will.
posted by notyou at 3:38 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Stormy Daniels is at the center of the felonies that Individual-1

I stand corrected in my caveat, and would be happy to edit the comment if I could. Honestly, this shit is all too immense to keep all the lines straight in my head.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:39 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


We have far less solid material, at least in public, on the Russia stuff. Maybe we never will.

I disagree. Between the IRA indictments and the GRU indictments, Mueller has laid out a ton of evidence of exactly how Russia was helping Trump.

We now know that Papadopoulos knew Russia had hacked thousands of emails, Roger Stone knew what WikiLeaks had and roughly when it would be released, and Trump Jr knew about "Russia and its government's support" for his father.

Counting Guccifer 2.0 (who had direct contact with Roger Stone), Evgeny Shmykov (who was Felix Sater's contact in the Russian finance industry), Rinat Akhmetshin (who met with Trump Jr), and Konstantin Kilimnik (who met with Manafort) members of the campaign were in contact with at least four people believed to be agents or former agents of the GRU.

Plus we understand that money changed hands (those payments from Vekelsberg) and that there were other and larger financial transactions planned (Trump Tower Moscow.)

How much more solid material do you think we need? What would a smoking gun look like?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:44 PM on December 7 [53 favorites]


Top four headlines on the Washington Post site right now, a bit after 6:30 PM US/Eastern on a quiet Friday:

Cohen was in touch with Russian seeking ‘synergy’ with Trump campaign, Mueller says
The unidentified Russian said that a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could have a "phenomenal" impact "not only in political but in a business dimension as well".

Mueller says Manafort told ‘discernible lies’ in interviews with prosecutors
Prosecutors said that Paul Manafort had told numerous lies in five areas, including about his contacts with a Russian employee of Manafort’s consulting firm who prosecutors have said has Russian intelligence ties.

Did you notice a country in common? Did you? Ok, let's round this out with a small semblance of justice:

Neo-Nazi convicted of murder in car-ramming death at Virginia rally

And some comedy:

Tillerson: Trump asked me to take illegal actions. Trump: ‘He was dumb as a rock.’

There may be a problem with the national strategic bourbon reserve this weekend.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:44 PM on December 7 [41 favorites]


Emma Loop (Buzzfeed): Here’s what @a_cormier_, @JasonLeopold, and I reported in June about Russian Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov’s communications with the Trump Org. about Trump Moscow, and here’s what Mueller says in today’s sentencing memo for Michael Cohen: Ivanka Trump Was In Contact With A Russian Who Offered A Trump-Putin Meeting
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:46 PM on December 7 [17 favorites]


I stand corrected in my caveat, and would be happy to edit the comment if I could. Honestly, this shit is all too immense to keep all the lines straight in my head.

Erg, yeah, sorry if that felt like I was piling on -- I agree with the central point of your comment that Stormy Daniels is a heroine and the fulcrum that afforded the SCO and the DOJ the leverage to dislodge Cohen. I took the opportunity to agree out loud and to clear up something I was thinking about the state of the two strands of investigation we learned about today.
posted by notyou at 3:46 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


hey now what did meatloaf ever do to you?

Meatloaf reference
"This is what it's like to be with Trump. ... He says, 'there's the menu, you guys order whatever you want,' and then he says, 'Chris (Christie), you and I are going to have the meatloaf,'"
posted by zakur at 3:51 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]




"'I'm exonerated! I, the President, am innocent!" --Maybe his Tweets are specifically designed for his followers only? They tend to be very low information voters so may not know or even care to read about what the indictments say? Trump may know the indictments mention him, but wanted to prepare special Tweet quotes for MAGAheads?
posted by RuvaBlue at 3:56 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


I have to read the fine print (thanks to you all who got there before me) but so far this seems all VERY LEGAL AND VERY COOL.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:59 PM on December 7 [44 favorites]


He doesn't read. He might have asked an aide, does it say I colluded with Russia? And the aide says oh no Mr President, there is no mention of Donald Trump at all. Therefore he must be innocent. Gotta keep reinforcing that narrative.
posted by humuhumu at 4:00 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]




@gregorykorte: President Trump acknowledges in a new presidential memorandum that he still hasn’t legally moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

This still doesn't stop him from talking about it in basically every speech he gives.
posted by zachlipton at 4:10 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Is it a known fact that Individual 1 is Trump, or a generally agreed fact, or just speculation? The Guardian has Trump in brackets next to "Individual 1" so that seems like they at least believe it to be true.
posted by JenMarie at 4:11 PM on December 7


There are parts of these memos that read, "Individual-1, who was running for President of the United States" (paraphrase). So, it is an extrapolation, but a very minor one.
posted by chiquitita at 4:13 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


From the SDNY filing: In January 2017, Cohen formally left the Company and began holding himself out as the
“personal attorney” to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United
States.
posted by yasaman at 4:13 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


It literally says "Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 4:15 PM on December 7 [28 favorites]


♫ It's beginning to look a lot like treason
Everywhere you go.... ♫
posted by dilettante at 4:15 PM on December 7 [48 favorites]


I feel like Daniel Dale is just straight-up trolling right now:

"I'm off until after Christmas. Have theee most fun three weeks, everybody."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:15 PM on December 7 [14 favorites]


It literally says "Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."

given that this is so obvious, what’s the legal reason for not naming trump in these documents?
posted by murphy slaw at 4:16 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


> given that this is so obvious, what’s the legal reason for not naming trump in these documents?

on the one hand I'm curious about that too, but on the other hand I'm glad that we now finally know the name by which history will remember the guy.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:20 PM on December 7 [21 favorites]


Anthony Cormier
‏Verified account @a_cormier_

That mysterious Russian national named in today’s Cohen memo? A weightlifter that Ivanka Trump instructed Cohen to speak with about the Moscow Tower. First reported my @JasonLeopold, @LoopEmma and I.

The original buzzfeed article from 6 months ago:

Ivanka Trump Was In Contact With A Russian Who Offered A Trump-Putin Meeting

Her contact, a Russian Olympic weightlifter, said a meeting between Trump and Putin could expedite a Trump tower in Moscow.
Last updated on June 6, 2018, at 6:36 p.m. ET

The contacts reveal that even as her father was campaigning to become president of the United States, Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Russian who offered to arrange a meeting with one of the US’s adversaries — in order to help close a business deal that could have made the Trump family millions.


Awww the alluring fragrance of Complicit is wafting off Mueller's filings today and it is soooooo sublime, don't you think?
posted by pjsky at 4:23 PM on December 7 [18 favorites]


Meanwhile all the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees wanted to talk to James Comey about was Hillary Clinton's emails.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:26 PM on December 7 [26 favorites]


I'm really confused by what Manafort did. He tried to cover up a lot of stuff, knowing full well what would happen if he got caught. What was he talking to administration officials about that it was worth risking blowing up his plea deal to cover it up? That doesn't sound like something you'd do for innocuous conversations. Manafort's lies about interactions with Kilimnik are interesting too. He's supposed to be cooperating, and he's lying about his contacts with a Russian intelligence agent? WSJ reported last week that Mueller is interested in whether Manafort met Kilimnik during a boat trip with Tom Barrack in August 2016. Much as the White House is trying to claim everything to do with Manafort is about his business dealings and irrelevant to them, a lot of Manafort's lies seem to involve Trump connections.

given that this is so obvious, what’s the legal reason for not naming trump in these documents?

"In the absence of some significant justification, federal prosecutors generally should not identify unindicted co-conspirators in conspiracy indictments." It's just general DOJ policy based on cases where people have been named and courts have raised due process concerns about the government publicly naming someone as involved in crimes without offering them an opportunity to clear their name at trial. It's obviously meaningless in a situation such as this, but there's not really much else they can do since they still need to be specific enough for it to make sense.
posted by zachlipton at 4:31 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


Sharing since these things get lost:
NYT: Mattis Erupts Over Niger Inquiry
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was livid last month when he summoned top military officials to a video conference at the Pentagon to press them about an investigation into a 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four Americans on a Green Beret team. His anger, Pentagon officials said, came from seeing news reports that junior officers were being reprimanded for the botched Niger mission while the officers directly above them were not.

...And unlike two naval collisions last year in the Pacific that led within weeks to the removal of the commander of the Navy’s largest operational battle force, no top generals have been ushered out the door in the Niger case — an example officials say that Mr. Mattis has been quick to point out.
Credit to Mattis for turning accountability in the right directions, I guess. If only he took the same approach when it came to his own level regarding ongoing matters.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:41 PM on December 7 [26 favorites]


Was the boat trip on Oleg Deripaska's yacht.?
The guy who's jet kept showing up close to Trump. In which case there are probably tapes.
posted by adamvasco at 4:51 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


@OUAT respectfully, that summary doesn't contain any overt action by any Trumpy Americans. There's "Roger Stone knew", "Papadopoulos knew" and the rest of the American names just take meetings. Those are all passive things. Even DJT Jr's emails are proof of criminal intent, but not criminal action. The payment to Cohen, if this were any other president, would look like normal corruption and lobbying.

Even a single text message saying "Wisconsin" would satisfy my idea of an explicit ask, a criminal action. It feels like what we have so far is just criminal talking and criminal accounting. I'm probably very wrong and missing on details, point is, that's what I'm looking for.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 4:57 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


He tried to cover up a lot of stuff, knowing full well what would happen if he got caught. What was he talking to administration officials about that it was worth risking blowing up his plea deal to cover it up?

Maybe hoping for a pardon from Individual one?
posted by bluesky43 at 5:00 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


I'm really confused by what Manafort did. He tried to cover up a lot of stuff, knowing full well what would happen if he got caught. What was he talking to administration officials about that it was worth risking blowing up his plea deal to cover it up?

Seems most likely that he was fishing for a pardon in exchange for covering up Trump's dealings with Russia -- quid pro quo. If he gets the pardon, he doesn't care what kind of plea deal he has with Mueller. He walks away free, so a risk worth taking.
posted by JackFlash at 5:01 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


NYT take: Prosecutors Say Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors said on Friday that President Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a potential sex scandal that threatened his chances of winning the White House in 2016, putting the weight of the Justice Department behind accusations previously made by his former lawyer.

The lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, had said that as the election neared, Mr. Trump directed him to pay two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. But in a new memorandum arguing for a prison term for Mr. Cohen, prosecutors in Manhattan said he “acted in coordination and at the direction of” an unnamed individual, clearly referring to Mr. Trump.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:02 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


@AdamSchiff
Adam Schiff Retweeted Donald J. Trump
Who’s going to tell Individual 1?

@realDonaldTrump
Totally clears the President. Thank you!
8:21 PM - 7 Dec 2018
posted by bluesky43 at 5:04 PM on December 7 [48 favorites]


I want to be all schadenfreudey but I'm very afraid all this will just make him lash out at marginalized people more and harder.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:08 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


Why hasn't anyone been indicted for the Trump Tower meeting yet? With all the recent revelations it's clear it was part of the conspiracy with Russia.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:11 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


How much more solid material do you think we need? What would a smoking gun look like?

WHAT DOES AN INDICTMENT LOOK LIKE?!
posted by petebest at 5:12 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


the emotion i’m having is not schadenfreude, it’s just a kind of cold calm, knowing that i was not participating in some kind of Obama Birth Certificate conspiracy theory for the last two and a half years.

i don’t know what the outcome will be but at least i know that my bullshit detector is still working, and about half of my fellow citizens’ bullshit detectors are too, and that’s not nothing.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:15 PM on December 7 [126 favorites]


#individual1 is trending.
Heck, people are selling t-shirts already.
posted by growabrain at 5:23 PM on December 7 [13 favorites]


At this time, I would ask you all to turn, in your SDNY Setencing Memorandum, to page 11 for the singing of "At the Direction of Individual-1", verses one through four:

During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories – each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 – so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election.

With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. (PSR ¶ 51).

In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1. (PSR ¶¶ 41, 45). As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election. (PSR ¶ 51).


Please be seated.
posted by petebest at 5:29 PM on December 7 [70 favorites]


@OmarJadwat: Breaking: 9th Circuit denies government bid to reinstate asylum ban; ban remains blocked by @ACLU ⁦⁦@splcenter⁩ ⁦@theCCR⁩ lawsuit

When the government can't even manage to convince Judge "torture memos" Bybee, you know their case is bad.
posted by zachlipton at 5:29 PM on December 7 [46 favorites]




I see petebest got his cake.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:30 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


SDNY is not buying Cohen's "you should be nice because I could've dragged my feet more" story.
Finally, Cohen’s further assertion that he is deserving of leniency because he “could have fought the government and continued to hold the party line, positioning himself for a pardon or clemency” reflects a continuation of his mindset that, at his own option, he is above the laws reflected in his crimes of conviction. ... After cheating the IRS for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the Presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero.

CONCLUSION
For the reasons set forth above, the Office respectfully requests that this Court impose a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest variance from the applicable Guidelines range. The Office also requests that the Court impose forfeiture in the amount of $500,000, and a fine.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:33 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


Even a single text message saying "Wisconsin" would satisfy my idea of an explicit ask, a criminal action. It feels like what we have so far is just criminal talking and criminal accounting. I'm probably very wrong and missing on details, point is, that's what I'm looking for.

Fair enough. I mean there's the "Russia, if you're listening..." moment, but beyond that, the things I can think of which come closest (but maybe aren't quite there) are...

1) A company which was VERY closely linked to the Trump campaign asked WikiLeaks for copies of the hacked emails. A director at the same company claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations to WikiLeaks, and to have met with Julian Assange to discuss the American election in February, 2017. And the Facebook data which they had acquired under false pretences was accessed from Russia.

2.) Roger Stone also asked for copies of the WikiLeaks emails and was given access to DNC campaign data.

But I do think the fact that the Trump campaign clearly knew what Russia was up to and did not report it is collusion in itself.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:36 PM on December 7 [18 favorites]


Taken alone, these are each serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment. Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy. His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts – acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.
emphasis mine.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:38 PM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Remember that "Mr. Brexit" shit? And how everybody was like, wtf was that about?

It seems a bit more than likely this Russia Collusion wasn't some players' first go-round at manipulating elections for cash and Mother Russia.

It's just literally illegal in this country. And motormouth stable genius-1 couldn't not blurt it out.
posted by petebest at 5:46 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


But wait there's more. NYT, Miriam Jordan, 2 More Immigrants Say They Worked for Trump Despite Lacking Legal Status
Two more immigrant women who worked at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey said on Friday that they were undocumented at the time and that golf course management knew it. One of the women said that she was allowed to submit fraudulent documents by the employee who interviewed her for the job.
...
One of the women who came forward on Friday, Gilberta Dominguez, 34, said that she was hired in 2016 at the golf club in Bedminster, N.J., after producing fake work documents. She and another immigrant, she said, who also lacked legal status in the United States, had been interviewed at the same time to work as housekeepers. She said they were told by the woman interviewing them, a member of the housekeeping staff, that they should not discuss their undocumented status.

“We said the papers are not good. She said it didn’t matter, but don’t talk about it,” recalled Ms. Dominguez, who is from Mexico. The woman who interviewed them, she said, filled out the application for them and took their fake Social Security and permanent resident cards.

Ms. Dominguez said she had worked at the golf club for about six months. It was in the middle of the presidential campaign, she said, and Mr. Trump had begun publicly calling for an end to illegal immigration and contending that criminals were flowing across the border. “I commented with other workers, ‘How can he call us criminals and drug addicts when we are right here working?’” she said, though she added that it did not prompt her to quit. “Our need was greater. Immigrants put up with a lot.”

Ultimately, what drove her to leave work one day in October 2016, she said, was what she perceived as mistreatment of undocumented workers on the part of the housekeeping supervisor, something that Ms. Morales had also complained of. “She called us ‘stupid people’ and would say, ‘This is America. Here they speak English, not Spanish,’” Ms. Dominguez recalled, speaking in Spanish. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “She was rude. She humiliated us.”
posted by zachlipton at 5:54 PM on December 7 [26 favorites]


It feels like what we have so far is just criminal talking and criminal accounting. I'm probably very wrong and missing on details, point is, that's what I'm looking for.

a) A conspiracy doesn't require completion, or that even all participants know the full details. It only requires agreement, and an overt act by any one member. Trump asking publicly is an overt act if there was already criminal intent and agreement. Setting another meeting to discuss the plan can be an overt act. Stone passing along knowledge of Wikileaks emails could be an act.

b) there's a fuckload of redactions that presumably are much more damning than all the really fucking damning stuff we know about.

There's way, way, way, way, way, more evidence that Trump conspired with the Russians to steal the election than you'd need to put a black guy away for life for selling less than a pound of heroin or cocaine. It literally happens every single day.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:56 PM on December 7 [64 favorites]


It literally says "Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."
given that this is so obvious, what’s the legal reason for not naming trump in these documents?
posted by murphy slaw at 6:16 PM on December 7 [3 favorites +] [!]
murphy slaw: If I were to take a guess, I would imagine the document was being created and updated as the investigation was occurring. Citing "Individual 1" versus Trump is a way to have the document ready to hand over to the court at a moment's notice with a proposed redacted version ready to go as well. As the level of redactions become less necessary, it would probably just be a pain to go through everything and change to proper names. Slap a "cast of characters" page on the front (indvidual 1 = trump, company 1 = trump inc, etc.) and save hours/weeks of time.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:57 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


hmm, what is the difference between these two headlines?

Washington Post: Court filings directly implicate Trump in efforts to buy women’s silence, reveal new contact between inner circle and Russian

New York Times: Prosecutors Say Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign

the Times filed it under "New York" while the Post subsection is "National Security", too
posted by murphy slaw at 6:00 PM on December 7 [37 favorites]


"In the absence of some significant justification, federal prosecutors generally should not identify unindicted co-conspirators in conspiracy indictments." It's just general DOJ policy based on cases where people have been named and courts have raised due process concerns about the government publicly naming someone as involved in crimes without offering them an opportunity to clear their name at trial. It's obviously meaningless in a situation such as this, but there's not really much else they can do since they still need to be specific enough for it to make sense.

And if they didn't follow strict DOJ guidelines here no matter how pointless, we'd have a couple weeks of Fox News acting like it's the biggest crime in the whole mess, as pretext for Trump to start firing people while Congress shrugs. I for one am glad Mueller didn't open the door for the final performance of the outgoing Republican House majority to be endless appearances on Fox hamming it up about their deep concerns about Mueller following DOJ policy.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:18 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


The Atlantic: Mueller’s Memos and the Alleged Lies of the Trump Lieutenants
“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs” with Trump. “In the process,” they wrote, “Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the Election.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:31 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]






A conspiracy doesn't require completion, or that even all participants know the full details. It only requires agreement, and an overt act by any one member

I liked this because it made me feel like I'm studying for my crim law final and not just procrastinating on the internet (how is anyone supposed to get work done today, or ever?), thanks!
posted by naoko at 7:38 PM on December 7 [22 favorites]


I dropped by redstate to see how they were reacting to all this. The top story over there is
Hearing Next Week on Clinton Foundation ‘Pay-To-Play’ Allegations Will Include 6,000 Pages of Whistleblower Documents
In the short time I was willing to have that site loaded on my screen, I didn't see any reference to today's filings. Is that whistling I hear? This close to a graveyard?
posted by Tabitha Someday at 8:02 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


Just returned to say that earlier I argued Cohen should get a reduced sentence for cooperating with Mueller. I was mistakenly conflating Cohen with Gen. Flynn. Flynn cooperated early with Mueller. Anyway, I'm pretty embarrassed to have made that mistake... Apologies!
posted by xammerboy at 8:11 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


Former DOJ lawyer Matthew Miller:
One of the biggest open questions is not about Mueller, but SDNY. They've concluded the president committed a crime, and they have hard evidence to prove it. What do they do with that? They can't just drop it.

If indicting isn't an option, per OLC, seems DOJ has to send a referral to Congress. Theoretically you could wait and indict in 2021 (before the statute runs) if he loses re-election, but that's both an abdication of responsibility & risks losing any mechanism for accountability.
posted by Jpfed at 8:30 PM on December 7 [22 favorites]


Maybe his Tweets are specifically designed for his followers only?

Quote-tweeted by journos or opponents, it's masochism. Viewed as a single-user stream, it's demented. But I believe Ashley Feinberg (who owns the 'weird shit politicians fave on social media' beat) created a maga-alt on Twitter that had all the requisites -- the avatar, the emojis, the bio, the curated list of people to follow, from Hannity and Mitchell to @EagleFlagJane51943 -- and in that context, it fits.
posted by holgate at 8:31 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


and he's lost Tucker Carlson ... Trump that is.

Not only has Trump failed to come through, Carlson said, he might not even be able to, both due to his own shortcomings and his inability to muster legislators to follow his lead.

“I don’t think he’s capable,” Carlson went on.

“I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him.”

posted by philip-random at 8:33 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


and he's lost Tucker Carlson ... Trump that is.

Philip Bump from WaPo shows how Carlson's critique of Trump's ability to get anything done isn't new from him, and that Carlson has been a supporter because the two things Trump does best: making the libs angry and mainstreaming racism: Tucker Carlson is willing to overlook Trump’s personality because of his nationalist rhetoric. So no, he's not lost Tucker.
posted by peeedro at 8:47 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


I was mistakenly conflating Cohen with Gen. Flynn.

In fairness the parade of rich, white criminal men in this whole affair is dizzying.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:55 PM on December 7 [47 favorites]


Maybe his Tweets are specifically designed for his followers only? They tend to be very low information voters so may not know or even care to read about what the indictments say? Trump may know the indictments mention him, but wanted to prepare special Tweet quotes for MAGAheads?

538 reports: A surprisingly low number of Americans actually read trump's twitter feed.

538's analysis is that the impact of those Tweets tends to be setting messaging for elite level media personas, giving both sides of the political media something to react against and for, and filtering out to other platforms. They conclude that means that the media shouldn't just blindly report what he tweets, but actually dig down on the content.

I think that makes a lot of sense - it's the power of social networks. You only need one influencer in a circle of conservative folks who takes trump's messaging and runs with it. There's a thought experiment related to network effects about ballcaps where the reasoning is as such: there is a town hall vote as to whether or not the town should ban ballcaps. In a sample network of ~20 nodes you have 17 nodes who think ballcaps are unfashionable, and 3 who think they are fashionable. Given simple rules (a majority of opinions of your friends determines your vote), the three nodes end up being super connected, and are able to exert undue influence upon the larger graph. This is pure play logic, too - you're not even factoring in other elements like imbalances in status, culture, or political access. The effect is self reinforcing - your one influencer starts with relatively little power, but is able to convince people already pre-disposed to white supremacy and fascism. Suddenly that node adds a bit more cache to the viewpoint, and their friends who were strongly against those elements start to reconsider. I've personally seen this happen on small community sites dedicated to games, where people let a single nazi into the group, defended their right to "free speech", and the nazi (who was smart and played it slow) was able to capture the whole discourse. Stormfront's leaked recruitment guides even say as much.

At the same time that his feed acts as active messaging for his supporters it also acts to dismay and provoke his detractors. I think it's a bit like Fox News walking out into Times Square and asking, "Do you think we should sacrifice American troops to the dark lord Baal?" - in a city of millions you're going to get enough footage where you can push a narrative, and the liberal outrage is equal parts fuel for shitholes like r/TD.
posted by codacorolla at 8:59 PM on December 7 [29 favorites]




So no, he's not lost Tucker.

Agreed. This is reality television at its finest. Player recognizes player. Trump plays off Tucker and they reciprocate. I just wish whoever came up with reality tv had drawn the short straw and fell down a cliff. But I guess there was no way around it. Reality tv killed democracy, which is to say foxtv killed democracy.
posted by valkane at 9:33 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


Hannity was going on about JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (1:14-cv-01242-RCL)

Warning: Crazy Judge's Opinion.
posted by mikelieman at 9:47 PM on December 7


From the Kurt Eichenwald Twitter thread up thread:

15...so, what do we know about P2? It was paid after submission of an invoice - a frigging INVOICE - from Cohen to Trump Org saying it was for campaign expenditures. It billed not only the $130,000 for the Stormy payoff, but also another $50,000 in IT work for the campaign...

I'm not going to bother with the actual quote from the Wire's Barksdale character about a similar situation because most of you already know it.
posted by rdr at 9:49 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


Lamberth is not terrible.
posted by rhizome at 10:12 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


the actual quote from the Wire's Barksdale character about a similar situation

That was Stringer Bell, not a Barksdale. /pedantry

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:40 PM on December 7 [18 favorites]


It's fun watching the mental backflips that some of the far right are doing because of this.

"Why are they investigating his lawyer?! Mueller's supposed to focus on Russia, not Trump!"

This sentiment being expressed by some of the exact same people who, about two decades ago, were cheering for the impeachment of Clinton based on the findings of an investigation of... not his sex life.

Apparently the scope of an investigation is only interesting when it's their guy being investigated. Who knew?

(That's leaving aside the fact that, as it turns out, Mueller et al. are acting completely within their mandate...)
posted by -1 at 10:55 PM on December 7 [8 favorites]


The Mueller Investigation Nears the Worst Case Scenario
The potential innocent explanations for Donald Trump’s behavior over the last two years have been steadily stripped away, piece by piece. Special counsel Robert Mueller and investigative reporters have uncovered and assembled a picture of a presidential campaign and transition seemingly infected by unprecedented deceit and criminality, and in regular—almost obsequious—contact with America’s leading foreign adversary.

A year ago, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, arranged from most innocent to most guilty. Fifth on that list was “Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known,” escalating from there to #6 “Kompromat,” and topping out at the once unimaginable #7, “The President of the United States is a Russian Agent.”

