"His deceit, which is a fundamental component of the crimes
February 25, 2019 6:37 AM   Subscribe

of conviction and relevant conduct, extended to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the Special Counsel’s Office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government. In sum, upon release from jail, Manafort presents a grave risk of recidivism." The Manafort sentencing memo recently filed by the special counsel's office adds another 25 pages (and 800+ pages of exhibits) to the slowly written Mueller report that’s sitting in plain sight. The Associated Press also reports on how court records reveal a Mueller report right in plain view.

• Trump-Russia Investigation Round-up:
What we learned about Trumpworld outreach to Russia since Mueller’s investigation began (WaPo) "Mueller has not accused any Trump associate of illegally conspiring with the Russian effort to tilt the election. But in the past 21 months, his investigation and independent reporting have revealed numerous occasions on which people around Trump sought Russian help – both to benefit Trump personally and politically."

Roger Stone's and Jerome Corsi's Time in the Barrel (Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker) "Mueller has shown that Russian citizens and companies created a stunning array of fake social-media accounts to boost Trump and damage Clinton, and that Russians hacked and released, notably to WikiLeaks, the e-mails of prominent Democrats, including John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair." • Kompromat: Or, Revelations from the Unpublished Portions of Andrea Manafort’s Hacked Texts (Maya Gurantz, LA Review of Books) [CW: abuse]

'Even Nixon wasn’t like him': Trump's bid to upend Russia inquiry unprecedented, experts say (Guardian) "Although Mueller is expected to adhere to justice department precedent, under which a sitting president would not be indicted, he could recommend obstruction of justice charges against the president."

Manafort Is Expected to Face Charges in New York, Even if Trump Pardons Him (NYT) • If Mueller is done, states could file their own charges — even against Trump (WaPo)

Trump can’t run the Mueller playbook on New York feds (Politico) "For starters, they have jurisdiction over the president’s political operation and businesses — subjects that executive privilege doesn't cover." • Cohen Gave Prosecutors New Information on the Trump Family Business (NYT) "The continued scrutiny of the Trump family business and inaugural committee from the Southern District comes as Mr. Mueller is said to be wrapping up his investigation. Once he completes a report with his findings, various aspects of his investigation are expected to live on in the Southern District and other United States attorneys offices."

Schiff vows lawsuit for Mueller report if it’s not released (AP) "Democrats could use Mueller’s findings as the basis of impeachment proceedings. In a letter Friday, the Democrats warned against withholding information on Trump because of Justice Department opinions that the president can’t be indicted." • Schiff: 'We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify' if report not made public (Politico)
• National Emergency Round-up:
Trump’s Emergency Declaration Will Be Challenged in Court. Will He Lose? (MoJo) A senior Obama administration attorney explains the legal case for and against Trump’s move to get around Congress.

Trump’s Border Wall Faces Texas-Size Backlash From Land Owners (Bloomberg) "At least one lawsuit is challenging the Trump administration’s emergency declaration, with others likely to follow. The first, brought by the nonprofit group Public Citizen on behalf of private landowners, argues that Trump violated the U.S. constitution’s separation of powers when he invoked the National Emergencies Act."

Tracking the legal challenges to Trump's emergency declaration (CNN) "So far, at least five lawsuits have been filed challenging the declaration. The argument at the core of each lawsuit is similar: Trump exceeded his authority and circumvented Congress in an attempt to achieve his signature campaign promise for an emergency that, plaintiffs argue, doesn't exist."

Trump’s Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice (NYT) "The president’s move left Senate Republicans sharply divided, and it remains to be seen whether they will act collectively to try to stop Mr. Trump or how far into uncharted territory they are willing to follow a headstrong president operating with no road map beyond his own demands."

Trump vows veto as Democrats try to block emergency order (AP) "Should the House and the Senate initially approve the measure, Congress seems unlikely to muster the two-thirds majorities in each chamber that would be needed later to override a Trump veto."

Pelosi Begins Drive to Block Trump’s Emergency Declaration (NYT) "With little doubt that Ms. Pelosi can muster the House votes to block the declaration, her goal is to raise pressure on Republicans to defend the power granted to Congress by the Constitution to control federal spending." • House ready to go to war with Trump over national emergency (Politico) "House Democrats will vote Tuesday to block Trump's effort to go around Congress to build his wall."
• North Korea Round-up:
Trump bets on North Korea to break his losing streak (Politico) "Stung by domestic defeat after a losing battle with Democrats in Washington, D.C., this winter, President Donald Trump hopes his negotiating skills can achieve better results some 8,000 miles away when he meets with North Korea’s leader in Vietnam later this month."

Dem chairmen accuse Trump of withholding information on North Korea (Politico) "“Our ability to conduct oversight of U.S. policy toward North Korea on behalf of the American people has been inappropriately curtailed by your administration’s unwillingness to share information with Congress,” Reps. Eliot Engel, Adam Smith and Adam Schiff — who chair the foreign affairs, armed services and intelligence panels, respectively — wrote in a letter to the president."

The United States Is Still Trying to Sell North Korea on Denuclearization (Atlantic) "Days before Donald Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong Un, an administration official admits that Kim may not be prepared to part with his nuclear weapons." • Trump aides worry he’ll get outfoxed in North Korea talks (Politico) "The administration is downplaying expectations for next week’s summit." • ‘No rush’: Trump redefines success ahead of second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (WaPo)

'Chilling the atmosphere': North Korea media condemns U.S. Democrats ahead of summit (Reuters) "One U.S. government Korea analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the commentary appeared aimed at softening Trump up ahead of the summit. “If Kim facilitates Trump using the talk for domestic political gain, he probably thinks Trump will offer him more favorable terms,” the analyst said." • Fire, fury, love? The mythology behind the Trump-Kim summit (AP) "The next chapters are yet to be written by Trump and Kim. Their story so far has been marked by overwrought accounts of the perils at hand and over-the-top pronouncements of progress."
• Venezuela Round-up:
A Staggering Exodus: Millions of Venezuelans Are Leaving the Country, on Foot (NYT) "They are fleeing dangerous shortages of food, water, electricity and medicine, as well as the government’s political crackdowns, in which more than 40 people have been killed in the last few weeks alone." • Venezuela’s border showdown is reaching a breaking point (Axios)

Trump, in risky gambit, ratchets up pressure on Venezuela as tensions flare at the border (WaPo) "Trump has seized on Venezuela as an opportunity to condemn socialism and potentially restore democracy — a stance popular with his political base — after elections last year were widely denounced as fraudulent." • U.S. lawmakers sound off during humanitarian aid standoff on Venezuelan border (WaPo) "Republicans are pretty much unified in criticism of Maduro government. But Democrats are split on U.S. role in growing conflict."

Pompeo pledges continued pressure on Venezuela's Maduro (AP) "The United States will continue to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro until he understands his days are “numbered,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday." • On Foreign Trips, Pence Steps Out of Trump’s Shadow but Always Stays on Message (NYT) "On Monday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to visit Bogotá, Colombia, to reinforce the Trump administration’s demands that Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president, step down to clear the way for Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who has the support of the White House."

'Venezuelan blood is being spilled': tension flares near border with Brazil (Guardian) "“We want the world to know what is happening, that the blood of Venezuelan people is being spilled and the government is trying to hide it,” Martinez said. “They are killing the indigenous on their land.”"
• Syria Round-up:
A desperate struggle for survival inside the last corner of the Islamic State (WaPo) "As U.S.-backed forces surround the last square mile of Islamic State territory, preparing for a final assault on the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, people who have escaped describe a desperate scrabble for survival in the dying days of the statelet."

Allies decline request to stay in Syria after U.S. troops withdraw (WaPo) "European refusal to stay unless President Trump reverses at least part of his troop withdrawal order is one of several factors that U.S. military officials, lawmakers and senior administration officials have said should make Trump think again." • In Latest Shift, Trump Agrees to Leave 400 Troops in Syria (NYT) "Whether Mr. Trump’s decision will persuade skeptical European leaders was not yet clear."

From Syria, IS slips into Iraq to fight another day (AP) "Islamic State fighters facing defeat in Syria are slipping across the border into Iraq, where they are destabilizing the country’s fragile security, U.S. and Iraqi officials say."
• China Trade Round-up:
Trump delays increase in tariffs on China, citing progress in trade talks (WaPo) "The president’s decision to delay the increase in tariffs, which would have taken effect March 2, represents a gamble that his personal intervention can smooth the way to a final deal and quiet skeptics who fear he may be too quick to capitulate to the Chinese."

Chinese and Iranian Hackers Renew Their Attacks on U.S. Companies (NYT) "Businesses and government agencies in the United States have been targeted in aggressive attacks by Iranian and Chinese hackers who security experts believe have been energized by President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year and his trade conflicts with China."

South Dakota governor says Trump trade wars have 'devastated' the state (Politico) "The former congresswoman said that she has spoken to the White House in recent days and plans to engage them on the issue again while she’s in town for the Republican Governors Association winter meeting this week."

U.S. and China Extend Talks, but Final Deal Remains Elusive (NYT) "Mr. Trump again indicated that he might intertwine a national security case with the trade talks, despite concerns from his own law enforcement and intelligence officials about doing so."
IN OTHER HEADLINES:

How Mitch McConnell Enables Trump—He’s not an institutionalist. He’s the man who surrendered the Senate to the president. (NYT Opinion)

Dems prepare to subpoena family separation documents from Trump administration (Politico) "Democratic members on the committee are expected to huddle Monday night to discuss a busy and dramatic week ahead for the panel, which will hear public testimony from President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday."

Meet the Man Curbing Trump’s Power Without Anyone Noticing (Politico) "As D.C. attorney general, Racine is leading the ongoing emoluments suit against the president over foreign governments’ allegedly corrupt patronage of the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, along with Maryland AG Brian Frosh."

Puerto Rico Gov: Trump refuses meeting over hurricane relief (AP) "“Eventually the buck has to stop somewhere,” Rossello said Friday on the opening day of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. “It has to stop with the president.”"

Trump Said He Ordered His Administration To Withhold Wildfire Aid To California. FEMA Says He Never Did.—The president tweeted that he was cutting off disaster assistance to wildfire survivors to punish California officials. But no record of such an order exists. (Buzzfeed) The only sign of this was a tweet from January 9th.

'Abuse of corporate power': Bill de Blasio slams Amazon for cancelling HQ2 deal (Guardian) "The tech giant’s decision, de Blasio said, was “arbitrary and unfair to working people”." • Trump blames 'radical left' for collapse of New York's Amazon deal (Politico)

Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news (Guardian) "Company broke privacy and competition law and should be regulated urgently, say MPs" • 'Outrageous abuse of privacy': New York orders inquiry into Facebook data use (Guardian) "Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over privacy issues, including a US Federal Trade Commission investigation into disclosures that Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87m users with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica."

Average tax refund down 17 percent, IRS reports (Politico) "Unveiling new withholding tables last year, to account for the new law, Mnuchin called accusations by Democrats that the administration would drive down refunds “ridiculous.”"

Damaged GOP faces tough path in North Carolina election do-over (Politico) "It's unclear who will run in the Republican primary in North Carolina's 9th District after state officials ordered a new election Thursday."

Federal prosecutors broke law in Jeffrey Epstein case, judge rules (Miami Herald) "Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta allowed Epstein to quietly plead guilty in state court to two prostitution charges and he served just 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. His accomplices, some of whom have never been identified, were not charged." • White House looking into Acosta role in sex abuse plea deal (AP) "President Donald Trump said he didn’t know much about the case but volunteered that Acosta has done “a great job” as labor secretary. As for the Epstein case, Trump added, “That seems like a long time ago”"

Mississippi players kneel during national anthem in response to Confederacy rally near the arena (AP) "“This was all about the hate groups that came to our community to try spread racism and bigotry,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “It’s created a lot of tension for our campus. Our players made an emotional decision to show these people they’re not welcome on our campus, and we respect our players’ freedom and ability to choose that.”"

2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations (NYT) "As Ms. Warren and Ms. Harris seek to lead the party into a new era, their support for the policy — which did not come with specifics — signals just how quickly prominent Democrats have expanded their political imagination after decades of dominance by the Clintons and Mr. Obama."

Today is the 767th day of the Trump administration. There are 616 days until the 2020 elections.

New in MetaTalk:
MetaTalk on Keeping Arguing about the US Primaries in Check, about avoiding the stuff that has gone badly on MetaFilter in previous election cycles.
2 Hyuck 2 Hyucking, a thread where people can post their jokes, one-liners, favorite Twitter snark, alternative song lyrics, etc...
There is no coin cabal, come chat about a Megathread challenge coin

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose"

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites:
All Care For All People
The Liberal Argument For a Green New Deal
Virginia Politics In Chaos (Northam-Fairfax thread)
The Empty Quadrant (on the social-liberal-fiscal-conservatism of Howard Schultz)
• OnceUponATime's Active Measures site
• Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: Will having political bumper stickers on my vehicle jeopardize my job?; Working for a Campaign 101; Should I volunteer for this candidate? (AskMe).

As always, please consider MeFi chat and the unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack for hot-takes and live-blogging breaking news, the 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 Doktor Zed, box, 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 Little Dawn (1975 comments total) 154 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow! Thanks for rounding up all the chaos!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:51 AM on February 25 [28 favorites]


Good gravy, Little Dawn! Is this the biggest news roundup yet? Amazing work!
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:01 AM on February 25 [20 favorites]


News never stops. From Ronan Farrow for the New Yorker: A Lawsuit by a Campaign Worker Is the Latest Challenge to Trump’s Nondisclosure Agreements. The plaintiff is a woman who worked for the campaign and says she experienced discrimination and that he kissed her forcibly.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:02 AM on February 25 [35 favorites]




For anyone wanting a break from the Democratic primary, here's how the Republican primary is going -- 538: How To Rate A Trump Challenger

The upshot is 'Trump will almost certainly be the nominee' (shocking, I know), given that his support among Republican voters remains stronger than incumbent presidents who faced serious primary challenges in the past; but that there's still some room for a primary challenger to weaken Trump on his way there, depending on how the rest of the year goes.
posted by cjelli at 7:17 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Amazing post, Little Dawn!
posted by mumimor at 7:51 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


I'm really enjoying this line from the White House's official statement denying that Trump kissed a campaign staffer without consent:

“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts.”

Multiple highly credible eye witness accounts of an event that never happened.
posted by The World Famous at 8:00 AM on February 25 [108 favorites]


WRT to delayed tariffs, a reprint of that WaPo article says:
The trade war has led to wild market gyrations over the past year, has drawn rebukes from American industries worried about damage to their supply chains and has contributed to what economists say is a marked slowing in global economic growth.
If the tariffs aren't actually "live" yet, are all the market effects just consequences of businesses bracing for the crash, so to speak, and pricing in the upcoming penalties before they actually take effect?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:05 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Don Junior making his attorneys relaxed and proud speaking on Fox and Friends this morning: "There are no actual crimes. There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we ever get into this crazy world" (Raw Story report from Travis Gettys).

Very hard to interpret as anything but "An actual crime is something you know you can be caught for, and at the time none of us did, so obviously that stuff didn't count."
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:10 AM on February 25 [51 favorites]


There are 10% tariffs already in place in many industries; the announcement today is that Trump has delayed bumping those to 25%.
posted by notyou at 8:11 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


> "There are no actual crimes. There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we ever get into this crazy world"

Ok, Don Jr. has got my attention. What did they do in 2006? This was when Trump was first flirting with the idea of running for President? It goes that far back?
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:13 AM on February 25 [27 favorites]


Little Dawn! I concur, this post is incredible. I'll be reading for two weeks just from what you've posted. Thanks!
posted by Harry Caul at 8:15 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


China's Chief Negotiator Literally Laughs In Donald Trump's Face During Trade Talk

I feel like the framing of these stories comes from a before-times environment of, like, Sorkin's West Wing, where our government is actually functioning and there's a deep awareness of social norms and cultural expectations and the gravity of various interactions and nods and sleights. You know. Not our current reality.

In our CURRENT reality, an honest headline (well, it wouldn't even actually be a story, but, anyway) would be more like "Someone in the room with Trump mildly makes what could maybe be a harrumph noise briefly while Trump behaves like a literal child"

It's just. Not..... it's so exhausting to keep coming across writers who are trying to make some little thing into something huge with Trump, because there are ACTUALLY huge terrible things going on and the things they insist on focusing on instead simply Do Not Register as a problem given how far off the rails we are.
posted by odinsdream at 8:19 AM on February 25 [42 favorites]


notyou: There are 10% tariffs already in place in many industries; the announcement today is that Trump has delayed bumping those to 25%.

Ah, OK, that makes more sense. Thank you.

(I suspect a lot of places priced in the full 25% to avoid a second price hike, but perhaps I am jaded.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:24 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


"Someone in the room with Trump mildly makes what could maybe be a harrumph noise briefly"

There was a great summary in the previous thread about why this was more significant than that.

TLDR: That "someone" was the fifth most powerful man in China. And that noise was his uncharacteristic reaction to Trump's fundamental misunderstanding of the trade agreement they were theoretically negotiating.
posted by diogenes at 8:25 AM on February 25 [38 favorites]


I *understand* that, and I still stand by what I'm saying. It actually DID NOT matter to Trump. He didn't notice, and if he did, he wouldn't understand why his actions were absurd, and even if he did notice and did understand, he wouldn't care. It's been flatly obvious to everyone watching this shitshow that Trump doesn't have a grasp on how anything works, doesn't care about norms, doesn't care about saying words about things he doesn't AT ALL understand. This isn't new, and it strikes me as a bunch of people writing AS IF this is a normal government system where such a sleight would be an enormous insult. It's just not. It doesn't matter.
posted by odinsdream at 8:33 AM on February 25 [31 favorites]


It only doesn't matter if Trump leaves office and the rest of the world decides to go back to treating the US the same as before. There's no guarantee of that. If the new norm is 'the US president's opinion doesn't really matter and you can laugh in their face', that's going to hurt a lot of future presidents as well.
posted by echo target at 8:47 AM on February 25 [13 favorites]


It actually DID NOT matter to Trump. He didn't notice, and if he did, he wouldn't understand why his actions were absurd, and even if he did notice and did understand, he wouldn't care.

That makes sense, and from Bloomberg's video (embedded in a tweet), you can see that Trump is wholly focused on Lighthizer and their dumb debate of MOU versus Contract, and Vice Premier Liu He, the top Chinese negotiator, laughed in a small enough way as to not even distract Trump from his dumb tangent.

It only doesn't matter if Trump leaves office and the rest of the world decides to go back to treating the US the same as before. There's no guarantee of that. If the new norm is 'the US president's opinion doesn't really matter and you can laugh in their face', that's going to hurt a lot of future presidents as well.

I don't think we're there, because Trump, for all his warping of norms, is still considered as the one to be warping the norms. There are things people do and say to and in front of Trump that no one does to other dignitaries. Yes, he's diminished the US position in global politics, but I think that we'd have to have a few Trumps in a row to really tank the US position as a standard.

And if you want to jump to the comment in the prior thread that addressed how notable it was that Vice Premier Liu He, the top Chinese negotiator, laughed out loud when Trump and debated terminology with Lighthizer, here is saysthis's informed comment for more context.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:52 AM on February 25 [13 favorites]


"We're gonna have the same document and we're going to call it a trade agreement. We're never using the term Memorandum of Understanding again; we're never saying that again." Trump apparently misses the part where Lighthizer says out loud in front of the world "we're going to have the same document [emphasis added] and call it something different [because this unreasonable child does not like the word memorandum for some reason, probably because it has too many Ms and sounds too ladyish] [obvious subtext added in case POTUS is lurking]."
posted by Don Pepino at 9:03 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


Don Pepino: because this unreasonable child does not like the word memorandum for some reason, probably because it has too many Ms and sounds too ladyish

It's more the word "understanding". In his world an "understanding" is something you arrange with plausible deniability because it's not as ironclad as a contract. He likes memoranda of understanding (or at least spoken ones) if the cameras are off.

It's a bit like if he got hung up on someone else the phrase "take care of him" non-euphemistically, because he associated it with mafia killing.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:25 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


Is Trump's wall "medieval?" A medieval historian explains the problem with invoking the era. (Eric Weiskott, Vox)
Stop calling Trump “medieval.” It’s an insult to the Middle Ages. It’s not only ahistorical. It obscures uniquely modern evils.
[...]

In the end, it is both more accurate and more rhetorically effective to admit that the bad things around us belong to the same history as the good things. Mass incarceration, the scientific method, terrorism, the automobile, fascism: these are irreducibly modern responses to modern conditions. No person, event, or movement can take us back to the Middle Ages, because history only points in one direction. We can learn much from the violence of the past, but not by wishing away the violence of the present.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:38 AM on February 25 [14 favorites]


"There are no actual crimes. There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we ever get into this crazy world"

I think the phrase you're grasping for there, Don Jr., is "outside the statute of limitations," which you better hope is the case. There are no "past lives." You have this one life, and if you committed crimes in the past, then you might end up sentenced for them in the future.

Which beings up an interesting question - to what extent would relevant statutes of limitations protect Trump, his family, and others from state and federal crimes they committed in 2006 or so?
posted by The World Famous at 9:58 AM on February 25 [12 favorites]


Janet Yellen comes forward to talk about Trump's lack of understanding of basic business, the Federal Reserve and economics in general. < Marketplace
posted by Harry Caul at 10:01 AM on February 25 [27 favorites]


to what extent would relevant statutes of limitations protect Trump, his family, and others from state and federal crimes they committed in 2006 or so?

Some statutes of limitations are in Statute of Limitation in
Federal Criminal Cases: An Overview
. 10 years for various types of fraud or for slave trafficking, which I'm not saying is necessarily the case, but note that [o]rdinarily, the statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the crime has been completed. Although the federal crime of conspiracy is complete when one of the plotters commits an affirmative act in its name, the period for conspiracies begins with the last affirmative act committed in furtherance of the scheme.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 10:04 AM on February 25 [19 favorites]


I worked in Venezuela a decade or two ago, and during that time there was at least one round of international reporting on how the country was in chaos, the "people" were revolting, the economy was on the verge of collapse, etc. None of that bombast matched what I saw on the ground, though all the individual anecdotes reported on where true and truly indicative of conflict and suffering. I don't have any special access to the ground truth any more, but one of the harms done by the Trump "fake news" era is that I now see much larger swathes of the left credulously accepting international reporting from media outlets like CNN, NYT, the Economist, BBC, etc. Those groups may be part of the opposition and on our side, but they remain heavily biased towards military interventions, regime change, center-right governments, and circulation-boosting exaggeration. This isn't to say that there isn't significant tragedy and chaos going on in Venezuela right now, but it's worth remembering the skepticism we used to have about the media's role in these things, especially now that all of these articles are both feeding into, and feeding off of, the overall pro-fascist anti-democracy goals of the Trump administration. Just watching the Dems in this WaPo article decide between "Trump is right but I oppose a military invasion for now" and "Trump is right and I reluctantly support a military invasion" is giving me unpleasant flashbacks.
posted by chortly at 10:10 AM on February 25 [48 favorites]


Which beings up an interesting question - to what extent would relevant statutes of limitations protect Trump, his family, and others from state and federal crimes they committed in 2006 or so?

From around exactly that period, ProPoublica (reporting in 2018): Inside a Trump Project that Failed. Spoiler: The Trumps Still Won.

There's a lot to unpack there, including this bit:
Donald Jr. would indeed make plans to jointly buy one unit with three Trump Organization colleagues — on sweetheart terms not offered to other buyers. They got a discounted price, a reduced down payment (5 percent) and the right to sell before the building was completed, according to emails that emerged in litigation. The Tampa developers helped arrange a sale that was to net the three insiders a quick $200,000 profit; emails show the two sides also discussed backdating paperwork to assure the gain would get favorable tax treatment. (Ultimately, the project failed before Donald Jr. and his colleagues could make any profits, the emails suggest.)
(Emphasis mine.)

If there are emails showing Donald Jr. attempting to evade or avoid or minimize taxes through some mild fraud, you have to wonder whether this was the only attempt, and whether he ever succeeded. Especially since his father certainly did.
posted by cjelli at 10:16 AM on February 25 [23 favorites]


the period for [statutes of limitations involving] conspiracies begins with the last affirmative act committed in furtherance of the scheme

Could that affirmative act be construed as the public lies Trump and his cronies keep telling to cover up their illegal and actions?
posted by Gelatin at 10:17 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


(I suspect a lot of places priced in the full 25% to avoid a second price hike, but perhaps I am jaded.)

Definitely not true for mass retail. These tariffs are a huge deal for suppliers and retailers even at the ten percent level. Most of the big box stores have tried to avoid raising retails at all but we are starting to see some movement upward.

No major retailer would accept at this point the kind of increase you would need to cover the 25% tariff if the item in question was only subject to the 10%.

Where I work we have been giving pricing for new items at both the 10% and 25% tariff.

As an aside the tariffs have wasted a tremendous amount of time and energy for everyone involved in consumer goods.
posted by nolnacs at 10:24 AM on February 25 [21 favorites]


Surely, there's somewhere between military intervention and what appears to be an ideologically driven denial regarding the abuses of the Venezuelan dictatorship. Neocons are only aided by the latter in service of their quest for the former.
posted by Selena777 at 11:15 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


So here's a semi-regular reminder that this is not just about us here, and our internal disputes. It's also abotu a left-wing mirror of Donald Trump trying to hold on to power in a once-wealthy nation.

Venezuela is decidedly not about us. For the same reason, we decidedly should not make it about us and imagine that somehow our involvement will improve the situation in any way.

Because our prior experience tends to show that, from Guatemala to Honduras to Nicaragua to Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, the DR, Cuba, and practically every other country in this hemisphere, not to mention a goodly part of the countries in the rest of the world, when the US gets involved in regime change, militarily or otherwise, things do not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go well.

If you're thinking anything's different this time, seriously, why would you think that?
posted by TheProfessor at 11:19 AM on February 25 [70 favorites]


CREW has assembled a report of Trump's campaign violations from the 2016 election, gathering the individual news stories that have broken over the past two years into a cohesive picture. They've identified eight criminal offenses, including seven felonies (that we know about so far):
• Causing American Media Inc. (AMI) to make and/or accepting (or causing his then lawyer Michael Cohen to accept) an unlawful corporate contribution related to Karen McDougal.
• Two instances of causing Cohen to make and/or accepting an unlawful individual contributions related to Stephanie Clifford and February 2015 online polling.
• Two instances of causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC’s failure to report contributions from AMI and Cohen related to McDougal and Clifford.
• Causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Making a false statement by failing to disclose liability to Cohen for the Clifford payment on his 2017 public financial disclosure form.
• Conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.
They've even produced a helpful chart to make the connections.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:19 AM on February 25 [51 favorites]


Greg Sargent has an interview with economist Gabriel Zucman: An election all about our Gilded Age levels of inequality
The other day, economist Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley put out a new paper that startled many observers, finding that wealth inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s.

The paper’s key attention-grabber: The 400 richest families in America now own a greater share of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 150 million people do.
...
Plum Line: You can look at the 1980s as the beginning of a debate in which we were told that unshackling the economy through deregulation and tax cuts would benefit everyone. Yet what we saw was a kind of triumph of the super-rich that was much more dramatic than anyone expected.

Zucman: The U.S. has run an unprecedented social experiment since the 1980s -- slashing the tax rate, deregulating finance and labor markets, cutting the minimum wage, and so on. Almost 40 years after the start of this experiment, we have the data to judge whether this experiment was successful or not.

What we are seeing is that for the bottom 50 percent of the income distribution, their average income was $16,000 a year per adult in 1980, adjusted for inflation. And it’s still $16,000 a year per adult today. The bottom half of the income distribution, on a pre-tax and -transfer basis, has had zero growth for more than a generation. What’s the lesson that we can draw from this experiment, and how can we do better?

Plum Line: Very powerful interests believe that this experiment was a smashing success.

Zucman: That is true. But the same was true in 1913 — and yet the Constitution was changed and a progressive income tax was introduced, which quickly became very progressive with top tax rates of 70 percent or more. This historical precedent makes me relatively optimistic about the prospect of substantial tax policy changes in the years to come, and in particular about the possibility of wealth taxation.
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on February 25 [79 favorites]


Under the broad topic of deceit being fundamental to crimes: Trump climate advisory panel structured to avoid public records -- Scientists with fringe views being recruited to disavow Trump admin's own report. (John Timmer for Ars Technica, Feb. 25, 2019)

It pulls together threads from the recent Washington Post article, White House to set up panel to counter climate change consensus, officials say -- The idea of an ad hoc group to reassess the government’s climate science findings represents a modified version of a plan championed by William Happer, the National Security Council’s senior director. (Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Brady Dennis, Feb. 24, 2019) and 'Adversarial' reviewers recruit climate skeptics (Scott Waldman for E&E News, Feb. 25, 2019)

In short, by the Post notes that a formal Federal Advisory Committee would include having meetings in public and creating extensive public records of its deliberations, so by creating an ad-hoc working group instead, it avoids the need for any public disclosure. Because these ghouls fear sunlight and transparency, because they know their decisions are based on faulty logic and flawed "science."
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on February 25 [19 favorites]


Selena777: Surely, there's somewhere between military intervention and what appears to be an ideologically driven denial regarding the abuses of the Venezuelan dictatorship. Neocons are only aided by the latter in service of their quest for the former.

Yes. It's weird to hear "Your opposition to Leader X amounts to rhetorical support for invading County X" because that's logically equivalent to the bullshit pro-Iraq-War "If you oppose invading County X, you must be in favor of its leader" that's also being rightly derided.

(Also, for my money, comparing Maduro to Trump actually strengthens the emotional argument against invading Venezuela, because as bad as Trump is, I don't want my country to be invaded and I don't think violent overthrow is the solution.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:12 PM on February 25 [9 favorites]


The idea of an ad hoc group to reassess the government’s climate science findings represents a modified version of a plan championed by William Happer, the National Security Council’s senior director.

That being William "the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler" Happer.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:27 PM on February 25 [22 favorites]


[CNN]

Michael Cohen needs to answer these five questions:

1. Who, if anyone else, was involved in making hush money payments to two women right before the 2016 election?

2. Before you gave false testimony to the Senate about the Trump Tower Moscow project, did you discuss or coordinate your false testimony with anyone else?

3. Did the Trump inaugural committee accept money from foreign contributors or commit other crimes?

4. Did Trump or anyone else ever talk to you or your lawyers about the possibility of a pardon?

5. What questions did you refuse to answer from the SDNY during your attempted cooperation?
posted by growabrain at 12:35 PM on February 25 [8 favorites]


In other words, "Hey, any rocks that Mueller forgot to tun over?"
posted by wenestvedt at 12:43 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Venezuela is decidedly not about us. For the same reason, we decidedly should not make it about us and imagine that somehow our involvement will improve the situation in any way.

Then you better rip up the mutual defense treaty of 1947. Otherwise we are one gunshot away from being involved.
posted by ocschwar at 12:48 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Then you better rip up the mutual defense treaty of 1947.

If the alternative is having to destroy a country and plunge a continent into destabilization and crimes against humanity because Bolsonaro says he was shot at, then let me go get my treaty rippin' gloves.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:54 PM on February 25 [22 favorites]


Four more:

6. How many other hush payments did you arrange for your erstwhile boss?
7. Did you threaten litigation based around NDAs to cover up potentially criminal activity?
8. What, if any communications did you or your boss have with Don McGahn or other FEC commissioners regarding the 2011 exploratory committee?
9. Did you and your boss gather blackmail material on public officials?
posted by holgate at 12:55 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


Then you better rip up the mutual defense treaty of 1947. Otherwise we are one gunshot away from being involved.

Only if we want to be, and Colombia wants us to be. The treaty obligates us to defend against an "armed attack". Armed attack is a term of art in international law which means an incident "which leads to a considerable loss of life and extensive destruction of property." One gunshot across the border is not an armed attack.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:55 PM on February 25 [14 favorites]


(there's loads of arguments back and forth about what exactly an armed attack is, but there's at least a bar to clear. Invading a country in response to a couple stray bullets across a border crossing would almost certainly be illegal under international law, and not obligated under our mutual defense treaties)
posted by BungaDunga at 12:59 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


One gunshot across the border is not an armed attack.

And the US better hope it stays that way otherwise we'd have attacked mexico.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:02 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


I'm reeling at the pointlessness of CNN's proposed questions for Cohen. Who is writing this stuff?

Hey, maybe ask Cohen about his communications to Trump and others regarding each of the actions we know he took on Trump's behalf during 2014-2017? Or ask him whether Trump directed him to submit the fraudulent legal bills by which he was reimbursed by the Trump Organization for the Stormy Daniels payment, and whether there have ever been other instances when Trump directed him to submit bills for legal services that Trump knew were false - and whether those were sent in a way that would constitute mail fraud or tax fraud. And that's just a couple things off the top of my head. Maybe somebody, at some point, could have a lawyer write some questions for Cohen that are carefully crafted to lead to actionable testimony?
posted by The World Famous at 1:09 PM on February 25 [11 favorites]


Before getting off onto other items, let's drill down on #1.

1. Who, if anyone else, was involved in making hush money payments to two women right before the 2016 election?

1.1 List each and every person, other than the 2 known, who received hush money payments right before the 2016 election.

1.1.1 On the prior list, circle the name "Jane Doe", as in Doe v. Trump and Epstein, who withdrew her lawsuit right before the 2016 election.
posted by mikelieman at 1:10 PM on February 25 [14 favorites]


then let me go get my treaty rippin' gloves

Even if you think this particular treaty is not important, it would be a pretty bad precedent to decide to ignore a mutual defense treaty just because we thought the cost was too high. Not only would it be a huge problem for many US allies around the world, it would remove the deterrent power of those treaties.

Of course, BungaDunga is correct and the idea that we would have to go to war because a bullet went over the line is simply not true. If Venezuela did a Russia-invades-Georgia style move, then I think we would be obligated (this seems highly unlikely to me, but I'm far from an expert on South American politics so maybe I'm wrong).
posted by thefoxgod at 1:43 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Geidner, Trump's Memo Appointing Matthew Whitaker Raises Questions About When He Actually Took Over DOJ
A newly released document regarding former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker's appointment shows that, at the earliest, President Donald Trump authorized Whitaker to lead the Justice Department a day later than officials previously said was the case.

White House and Justice Department officials previously had repeatedly declined to make public a copy of Trump's memorandum designating Whitaker the acting attorney general this past November. A copy of the document, obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, suggests why that was the case: The document raises several questions about the timing of and process involved in Whitaker's appointment.
posted by zachlipton at 1:51 PM on February 25 [17 favorites]


For the legal-minded...

How is it that in the Epstein/Acosta catastrophe that Acosta is not vulnerable to prosecution? The judge made a finding that he broke the law, so...
posted by j_curiouser at 2:47 PM on February 25 [14 favorites]


From the previous thread: I thought it's been confirmed that accounts of negative behavior can't be automatically canceled out by finding some people who that person treated okay (Franken's SNL colleagues, for instance) and getting them to sign a thing.

posted by Selena777 at 7:56 AM on February 25 [3 favorites +] [!]


As a counter-example, I give you "Bart O'Kavanaugh."
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:47 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


I thought here we agreed that that was dumb, though. We have so many other candidates without this reputation. Many of them are also qualified women.
posted by Selena777 at 3:08 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Former Lawmakers Pressure Congress to Reject Trump’s Emergency Declaration (NYT)
“It has always been a Republican fundamental principle that no matter how strong our policy preferences, no matter how deep our loyalties to presidents or party leaders, in order to remain a constitutional republic we must act within the borders of the Constitution,” wrote the former members of Congress, including Senators John Danforth, Chuck Hagel, Olympia J. Snowe and Richard Lugar, who implored Republicans to protect Congress’s constitutionally mandated power of the purse.

The security officials said there is neither a “documented terrorist or national security emergency at the southern border” nor an “emergency related to violent crime.”

The president’s assertions “are rebutted not just by the public record, but by his agencies’ own official data, documents, and statements,” the officials, including Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, and John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, said in their declaration.

“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today,” they wrote. [...]

Only one House Republican, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, has signed on to the resolution to block the declaration, scorning the idea that congressional Republicans who attacked President Barack Obama’s use of executive powers “now cry out for a king to usurp legislative powers.”
posted by Little Dawn at 3:09 PM on February 25 [16 favorites]


I thought here we agreed that that was dumb, though. We have so many other candidates without this reputation. Many of them are also qualified women.

I don't think this is so simple an issue. Two important principles are in tension here: One, that we should take allegations of abusive behavior seriously no matter who is being accused and who is doing the accusing. This would cut towards being a serious black mark against Klobuchar's candidacy. But the second principle is that we can not and should not hold women to a different standard than men, and when we do so we contribute to a reinforcement of the patriarchy. It is absolutely without question that Klobuchar and other women are being held to a much higher standard here. Disqualifying her on the basis of something that is not seen as disqualifying to a male candidate really is a problematic position.

So those principles are in tension. I think many of the people who think this is a easy thing to reconcile were already looking for reasons not to support Klobuchar. For example, if this disqualifies Klobuchar then it also disqualifies Bernie Sanders, and I have not seen a single person make the argument that Sanders can't be the nominee because of his treatment of staff.

In conclusion, politics is a land of contrasts.
posted by Justinian at 3:25 PM on February 25 [61 favorites]


So is the Democratic House ever going to start actually investigating stuff? I feel if the Mueller report is a big nothing, the pressure from the media and the right wing to "move on" will be immense. Richard Neal is slow-walking the tax releases, which is nuts. What the hell are they waiting for?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:25 PM on February 25 [8 favorites]


That's what I said! And I was told I'm impatient.

I dunno, I feel like if the fate of the nation is at stake as Democratic lawmakers have agreed that maybe you should light a fire under it. Like Cohen is testifying in a few days... and they've agreed that Russia stuff is off-limits. What the hell? It's absurd.

Let's get this party started, guys. I understand working a lot is, like, hard. But that's why you lawmakers ran, right? To work hard for the American people? It's time.
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on February 25 [10 favorites]


My understanding from recent reading (apologies for not having a source handy) is that they could fuck up the delicate balancing act that Mueller’s team is performing.

It’s going to happen — they just don’t want to cause a fumble right before the touchdown (whatever that may be).
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:29 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I would disqualify both Klobuchar (who I was kind of for before this) and Sanders (not a fan previously) for abuse of staff. I don't want more of that in the WH after Trump is out, thanks. That's extremely detrimental at work.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:29 PM on February 25 [25 favorites]


I subscribe to the Trump campaign mailing list to see how they're framing issues to their supporters, and got a message today whose subject is "Wall footage attached."

It includes some griping about people saying he couldn't build the wall, and then this:
Well I have some BREAKING NEWS for all of them:

THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL.

We're so close to reaching our ambitious goal of raising $2,000,000 to make a statement to Democrats to FINISH THE WALL. That’s why I’m calling on you, Benjamin to put us over the top. This is your moment to make a statement, it’s in your hands now.
In the email, the allcaps sentence links to a time-lapse video of the construction of what is very clearly a fence and not a wall. I know his supporters might say that's semantics, but it's really astounding to me just how deep and obvious the grift is. Not only are they leaning on their supporters to forget basic distinctions between words -- to unlearn language, essentially -- but the rest of the pitch is basically a bait and switch, too. They want their supporters to feel like they're giving money to building the wall, even though they're just giving money towards making a statement about building the wall. Also, how is $2M going to be used to "make a statement," exactly?

Anyway, just a brief broadcast from within virtual Trumpland.
posted by cudzoo at 3:35 PM on February 25 [27 favorites]


Jack Danforth coming out against the national emergency is nothing anyone, especially Missourians, to get hopeful about. His career has been nothing but making concerned mouth noises and then going along with the garbage barge anyway.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:40 PM on February 25 [8 favorites]


jenfullmoon: I would disqualify both Klobuchar (who I was kind of for before this) and Sanders (not a fan previously) for abuse of staff. I don't want more of that in the WH after Trump is out, thanks. That's extremely detrimental at work.

I'm the same and I think this is the larger trend explaining what Justinian observed (a lack of "the argument that Sanders can't be the nominee because of his treatment of staff"). Most of the sort who would do so had already written him off in their minds long ago; this is very few people's last straw on him.

What I wonder is whether this is just the beginning of a new trend of revelations. Some survey showed that women clustered way at the top of "worst" people in Congress to work for... I strongly suspect that comes down more to misinterpretation of mens' behavior than of womens' (though I'd be comparatively happier if it was the opposite and there isn't much abuse overall).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:49 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


I don't know anything about Klobuchar or other women in Congress, but the stories reminded me of one of my friends who took over management of an ailing company.
The former CEO was a drunk who was violent and generally abusive towards his employees, regularly got into wild fights with both his board and his employees and his customers, and did things like hiring his (also alcoholic) wife. Of course he drank on the job. And much more. My friend is an ambitious but also very fair minded person, who among other things got extra health insurances for everyone (we have universal healthcare in this country, but dentistry is not covered and mental healthcare is limited), made sure that everyone had fair union contracts and that employees had better daily working conditions, better wages and yearly bonuses. She rewarded talent and brought in great people. She protected people who were non-conforming.
Guess what: in the employees' minds, she was a witch, while their former man-boss was a good but vulnerable person. I don't really know what to say about stuff like that.
(I was very close to this situation for reasons and I am very certain that I am not biased by being a friend here)
posted by mumimor at 3:54 PM on February 25 [60 favorites]


Amanda Terkel, who broke some of the first news about Klobuchar's staff, has an update responding to the Politico piece (but not the Vox one, which has the excellent data on staff turnover by gender in the Senate, which is highly revealing context in my eyes) and reporting how some of these staffers have reacted to the discussion: Exposing Amy Klobuchar’s Mistreatment Of Staff Is Not Sexist:
Particularly frustrating for some of these staffers have been the charges of sexism. Many of the aides who spoke with HuffPost are women, who consider themselves feminists and have worked for other strong female politicians.

One former staffer called the Palmieri op-ed “offensive as fuck.”

“It’s not that there’s not merit to the argument that other men have been abusive and gotten away with it,” she said. “It doesn’t make it OK for anybody. We don’t say, we haven’t held men accountable in the past for this on Capitol Hill, so why start now?”
HuffPost's Molly Redden also dug more deeply into one part of the story. When Staff Sought Better Jobs, Amy Klobuchar Tried To Undermine Them
posted by zachlipton at 4:08 PM on February 25 [20 favorites]


My understanding from recent reading (apologies for not having a source handy) is that they could fuck up the delicate balancing act that Mueller’s team is performing.


They have less than twelve months before any investigations will be met by an outcry that they are illegitimately trying to interfere in the election - I mean, that would happen right now, but people will find that line more credible in 2020.
posted by thelonius at 4:13 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Don Junior making his attorneys relaxed and proud speaking on Fox and Friends this morning: "There are no actual crimes. There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we ever get into this crazy world"

Whitewater occurred in 1978. Republicans thought it was very important to have an Independent Counsel investigate it in 1994.
posted by chris24 at 4:21 PM on February 25 [88 favorites]


In the email, the allcaps sentence links to a time-lapse video of the construction of what is very clearly a fence and not a wall.

It's also replacing fencing that already existed. It's not new.
posted by waitingtoderail at 4:28 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


By parsing the redacted documents surrounding Manafort's breach trial (4Feb transcript, 8Feb defense filing, and 13Feb decision by Judge Berman Jackson), Marcy Wheeler makes the case today that:
On August 2, 2016, Paul Manafort gave Konstantin Kilimnik 75 pages of recent, detailed polling data.
The importance of this new analysis is that the "polling data" story was successfully minimized at the outset when a single source provided this description to the NYTimes in their 8Jan story that broke the news of the transfer:
Both Mr. Manafort and Rick Gates, the deputy campaign manager, transferred the data to Mr. Kilimnik in the spring of 2016 as Mr. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination, according to a person knowledgeable about the situation. Most of the data was public, but some of it was developed by a private polling firm working for the campaign, according to the person.
Whether that story is true or not, it seems that Manafort was passing detailed internal polling data to Kilimnik after the Republican National Convention, when they met on August 2nd.

The NYTimes has not clarified that initial report in response to the new filings in Manafort's case, but said this in their profile of Kilimnik this weekend:
Mr. Mueller’s team has focused on what appears to have been another discussion about polling data in New York on Aug. 2, 2016. A partly redacted court transcript suggests that Mr. Gates, who entered a plea agreement with the special counsel that requires his cooperation, may have told prosecutors that Mr. Manafort had walked Mr. Kilimnik through detailed polling data at a meeting that day in the cigar lounge of the Grand Havana Room in Manhattan.
posted by pjenks at 5:26 PM on February 25 [13 favorites]


@ZoeTillman: NEW: Paul Manafort's sentencing memo is in for his DC case. His lawyers don't advocate for a specific sentence, but argue for one "substantially below" the legal maximum of 10 years that he faces

Here's the memo

This is only for the DC case; the Virginia case is separate.
posted by zachlipton at 5:57 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


gist:
his crimes aren't so bad.
and he hardly did 'em.
and other people do 'em unpunished too.
and you'd never have noticed but for that other thing.
and you didn't charge any crimes for that other thing (proving his innocence of crimes involving that other thing) so it's hardly even fair to punish him for crimes he did do.
and they're hardly crimes.
and he has pleaded guilty and it was accidental. and he has taken full responsibility.
but for the crimes he's a good guy: 13 pages of hagiography and he's old.
prison's tough on the elderly.
and gout.
and his reputation has been damaged.
and his money-laundering business has suffered.
and anyway he hardly did those technical crimes which aren't so bad anyway.
and he cooperated but for a couple lies and has taken full responsibility for these hardly-crimes.
and the lies only represent fleeting moments of 12 otherwise unabated hours of truthfulness.
there are some guidelines.
they don't help us unless you appreciate how these gossamer crimes evaporate when you look hard at 'em.
the other guys say he hasn't taken responsibility but that isn't fair.
and he shouldn't have to take responsibility.
and he has anyway, all the responsibility for those inadvertent technical hardly-crimes.
so you should go easy on him.
and he'll be punished for those other related crimes in that other jurisdiction, so.
hasn't he been punished enough already?
here follow 30 pages of testimonials from people who think poor ol p.j. is a good guy who likes beer.
grudging admiration through rage, counsel. that is some well-written nonsensical bullshit with a crunchy center of sentencing precedents in (likely) easily-distinguishable cases. i hope to see the judge slap you around a little bit for your continued minimization and responsibility-dodging at sentencing. and of course p.j.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:07 PM on February 25 [36 favorites]


After Putin's warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S. (Andrew Osborn, Reuters)
Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

The report, unusual even by the sometimes bellicose standards of Russian state TV, was broadcast on Sunday evening, days after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile”-style crisis if the United States wanted one.
Trump's idiocy has reignited Mutual Assured Destruction. This is fine.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:20 PM on February 25 [41 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Sorry, I agree with the sentiment but let's keep the fear/rage over in the venting thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:34 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


India has apparently dropped bombs in Pakistan, in response to a bombing last week of a military convoy. Both Pakistan and India have mentioned their nuclear arsenals in the past 24 hours. No word from US.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:53 PM on February 25 [14 favorites]


MAD never really went away, it just receded from the public consciousness for a while.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:13 PM on February 25 [21 favorites]


Anyone know anything about the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act? I'm starting to see conversation about how Democrats support infantcide come out through conservative acquaintances on social media, and if I google there's a hit of conservative news sources, but nothing I can see in terms of analysis from mainstream news outlets.