After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:39 PM on December 7 [56 favorites]


Meanwhile in Crete, it turns out you can get rid of a dose of fascism.

'Their ideas had no place here': how Crete kicked out Golden Dawn [Guardian]
posted by stonepharisee at 12:37 AM on December 8 [35 favorites]


What has not been considered (and probably isn't even important to this inward looking narrow minded greedy administration) is the impact of the Tillerson tweet on foreign ministries elsewhere. I woke up this morning to this tweet from the Finnish spokesperson - twitter translation:

A lot has been seen, but this, however, was startled and sad. The President of the United States speaks of the last foreign Minister appointed. At the same time it confirms in some perception that it is OK to say anything

Stuff like this might actually cause more damage with allies around the world than any amount of incoherent tariffing of big giants like China etc who can look after themselves. This just shows a complete lack of breeding and class. It may not matter among the meritocracy of the tattered dream illusions but will have impact wherever the words diplomacy and tact still hold meaning in the dance of global relationships.
posted by infini at 1:08 AM on December 8 [13 favorites]


'Totally Clears the President'? What Those Cohen and Manafort Filings Really Say [Lawfare, 12/7/2018]:
...In short, the Department of Justice, speaking through the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is alleging that the president of the United States coordinated and directed a surrogate to commit a campaign finance violation punishable with time in prison. While the filing does not specify that the president “knowingly and willfully” violated the law, as is required by the statute, this is the first time that the government has alleged in its own voice that President Trump is personally involved in what it considers to be federal offenses.

And it does not hold back in describing the magnitude of those offenses. The memo states that Cohen’s actions, “struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.” His sentence “should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”

One struggles to see how a document that alleges that such conduct took place at the direction of Individual-1 “totally clears the president.”
When accused of anything, Trump — certainly the 'No. 1 President' in his own mind — immediately goes into Deny, Deny, Deny mode and blames someone else. In this case, Cohen may become the Dolchstoßlegende turncoat who (for money) tried to sabotage Trump's campaign from within.
posted by cenoxo at 1:08 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


I don't want to be arguing with Republicans over whether or not Trump was a crook five years from now. I want total clarity on what happened.

xammerboy, I have some bad news. Remember Roger Stone's Nixon tattoo? Remember what is happening even at this moment in Wisconsin and elsewhere? Republicans, Nazis, and others will always say the sky is green no matter how long it has been blue. With luck we will end up with total clarity on this issue but that will not stop others from dismissing the truth. We have seen this over and over again. My friend, it might be easier to simply stop arguing.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:09 AM on December 8 [24 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: Totally clears the President. Thank you!

@gtconway3rd*: Except for that little part where the US Attorney’s Office says that you directed and coordinated with Cohen to commit two felonies. Other than that, totally scot-free.

* George Conway, husband of Kellyanne (who, incidentally, has switched her Twitter bio to read "Mom. Patriot. Catholic. Counselor." without "to the President" from October)

Kurt Eichenwald: Everyone has some area of expertise. Mine is in corporate crime.

Eichenwald's thread is damning (Threadreader version), concluding:
If Trump knew of [payment #2], he belongs in jail, not just impeached and convicted. These are major financial crimes, far more than a campaign finance violation.

BUT...dont jump the gun. Dont proclaim his guilt or make up standards ("CEOs are responsible even if they don't know" or other nonsense) you can't go to jail for fraud - and money laundering that follows it - if you do not have the intent to commit fraud. There is no transitive property of financial fraud.

So, if the CFO testified Trump knew...thats the end of his presidency. Or would be in a normal country.
Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg—who knows virtually everything about Trump's business (that is, once Michael Cohen has done the dirty work) and who received immunity for his testimony—may be the key to the SDNY's case against Trump.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:21 AM on December 8 [36 favorites]


Not convinced Trump understands who Individual-1 is. Can't imagine who would explain it to him. Not Kelly anyway.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:31 AM on December 8 [10 favorites]


After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6.

We don't need to imagine #6 Kompromat, we're well into that as well. The Russians have known that Trump and Co were meeting and talking with them about business and "political synergy" since November 2015 and lying about it to the American public. That's kompromat. It doesn't need to be a pee tape. At any time Russia could've disclosed their outreach and contact with Trump & Co. and blown up his campaign/presidency.

No, we're at the point where we can easily imagine #7, where Trump is a Russian agent.
posted by chris24 at 4:12 AM on December 8 [47 favorites]


After reading coverage of Comey’s testimony, doesn’t it seem strange that the DOJ sent a lawyer with him who instructed him not to answer a lot of questions? I mean, before this administration I would not have thought it strange but didn’t Trump install Whitaker to control DOJ happenings? Then Trump tweets how biased and corrupt this was (being instructed not to answer). I don’t know, maybe I just don’t understand anything anymore.
posted by JenMarie at 4:44 AM on December 8


> No, we're at the point where we can easily imagine #7, where Trump is a Russian agent.

I think that requires a degree of nominal competence that is not evident.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:49 AM on December 8 [20 favorites]


No, we're at the point where we can easily imagine #7, where Trump is a Russian agent.

An "intelligence asset", strictly speaking. Like how former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described him in relation to Putin.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:53 AM on December 8 [18 favorites]


The people of Wisconsin should be rioting in the streets, closing down freeways and demanding action. It seems like folks are just shrugging their shoulders and agreeing that it sucks but nothing can be done about it.
posted by shoesietart at 5:25 AM on December 8 [33 favorites]


This is your regularly-scheduled reminder that impeachment is the correct response to high crimes and misdemeanours committed by the President; the authors of the US constitution were well aware that indicting and prosecuting the person ultimately in charge of prosecutions could be challenging.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:27 AM on December 8 [22 favorites]




Well, sure...impeach first, then prosecute—in an ideal world.

What the founding fathers weren’t aware of and couldn’t have considered, though, is how Congress would surrender more and more of its prerogatives to the presidency, and how the rise of a entrenched partisan politics would mean Congress would refuse to provide checks and balances to the White House if it were occupied by a member of the majority party. Jefferson would be shocked that a criminal buffoon like Trump wasn’t impeached months ago. Impeachment, as originally envisioned, scarcely exists as a real possibility. Maybe the House will impeach. The Senate won’t convict. So criminal proceedings are all we have.

Honestly, I’ve grown weary of invocations of what the founders would have wanted. They’re gone, the flaws in the system they designed are apparent, and it’s not possible to re-create the world the Constitution envisions. Better to adapt the Constitution to the world we’re in. (Which the founders would approve of. They were under no illusion that they possessed timeless wisdom.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:54 AM on December 8 [63 favorites]


Fox News:
And finally, is the cloud the Mueller probe is casting over the Trump administration benefitting our nation, or simply weakening the president and preventing him from accomplishing the many things the American people elected him to do on our behalf?
¿Por qué no los dos?
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on December 8 [13 favorites]


In case you’re wondering what Fox News readers are being fed.

Last night, Fox News: 'No collusion' by Trump with Russia shown in new Cohen and Manafort court filings By Hans A. von Spakovsky

First thing this morning, Fox News viewer #1: AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!

For the rest of us, Ken White writes in the Atlantic: Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger—Robert Mueller is closing in on the president and all his men.

"The president said on Twitter that Friday’s news “totally clears the President. Thank you!” It does not. Manafort and Cohen are in trouble, and so is Trump. The Special Counsel’s confidence in his ability to prove Manafort a liar appears justified, which leaves Manafort facing what amounts to a life sentence without any cooperation credit. The Southern District’s brief suggests that Cohen’s dreams of probation are not likely to come true. All three briefs show the Special Counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration. They’re looking into campaign contact with Russia, and campaign finance fraud in connection with paying off an adult actress, and participation in lying to Congress. A Democratic House of Representatives, just days away, strains at the leash to help. The game’s afoot."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:11 AM on December 8 [14 favorites]


Hans A. von Spakovsky

note this is the same hans van spakovsky who has been shopped around the country as an "expert" in "voter fraud", and who had his particulars handed to him in Fish v. Kobach by judge julie robinson:
Defendant's expert Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, 'a think tank whose mission [is to] formulate and promote conservative public policies. ... [He] cited a U.S. GAO study for the proposition that the GAO 'found that up to 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from voter registration roles over a two-year period in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens.' On cross-examination, however, he acknowledged that he omitted the following facts: the GAO study contained information on a total of 8 district courts; 4 of the 8 reported that there was not a single non-citizen who had been called for jury duty; and the 3 remaining district courts reported that less than 1% of those called for jury duty from voter rolls were noncitizens. Therefore, his report misleadingly described the only district court with the highest percentage of people reporting that they were noncitizens, while omitting mention of the 7 other courts described in the GAO report, including 4 that had no incidents of noncitizens on the rolls. ... While [Mr. von Spakovsky's] lack of academic background is not fatal to his credibility ...., his clear agenda and misleading statements ... render his opinions unpersuasive.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:15 AM on December 8 [22 favorites]


note this is the same hans van spakovsky who has been shopped around the country as an "expert" in "voter fraud"

That's Metafilter favorite Hans A. von Spakovsky, whose voter fraud grift having dried up, has recently moved on to attacking Mueller and praising Bill Barr on Fox News, i.e. the traditional method of auditioning at the Trump White House.

Meanwhile, @realDonaldTrump just announced his nomination of Gen. Mark Milley as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because that's a totally normal thing for a President to do on a Saturday morning. He's desperate to throw chum in the news cycle to distract from Mueller, and The Apprentice at the Pentagon is the best he can do.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:39 AM on December 8 [6 favorites]


because that's a totally normal thing for a President to do on a Saturday morning

Individual-1 will be at the Army-Navy game in Philly this afternoon, so at least there's a theme.
posted by holgate at 6:43 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


What the founding fathers weren’t aware of and couldn’t have considered, though, is how Congress would surrender more and more of its prerogatives to the presidency,

The Founders relied on someone calling out the bastard to a duel on the Field of Honor. And "Out of Band" mechanism for dealing with this sort of thing.

Given that the OLC's opinion on not indicting a sitting president is that it would prevent him from doing the essential work needed, and this buffoon is spending all his time golfing and "executive recess", I would suggest wo go right to indictments.
posted by mikelieman at 7:05 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


The people of Wisconsin should be rioting in the streets, closing down freeways and demanding action. It seems like folks are just shrugging their shoulders and agreeing that it sucks but nothing can be done about it.

Activists in wisconsin are exhausted. There was something close to riots to try and prevent Act 10 and it didn't matter. The state legislature is happy to wait out protests because they know that their seats are secure. If we swarmed Madison in yellow vests and set piles of tires on fire they'd paint us as crazy radicals, enjoy tear gassing and rubber bulleting us, and, after a laugh, go back to doing whatever they want. If anything, riots would cause a backlash effect here. We really don't know what to do and it's not like political violence is a viable option.
posted by dis_integration at 7:14 AM on December 8 [89 favorites]


How Democracy Works, a flowchart by Scott Bateman. (The Nib)
posted by young_simba at 7:17 AM on December 8 [9 favorites]


As a companion to Kurt Eichenwald's tweetstorm linked above, author David Rothkopf has a similar, comprehensive summary: I excerpt below but strongly recommend reading the whole thing:
(...)
It's not just the Trump Tower meeting. It's not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It's not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It's not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort. It's not just Jared Kushner's dealings with Russia. It's not just Kushner and Flynn's dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It's not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It's not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place.
(...)
From the outreach to Cohen to just the first mos of the admin we can count more than a dozen separate avenues of connection at the highest level. In any normal campaign or administration, just one would set off alarm bells and have the president calling the FBI into action.
(...)
This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president.
(...)
The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering. A case involving his violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal.
It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us.

posted by johnny jenga at 7:52 AM on December 8 [63 favorites]


I mean, Fox is not technically incorrect. Like if I said, "I moved the big pile of clothing and checked inside the fridge. No dirty laundry there! The clothes are therefore all clean!"
posted by Scattercat at 8:00 AM on December 8 [9 favorites]


Individual-1 operates from a mixture of wishful thinking and paranoia, which could seem contradictory, but ultimately means swinging back and forth between those things. I think a part of him has worried (yet also excited, in a Frank-Sinatra-My-Way sense) about a knock on the door and actual arrest for a while now. Yes, he "knows" about presidential immunity, but he also "knows" about the safeguards against being poisoned and would still prefer a fast-food hamburger from a sense of security.

So when he says "Totally clears the President. Thank you!" he's at least half-sincere. Thank you, universe, for not putting me in handcuffs just yet. It's not ignorance about the meaning of "Individual-1", it's relief at the "unindicted" part. And that message sticks with his fan base, who will cling as hard as they can to a lack of actual indictments of him specifically.

Unfortunately, this line of thought holds up even for non-deporable-types who also don't pay a lot of attention. If you don't follow the process of criminal justice closely, there's a strong tendency to equate guilt with punishment, and the absence of one with an absence of the other.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:34 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]




> 'Totally Clears the President'? What Those Cohen and Manafort Filings Really Say [Lawfare, 12/7/2018]

I get that Lawfare isn't a political activism blog or anything, but it's maddening that they have to do this Betteridge's Law-esque thing where they take Trump's tweet at face value in order to tell us what really happened. The memos yesterday could have contained vivid descriptions of Trump's direct involvement in the conspiracy, complete with links to Soundcloud and Youtube clips of Trump directing Cohen and Manafort to commit crimes, and Trump would have tweeted the exact same thing. We all know he's bullshitting -- just analyze the documents on their own terms without even entertaining the possibility that Trump's denials mean anything at all.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:00 AM on December 8 [11 favorites]


From Jeff "Smirking Chimp" Tiedrich's wonderful twitter feed:
***
first they came for Individual-1 and I did not speak out — because seriously, fuck that guy
***
I swear, if I have to fucking listen to BUT HER DNA TEST for the next two years just put me in a medically-induced coma right the hell now
***
Donald Fucking Trump. imagine this vulgar slug listening to music, or visiting a museum, or playing with a small child. you can't. the man possesses not one single shred of humanity and nothing that even comes close to being a soul. a barren husk stuffed with money and effluvia
* **
More here
***
(Smirking Chimp is still alive)

posted by growabrain at 9:09 AM on December 8 [16 favorites]


Not convinced Trump understands who Individual-1 is.

Remember how they started to use Trump's name frequently within the daily briefing in the hope he'd read it if he saw his name a lot? I'm beginning to think this "Individual-1" is the opposite of that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:30 AM on December 8 [41 favorites]


CNN's Jeremy Herb, writing yesterday: "NEW: George Papadopoulos has been released from prison -- he's expected to travel to DC this weekend with his wife to speak at the conservative American Priority conference*"

The Daily Beast's Will Sommer caught Papadopoulos's wife trying to gaslight him on Twitter (in a now-deleted tweet) that same day:
Full context for this Twitter exchange: the apparent burner account tweet from Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos came in reply to her quote-tweeting another tweet praising her.

{Pic}
* Politico previews this gathering: Wild theories and empty seats at CPAC-style conference for the MAGA set—Talk of QAnon, George Soros and ‘retarded’ reporters at the American Priority Conference.

This batshit conference kicked off yesterday with Anthony Scaramucci talking up QAnon at a "coffee with Mooch" event, and today former "coffee boy" Papadopoulos will share the spotlight with the likes of intellectual dark web pseudo-intellectual Stefan Molyneux, Trump 2016'ers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, and, most significantly, Trump 2020 senior adviser Katrina Pierson. Although the conference doesn't sound like a success in terms of attendance, it sounds like the perfect venue to workshop material for disinfo and dirty tricks for Trump's re-election campaign.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:13 AM on December 8 [15 favorites]


[He] cited a U.S. GAO study for the proposition that the GAO 'found that up to 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from voter registration roles over a two-year period in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens.'

As a non-citizen who has been summoned for county level court I can tell you in Illinois they don't draw names just from voter registration rolls as I'm not registered. It is also from the state's list of residents which includes non-citizens who have state IDs (I do) or a driver's license

I was super disappointed I couldn't serve on the jury because I think it would have been interesting.

Interestingly, this is done to ensure a fairer representation than would occur if they just used registered voter rolls because that skews white due to America's history of racism and voter suppression.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2013-03-27-ct-met-juries-racial-mix-20130327-story.html
posted by srboisvert at 10:29 AM on December 8 [18 favorites]


@nialstanage of The Hill: '@RealDonaldTrump has just told reporters that White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving "toward the end of the year."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:30 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I more than half expect Trump is only saying this because he feels pumped up by talking in front of a bunch of reporters, but he hasn't actually discussed this with Kelly in person.
Which also means I half expect Kelly to go and the other half of me expects Kelly to just keep showing up at work like that dude in Office Space only super racist.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:33 AM on December 8 [15 favorites]




Honestly, I’ve grown weary of invocations of what the founders would have wanted. They’re gone, the flaws in the system they designed are apparent, and it’s not possible to re-create the world the Constitution envisions.

The founders wanted it to change when the country's needs changed; that's why they built in an amendment process. They were entirely aware that what they were making wasn't perfect, and that a lot of them weren't happy with some aspects of it - it was just the best they could come up with at the time. So they built into it a process for fixing the parts that weren't working.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:39 AM on December 8 [11 favorites]


From the Politico piece on the American Priority conference:
“It’s a reflection of the real movement,” [co-founder Ali] Alexander said. “Damn the media optics.”

“You have conservatives who are acting like leftists,” said Laura Loomer, an American Priority speaker and social media provocateur, of CPAC’s organizers. “They care more about optics.”

Robert Bowers, before he killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue:
"Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
posted by neroli at 10:54 AM on December 8 [23 favorites]


Hundreds of social media accounts linked to Russia have sought to amplify the street protests that have rocked France, according to analysis seen by The Times.

The network of accounts has circulated messages on Twitter that focus on the violence and chaos of the yellow vest or gilet jaune riots. As the unrest began last month, a group of about 200 monitored accounts was churning out approximately 1,600 tweets and retweets a day. A large proportion of the accounts appear to be so-called “sock puppets”, which purport to be run by westerners.


Fucking WW3 will be by bots and sockpuppets fighting over eyeballs and swastikas.
posted by infini at 10:58 AM on December 8 [33 favorites]


The GOP sees rural voters as more legitimate than urban voters (Slate)
[Wisconsin] state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos just after the election: “If you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority—we would have all five constitutional officers and we would probably have many more seats in the Legislature.”

The idea that you could remove the state’s major population centers and still have an acceptably democratic result is a reasoning that gets to the heart of the matter. It’s not just that Democrats are poised to undo gains made under Walker’s administration, but that Democrats themselves are illegitimate because of who they represent. Vos isn’t saying that Republicans should do better in Madison and Milwaukee, he’s saying that the state’s major cities shouldn’t count. And if they do count, says Fitzgerald, they don’t count the same way.
They are the wrong voters, and the Democrats they elect have no right to roll back a Republican administration backed by the right ones.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:07 AM on December 8 [75 favorites]




Ugh, so the Russians are going after France now? It's getting to be time to just take their whole country OFF the Internet. Has anyone proposed the idea of an information embargo yet? Like, cut all their trunk lines? Because at this point Russia has just weaponized the Internet.
There's a picture I can't find now that I wish I had saved. It was of Zuckerberg onstage at some Facebook corporate rally or some shit (around the time the tech giants were being called in front of Congress about the Russian interference), standing in front of a huge map of the world. The map was showing how much FB had spread around the world, with all the connections lit up in blue...like, almost all of the U.S. and Europe, thinning out in Africa and Asia, etc. But the interesting part was Russia. It was almost completely dark. Like, it's borders were a black cut-out against it's lit-up neighbors (almost as if FB was totally banned except for misinformation purposes). EXCEPT for the science cities/old gulags running along the south into Siberia. Those were lit up like pearls in a chain. It makes sense that that's where their misinformation campaign is based being that that's where a lot of their science infrastructure is (it's where their nuclear weapons program and space operations are...or were, anyway). I know it sounds conspiracy-crazy, but if you can find that picture, it is not subtle. Cutting the lines there where they run into Europe would probably stop or at least slow the majority of their propaganda.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:51 AM on December 8 [10 favorites]


Butterly Sanctuary in Texas Expected to Be Plowed Over for Trump's Border Wall

"A protected habitat of butterflies along the Rio Grande is expected to be plowed over to clear the way for President Trump's border wall after the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed a challenge by environmental groups. The justices this week upheld a District Court ruling to allow the Trump administration to bypass 28 federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act, to be waived for southern border wall construction."
posted by lisa g at 11:55 AM on December 8 [22 favorites]


The Daily Beast's Will Sommer caught Papadopoulos's wife trying to gaslight him on Twitter (in a now-deleted tweet) that same day:

update: after getting caught doing… something? (trying to make george jealous? flattering herself? who knows) on twitter with a male sockpuppet account, putative italian and possible russian agent simona mangiante papadopoulos has completely deleted her twitter account.

so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice
posted by murphy slaw at 11:55 AM on December 8 [12 favorites]


The people of Wisconsin should be rioting in the streets, closing down freeways and demanding action. It seems like folks are just shrugging their shoulders and agreeing that it sucks but nothing can be done about it.

Demanding action how? I'm in Michigan, I'd like to get some action, but I don't know how. I don't think that rioting in the streets is going to do it. The state legislators have demonstrated, with the passing of 12 bills, that they don't give a flying fuck what the voters think.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:09 PM on December 8 [12 favorites]


CNBC: Trump is reportedly ‘glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them

There's nothing but bad economic news for "Tariff Man" lately:

Bloomberg: It Took Just One Week for a $1 Trillion Wipeout in U.S. Stocks
U.S. stocks plunged, capping the worst week for the S&P 500 Index since March, as the Trump administration pressed its trade war with China and the latest batch of economic data added to concern that growth has peaked. Oil rose after OPEC agreed to cut output.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed over 500 points Friday, bringing its decline in the abbreviated trading week to over 1,000. The S&P finished the week down 4.6 percent.[…] The Federal Reserve’s Lael Brainard struck a hawkish tone in comments at a conference.

“What we think is going on is a repricing of growth,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust Co. “The bond market is essentially saying we don’t see the kind of growth that we’ve had. So what the market is doing is repricing stocks, particularly those that have performed extraordinarily well, to a lower growth rate.”
@WSJ reports: U.S. Companies Feel the Pinch as Tariff Costs Start to Mount
Tariff collections topped $5 billion in October, according to data from the Treasury Department and from Census Bureau data analyzed and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a lobbying coalition of manufacturing, farming and technology groups.[…]

The amount of tariffs being paid by U.S. importers has doubled since May, including an increase of more than 30% from August to October, according to the data. The sum has risen through the year as steel and aluminum tariffs were applied to imports from a growing group of countries, then surged in October, which was the first full month in which U.S. tariffs were in place on a full $250 billion of imports from China.
Reuters: U.S. Job Growth Slows In November, Monthly Wage Gains Modest
U.S. job growth slowed in November and monthly wages increased less than forecast, suggesting some moderation in economic activity that could support expectations of fewer interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve in 2019. […]

Non-farm payrolls increased by 155,000 jobs last month, with construction companies hiring the fewest workers in eight months, likely because of unseasonably chilly temperatures. […]

Data for September and October were revised to show 12,000 fewer jobs added than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by 200,000 jobs in November.
Democratic operatives should be testing "Trump Slump" slogans right now.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:12 PM on December 8 [22 favorites]


The reply to this made me laugh a lot harder than it probably should have:

BREAKING: Departement of Justice confirms that Donald Trump will be tried as an adult if indicted.
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on December 8 [61 favorites]


I've been wondering about Trump's apparent unflappedness the day after being charged with a federal offense...I have seen him on days for which they have apparently found the right combination of psychotropics, but that is not apparent today... I wonder if relief is fueling his current mood - perhaps something he feared would come out did not materialize yesterday.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:32 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Democratic operatives should be testing "Trump Slump" slogans right now.

Before those 'obstructive Democrats in the House' get all the blame. (Not that he and every other Republican won't be blaming them in any case, but it would be nice to get ahead of the curve for once.)
posted by trig at 12:35 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


I've been wondering about Trump's apparent unflappedness the day after being charged with a federal offense

He hasn't been charged. He hasn't even directly been accused. He has been implicated, but he's always been oblivious to nuances like that. Nobody's even put his name next to the crimes being described - and he may be asking his Official Reading Support Team, "does it say I'm guilty of anything?"

(Am now wondering if the whole "Individual-1" thing is just to avoid making the term Trump searchable in the PDFs.)

Also, as noted, he's not capable of admitting he screwed up, or that he's in trouble. He needs to declare that he's winning, always. If it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that he is not "winning," as in, he gets hauled into a courtroom in handcuffs, he'll start yelling about fraud, cheating, crimes being committed against him, conspiracies run by Hillary, and so on. At no point will he admit that he has done anything wrong, nor even that people might reasonably think he's done something wrong.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:53 PM on December 8 [6 favorites]


Democratic operatives should be testing "Trump Slump" slogans right now.

> Before those 'obstructive Democrats in the House' get all the blame.

This assumes Democrats make no effort to get their own message out about what's happening.
posted by nangar at 12:55 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Paul Waldman / WaPo:
Nobody Can Save Trump Now
posted by growabrain at 1:05 PM on December 8 [6 favorites]


“What we think is going on is a repricing of growth,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust Co. “The bond market is essentially saying we don’t see the kind of growth that we’ve had. So what the market is doing is repricing stocks, particularly those that have performed extraordinarily well, to a lower growth rate.”


Well, “a repricing of growth” is about as euphemistic a term I’ve ever heard for an incipient market crash. Even better than “irrational exuberance” to describe a bubble about to pop.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect a stock investment officer to come right out and call it “possibly the beginning of a crash, as a result of unsustainable overpricing, and triggered by an unwise tax cut and a ridiculous trade war with the rest of the planet.”

The Dow gained about 25% in Obama’s last year in office. The momentum of the Obama Recovery continued into Individual-1’s first year of office, with a 33% gain. But then the GOP policies began to take effect: the tax cut for the rich and the crazy trade wars. So now we have a year with zero growth.

“Bush Jr.’s Great Recession.”

“The Obama Recovery.”

“The Trump Slump.”

Sounds fair to me.
posted by darkstar at 1:11 PM on December 8 [58 favorites]


Demanding action how? I'm in Michigan, I'd like to get some action, but I don't know how. I don't think that rioting in the streets is going to do it. The state legislators have demonstrated, with the passing of 12 bills, that they don't give a flying fuck what the voters think.

The anti-gerrymandering initiative was step one. Court fights against any attempts to undo it are step two. Step 3 is, start right now identifying and holding accountable every legislator who voted for bills to undo it. Blare the message loud and clear that they are anti-democratic and subverting the will of the people. Recruit good opponents for their next elections, pressure their financial supporters and put them on the record for or against anti-democratic laws, and starts campaigning NOW to unseat those state legislators in 2 years.
posted by msalt at 1:12 PM on December 8 [13 favorites]


Zuckerberg onstage at some Facebook corporate rally or some shit (around the time the tech giants were being called in front of Congress about the Russian interference), standing in front of a huge map of the world. The map was showing how much FB had spread around the world, with all the connections lit up in blue...like, almost all of the U.S. and Europe, thinning out in Africa and Asia, etc. But the interesting part was Russia. It was almost completely dark … EXCEPT for the science cities/old gulags running along the south into Siberia.
You might be thinking of this map? (the 2010, 2013 edition). Russia really comes onto Facebook by 2013 and the usage map with highlights along the trans-Siberian route closely mirrors overall world population density. The big exception is China with its internet firewall, everyone else is basically in there to varying degrees.
posted by migurski at 1:28 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


Ugh, so the Russians are going after France now? It's getting to be time to just take their whole country OFF the Internet. Has anyone proposed the idea of an information embargo yet? Like, cut all their trunk lines?

Excellent idea. But also, boycott irresponsible social media. No one HAS to read Facebook or Twitter, and curated spaces like, well, Metafilter are much better. I've joined everyone under 30 in dropping Facebook, and if enough people do, the social pressure to be on it will disappear.

Can someone create a Firefox of social networking, that explicitly won't capture or sell your data?

If you do "need" to stay on recklessly unpatrolled sosh meeds, report baddies early and often. It's the least you can do, and the desperation of people like Laura Loomer when they're kicked off speaks to the effectiveness of this action.
posted by msalt at 1:35 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


Adam Davidson, The Ineptitude of Donald Trump’s Co-Conspirators:
It is no longer journalistically sound to report on the Trump investigation as if it is a matter that may, or may not, yield damning information about the President. In a series of filings that came Friday night, the office of the special counsel Robert Mueller, and a separate group of federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, laid out evidence that, taken together, leaves little doubt that Donald Trump sought to use his candidacy to enrich himself by approving a plan to curry political favor from Vladimir Putin in exchange for a lucrative real-estate opportunity.

It may be only part of the full story, but what we now know is a powerful tale that combines elements that are familiar from other Trumpworld scandals. It is, at once, shockingly corrupt, blatantly unethical, probably illegal, yet, at the same time, shabby, small, and ineptly executed.

Combined with another memo released on Friday—a more sparsely informative sentencing memo for Paul Manafort—we are seeing the inner workings of a coördinated conspiracy conducted by people who are very, very bad at conspiracy.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on December 8 [40 favorites]


The WaPo has an article about William Barr's work as a corporate lawyer, the takeaways are that there should be a lot of areas where he will have to recuse himself including the Time Warner/AT&T merger because he's been deeply involved in the consolidation of the telecom industry: In corporate role, William P. Barr clashed with Justice Department that he now seeks to lead.

It also has a weird story of Barr attending a 2017 meeting about the stalled merger where Time Warner's general counsel threatened the head of the DoJ's Antitrust Division suggesting he would "employ personal attacks to denigrate the integrity of the Antitrust Division" and its leadership, suggesting an outcome similar "to the disappearance of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa and the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey." Barr contradicts sworn statements from DoJ officials and says in an affidavit that he has no memory of any reference to Hoffa or Comey and that nothing was said that a reasonable person would interpret as a threat.
posted by peeedro at 2:25 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]


Can someone create a Firefox of social networking, that explicitly won't capture or sell your data?

Like Patchwork? There are various other Facebook alternatives that don't grab user data. They're not widely in use because social activity wants consolidation. That means needing lots of people on the same system, which means someone has to pay to host and manage all that data... which means either paying for access, or selling data to advertisers, or being a nonprofit. (AO3 has politely but firmly declined to start a social media site.)

It's relatively easy to create basic social media software these days. The hard part is getting enough people to use it, and figuring out who's paying for storage and bandwidth. And if you want it Nazi-free, someone has to moderate and swing the banhammer.

The choices are "small and cozy" or "large and loud," and it's hard to get to the latter without a source of money. And these days, that source is going to need to be something other than the majority of users; "why should I use your app when Twitter is free?"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:36 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]


He hasn't been charged. He hasn't even directly been accused. He has been implicated, but he's always been oblivious to nuances like that. Nobody's even put his name next to the crimes being described - and he may be asking his Official Reading Support Team, "does it say I'm guilty of anything?"

Dahlia Lithwick had a federal prosecutor (whose name escapes me, I hadn't heard from her before) on the most recent episode of her Amicus podcast. She said that when Trump began (months ago) by saying "I took no meetings with Russia, I never called Russia" it reminded her of how many other defendants she'd had to explain how conspiracy charges work. These people don't realize that you can be part of a conspiracy without actually talking to everyone in on it, as long as you know there is a conspiracy and you take some overt action towards its goals.

So it's absolutely within the normal frame of normal white collar criminals to just not realize what their legal exposure is. Trump's less capable of understanding than most, but the median is still pretty bad.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:46 PM on December 8 [27 favorites]


These people don't realize that you can be part of a conspiracy without actually talking to everyone in on it, as long as you know there is a conspiracy and you take some overt action towards its goals.

I think it was Neal Katyal last week who said, "conspiracy charges are all about uncompleted crimes."
posted by rhizome at 2:55 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


The worst part about this is Kelly (hell anyone who leaves) is going to be able to show his face in public again and might even get s little redemption tour and end up in some cushy job making more money then any of us will ever see in our lives. Faceless staffers or interns might not be able to spin it into another job but everyone else gets that Kouch/Murdock parachute
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


You might be thinking of this map? (the 2010, 2013 edition).

Yes, very similar, but with differences...prob the 2014-2017(?) edition...the upper part of Russia looked blacked out like China in the 2013 and the trans-Siberia part was both brighter and denser...like beads on a wire. IIRC there was an article posted here a year or two ago (vanity fair maybe?) interviewing Russian misinformation workers (the main point being they didn't like doing it, there just weren't any other jobs...like what happens when, y'know, oligarchs suck all the money out of the economy) who were working out of I think ekaterinaburg or novosibirsk. Srsly tho...fuck these dudes. They caused Trump, brexit, antivax, right wing populism everywhere, probably that caravan too, and who knows what else. They need to be taken off the web, or shot in the head. Preferably both.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:15 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


There's still plenty of jobs for people like Kelly without them having to spend a whit of attention on redemption.
posted by rhizome at 3:15 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]


The worst part about this is Kelly (hell anyone who leaves) is going to be able to show his face in public again and might even get s little redemption tour and end up in some cushy job making more money then any of us will ever see in our lives.

He's going to be at the Harvard Kennedy School next semester.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:20 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


The (redacted) transcript of Comey's Friday testimony before the House Judiciary and Government Reform and Oversight Committees has been released. Among the many topics covered, Comey reveals that he started an investigation of the NYC FBI office after Giuliani started apparently receiving leaks in October 2016, but he was fired before it was concluded (or not). (p 152)

Yesterday Comey criticized the session: "Today wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president. They came up empty today but will try again. In the long run, it'll make no difference because facts are stubborn things."
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:37 PM on December 8 [34 favorites]


NYT, The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House. There's a lot in here, including how the Saudis zeroed in on Jared before Trump took office, going so far as to prepare a slide presentation (later obtained by a pro-Hezbollah newspaper) about him that focused on his "lack of familiarity with the history of Saudi-American relations," and alarming things like:
Only a few months after Mr. Trump moved into the White House, Mr. Kushner was inquiring about the Saudi royal succession process and whether the United States could influence it, raising fears among senior officials that he sought to help Prince Mohammed, who was not yet the crown prince, vault ahead in the line for the throne, two former senior White House officials said. American diplomats and intelligence officials feared that the Trump administration might be seen as playing favorites in the delicate internal politics of the Saudi royal family, the officials said.
But this bit is particularly significant, on chats between Kushner and MBS after Khashoggi's muder:
But American officials and a Saudi briefed on their conversations said that Mr. Kushner and Prince Mohammed have continued to chat informally. According to the Saudi, Mr. Kushner has offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments.
But Jared wants Trump to stand by MBS because Jared still thinks he can magically make peace betweens the Israelis and the Palestinians, which, um, doesn't seem to be happening.
posted by zachlipton at 3:58 PM on December 8 [17 favorites]


The (redacted) transcript of Comey's Friday testimony before the House Judiciary and Government Reform and Oversight Committees

FYI, it seems like the only redaction is the names of two FBI agents, on page 132.
posted by reductiondesign at 4:02 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


(AO3 has politely but firmly declined to start a social media site.)

AO3 in fact is a very limited kind of social media site, and their budget could be demonstrative of your point. They have the simplest, most lightweight code possible. They only do text data. There is no video data hosted anywhere on the site at all. Their user base is moderately small, and has a strongly positive opinion of the site. AO3 gets a lot of volunteer labor. Their funding drives are almost always successful. And yet their hosting costs are so high that some of those users who love the site think that the funding drives must be scams. (Which is why they publish a detailed budget every year.)

--

The most recent Amicus is a very good listen, and in addition, Maddow's podcast "Bagman" is also quite good and short and very timely. It's about VP Agnew being wildly corrupt. Most of the prosecutors who investigatedg him are still alive to talk about it, which is cool. I mention it because:

Lithwick raises a question, "why is this all taking so long?" And when "Bagman" goes into the prosecutors' thought processes, they say that indicting and convicting Agnew would effectively have been overturning the results of the election. Potentially beyond their purview, definitely a very big and serious step. On Amicus, they say, "it's taking so long because this will have to carry in the court of public opinion as well," more or less.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 4:14 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, Trump first wanted his attorney general pick Bill Barr for another job: Defense lawyer
In late spring 2017, President Trump was having a hard time finding a topflight lawyer to spearhead his defense in the sprawling Russian investigation conducted by the new special counsel Robert Mueller. Some of the most prominent litigators in Washington had turned aside overtures to represent the president in the case, expressing concerns that he would not listen to their advice anyway.

Around that time, sources tell Yahoo News, White House officials reached out to a man they thought would be an ideal candidate: William P. Barr, the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. An outspoken conservative, Barr had gotten on Trump’s radar screen that spring after he had written a newspaper op-ed vigorously defending the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. At one point, Barr was ushered into a brief White House meeting with Trump, who asked him if he was interested in the job, according to a source who was present for the meeting. Barr demurred. He had other obligations, he said. He would have to think about it.

The talk among Trump and his top advisers about hiring Barr as chief defense lawyer did not stop there. It arose again this year after the departure of John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, and continued until the summer, when the president found another candidate far more eager for the job: Rudy Giuliani. But now in a twist few could have anticipated, Trump has tapped Barr for an even more important position: attorney general, a post that, if confirmed, would put him in charge of the Mueller investigation.
So that kind of seems like a conflict of interest.
posted by zachlipton at 4:19 PM on December 8 [33 favorites]


So that kind of seems like a conflict of interest.

The conflict isn't on Barr's side, because his past doesn't give him a special incentive to obstruct the investigation. It's on Trump's side: someone potentially facing charges should not be able to appoint his own prosecutor and his own judges. Unfortunately, the Republicans actually want things this way: from their perspective a win for Trump is the most valuable thing imaginable, vastly outweighing things like justice or the integrity of the legal system.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:28 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


The “Pro-Life” Movement Continues to Prove It’s Just Anti-Choice. Iowans are traveling out-of-state for abortion care by the hundreds. New Oklahoma bill would ban abortion under all circumstances. New study: When women are denied abortions, their children suffer.
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on December 8 [19 favorites]


The conflict isn't on Barr's side, because his past doesn't give him a special incentive to obstruct the investigation.

It really depends on how far the engagement went. If it was just a phone call about 'would you consider...', and Barr passed, that's not really a conflict. It it went further and Barr discussed any details of the investigation with Trump or his current legal team, that absolutely is a conflict for Barr.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:44 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


At one point, Barr was ushered into a brief White House meeting with Trump, who asked him if he was interested in the job, according to a source who was present for the meeting. Barr demurred. He had other obligations, he said. He would have to think about it.

Aha! I was wondering what Trump meant yesterday morning when he said:
I want to confirm that Bill Barr, one of the most respected jurists in the country, highly respected lawyer, former attorney general under the Bush administration, a terrific man, a terrific person, a brilliant man -- I did not know him for -- until recently,
That was really bugging me, since I already know the meaning of those words.
posted by pjenks at 4:54 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


Yesterday, while the OSC was filing its court papers on Manafort's breach of their plea agreement, the Trump administration's Treasury Department quietly slipped this announcement into the Friday afternoon news cycle: U.S. Delays Rusal Sanctions as Talks With Deripaska Continue (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Treasury Department delayed imposing sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, United Co. Rusal, for the fifth time, as it seeks to strike a deal that would allow the company to escape the penalties.

Treasury said in a notice Friday that licenses allowing Rusal to continue doing business would be extended to Jan. 21 from the prior Jan. 7 expiration. The extension gives Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska more time to give up control of Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer.[...]

Rusal has been largely shut out of signing new aluminum contracts, an indication that sanctions on Deripaska are hitting the company even as negotiations with Treasury continue. Even though Treasury is allowing some new contracts, the uncertainty of the situation has scared buyers away, Bloomberg News reported last month.
Deripaska's obviously going to have to write off all the money Manafort owes him, but maybe he'll come out ahead, thanks to Trump.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:15 PM on December 8 [21 favorites]


The Lawfare Podcast: Congressman Adam Schiff on the Future of the House Intelligence Committee
On January 3, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives and all of its committees. Congressman Adam Schiff of California, the current ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is expected to take control of the committee. This week, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes sat down with Rep. Schiff at his office to discuss the agenda for HPSCI and the upcoming Congress, the challenges facing the Democratic majority as they attempt to rebuild bipartisanship on a deeply divided committee, and, of course, the Russia investigation.
posted by scalefree at 8:36 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


NRA Claims 'Deep Financial Trouble' May Soon Put It Out of Business
The National Rifle Association says that it’s in “deep financial trouble” — so deep in fact that it may be “unable to exist.”

The group says it is under such financial distress because New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has convinced a number of financial service providers, banks, and insurance providers against doing business with the gun-advocacy group. As a result, the NRA claims that it will be forced to end its magazine publishing and television services, and will be forced to curtail rallies and potentially shutter some of its offices.

In April, Gov. Cuomo encouraged New York-based businesses to cut ties with the NRA. “New York may have the strongest gun laws in the country, but we must push further to ensure that gun safety is a top priority for every individual, company, and organization that does business across the state,” he said in a statement. “I am directing the Department of Financial Services to urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with the NRA or similar organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their communities who often look to them for guidance and support. This is not just a matter of reputation, it is a matter of public safety, and working together, we can put an end to gun violence in New York once and for all.”

In response, the NRA sued, claiming that the governor was attempting to deny the group the ability to speak freely about gun-related issues. This week, it filed an additional claim, obtained by Rolling Stone, suggesting that the move has impacted its cash flow to the point that it may soon be forced out of existence.
posted by scalefree at 11:38 PM on December 8 [98 favorites]


The WaPo has its latest in the long running genre of post-crisis reports from the foxhole White House, ‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils. "Based on interviews with 14 administration officials, presidential confidants and allies, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity," notable points:
  • "Trump remains headstrong in his belief that he can outsmart adversaries and weather any threats, according to advisers."
  • There is no plan, "The White House is adopting what one official termed a “shrugged shoulders” strategy for the Mueller findings, calculating that most GOP base voters will believe whatever the president tells them to believe."
  • The strategy so far is personal attacks on Mueller and federal law enforcement, "The president has been telling friends that he believes the special counsel is flailing and has found nothing meaningful."
  • Pat Cipollone and Emmet Flood are "scouring the résumés" of congressional staffers with experience in investigations, "Yet hiring remains difficult as potential staffers worry about whether they will need to hire a personal lawyer if they join and express uncertainty about the constant turmoil within the White House hierarchy."
  • “A war room? You serious?” one former White House official said when asked about internal preparations. “They’ve never had one, will never have one. They don’t know how to do one.”
  • "one pro-Trump senator said privately that a breaking point would be if Mueller documents conspiracy with Russians. “Then they’ve lost me,” said the senator, noting that several Republican lawmakers have been willing to publicly break with Trump when they believe it is in their interests."
  • Unnamed republicans also make noises that a Manafort pardon would be a bridge too far.
  • Steve Bannon, always trolling, “The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses.” Elite Russian mattress forces unavailable for comment.
posted by peeedro at 12:21 AM on December 9 [39 favorites]


The NRA still employs Dana Loesch as their spokesghoul so they can’t be hurting too badly for cash - she would be the first rat off the Good Gunboat Lollipop if it didn’t sufficiently subsidize her lifestyle. More likely the NRA are exploiting the zeitgeist to milk money out of old white men who’ve projected their fear of dying onto anybody who makes them slightly uncomfortable. I’ll believe the NRA is hurting when it’s stopped breathing, not when it’s alive and kicking and whining for more $$$.
posted by SakuraK at 12:22 AM on December 9 [56 favorites]


> This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president.

Garry Kasparov Says We Are Living in Chaos, But Remains an Incorrigible Optimist by Masha Gessen: "The chess grandmaster and political activist on Putin, Trump, and how we are living again through the eighteen-fifties."
If you analyze what was happening between November and January, during the transition period, you will see that they were getting ready for a grandiose project. Henry Kissinger played a role. I think he was selling the Trump Administration on the idea of a mirror of 1972, except, instead of a Sino-U.S. alliance against the U.S.S.R., this would be a Russian-American alliance against China. This explains the Taiwan phone call. [In December, 2016, Trump spoke on the telephone with Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, breaking decades of protocol and earning a rebuke from China.]

But it all went off the rails on December 29th, when Mike Flynn called the Russian Embassy. Flynn is a few weeks away from becoming the national-security adviser. And still he calls the Russian Ambassador. He calls to say, “Don’t do anything in response to the sanctions the United States has just imposed.” [The Russian foreign minister, Sergei] Lavrov has already announced that Russia will match the sanctions, Cold War–style: the U.S. has expelled thirty-five people and taken away two buildings, and we are going to do the exact same thing. And then Putin, effectively renouncing Lavrov, says, “You know what, we are starting a new life. We are not expelling anyone, and we are inviting American diplomats’ children to our New Year’s celebrations.”

A dictator can’t afford to look weak. He can act this way only if he is absolutely certain that Flynn is speaking for Trump. This means they trusted Flynn absolutely. The were sure that they were going to win in this situation.

[...]

So why did it go off the rails?

I think it was the F.B.I. They knocked Flynn out, and then it wasn’t going to work. [On January 12, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had called the Russian Ambassador. The report was apparently based on an intelligence leak—the F.B.I. had been listening in on Flynn’s conversations with the Ambassador.] It turned out that the American political system has a certain reserve of stability; ironically, this stability is currently guaranteed by the intelligence services and the Pentagon. While the Republican Party has given itself over to Trump, the institutions that were always suspected of dictatorial tendencies are the ones resisting dictatorship. I think that at that stage they opted for all-out sabotage.
posted by kliuless at 12:24 AM on December 9 [38 favorites]


Steve Bannon, always trolling, “The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses.”

Oh lordy there is a pee tape after all.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:57 AM on December 9 [15 favorites]


sexyrobot, I understand your frustration with the "russian" trolling on social media, and the impact on the anglosphere viz., brexit, trump, etc However, a) I think even if you "shot them all in the head" as you write, the problem will not go away, because b) the underlying commonality to all those problems you list has been found to be a combination of Big Money+Cambridge Analytica + various "power brokers" from your own side of the Atlantic Ocean.

My bet is that you could cut off the entire Russian internet and you'd still have problems with political trolls on twitter and misinformation and propaganda on facebook.
posted by infini at 1:51 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


peedro: The WaPo has its latest in the long running genre of post-crisis reports from the foxhole White House, ‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils.

I was also going to recommend this article as one of the exemplars of the genre - so many delicious passages. Consider:
Facing the dawn of his third year in office and his bid for reelection, Trump is stepping into a political hailstorm. Democrats are preparing to seize control of the House in January with subpoena power to investigate corruption. Global markets are reeling from his trade war. The United States is isolated from its traditional partners. The investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference is intensifying. And court filings Friday in a separate federal case implicated Trump in a felony.

The White House is adopting what one official termed a “shrugged shoulders” strategy for the Mueller findings, calculating that most GOP base voters will believe whatever the president tells them to believe.
And really, I think the White House is correct in its belief. The question is, how big is that remaining block of "base voters".

Oh, and don't miss Rudy at the end, gazing deep into Trump's mirror:
“He’s a bitter, bitter man,” Giuliani said of Flake. “It’s sick. Nobody likes him and they would like him gone.”
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:29 AM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Steve Bannon, always trolling, “The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses.”

In contemporary usage this refers to the mob moving their gunmen into their houses to protect their families (via The Godfather and The Sopranos). Interesting choice of phrase there.

Also it didn't work out very well in either show.
posted by srboisvert at 4:56 AM on December 9 [11 favorites]


The National Rifle Association says that it’s in “deep financial trouble” — so deep in fact that it may be “unable to exist.”

I agree that this is mainly fundraising for suckers.

But if it's true, the very first thing that we must do, like a microsecond after they file bk, is to reverse their ban on Federal funding for research on gun violence.

Fast-track the applications for research funding. Expose what they have done to our country, pronto. Then start collecting the guns. Confiscate, trade-in, whatever, but yes, we're coming for your precious fucking guns.
posted by Dashy at 5:51 AM on December 9 [56 favorites]


"The White House is adopting what one official termed a “shrugged shoulders” strategy for the Mueller findings, calculating that most GOP base voters will believe whatever the president tells them to believe."

Look Rs, I'm not saying you're a bunch of brainless cultists. Trump is.
posted by chris24 at 5:57 AM on December 9 [48 favorites]


My bet is that you could cut off the entire Russian internet and you'd still have problems with political trolls on twitter and misinformation and propaganda on facebook.
This is the equivalent of the drug war strategy of locking up street dealers while completely ignoring demand. As long as right-wing activists have budgets in the millions to billions range they’ll find a way to get propaganda out. The Russian 2016 operation is the easiest – funded and running outside the country – but all they’d need to do is, say, step up their existing efforts to recruit Americans just as they were doing for those AstroTurf protest rallies, and the traffic would be from real people here.

Going after the money will help but that’s going to be hard to do with a bunch of new activists in the Supreme Court who will no doubt find a constitutional right for Russian oligarchs to launder money to their political allies.
posted by adamsc at 6:31 AM on December 9 [10 favorites]


I would say Robert Mueller is the obvious choice for Time's Man of the Year.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:32 AM on December 9 [15 favorites]


I would say Stormy Daniels is.
posted by notyou at 6:42 AM on December 9 [46 favorites]


M-x shell: "This is not a concern. I would think those were the districts that were already moderate and so went from lean R to lean D. The Rs that won were in districts too red to swing."

In a functioning democracy that would pull the party of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate to the left; somehow I doubt that'll happen.

chris24: "We don't need to imagine #6 Kompromat, we're well into that as well. The Russians have known that Trump and Co were meeting and talking with them about business and "political synergy" since November 2015 and lying about it to the American public. That's kompromat. It doesn't need to be a pee tape. At any time Russia could've disclosed their outreach and contact with Trump & Co. and blown up his campaign/presidency. "

We've been well into #6 since day one. At any time the Russians could have exposed the Crime Family's money laundering and spiked not only the campaign but the whole family fortune. The only down side would be needing to find another patsy to continue the laundering.
posted by Mitheral at 6:58 AM on December 9 [9 favorites]


Then start collecting the guns. Confiscate, trade-in, whatever, but yes, we're coming for your precious fucking guns.

Perhaps now is not the best time to be disarming the populace.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:59 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Maybe, but not because of the fantasy of valiant armed citizens resisting government control. The US Army and police would mow down opposition in minutes and these militia types would either cower or die very, very quickly. Even folks holed up in the mountains would get blown to smithereens by drones or missiles in short order.