I'm guessing that (a) somewhere, there's a GOP strategist that sees the only moral ground they can engage some eroding portion of their base on right now is abortion, so there's a concerted effort to jam this wedge issue into play hard and (b) the text of the bill is written in such a way as to make it look like it's all about protecting already outside-womb infants but ends up trampling on other rights. But IANAL or MD.
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:20 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


The federal Election Assistance Commission will be chaired for the next year by Christy McCormick. McCormick spent 2017 calling the IC report on Russian interference in the election a bunch of lies, because noted not-serious-person John McAfee said so, and has since gone around to various states telling officials not to worry about Russian interference in elections.
posted by zachlipton at 9:28 PM on February 25 [28 favorites]


Anyone know anything about the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act? I'm starting to see conversation about how Democrats support infanticide come out through conservative acquaintances on social media, and if I google there's a hit of conservative news sources, but nothing I can see in terms of analysis from mainstream news outlets.

A deft ploy to combine the "Dems kill fetuses for Satan" Christian Right faction and the "Dems sacrifice babies for their adrenochrome" QAnonian Right faction. It was inevitable that a general "Dems kill babies" plank would eventually crystallize and enter the party platform.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:37 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


reads like part of the same effort to frame partial birth abortion as the murder of an infant born alive that president horrorshow has recently invoked to slander certain governors.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:47 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile: A 24-year-old Honduran woman’s pregnancy ended in a stillbirth at an ICE detention center (WaPo)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:51 PM on February 25 [23 favorites]


turns out partial birth abortions are already prohibited. the proposed rule would prescribe the standard of care due an infant surviving after an abortion or attempted abortion, e.g., that standard of care given any newborn of like gestational age. the extant ban has thorough, careful findings of fact, crafted by abortion opponents to overcome the jurisprudential fact finding of precedential abortion cases in future abortion cases and developing statute, among the lengthy whereases. i mean, they're terrible -- and the jokers in congress being able to blithely make such fact-finding the law of the land is terrifying given all i have seen of congress ever! -- but in their terribleness they are magnificent whereases. the proposed rule presents no such considered or constructed or condensed-from-the-diffuse-ether-of-testimony-over-recent-years facts.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:17 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


(reminder that "partial birth abortion" is not the name of any actual medical procedure, it is a political term invented by forced birth advocates.)
posted by contraption at 10:41 PM on February 25 [85 favorites]




Donald Trump just claimed his daughter Ivanka ‘created millions of jobs’

No love for Jared, who singlehandedly brought back Middle East peace.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:17 AM on February 26 [28 favorites]


Krugman today: Trump, Trade and the Advantage of Autocrats
China can pay him off; places with rule of law can’t.
There’s been some good news on global trade lately: A full-scale U.S.-China trade war appears to be on hold, and may be avoided altogether.

The bad news is that if we do make a trade deal with China, it will basically be because the Chinese are offering Donald Trump a personal political payoff. At the same time, a much more dangerous trade conflict with Europe is looming. And the Europeans, who still have this peculiar thing called rule of law, can’t bribe their way to trade peace.
posted by mumimor at 12:55 AM on February 26 [12 favorites]


wildblueyonder: I'm starting to see conversation about how Democrats support infantcide come out through conservative acquaintances on social media, and if I google there's a hit of conservative news sources, but nothing I can see in terms of analysis from mainstream news outlets.

Here's Vox on it: A Republican-backed bill to protect “abortion survivors” won’t pass. It still matters. (Anna North)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:05 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


If you want to understand that "born alive abortion survivors protection act" you probably need to read this Slacktivist piece about the "anti kitten burning coalition."
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:40 AM on February 26 [34 favorites]


When I talk to pro-life people about that bill, I remind them that infanticide is already illegal, and that NO ONE is advocating that it should be legal. I explain that in the incredibly, incredibly rare case where a viable baby is born alive after an attemped abortion, yes, that baby is protected by laws against infanticide.

But what if it is a non-viable baby (vastly more likely, because that's the main reason later abortions happen) born alive but suffering from conditions incompatible with life? Organs that never fully formed. A brain that didn't form. But with a heartbeat, when it is born.

That baby is also an infant, protected by laws against infanticide. But it is a dying baby. Now the question is... do you intubate? Put him or her on a ventilator? Do surgery to insert a gastric feeding tube? Knowing that you are only delaying the inevitable? Knowing that it is in pain? Knowing that it will never have even one day of life NOT connected to those machines? That's the situation Gov. Northam was talking about, where the family has a decision to make.

Pro-life people think (or profess to think) that Northam was suggesting that the decision was whether to kill the infant, rather whether to take extreme measures to painfully delay the inevitable.

That's why this bill was introduced. To satisfy a base outraged about Northam's remarks.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:50 AM on February 26 [80 favorites]


CBS News:Michael Cohen to accuse President Trump of criminal conduct for first time.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Cohen will provide documents, prepared by Mr. Trump's accountant, that will show the president may have engaged in tax fraud, CBS News correspondent Paula Reid reports. This could be the basis for lawmakers or investigators to pursue Trump's tax returns. The source confirms that Cohen will also accuse the president of using racist language. His comments are described as "chilling" - this language was allegedly used in a series of personal conversations between Mr. Trump and Cohen.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:21 AM on February 26 [25 favorites]


Oh yeah, the Trump Org accountant who flipped lo these many ‘Muccis ago, he seems like a guy Congress might like to interview soon.
posted by notyou at 5:37 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Rosenstein: Government transparency isn't always appropriate (AP)
At other points in his speech, and in a question-and-answer session that followed, Rosenstein appeared to allude to the Justice Department’s protocol of not disclosing negative information about people it does not have enough evidence to charge or that, for other reasons, it decides against prosecuting. Justice Department legal opinions argue that a sitting president cannot be indicted, suggesting prosecutors would not be able to pursue charges against Trump even if they uncover wrongdoing. That could mean investigators do not make public information they collected on Trump.
Mueller Won’t Indict Trump if He Finds Wrongdoing, Giuliani Says (NYT, 5/16/18)
While nothing in the Constitution or federal statutes says that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, and no court has ever ruled that they are temporarily immune, lawyers with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel have twice concluded — once during the Nixon administration, and again during the Clinton administration — that the Constitution bars prosecuting presidents.
Can the President Be Indicted? A Long-Hidden Legal Memo Says Yes (NYT, 7/22/17)
A newfound memo from Kenneth W. Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton sheds fresh light on a constitutional puzzle that is taking on mounting significance amid the Trump-Russia inquiry: Can a sitting president be indicted?

The 56-page memo, locked in the National Archives for nearly two decades and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, amounts to the most thorough government-commissioned analysis rejecting a generally held view that presidents are immune from prosecution while in office.

“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties,” the Starr office memo concludes. “In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.” [...]

Mr. Starr, who had decided he could indict Mr. Clinton, said in a recent interview that he had concluded the more prudent and appropriate course was simply referring the matter to Congress for potential impeachment.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:38 AM on February 26 [31 favorites]


I believe that literally anything Giuliani says should be ignored entirely at worst, and ridiculed (but given no credence) at best. He literally says whatever he thinks makes him look best to Trump at the time. His word isn't worth the oxygen used to expel it.
posted by Twain Device at 5:51 AM on February 26 [51 favorites]


The source confirms that Cohen will also accuse the president of using racist language. His comments are described as "chilling" - this language was allegedly used in a series of personal conversations between Mr. Trump and Cohen.

We have plenty of "chilling" comments (and actions!) from Trump on audio and video and Republicans in power don't care and Trump fans don't care. They're not going to start caring when Cohen says Trump said a bunch more racist stuff (I'm assuming "chilling" is journalist code for the n-word) and Trump denies it. Even if there are recordings, they'll somehow find a way to not care.
posted by mikepop at 5:55 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Just a fun little nugget of political poo, courtesy of the vigorously-arguing-his-right-to-remain-dead Antonin Scalia. This was almost two decades ago and is easily the midpoint of criminal outright f*ckery by Republicans to destroy democracy. This jiggery-pokery applesauce got us here.

Scalia Thought Bush v. Gore Was 'A Piece of Sh*t'

A new book, First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas, claims that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thought that the equal protection rationale of the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 was “as we say in Brooklyn, a piece of shit,” according to Rick Hasen.

But he went along with it anyway.

But why, Tony? Why'd y'go along with it Tony? If you thought it was a p.o.s. Tony, why go along with it?
Yeah, we know why you went along with it Tony.
posted by petebest at 5:59 AM on February 26 [73 favorites]


Adding to the "anti-kitten-burning" model linked by OnceUponATime, I suspect there's a nontrivial constituency of people who would support this bill while not, ostensibly, believing in torturing infants for multiple days in a row before their already-inevitable death. This is Alexandra Erin's concept of the Shirley Exception in action: "surely there would be an exception" and "we're not talking about that, we're talking about killing viable babies". (In reality, the only situations in which care can be withdrawn under current law are the rare fringe cases where there is no real hope regardless, and hence that's all that would be "banned".)

That said, quite a few people are willing to bite the bullet and say yes, there is no such thing as torture so cruel that it's not worth the extension of life. Like some rogue robot in a Star Trek episode (or really, Black Mirror) doing everything it can to maximize the "life signs" with no regard for the quality of that life.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:01 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


I believe that literally anything Giuliani says should be ignored entirely at worst, and ridiculed (but given no credence) at best. He literally says whatever he thinks makes him look best to Trump at the time. His word isn't worth the oxygen used to expel it.

I agree, and so any media story whose hook is "...Giuliani Says" is worse than a waste of time. It gives credibility to someone who has none or less tha none, and the media should know that as well as anyone.
posted by Gelatin at 6:06 AM on February 26 [11 favorites]


That's why this bill was introduced. To satisfy a base outraged about Northam's remarks.

It's obviously bullshit. And it's an extension of the exploitation of parents with terminally ill infants.

It's also not whataboutism to note that the "pro-lifest" states contribute most to the US having terrible infant and maternal mortality rates.
posted by holgate at 6:07 AM on February 26 [15 favorites]


Donald Trump just claimed his daughter Ivanka ‘created millions of jobs’

*in China
posted by sexyrobot at 6:07 AM on February 26 [22 favorites]


Good news from the left coast: San Francisco To Expunge Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions (Matthew S. Schwartz for NPR, February 26, 2019)
San Francisco officials plan to expunge more than 9,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, the city's highest law enforcement official said Monday.

It's the culmination of San Francisco's year-long review of past convictions after California voters legalized recreational marijuana throughout the state in 2016. Several California cities are taking on the task of expunging records, but San Francisco is the first one to finish the job, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"It was the morally right thing to do," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón told the Los Angeles Times. "If you have a felony conviction, you are automatically excluded in so many ways from participating in your community."
And a joyful protest: Texas 'Dragtavist' Drag Queens Stage Border Wall Protest (Reynaldo Leaños Jr. for NPR, February 26, 2019)
Drag queens from throughout Texas' Rio Grande Valley gathered last weekend in Brownsville to protest further construction of the border wall and bring attention to LGBTQ migrants who have been detained or are seeking asylum.

In a public park, a performer who goes by Beatrix Lestrange did not have to struggle to catch the attention of protesters gathered for the No Border Wall Protest Drag Show. Lestrange, whose real name is Jose Colon-Uvalles, wore a multicolored dress, a red wig, black pumps and a choker with studs.

"Who's ready to have a political time?" Lestrange yelled out. The audience, standing in a semicircle and dressed in similarly vivid outfits, cheered and applauded.

"We'll try to bring joy, positivity, beauty, drag, culture to whatever this is," Lestrange said, pointing to the section of the border fence directly behind her.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 AM on February 26 [24 favorites]


Trump's inner circle might escape Mueller charges — but still won’t be safe (Politico)
[...] a slate of sealed indictments sit in the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse, raising the prospect that some in Trump’s circle may have already been indicted and just don’t know it.

“If anyone in Trump world is breathing easy right now, I’d say they are very foolish,” said Shanlon Wu, a defense lawyer who previously represented Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates. “Even if Mueller’s report were to appear and didn’t implicate the president, all these other criminal investigations will continue. That’s not going to be the magic bullet that solves everything. I’d be very concerned if I was a lawyer or a potential target in that world right now.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:01 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Joe in Australia: Donald Trump just claimed his daughter Ivanka ‘created millions of jobs’

Fact Check: Did Ivanka Trump create 'millions of jobs'? (Holmes Lybrand for CNN, February 25, 2019)

Facts first: No matter how you spin it, that's not true.

They're claiming that the "Pledge to America's Workers" (Whitehouse.gov), which two hundred companies "have agreed to the pledge," with each providing different numbers of training opportunities. This brings the total number of opportunities pledged to just over 6.5 million. In a press release from the administration, the pledge is described as a commitment to "new opportunities over the next five years."

Emphasis all mine, after the Facts first, which was all CNN.

Tl;dr: Trump and co are claiming that future promises for employee trainings = new jobs now.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 AM on February 26 [17 favorites]


That said, quite a few people are willing to bite the bullet and say yes, there is no such thing as torture so cruel that it's not worth the extension of life. Like some rogue robot in a Star Trek episode (or really, Black Mirror) doing everything it can to maximize the "life signs" with no regard for the quality of that life.

Yes, there are, as evidenced by Terri Schiavo
posted by achrise at 8:09 AM on February 26 [18 favorites]


New Michael Cohen testimony may undermine Trump’s spin on Mueller (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
Trump’s propaganda machine is triumphally pre-spinning a grand exoneration out of the expectation that Mueller will not bring charges against Trump or his associates for conspiracy with Russian sabotage of our election. Savvy reporters are telling us the attorney general’s report to Congress on Mueller’s findings will disclose disappointingly little.

[...] Even if Mueller does not bring criminal charges, we already know that happened. We already know Trump helped Donald Trump Jr. lie to the American people about this meeting, too. We already know Trump engaged in extensive, repeated efforts to derail a full accounting of all it, including of a foreign attack on our democracy irrespective of whether his campaign conspired with it.

[...] Yes, a limited disclosure of Mueller’s findings will be a setback. It will deny us information we need to better understand the full scope and range of misconduct on both the collusion and obstruction fronts. Democrats should and will try to rectify this.

But whatever is to be on that front, we already know a great deal about what happened here. No amount of fake claims of vindication from a cramped Mueller disclosure can make all of that disappear.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:29 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


CNN provides this paraphrase from Trump and Kim Jong-un's June 2018 meeting, which I find totally plausible:
KIM: So, what do you think of me?
TRUMP: It only takes me a few seconds to work out what I think of someone. I think you're sneaky, but not too sneaky.
KIM: But do you trust me?
TRUMP: Yes, I trust you.
KIM [turning to JOHN BOLTON]: And you? Do you trust me?
BOLTON: If the President trusts you, I trust you.
One more dignity wraith.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:37 AM on February 26 [27 favorites]


White House pushed Saudi nuclear power plan: report (DeutscheWelle)
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that, without safeguards, the US technology transferred to Saudi Arabia could help the kingdom develop nuclear weapons.

I think I'm going crazy so I did a quick google:

The World's Largest Energy Producers (cnbc)
Saudi Arabia's huge oil reserves have placed the Middle-Eastern country at the center of the global energy industry.

Yeah, of course. They have plenty of energy. What do you think they're going to use nuclear reactors for? I mean damn... they obviously can't sell Mohammed Bonesaw a bomb, so this is their plan? And I find this out from German state media.

Here's the press release from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform mentioned in the article:
Multiple Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with White House Efforts to Transfer Sensitive U.S. Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia (oversight.gov)
[M]ultiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law—efforts that may be ongoing to this day.

It's worth noting that the new chairman of this committee, Elijah Cummings, has only been on the job since January. So, thanks blue wave, we could have been looking at a nuclear Persian Gulf. Voting matters! Combined with tearing up the Iran deal, it would seem some are actively pursuing a nuclear arms race in the gulf.

without review by Congress as required by law

Selling nuclear secrets to foreign countries happens to be against the law. Super illegal. Who knew?

You have actually executed people for this before.
posted by adept256 at 8:38 AM on February 26 [42 favorites]


I wish we could avoid the use of "pro life" here to indicate the side which supports stripping women of their rights. "Anti-abortion", "anti-choice" or "anti-woman" are all more accurate.
posted by maxwelton at 8:46 AM on February 26 [74 favorites]


IMHO, "reproductive slavery" nutshells it nicely. See also "forced birth."
posted by whuppy at 8:58 AM on February 26 [37 favorites]


Yeah, of course. They have plenty of energy. What do you think they're going to use nuclear reactors for?

There are some legitimate reasons for them to want nuclear power plants. Oil won't last forever, and the less they use internally, the more they can sell on the global market. Eating your cash crop is expensive, since you're foregoing all the profit you might have made by selling it.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:02 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


If only Saudi Arabia had some kind of perpetual energy source that was easily available and convertible to energy with low-to-zero emissions.
posted by petebest at 9:08 AM on February 26 [65 favorites]


Wisconsin pulls National Guard troops from border action.

NM and CA had already done so.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 AM on February 26 [20 favorites]


a slate of sealed indictments sit in the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse

Ah, let's not: it's the mirror of QAnon. I think the only long-sealed case from Mueller's team was Papadopoulos, and that was a complaint, not an indictment.
posted by holgate at 9:20 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


House will be voting on the resolution against the emergency declaration this afternoon, probably around 2:30 ET.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:28 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Senate whip count update: 3 Rs will vote for the resolution against the emergency declaration (Tillis, Collins, Murkowski).
posted by Chrysostom at 9:38 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


So we probably need a fourth Republican vote to override the Vice President's tiebreaking vote
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:41 AM on February 26


So we probably need a fourth Republican vote to override the Vice President's tiebreaking vote

Right. There's a half dozen or so other Rs who have expressed some level of concern, so it's not out of the question this passes.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Good Vox backgrounder on what's going on with getting Trump's tax returns.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on February 26 [9 favorites]


There's a half dozen or so other Rs who have expressed some level of concern, so it's not out of the question this passes.

I find it unlikely. If the current whip count has just enough R defections to block it with Pence's vote, then they're the ones who were released to vote for it and no one else will be. As we've seen plenty, all the "concerns" in the world are fucking meaningless when it comes time for these people to actually stand for their country over their party.
posted by jammer at 10:02 AM on February 26 [34 favorites]


tl;dr of the Vox article:

Essentially, that means Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) would request Trump’s returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Mnuchin would, theoretically, have to comply. If he doesn’t, a court battle would likely ensue. The committee then could vote to have some or all of the tax returns released to the rest of the House, so all members would have access to it — increasing the odds they would get out to the public.
posted by petebest at 10:10 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Recent bizarre Russian govt tests to continue operations off-the-grid are now understandable by the news of US Cyber Command's first operation last midterm election day of neutralizing a selected site. : The Internet Research Agency.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:21 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


I-1 is out of the country, his fixer is going to testify to Congress tomorrow, Congress is preparing to vote to disapprove of his emergency declaration today. What else could we add to make it a more volatile mix?

WaPo "exclusive": U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms
The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the group’s operations against the United States are not cost-free. “They basically took the IRA offline ... They shut ‘em down.”

The operation marked the first muscle-flexing by U.S. Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, under new authorities it was granted by President Trump and Congress last year to bolster offensive capabilities. ... “Such an operation would be more of a pinprick that is more annoying than deterring in the long run,” said Thomas Rid, a strategic studies professor at Johns Hopkins University ... “Part of our objective is to throw a little curve ball, inject a little friction, sow confusion,” said one defense official. “There’s value in that. We showed what’s in the realm of the possible. It’s not the old way of doing business anymore.

It's a brave new world out there.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:22 AM on February 26 [16 favorites]


jammer: "I find it unlikely. If the current whip count has just enough R defections to block it with Pence's vote, then they're the ones who were released to vote for it and no one else will be."

Sure, it almost definitely doesn't pass by a single vote. Either it fails by a couple or it passes by a couple, so nobody can be pegged as the deciding vote.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:24 AM on February 26


> Either it fails by a couple or it passes by a couple, so nobody can be pegged as the deciding vote.

Just to restate the obvious, the vast, vast majority of Republican Senators, members of the Grand Old Party who thundered about tyranny and railed against Barack Obama's "imperial presidency", are planning to vote that it is perfectly fine when a President declares an emergency to work around an explicit funding denial from the House and Senate. As long as the President is in their party.

These are the people who lectured us on the sanctity of the Constitution, and how we are a nation of laws not men.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:33 AM on February 26 [82 favorites]


These are the people who lectured us on the sanctity of the Constitution, and how we are a nation of laws not men.

...and who complain about "gotcha journalism" on the rare occasions someone in the media points out their obvious hypocrisy.
posted by Gelatin at 10:36 AM on February 26 [12 favorites]


There are two incumbent Republican Senators retiring in 2020: Senator Roberts of Kansas (82-years-old) and Senator Alexander of Tennessee (78-years-old). Will these two men with nothing to lose bravely strike a blow for the Constitutional Separation of Powers and against the Imperial Presidency? Probably not!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:46 AM on February 26 [11 favorites]


These are the people who lectured us on the sanctity of the Constitution, and how we are a nation of laws not men.

I wonder what it feels like not to have any guiding principles. It seems like it would be disorienting and anxiety provoking.
posted by diogenes at 10:46 AM on February 26 [14 favorites]


I wonder what it feels like not to have any guiding principles. It seems like it would be disorienting and anxiety provoking.

Oh they do have guiding principles — based on an apocalyptic world view that sees everyone Not Them at either less than human or as evil, omnipotent schemers. Or, taking an item from the old Nazi playbook, both!

If The Other is an existential threat, the rules are “rules” only insofar as they enable you to oppress them and protect/enrich yourself.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:05 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


This 21-year-old tweeted lies about Robert Mueller and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now, he’s eyeing the 2020 election
COSTA MESA, Calif. – A false claim bubbled up from the internet last month that Sen. Kamala Harris, the recently announced presidential candidate, wasn’t eligible for election because she had immigrant parents and spent part of her childhood in Canada. The claim, an echo of the “birther” conspiracy that trailed President Barack Obama, was widely debunked but still addressed seriously by mainstream news pundits, including CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Even better for Jacob Wohl, the 21-year-old Californian who ignited the Harris birther claim with a tweet, some people actually seemed to accept it as fact.

“The believability stuck at about 15 to 18 percent by my measurement,” Wohl said in an interview shortly afterward, declaring it “not a bad campaign.”
Kamala Harris is NOT eligible to be President. Her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960

Neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization

Kamala was raised in Canada

— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) January 22, 2019
Wohl, a self-professed “political and corporate intel consultant” and supporter of President Donald Trump, is dedicated to plying the malleable fringe of the electorate with dubious claims and disinformation schemes.
posted by scalefree at 11:12 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]


Just to be clear, the House is voting today, and the Senate probably won’t vote until about two weeks from now?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:16 AM on February 26


I think the Senate has an 18 day clock that starts upon House passage.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:18 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I think the Senate has an 18 day clock that starts upon House passage.

That is correct, so between speculation on the Senate and St. Patrick's day, the news-cycle will be filled.
posted by mikelieman at 11:22 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Jacob Wohl is an even-worse Ben Shapiro, but hey let's say this guy made a bit of a name for himself with a lie, and now we're going to treat anything he says as having some relation to the truth. Thanks USAToday.

He has some publicly-demonstrated character flaws to account for and at any rate we don't need more Roger Stones.
posted by rhizome at 11:24 AM on February 26 [19 favorites]


This 21-year-old tweeted lies about Robert Mueller and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now, he’s eyeing the 2020 election

We only have to worry about this if he makes it out of the Sharia law hellhole of .....checks notes .... Minneapolis alive.
posted by srboisvert at 11:51 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]




This 21-year-old tweeted lies about Robert Mueller

He did a lot more than tweet. He ran a full on campaign to frame Mueller for rape and got caught. I assumed at the time that there would be repercussions.
posted by diogenes at 12:05 PM on February 26 [29 favorites]


scalefree: Wohl, a self-professed “political and corporate intel consultant” and supporter of President Donald Trump, is dedicated to plying the malleable fringe of the electorate with dubious claims and disinformation schemes.

In more plain words: Wohl is Trumping it up, lying to people who are susceptible to accepting such lies as close enough to the truth to vote for him.

Behold, a Trumplet in action. If spreading lies worked to get Trump in office, other narcissists and people who put personal gains above the well-being of others (oh, I just defined political narcissists, right) will do the same.

And while Senate Republicans have a math problem on Trump's border emergency (Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, February 26, 2019)
On Tuesday, the Democratic-majority House will vote to disapprove of President Donald Trump's decision to declare a national emergency along our Southern border. Once that happens, the Senate, by law, will have 18 days to take a vote of its own on the privileged resolution.

And at the moment, the momentum is moving against Trump and Senate Republican leaders -- raising the possibility that the President could be forced to issue the first veto of his tenure on what is widely seen as his biggest campaign promise, an embarrassing moment to say the least.
Pharmaceutical Company CEOs Face Grilling in Senate Over High Drug Prices (Alison Kodjak for NPR, February 26, 2019)

After opening with some feel-good quotes from the big pharma CEOs, NPR covers some bi-partisan criticism for the ever-increasing pharmaceutical prices:
"For a patients taking a drug that has no competition, the list price becomes very important," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee's chairman. "I've heard about people skipping doses of their prescription drugs to make them last until the next paycheck."

Wyden piled on.

"I think you and others in the industry are stonewalling on the key issue, which is actually lowering list prices," he said. "Lowering those list prices is the easiest way for consumers to pay less at the pharmacy counter."

Many patients have to pay the full price for a prescription drug until they meet their deductible, and others have payments that are calculated as a percentage of the list price. So higher list prices often translate to higher costs at the pharmacy counter, even when pharmacy benefit managers and insurers have negotiated discounts.
...
Even as the companies protest that the high list prices on their products don't reflect what they actually make on those products, drug makers' have consistently enjoyed some of the highest profit margin of any industry.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers' profit margins have exceeded 26 percent for the last three years, and 22 percent for the past ten years, according to a presentation by CVS Health which cited Macrotrends.net as its source.
This administration's plan, as summarized by NPR: Trump Administration Wants To Cut Drug Prices By Eliminating Middlemen's Rebates (Alison Kodjak, Feb. 1, 2019)
The Trump administration is proposing major changes (HHS.gov) in how prescription drugs are priced and paid for by Medicare.

The effort is designed to cut costs for senior citizens at the pharmacy counter and by its example could spur changes in the broader market for prescription drugs.

The draft rule from the Department of Health and Human Services would encourage drug companies to offer discounts directly to consumers and would reduce the role of middlemen (NPR) that many policymakers say drive up list prices for medicines and increase consumers' costs.

"We're going to fundamentally rewire how we pay for drugs in this system," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a briefing with reporters on Friday (HHS.gov).
"On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Inspector General Daniel Levinson proposed a rule to lower prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs by encouraging manufacturers to pass discounts directly on to patients and bringing new transparency to prescription drug markets."

Emphasis mine -- So how are they looking to encourage companies?
The HHS proposal would expressly exclude from safe harbor protection under the Anti-Kickback Statute rebates on prescription drugs paid by manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), Part D plans and Medicaid managed care organizations.

It would create a new safe harbor for prescription drug discounts offered directly to patients, as well as fixed fee service arrangements between drug manufacturers and PBMs. The proposal would also provide a historic new level of transparency to a system that has been shrouded in secrecy for decades.

Under the proposed rule, prescription drug rebates that today amount to, on average, 26 to 30 percent of a drug’s list price may be passed on directly to patients and reflected in what they pay at the pharmacy counter. By encouraging negotiated discounts that are reflected in cost-sharing methods like co-insurance, used for many expensive drugs in Medicare Part D, the proposal is projected to provide the greatest benefits to seniors with high drug costs.
If you want to read more (and get angry at the status quo) of how drug prices are set, you can read Rebates, Coupons, PBMs, And The Cost Of The Prescription Drug Benefit, by Charles Roehrig for Health Affairs.org (April 26, 2018).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on February 26 [17 favorites]


I've heard from people who know him that Jacob Wohl smells like clam chowder. Like, strongly so. Apparently you can tell when he's nearby because of the strong odor of clam chowder. Totally serious.
posted by weed donkey at 12:07 PM on February 26 [39 favorites]


peeedro: Mark Harris says he won’t run in North Carolina election do-over.

It's pretty incredible that he had a choice at all, but this is mostly welcome news. (Less than entirely welcome because it does give Republicans the chance to run a less-tainted candidate.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:13 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


The ratings outfits have NC-09 as Toss-up without Harris in the race.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:17 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


...would reduce the role of middlemen (NPR) that many policymakers say drive up list prices for medicines and increase consumers' costs.

Oh, you mean the goddamn insurance companies? So we're going to a public option AND single-payer? Cool!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:21 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


The only surprising thing about Wohl is that he didn't phrase it as "I overheard two liberals in the coffee shop I was in talking about how Kamala Harris was ineligible to be President," as that's his usual jam when he isn't actively trying to get himself thrown into prison.
posted by delfin at 12:29 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


He did a lot more than tweet. He ran a full on campaign to frame Mueller for rape and got caught. I assumed at the time that there would be repercussions.

It is a quick hit in the article, but An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on whether the agency was investigating the episode. Given that Mueller's office referred it over to them and how law enforcement tends to react to folks going after one of their own? I'd give 2:1 odds he ends up getting charged.

If he had any sense (haha) he'd be pretty fucking nervous between now and November, particularly if he stays in California. In DC, there's no statutory damages for defamation of public figures. Since Wohl is a fucking clown and Mueller is well respected it's hard to imagine any provable harm from his shenanigans, which certainly seem like any rational person would view them as well over the reckless and malicious line. In California, however, he could take a real sock to the nose on slander or on a false light claim.

I get the sense Mueller's commitment to the gig would make him unlikely to pursue private action if it might distract from his work. But I have to think even the most stoic person is gonna take it pretty personally when a punk shithead fabricates an accusation of rape. And, uh, he's a member of the California bar.
posted by phearlez at 12:36 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


Wohl originally talked about the things he overheard in "hipster coffee shops" in total sincerity, but in recent months he's quasi-embraced the mockery by doing the bit over and over in such on-the-nose, parodic form as to convey a sense of real concept for that Jacob Wohl dork.

Poe's Law was coined to describe the difficulty of distinguishing the rhetoric of extremists (such as Christian fundamentalists) from parody, but this is more like if a young-Earth creationist kept reducing his claim for the Earth's age until he was tweeting out "The Earth was made 300 years ago, that's what the Bible says".

It's surreal and makes you wonder where the grift starts and stops in the guy's brain, or whether it's more about the performative signaling of dishonesty (as in, that he's devoted enough to the cause to double down on lying for it), which I'll grant could be the case but wouldn't normally take the form of self-riffing.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:44 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


My apologies for forgetting to post this on Sunday: News You May Have Missed for 24 Feb. We covered the coordinated strategy to spread disinformation about Dem candidates, missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, scarce medical care in detention centers, China’s Social Credit system, an update on Haiti and a bunch of other stuff.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:47 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Guardian: Democrats introducing bill to restore DOJ pre-clearance of electoral changes to any state with a recent history of VRA violations.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:09 PM on February 26 [43 favorites]


Wohl just got suspended from Twitter, so they managed to do one good thing today.
posted by Etrigan at 1:15 PM on February 26 [50 favorites]


The House held a hearing today on family separations with both Scott Lloyd, who ran the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and Jonathan White, a career HHS official who has spoken out publicly. The two sat next to each other. A thread.

@ddiamond [video attached]:
One striking exchange came late in the day with Rep. Madeleine Dean, @mad4pa, who pressed on Lloyd’s personal efforts to block abortions. Dean: “It’s a yes or no… did you track” menstrual cycles of refugee women? Lloyd: “I don’t have a yes or no answer for that question.”

Rep. Dean, @mad4pa, was correct that Lloyd tracked the women’s menstrual cycles.

Here’s Lloyd’s own ACLU deposition, in December 2017, where he acknowledged creating a pregnancy tracker and asking for updates.
Here's Politico's story: Former Trump refugee director says he never warned higher-ups about family separations
"Did you ever say to the administration, this is a bad idea, this is what my child welfare experts have told us, we need to stop this policy? Did you once say that to anybody above you?" Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) pressed Lloyd.

"To answer your last question, I did not say those words," Lloyd said.
posted by zachlipton at 1:17 PM on February 26 [25 favorites]


Horrible Florida Man [even by florida standards] and member of Congress Matt Gaetz via twitter:

Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot...
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:29 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


@AlexWardVox:
My short text convo with @mattgaetz just now:

Me: Congressman, Any chance you have a few minutes to discuss what you implied with your tweet to Michael Cohen? Perhaps a preview?

Gaetz: Watch tomorrow.

Me: Will do -- anything I should be prepared for?

Gaetz: Fireworks
This is dancing awfully close to, if not over the line of, witness intimidation.
posted by zachlipton at 1:31 PM on February 26 [70 favorites]


Wohl's account has been permanently banned from Twitter following his conversation with USA Today.
posted by msbutah at 1:31 PM on February 26 [36 favorites]


I'm just noting that, for the whole drug prices thing, we can't trust Alex Azar to do anything more than piss on the faces of the American people, considering that he was a proponent of kicking up drug prices for the maximum profit they can extract, including Insulin.

There's a political cartoon of a pharmacist holding up a vial and saying, "Your money or your life." That's Alex Azar right there.
posted by mephron at 1:36 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


PopeHat thinks Gertz may have gotten himself in a spot of trouble with that tweet.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:50 PM on February 26 [53 favorites]


In Veiled Threat to India, Body That Oversees Pak Nuclear Weapons Programme to Meet
The National Command Authority is Pakistan’s principal decision making body on nuclear issues. Pakistan has invoked its nuclear capabilities in the past as well when tensions between the two countries escalated.
New Delhi: Hours after the Indian Air Force struck across the Line of Control to destroy terrorist camps, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the head of Pakistan military’s media wing, issued a veiled threat to India and invoked Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA), the body which oversees Islamabad’s nuclear weapons programme.

"I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. The response will come differently,” Ghafoor said at a press conference.

“There is a joint session of parliament tomorrow and then the prime minister has summoned a meeting of the National Command Authority. I hope you know what the NCA means and what it constitutes,” Ghafoor added.

NCA is Pakistan’s principal decision making body on nuclear issues. Pakistan has invoked its nuclear capabilities in the past as well when tensions between the two countries escalated.
The US has no confirmed Ambassador to Pakistan but there is a career diplomat serving as Charge d'Affaires who replaced the last ambassador who left in December. Oh & the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, the eminent former Senator Sam Brownback, just visited. I'm sure Trump won't even need their help, as his own best advisor he can multitask an imminent nuclear exchange with ending the Korean War.
posted by scalefree at 1:58 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


This 21-year-old tweeted lies about Robert Mueller and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now, he’s eyeing the 2020 election

Instead of trying to build Jacob Wohl into the next Ben Shapiro/James O'Keefe/Roger Stone (as though we need another abuser of the truth in mainstream media today) USAToday should have expended their journalistic credibility on expanding this angle:
At the news conference, Wohl distributed a document that was digitally signed, purportedly by the absent accuser Carolyne Cass, in which she said she had been sexually assaulted by Mueller in New York in 2010. In the interview this month, Wohl referred to Cass as a “real accuser” and called her allegations credible.

But when reached by USA TODAY, 34-year-old Carolyne Cass of Los Angeles said Wohl, whom she met on Craigslist, had tricked her by pretending to be an investigator named Matthew Cohen who was trained by Israeli intelligence forces and agreed to help her with “unscrupulous characters ripping me off.”[…]

Cass said it ultimately became clear that Cohen and his associates, imaginary or otherwise, “needed a credible female to put on the line” for false allegations about Mueller. “They made it up,” Cass said of the document accusing Mueller, which was passed around at the news conference. “They wrote it and docu-signed it.”

She claimed Cohen tried to get her to speak at the news conference but she “escaped” and learned only as the scheme exploded that Cohen was in fact Wohl. “He completely lied to me,” Cass said.

Wohl had as recently as this month referred to Cass while speaking in detail about the Mueller episode. But when asked about Cass’s version of events, Wohl said he could not speak further because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with her and “can’t violate any confidences.” Cass said no such agreement existed. […]

Both Wohl and Cass say they have not been contacted by the FBI. Stanford Law School professor Robert Weisberg said Wohl’s actions could be construed by a federal prosecutor as wire fraud, obstruction of justice or conspiracy – or as possibly violating various state statutes – but likely fell into a legal “gray zone.”
But instead, USAT wasted paragraphs covering Wohl's beef with Michael Avenatti (though they probably deserve each other).
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:09 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


> The US has no confirmed Ambassador to Pakistan ... I'm sure Trump won't even need their help, as his own best advisor he can multitask an imminent nuclear exchange with ending the Korean War.

This is a bit of an aside from the main thread, I guess, but if you don't know this already: India and Pakistan have capitals separated by about 400 miles - about half that distance from their shared border.

That leaves no time for the sort of considered decision-making that was possible during the Cold War, when US/USSR military commands would have several leisurely minutes in which to evaluate whether the radar blips they saw were ballistic missile launches or not. No, India and Pakistan are locked in a use-it-or-lose-it nuclear brinkmanship game where the reaction times are measured in seconds.

This is the sort of situation where a talking-down by cooler heads would be urgent, along with some heavy behind-the-scenes diplomatic pressure. I guess we can look to China for that sort of leadership now. (The Hindu: China calls for ‘restraint’ after India’s air strikes on terror camp in Pakistan.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:16 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


NBC: White House Press Corps Evicted From Hotel Ahead of North Korea Summit—The forced move was highly unusual because the White House had approved of and supported the use of the space by media who cover the president. What, was Singapore not authoritarian enough that the Trump White House decided that Vietnam's regime would be an improvement?

AP: Russia: US Asks for Advice on North Korea Talks "Lavrov, who is also visiting Vietnam this week, said in comments carried by Russian news agencies on Monday that Russia believes that the U.S. ought to offer Pyongyang “security guarantees” for the disarmament deal to succeed. He also mentioned that “the U.S. is even asking our advice, our views on this or that scenario of” how the summit in Hanoi could pan out."

Incidentally, the Guardian reports Dutch customs seized 90,000 bottles of vodka believed to be for Kim Jong-un.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:20 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Uuhhh that's pretty dang obvious grift and bribery. It's always so weird to learn how... well... how childish... powerful people can be when it comes to bribery. US senators frequently bought off for the cost of a kitchen remodel, and in this case, buying off Kim Jong-un with cases of Russian vodka. I'm placing my bets right now on the manufacturer of the vodka being connected to Trump through, say, two degrees of separation probably through an oligarch or two.
posted by odinsdream at 2:29 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Politico: Top Democrats want 2020 candidates to sign non-aggression pact -- Early state chairs lead effort to lay out norms and rules Democratic presidential campaigns should follow with regard to disinformation tactics.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:31 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, please doff a cap, dab a tear, or pour a 40 for a guy who didn't tread very f*cking carefully because what they're doing to him has been [not very] f*cking disgusting okay:

Michael Cohen has been disbarred. (APNews)

President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer is now an ex-lawyer.

Michael Cohen was officially disbarred on Tuesday while he was in Washington giving closed-door testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

A New York court ruled that Cohen’s guilty plea last November automatically stripped him of his eligibility to practice law.

A spokeswoman for Cohen did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.


No comment yet from the Women for Cohen community either. One imagines they are fictionally totes bummed.
posted by petebest at 2:43 PM on February 26 [34 favorites]


zachlipton: One striking exchange came late in the day with Rep. Madeleine Dean, @mad4pa, who pressed on Lloyd’s personal efforts to block abortions. Dean: “It’s a yes or no… did you track” menstrual cycles of refugee women? Lloyd: “I don’t have a yes or no answer for that question.”

Rep. Dean, @mad4pa, was correct that Lloyd tracked the women’s menstrual cycles.


And they also tracked children's birthdays, so they could move them from children's shelters to adult detention centers on their 18th birthday (NPR, Feb. 22, 2019, though they didn't explicitly link the "birthday detentions" with tracking ages, that was something that Emmy Rae pointed out in the prior MegaThread)

They clearly are spending a lot of time and effort tracking individuals and their details, while also reporting that they lost 1,475 children in 2017 alone (Washington Post, May 29, 2018). Maybe these tracking systems came after they lost more than a thousand children? (They say "lost track" of children, which is the same as "lost children" in my book.)


msbutah: Wohl's account has been permanently banned from Twitter following his conversation with USA Today.

So they'll perm-ban 21 year old budding politicians who spew hate and lies, but the old, orangish-white guy who spews hate day in, day out is still there because the hate he sprays is somehow "newsworthy"?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on February 26 [43 favorites]


This is dancing awfully close to, if not over the line of, witness intimidation.

Nonsense! Gaetz is only witness testing! Err, whatever that is.

@AlexWardVox UPDATE:

Me: Any response to those who say you’re witness tampering?

@mattgaetz: I’m witness testing. We still are allowed to test the veracity and character of witnesses, I think.

Me: So you disagree with those who say you’re witness tampering?

Gaetz: Yes.
posted by scalefree at 2:48 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


Jacob Whol update from the irreplaceable Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny: Twitter suspends conservative activist Jacob Wohl after he admits to making fake accounts
In a phone interview Tuesday, Wohl admitted to operating @Women_4_Schultz.

“This is par for the course. We were just talking about how this was probably going to happen,” he said.

Wohl initially said he did not create the @Woman_4_Schultz handle before backpedaling and claiming the account

“Thank you for reminding me,” he said. “I tweeted at it to be goofy, but it’s not a fake account. I was tweeting about women’s issues that Schultz happens to be good on.”
posted by zachlipton at 2:51 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


So they'll perm-ban 21 year old budding politicians who spew hate and lies, but the old, orangish-white guy who spews hate day in, day out is still there because the hate he sprays is somehow "newsworthy"?


If Wohl brought in as much money to Twitter as Trump did, I'm sure he wouldn't be banned.

"Newsworthiness" is just a fig leaf for the real reason Twitter keeps Trump and all the other fascists around.
posted by Ouverture at 2:53 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


“Thank you for reminding me,” he said. “I tweeted at it to be goofy, but it’s not a fake account. I was tweeting about women’s issues that Schultz happens to be good on.”

That he's neither a woman nor for Schultz is besides the point.
posted by scalefree at 2:54 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


From Bloomberg: Eric Miller won confirmation Tuesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, becoming the first appeals judge confirmed this year and the first to clear the chamber without support of both home-state senators.

Senators voted 53 to 46 to send Miller, a private attorney and former Clarence Thomas clerk, to the San Francisco-based court that’s been the target of fierce criticism by President Donald Trump over its rulings against his policies.
Yet another historic loss.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:56 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


NY Mag, Eric Levitz, The GOP Just Used Crocodile Tears About Anti-Semitism to Abet Mass Murder in Yemen. I apologize, the details get slightly wonky about parliamentary procedure and germaneness, but it's important. The takeaway is simple though:
That last point is worth emphasizing: If the Senate finds a way to pass new legislation ending American support for the Saudi war [in Yemen], House Republicans (reportedly) plan to attack House Democrats as “soft on anti-Semitism” — unless Democrats vote to (effectively) prolong American participation in war crimes against a vulnerable ethnic group.
posted by zachlipton at 2:59 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


WSJ, Cohen to Testify that Trump Engaged n Criminal Conduct While in Office
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, will on Wednesday for the first time publicly accuse the president of criminal conduct while in office related to a hush-money payment to a porn star, a person familiar with his planned testimony before Congress said.
Appearing before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. Cohen also will make public some of Mr. Trump’s private financial statements and allege that Mr. Trump at times inflated or deflated his net worth for business and personal purposes, including avoiding paying property taxes, the person said. The financial statements were developed by Mr. Trump’s accountant, the person said. The Wall Street Journal hasn’t seen those statements.
...
Mr. Cohen is expected to recount racist remarks Mr. Trump allegedly made to him, including instances in which Mr. Trump allegedly questioned the intelligence of African-Americans and criticized their lifestyle choices, the person said.
...
In his testimony Wednesday, Mr. Cohen will provide documentation of his reimbursement for the $130,000 Clifford payment, which he received in monthly installments of $35,000 throughout 2017, the person familiar with his testimony said. Mr. Cohen will show the panel a signed check, the person said.

Mr. Trump signed some of the checks reimbursing Mr. Cohen, which Mr. Cohen began receiving after Mr. Trump took office, according to another person familiar with the payments.
@matthewamiller: Why was Trump signing checks from a business he had supposedly left behind?
posted by zachlipton at 3:06 PM on February 26 [28 favorites]


This person might have also talked to Politico: Cohen will present document to criminally implicate Trump
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, plans to offer up a document to lawmakers that he claims will show the president engaged in criminal conduct related to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, according to a person familiar with his planned congressional testimony.

....

More broadly, Cohen will go into personal and character accusations against Trump, saying the president made racist remarks in front of him such as questioning the intelligence of African-Americans, according to the person.

....

Separately, the person familiar with Cohen’s testimony confirmed a report in The Wall Street Journal that Cohen will accuse Trump of manipulating his finances for business and personal purposes, including inflating and deflating his net worth and avoiding property taxes.
posted by box at 3:07 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Just don't let Buzzfeed News break it.
posted by petebest at 3:09 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Cohen will accuse Trump of manipulating his finances for business and personal purposes, including inflating and deflating his net worth and avoiding property taxes.
I predict a future soon where Republican members of Congress insist that "high crimes and misdemeanors" only includes federal crimes.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 3:10 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


Let's not forget that what Matt Gaetz just tweeted at Michael Cohen is in exactly the same vein as what Trump has been tweeting at Cohen for several months....it's just coming on the very eve of his testimony. I'm not shocked by a whole lot lately, but the sheer brazenness given the fact that he's way less likely than the sitting POTUS to be able to get away with it is pretty shocking to me.

Regarding the reporting of what's going to be in Cohen's testimony, I'm wondering if they'll be following any of the "consulting" work he was doing. If Democrats or nobody asks him about it, that means Trump was actually involved in it. If Republicans ask him about it, that's a strong indicator that it was just Cohen's own little side-grift.
posted by Room 101 at 3:10 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


The GOP Just Used Crocodile Tears About Anti-Semitism

Evergreen headline, to be honest.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:12 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


I predict a future soon where Republican members of Congress insist that "high crimes and misdemeanors" only includes federal crimes.

We are seeing the "Kavanaugh Standard". It doesn't count unless you're convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Therefore Republican members of Congress can never find reason to impeach.
posted by mikelieman at 3:13 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


NYT op-ed, Dr. Jen Gunter, I Didn’t Kill My Baby [cw: "When he was born, my husband at the time and I knew he couldn’t survive. That doesn’t make me a murderer."]
If you are going to accuse me of executing my child, then you need to know exactly what happened. It’s not a pleasant story and the ending is terrible. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to read it. But you need to know the truth, because stories like mine are being perverted for political gain.
posted by zachlipton at 3:31 PM on February 26 [70 favorites]


@ChadPergram:
The House has voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for the border.

The vote was 245-182

All Democrats voted yea.

They were joined by 13 Republicans.
That's well below a veto-proof majority (290), but is sufficient to require a vote in the Senate.

Those 13 Republicans were: Amash, Fitzpatrick, Herrera, Beutler, Johnson (SD), Rooney (FL), Sensenbrenner, Stefanik, Walden, Upton, Hurd, Gallagher, Davidson

The House plans to consider a new bill in which they're fine with Trump's border emegency but would require Congress to approve future emergencies within 60 days or they expire automatically. If this sounds like the specific species of nonsense only the Problem Solvers Caucus could dream up, you're right; this is a Tom Reed special.
posted by zachlipton at 3:41 PM on February 26 [51 favorites]


@matthewamiller: Why was Trump signing checks from a business he had supposedly left behind?

More importantly, why do people believe he supposedly left the business behind when he emphatically and repeatedly said he did not leave it behind and even had a press conference to that effect?
posted by The World Famous at 3:43 PM on February 26 [18 favorites]


From the further adventures of Jacob Whol:

@oneunderscore__: Jacob Wohl ran another fake Twitter account, @drakehomes612. "Drake" screenshotted a Craigslist post for a Bryan Singer protest and tweeted it back at Jacob. "Who wants to bet that these weird ass craigslist ads were posted by Moron aka jacob wohl?"