These fools struggled to hold an unoccupied nature preserve. A desire to avoid casualties was the only thing that dragged that siege out.
posted by msalt at 7:13 AM on December 9 [24 favorites]


a country that has legitimately elected Trump has to consider its political system.

When this all went down in 2016, I was devastated because for the first time I actually doubted our political system. In 2000, I was heartbroken but I honestly believed that Bush was the will of the people as sad as that was. But in 2016, the idea that a majority voted for someone like Trump was unimaginable. It had to mean that the system was broken.

But that quote from Kaparov, really hammers home and even worse fear. The system is working and despite all our talk and bluster about freedom and justice, we really do just want to be ruled.

It makes me think of another quote that I keep returning to:
”Well, some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don’t lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place.
The world that N.K Jemisen was describing isn't ours, but it might be more than we want it to be.
posted by teleri025 at 7:29 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Star Wars: Individual 1, the opening crawl
posted by octothorpe at 7:29 AM on December 9 [17 favorites]


The majority didn’t vote for Trump. He won with a 3 million vote minority, with the aid of a treasonous conspiracy with Russia, and criminal interference on his behalf by the FBI and the FBI director.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:37 AM on December 9 [61 favorites]


True, though I take teleri’s point that tens of millions of Americans eagerly voted for him, that all of the institutional devices intended to prevent such an outcome (e.g., the Electoral College) failed, that the other institutions designed to provide a check and balance over him since election (e.g. Congress and the Supreme Court) have become complicit to some degree, and that even after everything that’s happened in the past two years, tens of millions of Americans would eagerly vote for him again. Which is seriously alarming for our country on an existential level.
posted by darkstar at 7:43 AM on December 9 [29 favorites]


Then start collecting the guns.

Taking a more practical step, House Dems Will Push for Background Check on Every Gun Sale, MoJo reports. “The American people are on our side.”
House Democrats plan to prioritize a bill that will require a background check for every gun sale, according to multiple sources close to the matter. The legislation represents an aggressive shift in strategy by Democrats and their gun reform allies, who in previous years had tended to pursue more modest background check bills that would have exempted large numbers of gun purchases.[...]

But with Ryan leaving Congress and Democrats winning control of the House, [Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)] now plans to introduce a bill that will go further than any of those earlier proposals: It will require a background check for every gun sale or transfer, regardless of who’s doing the selling or transferring. The move has been in the works since before the election, when Thompson met with outside gun reform allies like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Center for American Progress, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Giffords to talk about what they might push for if Democrats won the House.
These fools struggled to hold an unoccupied nature preserve.

Speaking of whom, Ammon Bundy is quitting the militia movement after breaking with trump on anti-immigrant rhetoric (Buzzfeed) "To group them all up like, frankly, our president has done — you know, trying to speak respectfully — but he has basically called them all criminals and said they're not coming in here. […] What about individuals, those who have come for reasons of need for their families, you know, the fathers and mothers and children that come here and were willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually?"

If Ammon Bundy has seen the writing on the wall, who'll be the next to break with Trump?
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:46 AM on December 9 [25 favorites]


So when Mueller is done and the conclusive proof of high crimes and misdemeanours is there for all to see, what happens then? Pelosi has said there will be no impeachment process, and even if there was one the Republicans have control of the Senate. That’s why Trump hasn’t sacked Mueller, because at the end of the day he is literally above the law.
posted by moorooka at 7:49 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Pelosi has said there will be no impeachment process, and even if there was one the Republicans have control of the Senate.
When did she say that? All I’ve seen is that she wasn’t going to move on it before there’s strong evidence and bipartisan support, which is simply acknowledging political reality (i.e. doing her job ).

They don’t need to impeach Trump as much as airing his misconduct and the rest of his party’s support through the 2020 elections, which she’s repeatedly promised to do all along. He’s a hard target but also old and unhealthy; most of the people tainted will otherwise be causing problems for a longer time.
posted by adamsc at 7:59 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Ammon Bundy is quitting the militia movement after breaking with trump on anti-immigrant rhetoric

It's telling that breaking with Trump means leaving the militia movement.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:02 AM on December 9 [49 favorites]


Yes, impeachment that ends in a trial where the Senate finds him not guilty just creates political cover. Impeachment is a political process, not justice, and if we know the process is broken, there's no sense in trying to use it. But I imagine we should not be rehashing this argument for the umpteenth time.
posted by rikschell at 8:04 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Yes, impeachment that ends in a trial where the Senate finds him not guilty just creates political cover. Impeachment is a political process, not justice, and if we know the process is broken, there's no sense in trying to use it.

Yes, a political process, but also a legal one. And not impeaching for obvious serious crimes just functions to normalize them. He needs to be impeached regardless of the possible verdict in the Senate and then you hang that Senate vote to excuse treason and corruption and god knows what else to hang on the Rs in 2020.

You preserve a bit of the rule of law and get a political hammer.
posted by chris24 at 8:07 AM on December 9 [31 favorites]


"one pro-Trump senator said privately that a breaking point would be if Mueller documents conspiracy with Russians. “Then they’ve lost me,” said the senator, noting that several Republican lawmakers have been willing to publicly break with Trump when they believe it is in their interests."
Unnamed republicans also make noises that a Manafort pardon would be a bridge too far.


Oh noes! They would shake their heads and express deep concerns, I am sure! They might even have grave reservations and serious questions! Then they'll vote with Trump anyways, despite having the vapours.
posted by nubs at 8:14 AM on December 9 [19 favorites]


Clinton was impeached by the House and not convicted by the Senate. If Trump experiences less, it's conclusive proof that the system is hopelessly broken. But then, the fact that Trump has never been convicted for his prodigious criminal activity is proof of a broken system, at least in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:16 AM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Perhaps this has been answered before on the Blue, but if Trump were Impeached by the House, then found Not Guilty by the Senate, does that actually remove all legal jeopardy? Couldn’t he still be indicted and tried in a court after he leaves office?

I can’t imagine that a President could literally shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, have a complicit Senate vote Not Guilty, and that be the end of it. Surely once the dude leaves office, he’s indictable through regular means? Or does Double Jeopardy apply?
posted by darkstar at 8:16 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


if Trump were Impeached by the House, then found Not Guilty by the Senate, does that actually remove all legal jeopardy?

No, it only pertains to his removal from office.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:19 AM on December 9 [17 favorites]


Pelosi has said there will be no impeachment process, and even if there was one the Republicans have control of the Senate.

Pelosi is, let's not forget, a savvy politician. That's what she said before the mid-term campaigns began—"I do not think that impeachment is a policy agenda" (CNN)—and that's what she said on the day of the election as the results were coming in—"I don't think there's any impeachment unless it's bipartisan." (CNBC). But a few days after the midterms, she started tacking to the new political winds: “What Mueller might not think is indictable could be impeachable.” (The Atlantic)

Since the new session of Congress hasn't even begun, there's no political reason for her to demand for Trump's impeachment right here, right now. Impeachment is a political process, but as they say, a week is a long time in politics, e.g. Mueller's week and a half of damning court filings. Expect more bad political weeks for Trump, once the House Dems start using their investigative power as a force multiplier for the SCO probe. The WaPo article that peedro linked to above shows cracks in Trump's GOP support on Capitol Hill already, even in the all-important Senate. The political balance for impeachment could very easily shift next year, possibly sooner than we imagine.

In the meantime, though, Pelosi still needs to feel the pressure from the electorate, ditto every incoming member of Congress. The Dem electorate and #Resistance must fire up the protest mechanisms that they put in place in late 2016/2017. resistbotought to update their Special Counsel script, but you can fax or call (202-224-3121) your Senators about Mueller and Bill Barr yourselves.

Star Wars: Individual 1, the opening crawl

Here's a full-blown video mock-up. After all, Star Wars had a political subtext from the beginning.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:24 AM on December 9 [27 favorites]


I'd like to see him impeached but if we can't have both, I'd trade impeachment for his conviction after leaving office and seeing everyone else involved exposed, punished, and have their future political lives permanently hobbled.

My biggest nightmare is for the Orange Menace's spawn or in-laws to resurface in a few years and start running for office.
posted by duoshao at 8:34 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Clinton was impeached by the House and not convicted by the Senate. If Trump experiences less, it's conclusive proof that the system is hopelessly broken.

I mean, if you don't have proof enough already I can't imagine what else you'd need.
posted by rikschell at 8:39 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


The WaPo article that peedro linked to above shows cracks in Trump's GOP support on Capitol Hill already, even in the all-important Senate. The political balance for impeachment could very easily shift next year, possibly sooner than we imagine.


I’ll believe it when I see it. The GOP primary electorate is a total Trump personality cult and these senators know it. Even if you get one or two there is no chance on earth that you’ll get the necessary numbers for removal from office, even if the pee tape comes out.
posted by moorooka at 8:52 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


[There is no part of this thread that will be better for a gun-control argument. Please don't. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:53 AM on December 9 [28 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker already answered this above (thank you), and here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Impeachment:
The trial is not an actual criminal proceeding and more closely resembles a civil service termination appeal in terms of the contemplated deprivation, therefore the removed official may still be liable to criminal prosecution under a subsequent criminal proceeding, which the Constitution specifically indicates. The President may not grant a pardon in the impeachment case, but may in any resulting Federal criminal case.[6]
posted by darkstar at 8:57 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


From The Mind of Reek:

Christie Says Prosecutors Have Evidence Trump Broke Law (Tweeter link only, sorry)

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) told ABC News that the language federal prosecutors are using to refer to President Trump in an indictment against Michael Cohen makes it sound as if they might have corroborating evidence that Trump violated campaign finance law.

Said Christie: “The language in the sentencing memo is different from what we’ve heard before. The only thing that would concern me if I was the president’s team this morning about this sentencing memo is the language.”

He added: “The language sounds very definite. And what I’d be concerned about is, what corroboration do they have?”


My guess is, if it exists, they've got it. As you know, Chris.
posted by petebest at 8:57 AM on December 9 [10 favorites]


The WaPo article that peedro linked to above shows cracks in Trump's GOP support on Capitol Hill already, even in the all-important Senate.

I agree with moorooka. An article that leads with "Trump is stepping into a political hailstorm," [emphasis mine] is not describing things seriously. The anchor tenant in that article is Steve Bannon, for crying out loud, and he's the only R who is even named in the first 500 words.
posted by rhizome at 9:08 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


As you know, Chris.

And as Rudy knows. These dudes should be losing their bar cards by now.
posted by rhizome at 9:10 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


pelosi made the statements about impeachment because she didn’t want the midterms to be a referendum on impeachment, which would have depressed turnout of centrist dems and goosed turnout for republicans.

remember, we here may have believed the russia allegations forever in trumpyears, but the most damning evidence most people have seen so far came out in the last two weeks.

pelosi’s calculation on impeachment is probably being re-evaluated on a daily basis at this point, and the new congress hasn’t even been seated.

keep your powder dry and your undies unbunched, y’all
posted by murphy slaw at 9:11 AM on December 9 [65 favorites]


I am one of those who thinks clear grounds for impeachment have existed since day one (emoluments) and that it's a good idea to keep using the word and normalizing the idea. I also agree that it was not a good midterm campaign message for Democrats. But now that the elections are over, let's all go back to talking about impeachment!

Long ago in these threads we collectively came up with a list of impeachable offenses. I've been updating it in a notepad file as more news comes out. So if you mention impeachment and someone asks why, here are some things you could mention...

-He is violating the emoluments clause, and as a result is receiving bribes from foreign powers.

- There is evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia to spread false propaganda, hack into state elections databases, and sabotage his political opponents by stealing and publishing their private communications.

- He's obstructed justice by firing and trying to intimidate the head of the FBI and others investigating Russian activity, and by dangling pardons to prevent testimony against him.

- He has fired the attorney general and installed a replacement who was never approved by the Senate, as the Constitution requires. Previously, he has politicized the Justice Dept by demanding investigations of rivals and castigating the attorney general for prosecuting members of his party

- He conspired to violate campaign finance laws with Michael Cohen.

- He has undermined our national security by leaking intelligence to Russian agents, refusing to take responsibility for military engagements, and neglecting diplomacy.

- He has no understanding of the Constitution and is unqualified to lead.

- He lies constantly and undermines trust in the US government.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:26 AM on December 9 [83 favorites]


There’s no way the Senate will convict given the post midterm GOP majority, which makes impeachment a fools errand. If Trump is impeached but not convicted he will feel vindicated and invincible and likely win re-election on a second wind of support. Right now impeaching Trump would work in his favor. And it would also likely go well into the 2020 election season, at which point the focus should be on winning the senate and the White House and preserving the majority. I just don’t see how impeachment plays well politically
posted by dis_integration at 9:40 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


dis_integration: I think that’s exactly the calculation being done by people like Pelosi, who have a lot more political savvy than the more vocal activist wing. Have tons of hearings, air as much dirty laundry as possible, establish that the rot is the entire party rather than just one person who wasn’t a mainstream figure before 2015 — that’s how you get the Congress and state governments rather than focusing on the presidency. That doesn’t rule out impeachment if something comes out which is clear enough that even Republicans will put country ahead of party but it focuses on the part which they can’t just back away from. If a bombshell comes out, you’d be able to see all of these guys backing away and saying that they had no idea. Showing how actively they were covering for him first makes that a lot harder.
posted by adamsc at 9:51 AM on December 9 [17 favorites]


in nixon's case, impeachment was impossible until the second it became inevitable.

trump is unprecentedly unpopular and the news gets worse for him on a daily basis. his party got trounced in the midterms. republican senators are already talking off the record about throwing him overboard if the russia news gets too hot.

never say never.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:54 AM on December 9 [40 favorites]


I think we need some more developments in the cases before his support truly starts falling off, which is absoutely required for impeachment to be possible. Don't worry, everybody's thinking it, but I think energy is better spent helping to chip off his support.
posted by rhizome at 9:55 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


ProPublica: Trump Jr. Invested in a Hydroponic Lettuce Company Whose Chair Was Seeking Trump Administration Funds

"The president’s eldest son last year became the most prominent shareholder in an indoor-lettuce farm while the company’s co-chairman, a friend of Donald Trump Jr.’s and presidential fundraiser, sought federal support for his other business interests. […] The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign. Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:13 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


I don't think impeachment will happen because anything that would budge Republicans would have to be such a crisis that impeachment wouldn't be fast enough and that the 25th amendment would be invoked instead.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:18 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


If Trump is impeached but not convicted he will feel vindicated and invincible and likely win re-election on a second wind of support.

And not impeaching him when he's clearly criminal and a traitor takes the wind out of the resistance. You can't worry about his base. They'll be fired up regardless; by impeachment, the threat of impeachment, racism, the wall, whatever bullshit he tells them. You have to motivate yours.
posted by chris24 at 10:19 AM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Atlantic: A Close Reading of the 235-Page Comey Transcript—The transcript from Friday’s closed-door hearing was made public late Saturday, and it confirms that Mueller is pursuing a possible obstruction-of-justice case against the president.

While Comey is, as usual, no less concerned with preserving the reputation of the FBI (and his own) than with revisiting the various critical investigations he oversaw in 2016, here are a couple of key moments and some new information in the transcript:

—Mueller’s Inquiry Covers Possible Obstruction of Justice by President Donald Trump
First: the FBI official accompanying Comey and her confirmation that Mueller’s inquiry covers possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. […] The FBI official, Cecilia Bessee, interrupted [Trey] Gowdy: “Mr. Chairman, to the extent that question goes—again, goes to the special counsel's investigation into obstruction, the witness will not be able to answer.”
—Comey Disputed Trump’s Contention That Mueller and Comey Are Best Friends: ‘I Admire the Heck Out of the Man … We’re Not Friends’
The former FBI director reserved his harshest criticism for Trump’s portrayal of the bureau and the Justice Department as a politicized mess. “Those kind of lies hurt the ability of the FBI to be believed at a doorway or in a courtroom. That makes all of us less safe,” Comey told one Democrat. “I think the relentless attacks on the institutions of justice are something we will all be sorry if we stood silent and watched that happened,” he told another. “... when you run them down for political reasons, you may see a short-term gain; you see a long-term damage to our country and its security.” Or, as he told a third, “I think we have become numb to lying and attacks on the rule of law by the president.”
Comey's testimony was enough to set off @realDonaldTrump this morning on Twitter: "On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) - didn’t know who signed off and didn’t know Christopher Steele. All lies!" and "Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!"
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:29 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Chris Christie added: “The language sounds very definite. And what I’d be concerned about is, what corroboration do they have?”

The corroboration is from David Pecker, CEO of National Enquirer who made the payoff to Karen McDougal on behalf of Trump. Supposedly there is direct testimony of Trump asking Pecker for assistance on this issue to help his campaign. That would be confirmation of conspiracy to commit campaign fraud -- from two witnesses, Cohen and Pecker.
posted by JackFlash at 10:38 AM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Jerrold Nadler incoming chair of the House judiciary - Trump 'at center of massive fraud against Americans'
posted by adamvasco at 10:41 AM on December 9 [41 favorites]


Jerrold Nadler incoming chair of the House judiciary - Trump 'at center of massive fraud against Americans'

This is what I want to hear. I’m not bothered about impeachment as much as I am getting rid of all the fruit of the poisoned tree. Every. Last. One.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:04 AM on December 9 [26 favorites]


That article about Donald Trump Jr. investing in a hydroponic lettuce operation is interesting. Because, believe it or not, Steve Bannon used to be in charge of Biosphere 2. And his brother Chris is still in a supervisory role in the science department at the UofA, which has a big hydroponic lettuce program that still involves Biosphere 2.

Chris Bannon lists his employers as the University of Arizona and Bannon Enterprises.

Maybe I've been conditioned to look for grift in every single thing these people do, but I'd be shocked if there wasn't a connection between Bannon Enterprises and Eden Green Technologies.
posted by MrVisible at 11:10 AM on December 9 [16 favorites]


We already know Cohen recorded conversations on his phone.
posted by notyou at 11:10 AM on December 9


Er, in regard to corroboration, we know that Cohen made recordings.
posted by notyou at 11:12 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


"Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!"

When I see him tweeting crap like this, and the one about how the Cohen sentencing report “exonerates” him, and I know that around half the country believes whatever he says, it scares the crap out of me. Could someone please reassure me again that there are still facts and truth still matters? Please?
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:13 AM on December 9 [9 favorites]


When Nixon was impeached, it was after rounds and rounds of real investigations, and his crimes were finally out in public, and crucially, took hold in the public concious through daily revelations in open hearings. Go listen to Slow Burn if you haven't, particularly the episodes on just how much the Watergate hearings had to have captured the zietgeist before impeachment was possible. The first Watergate hearings failed, due in large part to Nixon's (and Gerald Ford's!) deliberate interference. Just like now the Republican "investigations" have been deliberately sabotaged. It wasn't until later that the scandal finally became nightly news, setting the political stage for ultimate impeachment.

Democrats haven't been able to make that case yet. They won't have the power to do so until January. They must make the case, but it'll take work to build it up through public hearings until hopefully something will finally flip, like it did for Watergate. The best thing to do is to do the real oversight that Republicans have stonewalled. In public. Make clear the extent of Trump, and Republican's, crimes. Force the Russia stuff into daily conversation like Watergate was. That's how we get from few people reading the Mueller indictments, to everyone not in a MAGAhat turning on Republicans once their true treason is undeniable.

If Pelosi and Democrats don't build that case, that's when we riot. But they haven't had the space or power to do it until now.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:19 AM on December 9 [56 favorites]


When Nixon was impeached,...

PEDANTRY ALERT: Nixon was never impeached. He resigned before he most assuredly would have been impeached and convicted.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:38 AM on December 9 [21 favorites]


When I see him tweeting crap like this,

a few days back, I read a piece by a "communications expert" who suggested a simple and effective tactic that journalists could use for dealing with bullshit artists of all stripes.

A. don't ever quote them at face value; they've already proven unworthy of having that privilege

B. always precede any quote with something like, Donald J. Trump, a man who has been repeatedly caught out in lies, said [insert quote here]

In other words, don't let the bullshitter deal the first card. If you do, you're letting him set the tone. The journalist's job is to remind us that there is no fresh tone to be set. This is a long, dirty game and we're already deep into it.
posted by philip-random at 11:38 AM on December 9 [66 favorites]


Here's the Nadler video from @CNN: "If accusations that President Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush payments to women who had alleged affairs with Trump prove to be true, Rep. Jerry Nadler says those actions would be impeachable offenses" https://cnn.it/2RHRyFj

Democrats haven't been able to make that case yet. They won't have the power to do so until January.

Here's Nadler laying the groundwork for that case until the new Congress is in session:
Jake Tapper: If it is proven that the president directed or coordinated with Cohen to commit these felonies […] are those impeachable offenses?

Jerry Nadler: Well, they would be impeachable offenses. Whether they are important enough to justify impeachment is a different question, but certainly they’d be impeachable offenses because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. That would be an impeachable offense. The fact of the matter is that what we see from these indictments and charging statements is a much broader conspiracy against the American people[…].

All of these have to be looked at very seriously by the Congress, by the Special Counsel, and by the Justice Department to see what actions we should then take. And what is clear also is that the Republican Congress absolutely tried to shield the President. The new Congress will not try to shield the President. It will try to get to the bottom of this in order to serve the American people and stop this massive fraud on the American people.
Full YT video
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:46 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


I agree with the central point of your comment that Stormy Daniels is a heroine

Speaking of Stormy and her habit of not taking any shit: Stormy Daniels canceled an appearance over a homophobic slur against her assistant
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on December 9 [33 favorites]


Adam Curtis, of HyperNormalisation fame, did an interesting interview with The Economist. I'm going to quote two paragraphs that jumped out to me as striking, though I don't entirely agree with them, with the full disclosure that the two paragraphs that follow in the article are increasingly rage-inducing that we don't need to all rebut in the thread:
No one is really sure what Trump represents. My working theory is that he’s part of the pantomime-isation of politics. Every morning Donald Trump wakes up in the White House, he tweets something absolutely outrageous which he knows the liberals will get upset by, the liberals read his tweets and go “This is terrible, this is outrageous,” and then tell each other via social media how terrible it all is. It becomes a feedback loop in which they are locked together. In my mind, it’s like they’re together in a theatre watching a pantomime villain. The pantomime villain comes forward into the light, looks at them and says something terrible, and they go “Boo!!”. Meanwhile, outside the theatre, real power is carrying on but no one is really analysing it.

This is the problem with a lot of journalism, especially liberal journalism at the moment. It’s locked together with those people in the theatre. If you look at the New York Times, for example, it’s continually about that feedback loop between what Trump has said and the reaction of liberal elements in the society. It’s led to a great narrowing of journalism. So in a way, he is part of the hypernormal situation because it’s a politics of pantomime locked together with its critics. And it becomes a perpetual, infernal motion system, which is a distraction. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a distraction from what’s really happening in the world. I would argue that there is a sense—in a lot of liberal journalism—of unreality. They’re locked into describing the pantomime politics and they’re not looking to what Mr Michael Pence is really up to, and what’s really happening outside the theatre.
----

One of those things that's happening: Atlantic, The U.S. Is Paying More Than It Bargained for in the Yemen War, in which it turns out we really are paying for the mid-air refueling we've been providing to the Saudis in Yemen due to "errors in accounting where DoD failed to charge the SLC adequately for fuel and refueling services."

----

@sam_rosenfeld: Reminder: the next WH chief of staff has made tens of millions of dollars on almost comically parasitical political consulting/grifting ventures

From NYT a couple of weeks ago, Nick Ayers Is Rising Fast in Trump’s Washington. How Far Will He Go?
After the embarrassment of the Pawlenty campaign, Mr. Ayers made an effort to lower his profile, his allies say, while trying his hand at entrepreneurship. He was an early investor and a board member of a company called Media Group of America, which was established in 2013 and quickly made waves on the right with two successful subsidiaries — a popular conservative website called Independent Journal Review, and a digital advertising firm called imge.

Mr. Ayers also started his own firm, C5 Creative Consulting. He built a brisk business advising Fortune 500 corporations like Coca-Cola and Aflac, as well as political candidates and committees, including nonprofit money groups that backed politicians who were his clients, and have become the subjects of recent complaints and investigations.

The venture that perhaps best epitomized Mr. Ayers’s ambition — and the backlash to it — was a company called Advance Media Capital. Mr. Ayers and his associates created it in July 2015 mostly to purchase large chunks of television airtime in swing states months before the 2016 election. The company planned to package the airtime with targeting data and sell it to deep-pocketed political committees, including “super PACs,” at higher rates closer to Election Day, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with people involved in the effort.
----

@lrozen [cleaned up]:
Can’t quite diagram the paradigm. But with David Pecker & perhaps Putin, the favor they offered Trump was not just to bury the dirt on him but to weaponize the dirt they had on his rivals. Think the Cohen case makes explicit that Trump was affirmatively read in/directing that the essentially political blackmail part of Cohen MO/business model, that function he served for Trump....(see the Broidy case)... Does it suggest that it was not just about protecting Trump, but giving Trump dirt on others he could use to threaten, control or expose them?

This piece has sat in my lizard brain. short take, Cohen got dirt on Falwell jr to get evangelicals to back Trump. (piece diplomatically suggests both Falwell jr & wife had tryst w Florida pool guy & Cohen used that dirt to press JFjr to endorse Trump). Cohen appearing to help Broidy compensate playboy model who alleged had terminated Broidy baby, seems in same spirit of coercion. and whatever Cohen was doing for Hannity? Is Hannity really consulting him for real estate advice?... or is “real state” advice the “adoptions” of that engagement

In a series of later-deleted tweets, Rozen went on to wonder about Cohen's work for Broidy and Hannity as well. There are a lot more threads to pull about Cohen's actions during the campaign and the National Enquirer's literal safe of Trump stories.
posted by zachlipton at 12:01 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


I imagine we'll start to see impeachment talk from D Representatives, but like Nadler, from the margins. This is still "Rep. Never-heard-of-him on a Sunday show" territory, stuff the solid partisans agree with but on which no action will be taken. Maybe take it as a statement of party attitude.