Calling yourself a moron on the internet to own the libs.
posted by zachlipton at 4:08 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


NYT op-ed, Dr. Jen Gunter, I Didn’t Kill My Baby [cw: "When he was born, my husband at the time and I knew he couldn’t survive. That doesn’t make me a murderer."]

Obviously, don't even open the comments on that.
posted by mumimor at 4:12 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Jen Gunter is a goddamned hero, but her mentions are a nightmare. I follow her on Twitter and she must be made of steel to do what she does.
posted by suelac at 4:24 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


I only knew Dr. Gunter as a Gwyneth Paltrow nemesis and a reliable GOOP faux-science debunker. Aidan, the son she lost, was a triplet born at 22 1/2 weeks, while the other two sons from that pregnancy ultimately survived; she had to leave the obstetrics field afterward. Seriously, don't read the comments.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:35 PM on February 26 [18 favorites]


I just can’t believe the Overton window has shifted so far that no one’s even taking issue with how vulgar Gartz’s threat is. “Do your wife and father in law know about your girlfriends” used to be what you sent anonymously and that never made it into mainstream news. That’s full-on trash magazine material. But now it’s just ordinary discourse I guess. Party of family values, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Mchelly at 4:47 PM on February 26 [51 favorites]


yeah, it’s just too bad you can’t just pay these women to not talk about.... oh, wait.
posted by valkane at 5:19 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Since Trump is in Vietnam and Pence in Columbia right now, Pelosi should enact a travel ban on Russian agents entering the country
posted by growabrain at 5:22 PM on February 26 [49 favorites]


It took me a while to realize you didn't mean D.C. (colombia)
posted by Justinian at 5:25 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


An interesting graphic from 538 showing the second choice of Democratic primary voters based on their first choice. The second choice of Sanders voters? Biden. The second choice of Biden voters? Sanders.

The only way that makes sense? Policy doesn't win elections! I think somebody said that before.

Also, people really like old white dudes I guess.
posted by Justinian at 5:31 PM on February 26 [61 favorites]


House Judiciary chairman says Whitaker will return to Capitol to clarify testimony


The Justice Department said that Whitaker will meet with the committee privately, according to The Associated Press.

Whitaker publicly testified before the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8 in what was at times a heated hearing. Nadler invited Whitaker to speak with the committee again just days later, saying in a letter that the official's answers were "unsatisfactory, incomplete, or contradicted by other evidence."

"You repeatedly refused to offer clear responses regarding your communications with the White House, and you were inconsistent in your application of the Department’s policy related to the discussion of ongoing investigations," Nadler added.

Whitaker, who is now a senior counselor in the office of associate attorney general, has gained scrutiny regarding his interactions with President Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence Trump asked Whitaker to put his ally, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, in charge of an investigation into Trump's former lawy
posted by bluesky43 at 5:35 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


Well, also Biden and Sanders are clearly the most well known, so for some people second choice is probably just "the other person whose name I recognize / know something about other than their name".

Every single first choice's second choice is either Biden or Sanders, also.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:45 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


Horrible Florida Man [even by florida standards] and member of Congress Matt Gaetz...

His Twitter profile starts off describing himself as "Florida man."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:36 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, ran a twitter test:
Are you more interested in
the Trump-Kim summit
or the Michael Cohen testimony

posted by growabrain at 7:41 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


HISTORIC MOMENT FOR CHICAGO: With 85% of the vote counted it looks like Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle will face-off in the April run-off election. 2 African-American women. 1 of them lesbian. Both defeating a man named Daley. #WGNelection

The winner will be the first non-white since Eugene Sawyer (left office 1989) and first woman since Jane Byrne (left office 1983)
posted by Chrysostom at 7:45 PM on February 26 [60 favorites]


The USDA is issuing far fewer citations to zoos, labs and breeders for animal welfare violations (WaPo):
USDA inspectors documented 60 percent fewer violations at animal facilities in 2018 from the previous year, in what animal protection groups say is the latest sign of weakened enforcement by an agency charged with ensuring pet breeders, research labs, zoos and other exhibitors follow federal animal welfare laws.
Cruelty is the point.
posted by peeedro at 7:47 PM on February 26 [21 favorites]


" With 85% of the vote counted it looks like Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle will face-off in the April run-off election. 2 African-American women. 1 of them lesbian. Both defeating a man named Daley. #WGNelection"

I was literally just saying this to everyone in my immediate and internet vicinity and, AS PER USUAL, wishing I lived in Chicago city limits so I could vote for mayor instead of in suburban Cook where the mayor affects my life 150% but I only get to vote for the Cook County Board! (I mean also for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, that shit matters, right?)

What a time to be alive!!!!!!!!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:14 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


The Hill: Schumer: Dems will try to defund Trump panel reassessing climate change
posted by Chrysostom at 8:17 PM on February 26 [21 favorites]


I'm struck by how binary right-wing thinking can be, especially when it comes to Cohen. Because he's snitching on his ex-boss, conservatives (who used to defend him while hiding anxious expressions) now act like he's some Avatar of the Left and hence if he's disbarred, or has affairs, or (as hard as this is to believe) used to lie about stuff, we'll all feel shocked and betrayed. The former RNC finance chair and president's personal lawyer is kinda shady: checkmate, libs!
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:29 PM on February 26 [43 favorites]


It's more than that: it's a kind of worldview that doesn't include the concept of verifiable facts and information, where everything is an opinion, a face, a tactical position. The GOP actually doesn't understand why they can't destroy Cohen by pointing out he's, allegedly, not faithful, as if that had any bearing on what actually did happen with Trump as revealed through evidence and verifiable testimony from multiple players.
posted by odinsdream at 8:34 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


It could just be that Gaetz is particularly stupid. Never attribute to malice etc.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:42 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


It could just be that Gaetz is particularly stupid. Never attribute to malice etc.

I don't think it's an either/or situation; I think it's entirely possible that this is a potent stew of stupidity and malice, abetted by an environment where there are no consequences for having an abundance of either.
posted by nubs at 8:46 PM on February 26 [29 favorites]


Cohen's opening statement for tomorrow (20 page PDF)
I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.

I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty –of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.

I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening tomy own conscience.

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.

He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.

He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

I will explain each in a few moments.
posted by zachlipton at 8:58 PM on February 26 [88 favorites]


There's a lot here, but here's the headline:
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”
posted by zachlipton at 9:05 PM on February 26 [24 favorites]


Rhona Graff? She's already talked to SCO. There's corroboration. Ooooooh.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:12 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


The stone stuff is good but I feel like this bit at the end might change the narrative a lot.
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good...let me know.”
What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the
world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.
I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on
17

Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day -- and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good...let me know.”
posted by Brainy at 9:16 PM on February 26 [16 favorites]


Ohh my god this testimony is going to be Wild. Cohen is.... Not a bright man, clearly, but he's telling what he knows and doing so plainly, in a way that resonates with regular folks, and honestly doesn't have anything left to lose by just letting it all come out now.
posted by odinsdream at 9:21 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


The thing about the Stone call is that it's inconceivable to me that Assange's calls aren't being monitored by essentially everyone, right? If Stone and Assange spoke on the phone, that surely must have been intercepted by intelligence agencies. And this stuff, which happened two and a half years ago, would have been known to them all this time.

Which of course leads to the question of what's the point in having a massive communications surveillance apparatus if you can't ever use it to sound the alarm about something this egregiously bad?
posted by zachlipton at 9:26 PM on February 26 [44 favorites]


Whoever is managing the media rollout of Cohen’s debut in front of Congress tomorrow hasn’t missed a step, nor let Trump get a word in edgewise, since the campaign began last week.

Bravo media manager person, whoever you are!
posted by notyou at 9:28 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


... Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.

I'm a bad person for laughing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:31 PM on February 26 [60 favorites]


My favorite part... ok, among all my favorite parts one particular part is that Trump held this second NK summit specifically to try to drive the kind of 24/7 glowing coverage he got last time and Cohen's testimony tomorrow has completely fucked any possibility of that. Trump is playing second fiddle on the news and it must be driving him absolutely incandescent with rage.

My least favorite part is that might cause him to do something absolutely stupid in order to secure a headline, like pulling our troops out of SK in return for some nebulous pledge.
posted by Justinian at 9:33 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


Daily Beast's Michael Weiss points out what is likely the discrepancy causing Mueller's team to put out that statement denying the blockbuster Buzzfeed story. It was a "will no one rid me of this turbulent priest" thing where Trump knew he was telling Cohen to lie, and Cohen knew Trump was telling him to lie, but Trump never said "I wan't you to lie."
posted by Justinian at 9:41 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I know it’s a minor point in the whole thing, but now I REALLY wanna know Trump’s grades and SAT scores.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:43 PM on February 26 [25 favorites]


don't give damn 'bout no scores, but would like to read the threatening letter to educational institutions, exhibit 6.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:45 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Loony Leftist Update: The answer to "Can Socialism Win In Chicago" is : yes. The majority of DSA endorsed/members won their races or will go to runoff
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 PM on February 26 [46 favorites]


Trump talking to Cohen: "We have no business in Russia... So... How is it going in Russia?" Yeah, that's straight up Mafia talk.

Trump wanted a hotel. Russia wanted political chaos. Everyone got an accidental president. I forget what account I read that described the moment in Trump's hotel room when he won. Apparently everyone, Trump included, just sat in silence for a full minute.
posted by xammerboy at 10:37 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Hmmm. Looks like Representative Gaetz may have had a conversation with legal counsel:
Speaker, I want to get the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.
Also, it's "Madame Speaker," asshole.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:26 PM on February 26 [64 favorites]


Is this something I should set my alarm for? I was all over Comey’s testimony, and I don’t want to miss anything juicy.
posted by gucci mane at 11:41 PM on February 26


Which of course leads to the question of what's the point in having a massive communications surveillance apparatus if you can't ever use it to sound the alarm about something this egregiously bad?

Sources & methods. That kind of thing is all TS/SCI codeword, the highest classification there is. It's instilled in them from the get-go these are the most valuable secrets we have.
posted by scalefree at 11:48 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


It's instilled in them from the get-go these are the most valuable secrets we have.

What would be an appropriate time to reveal those secrets? Wouldn't it be on an occasion when the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces is a Russian asset directed by a former KGB officer? Because if that isn't a good time, then from whom are you actually keeping those secrets?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:53 PM on February 26 [35 favorites]


My grandfather was one of those spooks during the first cold war and sounded alarm (as a civilian) while the modern security apparatus you mention was being built. I cannot imagine him, or anyone currently in those positions, knew at all what to do because
- they want to be political neutral which sounding the alarm definitely would not have been
- they are immensely heirarchial and this is the top of the pyramid that of compromised, which would cause massive dysfunction within the heirarchy about what exactly to to. Their answer, in the end, is Mueller.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 12:03 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


"With 85% of the vote counted it looks like Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle will face-off in the April run-off election. 2 African-American women. 1 of them lesbian. Both defeating a man named Daley. #WGNelection

Yeah, so here's my hot take:

I voted for Lightfoot as did most of the progressive types I know, with the further left people going for Enyia. Chicago elections are super-frustrating because they end up being 1/3 ground game (i.e., activation of your machine), 1/3 happy shiny TV commercials about how you are the one true experienced, non-corrupt progressive in the race, and 1/3 dirty tricks; note that it's mostly a policy-free zone.

People were generally expecting a Daley-Preckwinkle runoff, Daley because even though everyone claims to hate Daleys they then keep voting for them and Preckwinkle because she's generally competent and relatively uncorrupt (it's a low bar but still); she's the Cook County Board President so has a good amount of experience in Chicago politics. It became clear to me that Lightfoot was becoming the progressive / anti-machine consensus candidate so I voted for her in the hopes that she could come up the middle and defeat Preckwinkle, so I'm pleasantly surprised that it was actually Daley who came in third and won't advance to the runoff in April. Main concern I've seen voiced about her is that she was involved in the police accountability task force that came out after, you know, people got fed up with the cops shooting young men of color in the back and/or torturing them in black hole secret prisons, etc. She of course says that she is an awesome advocate for police reform, I'm sure the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Ultimately I'm ok with either candidate; Preckwinkle has more experience and Lightfoot has more progressive cred, but either way we aren't looking at a Groundhog Day twenty-more-years-of-Daley bullshit.

Everyone* is super happy that either way, a fairly progressive black woman is going to be the next Mayor of the second third-largest city in the country. (I personally happen to be in a strong "step back white dudes" mood this week due to white dudes doing their thing at work, so yeah, this is a nice relief from that.)

To veer back on-thread, it's interesting to me how little the Autocrat has come up in this race. I suppose there's not much daylight between the main candidates, but I would've thought that someone would try to differentiate themselves by being the no-but-seriously-fuck-Trump candidate. Either way, there's enough on the Mayor's plate that I expect she will be busy dealing with local issues (some of which, like housing costs, police accountability, etc. are national issues as well). I don't anticipate that there will be the space or funds for Chicago to resist the federal government in the way that California and New York are trying to do through big, progressive policy moves.

*except, I assume, the fascist cop neighborhoods in Beverly and the far NW side, Chicago's answer to Staten Island
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:11 AM on February 27 [20 favorites]


[Several deleted. This is the thread for posting about Trump, White House, admin, and related US politics; if you are posting about unrelated world news here, you are in the wrong place.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:21 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


CNN has identified a couple of big problems for Trump if his written answers to Mueller are contradicted by Cohen’s testimony: Exclusive: Two key answers from Trump to Mueller
President Donald Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in writing that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, nor was he told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

One source described the President's answers without providing any direct quotes and said the President made clear he was answering to the best of his recollection.[…]

According to many lawyers who have experience in cases such as this, adding the caveat that he has no recollection, as the President apparently did with these written answers to Mueller, is standard procedure as a way to try to shield a client should their recollections be challenged.

"It's well-documented how frequently he says or tweets false things, and there's no criminal exposure for that," said CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. "The difference is, if he lies in his statement to federal investigators, he is potentially exposing himself to criminal liability, assuming he attested to the accuracy of the information."
If the Dems have any political killer instinct, they’ll press Mikey “Sez Who?” hard about these points. Cohen, on his way to prison, isn’t likely to take the 5th.

While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet

Ron Howard Narrator’s Voice: He hasn’t deleted the tweet yet.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:24 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Welcome to America. There needs to be a reckoning. From BBC
'Thousands of US child migrants sexually abused'
posted by adamvasco at 2:45 AM on February 27 [40 favorites]


Has anyone explained why Cohen's statement discusses the Trump Tower meeting and WikiLeaks/Stone if (at Mueller's request?) he's not allowed to talk about Russian collusion?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:37 AM on February 27


I mean *the 2017 check alone* feels like it would be equivalent to the Nixon tapes getting released, except we're in this odd different universe where a) oh but it's so much worse so wait and b) oh but the Senate GOP probably wouldn't vote to impeach unless never
posted by angrycat at 3:59 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Yeah, we'll probably hear more from the media about the "Trump's TV Lawyer" burns than any actual crimes. I mean, sure, that was a *chef's kiss* burn, but we (media and consumers there of) keep getting distracted by the reality TV style drama over the actual substance.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:27 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Tweeted, at 4:21 a.m.: Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!

April 2018 (Bloomberg): Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year, including Trump and Elliott Broidy. The third client? Sean Hannity (Columbia Journalism Review).
posted by box at 5:04 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


NY Mag, Eric Levitz, The GOP Just Used Crocodile Tears About Anti-Semitism to Abet Mass Murder in Yemen ... The takeaway is simple though:

That last point is worth emphasizing: If the Senate finds a way to pass new legislation ending American support for the Saudi war [in Yemen], House Republicans (reportedly) plan to attack House Democrats as “soft on anti-Semitism” — unless Democrats vote to (effectively) prolong American participation in war crimes against a vulnerable ethnic group.


Make no mistake: The Republicans have signaled that they plan to launch false but politically damaging accusations in bad faith against those who oppose their agenda. The media is aware of this intent (and should be aware of this proclivity).

Thus, there is no reason at all for the media to report on these accusations as anything other than a politically motivated smear, and none to even pretend to take the accusations seriously. I say make no mistake, because the media likely will still report the eventual accusations as if they were sincere, which is worse than a mistake (and likely not accidental at that).
posted by Gelatin at 5:05 AM on February 27 [20 favorites]


GOP: Please tell me if I've got this right because I'm easily confused ... KSA is a strong opponent of anti-semitism?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:30 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


This line from Cohen testimony: “He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.” via Maggie Haberman on Twitter
posted by bluesky43 at 5:54 AM on February 27 [16 favorites]


seriously looking for recommendations of where from the UK, I can watch Cohen live...
posted by Wilder at 5:59 AM on February 27


I'm going to be watching from the CBS youtube feed. Give it a click and see if it'll let you watch from there.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:00 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


PopeHat thinks Gaetz may have gotten himself in a spot of trouble with that tweet

He adds, “Let me put it this way: if one of my clients made a statement to a witness like @mattgaetz did, I'd be telling them to board their dogs so they don't get shot when the arrest team shows up.”

While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet

Popehat responds, “Okay, okay. Now, in a perfect world you wouldn’t be talking about your specific intent after committing a specific intent crime, but I recognize I need to be grading on a curve here.”

Jerry Nadler to Chris Hayes last night: "I'm not going to waste time responding to every stupid thing that Matt Gaetz says, but it does remind me of the president's tweeting or talking to Fox News and, in effect, threatening Michael Cohen's father-in-law."

And Gaetz finally deleted his tweet this morning, having left it up all night.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:04 AM on February 27 [30 favorites]


I mean *the 2017 check alone* feels like it would be equivalent to the Nixon tapes getting released, except we're in this odd different universe where a) oh but it's so much worse so wait and b) oh but the Senate GOP probably wouldn't vote to impeach unless never

Among the infuriating things about this criminal presidency is that with its reality TV-like focus on "the Mueller Report" (which at least saves them from having to report knowledgeably on complicated and boring court filings) the so-called "liberal media" pretends to forget the abundant evidence in the public domain that Trump is, in fact, a crook. They constantly give Trump and his apologists the benefit of the doubt, when there has been no doubt since at least the Lester Holt interview, and that was Trump's own admission.
posted by Gelatin at 6:20 AM on February 27 [59 favorites]


Cohen will present document to criminally implicate Trump (Politico)
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, plans to offer up a document to lawmakers that he claims will show the president engaged in criminal conduct related to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, according to a person familiar with his planned congressional testimony.

The person said the document will refute a claim by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, that Cohen used a $35,000 a month retainer from Trump as reimbursement for paying off Daniels. [...]

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday were tight lipped about Cohen’s testimony behind closed doors. But Committee Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-Va.) suggested it was compelling.

“Two years ago when this investigation started I said it may be the most important thing I’m involved in in my public life in the Senate and nothing that I’ve heard today dissuades me from that view,” Warner told reporters.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:37 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Cohen repeatedly refers to Trump's "TV lawyer" in his opening statement. I find it kind of awesome that he uses this dismissive name for Giuliani and never once uses his real name.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:46 AM on February 27 [57 favorites]


Michael Cohen’s testimony: Trump’s former personal lawyer expected to allege the president knew in advance of WikiLeaks plan (WaPo)
“I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017–when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer --for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year –while he was President,” Cohen will say, according to his written remarks.

Cohen will also display a second $35,000 check, dated March 17, 2017, this one signed by Trump Jr. and Trump organization chief operating officer Allen Weisselberg, a person familiar with his testimony said. The check offers the first evidence that the president’s son may also have been involved with the reimbursement scheme.

Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, has previously acknowledged Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payments [...]
posted by Little Dawn at 6:47 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


That's an interesting construction in the Cohen statement.

On Individual 1:
He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.
On himself:
I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man.
I don't think it's meaningful, because I don't see why you'd want to do it, but it almost invites comparison.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 6:54 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


According to a Congressman on CNN, the Russia situation will now be fair game during the hearing.
posted by Optamystic at 6:55 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Has anyone explained why Cohen's statement discusses the Trump Tower meeting and WikiLeaks/Stone if (at Mueller's request?) he's not allowed to talk about Russian collusion?

Apparently he is now?

@nycsouthpaw: Gerry Connolly [D-VA] says on CNN Russia is now fair game for the hearing. Specifically Connolly says they just had a meeting about it and made the decision to open up the scope—not just his view.

Here's your C-SPAN link for the hearing.

And here's your reminder that we have Chat, Slack, and the 2 Hyuck 2 Hyucking thread for all your riffing and contextless exclamation needs.
posted by zachlipton at 6:58 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


WaPo, Phillip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, White House bans four journalists from covering Trump-Kim dinner because of shouted questions
The White House abruptly banned four U.S. journalists from covering President Trump’s dinner here Wednesday with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after some of them shouted questions at the leaders during their earlier meetings.

Reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters were excluded from covering the dinner because of what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said were “sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays.” Among the questions asked of Trump was one about the congressional testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

The White House’s move to restrict press access was an extraordinary act of retaliation by the U.S. government, which historically has upheld the rights of journalists while a president travels overseas. It was especially remarkable because it came during Trump’s meeting with the leader of a totalitarian state that does not have a free press.
posted by zachlipton at 7:09 AM on February 27 [49 favorites]


The White House’s move to restrict press access was an extraordinary act of retaliation by the U.S. government, which historically has upheld the rights of journalists while a president travels overseas. It was especially remarkable because it came during Trump’s meeting with the leader of a totalitarian state that does not have a free press.

The Trump Administration fundamentally agreeing with a dictator about suppressing a free press should come as a surprise to no one. And it should be roundly condemned by loyal Americans regardless of party, save that conservatism has degenerated into a tribal brand, not a political philosophy with concrete values. It's unforgivable for any Republican to go along with Trump's authoritarianism because they share some of the same agenda, and it's inexcusable for the media to give any Republican a free pass for expressing "concern" and then voting to enable Trump.
posted by Gelatin at 7:14 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Watching the hearing now. Meadows and Jordan have been objecting on procedural grounds to Cohen's lawyers releasing the testimony and evidence less than 24 hours in advance. Representative Cummings adjudicated in favor of continuing the hearing, and those foul Confederates forced a show vote on postponing the hearing.

Representative Cummings employed the "Reclaiming my time" strategy to silence Jordan and is now making his opening statement, detailing what crimes and actions to which Michael Cohen has admitted. He is answering the question of "Why believe admitted liar Michael Cohen on these matters?" The chairman is pointing out that Cohen is providing documentary evidence that corroborates his statements. He is pointing out that Cohen has signed checks from Donald Trump for the $35000 checks to reimburse him for paying off Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels.

Representative Cummings is now detailing Cohen's claim that Trump was aware that Roger Stone had been in touch with Wikileaks before the dump of the DNC emails. He rightly notes that it is disturbing for many Americans. He notes that Cohen has lied in the past and that it is important to consider these issues. He calls out Meadows' attempts to prevent the public from hearing about Cohen's testimony. Cummings says we need to investigate and get to the bottom of what happened with Trump, Cohen, and foreign adversaries. The chair says that he will refer untrue statements to the DoJ for prosecution.

Cummings notes that he public voted for oversight and a check on the executive. He says, "The days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are *over*." He says that he will not avoid touching the Russia topic and that the DoJ does not have any objections to the topics raised by Michael Cohen. The chairman reminds the committee to be mindful of where the DoJ is actively investigating. Cummings also quotes Dr. King to close before recognizing (huge stupid dipshit) Jim Jordan.

Jordan is going on a whiney, incoherent rant full of Clinton conspiracy bullshit and complaining the Cohen is return to testify. Jordan now detailing Cohen's crime and accuses the Chair of the hearing being a setup. Jordan is acting like Congress doesn't actually have the power to impeach the executive. And....now we're back to the Clintons and the Steele Dossier. Jim Jordan gives aid and comfort to mafia ring that has taken over the Russian government from the House of Representative. Chairman Cummings is denying Jordan the opportunity file a motion because he yield his time back to the chair. Maaaajor lol there.

I love Representative Cummings because he's sooo not willing to take shit from the sons of Jefferson Davis.

[EC Note: I have a late start at work today, so I may be able to do a couple more of these before heading out.]
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 7:27 AM on February 27 [67 favorites]


For Chicago, the Lightfoot vs. Preckwinkle race is going to be interesting. The mayoral map by ward shows most of the Lightfoot support on the north side, and the Preckwinkle support on the south side. Considering Lightfoot's role in the Office of Police Standards, it's not that surprising she'd be more unpopular on the south side, but she's also positioning herself as the more progressive candidate against Preckwinkle's machine ties.

I'd go Preckwinkle because I don't trust Lightfoot at all. Like, even among people I trust to be okay with an actual 'trying to reform the police from the inside' candidate and know Lightfoot, they're going Preckwinkle.

Part of me just doesn't believe that Daley is completely out of the race this early, especially after the reports of a low turnout.

On the Aldermanic side of things, Ed Burke won his seat. He was the subject of an FBI wiretap and whose law offices were raided earlier this year, also Trump is one of his clients. Joe Moreno, whose scandals include impersonating a police officer and reporting his car stolen after his . . . girlfriend. . . borrowed it? Lost his. He was also mentioned in the Ed Burke wiretap, but not currently accused of doing anything illegal.

Of the rest of the shittiest alderman that progressive groups were trying to oust, three of the aldermen retained their seats (28,34,37) one lost theirs (49) and the rest look like they're runoffs. It's something.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:30 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


How weak was Ranking Member Jordan's argument? At one point he mentioned that Tom Steyer had recently held Town Halls in Manhattan and Baltimore, some of the districts held by Democratic members of the committee. Incendiary shit here
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:30 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


SEE: Documents Michael Cohen will present to back up his testimony to Congress These include financial statements (spot the 4 billion dollar "brand value" topping off his assets), two 35,000 checks to Cohen signed by Trump, Cohen's letter to the President of Fordham (spot that PS after a page of legal threats: "P.S. Mr Trump truly enjoyed his two years at Fordham and has great respect for the University."), and various tweets and press clippings.
posted by zachlipton at 7:38 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Cummings notes that he public voted for oversight and a check on the executive. He says, "The days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are *over*."

That's Elijah Cummings! I looked him up when I was researching my comment about the secret nuclear deal with KSA. He's just started, as of January. And he's right, people in the oversight committee have known for a long time that people in the White House are selling nuclear secrets, and nothing was done about it until he gets there. Up until now it's been the overlook committee.

Also, people in the White House are selling nuclear secrets! To that bonesaw fellow! Why isn't this all over the media? It seems like a BFD.
posted by adept256 at 7:56 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


Cohen repeatedly refers to Trump's "TV lawyer" in his opening statement. I find it kind of awesome that he uses this dismissive name for Giuliani and never once uses his real name.

Marcy Wheeler: I'm typing up a letter to Cohen complaining about him using my phrase "TV lawyer" without paying me royalties, btw.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:56 AM on February 27 [27 favorites]




Cohen is now testifying and acknowledges his previous conduct. He noted that he has supplied "irrefutable" documentary evidence of Trump's misconduct. Says he can't believe Trump "won" while openly espousing bigotry and hate. Cohen says he is sorry and ashamed for covering for a "racist," "conman" who is "a cheat". He says that Trump knew about Stone and Wikileaks conspiring against the United States.

Says he has a check from Trump dated after the inauguration. Says Trump knew it was for covering up an affair. He has dox from Deutsche Bank. He is detailing the charitable fraud of the shitty painting of Trump. He has copies of letters that Cohen wrote that threaten his high school and colleges to prevent them from releasing his grades. Say he wants the American people to know Donald Trump. Cohen is apologizing for his dishonest conduct. Says that negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow continued for many months into the campaign. Says Trump doesn't ask people to lie, but that he makes statements he knows to be false, with the understanding that others repeat those lies. Cohen says Trump inquired multiple time about Moscow tower. Says that Trump's personal lawyers edited his initial testimony to Congress. Says Trump lied about a bunch of stuff because he "never expected to win" and thought he would make hundreds of millions of dollars.

Cohen says Trump made statements that they both knew to be false. He says again that his attorneys reviewed his statements. Cohen says that Trump has been smearing him for two years. Cohen introduces himself, talks about his family. Cohen says he has tried to live "a life of compassion", notes that his father survived the Holocaust because of the kindness and generosity of others. Says he tried to do good tings for others, but then goes on to explain how he did wrong things and went against his conscience to help him. He also says, "For the record, Individual 1 is President Donald J. Trump". Cohen is making an apologies to his family, the Congress, and the country.

Now he is detailing his work for Trump. Said being around Trump was "intoxicating", that you were "somehow changing the world". Notes that touting the Trump org for a decade. Said he was always expected to stay on message. Said he saw Trump's "true character revealed". "The bad [in Trump} far outweighs the good. Since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. Cohen is really, really laying into Trump, saying that Trump only ran to make his own brand great.

Cohen says he knew that Trump would expect him to lie. [EC Note: Just looked at the stream. Michael Cohen kinda looks like a thinner Chris Christie. How strange.] Cohen back to noting that Trump knew about the Wikileaks dump ahead of time. Details Call with Stone and that Stone told Trump and Cohen that a massive dump of emails would be dropped soon after.

Cohen notes Trump courting of bigots. Says he does more racist things in private than he does in public. Cohen shared several anecdotes about Trump's anti-Black racism about Africans and members of the African diaspora.

Cohen's now talking about Trump's habit to inflate and deflate his asset reports when either action would serve his financial interests. Cohen discusses the details of how Donald Trump used his non-profit to buy a heinous painting of him to repay a fake bidder.

Cohen says that one of his responsibilities was to tell small businesses that no or reduced payments would be coming for services already rendered. Cohen says that Trump asked him to pay off an adult film star and lie about it to Melania Trump and the public. He reports that Trump directed Cohen to pay Stephanie Clifford directly so that money could not be linked directly to Donald Trump. Cohen is submitting checks that Trump paid him, while he was in the WH. Cohen says that Trump Jr and Allen Weisselberg signed checks to him. Donald Trump participated in a criminal scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws, says Cohen.

Cohen has repeatedly highlighted that he made *choices* to assist Donald Trump and that those choices are why he is going to jail.

He says that Trump is a conman who asked him to threaten various schools with civil and criminal actions in order to prevent them from releasing his grades or SAT scores. He says approximately, I never heard anything in private that [Trump} loved the nation or that he wanted to make it better. He talks about how Trump talked shit about John McCain. Says that Trump asked him to deal with the negative press surrounding the bone spurs deferment. Notes that Trump did not provide any medical records and that trump said there was no surgery.

Cohen says he does not have direct proof of collusion of between Trump and Russia. Says he does remember a meeting with Trump and Don Jr, "The meeting is all set". Apparently Trump thinks Jr has the worst judgement in the world. Cohen says that decisions are not made in Trumpland without Donald's direct knowledge. He concluded that the exchanged pertained to meeting with Russian agents.

Cohen again apologies for lying to Congress and the nation. Details how his actions have negatively affected his family. Says he would not accept a pardon from Trump. Cohen notes that Trump and his TV lawyer have been threatening him publicly and encouraging others to mess with his family, in order to try and head off Cohen's testimony. Cohen specifically calls Trump's tactics as "intimidation", and thanks Reps Pelosi, Schiff, and Cummings for defending the institution of Congress.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 7:57 AM on February 27 [108 favorites]


Chairman Cummings is now questioning Cohen about the sequencing of the payments to Stephanie Cliffords. He notes that the discussions started long before the end of the campaign. He says that Keith Davidson contacted him and that he would go directly to Trump to talk about it. Allen Weisselberg was involved in arranging the pay off in a manner that would not be directly linkable to Trump.

Cummings noting that a check was dated after the announcement that Trump had said he was no longer managing his business. Cohen says that the payments were arranged to be paid over a year. Cohen says Weisselberg would know more about the payments. Cummings says that Trump paid Cohen for the hush money payment, while in the WH.

Jordan is up. He's trying to discredit Cohen by detailing Cohen's crimes. Cohen admits that he did some criming for his own benefits. Cohen is actually expounding on the nature of the crimes, in a way to undercut Jordan's framing.

It's sort of funny, but I think Cohen may be...more intelligent than Jordan. Cohen looks like he is trying nail Trump and I think the wannabe Confeds may have some difficulty in getting him to say what they want.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:08 AM on February 27 [66 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out why Cohen's response to Jordan wasn't effectively, "I don't know, why are you still working for him?"
posted by meowf at 8:15 AM on February 27 [52 favorites]


The Republican position appears to be that Michael Cohen isn't qualified to talk about the President's adherence to Campaign Finance laws, because he's been convicted of committing Campaign Finance felonies. On behalf of the President. Why would the American people be interested in hearing from such a man?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:20 AM on February 27 [68 favorites]


Cummings notes that he public voted for oversight and a check on the executive. He says, "The days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are *over*."

The day's events are so dramatic that Cummings' calling out his Republican colleagues for actively participating in the cover-up are likely to go relatively unnoticed.

That'd be a shame, because the Republicans actively participating in the cover-up did not go unnoticed, even if the media steadfastly refuses to draw the obvious conclusion (they're covering up evidence of Trump's guilt).
posted by Gelatin at 8:22 AM on February 27 [22 favorites]


Cohen: "Shame on you, Mr. Jordan."
posted by bz at 8:32 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


Cohen is not dumb. You don't get to be a lawyer/fixer for Donald Trump and be devoid of intelligence. Cohen, of course, is greedy, manipulative, deceptive, abusive, and arrogant (just like Trump), but he's smart enough to intelligently engage in complex crimes. (If he had a boss with more cunning, Cohen's crimes would never had surfaced.)

Yet here, he knows there's only one way back to the light and that is admit everything. That's what Jordan and Gaetz don't understand. Cohen is no longer trying to protect himself and so Jordan trying to embarrass him with his previous crimes or Gaetz trying to threaten him with information about Cohen's mistresses won't work. Cohen has already hit rock bottom. He's going to prison, he's disgraced, he's disbarred. But like Khan on the the damaged bridge of the USS RELIANT, he's going to see Donald Trump in Hell.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:33 AM on February 27 [142 favorites]


Representative Maloney is up. She is asking about Trump's involvement in the running of the Trump Org. Cohen responses "There was nothing that happened at the Trump Organization...that did not go through Mr. Trump with his approval and sign up, as in the case of the payments." She asks how many times Trump asked C to make settlements with women. He can't recall specifics of how many times that happened. Asks what Trump was trying to hide in 2017 financial disclosures. Cohen says Trump was trying to hide the payoffs to Stephanie Clifford. Cohen says that he asked Allen Weisselberg to make the payments, but AW was unwilling. He says they both tried to figure out ways to disburse the money surreptitiously. Says that they got down to the wire and it was necessary for someone to make the payment for the 'light rights'.

Asks him to describe "Catch and kill" to the American public. Cohen shares how AMI and David Packer contacted him or Trump, state that there was a story out there, then one goes to purchase the rights to their story. Cohen says that he was involved in several catch and kill episodes. Says that Pecker and Trump had arrangements going back before 2007. Asks for suggestions of whom the committee should talk to. Cohen lists the exec at AMI and Allen Weisselberg.

Comer is up. Asking about Cohen's financial dealings. Cohen is being quite assertive in answering the minority's questions and not letting their disgraceful creatures dictate the terms of his answers. Comer bringing up SDNY case. Comer is trying to show that Cohen tried to defraud a bank. Cohen seems to know more about the details and understand than the dingus questioning him. Comer says he doesn't think that Cohen is 'capable' of telling the truth.

Cohen challenges Jordan fiercely and says "Shame on you" and disputes Jordan's characterization of his actions. Cohen is pushing back very, very strongly against jordan in a way I wish more witnesses would against these shitheads.

Representative Norton up now. She's asking about campaign finance violations now. She's asking about the Access Hollywood Tape. Asks Cohen about Trump's reaction to the tape and whether Trump was concerned how it would affect the election. Cohen says that Trump was concerned about these issues. Says that Hope Hicks called to tell him, " We need you to make phone calls to news sources" in order to characterize his actions as "locker room talk". He notes the MacDougal, Clifford, and Access Hollywood stuff piling up around that time.

Cohen says that Trump was concerned about the Billy Bush tape and he was concerned the effect another story from Clifford or MacDougal. Cohen admits that Keith Davidson told him that Clifford wanted 130,000$. Said there was some consideration of whether Clifford would go public and debate about whether to make the payment. Trump directed Cohen and Weisselberg to make these payments.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:38 AM on February 27 [74 favorites]


Oh god. Representative Meadows (R) is attempting to prove that Donald Trump isn't racist by bringing in Lynne Patton, a black woman who is A CURRENT MEMBER OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:39 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Bless you for these updates, Excommunicated Cardinal. I'm on deadline and can't have the hearings on, and Twitter's moving too fast for me to figure out what's happening, but nonetheless I have trainwreck FOMO and this is really helping me out.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:43 AM on February 27 [58 favorites]


Seconding that, Excommunicated Cardinal... THANK YOU for giving a play-by-play for those at work that can't stream this. This stuff just doesn't fit into a CNN/WaPo/AP tweet.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:45 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


Oh god. Representative Meadows (R) is attempting to prove that Donald Trump isn't racist by bringing in Lynne Patton, a black woman who is A CURRENT MEMBER OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Yeah, and the truly crappy thing is - why bother? Trump is a racist, it is known. I guess this is part of the attempt to "flood the zone" with enough dramatic crap that everyone fails to see the damaging stuff (the financials) that are now out. And the media will go for it, because simple dramatics is easier than complex issues.

(And, yes, thanks EC - I too am on deadline and one of my files got eaten by the computer somehow, so as badly as I want to close my door and livestream this, some occasional quick reads of this thread is all I can do).
posted by nubs at 8:46 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Oh god. Representative Meadows (R) is attempting to prove that Donald Trump isn't racist by bringing in Lynne Patton, a black woman who is A CURRENT MEMBER OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Yeah, though there was a great zinger Cohen got off. Meadows asked if a black woman (Patton) would work for a racist and Cohen responded with that as a son of a Holocaust survivor, he shouldn't have worked for a racist.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:47 AM on February 27 [118 favorites]


It's refreshing for those of us who sat thru the years of bad-faith partisan nonsense under Republican Speakers Boehner and Ryan to see how one runs a Congressional hearing whose mission is exposing actual wrongdoing.
posted by Gelatin at 8:48 AM on February 27 [32 favorites]


Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

@JoeBrunoWSOC9: BREAKING: McCrae Dowless has been indicted on three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballot #NC09 #ncpol @wsoctv
posted by zachlipton at 8:49 AM on February 27 [62 favorites]


Meadows disputing Cohen's characterization of Trump as racist. Asks for tape recording of Trump's racist stations. Brings out a staffer that Cohen helped to get a job. She is Black and says she would not work for 'a racist'. Cohen said he should not work for a racist, as he is a Holocaust survivor's son. Says that she should look to how many Black people are execs at Trump Org for evidence of Trump's racism.

Meadows asks about payments from a Novartis (?). Cohen is so willing to push back on these assholes, which is a refreshing change. Now he's talking about a bank in Kazakhstan and how he was consulted for trying to track down some embezzled money? I'm not honestly sure about the details of this issues.

Cohen talks about the details of a contract with Novartis.

Meadows is a whiney little shit, who doesn't know how to be in the minority. What an obnoxious, stupid little pissfart.

Chairman Cummings details how Trump, his children, and org have repeatedly lied to the public. He says that he's going to talk about Trump's finances. Asks about Cohen's knowledge of how Trump valued his assets. Notes 'flagrantly untrue' statements as observed by Crane from the Trump Org. Cohen says asset valuations were done at the direction of Trump. Cohen says that Trump valued his assets to suit his purposes. Says Trump wanted his estimated worth to go up on Forbes list. Says that they would use the most favorable possible parameters to inflate values of his assets.

Cohen explaining how he used the financial statements when discussing Trump's assets with media sources. He also used the dox when dealing with insurance companies. Says they tried to use the statements to get reduced fees or increased value. Trump was apparently directly involved in inflated reports. Cohen says that Trump inflated his assets at least once by submitting the dox to Deutsche Bank.

Cummings is objecting to Meadow's request for unanimous consent for entering various documents into the record. He says that they are "objections" not statements or documents, I think. Meadow is again whining. Blergh.

Wish I could stick around and do this all day, but I'm going to have to head out soon! Glad I could help some of you keep up on the details for a bit!
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:52 AM on February 27 [74 favorites]


Lord Chancellor: Cohen is not dumb. You don't get to be a lawyer/fixer for Donald Trump and be devoid of intelligence. Cohen, of course, is greedy, manipulative, deceptive, abusive, and arrogant (just like Trump), but he's smart enough to intelligently engage in complex crimes.

I have seen no evidence to support this. He used a Trump Org email address to setup the "secret" LLC to pay off Stormy Daniels. He negotiated with her through a Trump Org email address. And didn't he botch the confidentially agreement so it wasn't even valid? If he'd used a burner phone and a sack of cash, none of this would happening now.

There is no requirement to be intelligent to work for him, just loyal. They get away with this shit because they're rich white guys in America, and the rules in America are written to protect but not bind rich white guys.

Sorry, but I'm sticking with William Goldman and All the President's Men on this one: "The truth is these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."
posted by bluecore at 8:55 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


You don't get to be a lawyer/fixer for Donald Trump and be devoid of intelligence.

Counterpoint: Rudy Giuliani.
posted by Pendragon at 9:03 AM on February 27 [34 favorites]


Anyone looking for a good and reliable play-by-play of this hearing can always check out (The Toronto Star's Washington correspondent) Daniel Dale's Twitter page.
posted by orange swan at 9:03 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


The ABC, CBS and NBC networks are broadcasting the live proceedings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Fox is showing "Hot Bench", a simulated courtroom reality show. This episode is about the internal strife of an after-school marching band.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:08 AM on February 27 [91 favorites]


Scorching closing rebuke to those who protect Trump by Cohen just before the break. He warns them, as one who knows from experience. Chilling.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:13 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Ryan Goodman compares Cohen's testimony to Don Jr's

Cohen: I gave “approximately 10” briefings, including Don. Jr. and Ivanka, on Moscow Tower deal

Don Jr: "I wasn't involved"

I hope there's some follow-up that asks Cohen to nail down specifically what Don Jr and Ivanka were told about the deal and when.
posted by zachlipton at 9:15 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


There is no requirement to be intelligent to work for him, just loyal. They get away with this shit because they're rich white guys in America, and the rules in America are written to protect but not bind rich white guys.

To be fair to the original comment, there's still a pretty big gap between "actually smart" and "a lot smarter than Jim Jordan".
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:16 AM on February 27 [53 favorites]


So some idiot had a sign with the ~~savage zinger~~ of "Liar Liar Pants on FIRE1! towards the back of the crowd, and in an extremely cringey moment Rep. Paul Gosar emotionally and in a gotcha! attitude says to Cohen: "look up here and read the sign: liar liar pants on fire!"

Moments later Rep Jim Cooper asks Cohen about his role in all this (in a lessons learned attitude) and Cohen very smartly refers to the stupid sign and says..."I did that. I am responsible for this silliness that is unbecoming of Congress". He points at Gosar and says "I did the same thing you are doing now, for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump..."

I thought that was beautiful.
posted by Tarumba at 9:21 AM on February 27 [169 favorites]


Indeed, Cohen flipping the tables on these spineless fucks in Congress for protecting Trump, using the very tactics they're trying to use to discredit him as evidence of their cravenness is... it's perfect. It really is.
posted by odinsdream at 9:25 AM on February 27 [70 favorites]


That's an interesting construction in the Cohen statement.

>>>On Individual 1:
>>>He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.
>>>On himself:
>>>I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man.

I don't think it's meaningful, because I don't see why you'd want to do it, but it almost invites comparison.

posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 6:54 AM on February 27 [5 favorites +] [!]


I think the construction is elegant and enlightening. He reverses the structure for himself, which highlights what he sees as the differences between Trump—an unkind, ungenerous, disloyal man who occasionally is kind, generous, and loyal—and himself, claiming to be a truthful, good man who lied and did bad things for a while.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:25 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


That would be AZ GOP Dentist-cum-congressman Paul Gosar, the dude whose six siblings recorded an add for his opponent. "Dont vote for our brother"

cant say they didnt tell you.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:25 AM on February 27 [79 favorites]


It's astonishing. I am astonished. The open and brazen corruption of the GOP who are actively acting, in essence, as defense counsel for Trump by doing nothing but try to discredit the witness. And their argument, apparently, is that, because Cohen was a member of Trump's years-long criminal conspiracy and lied at Trump's direction, therefore, nobody should be willing to believe that Cohen was a member of Trump's years-long criminal conspiracy and lied at Trump's direction. It's like if Tom Hagen testified against Michael Corleone and the defense argued that you shouldn't trust him because he's a criminal who worked for Michael Corleone.

Also, Cohen's testimony on the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations a) is totally lacking in the detail that he and Sater explicitly linked the project to getting Trump elected, and b) is actively protecting Trump by saying that when Trump asked how things were going "with Russia," there was no question that he meant only the Trump Tower Russia project and nothing else.
posted by The World Famous at 9:29 AM on February 27 [66 favorites]


And their argument, apparently, is that, because Cohen was a member of Trump's years-long criminal conspiracy and lied at Trump's direction, therefore, nobody should be willing to believe that Cohen was a member of Trump's years-long criminal conspiracy and lied at Trump's direction.

That's a piece of the argument. Cohen did plenty on his own, for his own reasons, at his own direction, to serve his own ends that GOP Congresspersons have used to discredit him. I was dismayed when he declined to provide testimony about further payments to women beyond the two payments he's already admitted to. It suggests Cohen knows more than he's saying and withholding for his own reasons, which buttresses the GOP attacks on his illegal, unethical activities outside the scope of his employment in the past to indicate he is doing so now.
posted by notyou at 9:41 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I'd like to hear more about Michael Cohen's work as Deputy Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee, a position from which he resigned only last summer.

I anticipate that any questions related to this matter are more likely to be asked by the Majority members than the Minority members.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:43 AM on February 27 [40 favorites]


Representative Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) asks a pertinent question: is Mr Cohen aware of any criminal acts regarding the President which have not been brought to the Committee's attention? Yes, says Mr Cohen, but since those criminal acts are currently being investigated by the Federal Southern District of New York, he has been advised not to discuss them.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:47 AM on February 27 [110 favorites]


Fox is showing "Hot Bench", a simulated courtroom reality show. This episode is about the internal strife of an after-school marching band.

This. So much this. Every one of these threads includes something along the lines of "ABCBSNBCNN report: Roger Stone arrested. Fox airs new cartoon for kids "Crooked Hillary"(/s) These incidents need to be collected as direct evidence that Fox is NOT a news agency, but rather the propaganda arm of the RNC. And then they need to be shut. The fuck. Down.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:49 AM on February 27 [35 favorites]


The open and brazen corruption of the GOP who are actively acting, in essence, as defense counsel for Trump by doing nothing but try to discredit the witness.

Assuming they're not actually just performing for Trump. Which reminds me of -

> Representative Meadows (R) is attempting to prove that Donald Trump isn't racist by bringing in Lynne Patton, a black woman who is A CURRENT MEMBER OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Yeah, and the truly crappy thing is - why bother? Trump is a racist, it is known.


Aside from the "it's for Trump's benefit," there's also that it's not for everyone who knows Trump is a racist. The "I have a black friend!" is never convincing to anyone with sense. It's there as the fig leaf for people who are looking to fool themselves and engage in performance for their own group. They drop this shit so they can all nod to each other, and anyone outside who refuses to buy it - they're obviously the irrational haters! We showed that we're not actually Like That!
posted by phearlez at 9:50 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


t's astonishing. I am astonished. The open and brazen corruption of the GOP who are actively acting, in essence, as defense counsel for Trump

According to Daniel Dale, Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch noticed, and contrasted it with raised voice to their earlier cover-up:
[Lynch] says it is Republicans who had the partisan agenda, by refusing to bring any Trump associate who pleaded guilty before the committee. He says, "Your side ran away from the truth, and we're trying to bring it to the American people."

Republicans managed to pretend Nixon was sui generis, despite the fact that some of his people worked in the Reagan and W. Bush administrations. No current Republican should ever be allowed to claim that they weren't 100% responsible for Trump, no matter how many "concerns" and "disagreements" they cite.
posted by Gelatin at 9:53 AM on February 27 [25 favorites]


Why isn't anyone asking him about Prague? Would that fall outside of the bounds of what has been determined OK to ask about today?
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:56 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]




Why isn't anyone asking him about Prague? Would that fall outside of the bounds of what has been determined OK to ask about today?

Would be a good question, but might fall under items he can't talk about due to SDNY/Mueller. Which would be an interesting non-answer in itself.
posted by azpenguin at 9:59 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


These incidents need to be collected as direct evidence that Fox is NOT a news agency, but rather the propaganda arm of the RNC. And then they need to be shut. The fuck. Down.

Nah just count them as illegal in kind campaign contributions and prosecute the campaign financing violations accordingly.

It would also have the upside of banning the channel from government buildings.
posted by srboisvert at 10:00 AM on February 27 [37 favorites]


Why isn't anyone asking him about Prague? Would that fall outside of the bounds of what has been determined OK to ask about today?

One reason may be that no one of either party knows with enough certainty that the answer will be politically useful to them. Cohen has always denied being in Prague at the time alleged by the Steele dossier, so Democrats would know that he is unlikely to answer "yes" at this time. And a GOPer would be risking a terrible surprise in the case that Cohen actually had been to Prague and was willing to come clean about the truth.
posted by Jpfed at 10:04 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


I promise I'll be good forever if someone asks about Sean Hannity, please.
posted by theodolite at 10:06 AM on February 27 [29 favorites]


[Black Trump staffer] says she should look to how many Black people are execs at Trump Org for evidence of Trump's racism.

Historically, having black people working subordinate to you is an iffy disqualifier for racism. Even if you elevate them to a high steward.
posted by wildblueyonder at 10:08 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


I had to stop watching just after this happened but I really hope there's follow up:

Rep. Raskin: "So there were other cases of sexual payoffs to women?"
Cohen: "Not all of them were women."

This is paraphrased from a complicated back and forth that happened with cross-talk, and maybe Cohen meant something else, but that's definitely what he said.
posted by odinsdream at 10:13 AM on February 27 [50 favorites]


Amash: What truth does Trump fear most?

Is Amash wobbly? I hope so.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:13 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Jpfed, thank you, that's a good point.
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:14 AM on February 27


Katie Hill (D-CA) is hammering on the facts. She seems to be quite good at this. I, personally, appreciate that elicitation of clear facts and details that either make him more or less credible. I wish the other Democrats would use this no-nonsense approach. The GOP questioners are a bad combination of faux outrage and smears.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:20 AM on February 27 [18 favorites]


Jeez, Gibbs (R-OH) has just come out with a word salad worthy of Trump himself, and hasn't asked an actual question in about five minutes of non-stop blather.
posted by essexjan at 10:23 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Amash voted with Democrats to block the "National Emergency" declaration. He is a Libertarian-leaning Republican who gives signs of having real principles, and his constituents seem okay with it. He explicitly positions himself as independent from the GOP.

Also...

I think Cohen's answer to Rep Raskin's question was more like "The catch and kill deals weren't always about silencing women."

Implying there were other bad deeds he was covering up besides his sexual hijinks. Not that some sexual hijinks involved men. I assume there wasn't more follow up on that because it risks impinging on the SDNY investigations?
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:24 AM on February 27 [16 favorites]


One of the many noxious implications of the "would a racist hire a black person" notion is the equation of "racism" with a kind of absolutist separatism that essentially percieves every person of color as having cooties. (I do think that Trump's racism is co-morbid with his germophobia but in complex ways that allow him to interact plenty with black people for the sake of larger goals, like shaking hands.)

A friend of mine told me his conservative mother is explicitly against mixed-race relationships, and learning that has opened my eyes to the pervasiveness of the level of bigotry that goes beyond the oppressiveness of bias and privilege, and into the kind of territory that Dave Chappelle distinguished in a standup routine with "Damn, that's racist". The real-life manifestation of "strawman-level" racism that I assumed was something like 5%-10% of white Americans could be more like 30%-35%.

And somewhere in that group is a set of whites who are emotionally but not ideologically opposed to racial integration. For them, observing any white person choosing to interact with non-white people inspires the sort of "Wow, good for you but I could never" admiration that people otherwise give to, like, firefighters. And that's one way you get "Would a racist do thiiiis?" -- not just the implication that hiring/fraternizing/etc cancels out racism, but that it goes above and beyond an imagined baseline. Ugggh.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:25 AM on February 27 [24 favorites]


Amash voted with Democrats to block the "National Emergency" declaration. He is a Libertarian-leaning Republican who gives signs of having real principles, and his constituents seem okay with it. He explicitly positions himself as independent from the GOP.

I find it strange the party bosses allowed him to be on this committee. How does that work?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:26 AM on February 27


I find it strange the party bosses allowed him to be on this committee. How does that work?

Not exactly quid pro quo, but some insurance that he will continue voting with Rs in the long run.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:29 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Well, if they'd put him on Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, or Ways and Means (which can request tax returns), he'd still have plenty of opportunities to show his independence from Trump.

In fact, Trump's wrongdoing is so broad in scope that there might not be any "safe" committees to put someone like Amash on.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:29 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


[One deleted; let's not go off into a deeper analysis of the psychology of white racism in here - specifically not in the form "here's another gross thing racists say"; fine to make a separate thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:29 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) is dumb as a post. I can't imagine who the voters are who found him a viable candidate for office. Again, dumb as a post.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:33 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


"I didn't know who you were until today". Clay Higgins. Good night, this is comically tragic.

The only angle the Rs are going down: do you have any book deals? Movies? TV?
posted by hijinx at 10:33 AM on February 27 [26 favorites]


Spectacular questioning from Representative Higgins (R-LA) who has expansively and repeatedly demanded that Mr Cohen explain why his boxes of evidence aren't in the possession of law enforcement. Cohen eventually gets an opportunity to explain that the aforementioned boxes were returned to him after being seized by the FBI, at which point Higgins cuts off Cohen, asking that law enforcement investigate the situation. Higgins goes on to claim that he didn't know who Michael Cohen was until he was arrested. This remarkable admission of ignorance is intended to imply that Cohen's downfall and incarceration is an elaborate scheme for him to get more screen time. Perhaps a book deal.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:36 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Amash voted with Democrats to block the "National Emergency" declaration. He is a Libertarian-leaning Republican who gives signs of having real principles, and his constituents seem okay with it. He explicitly positions himself as independent from the GOP.

I find it strange the party bosses allowed him to be on this committee. How does that work?


It's like when McDonald's puts a salad on the menu.

It gives republicans something to consider and then reject while feeling good that they considered what they rejected even though they were going to reject it no matter what.
posted by srboisvert at 10:37 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


He points at Gosar and says "I did the same thing you are doing now, for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump..."

I'm sure Cohen knows how the sausage gets made re: coordinating talking points between the White House and congressional committee R's and I would love for him to blow up someone's spot by getting real detailed on how the process works in response to one of these attacks on his testimony. Their whole obstructionist playbook needs to be in the Congressional record and televised nationally.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:38 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]




The only angle the Rs are going down: do you have any book deals? Movies? TV?

This is a strategy to avoid asking about anything that even might be illegal. There's no federal Son of Sam law.
posted by rhizome at 10:38 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I wish these committees would use professional interrogators and give them a continuous block of time to question the witness. Unfortunately, face time on TV is much more important to politicians these days, so they are reluctant to do this. I hope they are doing that during the closed sessions, where face time is irrelevant.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:39 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Asked to elaborate on what other stories David Pecker helped to "Catch and Kill" Cohen gives another example which was already public.

"There was a story about Mr. Trump having a love child with an employee (and the husband of that employee works for the company as well) and there was an elevator operator who claims he overheard, and he [Pecker] ended up paying $15,000 to get that story." (My attempt at a live transcript.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:43 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


The only angle the Rs are going down: do you have any book deals? Movies? TV?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't get how they thinks it makes him less credible that he's bluntly saying "no, I won't turn down any book deals" and "no, I won't pledge to donate any book money to charity." Like, that is a plainly honest answer.
posted by dnash at 10:45 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


I stopped watching this a while ago because even though there is some good information coming out from it, so much of it is comprised of two men yelling at each other, trying to out zinger the other. It seems performative and fake. Is this normally how these things go? The Dems at least ask pertinent questions. While I was watching, the Repubs were asking weird shit about Novartis and whether Lanny Davis was going to be paid, and a bunch of stuff about how he lied once before but never anything about how their president ordered him to do so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by gucci mane at 10:46 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


A Republican just asked "Have you ever been to Prague?"

Cohen said "I've never been to Prague. I've never been to the Czech Republic."

That was it. No follow up, just an aside.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:46 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Oh wait, follow up from a Democrat.

"In 2016, did you travel to Europe?"

"Yes."

"For business or personal?"

"Personal. My daughter was studying in London."

"So you didn't speak with an Russians?"

"No ma'am."

(Slight paraphrase)
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:49 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's just me, but I don't get how they thinks it makes him less credible that he's bluntly saying "no, I won't turn down any book deals" and "no, I won't pledge to donate any book money to charity." Like, that is a plainly honest answer.

The train of thought goes:

"*snort* well, if he wouldn't turn down a book deal, how do we know that this WHOLE THING hasn't been made up just to get a book deal out of it?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


"How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten someone on his behalf?"
"Hard to say."
"50 times?"
"More."
"100 times?"
"More."
"200 times?"
"More."
"500 times?"
"Yes, probably, over 10 years. When I say threats, that includes legal action."
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:51 AM on February 27 [62 favorites]


Testimony from Cohen Could Create New Legal Issues for Trump (NYT)
The dramatic public testimony to Congress on Wednesday morning by President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, could intensify the legal issues facing the president in the criminal and civil investigations that are swirling around him, legal experts said. [...]

The question of contacts between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign is central to the issue of whether there was any conspiracy between the campaign and Russia. It is not known what Mr. Trump might have told Mr. Mueller’s team about what, if anything, he knew about WikiLeaks’ plans or about contacts between Mr. Stone and Mr. Assange.

Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said that if Mr. Cohen is telling the truth, and if Mr. Trump claimed to Mr. Mueller in his sworn, written testimony that he was not aware of any contacts between Mr. Stone and Mr. Assange, that could be a crime.

“When you lie in that context, it’s not only perjury but it’s obstruction of justice too,” Mr. Zeidenberg said.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:52 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Daniel Dale: Cohen: "I've never been to Prague. I've never been to the Czech Republic."

Except Cohen has previously said: "I haven’t been to Prague in 14 years. I was in Prague for one afternoon 14 years ago."

Which isn't necessarily material. 14 years ago would be well before the campaign, but Cohen's Prague story has shifted from "one afternoon" in the past to "never."
posted by zachlipton at 10:52 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


I don't get how they thinks it makes him less credible

It's as bad as the argument:

Trump's lawyer broke the law primarily for his own benefit ∴ Trump didn't benefit from these crimes at all.
posted by Tarumba at 10:53 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Miller: [3 minutes of coddling to Trump] "SO. WHAT ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?"
posted by hijinx at 10:56 AM on February 27


Which isn't necessarily material. 14 years ago would be well before the campaign, but Cohen's Prague story has shifted from "one afternoon" in the past to "never."

True. But coupling it with his response that he didn't meet with any Russians while in Europe (UK)?, makes me less optimistic of this line of inquiry (that's not to say he can't have met with agents of Russia somewhere else in Europe, but the way he's laying it all out, I feel there's a decent change he would cop to it, if it happened).
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:56 AM on February 27


Rep. Raskin: "So there were other cases of sexual payoffs to women?"
Cohen: "Not all of them were women."


There was an elevator operator who overheard some talk about a love child or some such.
posted by scalefree at 10:57 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Interestingly, the GOP has not pushed back one iota on the accusations that Cohen is making about Trump. That speaks volumes about whether they believe Cohen's accusations.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:04 AM on February 27 [18 favorites]




scalefree: There was an elevator operator who overheard some talk about a love child or some such.

Yup. That one could probably be filed in the "not very likely true, but they paid him anyway because it was credible and easier than bothering to dig into it" category. Just one of the many ways that a scam artist is the easiest person to scam!
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:04 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


is anybody ever going to challenge "Keith Davidson, her lawyer at the time?"
posted by Don Pepino at 11:06 AM on February 27


"In 2016, did you travel to Europe?"

"Yes."

"For business or personal?"

"Personal. My daughter was studying in London."

...

Cohen's Prague story has shifted from "one afternoon" in the past to "never."


He has also shown a passport saying he was in Italy that summer, not just London. He's always very inconsistent on his Europe travel in 2016.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:06 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Btw, there's a 538 liveblog, if you can't watch the Cohen testimony.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:12 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out why Cohen's response to Jordan wasn't effectively, "I don't know, why are you still working for him?"

Totally agree, and I feel like there was a similar missed opportunity when (paraphrasing here and I don't recall who was asking, but a GOP) was saying "you're a liar, cheat, dishonest, etc etc . . . why would he hire YOU as his lawyer?" the obvious response, of course, being "WHY INDEED would Donald Trump, who presumably could afford ANY LAWYER, actively choose- or be stuck with- one who is immoral, primarily driven by personal financial gain, feels comfortable with lying and lawbreaking, etc?"
posted by robotdevil at 11:15 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


The only angle the Rs are going down: do you have any book deals? Movies? TV?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't get how they thinks it makes him less credible that he's bluntly saying "no, I won't turn down any book deals" and "no, I won't pledge to donate any book money to charity." Like, that is a plainly honest answer.


Republicans are playing this entirely to curry favor with Trump and his supporters. This is no less blunt than what Cohen is saying about Trump's instructions of "There was no collusion." It's a matter of laying out a party line and talking points when literally everyone knows it's bullshit.

They aren't telling the American public Cohen isn't credible. They're telling Republican shills and Republican voters what to argue in their own spheres. It isn't "What this dude says isn't true." The message is, "This is how to dismiss Cohen to your friends, family, coworkers, etc."

Every single one of them believes Cohen's testimony just like every single Republican on the Senate Judiciary committee believed Dr. Christine Ford's testimony about Brett Kavanaugh. None of this is about credibility. They don't care, and they're telling their supporters not to care, either.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:29 AM on February 27 [76 favorites]


I try to watch foreign news when I can. China Global Television Network has an English language show called The World Today. This morning they covered the Cohen hearing and heavily emphasized Cohen's lack of credibility as a known liar. I took this screenshot of the chiron.

CGTN is somewhat like RT, they get told what to say by the government. I only watch it because it comes on before NHK, France24, BBC, DW and Al-Jazeera's bulletins on Australian TV. The contrast is always very striking, comparing what the Chinese say to what the rest of the world says. I thought it was of interest that the Chinese would spin it this way, I think they love the chaos because it's good for them. Trumps works well for them.

As an aside, I recommend this to everyone: go on a world tour of media, you can just google any of those organisations I mentioned. If you only watch American media you have been enbubbled.
posted by adept256 at 11:31 AM on February 27 [28 favorites]


Cohen: "I was a Democrat until Steve Wynn found out I was a Democrat and made me switch parties, and said it wasn't right for a Democrat to be vice chair [of the RNC finance committee]."
posted by box at 11:31 AM on February 27 [31 favorites]


Daily Beast, Matt Gaetz Under Investigation By Florida State Bar Over Michael Cohen Threat
The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into whether Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) violated professional conduct rules by threatening former Trump fixer Michael Cohen ahead of Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday.

The organization, which licenses lawyers to practice in the state, would not disclose details of the investigation, but bar counsel Chuck Hughes confirmed to The Daily Beast that a probe is underway based on a complaint received from a member of the general public.

Reached by text on Wednesday, Gaetz said he had not “seen anything like that.”
That was fast.
posted by zachlipton at 11:36 AM on February 27 [97 favorites]


He's a liar, he's unfaithful to his wife, he's doing this for personal gain, he has contracts with foreign entities; Trump's Mirror has been adopted by congressional republicans: The GOP’s attacks on Michael Cohen sound a lot like attacks on Trump (WaPo).
posted by peeedro at 11:51 AM on February 27 [31 favorites]




@KenDilanianNBC: Three people with direct knowledge tell NBC News that Alan Weisselberg is not cooperating, has never been a cooperating witness, and provided limited details in the course of his testimony last summer. There is a lot of misunderstanding on this.

There were numerous reports last year that Weisselberg was given immunity. That did say it was "narrow in scope, protecting Mr. Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Mr. Cohen," so perhaps it's only limited to stuff about the payments, but that would still presumably mean Weisselberg would be able to corroborate Cohen's testimony about Trump's involvement in the hush money.
posted by zachlipton at 12:02 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Quartz: Cohen’s hearing was a parade of hysterical men who couldn’t control their emotions

Whiny GOP men, and contrast, some sharp, on-it women on the Democratic side. Really noticeable to me.
posted by Dashy at 12:06 PM on February 27 [33 favorites]


My understanding was that Weisselberg's immunity was use immunity, which is very limited.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:08 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Huh, Collins voting against Andrew Wheeler confirmation as EPA Administrator.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:22 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


People who think this is a shit show haven't seen the Kavanaugh and/or Whittaker hearings. At least questions are being asked and answered, even if we do get a the whiny GOP party line thrown in. I mean, did they pass out talking points? Book deal, liar, book deal, liar. Whittaker's hearing had so many interrupting motions and roll calls and whiny pearl clutching, that it was amazing anyone got to ask any questions at all (not that Whittaker answered any, and he was a disrespectful jerk). Those are still on YouTube if anyone wants to compare to today's hearing.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:24 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


The Republicans also kept asking who was paying for Lanny Davis. And they seemed surprised by his answers. I don’t lawyer, but isn’t it unwise to ask a question that you don’t know the answer to?
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:26 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Speaking of news from around the world, there's a great little app called Haystack TV which plays a neverending stream of news clips from networks of your choice. It's great fun, because it will swing in an instant from a police chase in Arizona to the latest productivity stats from Seoul to Ariana Grande standing on a red carpet (I swear, there's one channel and that's all they show, but I digress).

Fantastic way to get a more balanced news diet, although consume with the usual pinch of salt - while I think it's great that, for example, Al Jazeera keep Saudi Arabia's feet to the fire over Khashoggi, sometimes it seems like their entire output is "Look what awfulness the Saudis are doing this time!"
posted by Buck Alec at 12:28 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


After one of these public displays of Republican duplicity, ignorance, bad faith, and rank stupidity, is there ever a closed door session where Republicans sit together and ponder what the fuck they just did on live TV? Or are they that clueless? Some here seem to think that this party is a grand conspiracy with evil plans. For me it’s hard to believe they are capable of planning anything. Who are the brains in this party?
posted by njohnson23 at 12:31 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


The Republicans also kept asking who was paying for Lanny Davis.

And acting like it’s obviously nefarious that he’s working for free. May I introduce you to Paul Manafort, free campaign manager for one Donald J. Trump?
posted by chris24 at 12:34 PM on February 27 [16 favorites]


More on Rep Clay Higgins:
Also married four times, was once sued for $140,000 in unpaid child support, and resigned from two police agencies after brutality, breach of ethics allegations.
More background. Even in the modern GOP, he's a special one.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:39 PM on February 27 [39 favorites]


Ok, this tweet appears to clear up some of the bullshit from earlier about whether Cohen lied on a form coming into this hearing about "foreign contracts." The GOP rep tried to catch Cohen by saying "you answered 'no' on this form, but now you say you had contracts with foreign corporations."

But the wording of the question specifically asks about contracts with foreign governments, which was what Cohen said.
posted by dnash at 12:42 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


While we're in a break, this happened.

HuffPost, Fuller, House Passes Universal Background Checks Bill
With Democrats back in control, the House passed the most significant piece of gun control legislation in more than two decades Wednesday.

By a vote of 240-190, the House approved a bill Wednesday that would require background checks on all gun sales in the United States. Currently, only licensed firearm dealers have to perform background checks, and unlicensed dealers ― such as those at gun shows ― can sell a gun without going through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Eight Republicans joined all but two Democrats in support of the bill, and the measure will now go to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not committed to bringing the bill up for a vote, and it likely doesn’t have the 60 senators it needs to make it to a final vote.
McConnell will just kill it.

Other gun legislation is taking a different track. WaPo, Hard-charging Democrats’ strategy on gun control reflects limits of political change
On gun control, leading Democrats are instead talking about incremental steps — measures like “red flag” laws allowing courts to temporarily seize weapons from dangerous individuals, or a closure of the “boyfriend loophole” that allows some domestic abusers to own guns. Even so, the bills are unlikely to receive consideration in the Senate, where Republicans have a 53-seat majority and legislation typically needs 60 votes to pass.
posted by zachlipton at 12:57 PM on February 27 [37 favorites]


5 Key Takeaways From Michael Cohen's Testimony to Congress (Garrett M. Graff for Wired, Feb. 27, 2019)
  1. First, Cohen makes three key assertions: (1) that Trump was closely monitoring the Trump Tower Moscow dealings (Trump would ask “How’s it going in Russia?”); (2) that he may have known about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting hosted by Donald Jr.; and (3) that Trump also knew about Stone’s contact with Assange and WikiLeaks ahead of the first dump of stolen emails.
  2. Second, Cohen again raises what I’ve always considered one of the most suspicious parts of the Trump Tower Moscow project—the expected $300 million price tag to the Trump Organization.
  3. Third, he pierces the facade—which has never been all that believable—that it was possible these projects were proceeding without Donald Trump’s personal oversight or permission.
  4. Fourth, Cohen brings Donald Trump’s crimes into the White House—and he brings the literal receipt. (Article includes picture of the check)
  5. Fifth, Cohen gives a precise and completely believable accounting of the confusion over last month’s BuzzFeed bombshell (via WaPo?) that said Cohen had been directed by Trump to lie to Congress.

Michael Cohen Calls Trump A 'Racist' And A 'Con Man' In Public Testimony (NPR, live coverage, Feb. 27, 2019)

NPR's article also includes some background and context, plus embedded documents, including the "Trump Cohen Check."
posted by filthy light thief at 12:59 PM on February 27 [20 favorites]


Let us recall:
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said in a July 27, 2016 news conference.
An MSNBC analyst whose name I missed gave an excellent explanation of why Trump’s public plea for Russia to “find the emails” is by itself a serious criminal conspiracy, whereas journalists who subsequently published the emails, or people who told their friends to visit WikiLeaks, did not commit a crime.

What Donald Trump did was to instigate, for his own benefit, a criminal act: the hacking of the Democrats’ computers and the theft of their emails. He requested that the crime be committed, with the knowledge that his request was feasible. The fact that he did this in public does nothing to lessen the severity of his crime.

The additional fact that Russia started working to fulfil his request immediately after he made it, is, perhaps, an interesting side note.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:04 PM on February 27 [24 favorites]


So, Stone issued a statement about today's testimony. Does that mean that he violated the gag order?
posted by Selena777 at 1:07 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]




So, Stone issued a statement about today's testimony. Does that mean that he violated the gag order?

Marcy Wheeler says no. The one exception to the gag order is that he's allowed to proclaim his innocence.
posted by diogenes at 1:11 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Here’s what Stone said:
“Mr. Cohen’s statement is untrue,” Roger Stone tells ABC News this morning.
Stone could profess his innocence by saying “I am innocent of all crimes.” Instead he goes further and accuses Cohen of making inaccurate statements. I’m not a lawyer but I would be disappointed if this doesn’t count as breaching the gag order.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:15 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Also from the NPR article:
New Low for House Democrats:

Holding hearings with Michael Cohen while President @realDonaldTrump negotiates with North Korea about giving up their nuclear arsenal.

Democrats hatred of Trump is undercutting an important foreign policy effort and is way out of line.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 27, 2019
Effin' Lindsey Graham, everyone. Amplifying the president's ploy to shift focus from his own crimes by having dinner with his "friend" and actual despot, Kim Jong Un (NBC News).

This is the same Lindsey Graham who said, on The Today Show, that the US should not only take out the country's nukes, but "North Korea itself." (Paul Szoldra for Business Insider, Aug. 1, 2017)
"[President Donald Trump] is not going to allow the ability of this madman to have a missile to hit America," Graham said. "If there is going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they are going to die there, they're not going to die here."
That's right, let's kill off thousands as a preventive war, in case North Korea might get the capacity to strike the US.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Peter Zeidenberg, who worked as a federal prosecutor at the Justice Department for 17 years, told Newsweek on Wednesday that Stone’s statement likely breached the court order.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:17 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


I wondered how they were going to spin the fact that they couldn’t bend the news cycle with this unnecessary NK “summit.”
posted by Selena777 at 1:27 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Democrats hatred of Trump is undercutting an important foreign policy effort and is way out of line.
— Lindsey Graham


Graham already admitted that this crap is insincere.

Aaron Blake, WaPo: Lindsey Graham explains his pro-Trump conversion — and it’s not because he thinks Trump is great
Mark Leibovich got answers out of Graham in a new New York Times Magazine profile:
What did happen to Lindsey Graham? I raised the question directly to him the following afternoon in his Senate office in Washington. Graham was collapsed behind a cluttered desk, sipping a Coke Zero and complaining of exhaustion.

“Well, O.K., from my point of view, if you know anything about me, it’d be odd not to do this,” he said.

I asked what “this” was. “ ‘This,’ ” Graham said, “is to try to be relevant.” Politics, he explained, was the art of what works and what brings desired outcomes. “I’ve got an opportunity up here working with the president to get some really good outcomes for the country,” he told me.
...
Graham, who is up himself in 2020 and has faced his own primaries, added to Leibovich: “If you don’t want to get reelected, you’re in the wrong business.”
...
If he truly thought Trump was a great president and person, that would be a pretty simple answer to questions like Leibovich’s. I thought Trump was bad, but I was totally wrong, and now I support him. That would seem to be even better for his reelection prospects, because it would suggest his pro-Trump evolution was more heartfelt. Yet that is not what Graham’s saying.
1. Why DOESN'T he just answer it that way?
2. I sure hope Graham's constituents read that interview.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:29 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Hearing is back on. Cohen's confirming that he did not lie on a disclosure form about his contracts with foreign entities, because the question only asks about contracts with foreign governments. Contrary to Mark Meadows' contention.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:31 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


NYT: The attorney general for the District of Columbia has subpoenaed documents from President Trump’s inaugural committee, the third governmental body to delve into how the fund raised $107 million and spent it to celebrate Mr. Trump’s swearing in.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:35 PM on February 27 [35 favorites]


Trump told Cohen he wouldn’t release his tax returns because . . . he didn’t want to be audited. You can’t make this stuff up.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:40 PM on February 27 [69 favorites]


Much of the time, having the eyes of the world on international negotiations only makes things worse for the actual content of what's negotiated, because every world leader's incentive is to look like they're getting the best-toughest-etc possible deal for their home country, rather than to compromise. (This happens to be the basis of Obama's remark to Putin about "more flexibility after the election" which conservatives love to use in whataboutery).

But even if that weren't true, I can't imagine any way in which a lack of attention to the Vietnam talks (with our eyeballs instead glued to this testimony) would hurt whatever supposed progress could happen. That only makes sense if you think international negotiations are 100% about appearance and not substance; Graham is basically complaining that the president's not getting his well-deserved likes and shares.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:45 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


AOC's questioning is impressive. I don't know how important some of the stuff she asked is but she asked mostly straightforward questions with straightforward answers and she did it without a ton of speech-making which did nothing but take up valuable time.

She obviously takes her job seriously. A++ would let question again.
posted by Justinian at 1:47 PM on February 27 [102 favorites]


AOC is my new hero - her questions and summery are so concise and direct.
posted by growabrain at 1:49 PM on February 27 [24 favorites]


From NYCsouthpaw: AOC doing the actual investigative work of asking what documents there are, where they are, and who knows about them.

and

LATimes DC Bureau Chief David Lauter: Notwithstanding the hype, the fact is that @AOC knows how to ask questions at a hearing, which a lot of other members don't. She just successfully laid the predicate for issuing subpoenas to several more witnesses & seeking Trump's taxes.

Railing against this criminal presidency and Trump's corrupt nature may be satisfying and make a good ad to the base but it doesn't do anything to move the ball and really fudges up the flow of the hearing. So obviously AOC should have just done all the questioning for everyone, which is a weird thing to say about a freshman member who has been in office 17 minutes. Just wanted to give her props when they are due since I've been pretty skeptical of the AOC cult of personality.
posted by Justinian at 2:04 PM on February 27 [108 favorites]


I've been following Daniel Dale's twitter feed and it feels like they've fallen into the "Trump: Racist, Y/N?" well rather than focusing on crimes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:05 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]




I've been following Daniel Dale's twitter feed and it feels like they've fallen into the "Trump: Racist, Y/N?" well rather than focusing on crimes.

Well, exactly, which is why AOC's questioning was so well done and why Rashida Tlaib's was awful and counterproductive even though she's absolutely right that Meadows was a racist ass.

(preview) See I disagree with robotdevil. AOC was amazing, Pressley was ok, and Tlaib was terrible.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Tlaib called out a racist stunt performed on the Committee floor, which no one else did. I cheered her.
posted by Harry Caul at 2:10 PM on February 27 [43 favorites]


Rep. Lawrence made the "Meadows was a racist ass" point earlier in the hearing in a way that said what needed to be said without taking the focus entirely away from Trump and his crimes: "To prop up one member of our entire race of black people and say that that nullifies that [Trump's racist comments] is totally insulting."
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Well here's a disturbing way to end this.

@atrupar [video]: COHEN closes with this disconcerting thought: "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power."
posted by zachlipton at 2:14 PM on February 27 [60 favorites]


Other people clearly have a different opinion on Tlaib's questioning so I'm happy to stipulate I'm not the arbiter of these things.

One more tweet about AOC since it's from WaPo Congressional Reporter Paul Kane: Kudos to @AOC who actually asked fact-finding Qs, not using most time to give speeches. She let him answer, then asked which others could back up his statements. Veteran lawmakers, R & D alike, should learn from this newcomer on how to actually draw out information.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on February 27 [33 favorites]


I felt sorry to hear Cummings to proclaim Meadows as a friend. I don't feel this was an appropriate context for such a proclamation. It seemed to me that if Cummings had been more neutral Tlaib might not have backed down as she did.

Maybe my habitual outrage colors my opinion here, and my hackles rise at the sight of Meadow's angry white face reminiscent of Kavanaugh/Graham.

I don't mean to shade on Cummings, I think he's done a good job. But that interchange has left me quite uneasy.
posted by maniabug at 2:15 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


So obviously AOC should have just done all the questioning for everyone, which is a weird thing to say about a freshman member who has been in office 17 minutes. Just wanted to give her props when they are due since I've been pretty skeptical of the AOC cult of personality.

It's reasonable to be wary of the cult of personality effect because we've seen it so many times. Looking past it with AOC, though, the hype is legit because of one very key aspect that makes her so different from what we've seen before: she says and does all the normal reasonable person things we all keep wishing someone in Congress would say and do. She doesn't act like a Congressperson; she acts like a normal person who got into Congress.

She calls out the bullshit as bullshit. She doesn't do performative perfection. She apologizes and corrects when she screws up, because she's human and can't possibly know everything. She gets to a committee hearing and uses it to ask questions and attack the substance at hand rather than making it about herself--which only seems like grandstanding because it's something people in Congress never fucking do if there's a camera in sight.

Hillary Clinton won my vote in part because she made a point of not promising the impossible. She was honest about what she thought she couldn't deliver, and that's something I've wanted out of leaders all my life. People saw that honesty and said it wasn't inspiring. AOC gets into Congress and starts acting the way we all wish people in Congress would act, and so obviously it must be...what, an act?

God, I hope everyone else in Congress and everyone planning to run for a seat watches her and takes notes. Perfect isn't nearly as important as good faith effort and basic honesty.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:17 PM on February 27 [160 favorites]


If you liked AOC today, may i HIGHLY recommend you check out Katie Porter's questioning yesterday where she skewered the shit out of an equifax exec.

Absolutely devastating questioning.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:21 PM on February 27 [69 favorites]


lol @ meadows and that other fucking asshole getting all mad about being called out for their racist fucking shit
posted by odinsdream at 2:23 PM on February 27 [17 favorites]


One of the many things I like about AOC is that she makes me feel less crazy. I watch most members of Congress, and I think I would do it differently, and my way would be better. But then I think maybe I'm wrong. Maybe questioning a witness just doesn't work the way I think it does. Maybe grandstanding and speechifying is effective. And then AOC comes along and does it much the way I imagine I would and it's great and it works.

(I'm not saying I'm as smart and talented as AOC, or that I could do it as well as she does. I'm not and I couldn't. But she acts and talks like my imaginings of my best self.)
posted by diogenes at 2:33 PM on February 27 [74 favorites]


It's disgusting that Teabagger Meadows would use his nieces and nephews as a shield against his, if taken in the best possible light , racially insensitive action of employing black woman as a shield for Trump's racist actions and beliefs.
posted by 6ATR at 2:34 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]




Honestly the reason Ocasio-Cortez is so much more lucid and direct in hearings like this than most of her fellow congress members is that she comes from a working class background. All these other politicians see the white collar criminals in these hearings as part of their same social caste, and they feel some measure of discomfort in holding their feet to the fire because they view them as their peers.

There's also the fact that Ocasio-Cortez has a coherent socialist political philosophy and worldview that helps her see through the bullshit platitudes and correctly diagnose the societal causes of these problems and these crimes.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:41 PM on February 27 [73 favorites]


1) RE: Meadows's defensiveness - Saying someone committed a racist act is not the same as calling them a racist, and I will never get tired of how the misperception of this as an ad hominem attack ultimately shows the true nature of the accused. However, I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised that the commentary on at least the Washington Post's live feed made this same argument.

2) AOC did all of that in her five minutes and still made sure to namedrop Jupiter, FL as one specific location for Trump's shady property dealings.
posted by Arson Lupine at 2:43 PM on February 27 [24 favorites]


I wanted someone to as Cohen wtf that piece of land in Sebring was for.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:48 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


But then I think maybe I'm wrong. Maybe questioning a witness just doesn't work the way I think it does. Maybe grandstanding and speechifying is effective. And then AOC comes along and does it much the way I imagine I would and it's great and it works.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert's there are few."

- Shunryu Suzuki
posted by condour75 at 2:52 PM on February 27 [35 favorites]




So obviously AOC should have just done all the questioning for everyone, which is a weird thing to say about a freshman member who has been in office 17 minutes. Just wanted to give her props when they are due since I've been pretty skeptical of the AOC cult of personality.

QFT (again). Her questioning was actually 1: to the point (had a clear objective), 2: well delivered (no stumbling and stammering), and 3: produced tangible results (on-the-record identification of potential witnesses for future questioning).

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, by comparison, wasted 10 (poorly) pre-rehersed minutes in some convoluted scheme to establish that Michael Cohen could, with suitable cajoling and tortured reasoning, state on the record that he believes Trump is capable of treason, which is literally nothing useful.
posted by Room 101 at 3:12 PM on February 27 [22 favorites]


AOC was awesome and she went after Trump where he lives (his tax returns and tax fraud).

I watched most of the morning's hearing and one observation. I did not expect that Michael Cohen would come across as way smarter than most, if not all, of the GOP congresspeople. At one point, his lawyers were actually laughing (and then leaned over and reminded their client that Rudy Giuliani and said in an interview that Donald Trump knew about the payments to Stormy Daniels).
posted by bluesky43 at 3:13 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


"Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

I am legit concerned that no matter what there will not be a peaceful transition of power. Like, looking into changing the Constitution to get rid of term limits if he wins again level of this.

People saw that honesty and said it wasn't inspiring.

*sigh* I'd rather have realism than ponies and "free college" that nobody knows how to do, myself.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:17 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


2: well delivered (no stumbling and stammering)

This struck me as well but I wasn't sure if it was fair to other Reps to criticize them for it. AOC was precise, coherent, and clear. I had trouble following and understanding some of the other questioners which diluted their effectiveness even if they were asking good questions.
posted by Justinian at 3:18 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Here is an isolated clip of AOC's concise five minutes of badassery, in case you want to revisit or share it.

So, I watched a big chunk of Enron congressional hearings way back when and just as people are seeing now, I saw that congresspeople tended to spend a huge amount of time speechifying and grandstanding and chewing scenery (especially when they've got an axe to grind) during their five minutes rather than, y'know, asking questions. I seem to recall, however, that occasionally a congressperson would get down to brass tacks and ask a series of questions designed to actually reveal information and get it into the record. And also, if I recall correctly, whenever I looked into who had been asking these insightful questions, they usually came from very long-tenured congresspeople or former trial lawyers. AOC, in one of her first major congressional hearings, appears to already be performing this function at the level of a Henry Waxman or Billy Tauzin. Quite impressive.
posted by mhum at 3:22 PM on February 27 [55 favorites]


I wasn't sure if it was fair to other Reps to criticize them for it

It's absolutely fair, IMO. A key point of these peoples' jobs is -- or at least, should be -- to be able to listen to, understand, and talk about complicated issues in a thoughtful, clear, and coherent way. You don't need to be Cicero to be a Congressperson, and I don't expect them all to be genius orators, but if you can't get through 5 minutes of questioning without stumbling over your own speechifying, you'd better be really good at the other parts of your job.
posted by jammer at 3:24 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


And with that over, some health care news.

Politico, House Democrats to release 'Medicare for All' bill — without a price tag
Progressive House Democrats will unveil their much-hyped “Medicare for All” legislation Wednesday, providing the most detailed blueprint yet for how they would upend the health care system to guarantee coverage for every American — a long-sought progressive dream that is already shaping the Democratic race to challenge President Donald Trump.

The bill, co-sponsored by just over 100 House Democrats, doesn’t include a price tag or specific proposals for financing the new system, which analysts estimate would cost tens of trillions of dollars over a decade. The lead sponsor, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said she will release a separate list of suggested funding mechanisms, including a tax on high earners or mandated employer contributions.

The proposal calls for a two-year transformation of Medicare into a universal single-payer system, eliminating nearly all private health plans. It would also expand Medicare coverage to include prescription drugs, dental and vision services, and long-term care without charging co-pays, premiums or deductibles — and would provide federal funding for abortions.
...
The House bill largely mirrors Sanders’ Medicare for All bill in the Senate. Both bills make an extensive argument for the feasibility of a costly transition that would overhaul the Medicare program and turn it into a universal insurer. But unlike the Sanders plan, the government under Jayapal's bill would fund long-term care, a particularly expensive part of the health system. The bill also calls for a two-year transition to single payer, faster than the four years in Sanders’ bill. Hospitals and other facilities are paid using a "global budget" system rather than fee-for-service in an attempt to control costs, but individual doctors would be paid on a fee-for-service basis.

Additionally, the inclusion of abortion coverage would eliminate the long-standing ban on federal dollars for the procedure in almost all cases. States would also be barred from excluding abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, which some red states have sought to push out of Medicaid.
The short version of the bill is take the Sanders bill, add long-term care coverage (a lot of work from disability rights advocates went into this), halve the transition period to 1-2 years, and leave the pay-fors as a separate discussion.

Vox's Sarah Kliff has a more detailed overview of the bill: Medicare-for-all: Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s new bill, explained. Everything is covered from primary care to dental to abortion. Notably, this plan would not just bar employers from offering separate competing plans (private plans could cover anything not included in the bill, if you could possibly conceive of what those things would be, and individual doctors could opt out and take cash), it would end the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs (this plan pays for much more than those, so that should be wildly popular, but touching Medicare is a political danger), transitioning everyone into the new universal plan (the VA and IHS would continue). There are also no out of pocket costs, copays, or deductibles of any kind except limited charges for prescription drugs, more generous than most plans around the world.

See also KHN's There’s A New ‘Medicare-For-All’ Bill In The House. Why Does It Matter?

It's an extraordinary plan, the most comprehensive yet, offering free and stunningly complete universal health care, which is something you can do when you say this: "I actually think the question is not about how we pay for it, the question is where is the will to make sure every American has the health care they deserve and have a right." And I agree with that—there are a lot of ways to pay for things so we don't need to pick specific ones right out of the gate, and as an opening offer, let's think big—, but it also sets the plan up for shock when someone does do the math and announces it costs $N trillion dollars. As Kliff notes, that's what happened in Vermont. My personal preference is to be honest about costs and benefits early on, make the argument that the comprehensive benefits are obviously worth the costs, than to handwave over them. The same goes for cost controls in general. That said, with this having zero chance of becoming law now, why take the political hit of focusing on costs today?

You can read a 2-page summary a 10-page summary, and the full text.

And we have a conveniently-timed story from Bloomberg: Health Insurers Sink as ‘Medicare for All' Idea Gains Traction

In further health care news as we shift our focus away from the fully automated luxury gay space communism, here's what's happening in our existing system with plans that do cover abortion: CAL Matters, Trump’s under-the-radar $1 abortion bill idea: Will it undermine Obamacare in California?
A little-noticed Trump administration proposal aims to force California’s health exchange insurers to send all their customers a second premium bill every month, for $1 —the amount the state requires to cover unrestricted abortion benefits.
...
In November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the proposed change in the Federal Register. It would require that consumers not only receive two separate bills via paper mail or email every month, but that customers make two separate payment transactions every month.

The agency said it needed to ensure that no premium payments or federal credits are being used for prohibited abortion services, and to ensure the funds are being kept separately.
...
For Blue Shield, the cost could be $4 to $6 million to implement and about $900,000 monthly, Cohen said. Opponents of the federal idea also fear that some Californians in the insurance exchange who are against abortion may disregard the separate $1 monthly bill—which could lead to them losing their health coverage.
posted by zachlipton at 3:27 PM on February 27 [51 favorites]


NBC:
U.S. negotiators are no longer demanding that North Korea agree to disclose a full accounting of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs as part of talks this week between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to current and former senior U.S. officials.

The decision to drop, for now, a significant component of a potential nuclear deal suggests a reality that U.S. intelligence assessments have stressed for months is shaping talks as they progress: North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize which is the goal Trump set for his talks with Kim.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:29 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Some expert reactions:

@WonkVJ: JFC. Yongbyon is not "the heart" of North Korea's nuclear programs. It would be nice to close it, again (re: 2008). But Yongbyon does nothing about North Korea's missiles, nuclear warheads, or launchers--that's NK's arsenal and that's "the heart" of its threat potential

@nktpnd: They weren't going to get one, anyway. The Yongbyon illusion grows, expectations meet reality, and negotiations will go forward on that basis. Hanoi continues the process of figuring the terms on which we’ll be living with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Trump will hold a press conference at 3:50AM Eastern Time (3:50pm in Hanoi) following today's summit activities.
posted by zachlipton at 3:34 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


U.S. negotiators are no longer demanding that North Korea agree to disclose a full accounting of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs
'Trust, and don't verify.'

This is basically tantamount to not pursuing denuclearization.
posted by cjelli at 3:35 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


I don't expect them all to be genius orators, but if you can't get through 5 minutes of questioning without stumbling over your own speechifying, you'd better be really good at the other parts of your job.

I agree, but as someone who struggles with anxiety, especially in front of a crowd, I sympathize so hard. No matter how hard you prepare, your overactive nervous system is still going to betray you. I wouldn't want to prevent similar people from being in politics.

That said, I would probably give my time to someone like AOC who is wired to be able to withstand that anxiety and deliver smoothly despite it.
posted by diogenes at 3:36 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


AOC can do what she does because she is not economically beholden to banks or corporations. She doesn't need to keep sweet with politicians who are beholden in the hopes of getting donations or preferments. AOC does not need to waffle because she does not need to mute her ideas to meet the standards of her big donors. She is what happens when a working person is elected by working people using their own funds.

I'm not impugning her skills, but in addition to being smart and a good communicator, she is also politically freer than most of her peers in the party and she uses that freedom to speak clearly and honestly.
posted by Frowner at 3:37 PM on February 27 [98 favorites]


So, North Korea gets to say "we're not getting rid of our nuclear weapons and we're not going to let you know what we've got going on either" and no one can do anything meaningful about it. We know that nothing can be done without a dramatic cost, and most of us are unwilling to inflict suffering on that scale. But now you see why nations want nuclear weapons. They command respect on the international stage like few other things can.
posted by azpenguin at 3:40 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


The only lesson any nation will learn from Trump's pathetic and slavering devotion to Kim in exchange for literally just a couple letters is "we should get a nuclear weapon as fast as possible".
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:54 PM on February 27 [32 favorites]


[From DM]
One thing to bear in mind while Republicans roast Cohen for being an untrustworthy scumbag today is that not only was Cohen Trump’s personal fixer, he was also Deputy Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee -
Until JUNE 2018!
posted by growabrain at 3:57 PM on February 27 [71 favorites]


As it turns out its easy to reach a "peace deal" if you preemptively give the other guy everything he wants. Who knew?

Trump is going to come back with a deal where we tacitly acknowledge NK as a permanent nuclear state and move towards easing sanctions and in return NK sign a piece of paper saying they are denuclearizing and the war is over. That's it, that's the deal. Just wait.
posted by Justinian at 4:06 PM on February 27 [18 favorites]


Michael Cohen's explosive allegations suggest danger for Trump on two fronts (Guardian)
[...] Cohen hinted that Robert Mueller, the special counsel currently wrapping up a two-year inquiry into whether Trump’s team coordinated with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, may have proof.

Cohen was asked by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat forced to resign as party chairwoman over the WikiLeaks disclosures, how they could corroborate his explosive allegations, which are based on remarks he says he overheard in Trump’s office.

“I suspect that the special counsel’s office and other government agencies have the information you’re seeking,” Cohen said. Trump denied both allegations in his written answers to questions from Mueller. [...]

Further dangers may await the Trumps down the road. Cohen said on Wednesday that he was unable to discuss his final contact with Trump last year, because that was being investigated by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

His questioner, the Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, tried again. Was Cohen aware of any further illegal activity or wrongdoing by Trump that had not yet been discussed?

“Yes,” said Cohen. “And again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the southern district of New York.”
posted by Little Dawn at 4:09 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Trump is going to come back with a deal where we tacitly acknowledge NK as a permanent nuclear state and move towards easing sanctions and in return NK sign a piece of paper saying they are denuclearizing and the war is over. That's it, that's the deal. Just wait.

And probably a couple months later, he'll start a war with a (relatively) far more compliant and reasonable Iran.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:10 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Just like the Feinstein video last weekend, I'm going to hold my breath on conclusions from the Cohen testimony for a few days at least.
posted by rhizome at 4:12 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Just like the Feinstein video last weekend, I'm going to hold my breath on conclusions from the Cohen testimony for a few days at least.

So that means it's going to be somehow worse than it seemed at first?
posted by codacorolla at 4:39 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Is it just me or did Trump not tell us during the election that he was being audited and would release his taxes after that was over...?

Oh yeah
posted by maniabug at 4:43 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Regarding AOC and specifically hoping to add to scaryblackdeath's excellent comment above.

First of all I would note that what we have seen of AOC tonight is nothing different than what we've been seeing from her all along, for example, her infamous lightning round. I can't help but notice many, many people- in real life, on Twitter, and to a lesser degree but yes also on Metafilter- (and frankly almost exclusively men)- have been dismissive of her fame and the whole "personality cult thing" and every time I see that I wonder whether these people have engaged directly with the things she is actually saying and doing, and not what others are saying about her. If not, I think it's worth maybe actually following her on Twitter, or watching some videos of her, or whatever, before you make up your mind. Because she's the real deal, that's why the GOP, who communicate with each other basically exclusively in the language and norms of white male privilege, is scared to death of her. (Same for Pressley, Omar, and Tlaib among others). This is why she's popular and famous.

I have been reading a lot lately about classism and the translation of wealth into merit. In particular I think this article (Atlantic) is relevant as it describes certain unspoken norms that exist in high profile career tracks, that in particular and disproportionately are difficult for women, POC, and those of a different socioeconomic class to navigate- and at the same time, gives the privileged a code and language with which to recognize and communicate with each other.