When the first Senator chimes up like this, then I'll notice.

I know that around half the country believes whatever he says, it scares the crap out of me. Could someone please reassure me again that there are still facts and truth still matters? Please?

Just because there are only two viable parties doesn't mean half of the US follows FoxNews. It might help to consider "the center," the Overton Window, is a euphemism for "the easily swayed." I think Republican support among the citizenry is much, much softer than is portrayed. They're not all Bundy Pizzagaters by a long shot.
posted by rhizome at 12:04 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]




There are the MAGAhats and then there are the huge swathes of the population who simply don’t give a shit and perceive the Russia stuff as Lewinsky-grade background noise with no relevance to their daily lives. The geographical distribution of this population and the small state gerrymander baked into the constitution means that no matter what crimes are uncovered, this scandal will never lead to the necessary two-thirds supermajority of senators requires to remove Trump from office. It is completely impossible, either before 2020 or after.

For the foreseeable future the Republican Party has a structural advantage that gives near total impunity to any President commanding sufficient loyalty from its angry white base, cemented by conservative control of the judicial branch in a self-reinforcing cycle. Trump’s impossible removal from office is a wet dream and a distraction from the real problem: the US constitution and how it has created the conditions for a permanent minority control of the institutions of government.
posted by moorooka at 12:14 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


Voting rights news.

First, NC-9. NYT, with the clearest evidence that Dowless cast ballots illegally, North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much [my god that's a horrible headline to describe an article that describes straight-up crimes]:
Kirby Wright, 47, and his mother, Doris Lee Hammonds, 77, recall that a women they recognized as Ms. Eason came to their home one night to pick up their absentee ballots.

The pair had thick envelopes containing their absentee ballots but never filled them out. When Ms. Eason came by, she said she needed them.

“I told her I was going to throw it away,” Mr. Wright said in an interview. “It was blank. She said, ‘No, I’ve got to pick up all the empty ballots.’” Ms. Eason could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Wright said he isn’t sure what happened to the ballot designated for his mother, who is bedridden. It might have been thrown in the trash, he said. But state records show Ms. Hammonds cast an absentee ballot by mail. Ms. Hammonds, also interviewed, said she never filled it out or signed the absentee ballot at all.
There's also a strange detail that the Democratic vice-chair of the Bladen County Board of Elections started a consulting business with Dowless in 2014. The vice-chair said he only did it as "a kind of sleuthing operation to root out the unethical tactics he thought Mr. Dowless employed," and then he promptly resigned from the elections board after the Times called to ask about this. So that's all rather suspicious.

----

Mother Jones, Florida Voted to Give Ex-Felons the Franchise. Now Republicans Are Throwing a Wrench in That Process.
A month after Florida voters approved a measure to restore the franchise to about 1.4 million former felons—the largest expansion of voting rights in decades—a battle over implementing that change is already beginning.

The state’s Republican elections chief is resisting swift implementation of the measure, which was approved by nearly 65 percent of Florida voters on November 6 and is scheduled to take effect on January 8. He’s asking the state Legislature, dominated by Republicans, to interpret the ballot initiative. As a result, the dismantling of one of the harshest disenfranchisement schemes in the country could be subject to delays, confusion, and lawsuits.
As the Tampa Bay Times reports, this could get dangerous:
A possible hitch: the official state voter registration form does not specifically ask applicants if they have completed all terms of their sentences, including probation and restitution, as Amendment 4 specifically requires.

The voter form has a box with this statement: "I affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored."
...
Monroe County Supervisor Joyce Griffin in the Florida Keys said she worries that some felons may check the box without realizing they have not yet completed all terms of their sentence, which could lead to yet another felony conviction. "We're setting people up. I'm frightful for those people," Griffin said.
----

Daniel @Taniel Nichanian, In the Wake of Amendment 4: Spotlight on Disenfranchisement in Kentucky, with a number you just have to keep reading to yourself until it really sinks in:
Kentucky also stands far and above all other states in terms of excluding African Americans. 26 percent of Black adults were deprived of the right to vote in 2016, according to the Sentencing Project. This colossal racial disparity is tied to Kentucky’s unequal justice system, documented in this article by Ashley Spalding for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP). One manifestation is in charging decisions. According to the state’s Department of Public Advocacy, a majority of juveniles charged with misdemeanor theft in 2016 were white; a majority of those charged with felony robbery were African American.

The latter charge comes with a lifetime ban on voting, but not the former.
posted by zachlipton at 12:20 PM on December 9 [33 favorites]


There are the MAGAhats and then there are the huge swathes of the population who simply don’t give a shit and perceive the Russia stuff as Lewinsky-grade background noise with no relevance to their daily lives.

The Trump Slump, however, will absolutely affect their daily lives. The Dems should try to frame the issue so that they understand that Trump's self-enrichment is part of the rightwing economic sabotage that's about to screw them over. (They won't convince many, they just have to convince enough.)

Whether or not the MAGA-hats are aware of it now, Trump has long believed in his own brand of disaster capitalism (2/10/14):

“You know what solves [the GOP 2014 midterm campaign]? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.

Emphasis added, because just as we can see a glimmer of MAGA in Trump's conversation, we now know that in 2014 Cambridge Analytical was testing assorted Trump campaign buzzwords and phrases.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:53 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


@sam_rosenfeld: Reminder: the next WH chief of staff has made tens of millions of dollars on almost comically parasitical political consulting/grifting ventures

From NYT a couple of weeks ago, Nick Ayers Is Rising Fast in Trump’s Washington. How Far Will He Go?


Update: turns out the grifter is too smart for this game and will be moving to a position with more grift involved:

@maggieNYT: Confirmed, Ayers told Trump he won’t take the chief of staff role. He’s still leaving the administration and is likely to have a role with the super PAC backing Trump.

The problem with having some of the most important jobs in the government being ones that nobody in their right mind would take is that some the most important jobs in the government will all be held by people not in their right minds.
posted by zachlipton at 1:15 PM on December 9 [44 favorites]


@maggieNYT: Confirmed, Ayers told Trump he won’t take the chief of staff role. He’s still leaving the administration and is likely to have a role with the super PAC backing Trump.

Sources confirm this to @WSJ Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers won’t be the next White House Staff Chief—President Trump, Pence’s chief of staff unable to agree on time frame for job. "It was unclear on Sunday who would succeed John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s current chief of staff, who is leaving the job this month. White House officials familiar with the planning said it was unclear whether the next staff chief would come from inside or outside the administration."

As usual, it's hard to tell whether this is the Trump Administration's incompetence at work, or if it's just more reality show–style intrigue for the new season of The Apprentice: the White House.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:21 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


I am so done with "X horrible thing is an impeachable offense!" clickbait articles.

In a sane world, or a world with a Democrat in office, "fired the head of the FBI and mumbled something about an investigation being a nuisance" would've been impeachable. Just saying, "the FBI should investigate the person who ran against me" would've been impeachable. Hell, reaffirming many of his campaign statements would've been impeachable. There is literally no end to Trump's "impeachable" offenses.

I want lists of criminal offenses, not "impeachable" ones. I want Mueller to hand over his info about the Trump Foundation's tax shenanigans to the state of New York; I want every state where he does business to review their bribery laws; I want him convicted for employment fraud, for hiring the undocumented immigrants he tries to have killed when they're not working for him, for not paying wages, for embezzlement.

I want them to throw the book at him - all the books - and I don't care if they bargain him down to six months in prison for charges that would be eighty years for anyone else, as long as he has to spend some time behind bars.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:29 PM on December 9 [55 favorites]


I think Trump gets impeached for certain (but may well not be convicted). There are two scenarios:

1) Once a real investigation in the House proves collusion, and/or several top Trumpies are indicted or plead guilty, craven Republicans turn against him and there truly is bipartisan support to boot him from office. Pelosi accelerates the process so there's enough time to convict in the Senate.

2) Republicans keep defending Trump. Investigations tie as many Republicans as possible into the growing quagmire, and Pelosi schedules impeachment to run all summer of 2020, culminating in impeachment around, oh, say Labor Day.

Republicans stall out conviction process, and CONVICT TRUMP is half the news cycle. The other half is younger Democrats saying "Trump whatever, we need to fix America, here's my plan."

Remember that most Americans are vague on the difference between impeachment and conviction. Saying that "Trump was impeached" will carry real weight with low information voters.
posted by msalt at 1:40 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Axios is reporting that Trump is seriously considering Mark Meadows (R - NC11) for the Chief of Staff position. On the one hand I really want to see this asshole out of office. On the other hand I have no idea why Trump thinks he would make a good Chief of Staff except for the fact that he is a shameless toady. Which, I suppose, answers the question.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Axios is reporting that Trump is seriously considering Mark Meadows (R - NC11) for the Chief of Staff position. On the one hand I really want to see this asshole out of office.

ooh, ooh, let's somehow plant the idea that he should appoint mitch mcconnell
posted by murphy slaw at 1:46 PM on December 9 [42 favorites]


The WaPo has assembled an extensive list of Russian attempts to court the Trump campaign/family/business before he took office: Russians Interacted With At Least 14 Trump Associates During the Campaign and Transition
Some offered to help his campaign and his real estate business. Some offered dirt on his Democratic opponent. Repeatedly, Russian nationals suggested Trump should hold a peacemaking sit-down with Vladi­mir Putin — and offered to broker such a summit.

In all, Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and presidential transition, public records and interviews show.[…]

The number of known interactions has grown since last year, when The Washington Post tallied that at least nine Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition.
“It is extremely unusual,” former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told the WaPo. “Both the number of contacts and the nature of the contacts are extraordinary.” Which is an understatement.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:55 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


The journalist's job is to remind us that there is no fresh tone to be set. This is a long, dirty game and we're already deep into it.

The major problem is corporate news in the US distinctly see this as NOT their job. They really, really believe that their job is to repeat, verbatim, whatever Republicans say, and whatever Democrats say in opposition, because to do anything else risks Republicans attacking them as *THE WORST THING THAT IS POSSIBLE TO BE*, liberal.

Just stating the objective fact that Trump is lying about what a document says violates their prime directive to always put each party on exactly the same footing regardless of the underlying evidence.

And that's the position of neutral outlets like the AP and Reuters, before we even get to the insidious and deliberately concealed Trump support of CNN or large segments of the NYT.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:46 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


yes, journalism is at fault right now, and they need to have a reckoning.
Here at my job we will have an influential Washington reporter for a talk on Tuesday, but I've chickened out and scheduled my therapy right then (personal reasons). How can I inspire the students to ask good questions?
I guess a huge problem is the failure to acknowledge that there are not two sides: one side is not accepting facts/reality.
posted by mumimor at 2:52 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Trump 2020 Shaping Up to Be a Campaign to Stay Out of Prison (Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer
In 2016, Donald Trump claimed that America’s presidential election would determine nothing less than whether a proven criminal would be sent to jail — or the Oval Office. In 2020, that might actually be the case.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:00 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


ooh, ooh, let's somehow plant the idea that he should appoint mitch mcconnell

Alas, McConnell is too smart to want it even if it were offered, which it won't be.

For Meadows, OTOH, I can see how this looks like a step up, except for the part where the building he's stepping into is on fire and he has to dodge around the flaming bodies of other occupants falling from upper stories to even get to the door. As the spokesman for a significant radical subcaucus in the majority party he ended up having an outsize voice because nothing happened without his help. In the new legislative session, he's going to be speaking for a small, irritating subgroup of the minority party and nobody is going to care what he thinks.
posted by jackbishop at 3:08 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]




I don't know if any statutes of limitation even apply so this may be moot, but if the SCO or other prosecutors want to indict Cheeto but decide to abide by the custom of not indicting a sitting president is there a way for them to avoid the statute of limitations running out while he's in office?
posted by duoshao at 3:57 PM on December 9


is there a way for them to avoid the statute of limitations running out

What is a limitation if one could avoid them.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:58 PM on December 9


is there a way for them to avoid the statute of limitations running out

What is a limitation if one could avoid them.


It depends on the crime being charged. If there's an ongoing criminal conspiracy to commit crimes or obstruct justice then the clock never starts. Since the entire point of the Trump presidency now is to avoid going to jail and obstruct justice it seems like it's not something we have to worry about.
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:03 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


IANAL, but maybe?
posted by bcd at 4:03 PM on December 9



is there a way for them to avoid the statute of limitations running out

What is a limitation if one could avoid them.

Various law-tweeters were hand wringing about it this morning following the NYTimes article.
posted by pjenks at 4:07 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Looks like the statute of limitations will be no problem at all! From bcd's link:

Although grounds for tolling the statute of limitations vary by jurisdiction, common grounds include:
...
...
The plaintiff has been deemed mentally incompetent.

posted by duoshao at 4:09 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


I shouldn't be trusted to follow all of the law-twitter arguments above, but it seems like it boils down to:
The DOJ is going to have to toll the statute of limitations, or else their existing policy to not indict a president would be ridiculous.
Which, to me, sounds a lot like relying on logic and norms.
posted by pjenks at 4:12 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Another possible trigger is The defendant is not physically present in a state. No wonder he keeps going back to New York...
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:15 PM on December 9


DOJ can't unilaterally toll a SoL, they'd have to make an equitable tolling argument before a judge if the statute doesn't explicitly contain an applicable tolling provision. Which could be appealed to the Kavanaugh Court.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:16 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


The DOJ is going to have to toll the statute of limitations, or else their existing policy to not indict a president would be ridiculous.

Spoiler: Their existing policy is ridiculous.

The President should be indicted. DOJ should not be unilaterally making that call given that the President chooses the head of DOJ. No one can be their own judge and jury.
posted by Justinian at 4:26 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Indicting a president is stupid because the justice department answers to the president. There is no way anyone would buy that the result of such a prosecution is fair and untainted by corruption or obstruction, nor should they, because it wouldn't be. We can't expect federal prosecutors to prosecute their own boss WHILE he remains their boss. It is nonsense.

A state AG could maybe do it. But if he were convicted, what then? He fulfills the duties of office from prison?

Impeachment has to come first.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:32 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


No one SHOULD be their own judge and jury. Whether one can or not is kind of what this whole process will decide,
posted by rikschell at 4:32 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Why not have him fulfill his duties from prison?

There's nothing in Constitutional Law saying a president can't be indicted, and a DOJ guideline is just that, a guideline. Guidelines by their definition apply to most but not all circumstances. What are we in if not an extraordinary circumstance? Why should the president be protected from being indicted? This isn't the norm for other world leaders. If he can't be indicted, then he really is above the law.
posted by xammerboy at 4:36 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


the DOJ guidance on indicting a sitting president is only rendered ridiculous in our current circumstance, where it is obvious that the sitting president is guilty of multiple violations of the law and the constitution, and yet the congress is unwilling to investigate and the senate is unwilling to act on the results of any investigation.

in a saner world, it wouldn't matter that you couldn't indict the president, because nobody for whom you could file a reasonable indictment would remain president for long enough for it to matter.

sadly, that's not where we live now.
posted by murphy slaw at 4:45 PM on December 9 [37 favorites]


Why not have him fulfill his duties from prison?

Because his duties include meeting with foreign heads of state, negotiating treaties, and being commander in chief of the armed forces, including formulating an urgent response to emergencies like an attack on the US? Meeting with cabinet heads and setting policy for every executive agency in the US?

I mean basically just meetings all day. You can't DO that in prison. If you can, it's not really prison, because people are going in and out all the time.

People (including Trump) thinking that the office of the President is some kind of ceremonial position, "official celebrity spokesperson for the US," is what got Trump elected.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:46 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


I mean basically just meetings all day. You can't DO that in prison.

Which would make him incapacitated and unable to fulfill his duties, and thus subject to the 25th Amendment.

I agree that impeachment is the most reasonable course but it being the most reasonable course doesn't therefore make indictment unconstitutional.
posted by Justinian at 4:50 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


@mikememoli:
Happening now: @NicolleDWallace interviews @Comey at @92Y

Is @realDonaldTrump an un-indicted co-conspirator?
Comey: "If he’s not there he’s certainly close."


. @NicolleDWallace: What would be happening to someone like Trump if he wasn't president.
@Comey: That person would be in serious jeopardy of being charged. The government wouldn’t make that sponsoring allegation if they weren’t seriously considering going forward.
@qjurecic: I feel like we could all use a reminder of how completely bonkers this is
posted by zachlipton at 4:54 PM on December 9 [44 favorites]


I mean basically just meetings all day. You can't DO that in prison.

From now on we refer to prison as "Extended Executive Time."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:01 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


The OLC opinion saying you can't indict a president is bullshit. It's not in the constitution. It's advisory guidance to the executive, made by people beholden to the president in the Watergate era. The entire OLC should be abolished. Their only purpose is to invent rationale justifying whatever illegal actions the president wants to take. Torture, drone killings, treasonous collusion, all endorsed by the OLC.

There's no barrier to prosecuting a sitting president other than that invented by past presidents to thwart their own prosecution, which we're for some reason pretending is constitutionally binding.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:01 PM on December 9 [52 favorites]


Why not have him fulfill his duties from prison?

As a big fan of telecommuting, I love this idea.
posted by condour75 at 5:02 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


The first Skype president.
posted by vverse23 at 5:05 PM on December 9


Orange Is The New Black.
posted by darkstar at 5:06 PM on December 9 [35 favorites]


The major problem is corporate news in the US distinctly see this as NOT their job. They really, really believe that their job is to repeat, verbatim, whatever Republicans say, and whatever Democrats say in opposition...
This would honestly be a significant improvement for, at least, NPR. Their standard practice is to uncritically broadcast Trump's lies ("Totally clears the President!"), offer a slightly more cogent defense as a purported paraphrase ("He hasn't been convicted yet."), and then select a maximally feckless criticism as representative of the Democratic viewpoint.
posted by LarsC at 5:07 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


I mean basically just meetings all day. You can't DO that in prison.

I think you could, and I even think Trump's effectiveness might improve, but I get your point. However, the court could find him guilty and just sentence him to being chaperoned. They don't have to throw him in prison.

I would be pretty happy with him just being found guilty and sentenced to wearing only orange jumpsuits at all times, mandatory morning yoga, a t.v. locked onto PBS, and a diet approved by Michelle Obama. :-)
posted by xammerboy at 5:12 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


There's nothing in Constitutional Law saying a president can't be indicted, and a DOJ guideline is just that, a guideline.

Absolutely. James Comey ignored every DOJ guideline in the book when he interfered in the election -- twice, so as to put Trump in office. Seems that DOJ guidelines are malleable.
posted by JackFlash at 5:18 PM on December 9 [22 favorites]




Sure the DOJ could ignore (or rescind) the memo and indict. Then it would go to the courts and who knows what would happen? How such a court proceeding would, um, proceed is unclear. For instance would the executive branch have a coherent position? Who would be the parties? It's a mess.

Where this needs to go is that the results of the investigation, whether in the form of "novelistic" indictments or an actual report, go to congress which then initiates its own investigations and then impeaches (and convicts) or not.

I mean, yeah, I would like something simpler and more certain than that but what else is there, really?
posted by sjswitzer at 5:40 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


No one SHOULD be their own judge and jury.

Nobody can disapprove of Trump's Exec Kushner though.
posted by srboisvert at 5:45 PM on December 9


Who would be the parties?

The United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump.
posted by mikelieman at 6:07 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Jennifer Rubin: Trump Will Resign 10 Minutes Before End Of Term So Mike Pence Can Pardon Him

Good thing he's never committed any state crimes.
posted by chris24 at 6:17 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


jackbishop: "Alas, McConnell is too smart to want it even if it were offered, which it won't be."

Besides he obviously has way more power where he is. Mitch is going to die in office.

OnceUponATime: "I mean basically just meetings all day. You can't DO that in prison. If you can, it's not really prison, because people are going in and out all the time.
"

I disagree. Making the Cheeto sleep on a steel bunk, pee in a stainless toilet in view of his roommate (lots of co-conspirators to choose from), and prevent him from going golfing 100 hours a week would be a very good prison. You could construct such a "prison" within weeks right in the Whitehouse. People he needs to see could come to him and he could get the occasional restricted (so no golfing etc.) weekend pass for those few international meetings he absosmurfly has to go to.

Or you know, simple house arrest with an ankle bracelet in a subset of the Whitehouse for something less punitive but still a serious punishment.

If congress think that makes him a laughing stock among the countries of the world and therefor damaging to the USA/their Grift they can impeach him.
posted by Mitheral at 6:19 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Why not have him fulfill his duties from prison?

There's nothing in Constitutional Law saying a president can't be indicted


Air Bud 6: Bigly
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:22 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Who would be the parties?

The United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump.


In states with elected AG offices and split party AG/Governors, the AG has sued the Governor countless times and democracy hasn't fallen. In the federal system, the president picks the USAG, but the oath is to the people, not the president personally. It's an artifact of our 17th century monarchical constitution that the president can remove the AG at all. The same practice could and should extend to a criminal context, the only reason it doesn't is the president's ability to remove the AG, and the current congressional immunity by Republican majority in the Senate.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:23 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


One of the major precursors to the rot of the last 30 years was the inability to put white collar criminals in office. There may be only 1-2% of the population that are sociopaths/pathologically greedy but prison is really the only deterrent for them. Fines to companies don't do anything. Trump is the Grifter King who promises that every small time crook can make it bigly and never see any consequences. We need to break that idea in half and throw the pieces in a fire. I would pay another 5% in taxes if I could ensure it would towards prosecuting white collar and corporate crime. White collar criminals are the ones who are the loudest advocates for prosecuting low level crime since they can use racism to distract from their own grift.
posted by benzenedream at 6:33 PM on December 9 [52 favorites]


Why not have him fulfill his duties from prison?

The 25th Amendment only discusses the case when a president is unable to fulfill his duties, never discussing WHY such a situation could arise.

If prison renders him unable, invoke the 25th.
posted by ocschwar at 6:39 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


So, to summarize the zeitgeist. We have a robust plan of succession, so let justice be done though the heavens fall.
posted by mikelieman at 6:43 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


@nancook NEW: A source close to Mulvaney tells me he is no longer interested in COS job, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sending out same signals.... list of potential replacements for Kelly shrinking by the hour.

@chick_in_kiev Jacob Wohl ... only answer
posted by pjenks at 6:43 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


Arguably, he couldn't be doing worse than he is out of prison.
posted by Marticus at 6:44 PM on December 9




One of the major precursors to the rot of the last 30 years was the inability to put white collar criminals in office.

i know what you meant but this freudian slip is delicious
posted by murphy slaw at 6:49 PM on December 9 [54 favorites]


That Dallas News story about Mitch McConnell is a year old. Blavatnik is an American and his donations were to PACs rather than directly to candidates, so there's nothing illegal about what is reported in that story. Though of course it does make you wonder... So far there's been no follow up that I know of...
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:51 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


Ooops sorry about old Mitch above ^
Here's a NEW CNN interview with Carl Bernstein
posted by growabrain at 6:59 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


A source close to Mulvaney tells me he is no longer interested in COS job, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sending out same signals.... list of potential replacements for Kelly shrinking by the hour.

It's Catch-22. Anyone who says they want the job has just demonstrated that they are too stupid to do the job.
posted by JackFlash at 7:02 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


I think the 25th Amendment neatly answers both "the president's job is too special/demanding" and "the president can't be in charge of their own prosecution". Just un-president them for a while, give the Vice President something to do for a change, and you're good to go.
posted by Jpfed at 7:07 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Jennifer Rubin: Trump Will Resign 10 Minutes Before End Of Term So Mike Pence Can Pardon Him

President Pence: "Actually, you were always a dick to me. Let justice reign!"
posted by msalt at 7:12 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


The Dallas News Blavatnik story has shown up in other variations, apparently he donated to Rubio as well. And some follow up on him cropped up recently when the remaining founder of the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative resigned after learning that Blavatnik had donated $50,000 to the group (NYT story).

Blavatnik is really in the gray area between Russian Oligarch and normal CEO. He currently owns Warner Music and has been cleaning his image by making philanthropic donations to Harvard, Cambridge, etc. and has also been US citizen since the 80s. But on the flip side he also made most of his money during the sketchy privatization of the former Soviet oil and energy groups, and was business partners with Viktor Vekselberg, Oleg Deripaska, etc.

I'm curious to see how the mounting backlash against Russian oligarchs will treat people like Blavatnik who are 1 step removed from the worst players and are making efforts to be seen as philanthropists but still have a lot of shady connections and a dark history to their wealth.
posted by p3t3 at 7:22 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


Trump lashes out at everyone. The fact that he hasn’t lashed out at Pence in 2 years is a telling sign that he absolutely needs something from him. And that pardon is a pretty compelling reason.
posted by greermahoney at 8:02 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


I'm curious to see how the mounting backlash against Russian oligarchs will treat people like Blavatnik who are 1 step removed from the worst players and are making efforts to be seen as philanthropists but still have a lot of shady connections and a dark history to their wealth.

Yeah, the philosophical argument about where someone sits (or sat) on the Russian oligarch spectrum runs somewhat perpendicular to the political one: e.g. Berezovsky, Abramovich, Deripaska, Rybolovlev. (That's also aside from how many American 0.0001%ers are beneficiaries of similar accumulation of public assets and wealth.)