This is what sets these women apart, in my opinion, is they exist outside this privileged box and it is both refreshing to "normal" people and shocking and alarming to the GOP. This is why it feels so amazing when they say what we're all thinking, and we wonder, wow, why doesn't everyone say those things??? This is why it's okay, as far as I'm concerned, that they sometimes say the wrong thing or stumble over their words or in other words are basically human. They're able to own up to it. They are real, they are works in progress, they have insight and can see their mistakes and strive to improve. They have this ability because they developed in the real world, not the privilege bubble.

As a female physician-in-training from a working class background (and former bartender) I admit I am biased and very much see myself and my own struggles- and hey, maybe even potential power- in these women. It is inspiring to see how much some of their fights mirror my own, and helps me not give up when I feel burned out from pushing back against systemic bullshit that makes me feel bad about myself. I don't think I'm even remotely alone in feeling this way, either, which is why I think they are an unstoppable force and I absolutely hope this is the direction that things are taking.

tl;dr stop hating on AOC, she's good. no, seriously.
posted by robotdevil at 4:49 PM on February 27 [174 favorites]


I don't want to have a beer with him or anything but I hope Cohen feels a little better about things tonight. He spilled his guts without losing his shit. He probably could have been a great litigator had his life taken an early turn.
posted by vrakatar at 4:51 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


robotdevil - excellent comment re: AOC. One additional comment I would add is that it is extremely gratifying to see a congressperson (a woman) who is so incredibly competent. What she says is 'real' in the way you describe but she is also obviously a very smart person able to see with a lot of clarity.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:53 PM on February 27 [18 favorites]


@Adamweinstein: I know I'll be in the minority here but long term, Michael Cohen explaining in basic terms how real estate assets are used to help launder money for bagmen is actually the most important thing here. Players aside, this is *the* locus of American political and economic corruption

(That was this morning, before AOC got her turn. This is from after her:)

Charles Mudede from The Stranger:
I want to point out that if the dealings of an African leader were questioned in this official manner in public, you would find, at this moment, a bunch of empty new-model Mercedes Benz abandoned in the parking lot of that country's international airport. The well-connected would leave in droves with suitcases stuffed with forex. Going, going, gone! Don't fucking care where the plane is heading. Anywhere but here is all that matters, mate. Get in the air, and get paid. Here is a grand or two if you want. That sort of thing. But I'm sure if you visit JFK or any major US airport after AOC's session of questioning, you will not find anything like this rich panic. The fear is just not here. This can only mean that the US must be more corrupt than those black African countries Trump described as shitholes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:00 PM on February 27 [117 favorites]


Chris Christie on the Cohen Hearing: Republicans Haven’t Defended Trump ‘On The Substance’ (Mediaite)
Speaking on an ABC News panel following the first part of the House Oversight Committee hearing at which Cohen was testifying Wednesday morning, Christie mused aloud about the Republican committee members’ lines of questioning.

“The interesting thing is that there hasn’t been one Republican yet who has tried to defend the president on the substance, and I think that’s something that should be concerning to the White House,” Christie said.

“Why are no Republicans standing up and defending the president on the substance?” Christie asked, then tried to answer his own question.

“That’s either a failure of those Republicans on the Hill, or a failure of the White House to have a unified strategy with them, they knew this was coming with Michael Cohen,” Christie offered.

“And so I think it’s going to, as the day goes on, it’s going to get tired of hearing the attacks on Cohen’s credibility,” he added. “He’s not a credible witness, but he does have corroboration on certain things. Where is the defense of the president?"
posted by Little Dawn at 5:03 PM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Regarding Rep. Mark Meadows and his ilk, it is always a significant tell when their outrage and sense of injustice is directed at being thought of as a racist rather than at the suffering racism causes.
posted by vac2003 at 5:06 PM on February 27 [29 favorites]


“Why are no Republicans standing up and defending the president on the substance?” Christie asked, then tried to answer his own question.

Yeah, this seems obvious. Nothing Trump does is defensible. All that was left was to yell about Cohen's tax fraud.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:06 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


One additional comment I would add is that it is extremely gratifying to see a congressperson (a woman) who is so incredibly competent. What she says is 'real' in the way you describe but she is also obviously a very smart person able to see with a lot of clarity.

Yes, absolutely, it is so worth noting how completely unsettling it is for so many people to see a young (!), attractive (!!), working class (!!!) POC (!!!!) former bartender (gasp!)

. . . who is also intelligent. man. for so many people it just Does. Not. Compute. No wonder the reaction against her is so intense.
posted by robotdevil at 5:07 PM on February 27 [25 favorites]


Also, Cohen sounds a bit like Chazz Palminteri in Usual Suspects. Someone should audio swap that.
posted by vrakatar at 5:12 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Document: Mueller Files Supplemental Memorandum in Manafort Case (LawFare)
On Wednesday, the special counsel's office filed a partially redacted supplemental memorandum in U.S. v. Manafort, in which the special counsel describes additional information from Rick Gates regarding the special counsel's determination that Manafort breached his plea agreement and intentionally lied to the government and grand jury on matters concerning his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik. The memo is available below.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:24 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I thought this was a good point:

“Let’s go back at this credibility. You want us to make sure that we think of you as a real philanthropic icon, that you’re about justice that you’re the person that someone would call at three in the morning. No, they wouldn’t. Not at all…You’re a pathological liar. You don’t know truth from falsehood.”

“Sir, I’m sorry,” said Cohen. “Are you referring to me or the president?”

All this lying you're so angry about? Cohen did that on behalf of the president.
posted by xammerboy at 5:31 PM on February 27 [63 favorites]


Pelosi and top Dems won’t bite on impeachment despite Cohen bombshells (Politico)
When asked whether Cohen’s testimony changed Democrats’ calculations on impeachment, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern turned the matter to Republicans.

“I think a better question is, what are Republicans going to do?” McGovern (D-Mass.) responded, noting that the GOP-controlled Senate would have to vote to remove Trump from office if the House impeached him.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:44 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Document: Mueller Files Supplemental Memorandum in Manafort Case (LawFare)

This is interesting and mysterious. It's heavily redacted, but it seems like Gates called the Special Counsel's Office after the breach hearing to let them know that something in their claims was incorrect/misleading. He was re-interviewed by SCO on February 15, 2019. It seems that he provided some new/forgotten testimony that is partially exculpatory for Manafort on the issue of communications with Kilimnik and/or the sharing of polling data. In the filing --- which reads (in part "A") as an update to the court about new evidence --- the Government stresses repeatedly that the court should not reverse its decision that Manafort lied about these issues:
... the government does not believe that this new evidence should effect the Court's ruling that Manafort lied with respect to the subject matter in general, or its finding the Manafort lied [redacted] ... Gates' most recent information and the [redacted] should not alter the Court's ruling.
posted by pjenks at 5:56 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


So, um, it's safe to assume that Lynne Patton, who worked for the Trump Organization, is currently subject to an NDA and a non-disparagement agreement that prohibit her from saying anything disparaging about Donald Trump, right? So she is contractually bound, most likely, to say that he is not a racist? I mean, somebody should probably ask her about that.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on February 27 [42 favorites]


Leonard Cohen's Born Under a Bad Sign

That's not Leonard Cohen, it's Alabama 3.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:45 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Grace under pressure: Fox News panelists get into heated exchange after Cohen testimony: ‘I’m gonna throw you off the set’
“Oh, shut up, Juan [Williams]! I’m in nobody’s bunker. Enough with your bunker. I’m trying to be polite to somebody on the panel, Juan, which you won’t do,” [Greg] Gutfeld responded, arguing that he was trying to give another panelist the chance to talk when he interrupted Williams.
...
Williams responded by bringing up details about Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. that Cohen laid out during his testimony and said Waters is “so blind because you, like Greg, are deep in the bunker.”

Gutfeld immediately fired back, saying, “If you say that again, I’m going to throw you off the set. You know what the bunker means? What you’re intimating is that––who’s in the bunker, Adolf Hitler, correct?”
"I'm not in the bunker, you're in the bunker!"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 PM on February 27 [20 favorites]


Oh good grief - then the moderator-ish guy goes to the Morgan (the less blonde lady);

dude: "... instead to get her thoughts about the hearing..."

brunettegal: ha.. haha (?) yeah SO! for me, one of the questions I was looking at coming in today is . is if you look at a historical precedence, what would be this similar to John Dean of course the White House Councel who testified about a year before president Richard Nixon resigned.."

Also, Gutfield being aggressive (and the history of aggression tied with talking points) is actively making family holiday (eh, holy-day) gatherings more hellish (eh, appropriation of christianity).
posted by porpoise at 7:05 PM on February 27


"I'm not in the bunker, you're in the bunker!"

In which the people on the right begin Godwining themselves, unprompted.  I swear the writers are just coasting at this point.  And lest you think that was the craziest thing to come out of today there's also this from the NYPost:  Dennis Rodman offers Trump help with North Korea talks.  

Today's testimony was electrifying—and that was just reading it, I couldn't summon the intestinal fortitude to listen to it live.  If like me you were unwilling or unable to follow it live, The Globe and Mail has a nice little wrap up of Five things to know about Michael Cohen’s explosive testimony on Donald Trump that covers the highlights.

And someone hire a new team of writers. These guys have clearly lost the plot.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:45 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Phone Polling In Crisis (via)

Politico: “The percentage of Americans willing to participate in telephone polls has hit a new low, according to a new report, raising doubts about the continued viability of the phone surveys that have traditionally dominated politics and elections, both in the media and in campaigns.”

“The Pew Research Center reported Wednesday that the response rate for its phone polls last year fell to just 6 percent — meaning pollsters could only complete interviews with 6 percent of the households in their samples. It continues the long-term decline in response rates, which had leveled off earlier this decade.”

posted by petebest at 7:48 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I assumed this would be coming sooner or later since it's easy to verify, but one university is already confirming having received the threat letter regarding Trump's grades:

Fordham confirms that Trump team threatened the school if his grades became public
posted by p3t3 at 7:50 PM on February 27 [45 favorites]


Pretty good tea reading from Charles Pierce at Esquire:

The Republican Party Completely and Utterly Disgraced Itself at Michael Cohen's Hearing

This was a vivid look into the chronic ward of the prion disease that has eaten away the higher functions of American conservatism—and, thus, those of the Republican Party as well—since Ronald Reagan first served up the monkey brains almost 40 years ago.

These are the complete creatures of the talk-show culture, the perfect products of two and three generations of gerrymandered in-breeding. These are the monsters from inside The Bubble. You could see this moment coming during the Obama years, in which the country returned the two worst Congresses in American history, full to the gunwales with Bible-banging crazy people.

Sooner or later, this was going to be all that was left, and it was going to have to confront a serious crisis with unserious people. That's what Wednesday was about.


Yep.
posted by petebest at 7:57 PM on February 27 [90 favorites]


It's real illegal to release anyone's grades without their consent. If I so much as looked up the grades of a prominent politician without a really good reason, I would expect to be fired.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:59 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Just the fact that Trump felt it was necessary to make double-plus-sure that they wouldn't, seems like all we need to know.
posted by rifflesby at 8:02 PM on February 27 [23 favorites]


It's real illegal to release anyone's grades without their consent. If I so much as looked up the grades of a prominent politician without a really good reason, I would expect to be fired.

The point here -- not that it's surprising -- is that Trump hypocritically demanded that Obama release his transcripts, saying no-one saw him at Columbia and that he didn't deserve to get into Harvard.
posted by mikelieman at 8:08 PM on February 27 [53 favorites]


Almost like it’s racism or something...
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:13 PM on February 27 [24 favorites]


The best part about the threat to schools to not release his grades is that it's another total own goal by Team Trump. Because they're bound by federal law not to release his grades, all he had to do was nothing. But instead he had his lawyer send threatening letters. So now we know that his grades were so shitty that he was worried enough to draft a completely pointless threat. The smartest people...
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:22 PM on February 27 [87 favorites]


What is the truth you’re most afraid of? The Cohen testimony, in brief. (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Michael Cohen’s testimony Wednesday was a thrilling orgy of yelling, and it went roughly as follows:

MICHAEL COHEN: Donald Trump is a racist, a con man and a cheat! I can say this for sure because I was indispensable to him for years. If this is a witch hunt, I was his familiar. For several years, he turned me into a toad, and I was honestly grateful. Anyway, 2016 was a huge mistake. He was just trying to build his brand. He never expected to be president. I used to be his right hand, which is to say I was used to shake with contractors he did not want to pay. His net worth is just a dream he has in his mind, and his SAT scores are a crude crayon drawing of a dinosaur. Also, his bone spurs were an illusion. He speaks in code, like a combo of an old-time mobster and a malfunctioning Sim. Once he told me in confidence that Donald Trump Jr. was a moron.

Uh, I am testifying now because I have decided to alter the habit of a lifetime and also because I missed having old men yell at me. Please embrace me as you embraced other dubious Michaels who criticized Donald Trump in the past.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-N.C.): To your first point, how dare you speak ill of President Trump? I have never heard him say anything racist in private. He saves these remarks for his public, where they are appreciated and have led to his election. Speaking of problematic statements about race, I have brought in a black person who works for President Trump. I think that says it all!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:25 PM on February 27 [42 favorites]


petebest: "“The Pew Research Center reported Wednesday that the response rate for its phone polls last year fell to just 6 percent — meaning pollsters could only complete interviews with 6 percent of the households in their samples. It continues the long-term decline in response rates, which had leveled off earlier this decade.”"

But on the other hand:
"the impact of low response on data quality have generally found that response rates are an unreliable metric of accuracy. Pew Research Center studies conducted in 1997, 2003, 2012 and 2016 found little relationship between response rates and accuracy"
Presumably there is *some* point at which accuracy is affected, but it's not entirely clear where that is.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:33 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Leonard Cohen's Born Under a Bad Sign

That's not Leonard Cohen, it's Alabama 3.


It's Woke Up This Morning, Track 3 of Exile On Coldharbour Lane, by Alabama 3, going by A3 on this album.
posted by M-x shell at 8:39 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


I think the biggest takeaway comes at the end:
But while that is a solution for a national poll, it may be more difficult to move political election polling online. Most national panels are too small to survey individual states, especially smaller states. And online polling of congressional districts — like the nearly 100 polls the New York Times and Siena College conducted of House races in the 2018 midterm elections — is virtually unheard of.

“There’s a real challenge, particularly for political campaigns and advocacy groups interested in measuring public opinion in smaller states and geography below the state level,” said Blumenthal. Added Blumenthal, “At some point, you have to be able to complete calls at a reasonable cost.”
Even with horrible response rates, national telephone polls + online panels still seem to work damn well. But the situation makes state and local polls harder and more expensive, to the point that media outlets, advocacy groups, and campaigns cant afford it.
posted by zachlipton at 8:39 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine that the clerical staff at Fordham were rolling their eyes and muttering, "FERPA laws, you dumbass" when that letter came in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:08 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


The percentage of Americans willing to participate in telephone polls has hit a new low,

Well, yeah. I get about half a dozen calls a day from strangers: "This is Sharon calling about your student loan!" (I don't have a student loan.) "Open enrollment season is upon us! Let us help you with health care!" (These have tapered off sharply since the deadline.) "Something has laid a curse upon you; God is watching out for you; to hear your special word, press One now..." (I dunno who this guy is, but he calls from a lot of phone numbers.) "[something in Chinese]" These, of course, are all illegal robocalls which the FCC has utterly failed to take action against.

I have to force myself to stop to listen to political calls, and I want to be more active in the DSA, and I want to answer Democratic party polls. I am the only person I know in my extended social circle who doesn't immediately hang up on strangers.

I suppose it's possible that phone polling still works because a 5% sample isn't skewed - everyone hangs up on robocalls: conservatives, liberals, hippie anarchists, redpill survivalist nuts, and so on. What's left is
* People like me, who are entertained by pollsters
* People who believe they're morally obligated to talk to everyone who calls them
* People who are lonely and are going to hang on to any shred of personal contact they can get
* People who are gung-ho political activists who will walk away from their favorite TV show to talk to pollsters
* People not falling in those categories, who happen to have time and headspace to talk at the moment they get called.

And somewhere in the mix of those, that could be a fairly even political balance. But I can easily see where the risks are: any shift of technology or culture, and some of those groups will be less willing to participate, and then you get heavy skew overnight without realizing it.

(For better political phone polls: Push the FCC into enforcing its laws, to reduce phone-burnout and "I never, ever answer the phone if I don't recognize the number.")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:29 PM on February 27 [30 favorites]


Some thoughts on the hearings, now that I've had a chance to catch up on them. Would liked to have been able summarize them all, but work, pay, &c.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez's testimony as incredibly concise, confident, and effective. I appreciated how well she got particular names into the Congressional record---most significant, seem to be Allen Weisselberg, long-time Chief Financial Officer of the Trump organization and David Pecker of AMI Entertainment, owner of the tabloid The National Inquirer. Perhaps the most interesting part to me was getting Cohen to explain Trump's particular method of manipulating his asset values to avoid taxes, obtain loans, and get weird with insurance premiums. Ocasio-Cortez set an excellent example of how to use questioning time in such hearings; I hope to see other MoC emulate her example

Representatives Pressley and Tlaib were also authoritative and impressive. I thought Rep. Pressley's pursuing the line of inquiry into the shady dealings of the now-dissolving Trump Foundation. I do wish she had asked about who exactly would know about the workings of the Foundation, but I am pleased she was using her time to ask questions that work to establish particular institutions and people involved in these potentially criminal act. Rep. Tlaib's very reasonable point about the racist conduct of "someone" in the chamber was wholly appropriate.

Katie Hill's testimony hasn't seem to have gotten quite as much attention. but she very effectively got Cohen to narrate the particulars of how exactly Cohen and Trump conspired after the inauguration to spin the payments that Trump knew full well were done to pay off Stephanie Clifford.

I was less impressed by several of the longer-serving members for using their time to make tangential points, rather than get actionable information about possible criminal conduct direction from someone who has admitted to being party to numerous unethical and/or criminal acts. I am utterly perplexed by Rep. Cummings' apparent close friendship with Mark Meadows, who seems to be a really terrible person on both a personal and systemic policy level. Takes all kinds, I suppose. I will say Meadows looked like he was about to have a stroke when Rep. Tlaib said he had done something racist.

The Republican questioning was by and large ineffective, hyper-emotative and essentially devoid of seriousness. These men basically have so little emotional awareness or regulation skills that it's scary. Rep. Amash is the only one to seem to have any principles beyond servile deference to Individual-1.

Cohen himself is a liar and conman, no doubt about it. He is way more quick witted than most of the Republicans. I laughed at him telling giving Jim Jordan hell about Jordan deliberately mischaracterizing Cohen's statement. True Cohen seems pretty knowledgeable about how to commit fraud and seems to be more coherent and quick-witted than the Republican delegation as a whole; however, he still did a bunch of easily traceable things that has landed him in very hot water. Nonetheless, I am pleased he brought documentary evidence of the possible crimes. His repeated mention of Allen Weisselberg, David Pecker, and the other associates should have Trump and his henchmen very, very worried.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:31 PM on February 27 [37 favorites]


1. The AOC forensic line of questioning -- "Do you know X? If not, who would know?" -- ought not to be revelatory, but apparently is. It's actually reminiscent of how UK parliamentary select committees work, in part because there are different assumptions about what Being On A Committee achieves in terms of media. What do you want from this? Most of the new Dems want to make speeches in the chamber and ask questions in the committee rooms, regardless of who pays attention. Long may that continue.

2. Mark Meadows represents a district that is 91% white, 3% African-American, 5% Hispanic, and 1.5% Native American (Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian). The poorest counties in his district have an average household income of around $25,000 per year. But the gerrymander means he doesn't need to campaign.
posted by holgate at 9:32 PM on February 27 [24 favorites]


Things that Cohen seemed willing to discuss but weren't followed up:

- the Rybolovlev deal for Maison de l’Amitie in Florida, where the selling price was way over the valuation
- who I-1 used for physical intimidation when Cohen's verbal/legal intimidation was insufficient (which points to Mister Calimari and Keith Schiller)

Things that weren't really addressed:

- whether the arrangement with Pecker/AMI and perhaps Harvey Levin and others was reciprocal, meaning that I-1 was fed damaging information on public figures that could be used against them
- the way the FEC (and Don McGahn) punted on the 2011 exploratory committee -- the one that Jim Jordan was flabbergasted about -- when it was subject to a complaint about spending.
- what Cohen did in London in October 2016 when he wasn't visiting his daughter
posted by holgate at 9:48 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


One reason others didn't pursue AOC's line of questioning is that everything she got Cohen to say, like everything everyone else got Cohen to say, is already in the public record. In the main it's more posturing than actual discovery, so one might as well posture about something beneficial to one's ego or reelection. But. There are nevertheless important skirmishes being fought behind the scenes, especially within the majority party, and my guess is that as usual, AOC is engaged with that. Weisselberg, for instance, is a tricky case: non-cooperating, partial immunity, clearly a key figure in any investigation. My guess is that a lot of the folks on the Dem side don't want to drag him in for fear of messing up ongoing investigations or maybe just wasting everyone's time with the 5th. But assuming that like any good prosecutor AOC knew the answers to all of her questions already, her line of questioning and Cohen's responses gives her and her side much more ammunition to press the Dem leadership to haul him in, disruption to ongoing investigations or endless series of "I take the fifth"s notwithstanding. Nobody who's not a wonk cares who these names are, and everyone who's really into it knows already, so nothing new is being revealed; but there is big fight going on behind the scenes among the Democrats about the scale of investigation they want to be doing while Mueller, SDNY, and all the rest are still working. I happen to side with AOC if she is indeed on the side of Congress taking a bigger role even while things are ongoing (because I have no great faith that Mueller's report will be the grand finale so many hope for), but either way, it's an interesting intra-left debate, and as ever, I expect she is using her time to fight it.
posted by chortly at 9:56 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Some assorted non-Cohen news for the sake of completeness today (skip to the end for breaking summit news).

AP, US general says no military threat on southern border: "Under pointed questioning from senators, the top U.S. general for homeland defense said Tuesday that he sees no military threat coming from the southern border with Mexico, but his focus is on “very real” threats from China and Russia."

Reuters, U.S. denied tens of thousands more visas in 2018 due to travel ban: data: "The U.S. State Department refused more than 37,000 visa applications in 2018 due to the Trump administration’s travel ban, up from less than 1,000 the previous year when the ban had not fully taken effect, according to agency data released on Tuesday."
@ddiamond: Was talking to a former senior Obama appointee after family separations hearing yesterday, who lamented that so much changes, so quickly, that major scandals get forgotten. “Remember the travel ban?” he asked.

NBC [video], Transgender troops make historic first testimony on military ban before House committee: For the first time, openly transgender troops gave testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Amid President Trump’s transgender military ban, they spoke of their career successes, advances for LGBTQ troops, and how they would be affected if Trump’s ban is enforced.

CNET, At hearing on federal data-privacy law, debate flares over state rules. This could be an FPP of its own, but there were some interesting hearings on privacy law that are worth digging into if it's a topic that interests you.

WaPo, In undisclosed trip, Trump’s Treasury breaks with precedent on transparency, in which Mnuchin wandered off to Paris without bothering to so much as put it on his public schedule.

This 538 livechat on the Green New Deal is as useful as the rest of their livechat punditry (not very), but they've invented the Leeroy Jenkins model for climate policy: "Like, maybe the GND isn’t any more likely to succeed than incrementalism, but when it *does* succeed, there’s a much bigger payoff."

WaPo, Leaders of House liberal caucus consider new membership rules. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, specifically co-chair Rep. Jayapal, is considering new rules that would make the group act as more of a bloc, requring members to support specific policies and agree to vote together on key votes. Jayapal says she does not want the group to become like the Freedom Caucus, but simultaneously wants more purpose and meaning in whipping votes.

Here's a good thread from James Acton on the ongoing negotiations in Hanoi: "There are two basic standards for judging a possible Hanoi agreement: denuclearization or risk reduction. If you judge it by the former it *will* be a failure; by the latter it *may* be worthwhile. If you want to judge it as a denuclearization agreement, fair enough; that is, in fact, the goal that the administration has set itself. It only has itself to blame for creating unreasonable expectations. But I've been arguing for months that denuclearization is a chimera we shouldn't chase and that we should instead focus on risk reduction. So I'll be judging it as such." He sets out specific measures by which a risk reduction agreement would be a success, since Trump's denuclearization promises are utter nonsense: coverage, specificity, and proportionality—what does the agreement cover, is it detailed and verified, and are our concessions proportionate to their commitments?

Which is all fascinating, but the summit seems to have just blown up, so maybe you just learned all that fancy arms control talk for nothing?

@DavidNakamura: BREAKING: Major change of plans at #hanoisummit. Sarah Sanders said the talks will wrap up in next 30 to 45 min, then Trump will go back to Marriott. His presser moved up 2 hours to start at 2 p.m. Not clear but joint signing ceremony and bilateral lunch appear canceled. Sanders suggested Trump will explain at his presser. WH press pool waited in Metropole dining room, where plates and menus were set up, but delegations never showed up. After 30 min delay we were ushered out. WH official said "there's been a program change."

@christinawilkie: BREAKING: It appears the lunch between the US and DPRK delegations has been cancelled, along with the scheduled "signing ceremony." At 12:35 pm WH told reporters “there has been a program change.” More coming in as we know it. "No sign of US or DPRK delegations in the lunch room where table was set with menus and name cards on chairs." Summits like this are tightly scripted well in advance. That tables would be set for a major bi-lateral delegatation lunch, to which no one shows up, is unheard of.

That press conference with Trump has been moved up to 2pm Hanoi time (I think that's 2am Eastern).
posted by zachlipton at 9:59 PM on February 27 [34 favorites]


Cummings threaded a needle in response to the Tlaib/Meadows dispute and I grudgingly admit that it was astute of him and probably for the best because a continued escalation likely would have sucked up all the oxygen in the room and become a lead story which would have benefitted Meadows and the GOP in diverting attention from Cohen's testimony.

That said, what I hoped for was that Cummings would just lose his shit in annoyance and disgust at Meadows's vile stunt and that, when Meadows was called on it, his purple-faced performance of a white fragility manbaby temper tantrum. I don't have words to describe how much I loathed Mark Meadows in that moment, nor can I express how fucking done I am with white people's outrage that someone dare to imply that thing they just did might have been a bit racist.

I wanted Cummings to throw up his hands in exasperation and say "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT, MARK? SHUT. UP."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:01 PM on February 27 [36 favorites]


I watched the VICE News Tonight episodes about Katie Hill trying to flip one of the reddest districts in California and was impressed with her drive and earnestness and it was good to be reminded she's in Congress and going hard in questioning.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


For me the big take-away was that no Republican stood up and claimed the president is an innocent man. They didn't even stand up to say he was an honest or good man. They all but admitted Cohen's accusations are true while they painted Cohen himself as a liar.

It could be that today marks a turning point where Republicans begin to realize their position is politically untenable. Or, I guess we'll find out what happens when everyone pretty much knows the president is a crook and he continues on at his job anyway.
posted by xammerboy at 10:13 PM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Loyalty to Trump cost Michael Cohen everything. Republicans pay heed (Richard Wolffe, Guardian Opinion)
Donald Trump has done some strange things to the Republican party. Gone is their disgust at Stalinist tyrants from North Korea. Vanished is their outrage at deficit spending. Evaporated is their horror at a president who ignores Congress and the constitution.

But those bizarre twists are nothing compared to the screwball comedy that was the House oversight committee on Tuesday, as its Republicans grilled Trump’s former fixer, henchman and bagman, Michael Cohen.

Because whether they knew it or not, Trump’s own party made the best possible case against Trump himself.

Amid all their righteous indignation on behalf of the truth, amid all their contempt for lies and the liars who peddle them, amid all their love of law and order, you couldn’t help wonder if they had ever heard of a man called Donald Trump.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:15 PM on February 27 [26 favorites]




The AOC thing was great, because while cheating on your taxes means you're a hero, using 127$ million dollars of taxpayer money to build a golf course means you stole from them. Public record or not, AOC saying it will mean it gets the attention it deserves.
posted by xammerboy at 10:25 PM on February 27 [20 favorites]


"the impact of low response on data quality have generally found that response rates are an unreliable metric of accuracy. Pew Research Center studies conducted in 1997, 2003, 2012 and 2016 found little relationship between response rates and accuracy"

Presumably there is *some* point at which accuracy is affected, but it's not entirely clear where that is.


It's potentially already happening, and in ways that are hard to predict. Polls can be corrected for demographic biases, to the degree that these can be established by the Census or another source, and that they track with the resulting behaviour. (As these change, this can be a reason for polling inaccuracy -- I suspect some of the error in 2016 was not enough polls considering educational attainment as a demographic characteristic, especially amongst white voters. Previously, there was a much smaller gap in party preference, so if you were overweighting the overeducated that had little effect.)

Pew found that some measures are still pretty consistent, but others are not -- people polled by phone had the same odds as in other surveys of being married, or having children, for example; but they were more than twice as likely to have volunteered, or contacted a government official in the previous year.

One thing to note about the drop in polling response is that the relationship is reciprocal; the cost of phone polling is primarily labour cost -- part is the time spent administering the poll, and part is the time spent calling around trying to find someone who will answer. (Polling firms are better behaved than robocallers, so they have more staff, and more expense per call.) What that means is that 20 years ago, with 36% response, a pollster needed to call 3 people to get one poll. 10 years ago, with response in the high teens, that went up to around 6. A couple of years ago, with 9% response, that went up to 11 calls; and with the drop from 9% to 6% in the most recent years, it's now up to 17 calls to get one poll. That little drop of three percent increased the number of calls needed (and cost associated with it) by 50%.

Another thing to note is that the surge in robocalls is due to a court throwing out an Obama era FCC rule because it was poorly worded; current chairman and general-purpose shithead Ajit Pai has no interest in restoring the rule, and celebrated the court's decision.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:27 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


David Nakumura: Potus is set to fly out on AF1 after his presser at Hanoi Marriott. Keep in mind Kim Jong Un is reportedly scheduled to remain in Hanoi thru Saturday to tour economic development projects and complete state visit to Vietnam.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:53 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


From BBC: Trump-Kim talks end 'without agreement'

I expected nothing and yet I'm still surprised at how he fucked up a glorified photo op.
posted by Justinian at 10:54 PM on February 27 [45 favorites]


Trump started his press conference by claiming the administration has been helping with India/Pakistan and says there's "reasonably attractive news." Then he pivots to talking about aid in Venezuela. Not a great sign, frankly a weird sign, to come out and talk about these unrelated topics after your nuclear negotiations.

He eventually gets to North Korea, looking rather tired, and says he and Pompeo decided it "wasn't a good thing to be signing anything" and "sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times." He has no specifics on the negotiations whatsoever, just hands that over to Pompeo, who also doesn't really have anything to say besides how they didn't get an agreement and they'll keep working on it. Pompeo talks about denuclearization, because why not have unrealistic expectations still?

Upon questioning, Trump acknowledges that North Korea wanted all sanctions lifted because "they were willing to denuke a large portions of the areas that we wanted," and we wouldn't agree to that. "They were willing to give us areas but not the ones we wanted." Then he goes back to his usual "we'll be very good friends" and "they have tremendous potential" stuff.

Then he spots Sean Hannity in the crowd and gives him a question.
posted by zachlipton at 11:21 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Speaking of sanctions (Politico)
while the White House has said it plans to pitch Kim on a vision of economic modernization, any pact could run into legislation Trump signed in 2017 that blocks companies from investing in countries like North Korea because of human rights violations. Congressional approval is required to reverse that policy, an unlikely step absent verifiable reforms from Kim.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:24 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Trump doesn't get that the photo op is the point for Kim. Trump goes home with nothing, but Kim goes home with a photo proving he's got the president on a string.
posted by xammerboy at 11:26 PM on February 27 [57 favorites]


Trump right now explaining the geography of NK to a SK reporter
posted by angrycat at 11:31 PM on February 27 [15 favorites]


It got worse. Asked about Otto Warmbier's injuries, he says "those prisons are rough. Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places and bad things happen...He [Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word." He says North Korea has a lot of people so their top officials wouldn't know about it.

He takes Putin's word. He takes MBS's word. He takes KJU's word. This is a pattern of accepting the word of dictators.
posted by zachlipton at 11:52 PM on February 27 [106 favorites]


Then some Chinese reporter asked him if the U.S. relationship with N.K. could be like the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam. And Trump gives a thoughtful pause and says, "Yes," and just as you're dropping your jaw off the floor from that, he starts blabbing about Japan, and you realize he thinks the question is about the relationship between the U.S. and Japan
posted by angrycat at 11:52 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


So they blew up the Iran agreement, hoped to save face with NK and now walk away with nothing.

*goes to Amazon, gives 'Art of the Deal' 1-star rating*

posted by PenDevil at 11:55 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


I don't think I've ever heard so many words that meant so little. He said nothing & they all pretended it meant something. He was standing there stark naked & they all asked him about his clothes, who designed them & how they fit.
posted by scalefree at 11:59 PM on February 27 [16 favorites]


of the many things I said roughly 2 years ago that have become true: you're gonna have to work like the federal government doesn't exist.
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


The Republican questioning was by and large ineffective, hyper-emotative and essentially devoid of seriousness. These men basically have so little emotional awareness or regulation skills that it's scary.

That assumes that it's not intentional. But I don't know - during the Kavanaugh hearing Lindsey Graham's "passionate" righteous fury made the Republicans I watched it with so excited, because it reinforced their own sense of righteous fury. And when Kavanaugh wept and whined and attacked they took the strength of his supposed emotion as a reinforcement of the justice of their cause and of the narrative that they're under attack by enemies who hate America. I don't think Glen Beck cried and Bill O'Reilly ranted and Tucker Carlson whines because of lack of emotional regulation. I think it's about playing to your audience, and I'd be surprised if the Congressional performances aren't either consciously emulating that style or unconsciously affected by it.
posted by trig at 12:04 AM on February 28 [53 favorites]


My guess is it was all cut short because Cohen's testimony is making the ground under Trump's feet shake -- what was this trip other than an attempt at distraction anyway? -- and he feels like he has to get back to Washington without delay in order to save his Presidency.
posted by jamjam at 12:10 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]


Asked about Otto Warmbier's injuries, he says "those prisons are rough. Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places and bad things happen...He [Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word."

That the people at the top are ultimately responsible for the things that happen under their rule, and that if prisons are "rough places where bad things happen" that is because they're either allowed to be or made that way, are both ideas he certainly can't afford to express given what they would imply for him.
posted by trig at 12:12 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


For anyone who missed it, he literally said “The buck stops with everyone!” in response to a reporter's question during the shutdown.
posted by XMLicious at 12:22 AM on February 28 [32 favorites]


Former Federal prosecutor Ken ("Popehat") White says Republicans Committed the Classic Cross-Examination Blunder

[...] Republicans could have marshaled Cohen’s many sins of the past to undermine his statements today. Instead they returned repeatedly to lies and misdeeds he’d already admitted, wallowed in silly trivialities like the “Women for Cohen” Twitter account, and yelled. The effect was to make an unsympathetic man modestly more sympathetic. Republicans committed the classic cross-examination blunder: They gave the witness the opportunity to further explain his harmful direct testimony. They provided Cohen with one slow pitch up the middle after another [...]
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:40 AM on February 28 [31 favorites]


Katie Hill's testimony hasn't seem to have gotten quite as much attention. but she very effectively got Cohen to narrate the particulars of how exactly Cohen and Trump conspired after the inauguration to spin the payments that Trump knew full well were done to pay off Stephanie Clifford.

Periodic friendly reminder that she prefers to be called Stormy Daniels, a memo that it seems Katie Hill did not get prior to the hearing. (She did immediately apologize about it after being called out, though, as I expected she would- even despite the harshness of the callout- isn't it nice to be able anticipate when politicians will appropriately acknowledge and correct minor missteps?? refreshing!)
posted by robotdevil at 3:00 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


The whole Trump/Kim summit captured in an image.

@josungkim Kim Jong Un's expression at the end of the second US-NK summit, per @PressSec: "President Trumps says goodbye to Chairman Kim at close of #HanoiSummit" https://www.instagram.com/p/Bua3VDugJ_2/
posted by scalefree at 3:05 AM on February 28 [9 favorites]


CNN reported yesterday: As Cohen Rivets Washington, White House Announces Kushner Met With Saudi Crown Prince
The readout -- issued a day after the meeting and minutes after Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen began testifying before Congress -- does not mention Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in a premeditated attack.[…]

Trump's son-in-law is touring Gulf countries to brief allies on the administration's proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, which they hope oil-rich Saudi Arabia and its neighbors will support. Kushner's stops include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Kushner is making a stop in Turkey, but is not visiting Jordan, which shares a border with Israel, has a high Palestinian population and whose king has oversight over the holy Muslim sites in Jerusalem.
Also in the US delegation are Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook (Al Jazeera).
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:00 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


I can only imagine that the clerical staff at Fordham were rolling their eyes and muttering, "FERPA laws, you dumbass" when that letter came in.

They were probably pondering writing back a "some asshole is using your name to send stupid letters" message saying that it was obviously fake since any lawyer with marginal competency would check the literature and see that the Supreme Court indicated in Gonzaga (2003) that you have no private cause of action under FERPA.
posted by phearlez at 6:04 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


Assuming those institutions wrote back that they would never do it, and even if they cited the law as the reason, there's no doubt Trump congratulated himself for pulling off a successful deal with hardball tactics (while remaining paranoid that they'd just turn around and do it anyway). In his mind, nobody just plain follows the rules for their own sake, so you have to add carrots or sticks even if the law is ostensibly on your side.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:23 AM on February 28 [10 favorites]



'Sometimes you have to walk': Why Trump bailed on North Korea
(Politico)
A visibly deflated Trump began the press conference wrapping up his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by talking about anything else. He riffed on the potentially nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan. The violent crackdown in Venezuela.

Only then did Trump turn to the subject at hand: why, after weeks of buildup, flattery and reality TV-style showmanship, his negotiations with the North Korean leader had come to an abrupt halt. "Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times,” he said.

For Trump, it was more than an isolated diplomatic strikeout. It was the latest demoralizing episode in a months-long losing streak that threatens his presidency. A House-side clobbering in the November elections that armed Democrats with subpoena power led to a government shutdown and a losing battle with Congress over a Mexican border wall. [...]

Undeniable is the fact that Trump, who is enduring a brutal public testimonial back in Washington from his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, lost out on a moment that could have changed the narrative of his presidency.

He returns home to Washington with little to look forward to. He has no real prospects for legislative action. Democrats in Congress are prepping more blistering hearings. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report may be landing soon, and prosecutors elsewhere are circling. And Trump now hurtles toward 2020 with no progress on the nuclear diplomacy he hoped might elevate him into a statesman above the muddy Washington scrum.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:52 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Voter Suppression Update: Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas from purging voters in citizenship review
In a major victory for voting rights groups, a federal judge has ordered that no Texas county should purge suspected noncitizen voters from the rolls or issue letters demanding that they prove their citizenship “without prior approval of the Court with a conclusive showing that the person is ineligible to vote.”

The Wednesday order from U.S. District Judge Fred Biery comes a month after the Texas secretary of state flagged nearly 100,000 voters for citizenship review — and a flurry of civil rights groups filed three lawsuits to block state and county officials from purging voters based on what has proven a deeply flawed set of data.
...
Much like his remarks in court this week, Biery’s order contained harsh words for the state’s bungled attempt to review its rolls, and good omens for the civil rights groups aiming to prove that Texas has treated two groups of people, native-born citizens and naturalized citizens, differently.

“Notwithstanding good intentions, the road to a solution was inherently paved with flawed results, meaning perfectly legal naturalized Americans were burdened with what the Court finds to be ham-handed and threatening correspondence from the state which did not politely ask for information but rather exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us,” Biery wrote. “No native born Americans were subjected to such treatment.”
posted by mcdoublewide at 6:54 AM on February 28 [35 favorites]


trig: I don't think Glen Beck cried and Bill O'Reilly ranted and Tucker Carlson whines because of lack of emotional regulation. I think it's about playing to your audience, and I'd be surprised if the Congressional performances aren't either consciously emulating that style or unconsciously affected by it.
Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science.
Emphasis mine -- an excerpt from the New Yorker article "Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds," looking at scientific studies behind why we believe what we believe.

Emotional ploys are the purpose and point.

Related: How'd the Cohen Hearing Go? That Depends on Your Filter Bubble (Issie Lapowsky for Wired, Feb. 27, 2019)
DONALD TRUMP’S FORMER attorney, Michael Cohen, is a flawed man with nothing left to lose, charting a path to redemption by finally coming clean about crimes and misdeeds allegedly committed by the president of the United States. Either that, or he’s a cheat and a crook who can’t be trusted, who’s already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and isn’t above doing it again if it’ll help him land a book deal.

These are the two interpretations of Cohen’s hearing before the House Oversight Committee that manifested online Wednesday. As they’ve done so many times before—during the Benghazi investigation, during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings—the internet’s tribal factions retreated to their corners over the course of the day to tell utterly opposite stories about the much-anticipated hearings and what they revealed about Cohen and Trump.

On social media and on partisan sites, the conversation split into like-minded echo chambers, with each side parroting the talking points of their party’s members who were sitting in the hearing room. What emerged was a sort of cacophonous bizarro world that would have seemed implausible just a year ago: Conservative pundits and political operatives, including Trump’s own children, worked overtime to discredit a man who spent 10 years as a close confidante to Trump, and until last June, served as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee. Liberals, meanwhile, spent their 240 characters sticking up for and even applauding the humility of a man who’ll head to prison in May for, among other things, lying to Congress to defend Trump and making hush money payments on his behalf.

So where is Wired in the bubbles? Michael Cohen's Credibility Has Never Been More Certain (Garrett M. Graff for Wired, Feb. 27, 2019)
LIKE MANY REPORTERS and editors in DC or New York, I have been yelled at by Michael Cohen. It's been almost a rite of passage for anyone writing about Donald Trump over the past decade. There was no bone too small for his long-time lawyer and fixer to pick when it came to published criticisms of the real estate developer.

My turn came in June 2012, when he called to yell at me over an item the magazine I then edited had written about Trump's forthcoming hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. He had no real specific complaint or factual dispute. He just didn't like the criticism leveled at Trump by the competitors on the hotel bid, who wondered how he’d ever command the rates the hotel would need to survive.

It was probably one of the top three eviscerations I’ve faced in my professional life. When he was done with his initial yelling, about 45 minutes in, Cohen conferenced in Ivanka, who wanted to argue about just how much care and quality her father would bring to this historic project in the Old Post Office Pavilion. The whole episode sucked up about two hours start to finish.

Which is to say: I’ve experienced first-hand Michael Cohen's full-throated defense of "Mr. Trump," his bulldog-like tenacity, and the bottomless bravado he seemed to possess right up until April last year, when FBI agents raided his life. The ranking GOP member of the House Oversight Committee even opened his questioning Wednesday by quoting an expletive-spouting Cohen yelling at journalist Tim Mak. Such behavior was Cohen’s raison d’etre for a decade. “That was my job,” Cohen told Congress on Wednesday. “Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life.”

There was none of that bravado from Cohen in the hearing.

The Cohen on display for lawmakers and a nation beyond, riveted to its streaming web browsers, televisions, and radios on Wednesday appeared all but defeated—a man who realized he’d made terrible mistakes and had set himself forward on a path of penance, atonement, and—ultimately—redemption. Coming just a day after New York disbarred him, it was hard not to see Wednesday as Cohen hitting bottom.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


After Gaetz made abject apologies to Pelosi and Cohen for his threatening tweet, the Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere reports:
President Trump called @mattgaetz last night from Hanoi to talk the Cohen testimony and the threats (since rescinded) Gaetz made about Cohen.

"I was happy to do it for you. You just keep killing it," Gaetz was heard telling him.

(Gaetz told me he doesn't discuss calls w/POTUS)

Call happened at just before 9 PM last night DC time, which means that the president was making this phone call as he headed into his meetings with Kim for the day (Hanoi is 12 hours ahead), which of course seem to have fallen apart not long after
Of course Trump's favorite attack dog will receive petting.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:26 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


Meanwhile, House Passes Most Significant Gun Bill In 2 Decades -- The legislation mandates background checks be performed on all gun sales, including firearm purchases made privately. The Senate is unlikely to take it up. (Brakkton Booker for NPR, Feb. 27, 2019)
The House passed what advocates call the most significant gun control measure in more than two decades on Wednesday when it approved the first of two bills aimed at broadening the federal background check system for firearms purchases.

The vote on the first bill, dubbed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, passed largely along party lines 240 to 190 with Democrats who control the House cheering as they carried the legislation across the finish line.

A second bill, expected to be taken up Thursday, would extend the period federal authorities have to complete a background check before a gun sale can go through. Under current law, if a check isn't finalized in three business days, the transaction can automatically proceed.

House Democrats hope the swift passage of the companion bills will put pressure on the Senate to act. The National Rifle Association opposes the legislation, and it faces major headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate. In the unlikely event the Senate approves the measure, the White House has already signaled the President would veto the bill, should it reach his desk.

As its name suggests, the first bill did garner modest GOP support, even attracting five Republican co-sponsors. Yet, in the end, only eight Republicans crossed party lines to support the bill.
Emphasis mine, because even though that's pretty weak cross-party participation, getting 5 Republican co-sponsors isn't nothing. Here's the bill on Congress.gov, which notes that there were 232 co-sponsors, and the 9 original sponsors included 5 Republicans, Rep. Peter T. King [R-NY-2], Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick [R-PA-1], Rep. Brian J. Mast [R-FL-18], Rep. Fred Upton [R-MI-6], and Rep. Christopher H. Smith [R-NJ-4]
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on February 28 [10 favorites]


If the gun bill goes down, another version should be spun up promtly to take its place.

Fair's fair: if they are going to Gish Gallop the krazy on us, we should do the same with some sanity. So bring on bill after bill for green new deal, healthcare for all, gun control, gerrymandering, and all the other good things.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:52 AM on February 28 [42 favorites]


Only then did Trump turn to the subject at hand: why, after weeks of buildup, flattery and reality TV-style showmanship, his negotiations with the North Korean leader had come to an abrupt halt. "Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times,” he said.

The Sentosa Goat Rodeo episode of the Arms Control Wonk podcast is worth revisiting in a past-is-prelude sort of way and points to all of the reasons this is completely unsurprising.

The other point they made in that one, or in one of the other episodes they aired during the last "negotiations" go-around with North Korea (and I'm having trouble remembering which one) was something along the lines of "Yeah, North Korean propaganda looks totally ridiculous from the outside. But you need to remember that if you're living under the regime, it's deadly serious gospel truth, and there are serious consequences for deviating from its messages. Basically, Trump is handing the regime fodder for its propaganda machine, and propping it up is a dangerous and stupid game to be playing." This is an inexact paraphrase from memory, but that's the gist of what they were saying.

In any case, I'm eagerly awaiting their breakdown of this latest goat rodeo. I enjoy their spicy takes on Bolton and Pompeo (who they have referred to as "The Prince of Darkness" and "a total idiot," respectively).

Jeffrey Lewis offered this bon mot on Twitter about this latest fiasco:

As I have said from the beginning, what North Korea is offering are *gestures that mimic disarmament*. This only feels like a roller coaster if you keep buying into the idea that we’re actually getting something else.

Then there was this little detail...

Inside the dying moments of the Trump-Kim summit at a Hanoi hotel

HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were supposed to tuck into a delicate meal of foie gras, snowfish and candied ginseng, prepared by North Korean and Western chefs, on the second day of their nuclear summit.

[...]

It is not clear what became of the snowfish lunch so lovingly prepared.

“It’s a pity,” one of the sources with direct knowledge said.

“It was a fantastic dish”.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:55 AM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Trump: I took Kim at his word over Otto Warmbier's torture (Guardian)
Trump’s remarks exculpating the North Korean dictator are likely to draw sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle in Congress, where there is persistent outrage over Warmbier’s treatment. [...]

Any criticism of Trump’s comments is likely to be heightened by the fact that he invited Warmbier’s family to his State of the Union address in January, and looked up at them in the first lady’s box during his speech.

“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all,” Trump said, drawing a standing ovation from Congress. “Tonight, we pledge to honour Otto’s memory with total American resolve.”

“After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labour, before returning him to America last June – horribly injured and on the verge of death,” Trump continued.

But on Thursday in Hanoi he struck a markedly different tone, saying he did not think Kim “would have allowed that to happen” and arguing it was not to his advantage. He suggested instead that the death was because of generally bad jail conditions, insisting: “Those prisons are rough – they’re rough places, and bad things happen.”

It could be argued that Trump’s protectiveness of Kim is part of a pattern of giving dictators the benefit of the doubt on abuses. Otherwise loyal congressional Republicans have broken with him over his willingness to believe figures such as Mohammed bin Salman and Vladimir Putin, rather than his own advisers and intelligence services.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:27 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Internet unleashes on ‘racist’ Republican Mark Meadows after he freaked out over Rashida Tlaib’s accusations

Political strategist Atima Omara laid waste to the congressman’s claim that he can’t be racist because he has people of color in his family. “Senator Strom Thurmond had a black daughter & blocked the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 24 hours in the US Senate,” Omara tweeted.

... Next time someone uses the term “snowflake,” show them video of Mark Meadows responding to being called racist — Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) February 27, 2019


In an entire 8-hour day full of crazy-ass shit, that was the craziest-assiest shit. You know that reality show where a full-on brawl breaks out at a wedding and goes on for 20 minutes? Like that.
posted by petebest at 8:35 AM on February 28 [44 favorites]


Cohen's devastating testimony lays Trump's depravity bare (Heather Cox Richardson, Guardian Opinion)
Strikingly, Republican members of the House committee did not defend the president against Cohen’s charges. They arrived at the hearing unprepared, badly mismanaged their time and their questioning, and seemed to expect the chair to indulge them. When Democrat Elijah Cummings did not, they simply called Cohen a liar and worked to derail the proceedings by entering tweets into the record, including a tweet by Fox personality Bo Deitl, starting a ruckus over whether or not Trump is a racist, and, astonishingly, displaying a poster with Cohen’s face that read: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. Only Republican member Justin Amash, a representative from Michigan, treated the event with gravity.

This was political theater, but with the Democrats in control, the Republican party had lost control of the script. They acted not like a political party, but like a cult whose members had lost all intellectual coherence and professionalism and had retreated into sycophantic support for a strongman.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:47 AM on February 28 [49 favorites]


They acted not like a political party, but like a cult whose members had lost all intellectual coherence and professionalism and had retreated into sycophantic support for a strongman.

Yeah ... just like that.
posted by petebest at 8:57 AM on February 28 [34 favorites]


When I speculate about the jaw-dropping praise and deference Individual-1 is granting to the North Korea regime, I can't figure out whether his con is more focused on Americans or on Kim. Is it about the photo ops alone (with added benefit of ~making the libs' heads explode~), or does some part of him truly believe that with the proper application of flattery he could basically turn Kim into a Trumpian dignity wraith?

Or, (most worryingly but most likely) he feels that he and Kim can work together in essentially the same way he wants to cooperate with MBS and Putin -- let them have nukes, heck, give them more, who actually cares, there are plenty of under-the-table benefits to make up for it?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:14 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


How'd the Cohen Hearing Go? That Depends on Your Filter Bubble (Issie Lapowsky for Wired, Feb. 27, 2019)

Yesterday around noon PST, I gave NPR the time it took me to drive to the grocery store. Commentary from--I think Mara Liasson, it sounded like her?--was that Republican questioning was very "disciplined" while Democrats were not. Someone brought up the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and she said those ultimately helped Republicans, because they picked up two Senate seats. Challenged on that point with the blue wave in the House, she dismissed it saying "they don't credit it with that."

So I don't know if it was Liasson or some other blatant Republican shill, but the message is Republicans still get to define the narrative no matter how far that deviates from reality.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:21 AM on February 28 [42 favorites]


Or, (most worryingly but most likely) he feels that he and Kim can work together in essentially the same way he wants to cooperate with MBS and Putin

The third possibility is that Trump thinks Kim is cool and wants Kim to think he's cool too.

Trump's comments about Warmbier reflect what he'd like to happen to his enemies. Kim's prisons are "rough and tough;" how many times has he wished that for our police and prisons? Think he wouldn't love to have that remove from direct responsibility? If he got a journalist locked up and they died in jail, don't think for one second that his response would deviate from "It's a terrible thing that happened but prisons are tough places full of rough people, and you shouldn't be a criminal if you don't want to go there."

Murdering dissidents in prison, or allowing others to murder them directly or through maltreatment, is just about the oldest authoritarian trick in the book and it's only his incompetence that's kept him from ordering it yet.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:24 AM on February 28 [27 favorites]


Or, (most worryingly but most likely) he feels that he and Kim can work together in essentially the same way he wants to cooperate with MBS and Putin

That could certainly be the detail, but in general I think he's synchronizing their interests, and the US has much to go in the daily-oppression department than either NK or Putin, so it seems like things are changing more here.

Just look at who Trump has been breaking ties with (allies), and with whom he's been strengthening them. Slow-motion revolution, which is why the next generation (Stephen Miller, Javanka) is included in the planning.
posted by rhizome at 9:35 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Scott Dworkin: "A GOP lobbyist just told me @realDonaldTrump is in “complete disarray” and that he was “blindsided” by Cohen’s opening statement. Trump feels “betrayed” & is “absolutely furious.” Says Trump even wanted to fly back to US, and also didn’t know Cohen could bring evidence."
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:48 AM on February 28 [86 favorites]


President Trump called @mattgaetz last night from Hanoi to talk the Cohen testimony and the threats (since rescinded) Gaetz made about Cohen.

Gaetz is now strenuously denying this to Vox's Alex Ward: "Gaetz just told me this is “hilariously false.”" He emphatically says "no" to every question about being in contact with Trump, but he has no response to Ward's simple inquiry, "Just want to know what conversation you were having that someone may have mistook as you speaking with the president."

As to why Gaetz is stonewalling about this call when he's normally so boastful about his Trump phone calls, every law professor with a twitter account says Congressman Matt Gaetz just committed witness tampering (Slate).

On top of that, CREW's Walter Shrub has tweeted Dovere's story to the Florida Bar: ".@TheFlaBar, this is relevant to your investigation of @mattgaetz: (1) he threatened a committee witness; (2) he's not a committee member; (3) his allegations were not raised in the hearing, suggesting he had no basis; and now (4) he reportedly admitted to doing it for Trump."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:52 AM on February 28 [38 favorites]


also didn’t know Cohen could bring evidence."

"I didn't commit any crimes, so there can't be evidence of my crimes."
posted by Stoneshop at 9:54 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Or, (most worryingly but most likely) he feels that he and Kim can work together in essentially the same way he wants to cooperate with MBS and Putin -- let them have nukes, heck, give them more, who actually cares, there are plenty of under-the-table benefits to make up for it?

Jeffrey Lewis writing on the then-upcoming NK talks two days ago...

The Real North Korea Summit Is Inside the Trump Administration:

What North Korea is offering instead is a series of gestures that mimic disarmament—symbolic steps that signal a new relationship with the United States. So, for example, North Korea has closed its nuclear test site, partially dismantled a structure used to test rocket engines, and offered to close the nuclear facilities near Yongbyon. None of these steps would reduce the threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons that are deployed for use by the Korean People’s Army, nor do they prevent North Korea from continuing to produce nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that can reach the United States.

[...]

I happen to think this is worth doing, although we should be honest about the limits of this approach. After all, it means learning to live with the brutal tyranny that Kim uses to maintain his rule. There is also the ugly fact that, when it does not get its way, North Korea has been more than willing to stage conventional provocations that result in the death of U.S. and South Korean service members. The sinking of the Cheonan, which killed more than 40 South Korean sailors, was less than a decade ago. And the apparent mastermind of that attack is the same Kim Yong Chol who has been hand-delivering love letters to Donald Trump. But here is the thing: North Korea has the bomb. This is how deterrence works. If Saddam Hussein or Muammar al-Qaddafi had finished their bombs, they’d both likely still be around.


Then there's this development:

Former SK unification minister Chong Se-hyun suggests that summit was derailed by last minute attendance of Bolton, who added demands for NK to also report chemical/biological weapons, in response to which NKs increased their demand for sanctions relief

Jeffrey Lewis today:

We now have two self-serving versions of events. Hawks say Kim overestimated his position, asking for too much. Doves say Bolton convinced Trump to overestimate his, prompting Kim to up his ask. Guessing both versions obscure the basic dynamic, whatever it was.

A third possibility is, of course, that those in the US and South Korea who misrepresented what Kim was offering in the name of peace succeeded in delivering the negotiations into the tender arms of Bolton who was only too happy to let the perfect be the executioner of the good.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:15 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


And because today is shaping up to be eventful, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on fraud and bribery charges.

When did reality decide this week was Sweeps Week?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:18 AM on February 28 [74 favorites]


He wants to do a backroom deal with lots of cash involved and maybe some haxxoring of political enemies to boot.

There's also a big, boorish, empty hotel smack in the middle of Pyongyang just begging for a big "T" added to the apex.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:19 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


How violent American vigilantes at the border led to Trump’s wall
From the 80s onwards, the borderlands were rife with paramilitary cruelty and racism. But the president’s rhetoric has thrown fuel on the fire. By Greg Grandin, The Guardian book extract / long read

There's a lot in there I didn't know, and which to me explains some of the right wing rhetoric I didn't know where came from. tldr: it's the racism, obviously. But there are also veterans going all the way back to Vietnam, looking for a war to fight, and someone to hate. And first Bush jr. and then Obama trying to appease the racists and failing. I think if there are anyone looking back at the last couple of decades in the future, they will point out the failure of appeasement with regards to white hate and fear.
posted by mumimor at 10:46 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


Brian Beutler, What’s Missing From The Most Important Debate On The Left
The theoretical mechanics of MMT are uncontroversial, and the value of its perspective framework is that it frees supportive lawmakers from the orthodox view that deficits are inherently bad and spending legislation should not become law unless it is simultaneously paid for. But through a combination of exuberance and disdain, MMT supporters and detractors alike have come to view the theory as a fantasy ticket to a free lunch.

Matt Bruenig, the socialist founder of People’s Policy Project, writes that MMT discourse is “about using word games to make people believe that the US can have Northern European levels of government spending without Northern European levels of taxation.” Bruenig has an unlikely ally in TPM’s Josh Marshall who speaks for other liberals when he adds that the kind of agenda progressives envision—Medicare for All, a Green New Deal—will entail “not only much higher rates on the uber wealthy but generally higher rates on a much broader range of the population.”

MMT skepticism has ironically unified the moderate and radical wings of the left around what would otherwise be a basic disagreement between them over priorities. Leftists regard MMT as a danger because they understand that the transition to social democracy, to say nothing of a farther-reaching socialism, will require building political support for broadly higher taxes, and MMT entices political leaders to put off the thorny question of higher middle-class taxes for another time. Liberals on the other hand are wary of the political consequences of raising taxes on the middle class, and thus worry that MMT will lure progressives into the trap of creating exorbitant expectations—only to disappoint supporters when either Medicare for All and the Green New Deal fail to materialize, or do materialize, and quickly necessitate broadly higher taxes.
If that angers you, or bores you to death, consider reading on, because Beutler reframes the discussion as not a fight over MMT but around how Republicans spend money and the urgent need to get away from their economic hostage taking.

@paulkrugman [who has been writing a bunch about MMT lately]: I actually agree with this. The problem is MMT types who devote a lot of effort to trashing conventional Keynesians who are ALSO saying that we shouldn't worry much about pay-fors. Accepting bad economics shouldn't be a litmus test for progressives!
posted by zachlipton at 10:49 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


the failure of appeasement with regards to white hate and fear

ADL: Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:55 AM on February 28 [65 favorites]


Politico, ‘This is not a day at the beach’: Pelosi tells moderate Dems to stop voting with GOP
House Democrats held an emotional debate behind closed doors Thursday over how to stop losing embarrassing procedural battles with Republicans — a clash that exposed the divide between moderates and progressives.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took a hard line at the caucus meeting, saying that being a member of Congress sometimes requires taking tough votes.

“This is not a day at the beach. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said, according to two sources.

Pelosi also warned that Democrats who voted with Republicans on the “motion to recommit” could become a lower priority for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, although her threat may be more bluster than reality, according to Democratic lawmakers and aides.

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the superstar New York freshman Democrat, suggested she would alert progressive activists when Democrats are voting with the GOP on these motions, said the sources.
...
The latest defeat came on Wednesday, as the House debated legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales — a position overwhelmingly favored by Democrats. When Republicans moved to amend the bill to require Immigration and Customs Enforcement be told of any undocumented immigrant who tries to buy a gun, 26 Democrats voted with the GOP. The language was added to the gun bill, spoiling an important Democratic legislative achievement.
posted by zachlipton at 10:55 AM on February 28 [61 favorites]


Sorry, could we please define acronyms ('MMT' = modern monetary theory) that appear in excerpts without context?
posted by aiglet at 11:02 AM on February 28 [91 favorites]


The Hill: Meadows, Tlaib hug it out after fiery exchange over racism
posted by Chrysostom at 11:04 AM on February 28


My layperson's understanding of MMT is basically that it suggests nations with monetary sovereignty can't use deficits and "affordability" as reliable guides for where and whether to invest resources. It doesn't say you can therefore dump resources into whatever cockamamie project you like and it will all be fine, it's just that you need to find other indicators/models to support the idea that your proposed use of resources will result in material gains for the nation as a whole.
posted by contraption at 11:12 AM on February 28


Anybody who says MFA wouldn’t involve new taxes on non-millionaires is fooling themselves. The point is that those taxes would be less than the health insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and “fuck you, that’s not covered” bills the program would eliminate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:31 AM on February 28 [42 favorites]


We probably need an MMT FPP ASAP.

This one from a week ago is still active.
posted by contraption at 11:32 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


When Republicans moved to amend the bill to require Immigration and Customs Enforcement be told of any undocumented immigrant who tries to buy a gun, 26 Democrats voted with the GOP. The language was added to the gun bill, spoiling an important Democratic legislative achievement.

Joke's on them! If, in some unlikely event this legislation passes, I'm dreaming that the 1) the bureaucratic paperwork is such a nightmare that it never gets done and no one bothers to check on gun sales, or 2) no one actually follows the law for a while and/or 3) in 2020, a Dem majority END ICE, so if there is a system to report any undocumented immigrants who try to buy guns through more official channels*, the email or whatever goes to an ever-full inbox, never to be checked again, as ICE is no longer a thing.

* Because people will still sell each-other guns, like people continue to buy minors alcohol.

Meanwhile, DeVos Announces Support For Proposed School Choice Tax Credit (Clare Lombardo for NPR, February 28, 2019)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican lawmakers have announced a proposed tax credit that would go toward donations to private school scholarships and other school choice initiatives.

"A great education shouldn't be determined by luck, or by address or by family income," DeVos said Thursday at a news conference.
Oh, to have been present, just so I could shout "FUND EDUCATION FOR ALL! WE ALREADY HAVE THE SCHOOLS!"
She appeared alongside Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., who said they plan to introduce the tax credit in Congress.

According to DeVos, states could choose whether or not they wanted to participate in the initiative. (Many states already have programs on the books that grant tax breaks to residents who donate to scholarship programs.)

It seems unlikely the new legislation will make it through the now Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
This last sentence warms my heart oh so very much. And why are DeVos, Trump and Co. so hot for charters?

'Tax Credit Scholarships,' Praised By Trump, Turn Profits For Some Donors (Anya Kamanetz for NPR, March 7, 2017)
President Trump has indicated several times now that his education agenda may feature a school choice program known as tax credit scholarships. He called it out in his first joint address to Congress last week, and followed that up with his first school visit as president this weekend: to a Catholic school in Florida which accepts several hundred students on the scholarships.

In these programs, sometimes called "neovouchers," people and companies earn tax credits by giving money to nonprofit scholarship funds. Students can use the scholarships to attend private schools, including religious schools. This is important because traditional school vouchers can run afoul of constitutional challenges if they allocate public money to religiously based organizations.

These programs have been growing quickly in the last few years, with a push by groups like the American Federation for Children and the American Legislative Exchange Council. They exist in 17 states and several more are currently considering them.

But as documented by Carl Davis of the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, and as advertised by financial advisors and the scholarship organizations themselves, in 10 of these states there is a quirk that allows individuals to turn a profit on their donations.

Here's how it works: Donors to these scholarship funds can offset their state tax liability by 70 to 100 cents for every dollar given. That's already generous compared with many other tax breaks. But then, the donors can turn around and claim a federal charitable tax exemption on the same "donation."

That, says Davis, amounts to up to a 35 percent profit for individuals, depending on their federal tax bracket.
That's right, the rich can profit off of "school choice" without having to even open a scammy school, by shorting their taxes. Classic Trump!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on February 28 [22 favorites]


[Folks, if you want to discuss new tax systems, please make a separate thread. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:52 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Speaking of The Children: Report: Child Poverty Could Be Cut In Half Over 10 Years, At A Hefty Price (Pam Fessler for NPR, February 28, 2019)
Child poverty in the U.S. could be cut in half over the next 10 years with a few simple steps, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The cost would be high — at least $90 billion a year. But the National Academies report warns that the price of not doing anything would be far greater.

The group estimates that current levels of child poverty cost the U.S. between $800 billion and $1.1 trillion a year, due to lower productivity when poor children become adults and increased costs due to higher crime and poor health. Individual children also suffer, because they face lower educational achievement, maltreatment and other obstacles related to growing up poor. In the end, the panel says, the whole country pays the price.
Preventative care costs less than reactionary care. What a surprise!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:53 AM on February 28 [29 favorites]


Preventative care costs less than reactionary care. What a surprise!

In which case the headline including "At A Hefty Price" is a lie, the same one which is repeated all of the damn time. If not doing something eventually costs you $100, and doing something now costs you $50, you've saved $50.

Try "Report: Child Poverty Could Be Cut In Half Over 10 Years, Conservatively Saving $400 Billion Per Year Over Cost of the Program". But gods forbid.
posted by maxwelton at 12:01 PM on February 28 [83 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler has an article in the NYT: Did Cohen Give a Peek at the Mueller Report?—The special counsel is still hiding events that lie at the core of his investigation — events that involve the president directly.

Wheeler argues that Cohen's revelation yesterday about Trump receiving a heads-up phone call from Roger Stone about the Wikileaks e-mail dump was intentionally omitted from Mueller's indictment of Stone from January.
Nor does [the indictment] disclose the timing of this particular disclosure, which Mr. Cohen in his testimony recalled happened on July 18 or 19. That’s significant not just because Mr. Stone predicted the timing of the release, just days away, as he would later predict details of the release of John Podesta’s emails. But it lines up eerily with a line in the indictment of 12 officers in a Russian intelligence organization, the G.R.U., who conducted the hack of the D.N.C. That document says that on July 18, WikiLeaks informed the G.R.U. online persona, Guccifer 2.0, that it had received a one-gigabyte archive “and would make a release of the stolen documents ‘this week.’”

In other words, Mr. Cohen’s revelation suggests that Mr. Stone was learning of WikiLeaks’ plans in the same time frame as the G.R.U. itself learned them.[…]

As Mr. Cohen’s testimony illustrates, Mr. Mueller has been hiding examples where Mr. Trump did applaud the conspiracy. “Wouldn’t that be great,” he reportedly said just before the fruits of Russia’s theft would start to do real damage to Democratic fortunes.

If Mr. Mueller is hiding similar examples, it suggests that whatever he plans to release in a report may have some unanticipated bombshells.
Incidentally, Wheeler thinks Stone received this tip-off from Nigel Farage, not Julian Assange, since she believes Stone oversold his connections to Assange/Wikileaks.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:16 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


Motion to refer to it as "Conspiracy" not "Collusion" moving forward.

In theory, it would drive the [name of 'fringe' Trump-supporting group, in the parlance of our times] into an infinite loop and bluescreen.
posted by petebest at 12:26 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


If Mr. Mueller is hiding similar examples, it suggests that whatever he plans to release in a report may have some unanticipated bombshells.

I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that Mueller has evidence that we haven't seen yet and aren't anticipating. (After two years of weekly bombshells, I have no idea what qualifies anymore.)
posted by diogenes at 12:31 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that Mueller has evidence that we haven't seen yet and we aren't anticipating.

When Mikey was asked yesterday 'What is Donny's greatest fear?', and couldn't give an answer, I didn't read that as 'Where do I start?' so much as I did 'What secret stuff am I allowed to say without jeopardizing my plea deal?'
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:35 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Former SK unification minister Chong Se-hyun suggests that summit was derailed by last minute attendance of Bolton, who added demands for NK to also report chemical/biological weapons, in response to which NKs increased their demand for sanctions relief

There was never any chance of a substantive agreement coming from this farce but this is the missing piece of the puzzle that explains its sudden & deflated ending. Bolton went into the negotiating room & took a dump on the table. It saved Kim the trouble of doing it himself.
posted by scalefree at 12:36 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


Would you vote to impeach Trump?
Yeah. No question. No question. I don’t even know why it’s controversial. I mean, OK, it’s not that I don’t know why it’s controversial. I understand that some people come from very tough districts where their constituents are torn. But for me and my community in the Bronx and Queens, it’s easy.

Everyone wants it.
Yeah, everyone wants it.


Rolling Stone article on AOC. Y'all, I'm starting to lose some of my pragmatic, objective, wait-and-see attitude w/r/t her.
posted by petebest at 12:45 PM on February 28 [66 favorites]


In which case the headline including "At A Hefty Price" is a lie, the same one which is repeated all of the damn time. If not doing something eventually costs you $100, and doing something now costs you $50, you've saved $50.

Try "Report: Child Poverty Could Be Cut In Half Over 10 Years, Conservatively Saving $400 Billion Per Year Over Cost of the Program". But gods forbid.


The question isn't what the price is, but who pays it. The upfront cost would come in the form of rolling back tax cuts the wealthy have enjoyed for decades; the costs are borne by the vast majority of Americans who encounter our broken for-profit health care system. And, of course, the wealthy would also have the cost of their health care industry stocks possibly losing value.

So it's important to observe not only that the article's framing is a lie, but who that lie is evidently calculated to appeal to.

Still, it's nice to see some pushback to the wealthy's agenda of "privatize the profit, socialize the risk." As a democracy, we're allowed -- indeed, expected -- to define society the way we want it to be, and I doubt anything close to a majority would vote in favor of our Frankenstein monster of a heath insurance system.
posted by Gelatin at 12:54 PM on February 28 [29 favorites]


Rolling Stone article on AOC. Y'all, I'm starting to lose some of my pragmatic, objective, wait-and-see attitude w/r/t her.

The fact that she's hated by all the right people goes a long way to smashing any objectivity I have.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:06 PM on February 28 [36 favorites]


Huh, Collins voting against Andrew Wheeler confirmation as EPA Administrator.

Washington Post: Andrew Wheeler, former energy lobbyist, confirmed as nation’s top environmental official

By a vote of 52-47; Collins was, as ever, voting exactly when (and because) it didn't matter. Of minor note:
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had voted to confirm Wheeler as EPA deputy administrator last year. But he decided to oppose Wheeler this time...“As Acting Administrator, he hasn’t demonstrated a desire or a will to make any meaningful progress on clean drinking water standards and has rolled back clean air standards that are directly impacting West Virginians,” Manchin said in a statement.
...
Democrats used the vote as an opportunity to call for greater action on climate change, with more than half-a-dozen senators speaking to a nearly empty chamber about why the federal government should press for steeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
posted by cjelli at 1:07 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


The fact that she's hated by all the right people goes a long way to smashing any objectivity I have.

Shit, she could stink on ice and just the fact that she's sucking up their attention is great. Not that I wish their harassment and garbage on anyone, but if they're gonna spew it I cannot imagine a more stupid target than a first-termer from a safe district. If she turns out to have longevity then it has value for them in a HRC-style long-term slander campaign, but in general it's a dumb area to focus their crap. So sure, get exercised and work up folks over this person far outside most of your followers' districts rather than the people in vulnerable seats.
posted by phearlez at 1:12 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


The fact that she's hated by all the right people goes a long way to smashing any objectivity I have.

@daveweigel
The Democrat appearing in CPAC videos and speeches the most, by far: @AOC. More than any 2020 Dem. An Oliver North-narrated NRA video just ended with the footage of her dancing outside her office, with the color drained to make it look more ominous.

They feel threatened enough to already be fomenting stochastic terrorism.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:12 PM on February 28 [47 favorites]




It would be darkly funny if the ridiculously overreaching privacy invading spy infrastructure caught a president.

posted by srboisvert at 12:57 PM on February 28 [3 favorites +] [!]


Yeah, talk about ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, I'd be glad to find they caught the traitor red-handed through surveillance. On the other, I don't want to see the surveillance state strengthened and this would certainly build support for giving it more power.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:16 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


It would be darkly funny if the ridiculously overreaching privacy invading spy infrastructure caught a president.

And if so, it might help induce a future president to roll back said ridiculously overreaching privacy invading spy infrastructure.
posted by Gelatin at 1:17 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


This part of Marcy Wheeler’s op-ed is confusing to me:
Nor does [the indictment] disclose the timing of this particular disclosure, which Mr. Cohen in his testimony recalled happened on July 18 or 19. That’s significant not just because Mr. Stone predicted the timing of the release, just days away, as he would later predict details of the release of John Podesta’s emails. But it lines up eerily with a line in the indictment of 12 officers in a Russian intelligence organization, the G.R.U., who conducted the hack of the D.N.C. That document says that on July 18, WikiLeaks informed the G.R.U. online persona, Guccifer 2.0, that it had received a one-gigabyte archive “and would make a release of the stolen documents ‘this week.’”

In other words, Mr. Cohen’s revelation suggests that Mr. Stone was learning of WikiLeaks’ plans in the same time frame as the G.R.U. itself learned them.
So wait, WikiLeaks told Guccifer 2.0 that it had received hacked documents? I thought it would have been Guccifer 2.0 giving the documents to WikiLeaks. Weren’t the GRU the ones that hacked them in the first place?
posted by gucci mane at 1:19 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Washington Post: Andrew Wheeler, former energy lobbyist, confirmed as nation’s top environmental official

By a vote of 52-47; Collins was, as ever, voting exactly when (and because) it didn't matter.


I tend to take "Republican Senator Announces Performative 'No' Vote" headlines as nothing other than confirmation that said nomination is officially in the bag.

I hope -- ha, ha -- that the so-called "liberal media" will recognize that Collins and her ilk almost never vote independently when doing so means standing in the way of the Republican agenda and, therefore, that they get no credit for being an "independent, moderate maverick," but rather enable the agendas of the worst of the neo-Confederates and Tea Party wackaloons.
posted by Gelatin at 1:21 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


My guess is it will be national security intercepts of almost every detail of this plot (plots?) because it is perfectly legal for the national security infrastructure to intercept all calls involving foreign nationals inside and outside the united states. That's an awful lot of the players in this game. Plus there is all the possible intel of other countries may have shared which could include intercepts of U.S. citizen to U.S. citizen calls.

It would be darkly funny if the ridiculously overreaching privacy invading spy infrastructure caught a president.


It's certainly a weird place to be--to be placing some of my hope, as a progressive, in that apparatus/infrastructure. And I definitely am--placing hope--especially as the media continues to insist that The Mueller Report is due to come sometime soon, and we've only caught glimpses of *possible* smoking guns thus far. Surely, I hope, they've got more they're keeping out of view, undeniable things.

What's even more unclear to me is the extent to which they can use that spy infrastructure in court, or even in any kind of legal process. Is there some kind of firewall between those intercepts and the courts--either legally (the SCO can't use it, or haven't been given the access we assume they have) or practically (they don't want to burn sources, reveal methods, etc.)? Like is it possible that they know all sorts of stuff from intercepts, but can't *prove* it in court, with corroborating evidence and whatnot?
posted by cudzoo at 1:26 PM on February 28


They feel threatened enough to already be fomenting stochastic terrorism.

I do worry about her. I can't imagine how scary it is to be in her position. I wonder if she's getting any extra protection.
posted by diogenes at 1:32 PM on February 28 [31 favorites]


So wait, WikiLeaks told Guccifer 2.0 that it had received hacked documents?

WikiLeaks confirmed receipt to Guccifer 2.0 after the GRU was apparently having some difficulty sending them the files. From Mueller's indictment:
After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 an email with an attachment titled “wk dnc link1.txt.gpg.” The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. On or about July 18, 2016, Organization 1 confirmed it had “the 1Gb or so archive” and would make a release of the stolen documents “this week.”
It would be interesting to find out what unsuccessful methods the GRU initially tried (I'm picturing Nigel Farage losing a USB stick).
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:39 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Little Dawn: Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said that if Mr. Cohen is telling the truth, and if Mr. Trump claimed to Mr. Mueller in his sworn, written testimony that he was not aware of any contacts between Mr. Stone and Mr. Assange, that could be a crime.

“When you lie in that context, it’s not only perjury but it’s obstruction of justice too,” Mr. Zeidenberg said.


I'm no perjuror, you're the perjuror! Republican lawmakers ask Justice Department to investigate Michael Cohen for perjury (Jeremy Herb and Laura Jarrett for CNN, February 28, 2019)
Two of President Donald Trump's closest allies on the House Judiciary Committee referred Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to the Justice Department Thursday for possible criminal prosecution, claiming to have evidence that Cohen "committed perjury and knowingly made false statements" to lawmakers during his day-long testimony Wednesday.

The criminal referral -- sent by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, and North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows -- outlined several areas of testimony they urged the Justice Department to investigate, including Cohen's claims Wednesday that he did not seek a job in the Trump White House (CNN), his denial of committing bank fraud, as well as his assertion that the did not have any reportable contracts with foreign entities.
Emphasis mine, because c'mon! Is the GOP handing out "Trump's Mirrors" now? "Tell me, what do you see? Is it a criminal?"
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


"Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

So...What powers can Trump wield under his “national emergency”? If it’s still in-place when the 2020 election rolls around, is there any limit to what he can do to nullify the results, or delay the transition?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:41 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


An Oliver North-narrated NRA video just ended with the footage of her dancing outside her office, with the color drained to make it look more ominous.

How could that footage *possibly* look any more ominous than it already does?
posted by uosuaq at 1:52 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Rolling Stone article on AOC. Y'all, I'm starting to lose some of my pragmatic, objective, wait-and-see attitude w/r/t her.

OMG: "The Koch brothers own every Republican in the Senate. They own ’em. They don’t cast a vote unless their sugar daddies tell ’em what to do."
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:55 PM on February 28 [39 favorites]


How could that footage *possibly* look any more ominous than it already does?

Throw some cheesy VHS-looking effects on it, add some movie-trailer music and a narration from a war criminal (link to an NRATV YouTube video) In addition to AOC, other boogeymen include Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.
posted by box at 2:05 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


How could that footage *possibly* look any more ominous than it already does?

The video is actually quite a study in visual propaganda techniques. In addition to washing out the color they add in a completely artificial "videotape scanlines" filter that makes all the shots of Dems look spliced together from amateur or covert footage. It's subtle but effective, you'd hardly notice it if you weren't looking for it.

NRA TV: The Protected Class
posted by scalefree at 2:06 PM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Ivanka Trump and Donald Jr wanted for interviews by House committee (Guardian)
House oversight committee chairman Elijah Cummings has said he will seek interviews with Donald Trump’s children and some of his closest allies after public testimony by the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Among those the committee will call in for testimony are Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, as well as Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

“All you have to do is follow the transcript. If there are names that were mentioned or records that were mentioned during the hearing, we want to take a look at all of that,” Cummings told reporters, according to Politico.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:09 PM on February 28 [65 favorites]


NYT, Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security Clearance
President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer, four people briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.

The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance.

The disclosure of the memos contradicts statements made by the president, who told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role in his son-in-law receiving his clearance.
I'm starting to get the impression that this guy lies a lot.
posted by zachlipton at 2:24 PM on February 28 [86 favorites]


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/us/politics/jared-kushner-security-clearance.html

Trump handed the country's secrets to an untrustworthy person. Impeach. Simple. I don't even know why it's controversial, as it were.
posted by baltimoretim at 2:28 PM on February 28 [75 favorites]


To take a couple of insightful comments from different subtopics here:

Murdering dissidents in prison, or allowing others to murder them directly or through maltreatment, is just about the oldest authoritarian trick in the book and it's only [#45's] incompetence that's kept him from ordering it yet.

It would be darkly funny if the ridiculously overreaching privacy invading spy infrastructure caught a president.

... I think these go back to something that has been discussed in earlier threads, that what hope remains here in Trumpistan comes from the fact that the guy has not yet consolidated power. He can't really do what he wants when there are still many people in relevant positions of power who are not personally loyal to him. It's not that the FBI (God help us) is full of wonderful resistance warriors, but that T knows he cannot yet rely on them to back him up with unquestioning, Cohenish sycophancy. T may not be "intelligent" or even "competent" by many standards, but he certainly has the basic cunning necessary to wait until it is safe for him to give his murderous desires free rein.

(Side note: T's particular admiration for Kim Jong Un could be credited in part to the fact that KJU is a rare modern autocrat who is not substantially self-taught, and thus has a depth of experience in how to not only consolidate but maintain absolute power that few other members of the International Autocrat Mutual Admiration Society (Modi, Xi, Putin, Orban, Duterte, Trump, etc.) could match. Certainly the Trump crime family would have a deep interest in how the Kim crime family has managed to effectuate such smooth intergenerational transfers of power, given T's own undisguised moves in that direction.)
posted by shenderson at 2:28 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Still, it's nice to see some pushback to the wealthy's agenda of "privatize the profit, socialize the risk." As a democracy, we're allowed -- indeed, expected -- to define society the way we want it to be, and I doubt anything close to a majority would vote in favor of our Frankenstein monster of a heath insurance system. Flagged as fantastic, Gelatin.

In other news, from Sludge: GOP Picks a Top Oil and Gas Money Recipient as Climate Committee Ranking Member. House Republicans have chosen their reps to serve on the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, led by a member whose top career donor is a company that operates vessels that facilitate offshore oil drilling.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) will serve as the ranking member on the climate committee, which is tasked with recommending policies to respond to the increasing threats of catastrophic climate change. Graves has taken $515,634 from PACs and individuals affiliated with the oil and gas industry over the course of his congressional career, far more than he received from any other industry, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

posted by Bella Donna at 2:32 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


I want to quote one other bit of that story because it's straight-up Orwellian:
Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Lowell, said on Thursday, “In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time.”
We said X before, and even if new stories say Y, and even if those new stories are true, that doesn't change anything, because we said X. X. Remember, we said X.
posted by zachlipton at 2:34 PM on February 28 [53 favorites]


House oversight committee chairman Elijah Cummings has said he will seek interviews with Donald Trump’s children and some of his closest allies after public testimony by the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Someone should make them an animated gif for pleading the fifth to break the inevitable monotony.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:44 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


what hope remains here in Trumpistan comes from the fact that the guy has not yet consolidated power. He can't really do what he wants when there are still many people in relevant positions of power who are not personally loyal to him.

He flat-out doesn't have enough "loyal" people; they don't stick around once they figure out that his idea of loyalty is "I do what I want; you take the blame."

The reason hundreds of federal appointments are vacant is that he can't find enough suckers to pretend to do the job. It's not even that he can't oust entrenched Democrats; he can't find enough people to take the jobs that he gets to hand out. He's not even able to find run-of-the-mill alt-right racist sexist fascist bastards, because he insists that they need to have some personal affiliation to him, or that the job has to be handed out as a reward for a favor.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:50 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


Doktor Zed: It would be interesting to find out what unsuccessful methods the GRU initially tried (I'm picturing Nigel Farage losing a USB stick).

Funny you should say that, because I was remembering some photos of Farage leaving the embassy and members of the press asking him about his talking to Assange. I googled it and found this, from a year ago: Trump-Russia inquiry is told Nigel Farage may have given Julian Assange data
Private investigator tells House panel Farage gave thumb drive to Assange, who officials view as a conduit for the Russian government
Nigel Farage may have given Julian Assange a thumb drive of data and was possibly a more frequent visitor than was publicly known to the Ecuadorian embassy where the WikiLeaks founder lives, according to testimony given to US congressional inquiry into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Kremlin.

Glenn Simpson, a private investigator whose company compiled the controversial dossier alleging a conspiracy between Trump campaign officials and Russian agents, told the House intelligence committee that he was told by an unnamed source that the former Ukip leader had given data to Assange, but had no proof of the exchange.
posted by gucci mane at 2:50 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


I suspect instead of the Fifth, or possibly alongside, for any post-election shenanigans, we'll get a lot Jeff Sessions' style "the implied penumbra of Executive Privilege potentially invoked at some later date prevents me from answering today."

-----
I move we call this gambit Pleading the Hamberder as in "I'll gladly decline to speak today for the Privilege that may be invoked tomorrow."
posted by notyou at 2:54 PM on February 28 [33 favorites]


ABC from February 8 [video]: Ivanka Trump says she and her husband Jared Kushner received no special treatment from her father when obtaining their top security clearances. "The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance, zero.”

The Times says there are CYA memos from Kelly and McGahn. This one seems really simple. The President overruled the objections not just of the professionals who handle security clearances but his own handpicked staff. There's not some hard-to-uncover conspiracy here that takes years of investigation. Subpoena the memos and call Jared and Ivanka to testify next week.
posted by zachlipton at 3:01 PM on February 28 [64 favorites]


I move we call this gambit Pleading the Hamberder

Gorka beat you to argumentum-ad-hamburgum earlier today.

@atrupar
Former Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka: "They want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved."
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:03 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


The Cohen of Silence Breaks: What to Make of Wednesday’s Testimony (Lawfare)
The timing is also noteworthy. Cohen estimated that the call took place on July 18 or 19 of 2016—which would place it just a few days before WikiLeaks released the emails hacked from the DNC on July 22. A week later, Trump would declare at a campaign event, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” It is also consistent with paragraph 11 of the Roger Stone indictment, which states that “in or around June and July 2016, Stone informed senior Trump campaign officials” of his information on WikiLeaks’s plans.

It’s unclear what the legal significance would be of Cohen’s story—if any. For one thing, it would be hard to prove, being an anecdote told by a convicted liar about another person charged for lying and a person who is famously disengaged from the truth. Cohen testified that there was no one else in the room during Stone’s call, though Trump’s secretary Rhona Graff allegedly patched the call through. Moreover, even if true, it’s not clear that the story involves anything illegal. After all, it’s not illegal to have advance knowledge that WikiLeaks is planning a release of something that was previously stolen.

Unless, that is, you happen to tell a federal investigation that no such conversation took place. According to CNN several months ago, Trump said in his written answers to questions from the special counsel’s office that Roger Stone had not told him about any communications with WikiLeaks. Notably, CNN also reported that before Trump submitted his answers, Mueller requested call logs from Stone to Trump Tower—which presumably would show Stone’s call on July 17 or 18.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:04 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Susan Hennessey says "If Kushner hasn't resigned by the time we wake up tomorrow, it is a sign that the basic checks of government have ceased to function."

I have zero doubt that the basic checks of government have ceased to function. That's been clear for a while.
posted by diogenes at 3:39 PM on February 28 [101 favorites]


Subpoena the memos and call Jared and Ivanka to testify next week.

I mean, you could, but it won’t change what we affirmed previously.
posted by nickmark at 3:46 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Among the statements made by Michael Cohen referred to DOJ by Jim "Condones Molesting Wrestlers" Jordan for perjury investigation is Cohen's claim to be a good lawyer.

Jordan is scum and statements of opinion cannot be lies but... that's A+ trolling.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


I have zero doubt that the basic checks of government have ceased to function. That's been clear for a while.

So, the most current Gaslit Nation podcast had this incongruous interview with a UK journalist who's investigating all the corruption with respect to Brexit, and how many of the players are the same, etc.

But she said basically, that she's impressed that the US actually has working checks and balances in the sense of like, investigative committees and Mueller and such, in contrast to her impression of the UK situation where it's apparently like, nobody has any power or care to dig in Except for journalists.

As a US person this was kind of odd to hear from someone observing this situation externally, as I'd agree with you that we've really very few normal government functions remaining. I guess that's ... possibly alarmist and overblown, though? I dunno. It's weird.
posted by odinsdream at 3:55 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


petebest: Motion to refer to it as "Conspiracy" not "Collusion" moving forward.

In theory, it would drive the [name of 'fringe' Trump-supporting group, in the parlance of our times] into an infinite loop and bluescreen.


I think this specific linguistic trend, which arises in a lot of corners, is itself an example of being driven into a loop, or otherwise taking cues from the other side. What happened clearly is collusion even if there's nothing we could call "the law against collusion". There's also no law against "lying" per se, but we can and should still discuss politicians lying.

Also, even the most mindless Internet troll can obey patterns that are themselves quite strategic. I know you meant it just as a joke, but a persistent liberal myth/assumption is that, at some point, people can be bluescreened -- you show the contradictions in their logic and that's it, game over. In reality, of course, they just dig their heels in, or if there's no other choice, they shift around. I think our shifting away from "collusion", rather than digging in, is much too big a concession.

I've never even seen an argument for how "collusion" is technically incorrect, let alone colloquially. So my preferred approach is to use the word, repeatedly, while adding "conspiracy" for flavor and nutrition. If the point is that "conspiracy" is worse, that's fine, but that has to be built up without abandoning the old term.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:58 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


I think this specific linguistic trend, which arises in a lot of corners, is itself an example of being driven into a loop, or otherwise taking cues from the other side.

I've never understood this idea that we should only use words in the precise way that a prosecutor would use them in court. I get that words have specific meanings under the law, but they have valid meanings in the real world too, and there's no reason I can't use them accordingly.
posted by diogenes at 4:13 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


So this Nigel Farage cameo seems like news, doesn't it raise the possibility that Five Eyes/GCHQ type surveillance data might have been part of the handoff? I wouldn't be surprised if these things come together via an abstract web of communication between people who happen to cross paths at some point. With sinister results.
posted by rhizome at 4:20 PM on February 28


Politico, HHS demands apology from House Ethics chair for comments on abuse of migrant children
Health and Human Services officials refused Thursday to meet with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), saying the House Ethics Committee chair must first apologize for stating publicly earlier this week that HHS staff sexually abused migrant children in agency custody.

"By deliberately or negligently mischaracterizing the data during a televised hearing, you impugned the integrity of hundreds of federal civil servants," Jonathan Hayes, the HHS refugee director, wrote Deutch on Thursday, in a letter obtained by POLITICO. HHS has been seeking an apology for two days.

Deutch said he stands by his remarks, arguing that he sufficiently clarified that he was referencing contractors as well as staff. Deutch added that he will keep pushing HHS for a meeting on the sexual abuse data.

"Our job is to conduct oversight," Deutch told POLITICO. "I've never seen a response like this, that simply refuses to come talk to members of Congress ... I think they'd be interested in discussing [this] because people are outraged."
...
HHS received 4,556 allegations of sexual abuse over the most recent four-year period, and the agency said the "significant majority" were for "inappropriate sexual behaviors," like verbal harassment, between children in custody. HHS has said that there were 178 allegations of serious sexual abuse by adult contractors over that period, which involved roughly 0.1 percent of all children placed in HHS custody over that period.
posted by zachlipton at 4:22 PM on February 28 [20 favorites]


"Our job is to conduct oversight," Deutch told POLITICO. "I've never seen a response like this, that simply refuses to come talk to members of Congress ... I think they'd be interested in discussing [this] because people are outraged."

Why are Democrats still asking politely? The first step should be a subpoena. No "please give us an amenable date" no "at your earliest convenience". Subpoena. Immediately. And criminal contempt of Congress if the answer is anything other than, "yes Madam Speaker". No one in this administration should be given the option to say no, why the fuck are we still pretending like this is a normal administration and not a criminal conspiracy at every level of every agency? This is what we elected you to do, and you're still unwilling to do the most basic steps. Why don't we have the tax returns?
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:33 PM on February 28 [77 favorites]


Cummings: House Oversight will seek interviews with Trump Jr., Ivanka

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Thursday that the panel will seek to interview several of the people that Michael Cohen mentioned during his six-hour testimony, including President Trump's children Don Jr. and Ivanka, as well as Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

Why it matters: Cohen testified that he believes Trump Jr. and Weisselberg signed one of the $35,000 checks reimbursing him for a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, which he provided to the committee as part of his testimony. Cohen also claimed that he briefed Trump Jr. and Ivanka about Trump Tower Moscow approximately 10 times, though Trump Jr. testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 that he was only "peripherally aware" of the project.

The big picture: Cummings told reporters the committee would "take a look at" all of the names that Cohen brought up during his testimony, and that they have "a good chance of hearing from us — at least an interview," per Politico.

Other names that Cohen mentioned include Trump's longtime assistant Rhona Graff, now-indicted adviser Roger Stone, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, personal Trump attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani, and several others at the Trump Organization.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:48 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


Felix Sater is scheduled for open-testimony at House Intelligence Committee (Guardian)
Former Trump associate Felix Sater will come before the House Intelligence Committee on March 14, Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters today following a closed-door hearing with Michael Cohen.

The Russia-born business executive, who has a past as an American spy tracking terrorists and members of the mob, worked with Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow project that was ongoing through the 2016 election.
Felix Sater: the enigmatic businessman at the heart of the Trump-Russia inquiry (Guardian, 8/31/17)
Whatever the truth of Donald Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin, Sater is likely to end up being part of the story. He surfaced this week in leaked emails that he sent in 2015 to Trump’s lawyer, claiming he could engineer Putin’s support for a Trump Tower in Moscow and thus, somehow, a victory in the US presidential election.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater said, according to one of the emails, leaked to the New York Times. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
posted by Little Dawn at 5:32 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


According to reports on CNN the White House is probably going with the theory that the President truly is above the law by relying on the confluence of two DOJ policies in a way I've brought up before earlier in these threads. Those policies:

1) A sitting President cannot be indicted.
2) DOJ does not release prejudicing info about people who are not indicted.

Their position is apparently that given these two policies, no information from Mueller which pertains to Trump should or will be released to Congress or the Public.

One expects if they try to play this card the pushback will be enormous. As it should be, because if it were allowed to stand it would mean we really are a nation of men and not of laws. The WH would be claiming absolute executive immunity for any crimes.
posted by Justinian at 5:33 PM on February 28 [30 favorites]


Justinian: The WH would be claiming absolute executive immunity for any crimes.

It also incentivizes future presidential candidates to cheat to win. "Cheat as much as you want, just make sure you win so you'll be above the law!" This is like the winner (and only the winner) of the Tour de France being exempt from drug testing.
posted by bluecore at 5:40 PM on February 28 [51 favorites]


Neal Katyal, who some might remember from such greatest hits as Acting Solicitor General of the United States and Author of the Special Counsel Provisions, was of the opinion that any such position by the WH would not and could not be allowed to stand. So that's encouraging.
posted by Justinian at 5:42 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Another thing to note is that the surge in robocalls is due to a court throwing out an Obama era FCC rule because it was poorly worded; current chairman and general-purpose shithead Ajit Pai has no interest in restoring the rule, and celebrated the court's decision.

CNN's Andrew Kaczynski offers an example of how one PAC entrepreneur is taking advantage of this: Group Running Robocalls Impersonating Trump's Campaign Has Already Raised More Than $100,000
A CNN KFile investigation into the group behind the calls, Support American Leaders PAC, reveals it is run by 32-year-old Matthew Tunstall, who has a history of managing shadowy groups that target people with politically charged calls in order to raise money while doing very little -- if anything at all -- to put that money toward a political purpose. Tunstall made more than $300,000 through these groups in the 2016 presidential cycle, FEC records show.