In that context, I think what was pitched to the Family Business was the chance to become real oligarchs like the Agalarovs instead of pretend ones scrubbing a million here and a million there from infomercial scams to keep everything from collapsing.
posted by holgate at 9:51 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Corsi and Klayman are literally making a federal case of it, Politcio reports: Conspiracy theorist sues Mueller alleging illegal leaks and surveillance. "Jerome Corsi’s new suit against Mueller also accuses the special prosecutor of trying to badger Corsi into giving false testimony that he served as a conduit between Wikileaks found Julian Assange and Roger Stone[….] Corsi is demanding $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages for injury to his reputation."

Meanwhile, Trump has been bunkered down at the White House, with a travel/photo lid today and no public events on his calendar for tomorrow—except for lunch with Pence.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:07 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Robby Mook, The sad truth about Russian election interference
We knew all of this at the Democratic National Convention. And yet when I and other members of the campaign repeated that Russia was responsible for the hack and was doing this to help Donald Trump, many in the press seemed skeptical, treating the assertion as mere spin. A lot of people appeared to believe that the idea of Russia helping Trump was far-fetched. Even some of our staunchest supporters seemed to think I might have lost my marbles.
...
Obviously, much more evidence about Russia’s interference has come out since 2016. But I’m not sure we’ve learned the bigger lesson: Why did it take two years and dozens of indictments for so many to believe that Russia was not only behind the DNC hack but may also have been in cahoots with the Trump campaign, when there was so much evidence at the time?

It’s as if something needs to be secret or hidden to truly matter. If it’s sealed in a courtroom, it must be a bombshell, but if it’s out in the open, it’s just not as serious.
@nycsouthpaw, commenting on the above:
Millions of people including reporters believed the evidence of Russian interference and Trump’s complicity, and made a big deal about it, before the elections. It was a big issue, including at the debates. So I think an honest accounting can’t lump everyone’s responses together.

To my mind the issue is not a generalized unbelief, or a media failure, but an effective politicization of facts. Republican leaders in Congress refused invitations to confront Russia on a bipartisan basis. The Trump campaign lied about the hacking and its ties to Russia. In the absence of any R buy in, the executive branch grew wary of taking sides in what Rs had made a partisan dispute. Its efforts were limited—tough talk with Putin but in private on the sidelines of a conference, a watered down statement the FBI refused to join, & not much else. With the executive branch taking only tentative measures and making no effort to present a counterintelligence finding about the Trump campaign to the voting public, and with Rs proclaiming an entirely different set of facts, the field was pretty open for propaganda at the end...

But that’s not down to some generalized “we” not believing the facts or the media not reporting them, it’s the combination of a decision made by Republican leaders to, at best, not look a gift horse in the mouth and a calculation by others serving in govt to avoid battling w them

The fault, dear Robby, is not in our selves, but in our Rs.
posted by zachlipton at 10:27 PM on December 9 [55 favorites]


I hope everyone realizes that the whole "maybe I'll have a different running mate in 2020"/distancing from Pence/not really talking about or maligning Pence/high probability of pulling a Nixon and getting a pardon has been the goddamn plan all along. Pence is just waiting in the wings to be Trump shitshow part 2. I hope to $god they make the Russia allegations stick (not just the obstruction of justice etc) and invalidate the entire 2016 election. Because all signs point to Pence being actually effective in addition to being...well, evil.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:34 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


While I agree with southpaw that the ultimate moral responsibility lies squarely on the complicit GOP establishment, he goes too far in exonerating the media and pundits who never took Russian attacks on our democracy seriously until it was far too late. The level of malfeasance is different but not non-existent.

There was also the much smaller but punching-above-its-weight group of Russia denialists on the left, for whom the entire Russia thing is a distraction from the true fight being waged against the Great Satan; corporate neoliberal establishment Democrats. We even got some of that bit here on Metafilter.
posted by Justinian at 11:04 PM on December 9 [41 favorites]


Pence wasn’t particularly effective as governor of Indiana. He was deeply unpopular in a state that is primed for Christofascist rule. Trump didn’t bring the best for his VP pick.
posted by SakuraK at 11:04 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


Relatively competent, I should have said — but I deeply hope that’s correct if Pence gets in.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:06 PM on December 9


I have a hard time getting to the details of GOP complicity outlined by @nycsouthpaw, when so many of those same column inches are spent blaming Obama.
posted by Brak at 11:34 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Comey calls on Americans to 'use every breath we have' to oust Trump in 2020 [CNN, 12/10/2018]:
Former FBI Director James Comey asked American voters Sunday night to end Donald Trump's presidency with a "landslide" victory for his opponent in 2020.

"All of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021," Comey told an audience at the 92nd Street Y on New York City's Upper East Side. He all but begged Democrats to set aside their ideological differences and nominate the person best suited to defeating Trump in an election.

"I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be," Comey told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, "but they have to win. They have to win."

Over the course of more than an hour, Comey repeatedly derided Trump's character, again likening the atmosphere around the President to what he saw in prosecuting mafia figures and suggested that Trump's tweets could eventually amount to witness tampering. Asked if Trump might be an unindicted co-conspirator in some of the crimes recently described by special counsel Robert Mueller, Comey said he didn't know, "but if he's not there, he's certainly close."

Still, Comey said he hoped that Trump would be swept out of office without being impeached. Framing the rise of Trumpism as a political ill the country needed to exorcise at the ballot, he expressed a hope that Americans would "in a landslide rid ourselves of this attack on our values."
posted by cenoxo at 11:51 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


IIRC, Pence was also compromised by the Russians and the timeline of Sally Yates seemed to discount Pence's claim the Flynn lied to him.

I know it's hard to keep Omnigate straight, but I seem to remember thinking that Pence was going to Agnew and bail, however, there's not a lot left on the bench to take their turn.
posted by mikelieman at 12:27 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


Still, Comey said he hoped that Trump would be swept out of office without being impeached.

I would have thought as a former Director of the F.B.I Comey would understand that the criminal walking away doesn't cut it.
posted by xammerboy at 12:46 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


He was deeply unpopular in a state that is primed for Christofascist rule.

Please don't paint with too broad a brush. There are plenty of people, myself included, fighting the good fight in Indiana. The same is true for all of the red states. We have no intention of submitting to fascist rule of any kind.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:47 AM on December 10 [43 favorites]


"I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be," Comey told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, "but they have to win. They have to win."

...says man who sabotaged most recent Democrat candidate.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 1:35 AM on December 10 [46 favorites]


Trumpology, after Kremlinology is fun and all, but I thought (viz. Meullerology) that Mueller was setting up Trump by letting Manafort shares lies he told Mueller with Individual 1, which would lead Indv.1 to lie all over his written statement... was adroitly debunked in the "All the President's Lawyers" podcast "Does Manafort have any credibility left?" where "popehat" aka Ken White mentioned that no judge would allow that. Done and done - I'm not a lawyer, and here's more proof to that point.

With regards to Pence, as changeable and fickle as Trump is, I would guess that the right whisper into his ear about, say, Pence convinced Ayers not to take the job because Pence will need him when Trump is gone - should put paid to Pence's career. What reality might think of all this, though, is another matter.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:12 AM on December 10


Remember that Kasich was offered the job as the most powerful VP in history.
If Pence was effective, he'd already be doing his evil deeds full speed. He probably is doing the best he can. But he is not a very bright guy, etc.
Another thing is: even though he is very quiet and almost invisible, it seems impossible that he can be the only innocent person in a cabinet of crooks. Even if he hasn't actively done anything, he must still be complicit.
posted by mumimor at 2:22 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


I would guess that the right whisper into his ear about, say, Pence convinced Ayers not to take the job because Pence will need him when Trump is gone - should put paid to Pence's career.
The vice president is an elected position and the VP does not serve at the pleasure of the president like cabinet members and other presidential appointees. Trump can shut Pence out from many of the day to day activities of the presidency and restrict the briefings that he receives but he cannot remove Pence from office simply because he becomes displeased with him.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:24 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


If Pence is dirty, like for example if Trump knows that the Flynn lying to Pence story is false, then Trump can do whatever he wants to him. Do you think that Trump couldn't get his followers to believe that Trump somehow magically discovered that Pence lied while Trump himself remains innocent?

Even if Trump doesn't have anything on Pence the only point to Pence hanging around as Trump's VP is to take over when Trump is done. Pence can't do that if Trump rallies the rubes against him because then he would have no advantage over any other Republican suit. On the national stage Pence is entirely Trump's creature. In Indiana Pence is already a failure. Pence has no base separate from Trump's. Can you imagine the reality show distraction that humiliating Pence would provide?
posted by rdr at 2:54 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile, in The Guardian today: Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors
“The long-term nature of the challenge has, in our view, met a zombie-like response by many,” said Chris Newton, of IFM Investors which manages $80bn and is one of the 415 groups that has signed the Global Investor Statement. “This is a recipe for disaster as the impacts of climate change can be sudden, severe and catastrophic.”

Investment firm Schroders said there could be $23tn of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action. This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: “Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world.”

Thomas DiNapoli, of the $207bn New York State Common Retirement Fund, another signatory, said taking action on global warming not only avoided damage but could boost jobs and growth. “The low-carbon economy presents numerous opportunities and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, of the London School of Economics said: “The low-carbon economy is the growth story of the 21st century and it is inclusive growth. Without that story, we would not have got the 2015 Paris agreement, but the story has grown stronger and stronger and is really compelling now.”

The US Trump administration will hold its only event at the UN summit on Monday and is expected to promote “clean coal”. But Stern said Trump’s suggestion that action on climate change was a jobs killer was “dead wrong”. Stern said: “You don’t create jobs for the 21st century by trying to whistle up jobs from the 19th century.”
posted by mumimor at 3:04 AM on December 10 [25 favorites]


> "I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be," Comey told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, "but they have to win. They have to win."

...says man who sabotaged most recent Democrat candidate.

And who earlier this year declared socialism to be “losing your mind”. You can stop “helping” by trying to influence political outcomes, guy. When you helped to delegitimize the American democratic process you also delegitimized timid bland political centrism that rolls over in the face of overt right-wing nationalism.
posted by XMLicious at 3:31 AM on December 10 [46 favorites]


If Pence was effective, he'd already be doing his evil deeds full speed. He probably is doing the best he can. But he is not a very bright guy, etc.

His nickname in the House was Mike Dense. And that was by his own Republican caucus.
posted by chris24 at 4:06 AM on December 10 [63 favorites]


Comey: "All of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021."

George Conway
I am increasingly optimistic that we can do better than this.

---

I hope Mr. Kellyanne is right.
posted by chris24 at 5:32 AM on December 10 [13 favorites]


Josh Marshall, TPM: A Bit More on Cohen
I mentioned on Friday evening that it’s not like Cohen just screwed himself by holding out on the SDNY prosecutors and then, only belatedly, deciding to cooperate fulsomely with The Special Counsel’s Office in September. As I said then, the decision seems quite intentional and probably made with at least some understanding of the consequences. That’s clear if you figure in Cohen’s personal and professional background: specifically, years of business dealings with people with Russian/Ukrainian mafia connections as well as marrying into that world.

But when I gave the SDNY document a close read this weekend this seemed even more clear cut than I’d realized. The prosecutors make clear that Cohen was given the chance on a number of occasions to enter a formal cooperation agreement. Each time he declined. That would have meant that he’d need to go through not only his whole criminal history but other people’s crimes he might know about. He wasn’t willing to do that. He just provided details of the crimes they already had him on.

It seems pretty clear that Cohen really, really wanted to avoid a lengthy prison term. But the cost of airing his whole criminal past, and other crimes he knew about, was too high.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:36 AM on December 10 [29 favorites]


Indiana veterans affairs leader resigns after awarding grants for needy vets to employees
IndyStar reported last week that at least 11 of the agency's employees — many making $40,000 to $50,000 a year — received a total of roughly $40,000 or more through the Military Family Relief Fund.

Brown defended the grants, arguing that his employees had as much right to the money as any other veteran.

"There is no great tragedy here," he said last week. "No laws have been broken."

IndyStar found that while veterans facing homelessness and job losses were required to wait weeks or months for assistance, employees at IDVA were approved within a day or less.

Most veterans also were strictly held to a $2,500 lifetime cap on aid, but at least four of Brown's employees who are veterans received more than that, including the manager of the program, who dipped into the fund multiple times.

Many of the employees who benefited from the funds, including the program's manager, remain employed at the agency.

The State Board of Accounts is now conducting an audit of the program.
posted by scalefree at 5:47 AM on December 10 [35 favorites]


It seems pretty clear that Cohen really, really wanted to avoid a lengthy prison term. But the cost of airing his whole criminal past, and other crimes he knew about, was too high
It's like the confusion around Manafort.
He doesn't want to avoid prison, he wants to avoid outliving his wife and kids.
posted by fullerine at 6:27 AM on December 10 [10 favorites]


The Washington Post unveils its new "Bottomless Pinocchio" category for Trump. The lie must be repeated at least 20 times by Trump even after the Post has tagged it as a lie.
posted by octothorpe at 6:32 AM on December 10 [38 favorites]


Done With Michael Cohen, Federal Prosecutors Shift Focus to Trump Family Business NYT Dec. 9th

There's a whole lot of leaking going on in this article (maybe SDNY, maybe DoJ, but definitely Trump Org). In any case, it suggests a ton of trouble for Trump:
[Prosecutors] have continued to scrutinize what other executives in the president’s family business may have known about those crimes, which involved hush-money payments to two women who had said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. [T]he federal prosecutors in Manhattan shifted their attention to what role, if any, Trump Organization executives played in the campaign finance violations, according to people briefed on the matter.[…]

In addition to implicating Mr. Trump in the payments to the two women, Mr. Cohen has told prosecutors that the company’s chief financial officer was involved in discussions about them, a claim that is now a focus of the inquiry, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

Mr. Cohen has told prosecutors that he believes Mr. Trump personally approved the company’s decision to reimburse him for one of the payments, one of the people said.

[I]n recent weeks, the prosecutors contacted the company to renew a request they had made this year for documents and other materials, according to the people. The precise nature of the materials sought was unclear, but the renewed request is further indication that prosecutors continue to focus on the president’s company even as the case against Mr. Cohen comes to a close, the people said.
(And naturally because this is the NYT, it closes with a unattributed pro-Trump Org source pushing the idea that Weisselberg didn't know the purpose of the payments to Cohen because he asked "few, if any, questions" about the fixer's "legal" work for Trump. If that's the best defense they have, they're in "only obeying orders" territory.)

This article got under the skin @realDonaldTrump, who this morning, having made up a Fox News quote "Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after Comey's testimony", after watching a Comey segment on Fox & Friends, went on to try a novel framing of his latest legal problem: "So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s - but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!"

Whether or not Trump's novel defense gains any traction at Fox, Renato Mariotti points out its fundamentally false comparison:
Trump is trying to compare the Obama campaign failing to file notices on time to working with Michael Cohen to arrange six-figure payments through a shell company to get around campaign finance laws.

Campaigns make errors all the time. Trump and Cohen's conduct was not an error.
And Ken White dryly comments: "Expressing strong views about campaign finance law when the violation you’re accused of has a willfulness element isn’t the way I’d take this. But you do you, big guy."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:06 AM on December 10 [30 favorites]


Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me.

When his tax filings get released, He is going to try and blame every accountant that ever touched any of his business dealings.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:21 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


I strongly suspect "Smocking Gun" was a deliberate misspelling by whoever actually wrote the tweet, and the goal, as with other times it's been done, is to bait a purported "liberal elite" into a slobs-vs-snobs fight. (Unlike, e.g, "Special Council", that doesn't look like a natural mistake to me. Over the course of his life Individual-1 would have seen the word "smoking" constantly, on "No Smoking" signs and elsewhere. If he's truly writing it that way, it's dementia.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:28 AM on December 10 [9 favorites]


i'm not sure that trump's media team is quite at the point of "look like a semi-literate moron to own the libs" yet
posted by murphy slaw at 7:31 AM on December 10 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I used to teach college composition classes--unless a fair number of my students were suffering from dementia, "smocking" is a totally believable error.
posted by tiger tiger at 7:42 AM on December 10 [9 favorites]


zachlipton, quoting @nycsouthpaw: To my mind the issue is not a generalized unbelief, or a media failure, but an effective politicization of facts.

Counterpoint: The New York Times was obsessed with "Hillary's Emails", to the point that it covered that topic more than the presidential debates, vice presidential debate, Trump's tax returns, Trump University fraud litigation, the Access Hollywood tape, Muslim ban, COMBINED.

The media landscape, speaking very broadly, failed to treat Trump as the (criminal) threat to Democracy that he is.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 AM on December 10 [114 favorites]


I strongly suspect "Smocking Gun" was a deliberate misspelling by whoever actually wrote the tweet, and the goal, as with other times it's been done, is to bait a purported "liberal elite" into a slobs-vs-snobs fight.

The "Smocking Gun" tweet has been up for four hours now. In the past, when the Trump comms team appeared embarrassed about a misspelling, they'd delete the tweet and upload a corrected one before too long. I've noticed, however, that since Bill Shine came on board, the misspellings stay up.

i'm not sure that trump's media team is quite at the point of "look like a semi-literate moron to own the libs" yet

The Boston Globe reported last May that "West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process. […] While staff members do consciously use poor grammar, they do not intentionally misspell words or names, one person familiar with the process explained."

That was the procedure until Dan Scavino, of course. It's possible that Shine believes that misspellings are a feature, not a bug, when it comes attracting Trump support. Some MAGA-hatters are simply too anti-intellectual to care and will embrace anything that annoys the opposition, while others will experience a jolt of tribal sympathy when they see "the libs" fuming at this sloppiness. Either way, the time we spend on such distractions is time we could better spend on real issues.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:03 AM on December 10 [11 favorites]


It looks like Maria Butina's plea negotiations are over, and she'll have a hearing this week. I'm really curious if this will expose the NRA's Russian ties.
posted by gladly at 8:06 AM on December 10 [14 favorites]


i'm not sure that trump's media team is quite at the point of "look like a semi-literate moron to own the libs" yet

Unfortunately, it's working. People are talking about it instead of the real problems. See: covfefe.
posted by Melismata at 8:19 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


Can I call MAGAhats libertrollians?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:21 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


Most veterans also were strictly held to a $2,500 lifetime cap on aid, but at least four of Brown's employees who are veterans received more than that, including the manager of the program, who dipped into the fund multiple times.

Somebody should tell Trump that he has the full support of the military's elite Blue Falcons unit and see if he brags it up.
posted by srboisvert at 8:36 AM on December 10 [18 favorites]


The media landscape, speaking very broadly, failed to treat Trump as the (criminal) threat to Democracy that he is.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 AM on December 10


This. And the media made equivalence between Individual One's behavior - both personal and political- and Hillary Clinton's emails and Wall St speeches. It was the worst in what-about-ism.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:43 AM on December 10 [9 favorites]


Can I call MAGAhats libertrollians?

Sure, but they'd probably like that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:48 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


I strongly suspect "Smocking Gun" was a deliberate misspelling by whoever actually wrote the tweet

As someone who needs reading glasses I would also say it's very possibly a mistake a writer who didn't have theirs on could make with the help of autocorrect and not see what had happened. But I'm also in agreement with the who cares/this is the least batshit part of this tweet side of the debate.
posted by phearlez at 8:48 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


I suspect insiders leak that staffers deliberately use bad grammar is the it's not a bug, it's a feature! of the white house. I totally meant to do that! Anyway, the Qanon folks know what Smocking refers to.

The occams razor on this nonsense is that Trump and his white house is a clown car of morons and scammers who fuck up everything they touch, including their iphone keyboards.
posted by dis_integration at 8:54 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


In my naivete I was hoping to limit this conversation about possible typos before it even started, haha. I also spoke way too confidently about some things and I withdraw that certitude; stepping out again.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:56 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


The WaPo has its latest in the long running genre of post-crisis reports from the foxhole White House, ‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils. "Based on interviews with 14 administration officials, presidential confidants and allies, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity,"

I've said it before, but I love it when journalists detail not only that someone in the Trump White House is talking to them, but how many someones they got to go on the record.
posted by Gelatin at 8:56 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


Make America Great: Impeach.

The gift of the MAGI.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:59 AM on December 10 [26 favorites]


So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution

Maggie Haberman, who shares a byline on the "Done With Michael Cohen, Federal Prosecutors Shift Focus to Trump Family Business" story, notes, "SDNY is run by a Trump appointee. Trump over two years has tried to claim any opposition is a “Dem” to fit in a false and reductionist prism to delegitimize everyone as simply playing politics."

She raises a valid concern that, simultaneously, flatters the NYT's sources as independent and principled actors. Now that's how access journalism is done.

Elsewhere at the SDNY, Courthouse News notices that US prosecutors have dropped their bid to toughen sentence for Turkish banker Hakan Atilla. How the trial of this gas-for-gold trade between Turkey and Iran is playing out says a lot about Trump's, and Giuliani's, relationship with Erdogan.

Meanwhile, back at the D.C. courthouse, Politico: Manafort Gets Wednesday Court Date To Discuss Lying Allegations—The hearing is just one of several key Mueller-related events coming up this week.
Jackson also lifted a Wednesday deadline that Manafort’s attorneys faced to rebut a submission from Mueller’s team last week detailing a variety of incidences prosecutors contend Manafort lied in the wake of his September agreement to plead guilty to charges of unregistered foreign lobbying and money laundering.[…]

It was unclear what prompted Jackson to lift the deadline for the defense and instead schedule a hearing to discuss how to move forward in the case. There was no public indication in the court docket of a request to adjust the schedule. It’s possible the judge concluded it was unfair to give the defense just three business days to respond to the prosecution’s claims."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:08 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


It looks like Maria Butina's plea negotiations are over, and she'll have a hearing this week. I'm really curious if this will expose the NRA's Russian ties.

Some observers, most prominently Marcy Wheeler, are predicting that this is just going to be an outright guilty plea with no cooperation. So Butina wouldn't say anything other than admitting to what was already in the indictment and other Mueller filings.

(Evidence for this prediction: the judge assigned a public defender to assist on Butina's case last week, despite her being represented by paid counsel – paid by the government of Russia, presumably. The most logical explanation for that assistance is if the judge is concerned that Butina is deciding to plead guilty without a deal, that might be her current counsel pushing her to put the people paying their bills over her own interests.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:15 AM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Yes, a political process, but also a legal one. And not impeaching for obvious serious crimes just functions to normalize them. He needs to be impeached regardless of the possible verdict in the Senate and then you hang that Senate vote to excuse treason and corruption and god knows what else to hang on the Rs in 2020.

Democrats should be using the fact that everyone presumes Senate Republicans will cover for Trump as a hammer right now. This morning NPR aired another political analysis about the risks for Democrats if they vote to impeach, but, unusually, Mara Liasson at least hinted that Republicans are nervous about acting as accessories after the fact tying themselves too closely to Trump's corruption.

As so many have observed, what we know from the information in the public domain makes it clear that Trump is a crook who has indulged in not one but several scandals that should have ended his political career. Every time someone points that out, Democrats should counter with "...because the Republicans are covering for him."
posted by Gelatin at 9:17 AM on December 10 [44 favorites]


Nothing suspicious about this on Friday morning…

Pres waves off questions from reporters as he walks to the WH from Marine One. Followed by Jared Kushner and Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.—CBS's Mark Knoller

Laura Rosen has more: "fwiw, WH pool reports acting AG Matt Whitaker & Jared Kushner were spotted boarding Marine 1, apparently traveling w Trump to KC to address law enforcement conference."

MSNBC's Morning Joe has picked this up today: 'There Should Be Outrage' Over Whitaker, Kushner Meeting. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker met with Jared Kushner on Friday, December 7, and the Morning Joe panel discusses why the meeting should not have happened and why Whitaker should recuse himself from the investigation.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:48 AM on December 10 [22 favorites]


The fact that he hasn’t lashed out at Pence in 2 years is a telling sign that he absolutely needs something from him.

Don't forget that Pence was manoeuvred into place by Manafort.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:57 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


Supreme Court Declines Key Planned Parenthood Case (Domenico Montanaro, NPR)
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case with big potential implications for women's health care and Planned Parenthood related to whether states can block people from using Medicaid for health care services at Planned Parenthood and similar organizations.

The result is that people can continue to use Medicaid money for pregnancy-related Planned Parenthood services. Now, this is not for abortion-related services. Federal law prohibits people to use Medicaid money for abortion.

But the court not taking up this case means that most states cannot, for now, effectively prohibit people from using Medicaid funds for other Planned Parenthood services, like screenings, ultrasounds and counseling.

This case specifically was about whether Planned Parenthood (and similar organizations and individuals using those services) have a right to sue to challenge the decision not to fund Planned Parenthood.
Seems like a win, as lower court rulings are allowed to stand.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on December 10 [38 favorites]


Supreme Court Declines Key Planned Parenthood Case (Domenico Montanaro, NPR)

Context: SCOTUS Rejects Efforts To Cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid Funding (Mark Sherman, AP via TPM)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:16 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


Seems like a win, as lower court rulings are allowed to stand.

Sorta. The article addresses this in particular, but in a more general sense you want a Supreme Court ruling if you want exact clarity: that this is or is not allowed, everywhere in the US. When you have a split by district it's usually pretty strong pressure on the Supremes to take something up because otherwise you have differing rules by circuit. When you just have one case/district it's less pressure on the Supremes to take something up, though there's still obvious advantages to make things as clear as they ever are in law. Outside circuits aren't bound by other circuits' decisions, though they tend towards deference.

In specific here the article says
The court not taking this does not categorically mean that states cannot prohibit using Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood. States in the 8th Circuit, for example, can still do that because there is a circuit split, and the 8th Circuit ruled that Medicaid recipients don't have the right to challenge who the state decides are qualified Medicaid recipients. States in the 8th Circuit include Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
posted by phearlez at 10:29 AM on December 10 [9 favorites]


The fact that he hasn’t lashed out at Pence in 2 years is a telling sign that he absolutely needs something from him.

Don't forget that Pence was manoeuvred into place by Manafort.


I thought that Mother Pence looked very down at 41's funeral, beyond any real or affected sadness over the death.

She knows.
posted by jgirl at 10:57 AM on December 10 [8 favorites]


GOP’s anti-democratic “red tide”: It’s ugly, but it’s nothing new (Paul Rosenberg, Salon)
Republicans across the country have responded to midterm defeats by trying to undo democracy. What can stop them?

When I asked [Donald P. Moynihan] what broader lessons could be learned, he pointed to a recent piece he wrote for Politico, “Kill the Lame Duck." “There is no real justification for lame duck sessions,” he said. “They are an outdated practice made for an earlier time which are now being weaponized to strategically benefit the party that lost the governor's office.” Some states have already realized this, he pointed out. “Alabama, Indiana, Nevada and Florida put legislators in place immediately after the election to prevent this from happening.”

Stepping back, Moynihan said, “The biggest lesson from this sorry affair is the collapse in democratic norms in the Republican Party. Power has become more important than the will of the people. What has been missing are GOP leaders who are willing to stand up and say this has gone too far. But instead, state leaders look at Mitch McConnell in the Senate and see that norm violations -- like the failure to act on a President's Supreme Court nominee -- are rewarded, that they should hold on to power at all costs. If the party can't correct itself, voters will have to do the job.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:07 AM on December 10 [35 favorites]


The fact that he hasn’t lashed out at Pence in 2 years is a telling sign that he absolutely needs something from him.

Maybe when Trump asked Pence to sign an NDA as a condition of his being picked for VP, Pence insisted that the non-disparagement clause be made mutual. Wouldn't that be a hell of a thing.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 AM on December 10 [14 favorites]


Trump actually honouring a contract he signed with someone would indeed be a hell of a thing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:12 AM on December 10 [55 favorites]


Elena Hung and Katherine Perez. Trump’s New Wall to Keep Out the Disabled
At the signing ceremony for the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, President George Bush observed that the legislation had much in common with the fall of the Berlin Wall the year prior. The new law “takes a sledgehammer to another wall,” Bush remarked, “one which has for too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp.” Our current president, infamous for mocking Americans with disabilities and unraveling the social safety net, plans to rebuild that wall, putting America’s promise of freedom again further out of reach for people with disabilities.

The Trump administration’s proposed regulation, released in early October, would unfairly harm people with disabilities and their families in their efforts to live permanently in the United States. The “public charge” regulation would apply to immigrants already on the lawful road to citizenship, including applicants for permanent residence (a “green card”) living in the United States, and individuals outside of the United States, such as family members of American citizens seeking admission to the United States. While the concept is older than today’s modern immigration law, President Trump’s regulation would radically expand it in dangerous ways. (Public charge is a term used to describe a person deemed to be primarily dependent on government assistance.)

Harkening back to the dark history of anti-immigration policies, the public charge proposal spells out five “heavily weighed negative factors” that would make having a disability a strong basis for denial. In typical Trump fashion, the proposal privileges wealth, fast-tracking individual applicants who can provide evidence of annual incomes 250 percent above the federal poverty line, which for a family of four is about $63,000 annually. Thus, the proposal’s fundamental injustice of deliberately excluding people with disabilities, who are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, is compounded by the abuse of equating wealth with worth.
The deadline to submit a public comment on the public charge rule is today. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network has model comments and all the information you need to write your own.
posted by zachlipton at 11:40 AM on December 10 [13 favorites]


The American Library Association is sounding the emergency klaxons today and requesting that folks call their senators to oppose a bill that will transfer control of the Copyright Office away from the Library of Congress and into the hands of the president. Obviously, big business is salivating over this bill, as it'd make it much easier for them to call the shots when it comes to copyright law.

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (S. 1010), a Senate companion to House bill (H.R. 1695), will be voted on by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee this Tuesday, in spite of previous concerns by committee members. This legislation would make the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. Under current law, the Librarian of Congress selects the Register. ALA strongly opposes this bill and needs you to contact your U.S. Senators to express your objections to this bill and ask them to vote against it.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:02 PM on December 10 [55 favorites]


Harper's, from 2007: "So, what happens when a prominent Republican figure is caught red-handed engaging in voter fraud? Über-Republican Ann Coulter was discovered to have falsified a voter registration in Palm Beach County, Florida, and to have voted."

Keep reading, it gets even better.
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:11 PM on December 10 [20 favorites]


Trump has cancelled Wednesday's planned trip to Baltimore due to "scheduling reasons." The Administration says they'll have the event, which to focus on investment in the Broadway East neighborhood, at the White House instead.
posted by zachlipton at 12:32 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


CNBC: Elizabeth Warren, Other Key Democratic Senators Investigate Fox News Bonus Payments to Trump Aide Bill Shine
• Four Democratic senators are requesting the White House to hand over documents proving Trump communications advisor Bill Shine is not breaking federal ethics laws as he continues to get paid millions in bonuses by Fox.
• The move by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Edward Markey comes as ethics experts question whether Shine broke any laws or violated any rules.
See CNBC's original reporting on Shine's Fox payout.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:44 PM on December 10 [18 favorites]


The Daily 202: Four reasons that even some Trump loyalists do not want to be White House chief of staff (James Hohmann, WaPo)
  1. Javanka cannot be managed.
  2. Trump will not be managed.
  3. With so many storm clouds on the horizon, the odds are good that the next chief will need to retain his own lawyers.
  4. The risk of public humiliation is high.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:49 PM on December 10 [38 favorites]


The Administration says they'll have the event, which to focus on investment in the Broadway East neighborhood, at the White House instead.

That's good, since I'm sure nobody in Baltimore made any plans to host the President or be part of the discussion, and it'll be no problem for urban poor people—who were supposed to be the target of Trump's economic miracle—to just head up to D.C., instead of staying in their own neighborhoods to participate. As long as the guy who's never suffered an inconvenience in his life is comfortable, it's cool.
posted by Rykey at 12:49 PM on December 10 [14 favorites]


Yup, there he goes, not acting presidential again.
posted by Melismata at 12:51 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


Paul Ryan’s long con - "He betrayed his promises and left a legacy of debt and disappointment." Ezra Klein, Vox
To be clear, I am not particularly concerned about deficits right now, just as I wasn’t in 2010. But I took Ryan seriously when he said he was. I covered the arguments Ryan made, the policies he crafted, and I treated them as if they offered a guide to how Republicans would govern. I listened when Ryan said things like, “In Europe, generations of welfare-dependent citizens are hurling Molotov cocktails because their governments can no longer fund their entitlement programs. We can’t let that happen here.”

Ryan’s office did not grant my request for an interview for this piece. But now, as Ryan prepares to leave Congress, it is clear that his critics were correct and a credulous Washington press corps — including me — that took him at his word was wrong. In the trillions of long-term debt he racked up as speaker, in the anti-poverty proposals he promised but never passed, and in the many lies he told to sell unpopular policies, Ryan proved as much a practitioner of post-truth politics as Donald Trump.
Ezra Klein Admits His Endless Flattery Of Paul Ryan May Have Been A Mistake, Paul Blest, Splinter News
Look. It’s great that Ezra Klein has finally written the definitive “Paul Ryan? Not great” piece in this year of our lord two thousand and eighteen, after a year of hinting that he had been taken for a ride by the GOP’s so-called “deficit hawks.” Is he a little (OK, very) late? Sure, but no one really needed his approval to understand that Ryan was dressing up Koch-style soulless libertarianism as technocratic wonkery.

The real question to ask is: What happens when the next Paul Ryan comes along? Because you know it’s going to happen.
Ryan's proposals in 2012 literally did not add up. So it's not enough to say "well, I got it wrong." We have to say "why did I get it wrong, and what positive steps am I going to take to prevent that happening again?" This was obvious. And yet he enjoyed his "actually believes in his policy proposals" reputation well into 2016.
The falsehoods that are easiest for us to swallow are the ones that we wanted to be true. So why do people want Paul Ryan to have been a true-blue believer, a sincere "policy wonk," someone who just maybe had different ideas about "public charity vs. private charity"?
I think part of it is that it is difficult for people to understand asymmetric situations, and also that, much like how Eco described the act of photocopying as a substitute for research, as long as people like Paul Ryan claim to be sincere, and concerned, and thoughtfully come to the conclusions that they already wanted to hear. We can outsource our political beliefs to them, secure in the idea that some committed "policy wonk" has really thought it through, absolving us of the responsibility of doing so ourselves.

Also, if someone thinks of himself as fair-minded, it is the very picture of fair-mindedness to be charitable to one's opponents, and ruthless with one's allies. It's not actual fair-mindedness, but it's a nice picture of it.

Back in 2012: Paul Ryan: What Stupid People Think a Smart Guy Sounds Like, Bhaskar Sunkara, VICE & How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius, Alec McGillis, The New Republic,
And there was Ryan’s relationship with Ezra Klein, who runs the “Wonkblog” at The Washington Post. Klein presents himself as a numbers guy, a true empiricist, and in Ryan he felt he had found a kindred spirit. So in 2010, Klein ran three long interviews with Ryan in which the congressman was able to frame even his most radical budget solutions as mere wonkery—as if the only thing he and Klein disagreed on were the details of, say, just exactly how to rein in health care costs in the out-years, when they were in fact separated by a gulf in beliefs and priorities.

Klein then followed these transcripts up with a defense of Ryan against criticism from other liberals. One piece, headlined “The Virtues of Ryan’s ‘Roadmap,’” called Ryan’s budget plans a “more honest entry into the debate” than what conservatives usually offered. Another laid out Klein’s case for engaging with Ryan: “I don’t think Ryan is a charlatan or a flim-flam artist. More to the point, I think he’s playing an important role, and one I’m happy to try and help him play: The worlds of liberals and conservatives are increasingly closed loops. Very few politicians from one side are willing to seriously engage with the other side, particularly on substance ... The willingness to engage has made him look good.”

Paul Ryan: From Flimflam To Fascism, Paul Krugman, NY Times, ( is tired of trying to reason with you people)
On the other hand, I do have some insight into how Ryan — who has always been an obvious con man, to anyone willing to see — came to become speaker of the House. And that’s a story that reflects badly not just on Ryan himself, not just on his party, but also on self-proclaimed centrists and the news media, who boosted his career through their malfeasance. Furthermore, the forces that brought Ryan to a position of power are the same forces that have brought America to the edge of a constitutional crisis.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:55 PM on December 10 [68 favorites]


That's good, since I'm sure nobody in Baltimore made any plans to host the President or be part of the discussion

Trust me, nobody wanted him here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on December 10 [25 favorites]


The real question to ask is: What happens when the next Paul Ryan comes along? Because you know it’s going to happen.

Yeah but that's going to be years from now. We're past the Age of Fooling People With Stuff That Sounds Good But Isn't & into the Age of Brute Force, Flat-Out Lies & Dirty Tricks.
posted by scalefree at 1:12 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]




Yeah but that's going to be years from now. We're past the Age of Fooling People With Stuff That Sounds Good But Isn't & into the Age of Brute Force, Flat-Out Lies & Dirty Tricks.

Yeah, but the so-called "liberal media" always takes Republicans' concern trolling over the deficit at face value, even when they barely bothered to claim their tax cut would pay for itself, and when Republicans -- like Ryan -- used the resulting deficits as an excuse to call, yet again, for slashing social spending.

Ryan didn't advocate anything different from bog-standard Republican voodoo economics, but as Professor Krugman has been pointing out for years, the so-called "liberal media" is so desperate to find a "serious, honest conservative" that it'll anoint anyone who even pretends to talk the talk, regardless of whether they walk the walk.

Pundits like Klein need to be well aware how they got deceived and played by the Republicans and take steps to see that it doesn't happen so easily next time, not just walk into the same trap all over again. And while conservatives will always launch bad-faith claims about "media bias," the fact is that Ryan's obvious dishonesty should have a cost associated with it, even if that's "people won't believe Republicans are fiscally responsible so easily next time."

Consequences won't induce Republicans to be honest, because they know they can't sell their policies honestly, but they could at least make their next deception more difficult and less effective.
posted by Gelatin at 1:27 PM on December 10 [17 favorites]


Conspiracy theorist [Corsi] sues Mueller alleging illegal leaks and surveillance.

When your big argument against Mueller is that he leaks too much, you're really throwing a Hail Mary desperation pass.
posted by msalt at 1:28 PM on December 10 [9 favorites]


Very nice summary of conman Paul Ryan and the worthless centrists like Ezra Klein who promoted him.
Thanks to "the man of twists and turns." Almost deserves of front page post of its own.
posted by JackFlash at 1:30 PM on December 10 [11 favorites]


The question for the rest of us is, in order to prevent this in the future, what price can we make Klein pay for his willful self-delusion? In the name of media responsibility, can we form a kickstarter to get pundits to sign onto to some humiliation contract in the event that their peers deem them to have been dunderheaded dupes? Can we at least start a petition to get Klein to agree to sit in a corner with a dunce cap while Krugman pours tarred shredded spreadsheet on his head?
posted by chortly at 1:43 PM on December 10 [7 favorites]


We can stop reading his publications.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:47 PM on December 10 [7 favorites]


Just to verify that I'm understanding things correctly, people here want to avoid Ezra Klein (and his publications... so no David Roberts for you) because he engaged with Paul Ryan's ostensible beliefs a little too credulously? Guys I have bad news about literally every mainstream news outlet for the last decade
posted by Jpfed at 1:59 PM on December 10 [21 favorites]


Of all of the mistakes that the media has made during the past decade, Ezra Klein taking Paul Ryan at his word about deficits doesn't even rank in the top 10,000.

Even when Klein and his colleagues at Vox took Ryan at his word, they were usually pretty quick to point out that his ideas were terrible policy.

I don't always care for Vox's writing, but the digs at Klein, and attempt to brand them as "worthless centrists" really reads like a hatchet job.
posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on December 10 [21 favorites]


Is Klein specifically the best example of this problem? I couldn't say much about the Wonkblog era, and if he did a significant amount to elevate Ryan, then there isn't enough shame in the world for him. Yet I feel like Vox has been very solid at identifying the structural problems and media-slant problems we're talking about here. Maybe he's no Carlos Maza, but there's been at least a smidge of improvement?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:01 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]




Does it really matter? If a pundit's opinions don't seem to line up with the evidence and the real-world results, then he's not very good at punditry. Why amplify the voices of people who don't know what they're doing?

It's one thing to use other people's analyses to inform one's own opinions, but opinions should be fact-based to begin with. If someone is consistently factually wrong, then don't rely on that person for information for your own understanding.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:05 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


Is Klein specifically the best example of this problem?

He is extremely not the best example. He just happens to be the closest to the spotlight of Thread's attention.

If someone is consistently factually wrong, then don't rely on that person for information for your own understanding.

But Klein wasn't consistently wrong with respect to what the effect of Paul Ryan's policies would be. He was only consistently wrong in mindreading the extent to which Paul Ryan was honest about his own opinions. If you want to downgrade Klein's mindreading in your estimation, that seems pretty fair. But in terms of policy I think he's been pretty spot on.
posted by Jpfed at 2:08 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


> The Daily 202: Four reasons that even some Trump loyalists do not want to be White House chief of staff
Advisers to Trump were “stunned” that Vice President Pence’s chief turned down the chance to replace John Kelly, claiming he [Nick Ayers] wanted to spend more time with his family...
...always the bald-faced tell of politicians and corporate executives in serious trouble (or anticipating it).
posted by cenoxo at 2:10 PM on December 10 [11 favorites]


No, he was consistently wrong in recognizing that Paul Ryan was full of shit, something millions of people easily observed. I don't really see the benefit in considering him, or anyone that gullible, to be an authority on analyzing what's going on.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:12 PM on December 10 [28 favorites]


Bah. Here is a direct quote from Klein: " I don't think Ryan is a charlatan or a flim-flam artist. More to the point, I think he's playing an important role, and one I'm happy to try and help him play."

Klein was actively working to promote Ryan in the public eye as an honest broker. Klein was helping Ryan in his objective of cutting Medicare and Social Security.

But Klein wasn't consistently wrong with respect to what the effect of Paul Ryan's policies would be. He was only consistently wrong in mindreading the extent to which Paul Ryan was honest about his own opinions.

Nope. You didn't have to read Ryan's mind to figure out he was dishonest. You just had to read his own published words in his blueprint for the country, "Path to Prosperity." It was all bullshit. Anyone who looked at the numbers could see it was bullshit. Klein made it his centrist duty to denigrate Paul Krugman, a person who really understands numbers, for being too shrill when Krugman called Ryan a flimflam man.

Klein actively made the politics worse by propping up Ryan as an honest broker. Someone who views himself as a public intellectual but takes 10 years to figure out he was totally wrong is not anyone you can trust in the future to get it right. We don't have another 10 years to waste.
posted by JackFlash at 2:33 PM on December 10 [46 favorites]


From the WaPo article octothorpe linked above RE the “Bottomless Pinocchio”:
Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.
I would have preferred they just call it “The Goebbels”, since, in the modern era, the evil Nazi propagandist most shamelessly outlined this kind of State-promulgated campaign of lies and disinformation:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
posted by darkstar at 2:41 PM on December 10 [36 favorites]


[If there's nothing much going on, folks, please don't just change the topic. That makes catch-all threads nonfunctional.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:41 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Zoe Tillman, A Former Trump Campaign Staffer Was Ordered To Pay $25,000 For Violating Her Nondisclosure Agreement
Jessica Denson, a former staffer for President Donald Trump's campaign, is fighting an order to pay nearly $25,000 for violating a nondisclosure agreement, according to court papers.

The award to the Trump campaign came out of arbitration — non-public proceedings the campaign pursued against Denson after she filed two lawsuits against it. Denson was ordered to pay $25,000 to the campaign in October, but the award wasn't made public until Denson's lawyers included it in court filings in New York County Supreme Court in late November. The documents obtained by BuzzFeed News this week were not filed electronically.

The award payment is part of a complicated, ongoing legal battle between the Trump campaign and Denson, who, according to her court filings, worked on the campaign as a national phone bank administrator and as director of Hispanic engagement. Denson sued the campaign in New York County Supreme Court in November 2017, claiming that officials discriminated against her, cyberbullied her, and were otherwise hostile towards her; it did not include any allegations against Donald Trump personally. She sought $25 million in damages.

But the Trump campaign claimed Denson's lawsuit violated the terms of her nondisclosure agreement, which prohibited her from disclosing confidential information, disparaging the campaign, competing with the campaign, or violating its intellectual property. The NDA gave the campaign the power to take issues that arose under the agreement to arbitration, and so the Trump campaign went to the American Arbitration Association and initiated the arbitration case against Denson, which has taken place behind closed doors; she has declined to participate.
This should not be legal, for any employer anywhere in the country, and Resistance Hero Neal Katyal can go fuck himself for fighting to ensure that employees can't ever have their day in court.
posted by zachlipton at 2:42 PM on December 10 [44 favorites]


Our propaganda isn't State-disseminated, though. It's disseminated by the media who re-prints it uncritically with almost no framing to make it clear that it's not true. It's shameful. Trump wouldn't be able to propagandize if the media didn't enthusiastically cooperate.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:47 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I just love AOC!

Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud.

QFFT
posted by maniabug at 2:48 PM on December 10 [140 favorites]


Trump’s lies and disinformation require a new kind of media response
...Trump is not engaged in conventional lying. He’s engaged in spreading disinformation. The president has lied dozens and dozens of times about how much the United States pays into NATO as well as about the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III; he has falsely claimed dozens of times apiece that Democrats are the ones who colluded with Russia (a particularly virulent species of up-is-downism); that a border wall will stop the flow of drugs; that our immigration laws are very permissive; and that we have “lost” billions of dollars to trade deficits.
...
[In my book] I suggest that the president wields disinformation as an assertion of power:
here is a reason Trump regularly tells lies that are very easy to debunk: The whole point of them is to assert the power to say what the truth is, even when — or especially when — easily verifiable facts, ones that are right in front of our noses, dictate the contrary. The brazenness and shamelessness of his lying is not just a by-product of an effort to mislead voters that Trump is merely taking to new levels. Rather, the brazenness and shamelessness of the lying is central to his broader project of declaring for himself the power to say what reality is.
“When I use a word,” Trumpty 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 Trumpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
posted by kirkaracha at 2:49 PM on December 10 [18 favorites]


NBC, Trump plan to reclassify nuclear waste alarms environmental groups
The Trump administration wants to reclassify some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons to lower its threat level and make disposal cheaper and easier.

The proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy would lower the status of some high-level radioactive waste in several places around the nation, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.

Reclassifying the material to low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of work by essentially leaving the material in the ground, critics say.
Well I can't think of any way that could possibly go wrong.
posted by zachlipton at 2:50 PM on December 10 [22 favorites]


ABC, Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors that includes cooperation
Maria Butina, a 30-year-old Russian gun rights activist who stands accused developing a covert influence operation in the United States, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations.

She admits, as part of the deal, according to a copy obtained by ABC News that is expected to be filed to the court, that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

Based on the description, the “Russian Official” appears to be Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under his direction, the agreement said, she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.”
...
But now, according to the agreement, Butina has acknowledged that with U.S. Person 1’s assistance, she drafted a proposal called “Description of the Diplomacy Project” in March of 2015 which was later sent to the Russian Official, in which she said that she had already “laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration” and requested $125,000 from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and meetings to further develop those ties. The Russian Official, the agreement said, confirmed that her proposal would be at least partially supported.
posted by zachlipton at 3:00 PM on December 10 [54 favorites]


Government run as a business: whatever the boss says is the truth, and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it except believe it, quit, or get fired.
posted by valkane at 3:00 PM on December 10 [17 favorites]


One more bit worth noting there:
After that now infamous meeting [the NRA brass traveling to Russia and meeting with Lavrov], the agreement said, Butina sent the Russian Official a message, which was translated as saying “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”
posted by zachlipton at 3:09 PM on December 10 [18 favorites]


@CNNSitRoom Acosta reports that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is considered a “strong option” for White House chief of staff and that a source describes President Trump’s mood as “super pissed” after Nick Ayers turned down his offer for the job.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:19 PM on December 10 [12 favorites]


Wow, Jared wanted to keep Christie out of the cabinet, and now he could get to see Christie in the chief of staff's office?
And Christie would have to be the chief of staff? With all the grudges he's gotta be nursing?
And Trump gets all that right outside the Oval?

Meatloaf for everyone!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:28 PM on December 10 [23 favorites]


There's.nobody.else.left.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:33 PM on December 10 [13 favorites]


I'm sure Jared will fight just as hard to keep Christie out of the White House, but at the end of the day the job can only go to somebody who says "yes." What else are they going to float as an option, detailing a general to the COS desk like they did with McMaster to NSA?

Anyway. That's small potatoes. BUTINA'S COOPERATING. HOLY MOTHERFORKING SHIRTBALLS. There is not enough corn to pop in all of Iowa.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:36 PM on December 10 [41 favorites]


I would expect that Butina's cooperating in the same way as Manafort or Lugovoy, in order to funnel information back.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:45 PM on December 10 [9 favorites]


> And during an FBI raid of Erickson’s South Dakota home, investigators discovered a handwritten note suggesting Erickson may have been aware of a possible job offer from Russian intelligence services: “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” Erickson scratched, an apparent reference to the Russian equivalent of the CIA.

Leaving a note to yourself where you ponder how to respond to a foreign intelligence agency trying to employ you is really a whole other level of idiotic. I continue to be astounded by the never-ending stream of things that would make even the most hackish writer think "Nah, that's not remotely believable."
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:47 PM on December 10 [64 favorites]


wow he actually took notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy
posted by murphy slaw at 4:02 PM on December 10 [99 favorites]




Not just notes - notes questioning how he should respond to a job offer from a foreign nations intelligence agency. To himself. In all likelihood, he probably just misunderstood what it means to be recruited by the FSB.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:08 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


The "How to respond to FSB offer of employment?" thing was shown by the government back in July.

And I bring that up not to be all "you should have known that," because I frankly forgot all about it too, but to emphasize that as complicated as we've made all this, and as impossible it is to keep it all in your head at once, this is at its core really a very blatant and straightforward story, and the basic facts have been known to us all along, yet our elected officials have refused to take action based on them.
posted by zachlipton at 4:18 PM on December 10 [34 favorites]


the quonster beat me to the belated Calvin & Hobbes reference to "smock", but decades before that, Early TV Talk Show Host Steve Allen would punctuate moments of extreme silliness by calling out "SMOCK! SMOCK!", although when he got around to using the word in the title of one of his umpteen books, he - or his editor - changed the spelling to "Schmock! Schmock!", and if I remember Steve Allen's smocks, I wouldn't be surprised if it's one of the few things on 1950's TV that Trump can remember.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:23 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]


I'm confused by Kavanaugh siding with the libs on the SC (planned parenthood no thanks). What gives? Is this some stab in the back to PP that I'm missing? Nothing is as it seems anymore.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:33 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]


@nielslesniewski:
Yikes. Judicial Crisis Network goes after Tim Scott over his opposing Farr:

"Tim Scott's opposition to Tom Farr was a capitulation to political correctness bordering on slander, as he embraced liberal smears that are contradicted by the facts."
That would be JCN attacking the Republican Party's only black Senator for daring to suggest they maybe not give lifetime judgeships to "candidates with questionable track records on race."
posted by zachlipton at 4:38 PM on December 10 [29 favorites]


"Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud."