The operation effectively amounts to an income cycle of wash, rinse, repeat: paying for ads to raise money to pay for more ads to raise more money and so on, with Tunstall taking home whatever money doesn't get used to pay for more ads. The enterprise may also be breaking spending rules policed by three different federal agencies on impersonation and ad disclosure.
It's grifters all the way down.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:02 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


It also incentivizes future presidential candidates to cheat to win. "Cheat as much as you want, just make sure you win so you'll be above the law!"

This is Republican's explicit reelection strategy from now and forever forward. They're openly saying they're going to do everything possible to prevent Democratic voters from voting, and less openly counting on and planning to enable further undermining of American democracy in alliance with Putin. "Cheat to win" and barely concealed treason is their entire election message.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:02 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Retiring Senator Alexander (R-TN) does in fact appear to be the final vote required to strike down Trump’s national emergency for the wall, which would likely lead to Trump’s first ever veto.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:05 PM on February 28 [30 favorites]


I'm really interested in seeing how opinion unfolds on this: Wash Po, Margaret Sullivan, After Cohen’s hearing, the BuzzFeed bombshell that Mueller disputed looks better — and worse, I think it's an op-ed but it's got all the facts lined up

my opinion is

A) Assuming Cohen's most recent testimony is accurate, "Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress" is not strictly exactly true, but it's not misleading. It's an extremely fair summary of the situation.

b) Saying "Trump never told Cohen to lie to Congress" might be strictly true, but it's very misleading.

c) Many people assumed that the SCO wouldn't comment on the story if it was just some small legalistic inaccuracy. In fact, it looks to me like that's exactly what they did. The only inaccuracy (so far?) is that Trump didn't explicitly tell Cohen to lie. And (presumably) Trump's actions didn't meet the criteria of the felony crime that is suborning perjury. That's an entirely legalistic distinction. It's a very important distinction to the SCO because their job is specifically about crimes. But it looks like the Buzzfeed piece was correct in the gist of it.

c) This exact same fucking thing was one of the things in Clinton's impeachment. He coordinated stories with his secretary (Betty Currie), in an indirect and implicit way, and that was included as an obstruction of justice charge.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 6:12 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


It dawned on me yesterday that while Daddy Fred was a manager of property, I-1 is a manager of secrets -- his own and other people's -- and is actually good at it. He cultivated the NYC tabloids (and the NYT) through access and gossip. He paid to keep his most damaging secrets under wraps, and probably paid (and still pays) to obtain secrets about others that he uses to cow them or

So he, his spawn and Crown Prince Jared -- well, they've got access not just to America's secrets but also to the largest surveillance apparatus in human history. And pricing it all up for resale.
posted by holgate at 6:24 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


I'm really interested in seeing how opinion unfolds on this: Wash Po, Margaret Sullivan, After Cohen’s hearing, the BuzzFeed bombshell that Mueller disputed looks better — and worse, I think it's an op-ed but it's got all the facts lined up

This is how it's described at Lawfare:
The second area involves Cohen’s allegation that Trump indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about the abortive Trump Tower Moscow project—the subject of Cohen’s second guilty plea, this time to the special counsel’s office. This was the subject of the BuzzFeed News story alleging that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the date the Moscow project was terminated in order to hide Trump’s involvement. That story caused a fracas when Mueller’s office broke its customary silence to issue a rare statement denying unspecified aspects of the story: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Cohen’s testimony begins to square this particular circle, claiming that Trump made his desire clear without explicitly “directing” Cohen to lie, and that Cohen followed what he took to be an instruction. In his prepared statement, Cohen says that Trump had made clear to him over months what the party line was—saying to him that there was no business in Russia even as he supervised Cohen’s efforts to build a tower there. Moreover, Cohen writes, “Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” referring to the August 2017 letter Cohen submitted to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which contained the false assertion that the negotiations ended in January 2016. Cohen continues, “Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie” about the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. “And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.”
posted by Little Dawn at 6:31 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


in contrast to her impression of the UK situation where it's apparently like, nobody has any power or care to dig in

I don't think that's quite fair. Damian Collins and the DCMS select committee have done better work on fake news, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and data protection -- despite being stymied by shits like Dominic Cummings and Mark Zuckerberg -- than Congress. I do think the Electoral Commission's powers are no longer sufficient to deal with dark money and the accumulation of personal data, and that there's no political will right now for an independent investigation because of the ongoing self-harm since that dirty referendum.
posted by holgate at 6:40 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Acting Pentagon chief to certify emergency to help build wall — and win Trump’s favor
It’s an anxious loyalty test for acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, whose future at the Pentagon is anything but certain.

Sometime in the next few days, Shanahan plans to endorse President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the southern border, according to people familiar with his thinking. That will free up $3.6 billion in the Pentagon budget for building new sections of border wall and other projects.

It likely will also prove costly to Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who hopes Trump will nominate him as a permanent replacement for former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who quit in December.

Failing to go along with Trump could lead the president to nominate someone else. At the same time, Senate Democrats — and even some Republicans — oppose Trump’s efforts to go around Congress to secure money for border barriers. Defense hawks are particularly incensed that he wants to raid military construction money to do so. That could jeopardize Shanahan’s hopes of taking over the Pentagon permanently.

“He’s in a tough position,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which handles Pentagon nominations.

Some Democrats say Shanahan’s willingness to go along with the emergency funding could determine whether they will support him if Trump nominates him for the job.

“How he approaches this should be very much a part of whether he becomes permanent in that role,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), one of two Armed Services members representing a southern border state. “Whether he is going to be a down-the-line professional secretary of Defense, or if he sees his job to get the president reelected and appeal to his base.”

Several key senators have said they’re uncomfortable with the precedent Trump is setting by bypassing Congress’ constitutional power of the purse — and using the military to do it.
posted by scalefree at 6:42 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]




his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress

Realistically, there is too much going on to pull that thread right now, but I want it added to our stretch goals to have Rudy Giuliani disbarred for suborning perjury.
posted by M-x shell at 6:48 PM on February 28 [15 favorites]


I don't think Giuliani is one of the people referenced. He's a TV Lawyer not an actual personal attorney. Likely it's Jay Sekulow's ass on the line rather than Giuliani.
posted by Justinian at 6:52 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


“He’s in a tough position,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.)

I can understand that. He has to chose between appeasing the whims of the warmongers in the Pentagon and catering to the whims of the fascist bigot in the White House. He can only pick one as a potential career. The White House is higher status but incredibly unstable, but sticking with "fight to keep military money in the military" could mean losing them both.

Of course, his "tough position" has nothing to do with protecting the interests of American citizens; it's only tough in the sense of "if he doesn't carefully navigate the politics here, he might not keep the power to order armed goons around."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:55 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Felix Sater going before Congress is going to be a doozy, he’s been one of my favorite enigmas about this entire deal. There use to be a great primer on him, Bayrock, and Trump’s connections to the Russian mob, but I can’t find it anymore, can anybody help with that? I could’ve swore it was on Politico or TPM.
posted by gucci mane at 6:57 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Axios: Michael Cohen to Return to Testify Before House Intel Next Week
Following three straight days of testimonies before various congressional committees, President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said Thursday that he would return to the House Intelligence Committee on March 6 because there is "more to discuss."

Details: Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters after Cohen's 7.5 hour testimony: "It was a very productive interview today where he was able to shed light on a lot of issues." He added that the committee plans to release Cohen's testimony publicly at some point in the future, and that Felix Sater — who worked with Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow project — will testify publicly on March 14.
"More to discuss". It's like Cohen has an elaborate plan to stall going to jail by enumerating all of Trump's crimes.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:57 PM on February 28 [30 favorites]


So he, his spawn and Crown Prince Jared -- well, they've got access not just to America's secrets but also to the largest surveillance apparatus in human history. And pricing it all up for resale.

These people are all security risks for the country and should be thrown in Guantanamo. If Republicans have an issue with that, they can close the camp down.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 6:58 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Dem chairmen slam Trump’s ‘nepotism exception’ after Kushner security clearance report (Politico)
“The revelation that President Trump personally intervened to overrule White House security officials and the Intelligence Community to grant a Top Secret security clearance to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the latest indicator of the President’s utter disregard for our national security and for the men and women who sacrifice so much every day to keep us safe,” Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. [...]

Schiff said Thursday: “There is no nepotism exception for background investigations. Worse still was the White House’s oft-repeated lie that Kushner had been granted the clearance at the conclusion of a normal process. Reports indicate, moreover, that Kushner’s access to the nation’s most tightly held secrets, which require separate adjudication by the Intelligence Community, was restricted. This is a clear indication of the deep unease that national security officials have about Kushner’s suitability.” [...]

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee, said Thursday that he was “concerned the president has jeopardized our national security by putting clearances in the hands of unscrupulous people, and against the recommendations of background investigators.”

Swalwell added: “To ensure our deepest secrets are protected, we will work to ensure clearances are granted based on trust, not by blood or bond.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, urged members of the national security community on Thursday to “not share top secret information” with Kushner.

“Career security clearance professionals believed Jared Kushner was enough of a national security risk that he should not get a top secret clearance,” Lieu said, adding: “Trust the career professionals. Do the right thing. Your loyalty is to America, not to Kushner or Trump.”
posted by Little Dawn at 6:59 PM on February 28 [28 favorites]


It's like Cohen has an elaborate plan to stall going to jail by enumerating all of Trump's crimes.

Starring Michael Cohen as Scheherazade.
posted by Slothrup at 7:06 PM on February 28 [72 favorites]


TIL: Michael Cohen still lives in a Trump-owned apartment. I hope he doesn't need any repair work done any time soon!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:20 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


WaPo: House Democrats Explode In Recriminations As Liberals Lash Out At Moderates
House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge.

In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. “We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans “are putting themselves on a list.”
There's a parliamentary procedure at stake here:
Inside the Democratic meeting, one of those freshmen — Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) — reacted sharply to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments and rose to urge her colleagues to respect the political reality of representing a swing district, according to multiple people present. A spokesman for Torres Small did not respond to a request for comment.

Several are also pushing to reform or eliminate the procedural tactic that has prompted the uproar — the “motion to recommit,” which essentially gives the minority party one final opportunity to amend a bill moments before it comes up for a final vote.

Pelosi trained much of her closed-door frustrations on veteran lawmakers, noting that some held seats on coveted committees. “What is this?” she asked, according to the aides.

Later, when one lawmaker talked about the peril of persistently voting with party leaders on these motions, Pelosi responded that the party stood ready to help team players: “We have a massive MASH operation and, frankly, it should be there for those who have the courage to take the vote.”

Publicly and privately, Pelosi has urged members to treat the Republican motions as procedural feints that should be routinely ignored. “Vote no — just vote no,” she told reporters Thursday, “because the fact is, a vote yes is to give leverage to the other side.” But Hoyer and Clyburn believe that is untenable when Republicans stand ready to use those votes as political cudgels against vulnerable Democrats.
Blue dogs won't learn new tricks…
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:45 PM on February 28 [22 favorites]


I am so on board with AOC. She is, frankly, inspiring.
posted by defenestration at 7:54 PM on February 28 [33 favorites]


Wisconsin governor Tony Evers unveils his budget proposal for the next two years. It represents a massive departure from what would have been proposed under his predecessor. There are a lot of Dem goals in here, but probably the biggest change is its proposal that legislative district maps be drawn by the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau. Since the LRB is part of the WI legislature, this may skirt the Roberts objection to independent districting.

It will be very hard to say what will actually come out of the budget process. Last biennium, the GOP had total control of the state government and it still took more than seven months of negotiation before it was signed.
posted by Jpfed at 7:57 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


The party of Trump:

RNC Chair Says Government Did Not Create the Internet (WaPo, (via))

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel framed the differences between the two political parties as capitalism vs. socialism during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Said McDaniel: “It’s going to be a choice. Are we going to want capitalism? Look at all the great achievements of our country: flight, cars, the Internet. Sorry, Al Gore. The Internet. None of that came from government. It came from innovation. It came from the greatness of America.”

Philip Bump: “So here’s the thing. The Internet very much did come from government, quite literally.”


Wow. Let's go get some Hillary-shaped laser pointers and go down there to see if they'll chase them into the pool.
posted by petebest at 8:05 PM on February 28 [72 favorites]


I'm beginning to understand that the conservative reaction to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is not merely because she's a SOCIALIST or a YOUNG WOMAN but because she is OUTSTANDINGLY COMPETENT, the ultimate fear of white male Republicans
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:09 PM on February 28 [98 favorites]


Ronna McDaniel Romney is a tumor on the American rump.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:14 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Flight-ntsb, faa
Cars-DoT, interstates
Intertubes-arpanet, nsf

Socialism *works*
posted by j_curiouser at 8:22 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


I would be willing to grant deference to the best vote-counter in modern US history, and Dems in safe districts -- especially ones that aren't devoting half their day to "donor time" -- have advantages that their peers don't, and shouldn't rub it in.

But the political reality is this: swingy-district Dems can vote with Rs on "difficult" motions to recommit if they want, but they'll still face boilerplate ads in 2020 saying they voted to feed newborn babies to illegal immigrants, and with Pelosi's (and AOC's) face plastered alongside theirs. They can't vote themselves out of that place.
posted by holgate at 8:47 PM on February 28 [24 favorites]


Ah yes, the militant veganism of joseph stalin
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:51 PM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Oddly, I don't recall a lot of stories about how Republicans were voting with Democrats to insert poison pills into Republican bills back many years ago in *checks notes* 2018 when Democrats were the minority. Holgate is right, nobody is going to give these House democrats props for stuff like this.

If this comment seems at odds with my stated position on Manchin et al, I contain multitudes, hobgoblin of little minds, etc etc.
posted by Justinian at 8:52 PM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Ask Still-Senator Joe Donnelly how much good will his votes against his own party won him with Republicans, and how many less ads they ran against him in exchange. It's like these idiots haven't been alive for the last 18 years. No one rewards moderates, least of all the Republicans they're desperate to win over while telling the people that actually voted for them to fuck off. This shit from the same brilliant wing of the party that brought us the Tim Ryan for President and Seth Moulton for Speaker effort.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:08 PM on February 28 [15 favorites]


Most Americans are for background checks. You could run on that in the reddest state in the land. No one's asking these Democrats to be gutsy. We simply ask that they have a spine.

It's time. Pay people enough to live without government assistance. Give better and cheaper healthcare to everyone. Educate children so they can participate in their future. Do what's needed to save the planet. If you can't win on that, get out of the way.
posted by xammerboy at 9:29 PM on February 28 [60 favorites]


Cohen’s testimony begins to square this particular circle, claiming that Trump made his desire clear without explicitly “directing” Cohen to lie, and that Cohen followed what he took to be an instruction.

My take on this is that it suggests the Mueller report will likely not include undeniable evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. Rather, it will paint a picture, hopefully beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump had to have known about his business deal with Russia and their involvement in the election, because everyone else around him did - at his business, on his campaign, on his legal team, in his family, etc.

The other picture that's starting to emerge, and I hope the Mueller report goes into this, is that it's looking more and more like Trump was not an agent, but a useful idiot slowly groomed into a political asset. Trump was probably steered over decades into becoming a public Russian advocate, liberal detractor, and chaos generator by Russia with soft promises of getting the largest hotel in the world in return.

It's useful to keep in mind that impeaching a president is not analogous to convicting them of a crime. It's far more analogous to a company firing a chief executive. In the States, any chief executive found to have personal business dealings, knowingly or not, with a competitor would be fired. This would be completely legal and sensible. The same holds true for firing the president.
posted by xammerboy at 10:05 PM on February 28 [29 favorites]


Xochitl Torres Small is in a swing district but she won because the Democrats in the largest county in that district all came out to vote and swept all the elections. She is seriously misreading the room if she thinks she needs to pander to Republicans in oil country where the population continues to shrink. I sent her an email tonight saying as much. Either she neeeds to get on board or prepare to be primaried.
posted by wobumingbai at 10:06 PM on February 28 [27 favorites]


Felix Sater going before Congress is going to be a doozy, he’s been one of my favorite enigmas about this entire deal. There use to be a great primer on him, Bayrock, and Trump’s connections to the Russian mob, but I can’t find it anymore, can anybody help with that?

The first part (“The Russians”) of Dutch television news magazine Zembla's 2017-2018 series The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump covered alot of the Felix Sater stuff (part 2: “King of Diamonds”, part 3: “The Billion Dollar Fraud”, all subtitled in English.) Last year they also did a great piece on Sergei Magnitsky and the laws enacted around the world as a result of his murder and other developments “Pounds And Poison From Moscow” (“pounds” as in £.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:03 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


@spettypi BREAKING: In rare press conference, North Korean official says “Chairman Kim got the feeling that he didn't understand the way Americans calculate” says Kim may have "lost the will" for further negotiations.
posted by scalefree at 1:14 AM on March 1 [21 favorites]


I'm thinking the love affair may be over.
posted by scalefree at 1:15 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


As I see it, Donald J. Trump has single-handedly transformed the international perception of Kim Jong-un from a dangerous joke to a savvy underdog. Mission Accomplished.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:31 AM on March 1 [34 favorites]


WaPo: House Democrats Explode In Recriminations As Liberals Lash Out At Moderates

I want to make sure that everybody noticed which of these sides Nancy Pelosi is on. (Hint: not the moderates.)
posted by msalt at 1:37 AM on March 1 [77 favorites]


Republicans’ Race to the Bottom
The absurdity of denying Trump’s bigotry.


By Michelle Goldberg/NYTimes
It’s hard to say what’s a bigger taboo in American politics: being a racist, or calling someone one.

Sure, the Republican Party will occasionally try to distance itself from one of its more egregiously hateful members, like Representative Steve King of Iowa, who lost committee assignments after seeming to defend white nationalism. But mostly, right-wing politicians and their media allies pretend, to the point of farce, that the primary racial injustice in America involves white people unfairly accused of racism. This makes talking openly about the evident racism of our president harder than it should be.

To see how this works in microcosm, consider the House Oversight Committee hearing at which Donald Trump’s former consigliere Michael Cohen testified on Wednesday. Cohen said, in his opening statement, that, in addition to being a con man and a cheat, Trump is a racist. This should be clear to all people of good faith, given that Trump was a leading figure in the birther movement, defended white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville, and claimed he couldn’t get a fair hearing from a judge of Mexican heritage, to mention just a few examples.
posted by mumimor at 1:44 AM on March 1 [26 favorites]


Cohen’s testimony begins to square this particular circle, claiming that Trump made his desire clear without explicitly “directing” Cohen to lie, and that Cohen followed what he took to be an instruction.

Familiar examples of this:

Don Vito Corleone never told Tom Hagen to cut off a horse's head and leave it in Jack Woltz' bed, either.
posted by mikelieman at 3:32 AM on March 1 [19 favorites]


On Maddow, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis gave the classic example of Henry II asking, “Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

The legal system doesn’t require people to speak in a Turing-complete computer language. It’s okay to read human languages in the way that people actually converse with each other, and interpret their words as carrying implied meaning.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:25 AM on March 1 [27 favorites]


Former governor and constant asshole Paul LePage on why we still need the electoral college:
“What would happen if they do what they say they’re gonna do, white people will not have anything to say,” he said. “It’s only going to be the minorities who would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida.”
posted by TwoStride at 4:30 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


You cannot imagine my relief and joy when Janet Mills won the Maine governor race, and we saw the backside of LePuke forever. He somehow seems to think anything he has to say is still relevant, and I guess they like the headlines, but he is gone, gone, gone! Hurrah!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:32 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


The election of Donald Trump was a disheartening thing, but the fact that Paul LePage is only a “former” governor because he was term-limited is almost as disheartening. As Representative Cummings said, “We are better than this.”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:33 AM on March 1


Mills won over GOP candidate Shawn Moody, who's spokesperson was LePage's daughter. Among other things, Moody suggested using fire extinguishers to deter school shooters. So yes, LePage was at his term limit, but we didn't want LePage lite in office either.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:45 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


NYT, Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security Clearance

The WaPo confirms the NYT's story: Trump Demanded Top-Secret Security Clearance For Jared Kushner Last Year Despite Concerns of John Kelly And Intelligence Officials
President Trump early last year directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance — a move that made Kelly so uncomfortable that he documented the request in writing, according to current and former administration officials.

After Kushner, a senior White House adviser, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, pressured the president to grant Kushner the long-delayed clearance, Trump instructed Kelly to fix the problem, according to a person familiar with Kelly’s account, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Kelly told colleagues that the decision to give Kushner top-secret clearance was not supported by career intelligence officials, and he memorialized Trump’s request in an internal memo, according to two people familiar with the memo and the then-chief of staff’s concerns.

It is unclear how Kelly responded to Trump’s directive. But by May, Kushner had been granted a permanent security clearance to view top-secret material — a move that followed months of concern inside the White House about his inability to secure such access.
So "adults in the room" Kelly and McGahn both decided to write memos rather than resign in principle over this glaring case of nepotism that puts national security at risk.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:29 AM on March 1 [50 favorites]


President Trump early last year directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance — a move that made Kelly so uncomfortable that he

...immediately resigned in protest? No.

...took his concerns to the House Intelligence Committee? Hm, no.

...booked appearances on the nightly news shows to decry Trump's order? Um, no.

documented the request in writing.

Terrific. Kelly's focus was protecting his own reputation, not the nation.
posted by Gelatin at 5:39 AM on March 1 [86 favorites]


Democrats Activate Post-Mueller Plan

“Even before Robert Mueller has delivered his final communiqué, Democrats have activated a new phase in the Trump-Russia wars that ultimately could prove more damaging to the president than the special counsel’s investigation,” Axios reports.

“For Trump, this has been a behind-the-scenes probe, with sensational yet intermittent revelations. Now, it’s about to become a persistent and very public process — at best, a nuisance; at worst, a threat to his office.”

“Whether or not Mueller is sitting on a grand finale, Democrats are picking up the baton with a vast probe that already involves a half-dozen committees, and will include public hearings starring reluctant witnesses.”

Ah, Post-Mueller. My favorite breakfast cereal.
posted by petebest at 5:57 AM on March 1 [24 favorites]


I've probably asked this before, but surely it isn't trivial that, after Cohen lied to Congress about the Moscow project, Trump never corrected the record? Is there any legal term for that sort of obligation? Or were those hearings closed, and thus the White House has plausible deniability that they didn't know Cohen lied?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:02 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


LePage would not have been elected for a theoretical third term, even without a blue wave. The two gubernatorial elections he'd won had an independent running and garnering 8+%, both times splitting the Dem vote. This past year, the independent got just under 6% and likely split Repub and Dem votes -- not enough to beat Janet Mills, who won with 50+%.

Anyway. Mainers seem to be relatively lowercase-c conservative and don't really like fire-breathing, mendacious (and racist) obstructionists as a type. LePage was not representative of the majority of the state, and enough folks got tired of him.

Janet Mills seems to be a moderate Democrat, in the same mold as Baldacci -- before LePage -- and I think she's elected strong, government-experienced (and in many cases, progressive) leaders to cabinet and agency positions. So I think we're in good shape, and that Maine has course-corrected itself for at least the next eight years.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 6:04 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Please make getting rid of Susan Collins part of that course correction.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:06 AM on March 1 [31 favorites]


[LePage] somehow seems to think anything he has to say is still relevant, and I guess they like the headlines, but he is gone, gone, gone! Hurrah!

Exactly the same situation with former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. His idiocy is on display daily, via his (increasingly petulant and/or Jesus-y) tweets and occasional appearances at the likes of CPAC, but his auditions for the GOP gravy train have gone poorly. He's not helped by his Resting Stupid Face either; no matter what the situation, the photo caption "Duh..." nearly always works. Hooray!
posted by carmicha at 6:19 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


If this comment seems at odds with my stated position on Manchin et al, I contain multitudes, hobgoblin of little minds, etc etc.

The difference between holding a seat representing - and answerable to the votes of - an entire State and a single member House district are huge. Every day Manchin is presented with the picture of the short of candidate who the same voters would be more than happy to put in the seat he currently occupies: Capito, who votes with Trump 95+% as compared to his 60%.

So Senate triangulation and the costs of losing that seat are easier to visualize than a House seat, as well as being 1/100th of the chamber versus 1/435th. So varying your standards here, within limits, are emminently reasonable.
posted by phearlez at 6:24 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


House Democrats see new probes in Cohen’s testimony (WaPo)
“He set a very rich table,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) said of Cohen. “We’re now looking at a 10-course meal.” [...]

Also, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is reviewing Cohen’s testimony “to determine if it will impact any ongoing proceeding or investigation that the office is undertaking,” a spokeswoman said. James is already suing Trump over what her office called “persistently illegal conduct” at the Trump Foundation, which Trump ran for 30 years.

Her lawsuit includes two allegations that Trump used the charity’s money to buy portraits of himself, in violation of laws against “self-dealing” by charity leaders. But on Wednesday, Cohen described a third such incident — involving a third portrait of Trump.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:47 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


Or were those hearings closed, and thus the White House has plausible deniability that they didn't know Cohen lied?

He gave Sekulow a copy of his testimony ahead of time, lies and all. They have no plausible deniability.

I have no idea whether it's a crime to know that someone is going to lie to Congress and let them. Maybe some sort of "conspiracy to lie to Congress" if Sekulow, directed by Trump, helped out with the lie by editing the written testimony.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:52 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


ABC: Democrats Say Michael Cohen's Dramatic Testimony Escalates Need For Trump's Tax Returns—They've been grappling over the most legally sound approach to obtaining them.
"[Cohen] brought out many situations where the tax returns are the only answer," said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has the authority to demand copies of the returns from the IRS.

Pascrell noted that Cohen has laid out in detail how he received reimbursement for hush payments made to women who were alleging they had affairs with Trump.

"If Trump wrote those business expenses, that would constitute total fraud," Pascrell said. "That's a fraudulent scheme, and his tax returns would show that. That's why the returns are so important."[…]

Cohen also described to the committee what he said was Trump's penchant for inflating or deflating his total assets "when it served his purposes." He provided copies of financial records he says Trump "gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills."

Sandra Moser, who served as head of the Justice Department's fraud division, and who now works in private practice at the Washington firm Quinn Emanuel, said those facts would attract the attention of law enforcement.

"Someone who lies about an issue of import to a financial institution like Deutsche Bank in order to get a loan -- regardless of what the loan is for or whether he actually obtains the loan -- would be guilty of one or more federal felonies, including bank fraud and making false statements for the purpose of influencing the bank," Moser said.
Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) continues to move slowly (he would say methodically) with the preparation of a formal request for Trump's tax returns: “I can just tell you this: diligently the staff is preparing the documentation.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:11 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


Sean Hannity May Have Blabbed Himself Into A Subpoena With Trump Interview Confession (HuffPo)

“I can tell you personally, [Cohen] said to me at least a dozen times, that he made the decision on the payments and he didn’t tell you,” Hannity told Trump. “He told me, personally.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) tweeted in response:

Sean Hannity is now volunteering himself as a witness. I look forward to his testimony. https://t.co/eOjhlkg4mU
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) March 1, 2019


EXcellent. Let's get this pawty stawted.
posted by petebest at 7:14 AM on March 1 [91 favorites]


NYTimes: Jay Inslee, Washington Governor and Climate Advocate, Enters 2020 Race
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington and former member of Congress who has made climate change and the environment his signature issues, jumped into the crowded field of 2020 Democratic contenders for president on Friday.
...
In a video announcing his campaign Friday, Mr. Inslee made climate change central to his message as a candidate.

“Our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time — defeating climate change,’’ he said.

“This crisis isn’t just a chart or graph anymore. The impacts are being felt everywhere.’’
Both Beto and Biden appear poised to enter the primary 'soon' -- O'Rourke maybe as early as next week, having just ruled out a run for the Senate, Biden probably not until later -- which would complicate an already-forking-complicated primary.
posted by cjelli at 7:18 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


The difference between holding a seat representing - and answerable to the votes of - an entire State and a single member House district are huge.

What's funny is this isn't always true, e.g., Montana's one Representative represents nearly twice as many people as Wyoming's two Senators.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:28 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


So "adults in the room" Kelly and McGahn both decided to write memos rather than resign in principle over this glaring case of nepotism that puts national security at risk.

‘They Created an Underground’: Inside the Chaotic Early Days of Trump’s Foreign Policy
(Politico)
Rice said the NSC staffers should give Trump a chance, that he and his team deserved the benefit of the doubt. Their duty was to the country, she reminded them, and they should do whatever it took to help America — and Trump — succeed.

What Rice didn’t — couldn’t — tell these government employees was that the dawn of the Trump administration would be a time of extraordinary personal and professional torment for them; that they’d be asked to make ethically, and legally, dubious decisions while ignoring facts and evidence on basic issues to fit the president’s whims; that they would be vilified as “Obama holdovers” and treated like an enemy within, to the point where some of their lives were threatened; that they’d grow so paranoid they would seek “safe spaces” to speak to each other, use encrypted apps to talk to their mothers, and go on documentation sprees to protect themselves and inform history; that at least one career staffer would cry on the way home from work every night; and that another would call Trump a “dumpster fire” in a farewell message. [...]

The patchy transition also led to questions that lingered for months over whether many Trump political appointees had proper security clearances, a highly unusual situation. [...] Other career staffers say they became objects of suspicion because of language they used, such as saying “undocumented immigrants” instead of “illegals.” [...]

Numerous career staffers decided to document everything they could, what became known as “putting it in the record.” That often meant putting certain ideas and opinions in emails or copying other agencies on communications. Many staffers knew that by including the agencies, the information would more likely be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and could one day see the light of day or even land in history books. Some admit they hoped that people in the agencies would leak the information to reporters. And many acknowledge they wanted a record, somewhere, of themselves objecting to policies they thought could be illegal. One particularly useful tool was the “track changes” feature in shared documents in what is known as the NSC “portal.” Staffers would make sure to use that feature to log in legal or policy concerns they had about language in particular documents, especially if factual errors were involved. Many printed reams of material they could put in their “box” — the package of NSC staffers’ work material that is archived and eventually made available to the public. One person said that although he spent three times longer at the NSC under Obama than under Trump, he had only one “box” for Obama and three for Trump.

The former staffers insist they were right to be paranoid. There were rumors that political appointees had launched an “insider threat” program complete with phone surveillance to ferret out leakers and other allegedly disloyal members of a “deep state.” There also were reports of blacklists of career staffers whom political appointees wanted to fire. Career staffers grew antsy about whether their cellphones were being used to spy on them; some left the devices at home.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:28 AM on March 1 [34 favorites]


wobumingbai: Xochitl Torres Small is in a swing district but she won because the Democrats in the largest county in that district all came out to vote and swept all the elections. She is seriously misreading the room if she thinks she needs to pander to Republicans in oil country where the population continues to shrink. I sent her an email tonight saying as much. Either she neeeds to get on board or prepare to be primaried.

Except her race was one of those that was REALLY CLOSE: Dramatic turn of events flips hot race in Southern New Mexico (MSN, Nov. 9, 2018)
Roughly 8,000 ballots were the deciding factor in who was elected to the 2nd Congressional District seat. Poll workers at the Doña Ana County election warehouse spent hours sorting through thousands of absentee ballots Wednesday.

After an additional day of counting ballots, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small was named the winner in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District race.
...
KOAT asked our political analyst, Brian Sanderoff, why it took so long for the race to be called. He said the situation is a little unusual.

“We expect the absentee ballots to be put into the mix the night of the election. In this case, in Doña Ana County, they were not. We didn't know until after midnight,” Sanderoff said.

Sanderoff said initial results after the polls close are typically from early voting and absentee ballots on Election Day. Sanderoff said all absentee ballots must be counted, just like early voting and ballots submitted on Election Day.

“We had an unprecedented amount. We weren't expecting it, and we frankly didn't have the people infrastructure in place,” Doña Ana County Clerk Amanda Lopez Askin said.

On Tuesday, the absentee voter board, which is comprised of seven people, spent 16 hours sorting the ballots but was only able to tabulate half.

“We had triple to quadruple the number of absentee ballots this year compared to 2016 and 2014,” Lopez Askin said.

At midnight, the county clerk saw the fatigue and swollen hands of the workers and put a halt to the counting.

“I didn't want them to make mistakes, and it wasn’t reasonable or right for me to expect them to work throughout the night to complete that,” Lopez Askin said.
She replaced Teapartier Steve Pearce in a District that, heading into the 2016 election, Ballotpedia rated as safely Republican.

This flip was a BIG DEAL for southern New Mexico. The Blue Wave likely lifted her against rabid Trumpist, Yvette Herrell, who went on Fox News to say she had not conceded the win to Torres Small (NM Political Reporter, who also notes Herrell "campaigned for the 2nd Congressional District on a Trump-like platform—pro-border wall and speaking about illegal immigration," only to lose by a thin margin).

I've been hoping to hear more about what Torres Small does in her first term, but I realize she's not in a safe seat by any means.

(wobumingbai, I see you're in Cruces, so this may be old news to you, so please consider my comment here for folks who aren't familiar with our state politics :))
posted by filthy light thief at 7:41 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


Fucking Fuck XX has been posted, petebest.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:45 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


Trump's former acting attorney general: 'Have we lost our ability to be shocked?' (Politico)
Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired by Donald Trump in 2017, accused the president on Friday of "cavalierly lying" about instructing his former chief of staff John Kelly to give Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance.

"Hard to know which is more dangerous—jeopardizing our most sensitive national security information or so cavalierly lying about it. Have we lost our ability to be shocked?" Yates tweeted. [...]

Yates, who was acting attorney general for 10 days before being fired by Trump for refusing to defend his controversial travel ban, is one of the first former top officials to speak out against Trump's activity in the report.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Thursday threatened to subpoena the White House for information related to its protocol for distributing security clearances following the report.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:51 AM on March 1 [27 favorites]


Have we lost our ability to be shocked?" Yates tweeted.

Not exactly. But I have learned that my shock is a useless barometer for whether or not a revelation will have consequences in the near term.
posted by diogenes at 8:08 AM on March 1 [39 favorites]


South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. America will need the same.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:26 AM on March 1 [33 favorites]


South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. America will need the same.

Justice first. Denazification before reconciliation.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:36 AM on March 1 [42 favorites]


Again...why is this a threat? Cummings can issue a subpoena at any time, there's no need to go through the media and sound tough, just fucking do it. When there's a media report of new criminality, we don't need to waste 2 months of threats every single time, why the fuck are we not seeing subpoenas to compel answers as the very first response?

Two reasons:
First, a subpoena can be fought and thus go to the courts. It's time consuming, and if the threat makes an organization release information voluntarily, it can help speed things along.
Second, a threat can cause an organization to say something in defense that's not true, and thus the future documents obtained by subpoena or otherwise can be matched to their statements. It's not quite a "perjury trap" (because it's not a crime to lie to the public), but it does massively undermine credibility when things do go to a hearing.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:36 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


I don't see how it would be possible to be shocked that Kushner's security clearance was ordered by the President. We knew career officials wanted to deny it. We knew it was overruled by a political appointee. Of course the order to do that came down from on high. And of course the White House is lying about it. That's what they do.

It's not that we've lost the capacity to be shocked, it's that the current administration's behavior is no longer shocking, it's normal. You can't be shocked anew every day that the same damn thing is happening. Horrified, angered, disgusted, that's all fine. We're all doing that. But we're not really doing shock anymore, since it would be crazy to expect this administration to behave differently than it is.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:36 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


Susan Hennessey says "If Kushner hasn't resigned by the time we wake up tomorrow, it is a sign that the basic checks of government have ceased to function."

I'm awake. Kushner is still there. Now what?
posted by diogenes at 8:38 AM on March 1 [36 favorites]


Same old, same old.

We may need to bring back Hyucking Hyuck II, y'all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:41 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Susan Hennessey says "If Kushner hasn't resigned by the time we wake up tomorrow, it is a sign that the basic checks of government have ceased to function."

I'm awake. Kushner is still there. Now what?


The definition of insanity is waking up every morning and expecting the basic checks of government to be any more functional than they were every other morning since January 2017.
posted by The World Famous at 8:42 AM on March 1 [24 favorites]


Otto Warmbier family: Kim Jong-un 'responsible for the death of our son' (Guardian)
On Thursday Trump said he took Kim “at his word” when he denied any responsibility Warmbier’s treatment. Warmbier was arrested in North Korea for allegedly trying to take home a propaganda poster. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labour but was returned to the US in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness’ in June 2017. Warmbier died six days later.

“Some really bad things happened to Otto,” Trump said on Thursday. “But Kim tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”
There is a much more graphic description of what "unresponsive wakefulness" means that was reported by the Guardian in North Korea ordered to pay $501m in damages over Otto Warmbier's death (12/24/2018) [CW: "When his parents boarded a plane to see him upon arrival in the US, they were “stunned to see his condition”, according to court documents."]

Also from the Guardian this morning:
The Warmbier family’s remarks come after Republicans were critical of Trump for taking Kim Jong-Un’s word over Otto Warmbier’s death.

Senator Susan Collins said she found “that statement extremely hard to believe, while Rob Portman, in a speech on the Senate floor, warned Trump not to be “naive” about the “brutal nature” of the North Korean regime.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:46 AM on March 1 [17 favorites]


I haven’t lost my ability to be shocked but I have lost the illusion that anyone gives a damn.

To elaborate, the Trump presidency has shown just how much of our government is based on tradition and tact and common values and civility. And I think the left (and West Wing-loving liberals) really put a lot of trust in systems as a whole, even unspoken ones. Thus the constant hope that you will finally argue your racist grandma into seeing Trump is a liar or the masses who seemed to hope that years of John Oliver gotchas and “Drumpf” cracks would shame him into accepting defeat as he’d been so thoroughly owned.

But what if someone just didn’t give a shit?

And I think we’re seeing now all the cracks in tradition and decorum and u spoken norms finally start to tear things apart. And there’s a lot of fear in acknowledging that in politics and the media, probably because they’re courtiers but probably because they are part of the system as well. If you admit the system doesn’t work, you’re admitting you’re not doing your job or your job is useless.

Like Mueller’s investigation. Even a lot of folks here are hoping for The Ultimate Gotcha. But what if it doesn’t matter at all? What if Democrats in the house move to impeach and Republicans in the Senate shrug and just don’t do anything? Personally I think it’s entirely plausible the Democratic primary gets so ugly and divisive that the candidate is badly wounded and Trump wins a second term.

So I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my capacity to be shocked but I’ve definitely lost the illusion that The Norms will save us.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:49 AM on March 1 [67 favorites]


To elaborate, the Trump presidency has shown just how much of our government is based on tradition and tact and common values and civility.

Isn't that just what we mean when we say "society" or "the social contract" -- that people agree to take part in a system, and to participate in good faith?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:56 AM on March 1 [8 favorites]


To elaborate, the Trump presidency has shown just how much of our government is based on tradition and tact and common values and civility.

Yeah, the biggest problem is that the procedures are based on tradition, tact, and common values and civility, but the enforcement is not.

Let's look at an example: Jared Kushner receiving a security clearance despite the recommendation from staff.

The tradition is that you don't do this, that you don't recommend a family member, that you certainly don't overrule your staff for that family member. And the tradition is that when it's called out, you have that person resign.

But the enforcement for breaking that rule is nearly non-existent and cumbersome. Impeachment was never made to provide enforcement on judgment issues, and it's one of the only hammers left. The political branch has very few enforcement tools to apply to itself because norms normally how it operates. That's why the courts are being used so much because it is practically the only enforcement tool left to apply to political violations. However, the courts are unwieldy and aren't made to punish or restrict judgment issues like Kushner getting that security clearance or he not resigning when it was discovered. And certainly we don't use other enforcement methods to compel the political branch like showing up at Jared Kushner's house and demanding he resign or physically blocking his escape if he tries to go to work. Enforcement mechanisms are almost never supposed to be informal, ad hoc, and physical when dealing with the political branch.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:59 AM on March 1 [20 favorites]


The definition of insanity is waking up every morning and expecting the basic checks of government to be any more functional than they were every other morning since January 2017.

Yeah the most maddening thing going around today is the idea that anything works the way it used to anymore. If people can't get it into their heads that our political system has been completely and totally destroyed over the past 30 years, and that Trump is just the sympotatic emergence of a disease under long incubation, then they'll never be able to confront these problems and solve them. Everything is different now and there's no turning back the clock. Even if Trump and his whole cabinet resign, the success of their transformation of political norms will stay with us, and I don't know how we move past them without some kind of catastrophe as the ground for rebuilding.
posted by dis_integration at 8:59 AM on March 1 [17 favorites]


What if Democrats in the house move to impeach and Republicans in the Senate shrug and just don’t do anything?
and
Impeachment was never made to provide enforcement on judgment issues, and it's one of the only hammers left.

Such a blatant disregard by the Senate may make the House decide that the US should miss a couple of payments servicing the national debt. At the end of the day, the power of the purse is far more efficient cudgel than impeachment.
posted by eclectist at 9:06 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]




The risk is that if we say things aren't shocking and are normal, then that normalizes Trump's behavior and people get less angry when it does things: 'shock' and 'anger' aren't wholly independent variables, and they're not precise and narrow words -- they're broad-brush descriptions of emotions that are often entangled.

Republicans' performative shock over non-stories -- viz., every tiny small new detail about Her Emails -- created news stories by treating things as if they were shocking (they weren't). Treating actually-terrible things as if they aren't shocking -- even though that might be true! -- tends to downplay how terrible these actually-terrible things are.

Like: this is one of the biggest takeaways from the Cohen testimony, honestly? His naming Individual-1 as Trump was something that got news coverage despite being INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS AND NOT NEWS from how Individual-1 was described ('a successful presidential candidate'). That wasn't news! And yet, it was news. Saying that Trump did crimes? News, even though we've known most of that before.

So it feels pretty reasonable to me -- as someone who is not particularly shocked by the Kushner revelation -- to see people who are in the public eye (here, Sally Yates) claiming that this is shocking, even though it isn't, because public figures need to talk about these events in a different way than you or I might, in order to get the truth taken seriously.
posted by cjelli at 9:17 AM on March 1 [37 favorites]


I once floated the idea that large tax paying states should stage a strike and refuse to pay into federal taxes until they got comprehensive climate change laws but I’m pretty sure if they did no one in the federal goverment would notice or care.

Chris Hayes had a really interesting (and terrifying) podcast recently on this topic, namely, can we actually tax the rich? Not, like, can we make a tax rate increase, but can we physically collect the money. Since this is like, one of the foundational things that defines whether a state actually can be said to be legitimate and existing, it's kind of a Big Problem that we leave EIGHT BILLION of taxes owed uncollected. Enforcement of tax regulations is nonexistent: companies simply don't pay. Rich people don't pay. Who's going to make them? How do we actually HAVE a state if we can't do this fundamental thing?
posted by odinsdream at 9:20 AM on March 1 [47 favorites]


Perhaps what's missing is the difference between shocking and surprising. The Trump regime does many things that are quite shocking, but I am much less frequently surprised by them and their total lack of morals, ethics, or common sense.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:25 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


Scattered among Cohen’s 20-page opening statement and its attached exhibits, together with his hours of public testimony on Feb. 27, was plenty of evidence that Trump is running a criminal organization whose offices and key staff simply moved its headquarters from his Manhattan high rise to the White House...

David Cay Johnston claims that Michael Cohen’s testimony uncovered 14 distinct Trump crimes
(But that the Democrats Need to Do a Better Job Connecting the Dots)
posted by growabrain at 9:37 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


I'll say that there have been shocking stories, like the "Trump told the Russian ambassador beyond-top-secret foreign intelligence in the oval office" story, and the "Jared Kushner asked to use the Russian embassy's code apparatus to set up a backchannel to Putin" story, and the Helsinki press conference were all shocking at the time. They've all been pit-of-the-stomach bumping-down-the-cliff moments.

The Kushner security clearance thing may be more shocking to people who have deep cultural ties to the intelligence apparatus like Hennessy and Yates, but to someone on the outside, security clearances are just another executive prerogative that of course Trump would abuse. Having people like them out here loud and explaining exactly why it's such a dereliction of duty is very good, because otherwise I don't think people would have a chance at understanding.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:42 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]


Rachel Maddow examined last night a new angle that came out of Cohen's testimony and documentation: How in 2012 Trump was applying for a $1B loan to buy the Buffalo Bills, and how he stated in his loan application that a $19M property he owned in Bedford, NY was worth nearly $300M.

Donald Trump Inflated His Net Worth By $4 Billion When He Tried To Buy The Buffalo Bills (Barry Petchesky, Deadspin)
As part of his Congressional testimony today, Michael Cohen submitted three years of Trump’s financial statements, which were submitted to Deutsche Bank in 2014 as part of an application for a loan for the money required to buy the Bills. The third of those three years shows a very different bottom line.

Donald Trump’s listed total net worth for each year:

2011: $4,261,590,000
2012: $4,558,680,000
2013: $8,661,970,000

What explains the jump? Trump, alleges Cohen, kept two sets of books.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:43 AM on March 1 [27 favorites]


Elijah Cummings has had it with Pat Cipollone’s five weeks of stalling his committee’s request for information from the Trump White House about security clearances. The NYT’s story yesterday about Jared’s was the last straw (especially since Cummings cites, at length, howTrump lied about his involvement in it during an NYT interview).

“I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation with this investigation. […] Please provide your response to the Committee by March 4, 2019.”

The man is pissed.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:46 AM on March 1 [45 favorites]


it's kind of a Big Problem that we leave EIGHT BILLION of taxes owed uncollected

The most recent IRS estimates are that some $450 billion in taxes owed go uncollected each year. It's not an intractable problem, though. Just reduce chances for noncompliance by increasing the amount of information that is collected by the IRS and increase funding for the agency to a level where it can adequately enforce the law. The bigger problem is that the law allows corporations and the wealthy to get away with paying so little in taxes.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:48 AM on March 1 [32 favorites]


‘They Created an Underground’: Inside the Chaotic Early Days of Trump’s Foreign Policy (Politico)

There's so much more inside, but this incident, apparently reported in 2017 to no effect, seems worthy of some more investigation. Don Jr keeps showing up in government with just the absolute worst people, and perhaps some public testimony from him would be instructive.
During the brief Flynn era, NSC staffers were shocked when two men who said they were associates of Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, showed up at NSC offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, wearing badges that indicated someone in the West Wing had let them on the White House grounds. They came with a 10-point plan for how the United States could turn Venezuela’s strongman president, Nicolas Maduro, into a U.S. stooge. The basics, according to people familiar with the incident, were as follows: The U.S. would release two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady who were in prison on drug charges; in exchange, Venezuela would free a young American man it had imprisoned on dubious weapons charges; then, Trump would meet with Maduro and the two would hash out some sort of arrangement where the U.S. would lift sanctions on the country’s kleptocratic government in exchange for unfettered access by American companies to the oil-rich Venezuelan market.

The entire pitch appeared to be “a pretext for this great business opportunity for them,” one person familiar with the incident said.

To prove their bona fides, the men — Gentry Beach and Wadie Habboush — called Venezuela’s foreign minister in front of the NSC staffers, leaving a voicemail, and showed a picture of themselves with Maduro, another person familiar with the episode said. “They pulled out a picture of them hugging Maduro. They were like, ‘Yeah, we were in Venezuela two weeks ago.’ And they were all doing the Trump thumbs-up sign,” the person said. The incident, details of which were first reported by Mic, so rattled the NSC staffers that they immediately reported it to the institution’s legal officers. One of the staffers was so alarmed at what he was being asked to consider that he drafted a resignation letter. The men pitching the idea even managed to get a meeting with Bannon.
posted by zachlipton at 9:52 AM on March 1 [48 favorites]


South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. America will need the same.

The number of T&R commissions America will need is staggering, even if we limit it to just the last 30 years of carnage. The sun never sets on the bipartisan American empire.