TO BE FAIR, I've been complaining about Paul Ryan's poorly-fitting suits for YEARS. If you're running for Vice President, hire a fucking tailor instead of walking around on national television for SEVERAL MONTHS with a suit that's SO big you look like a kid borrowing your dad's suit for a job interview.

(AOC does better on a budget that Paul Ryan does on a gravy train!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:14 PM on December 10 [36 favorites]


To be fair, Paul Ryan was just afraid at any moment he might Hulk Out due to all that gym time.
posted by valkane at 5:22 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]




Strap in for stupid, boys & girls. This one's a doozy.

Nick Ayers, Aide to Pence, Declines Offer to Be Trump’s Chief of Staff
The monthslong process to replace Mr. Kelly, who Mr. Trump announced on Saturday is leaving at the end of the year, is a rare instance in which the president has not been courting candidates simultaneously. Historically, he has signaled to competing prospects that each one is his choice, and then picks one even as he tells both that they are still in the running.

But this time, Mr. Ayers was the only person Mr. Trump had focused on since he made up his mind to part ways with Mr. Kelly. With a head of blond hair, Mr. Ayers somewhat resembles Mr. Trump in his younger days, a fact that the president often looks for as a positive signal. The president had an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, telling aides who expressed concern about Mr. Ayers that he liked him.

And after barreling from a chief of staff recommended by Republican congressional leaders (Reince Priebus) to a military general who shared some of Mr. Trump’s personality traits (Mr. Kelly), the president seemed intent this time on simply picking someone he personally liked.
posted by scalefree at 5:27 PM on December 10 [7 favorites]


WaPo: ‘There was no Plan B’: Trump scrambles to find chief of staff after top candidate turns him down

Top minds, here. Real brain trust at the top of the executive branch org chart.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:48 PM on December 10 [18 favorites]


Ayers is in hot water over money for the Greitens campaign for governor.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:12 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


Law enforcement's pushback against ICE is underway…

Charlotte Observer: Sheriff Garry McFadden Ends 287(G) On His First Day. "New Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden ended the 287(g) program in Charlotte on his first day as sheriff. 287(g) is a voluntary federal program detaining jail inmates who are in the country illegally."

Charlotte News Observer: New Sheriffs in Wake and Durham Will No Longer Cooperate With Immigration Agency. "Newly elected Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said Friday that his office will no longer participate in a controversial immigration program. […] The Durham County Sheriff’s Office also said in a press release Friday that newly elected Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead would end the practice of honoring ICE detainers."

Elections matter.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:15 PM on December 10 [80 favorites]


Meatloaf for everyone!

Meatloaf for Trump.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:21 PM on December 10


“Christie’s allies said they do not expect him to be offered the job as long as Kushner remains a top White House staffer, describing their relationship as largely repaired from its past tensions but still not strong enough to enable Christie to fully enter the Trump orbit.”

Trump Orbit. It’s like that thing? When you know you’re gonna crash and burn? And no one will be there to catch you? Yeah, like that.
posted by valkane at 6:27 PM on December 10


I'll bet you anything Ayers went to Pence, his current boss, for his thoughts on working for Trump. There's your clue as to what Pence really thinks about Trump.
posted by xammerboy at 6:29 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


I'm confused by Kavanaugh siding with the libs on the SC (planned parenthood no thanks). What gives? Is this some stab in the back to PP that I'm missing?

I think it may just be politically radioactive. The case is about whether or not states can totally defund Planned Parenthood of federal Medicaid dollars. Money for abortions has already been stripped away. This is about additionally taking away money for cancer screenings, contraception, etc. And... if you don't hear the case, no one has said that stripping away that funding is illegal, so states can simply go ahead and do that.
posted by xammerboy at 6:51 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


David J Roth is, to my mind, the best writer on Trump. He’s just put out a new piece, Normal Man Donald Trump Hilariously Fucks Up Army-Navy Coin Toss.
And so, to guess again, we can only imagine how heavily this heaviest of jobs has weighed on Donald Trump, who is surely the most normal man ever to occupy the office. It’s true that outwardly Trump appears to do virtually no work at all beyond Monitoring News Coverage and dribbling out a thin stream of vinegary tweets recapping what he sees there in demented germanic capitalization. It’s also true that the man himself, from his days as the most neediest lordling in New York City real estate to his later incarnation as a professional Twitter grouch, has never evinced caring at all about the suffering of any other living person or even appeared concerned about any question beyond would this impress Paula Abdul.
[...]
The best-case scenario is still awful: he watches TV and tweets and that’s it, and it’s all terribly distasteful but at the very least silo’ed by the marble in which he’s encased itself. He can be left there indefinitely, if also sometimes rolled out for those ceremonial duties. Those he will fuck up in hilarious ways, because the man has no idea how to do even simple things. He has never done those simple things and is too stubborn and checked-out and incurious to learn them; all he has done is golf and gossip and complain and sometimes shake rich people’s hands for decades now, and so these things are not simple at all to him.

For instance, here’s our guy doing what is easily one of the easiest things a president is asked to do: flip a coin before the kickoff of the annual Army-Navy football game. Good luck, buddy!
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:33 PM on December 10 [53 favorites]


Jamelle Bouie (Slate) nails the John Kelly valediction:
John Kelly Was Always Just Donald Trump With Better Manners

If “Trumpism” has any meaning or ideological content separate from Donald Trump himself, it had a representative—if not an embodiment—in Kelly. What the outgoing chief of staff lacks in Trump’s intemperate attitude and undisciplined behavior, he makes up for in his commitment to basic elements of the president’s ideology—including his casual cruelty and tolerance for bigotry and bad behavior.

posted by pjenks at 7:58 PM on December 10 [24 favorites]


NYT, Vogel, Targets of U.S. Sanctions Hire Lobbyists With Trump Ties to Seek Relief. In which those targeted by sanctions are paying big money to Trump-connected people. Among them, Rudy Giuliani, who has been working to negociate a "security consulting" contract to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo as he denies having anything to do with serving as a middleman between the DRC and the Trump Administration. There is lots more grift inside as well.
posted by zachlipton at 8:20 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


I'm confused by Kavanaugh siding with the libs on the SC (planned parenthood no thanks). What gives? Is this some stab in the back to PP that I'm missing?

The case didn't directly deal with abortion rights, this may be just lying low until the right test case to overrule Roe is before the Court. Kavanaugh doesn't want to spend all his energy on comparatively small potatoes allowing states to prevent Medicaid funding, he wants to outlaw all abortions. This wasn't the time to strike, but it's coming.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:28 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


If anything Kavanaugh and Roberts voting together is more ominous, they're playing a more strategic long game than Thomas or Gorsuch or Alito, who can be reliably counted on to follow the daily whims of the FOX-Koch-altrighttwitterverse to the letter.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:45 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


Normal Man Donald Trump Hilariously Fucks Up Army-Navy Coin Toss.

TL;DR:

"Why did life on Earth end, Mommy?"

"Well, Timmy, they put a man who literally could not learn to flip a coin in charge of Earth's most powerful military, and gave him the nuclear codes. Good night now."

Seriously, this may be a distraction from more pressing issues, but it's breathtaking to watch.
posted by Rykey at 9:31 PM on December 10 [20 favorites]


Getting Interior to Respond to Your FOIA Requests Just Got a Lot Harder (Dan Spinelli, Mother Jones)
In his latest attempt to make the Interior Department’s activities less transparent, Ryan Zinke shifted responsibility for handling public records requests from a career employee to a political appointee [acting solicitor Daniel Jorjani] with a long history working for conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch. The order, signed November 20, was first noticed by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group that has previously sued the Trump administration for not releasing information pertaining to its planned rollback of the Endangered Species Act.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:56 PM on December 10 [19 favorites]


GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' (Scott Wong, The Hill)
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is calling on incoming House GOP campaigns chief Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and the rest of the leadership team to conduct an autopsy to find out what went wrong for Republicans in the disastrous 2018 midterms.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by The Hill, Stefanik and other allies wrote Monday that the “disappointing results” of the November election “require an honest, transparent assessment of the structural operations and decision-making process that led to our party losing an historic number of seats.”
...
The Stefanik letter is the latest twist in an ongoing spat with Emmer, the new NRCC chairman for the 2020 cycle.

After the November drubbing, Stefanik, who led GOP recruitment efforts for the NRCC in the 2018 cycle, said GOP leaders needed to do a better job intervening in primaries to help nominate more female candidates.

Emmer called that a “mistake” in an interview with Roll Call, prompting Stefanik to fire back on Twitter: “NEWSFLASH... I wasn’t asking for permission.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman, “It Got Back to Trump That Kelly Was Bad-Mouthing Him”: After Firing John Kelly on Impulse, Trump Learned He Had No Plan B
Trump’s impulsive announcement quickly became an even bigger problem when it turned out that Kelly’s replacement was not sewn up; Ayers surprised Trump later that day by insisting that he only wanted the job short term. “Trump was pissed, he was caught off guard,” a former West Wing official briefed on the talks said. Sources said Ayers, who has triplets, told Trump he wanted to return to Georgia with his wife in the spring and work on a super PAC supporting Trump’s 2020 re-election. But a former White House official said Ayers wanted to avoid intense scrutiny on his financial dealings (last year, Ayers reported a net worth of $12.2 million to $54.8 million from his political-consulting ventures). “He started getting calls from reporters with requests for information about how he made his money and he thought, ‘Do I really want to do this?’” said a source familiar with his thinking.
I highlighted this before Ayers turned down the job. This is a grifting story more than a "nobody wants to work for Trump" story. He's had an incredible run of conservative grift (his last gig was an arbitrage play to try to resell political ad time), and the one thing that could make it all come crashing down is painting a target on his back. Trump's Super PAC will make him far more money, involves less facepalming, and fewer meetings with extremely expensive lawyers.
posted by zachlipton at 10:17 PM on December 10 [27 favorites]


GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' (Scott Wong, The Hill)

I mean, it's "news," but I can't think of a topic more DGAF. As a lefty I'm not the most reliable source for this idea, but the Republican Party is over.
posted by rhizome at 10:25 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


WRT kirkaracha's upstream WaPo article link, Trump’s lies and disinformation require a new kind of media response:
...Trump is not engaged in conventional lying. He’s engaged in spreading disinformation. The president has lied dozens and dozens of times about how much the United States pays into NATO as well as about the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III; he has falsely claimed dozens of times apiece that Democrats are the ones who colluded with Russia (a particularly virulent species of up-is-downism); that a border wall will stop the flow of drugs; that our immigration laws are very permissive; and that we have “lost” billions of dollars to trade deficits.
...
[In my book] I suggest that the president wields disinformation as an assertion of power:

here is a reason Trump regularly tells lies that are very easy to debunk: The whole point of them is to assert the power to say what the truth is, even when — or especially when — easily verifiable facts, ones that are right in front of our noses, dictate the contrary. The brazenness and shamelessness of his lying is not just a by-product of an effort to mislead voters that Trump is merely taking to new levels. Rather, the brazenness and shamelessness of the lying is central to his broader project of declaring for himself the power to say what reality is.
Compare this NYT 12/14/2014 op-ed by Peter Pomerantsev [WP bio], Russia’s Ideology: There Is No Truth:
The Kremlin’s goal is to control all narratives, so that politics becomes one great scripted reality show. The way it wields power illustrates and reinforces this psychology. Take Vladislav Y. Surkov [WP bio,*], an adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin who is said to manage, among other things, the public image of the Russian-speaking separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine. He helped invent a new strain of authoritarianism based not on crushing opposition from above, but on climbing into different interest groups and manipulating them from the inside. On his desk in the Kremlin, Mr. Surkov had phones bearing the names of leaders of supposedly independent parties. Nationalist leaders like Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky would play the right-wing buffoon to make Mr. Putin look moderate by contrast.
...
As the Kremlin plays the West, we see it extend the tactics it uses at home to foreign affairs. The Kremlin courts the West’s financial elites, including the German and American business lobbies that opposed new sanctions; backs anticapitalist shows like Abby Martin’s “Breaking the Set” on the broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today); and encourages the European far right with money and support to parties such as France’s National Front. The Kremlin can’t hope to dominate the West as it does the domestic situation, but its aim is to sow division, to “disorganize” the enemy through an information war.
...
At the core of this strategy is the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth. This notion allows the Kremlin to replace facts with disinformation. We saw one example when Russian media spread a multitude of conspiracy theories about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July, from claiming that radar data showed Ukrainian jets had flown near the plane to suggesting that the plane was shot down by Ukrainians aiming at Mr. Putin’s presidential jet. The aim was to distract people from the evidence, which pointed to the separatists, and to muddy the water to a point where the audience simply gave up on the search for truth.
*See also Sovereign Democracy and previously on MeFi.

It's not to say that Trump is a Russian agent, but a useful idiot whose ego, populist appeal, disruptive domestic actions/inactions, uninformed foreign policy, unbridled reality-free statements (and our reactions to them) happen to align with Russian interests.
posted by cenoxo at 11:43 PM on December 10 [22 favorites]


Oh man, the GOP has Emmer in charge of campaigns? The GOP seems to be surprised that hooking your cart to crazy horse leading to road mayhem and injury was a thing. Emmer was never accused of being an innovator and he is an entrenched conservative so any post mortem not aligning with triple downing on crazy will be ignored.
posted by jadepearl at 1:13 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


This probably surprises literally nobody but it's still sort of shocking:
It Sure Looks Like Saudi Arabia Used Veterans to Funnel Money to Trump
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:40 AM on December 11 [19 favorites]


The Guardians for Truth: Khashoggi and other slain journalists are Time's People of the Year.

I can live with that.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:36 AM on December 11 [44 favorites]


> GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' (Scott Wong, The Hill)

Damn, articles like that take me back to the halcyon days of December 2012:

“You can’t run and win a national election in an electorate that is becoming decreasingly white and increasingly minority and lose 80 percent of the minority vote,” he said. “That math just doesn’t add up.”

After a few conversations along these lines the GOP decided they could just double down on voter suppression instead.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:08 AM on December 11 [6 favorites]


Trump environmental news round-up:

NYT: Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections "The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants."

NYT: Trump Team Pushes Fossil Fuels at Climate Talks. Protests Erupt, but Allies Emerge, Too. "Trump administration officials at high-stakes climate talks here offered an unapologetic defense of fossil fuels on Monday, arguing that a rapid retreat from coal, oil and gas was unrealistic. While that stance brought scorn from environmentalists and countries that favor stronger action to fight global warming, there are signs that the administration is finding a receptive audience among other major fossil-fuel producers, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia."

Washington Post: Interior Dept. Officials Downplayed Federal Wildlife Experts' Concerns About Trump’s Border Wall, Documents Show "Interior Department officials stripped from a key letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection a number of warnings by career biologists and wildlife managers about the potential impacts of the border wall on the area’s rare cats and other animals, according to new documents released under the Freedom of Information Act."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:25 AM on December 11 [7 favorites]


In his latest attempt to make the Interior Department’s activities less transparent, Ryan Zinke shifted responsibility for handling public records requests from a career employee to a political appointee [acting solicitor Daniel Jorjani] with a long history working for conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch.

It's actually worse than that:
In 2004, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, J. Steven Griles, resigned amidst ethics/sex scandals and a corruption scandal that resulted in him being sentenced to prison for 10 months. The then Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, Lynn Scarlett, was promoted to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Ms. Scarlett took Dan Jorjani with her in her promotion and Mr. Jorjani became the Counselor to the Deputy Secretary. Through April and May 2006, Ms. Scarlett became the acting Secretary of the DOI, following the resignation of Secretary of the DOI, Gale Norton, amidst corruption scandals involving Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company Ms. Norton would go on to work for after her time at the DOI. In 2008, Mr. Jorjani was among the highest-paid 10% in the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. Dan Jorjani left the DOI with the end of the Bush Administration.

In 2007, a Climate Change Task Force (a climate change denial group) was created “to study climate change and its effects on the responsibilities of the Department of Interior.” The task-force was led by Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett, during which time Mr. Jorjani was working as her Counselor so he likely played some role in its activities.
posted by odinsdream at 6:35 AM on December 11 [4 favorites]


Great job by Michael Anton on @foxandfriends. A true National Security expert!
Dude is up and at ‘em this morning with a shout-out to Michael Anton, the NSC spokesman and notorious menswear troll.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:45 AM on December 11 [3 favorites]


Washington Post: Pelosi, Schumer to Meet with Trump, Offer $1.3 Billion For Border As Shutdown Looms
Democratic leaders plan to offer President Trump $1.3 billion in funding for a border fence when they meet Tuesday at the White House, a bid that falls far short of the $5 billion Trump is demanding to fund a border wall.

Democrats, Republicans and the White House have until Dec. 21 to reach a budget deal if they are to avert a partial government shutdown, but talks are deadlocked over funding for the wall.

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) prepare for the Tuesday morning, Democrats and Trump are, if anything, moving further apart.[…]

The $1.3 billion would extend current funding levels contained in the spending bill for the Homeland Security Department — which Democrats want to maintain at existing levels if no new deal can be reached.

If no deal is reached by the end of next week, funding will run out for the Homeland Security Department and other federal agencies. Those agencies, making up about 25 percent of the federal government, are operating on a short-term spending bill Congress passed last week to move the shutdown deadline.
The Budget Guy blog: Trump Is Again Playing Hamlet Over Shutting Down The Government
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:49 AM on December 11


Old white Democrats' idea of bipartisanship: What if you only bulldoze half of the National Butterfly Center?
posted by odinsdream at 6:57 AM on December 11 [24 favorites]


It's been joked here more than once that what should be offered for the wall is matching funds -- for every dollar Mexico pays, the US government provides a dollar. Or even two dollars: Mexico would only have to pay for one-third of the wall, a bargain! Surely they can spare two billion out of Trump's asked-for six billion dollars?

But... can anyone explain why it wouldn't be a bad idea for Democrats to make that a serious proposal? Perhaps it would come across as inherently or "obviously" a joke. But any argument along those lines is calling Trump's promise itself unserious, by definition. Why not have the conversation? What might the president say if asked about it?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:06 AM on December 11 [5 favorites]


But... can anyone explain why it wouldn't be a bad idea for Democrats to make that a serious proposal?

Serious answer: because it accepts Trump's framing of the border wall, it further supports the idea that we need a militarized border or even border "security" at all, it leaves Democrats out of control of the narrative, and it's transparently manipulative and therefore likely to go nowhere while burning time and political capital for nothing.
posted by odinsdream at 7:10 AM on December 11 [27 favorites]


Poll: Americans Want Trump To Compromise On Border Wall Amid Possible Shutdown:
As President Trump continues to threaten to potentially shut down the government over his border wall, Americans would prefer to see him compromise to prevent gridlock, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll.

By a 21-point margin — 57 percent to 36 percent — Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown, rather than stand firm. About two-thirds of Republicans say the opposite, and the president has been focused on maintaining his base.
65% of Republicans do not think Trump should compromise, even if it means a shutdown, and 63% say building a wall should be a top priority. For "strong Republicans", only 19% believe Trump should compromise on wall funding to avoid a shutdown.
posted by peeedro at 7:13 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


But... can anyone explain why it wouldn't be a bad idea for Democrats to make that a serious proposal?

Plus likely to piss Mexico off by putting that stupid they-ll-pay-for-the-wall stuff back on the table just to make a point.
posted by Mocata at 7:16 AM on December 11 [5 favorites]


ZeusHumms: GOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' (Scott Wong, The Hill)

News editors, you really should list the year in these sort of articles. Oh, the article states it:

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is calling on incoming House GOP campaigns chief Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and the rest of the leadership team to conduct an autopsy to find out what went wrong for Republicans in the disastrous 2018 midterms.

See, because
After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee released its autopsy report (PDF), pledging to make a concerted effort to reach Latino voters, after Mitt Romney only garnered 27 percent of their support. Then came Donald Trump, whose inflammatory rhetoric alienated a large swath of the Latino electorate and hampered the GOP’s outreach effort. A newly released Univision poll shows the repercussions of that.
From a now-tragic article, titled Hillary Clinton Leads Among Latino Voters, According to a Univision Poll from The Atlantic waaay back on July 14, 2016.

Talking Points Memo pulled six bullet points from the RNC 2012 Autopsy Report:
  1. Pass Immigration Reform Yesterday -- "the party’s standing with Latino voters has gotten so dangerously low that the RNC’s report openly begs Republicans to change their position in defiance of the party’s own 2012 platform"
  2. Listen To Minorities -- "Much of the report is about encouraging Republicans to listen not just to Republican minorities, but to reach out to black, Hispanic, and Asian American voters in their own communities. The reason: arithmetic.
  3. Gays Aren’t Going Away -- "The RNC’s report doesn’t come out for marriage equality, but it warns that the party needs to move left on gay issues, not so much because gays are an important voting bloc, but because intolerance scares off other groups of voters, too."
  4. Epistemic Closure Is Real -- this is "a condition in which conservatives block out all dissenting voices until eventually their own arguments sound nonsensical to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them. The RNC report concludes this is a real and growing problem."
  5. Look To The States -- "The RNC report makes a careful distinction between federal Republicans — bad! — and state Republicans — good! The GOP currently holds 30 governorships and many of them, like Chris Christie in New Jersey and John Kasich in Ohio, have been both moving to the center and gaining in popularity recently."
  6. Stop Being The Rich Guys -- "Less than year after nominating a millionaire investor who proclaimed that “corporations are people,” the RNC is concerned that the party has become too closely tied with wealthy interests."
So ... complete failure on #1, #2, and #3, #4 has been embraced as a way to keep the base focused on its own reality. For #5, Chris Christie probably isn't the best poster boy here, and Democrats Took House, Governorships, State Legislatures in Blue Wave Election, so way to lose at State politics, too.

Oh and #6? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Trump's era is The Big Grift for donors and backers. The Rich Guys are happily raking it in (except for those tariffs).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on December 11 [8 favorites]


Serious answer: because it accepts Trump's framing of the border wall, it further supports the idea that we need a militarized border or even border "security" at all

They're already doing this with offering 1.6 billion for even more border security.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:24 AM on December 11 [10 favorites]


By a 21-point margin — 57 percent to 36 percent — Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown, rather than stand firm. About two-thirds of Republicans say the opposite, and the president has been focused on maintaining his base.

Which immediately begs the question, are there less R than D, are D's even more in favor of compromise, or what else can explain the 57/36 break?

So I looked it up. Turns out "all of the above". Party ID comes to 33D/27R/39I & on compromise it's 71D/29R/63I. So there's more of us, we feel more strongly in favor of compromise than they're against it & the I's side with us 2:1.
posted by scalefree at 7:40 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


Yahoo headline of the story says "Trump is drawing line in the sand over border wall."

A line in the sand. That's the sort of border wall I want.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:52 AM on December 11 [12 favorites]


Washington Post: Pelosi, Schumer to Meet with Trump, Offer $1.3 Billion For Border As Shutdown Looms

Wasn't this money already promised to Trump? In other words, are they really implying that they're not bringing any new money to the table?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:57 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


Which immediately begs the question, are there less R than D, are D's even more in favor of compromise, or what else can explain the 57/36 break?... Turns out "all of the above".

The actual poll questions are rather painful, viz.:
- Do you approve or disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling immigration policy?
-Do you approve or disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the reuniting of immigrant children who were separated at the border from their parents? [Ed. note: There's no question as to whether you approve or disapprove of President Donald Trump separating children from their parents]
-Do you approve or disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the migrant caravan? [Ed. note: there is no question about refugees, at all; this entirely accepts Trump's framing]
-Do you approve or disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the protection of US borders?
-Do you approve or disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling undocumented immigrants already in this country?
-Do you think building a wall between the US and Mexico should be an immediate priority for Congress, should not be an immediate priority, or the issue should not be a priority at all for Congress?
- Is your view closer to 'President Trump should compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock' or 'President Trump should not compromise on the border wall even if it means a government shutdown' or 'Unsure'
That's all of them.

Think of all the stuff that isn't being asked here: the active separation of families as a deterrent is not asked about; Trump's efforts to block refugees from reaching safety is not polled; there's no questions at all about the Muslim ban, or other restrictions on legal immigration; the only reason given for compromise is 'avoiding gridlock' and does not acknowledge that there may be reasons to, say, not build the wall. A lot of this really assumes Trump's framing -- and I get that they're asking people about Trump's views and policies, but talking about 'wall: NOW, maybe later, maybe never' rather than 'immigration and tourism: should it be easier or harder for people to enter and exit America, as visitors, as refugees, as future citizens (to or from America)' basically means that maximal position being captured here is 'I would prefer the status quo' rather than 'I would prefer we tear down some of the walls that currently exist.'

Not all polls can poll all questions, but it's still frustrating, and indicative of how Trump has managed to drive the terms of the current immigration debate.
posted by cjelli at 8:00 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


Yahoo headline of the story says "Trump is drawing line in the sand over border wall."


More like building a wall over a drawn line in the sand, amirite?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:08 AM on December 11


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