Meanwhile, Pelosi is doing some epic clapbacks against...Medicare for All:
All evidence indicates Nancy Pelosi is a very sharp woman; I’d be shocked if no one had told her what Medicare for All actually is, or if she just plum forgot. If she’s lying on purpose, and is actively trying to mislead the public about what Medicare for All is in the run-up to a 2020 campaign where this issue will take center stage, you have to wonder—why go that far? If she wanted to help her conservative members throw a wrench in the Medicare for All works, she could easily do that without such brazen lying. Hell, it’s not like the incredibly powerful insurance and pharmaceutical industries are going to need much help to do that themselves. So what’s in it for her?
The idea that the ACA is better than universal healthcare really is something else.
posted by Ouverture at 9:55 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


The most recent IRS estimates are that some $450 billion in taxes owed go uncollected each year.

The 8 billion figure is taxes that are actually assessed and owed, but never get collected. That of course doesn't include the more gray-area of tax avoidance schemes and such. 8 billion is actually owed and would be able to be collected with even minimal enforcement.
posted by odinsdream at 9:55 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the performative shock is supposed to make for better conversion rates. Like, if I play up how yes, this is basically what we knew for ages, then someone who has already made their mind up feels like this is something they've already considered. And I'm clearly a member of that other tribe of people who had come to the wrong decision, so my evaluation of this info is suspect. If I play up how this is new information, vastly different than all that information before, are they more likely to actually consider it on its own grounds?
posted by RobotHero at 9:56 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


It will be a long time before all of these numskulls' attempted get-rich-quick schemes will come to light, if only because there's so many of them.

It's stuff like that that we need a Truth and Reconciliation commission for. Can that sort of thing be punished in a court of law? I have no idea. Does it need to be dragged out into the light so we all know to what corrupt uses our government is being put? Hell yes it does.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:56 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


After Cohen's testimony, how much longer can Ivanka Trump play dumb? (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
She's not innocent, naive or ditzy: Cohen put Ivanka Trump right in the middle of the Moscow negotiations
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:57 AM on March 1 [20 favorites]


NBC: U.S. to end large-scale military drills with South Korea
The move is part of the Trump administration's effort to ease tensions with North Korea, U.S. officials said.
Making concessions to vile dictators with nothing in return. At least nothing the American public is going to see. Hashtag “AmericaFirst”. Hashtag “Winning”.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:57 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


It's not an intractable problem, though. Just reduce chances for noncompliance by increasing the amount of information that is collected by the IRS and increase funding for the agency to a level where it can adequately enforce the law.

This! Also, closing loopholes and changing that tax code and raising taxes and --but, fundamentally, we should not be shocked that so many taxes go uncollected when the agency charged with collecting them has had its budget cut, year after year, for most of the last decade. Increasing the IRS budget would literally pay for itself, and more.
posted by cjelli at 9:58 AM on March 1 [39 favorites]


And Ivanka was just lying a few weeks ago in televised interviews about how she and Jared had absolutely not gotten their clearances through help from Trump. She’s a POS like the rest of them.

"The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance, zero.” w/video
posted by chris24 at 10:00 AM on March 1 [17 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi: The Rolling Stone Interview
When they say Medicare for All, people have to understand this: Medicare for All is not as good a benefit as the Affordable Care Act. It doesn’t have catastrophic [coverage] — you have to go buy it. It doesn’t have dental. It’s not as good as the plans that you can buy under the Affordable Care Act. So I say to them, come in with your ideas, but understand that we’re either gonna have to improve Medicare — for all, including seniors — or else people are not gonna get what they think they’re gonna get. And by the way, how’s it gonna be paid for?

Now, single-payer is a different thing. People use the terms interchangeably. Sometimes it could be the same thing, but it’s not always. Single-payer is just about who pays. It’s not about what the benefits are. That is, administratively, the simplest thing to do, but to convert to it? Thirty trillion dollars. Now, how do you pay for that?
Libby Watson, Splinter: Is Nancy Pelosi Lying or Just Plain Stupid?
The interesting part comes where she distinguishes between Medicare for All and single-payer. She says, “It could be the same thing, but it’s not always.” But the Medicare for All plan that was introduced in the House and is cosponsored by more than 106 members of her caucus is a single-payer plan. And she seems to get it very wrong again when she says single-payer is “not about what the benefits are.” I guess that’s true in that single-payer is a technical term describing any system in which the government is the only payer, but—and I’m sorry to repeat myself but this is where we are—the major Medicare for All bills do define the benefits, and they are generous.

What she seems to be describing is a plan to simply expand the current Medicare program, with all its current limitations, to all Americans; that explains comments like “it doesn’t have dental” and “you have to go buy” catastrophic coverage, which is true for seniors under the current version of Medicare, at least for drugs. But that’s a total straw man. Neither Jayapal, nor Sanders, nor any other advocates in the House or Senate or on the presidential stage, are interested in that; indeed, the title of Jayapal’s bill says it would establish an “improved” Medicare for All. It’s in the name.

So the question is: Is Nancy Pelosi stupid, and has somehow managed to avoid finding out this incredibly important fact about Medicare for All? Or is she lying to intentionally disparage Medicare for All—perhaps to give cover for the louder critics in her caucus who oppose the bill, or perhaps because she really just genuinely does not want to see Medicare for All become law? Perhaps because her top health aide promised health insurance executives that Democratic leadership “would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer healthcare?”

(On that note: Just this morning, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a massive and well-funded lobbying group formed by the healthcare industry to fight Medicare for All, sent out an email blast highlighting Pelosi’s false claims as “skepticism” in Congress over the new bill.)
Nancy Pelosi is the greatest legislative tactician that the Democratic party has ever seen, and lord knows it's a party that needs her tactical brilliance. But there is no eleven-dimensional chess explanation that could possibly justiify kneecapping the left wing of your caucus and giving enemies of universal coverage talking points. Splinter is often too far out there for me in terms of ascribing nefarious motives to Democratic leaders, but Watson is spot-on here. Pelosi says a lot of very good things in that interview, but she totally whiffed on this answer.

I don't know where all of this is coming from, and the rationale doesn't really matter. She needs to be better than this, or she needs to let those who know what they're talking about engage with the media, and focus her own energy on the fight in the House, where she can cement her legacy as the best Speaker the Democrats have ever had.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:02 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


If Democrats can't bring themselves to prosecute and punish literal torturers of human beings, I do not hold much hope that they'll prosecute and punish the current monsters in power.

Agreed, but the Senate Dems did publish an extensive report on what was done in our name.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:08 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


‘They Created an Underground’: Inside the Chaotic Early Days of Trump’s Foreign Policy (Politico)

I feel like one day it will come out that there's something similar to but worse than Oliver North's Enterprise lurking behind this administration. All the shady people involved, especially Flynn, Prince, Tillerson, Pompeo and Ross, I'd honestly be shocked if there wasn't some formal off-books private mercenary grifting organization using the resources of the executive branch.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:11 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


The official FBI Records Vault just tweeted a link to records about Kushner companies.
posted by localhuman at 10:21 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


What she seems to be describing is a plan to simply expand the current Medicare program, with all its current limitations, to all Americans; that explains comments like “it doesn’t have dental” and “you have to go buy” catastrophic coverage, which is true for seniors under the current version of Medicare, at least for drugs. But that’s a total straw man Neither Jayapal, nor Sanders, nor any other advocates in the House or Senate or on the presidential stage, are interested in that; indeed, the title of Jayapal’s bill says it would establish an “improved” Medicare for All. It’s in the name.

Except people do keep proposing just that, over and over again: There's the Merkeley/Murphy bill ("Choose Medicare"), the Schakowsky-Whitehouse bill ("CHOICE Act"), and the Bennett-Higgins-Kaine bill ("Medicare X"), plus a Medicaid buy-in bill from Schatz and Lujan. And, of course, there's the new Jayapal bill, which is orders of magnitude more comprehensive, Medicare Extra for All, etc... "Medicare for All," if you're simply looking at the bills that have been filed that fly that flag, means anything from the milquetoast offer of "let some employers have the option to buy coverage from Medicare the same way they buy it from Blue Shield" to "the government pays for all health care out of the general fund with no deductibles or co-pays (and as far as I can tell, no provider can make a profit)." That's a very wide spectrum of ideas, and Pelosi acknowledges that in her answer. That's the first thing she says: "in any debate...you must define your terms."

So perhaps there's another option besides "Pelosi is stupid" and "Pelosi is lying." Perhaps she's staying the heck out of the party's internal debate over what these terms mean as people advocate for various proposals?
posted by zachlipton at 10:28 AM on March 1 [30 favorites]


> So perhaps there's another option besides "Pelosi is stupid" and "Pelosi is lying." Perhaps she's staying the heck out of the party's internal debate over what these terms mean as people advocate for various proposals?

Speaking to the media using language about "how do you pay for that" and conflating many different bills rather than using your platform to explain the differences between them is a definition of "staying out of" something that I'm unfamiliar with.

She should absolutely be talking about the costs of everything in internal discussions, but she should not be airing that dirty laundry just because a reporter asked her about it.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:35 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


Perhaps she's staying the heck out of the party's internal debate over what these terms mean as people advocate for various proposals?

I think she'd get more benefit of the doubt if she wasn't using literal Mercatus Center/Koch talking points.
posted by edeezy at 10:39 AM on March 1 [10 favorites]


zachlipton: Perhaps she's staying the heck out of the party's internal debate over what these terms mean as people advocate for various proposals?

Re-reading the pull-quote from tonycpsu's comment on: Nancy Pelosi: The Rolling Stone Interview, she may be staying out of this, but she's also saying "you have to understand the details, because the details matter."

To me, it seems that her point is that you can't say "Medicaid for All" and say "this will cover everything for everybody" without changing what Medicaid is and covers. Quoting from Wikipedia, "OOP costs can include deductibles and co-pays; the costs of uncovered services—such as for long-term, dental, hearing, and vision care; and the costs related to basic Medicare's lifetime and per-incident limits."

So if Medicaid for All is a slogan used to also mean "Single Payer for Universal Coverage," we'll have to change Medicaid first, or not actually use Medicaid, but something similar but bigger.

But I still need to read the rest of the article to say anything on her other comments.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Little Dawn: Trump's former acting attorney general: 'Have we lost our ability to be shocked?' (Politico)

Trump-Era Congressional Hearings Have Succumbed to Conspiracy Politics (Emma Grey Ellis for Wired, March 1, 2019)
STANLEY KUBRICK HELPED the US government fake the Moon landing. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are in the Illuminati. These stories are so well-worn folks know them by heart. By now, conspiracy theories are a part of everyday American life—so much so that they even come from the mouths of besuited members of Congress on live television.

Consider President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen's Congressional hearing. If you're a Trump backer, you probably didn't enjoy Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin and Jackie Speier questioning Cohen about the often-alleged-but-never-confirmed pee and elevator tapes, but you weren't surprised. If you lean left, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's allegations that Cohen's (Jewish, Clinton-connected) lawyer, Lanny Daavis, was the hearing's puppeteer was likely frustrating, but not shocking.

Yet, all of this should leave you flabbergasted. Members of Congress ought to come armed with evidence—any evidence—before they air out a theory in such a formal setting. But these things go largely unchecked, because more and more often no one is surprised, they're inoculated to it. For some committee members, demonstrating that they're hep to their constituents' online musings seems to supersede Congressional hearings' purpose: fact-finding. We've now entered the age of conspiracy politics.
Emphasis mine -- anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have become normalized, and furthered in that direction by members of Congress. If not shocking, it's appalling.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:46 AM on March 1 [23 favorites]


Medicaid IS different from Medicare. It covers more. Which are you talking about?
posted by Miss Cellania at 10:47 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


What she seems to be describing is a plan to simply expand the current Medicare program, with all its current limitations, to all Americans; that explains comments like “it doesn’t have dental” and “you have to go buy” catastrophic coverage, which is true for seniors under the current version of Medicare, at least for drugs. But that’s a total straw man. Neither Jayapal, nor Sanders, nor any other advocates in the House or Senate or on the presidential stage, are interested in that;

If "expanding the current Medicare program" is not what people have in mind then "Medicare for all" is terrible branding. Honestly. Almost every American either has direct personal experience with Medicare as it currently exists or has a relative who does, so that word "Medicare" has a specific meaning to people. You'll never get most of the American public to hear it as a placeholder for "some kind of single payer system TBD."

As for the bills Jayapal and Sanders have introduced...Because no one expects them to pass in their current form, their current form is very sketchy, with a lot of critical details left out. (Including funding mechanisms, but also reimbursement rates for healthcare providers, how to mitigate the hit to the economy from taking the profit out of such a big industry, and a million different different versions of "Yes, but will it cover MY highly specific circumstance?") Personally I can only understand them as "aspirational" or "serving to move the Overton window." Neither of them really defines what "Medicare for all" is supposed to mean to me, at least, not clearly. (I still don't know if MY family's highly specific circumstance would be covered -- it's not under current Medicare -- and I don't know how much my own taxes would have to increase, compared to what I currently pay in premiums, copays, etc.)

I have heard the arguments about how you have to decide which direction to go before you figure out how to overcome the obstacles lying along that path. But I think we're at the "obstacles" stage now, because Democrats seem to all agree that we want universal coverage and we want it paid for by progressive taxation. We have decided we want to go that direction. So now we do need to figure out how to overcome the obstacles. We need details for the plans people are offering.

I did find the Vox explainer on the different approaches to universal healthcare offered by different Democrats helpful, though. It has a chart with 8 plans and check marks next the ones which meet certain criteria.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:51 AM on March 1 [26 favorites]


Someone with more knowledge of the regulation of public companies, please correct me, but...

Large, publicly traded companies are required to report in their 10-k (annual filing to SEC and investors) their income tax liabilities on a regular basis and disclose cash paid for taxes. I'm not sure how inter-departmental collaboration is allowed to work between the SEC and the IRS, but if those numbers don't tie to IRS filings, and if the cash paid for taxes isn't accurate, then deem the annual filings to be materially misstated and don't accept them. Give them a timeline, otherwise they lose their filing status and their stocks tank (actually i don't know what. Raise taxes, keep watching, gut the stragglers [first].

The IRS could be strengthened to enforce penalties more effectively, sure, but, barring regs I'm not aware of, the SEC already has the cudgel needed. All it would take is an incoming president to use our existing regulatory framework to this end.
posted by avalonian at 10:59 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


[Let's take the Medicare-for-all discussion to the existing thread. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:04 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


It has a chart with 8 plans and check marks next the ones which meet certain criteria.
Helpful, indeed. Thanks!
posted by kingless at 11:15 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Michael Cohen Makes History (Peggy Noonan, WSJ Opinion)
Michael Cohen is, famously, a lowlife and screwball who’s made his living as an enforcer, liar and thug. He is going to prison essentially for these things. He has taken to implying his turning on Donald Trump is linked to an inner moral conversion, which may be true but is conveniently timed: He has nothing to lose and some form of leniency to gain.

But I found his testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee credible overall, and I suspect most everyone in America did, because no one, friend of the president or foe, love him or hate him, thinks Mr. Trump has a high personal character or an especially admirable back story. And that was Mr. Cohen’s subject. [...]

None of these charges were new, precisely. They have been made in books, investigations and interviews both on and off the record. What is amazing though is that such a rebuke—such an attack on the essential nature of a president, and by an intimate—has no equal in our history. I don’t think, as we talk about Mr. Cohen’s testimony, we fully appreciate this. John Dean said there was a cancer growing in the presidency. He didn’t say Richard Nixon was the cancer. He didn’t say the president was wicked and a fraud.

This is bigger than we think, and history won’t miss the import of this testimony. [...]

We close with Mr. Cummings, in his 23rd year in the House. He put a fair-minded face on the hearing. His closing remarks were powerful and humane, and seemed targeted not only at Mr. Cohen but perhaps at the newer members of Congress.

We are here to improve our democracy, he said.

To Mr. Cohen: “If I hear you correctly, it sounds like you’re crying out for a new normal—for us getting back to normal. Sounds to me like you want to make sure our democracy stays intact.”

Then, more broadly: “The one meeting I had with the president, I said, ‘The greatest gift we can give to our children is making sure we give them a democracy that is better than the one we came upon.’ ” He hoped all of us can get “the democracy we want,” and pass it on to our children, “so they can do better than we did.”

Amen.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:37 AM on March 1 [31 favorites]


The Most Important—And Neglected—Moment of the Michael Cohen Hearing (Quinta Jurecic, The Atlantic)
Cummings’s speech was remarkable in part because it wove Cohen’s personal suffering and wrongdoing together with the suffering of the nation and the wrongdoing of those currently in power. “It sounds like you’re crying out for a new normal—for us getting back to normal,” Cummings said to Cohen. “It sounds to me like you want to make sure that our democracy stays intact.” Notably, he defined the metrics by which to measure the health of that democracy broadly. “We can do more than one thing,” he told Republicans complaining about the time devoted to Cohen’s hearing, underlining the committee’s other recent hearings on access to prescription drugs, voting rights, and corruption.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:43 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


David Cay Johnston claims that Michael Cohen’s testimony uncovered 14 distinct Trump crimes

The article says there are indicates of 14 specific crimes, falling under (at least) 11 types of crimes, and some which may depend on facts not yet established (like suborning perjury and conspiracy, which will require verifying Cohen's details).

Not just 14 crimes, 14 indictable acts. 11 categories of crimes, each of which may have multiple counts. It's not like anyone thinks he committed income tax fraud exactly once, even if only 2016 was mentioned. Cohen may have only described details that indicate 14 crimes, but investigation of any of them would no doubt turn up a swarm of others.

The 11 types of crimes: accounting, bank, charity, insurance, mail, wire, federal income tax, state income tax, local property tax fraud, campaign finance disclosure and federal ethics disclosure.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:45 AM on March 1 [25 favorites]


I get the feeling Trump will end up going down for the same reason Al Capone did. Tax evasion.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:51 AM on March 1 [26 favorites]


WaPo, How a HUD official turned the Michael Cohen hearing into a reality TV audition
But Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump family aide turned federal housing bureaucrat, has long reveled in the limelight and has asked permission to star in a reality TV show while serving as a HUD official.

In an Oct. 18, 2018, memo to officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Patton sought ethical and legal guidance on potentially participating in a “docuseries” about black Republicans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Among the 10 questions Patton asked:

Would HUD object to her attending events or non-HUD related meetings at the White House if she took a two-month unpaid leave of absence for filming? Would she be allowed to refer to herself as a current member of the Trump administration?
...
The show, by producers of “The Real Housewives of Potomac” and “Shahs of Sunset,” would center on a group of powerful black women such as Patton, Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson and conservative commentator Candace Owens.
Of course, it doesn’t seem like there would be ethical problems simply doing interviews for a serious documentary for free, but that apparently wasn’t considered.
posted by zachlipton at 12:18 PM on March 1 [7 favorites]


Every week Primaries For Progress will do a deep dive on a democract who deserves to be primaried.
posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on March 1 [22 favorites]


@RepCummings staff just asked WH staff if the Kelly and McGahn memos on #Kushner security clearance exist. WH staff refused to confirm or deny—three times.

Yeah, that'll go well.
posted by Dashy at 1:06 PM on March 1 [36 favorites]


@RepCummings staff just asked WH staff if the Kelly and McGahn memos on #Kushner security clearance exist. WH staff refused to confirm or deny—three times.

Looks like it's time to invite Kelly and McGahn to the House for clarification under oath, no?
posted by HyperBlue at 1:13 PM on March 1 [43 favorites]


Large, publicly traded companies are required to report in their 10-k (annual filing to SEC and investors) their income tax liabilities on a regular basis and disclose cash paid for taxes.

The Trump Organization is not publicly traded. Or am I misunderstanding which companies you think might have discrepancies between SEC and IRS filings?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:14 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


“I can tell you personally, [Cohen] said to me at least a dozen times, that he made the decision on the payments and he didn’t tell you,” Hannity told Trump. “He told me, personally.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) tweeted in response:

Sean Hannity is now volunteering himself as a witness. I look forward to his testimony. https://t.co/eOjhlkg4mU
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) March 1, 2019

EXcellent. Let's get this pawty stawted.


I think this could be very interesting.

What is the context for Cohen repeatedly disclosing this to Hannity?

I'd ask if this information was disclosed to Hannity as a journalist, who then sat on the fantastic story of a lifetime as either an in-kind campaign contribution or quid-pro-quo for access or if it was told to him as a co-conspirator in the greatest electoral fraud America has ever known.

I'd also ask if he told his superiors at Fox news.

You'd either broaden the electoral conspiracy to include the informal propaganda arm of the Republican party or you'd highlight them as being completely terrible journalists actively hiding what they know from their viewers.
posted by srboisvert at 1:14 PM on March 1 [32 favorites]


Today at CPAC, Kellyanne Conway claims Trump had "the absolute right" to order that his son-in-law Jared Kushner be given top-secret security clearance.

These people need to get their story straight.
posted by zakur at 1:22 PM on March 1 [18 favorites]


I mean, Trump really does have the right to order that Kushner gets a security clearance, but Trump had nothing to do with it, and everyone thought it was a terrible idea to give Kushner a security clearance, and Kushner got a security clearance anyway, somehow, even though everyone but Trump agreed he shouldn't have one. Makes perfect sense to me.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:30 PM on March 1 [12 favorites]





Today at CPAC, Kellyanne Conway claims Trump had "the absolute right" to order that his son-in-law Jared Kushner be given top-secret security clearance.

These people need to get their story straight.
posted by zakur at 4:22 PM on March 1 [2 favorites +] [!]


It's dumb, but I imagine they'd argue that the fact that he has the right to do it is not necessarily inconsistent with the claim that he didn't do it. They make this kind of having-it-both-ways argument a lot, e.g., "There was no collusion, and, even if there was, collusion is not a crime."
posted by scarylarry at 1:33 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


These people need to get their story straight

Kushner got his clearance the normal way. If he didn't get it the normal way, it was just one of Trump's lackeys acting on his own. If that lackey was ordered by Trump, well, Trump has the absolute right to do it.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:34 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


These people need to get their story straight.

They don't want to get their story straight; having multiple stories being spewed by multiple surrogates is par for the course. They want to flood the field with bullshit because the media gets entranced by the bullshit and trying to find their way through it, so that they spend all their airtime talking about who said what and how it doesn't make sense or contradicts something else somebody said so that becomes the story, instead of the actual abuse of power or other shitty thing that happened.
posted by nubs at 1:34 PM on March 1 [62 favorites]


Adam Davidson has some questions for Allen Weisselberg.

I particularly like this one:
—Michael Cohen gave the House Committee on Oversight and Reform summary financial records from 2011 to 2013. They show the Trump Organization’s liquid cash and securities position growing dramatically over these years, even though the company was, simultaneously, spending several hundred million dollars in cash on golf properties. It appears that the Trump Organization acquired at least four hundred million dollars in cash at a time when it made no major sales and experienced no major change in its income-generating businesses. Where did that money come from?
posted by suelac at 1:57 PM on March 1 [80 favorites]




Right under the "questions for Weisselberg" article at the New Yorker, there's the teaser for another article:
Donald Trump Went to Vietnam, and Michael Cohen Made It Hell
Rarely has a President been so publicly humiliated, in different settings and by such different actors, in so short a span of time.
By Susan B. Glasser - Feb. 28, 2019
Is she really saying that a sitting president has only "rarely" been so publicly humiliated? Is she trying to imply that this happens every three to five administrations, or maybe one in ten or so? That she has examples of half a dozen other times it's happened?

Because I'm thinking that a President's ex-lawyer telling Congress, "my former boss is a criminal and several varieties of cheat that might technically be legal," is unique, not "rare."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:56 PM on March 1 [21 favorites]


Because I'm thinking that a President's ex-lawyer telling Congress, "my former boss is a criminal and several varieties of cheat that might technically be legal," is unique, not "rare."

John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice for Michael Cohen. (NYT Opinion)
He thanked the members, and again accepted responsibility for his bad behavior. He then told the legislators, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.” This was the most troubling — actually, chilling — thing he said in his five hours before the committee.

Since Mr. Cohen’s warning came in his closing words, there was no opportunity for committee members to ask follow-up questions. So I double-checked with his attorney, Lanny Davis, if I had understood Mr. Cohen’s testimony correctly. Mr. Davis responded, “He was referring to Trump’s authoritarian mind-set, and lack of respect for democracy and democratic institutions.”

Indeed, what is most similar about my and Mr. Cohen’s testimony is that we both challenged authoritarian presidents of the United States by revealing their lies and abuses of power. Mr. Trump is the first authoritarian president since Mr. Nixon, and neither he nor his supporters will play fair. Mr. Cohen will be dealing with these people the rest of his life.

In fact, all Americans are affected by the growing authoritarianism that made Mr. Trump president. These people who facilitated his rise will remain long after Mr. Trump is gone. We need to pay more attention.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:09 PM on March 1 [50 favorites]


Josh Marshall's interview of John Dean on his podcast last year was very interesting and enjoyable.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:20 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


*sigh* About a dozen trees cut, dumped into Potomac River at Trump golf club in Virginia [WaPo]

That article has a pretty choice trump quote at the end regarding a prior removal of 400 trees at the same club where he called it an "environmental enhancement". But this new situation could have Loudoun county taking legal action against the club, which of course the Justice Obstructor in Chief could commit further crimes via twitter by getting his licks in.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:32 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


I will just chime in here as MeFi's resident environmental attorney that randomly chucking a dozen trees into the Potomac is almost certainly a violation of the Clean Water Act and also probably violates one or two local ordinances (just an educated guess). Maybe their lawyers could find some sort of exception, but I doubt it. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:58 PM on March 1 [73 favorites]


ProPublica has coverage of environmental infractions involving cutting down protected trees and filling in protected wetlands at two of Trump's New Jersey golf courses. They present a roadmap for how the Trump Org operates, The Six Stages of Trump’s Resistance: "Delay, Dissemble, Shift Blame, Haggle and Get Personally Involved. (The elements can be used in any order, more than once.) Often, there’s a sixth stage, too: Offer a job to one of the key players on the opposing side."
posted by peeedro at 4:17 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


CPAC sets the agenda with dudgeon and dragons (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
The Trump administration is taking a brief break from running roughshod over conventions to attend one.

What is the Conservative Political Action Conference? Is it a gathering of people who are enraged by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and want to look at pictures of her and talk about her all the time, growing more and more indignant? Is it a summit of those genuinely enthused by the prospect of hearing from — or attending an after-party with — Donald Trump Jr.? […]

CPAC falls but once a year, although this is not entirely true; as with any good convention, the ideas and personalities showcased at CPAC are on perpetual display online. CPAC attendees are just the human forms the ideas are forced to assume if they wish to assemble in a given room at a given time. You can be the sound of a dog whistle; today, you must put on a tie so you can mingle with such luminaries as the man behind My Pillow.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:34 PM on March 1 [10 favorites]


"Delay, Dissemble, Shift Blame, Haggle and Get Personally Involved. (The elements can be used in any order, more than once.) Often, there’s a sixth stage, too: Offer a job to one of the key players on the opposing side."

Would be interesting to see how mapping this onto his obstruction in office works. Probably not a perfect fit but pretty good I bet.
posted by scalefree at 4:38 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


I have to think that throwing trees into the water is part and parcel of the whole "Cruelty is the point" thing. They do it because they can, and because it'll do damage to things "the libs" care about, like trees and water, and because doing the right thing (getting permits, doing mitigation) costs time and money.

If I had a project that involved taking down trees and throwing them in the water, I would have to consult with three federal agencies, probably two state agencies, and the county. And I see little reason why I would get any approvals from any of them, because there is no good reason to throw the trees in the water.
posted by suelac at 5:02 PM on March 1 [13 favorites]


That article has a pretty choice trump quote at the end regarding a prior removal of 400 trees at the same club where he called it an "environmental enhancement".

The things about this story is how little you have to look to find a trail of corruption. That article quotes a Trump Organization environmental expert named Ed Russo who bizarrely states that the trees were cut down because they were making the soil unstable. Russo has no environmental credentials but he is the author of Donald J Trump: An Environmental Hero. So I wondered what job did Russo get in the administration: none, he ended up on the board of company that makes water purification equipment. This company was given an EPA contract after meetings with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and Scott Pruitt at the request of Sheldon Adelson. This water purification company is owned by a Russian-Israeli billionaire who "accumulated his wealth in Russia during the fall of communism, in circumstances that have not been fully revealed" and appears to be connected to Netanyahu's ongoing corruption scandal.
posted by peeedro at 5:10 PM on March 1 [73 favorites]


The BBC, with some good news: Scottish Government Wins Donald Trump Wind Power Legal Costs
Donald Trump's Aberdeenshire golf resort must pay the Scottish government's legal costs following a court battle over a major North Sea wind power development. Mr Trump battled unsuccessfully in the courts to halt the project before he became US president. A total of 11 turbines make up the development off Aberdeen. Judges have now ruled Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd should pay the legal bills incurred. […] The sum involved has not been disclosed.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:04 PM on March 1 [29 favorites]


Large, publicly traded companies are required to report in their 10-k (annual filing to SEC and investors) their income tax liabilities on a regular basis and disclose cash paid for taxes.

>The Trump Organization is not publicly traded. Or am I misunderstanding which companies you think might have discrepancies between SEC and IRS filings?


I think you're reading someone's point about how to force companies to pay the taxes they owe as being about the many crimes of Donald Trump. I blame all the news for being too much.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:11 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


So some practical joker has created a hoax book entry on Amazon for the Mueller Report.

It's probably not a hoax, The Washington Post has already announced they will be putting out the report within three days of it being published.

Here is the Post's version.

It'll be public domain so there'll be a scramble to be the first to get it out.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:26 PM on March 1 [7 favorites]


Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirshner explained in excellent details how the RICO case may go down
posted by growabrain at 6:37 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Scott Hechinger:
Yesterday, while we were all focusing on Cohen hearing, Justice Thomas & Gorsuch issued a terrifying dissenting opinion. Would undermine the well-established constitutional right to appointed counsel in criminal cases. They’d overturn Gideon v. Wainwright. Goodbye public defense. 55 yrs ago, Gideon held that “in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” Yesterday, Thomas & Gorsuch criticized the ruling as too “expansive.” Of course, the Justices relied on the apparent understanding of the Constitution at the time of ratification. They claimed it simply rejected the English practice of *prohibiting people from engaging a lawyer* if they so chose &, unlike all of my clients, were *able to afford.* But they also looked to experience since. Not usually their thing. And...

Claimed people accused of crimes who can’t afford a lawyer *dont need* constitutional protection bc Federal & state govts have shown they know how to do what’s “necessary” to fund appointed counsel anyway. Apparently, Thomas & Gorsuch are unaware of the crisis of underfunded public defenders, crushing caseloads, & denial of meaningful representation, as the promise of Gideon has never fully been realized. They also clearly never read this stunning report: One Lawyer, 194 Felony Cases, and No Time
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:47 PM on March 1 [50 favorites]


Both the WaPo and Skyhorse editions of the report have March 26th as the release date. Is there any significance to this?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:49 PM on March 1


[Deleted a comment about the apparently-not-a-hoax Amazon listing for the Mueller report with the Dershowitz forward, only because having the ENTIRE listing in the thread is a little much. Listing is here if you want to see for yourself.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:49 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


[Deleted a comment about the apparently-not-a-hoax Amazon listing for the Mueller report with the Dershowitz forward, only because having the ENTIRE listing in the thread is a little much. Listing is here if you want to see for yourself.]

I only out up the whole thing because I was sure it was about to be deleted & I wanted to preserve it for the rest of my fellow MeFites to enjoy.
posted by scalefree at 6:53 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]




So some practical joker has created a hoax book entry on Amazon for the Mueller Report.

It's probably not a hoax, The Washington Post has already announced they will be putting out the report within three days of it being published.


I read this morning that two publishing houses are prepared to put out the report in book form.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:00 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Do we actually think there will a publicly released report from Mueller?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:05 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Two publishing houses apparently do, as well as the Washington Post.

They're not complete dummies over there.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:08 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


What kind of a moron do you have to be to get Dershowitz to write the introduction to your print of the report?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:14 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


What kind of a moron do you have to be to get Dershowitz to write the introduction to your print of the report?

It appears he is just doing a grift job, as well. The report will be public domain. He is adding an introduction which is what people will be paying for. Skyhorse publishing looks like a vanity pub house. I won't waste your time or mine doing any more than the brief skim where it flat out reeked of "pay us and we will publish it".
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:22 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


the Mueller report with the Dershowitz forward

How convenient for those who will read a few pages of what's bound to be a lot to wade through for professors and lawyers, let alone for laypeople, before giving up or falling asleep. It's like when evangelist Ray Comfort published Darwin's Origin of Species a few years back. The introduction to this edition, written by Comfort himself, explains how what you're about to (not) read is a bunch of godless humanist proto-Nazi garbage, so don't bother, here's what you should think instead.

Still, though—Dershowitz? Was Sean Hannity not available or something?
posted by Rykey at 7:22 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Do we actually think there will a publicly released report from Mueller?

If DOJ doesn't release it, the House will subpoena it and (barring a big legal fight that DOJ somehow wins) then it's a hop, skip, and a leak away from being public.
posted by Jpfed at 7:23 PM on March 1


Doesn't even have to leak, any Congressperson could read it in to the Congressional Record with no legal consequences. They have absolute immunity for speech on the floor.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on March 1 [20 favorites]


Hold on, Mueller doesn’t leak shit this entire time and the suddenly his big report is out there?
posted by gucci mane at 7:54 PM on March 1


No, it's not out yet. People are just planning ways to publish it as soon as it *is* available.
posted by Jpfed at 8:00 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


he's been working all this time to secure the very best book deal.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:04 PM on March 1 [20 favorites]


Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led a group of Democratic senators in introducing legislation that would grant Washington, D.C. full statehood, making it the 51st state and giving its citizens full representation in Congress.

30 co-sponsors.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:49 PM on March 1 [119 favorites]


Skyhorse publishing looks like a vanity pub house.
It's not.
posted by neroli at 9:05 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Politico: The judge in charge of Roger Stone's criminal trial on Friday demanded to know why the court wasn’t made aware of the “imminent general release” of a book that could include discussion of the longtime Trump adviser's legal proceedings, potentially violating a gag order.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 PM on March 1 [23 favorites]


GOP's anti-Muslim display likening Rep. Omar to a terrorist rocks West Virginia capitol. This poster juxtaposing 9/11 and Minnesota Rep Ilhan Omar was displayed in the WV capitol as part of WV GOP Day. Outraged democratic delegates kicked in a door to protest on the floor, republicans defended their free speech rights and failed to renounce the poster. The House Sergeant at Arms has resigned after reportedly saying "all Muslims are terrorists" during the confrontation.
posted by peeedro at 9:45 PM on March 1 [48 favorites]


Will Roger Stone get yet another mulligan?

Find out on our next episode of Rich White People
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:06 PM on March 1 [32 favorites]


Your daily dose of schadenfreude: the 2017 press release on the official GOP website announcing that Michael Cohen was named an RNC finance chair, next to three separate headlines on the sidebar calling him a liar. Somebody finally remembered to memory-hole it today, but the Internet Archive never forgets.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:45 AM on March 2 [41 favorites]


Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman: Paul Manafort Didn’t Just Ask For Less Prison Time In His Latest Court Filings — He’s Attacking Mueller Too
In a sentencing memo in his Virginia case, Manafort accused the special counsel of “spreading misinformation” about him and using the criminal justice system to place the maximum pressure on him to flip on President Donald Trump.[…]

Manafort’s lawyers repeated their claim that Mueller pursued Manafort for crimes largely unrelated to his work on President Donald Trump’s campaign in order to pressure Manafort to flip on the president. Political and legal pundits have speculated that Manafort is angling for a pardon; Trump in November told the New York Post that a pardon for Manafort was not “off the table.”
Manafort is due for sentencing at the EDVA on March 7th.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:19 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


You can’t solve North Korea’s nuclear challenge if you ignore its torture chambers (Jackson Diehl, WaPo Opinion)
In 2017, his administration waged an aggressive campaign to call attention to North Korea’s record on human rights, including camps that have been described as worse than Nazi Germany’s and such crimes against humanity as extermination, enslavement and sexual violence. In addition to Trump’s speech, the United States convened a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the Kim regime’s offenses.

Now, the administration has veered to the other extreme. For the first time since 2014, there was no U.S.-sponsored Security Council meeting on North Korean human rights last year. Vice President Pence canceled a speech on the subject in December. Human rights did not figure on this week’s agenda in Hanoi, and neither Trump nor any other senior official said a word about it — apart from the president’s shameful statement concerning Warmbier.

By now, Trump’s shallow strategy for dealing with adversaries such as Kim has become painfully obvious: First hit them with sanctions and insults, then shower them with praise, excuse their abuses and hope that presidential charm will prompt them to make concessions their regimes have rejected for decades. [...] The president’s theory is that Kim will trade his nuclear arsenal for the prospect of transforming North Korea’s economy so that it produces the prosperity seen in the South.

As U.S. intelligence professionals have tried to explain to Trump, Kim prefers holding nukes to feeding his people. He knows that his regime would not exist without them; nor could the totalitarian system survive economic modernization.

Let’s imagine that Kim was tempted by Trump’s offer. How would it be possible to open his country to foreign investors and normal trade while maintaining four huge concentration camps where, according to a U.N. report, tens of thousands of people, including entire families, are held incommunicado for life? What about the estimated 400,000 forced laborers, including children, working in construction and agriculture?

The simple truth is that the North Korean regime, its nuclear arsenal and its system of repression are intricately linked. If Kim were serious about denuclearization, there would be signs of an internal easing. There aren’t.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:39 AM on March 2 [33 favorites]


GOP's anti-Muslim display likening Rep. Omar to a terrorist rocks West Virginia capitol.

Never Forget was first used in reference for the Holocaust and that didn’t stop Trump from calling Nazis “very fine people.” So Republicans and those West Virginians can go fuck themselves, bunch of bigots.
posted by chris24 at 6:45 AM on March 2 [29 favorites]


GOP Admins Had 38 Times More Criminal Convictions Than Democrats, 1961-2016. We compared 28 years each of Democratic and Republican administrations, 1961-2016, five Presidents from each party. During that period Republicans scored eighteen times more individuals and entities indicted, thirty-eight times more convictions, and thirty-nine times more individuals who had prison time.

The state GOP's anti-Muslim display in West Virginia is appalling. WTF is wrong with folks? This is supposed to be real life, not The Onion.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:06 AM on March 2 [46 favorites]


The Guardian has an interesting piece of first person reporting by Dave Eggers ("Why Donald Trump could win again"), in which he talks about attending the dueling Trump/O'Rourke El Paso rallies.
posted by tarshish bound at 7:13 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


That Mattis article is a year old. He resigned a few months ago over Syria policy differences with the President.

Damn. Just cannot keep up with the Trump Whirlwind of Shit.
posted by scalefree at 7:20 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Trump Aides Keep Writing Memos to Protect Themselves (David A. Graham, The Atlantic)
Their urge to document the president's requests and interactions is justified by his behavior.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:36 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


The Eggers article also includes this passage, which is so on-the-nose I wish I could believe it's fabricated.

I asked Gaudet and Thompson how, as self-employed entrepreneurs, they got their healthcare.

“Right now I don’t even have healthcare,” Thompson said.

“I go to the emergency room,” Gaudet said, laughing.

“I just go to the emergency room,” Thompson agreed.

I asked if they would support higher taxes for millionaires if it meant that people like them would get free healthcare. Gaudet didn’t hesitate. “No, because one day we might be the millionaires.”

posted by The Card Cheat at 7:37 AM on March 2 [71 favorites]


That Mattis article is a year old. He resigned a few months ago over Syria policy differences with the President.

No reason not to remind people that the Mattis "warrior monk" hagiography was BS from the beginning. The Theranos scandal is a reminder that Mattis is a cheap grifter just like all the rest of them.
posted by JackFlash at 8:16 AM on March 2 [9 favorites]


More from "Financial Crime Reporter" David Cay Johnston:

When we see Trump’s tax returns, you can bet his income won’t support a net worth anywhere near even one billion dollars. And don’t be surprised if his net worth turns out to be less than zero, as he was forced to admit in 1990 when I reported that his net worth was negative $295 million, meaning that you are probably worth more than Donald Trump.
posted by growabrain at 8:22 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


The BBC, with some good news: Scottish Government Wins Donald Trump Wind Power Legal Costs

And today he's tweeting about it: "Very proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Also, furthers U.K. relationship! "


Which sounds very much like he's implying the U.S. / U.K. relationship could be contingent on those legal costs disappearing. As well as using his position as president to promote his private business.
posted by Buntix at 8:23 AM on March 2 [15 favorites]


The Eggers article's reasoning seems a bit... flawed to me. "Trump fans that come to a Trump rally still support Trump! Therefore he could WIN AGAIN!"

I mean, he could totally win again. Complacency is a great danger. But I don't see how a Trump rally being a hotbed of Trump support gives us any particular insight on the question.
posted by obliviax at 8:42 AM on March 2 [27 favorites]


The Kushner security clearance thing may be more shocking to people who have deep cultural ties to the intelligence apparatus like Hennessy and Yates, but to someone on the outside, security clearances are just another executive prerogative that of course Trump would abuse.

Indeed, I have a security clearance and I'm offended that the president would bypass all of that process that exists for good reason. But I'm not sure it's illegal for him to do it. It's his process. As I understand it, he can tell any information he wants to anyone he wants. I'm not at all surprised the president of "the rules don't apply to me" did not follow preferred practice or defer to the experts. I'm also not a bit surprised that it was for two-bit dictator/childish impulse control reasons. We knew all of that was coming the day he won the election.

I haven't lost my ability to be shocked, but I can't be shocked about something I already knew. I'd be shocked if he had said "well, I guess you're out, Jared. Gotta trust my security experts know what they're doing. [shrug]"
posted by ctmf at 9:02 AM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Eggers’ name sits above the titles of a couple books I really liked and he has some role in “McSweeney’s” - a magazine I also really like but he wrote this crazy piece once about well a taxi ride in Saudi Arabia that will forever make me suspicious of his impression of the meaning of any interpersonal interaction. Or crowd scene (he mentions Trump had 15,000 visitors and O’Rourke only 7~ but in the end wasn’t it reversed? According to the Sheriffs office?)
posted by From Bklyn at 9:05 AM on March 2 [6 favorites]


But I'm not sure it's illegal for him to do it.

Its not illegal. But he did lie about it. You remember lying, it’s the thing Bill Clinton was impeached for.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:11 AM on March 2 [49 favorites]


Which sounds very much like he's implying the U.S. / U.K. relationship could be contingent on those legal costs disappearing.

Which is a typical piece of authoritarian/mob boss thinking - put pressure on A to stop B happening, with none of the little-people laws applying.

How many ways is this wrong? Apart from thinking that the UK government can pressure a court to reverse a decision, which is also standard incomprehension about the judiciary and the government, it assumes that the bit of the UK which make trade deals - which is the Westminster parliament - is connected with the Scottish judiciary. Which it isn't - two (almost) completely separate legal systems. The Scottish government, furthermore, has no say in trade agreements and is uniformly ignored in Westminster. (For example, the UK gov said yesterday that it would only issue three-year non-extensible visas to EU students studying in the UK. Scottish degrees are 4 years. If that goes ahead, the Scottish university system is rendered inaccessible to EU students, with enormous economic and cultural implications. Did the UK gov even think about this? No sign that it did.)

So 45 is signalling that a government which has just won costs against him should illegally pressure the courts to rescind (how?) the finding, to further the interests of a different government with which the Scottish gov is at very public odds with, and which will do deals that harm Scotland without a qualm.

We know he's a know-nothing wannabe capo, so none of this is news, but more straws for the camel are always welcome.
posted by Devonian at 9:15 AM on March 2 [18 favorites]


It’s not the lying about it, even. It’s the fact that he (legally) ushered in a threat to national security, literally putting his family before the country.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:17 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]


I'm only half through the Eggers article and already stumbling on the anecdata that because he met POC at the rally they are representing the wider populace of the USA. Nothing at all confirms this.
This Rolling Stone article has different numbers of attendance.
Obviously, a Trump reelection is a possibility that everyone should take seriously. But the Eggers article seems clickbaity.
posted by mumimor at 9:25 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


But I don't see how a Trump rally being a hotbed of Trump support gives us any particular insight on the question.

He held a shit-ton of crowded rallies in 2018 and then suffered the biggest mid-term defeat in history.
posted by chris24 at 9:49 AM on March 2 [33 favorites]


Democratic oversight is 'bullshit': Trump goes off-script at CPAC (Guardian)
Basking in adulation at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), America’s biggest annual gathering of grassroots conservatives, the president said: “You know I’m totally off script right now and this is how I got elected, by being off script. And if we don’t go off script, our country’s in big trouble, folks, because we have to get it back.”

Trump then took aim at a Democratic proposal to tackle climate change by adopting a sweeping “Green New Deal”, attacked by Republicans as expensive and bound to curtail cars and planes. He said sarcastically: “I think the new green deal, or whatever the hell they call it. The Green New Deal, right? I encourage it. I think it’s really something that they should promote.”

To laughter, Trump continued, mockingly: “No planes. No energy. When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric. ‘Let’s hurry up. Darling, darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.’”

The crowd erupted in cheers and applause.

Trump also insisted he had been joking when, at a press conference in July 2016, he encouraged Russia to find his rival Hillary Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails, and blamed the “sick” media for using it to incriminate him. The audience chanted: “Lock her up! “Lock her up!” – a common anti-Clinton refrain during the campaign.

The president described the justice department’s Russia investigation as “a phoney witch-hunt” and claimed that since no collusion has yet come to light, Democrats in the House now want to look into his personal finances. He dismissed the oversight efforts with an unpresidential word: “Bullshit.”

Trump went on to rail against James Comey, whom he fired as FBI director, and Jeff Sessions, his former attorney general, even mocking the latter’s southern accent.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:28 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


Trump claims his plea for Russia to hack Clinton's email was a 'joke' (Politico)
Before Trump spoke, the television screens in the room played a contentious interview between American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, the organizer of the conference, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. At one point, Cuomo said the president “lies all the time.” Schlapp shot back, “Not true.”

At one point, as the CPAC crowd looked on, CNN flashed a chyron that said, “Conservatives fail to call out Trump’s repeated lies.”
posted by Little Dawn at 10:40 AM on March 2 [14 favorites]


NPR has a recap of CPAC, "as to be expected perhaps, has amounted to not much more than a pep rally, a corralling of the troops for the president's re-election bid," from a number of attendees saying "we need the wall" and talking about Dems courting "the Spanish vote," to former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker compared abortion to taking a baby home and killing it. Good times, good times.

Meanwhile, As U.S. Jerusalem Consulate Shuts, Pro-Israel Envoy Takes On Palestinian Relations (Daniel Estrin for NPR, March 1, 2019)
When the United States closes its Jerusalem Consulate on Monday, it will not only be winding down a 175-year diplomatic mission. The move also represents another major downgrade of the Trump administration's relations with the Palestinians.

The Consulate General in Jerusalem is the U.S. government's de facto representative office to the Palestinian Authority. The diplomatic mission, first established in 1844 and housed in a historical stone estate in downtown Jerusalem, will be downgraded to a Palestinian Affairs Unit and will merge with the new U.S. Embassy to Israel.

Consul General Karen Sasahara, who has served as an unofficial ambassador to the Palestinians, is leaving Jerusalem and won't be replaced. A lower-ranking foreign service officer will head the new unit. U.S Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a longtime supporter of Israel's West Bank settler movement whom Palestinians see as their ideological opponent, will oversee diplomatic relations with the Palestinians and Israelis both.
That ... is not good.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:02 AM on March 2 [33 favorites]


Outside of the question of “collusion”, not only are the Republicans declining to give any positive defense of Trump regarding his criminal behavior; but the President himself is declining to do so. The President would rather complain about how unfair it is to be investigated for “all of his deals”, than to claim that said deals are lacking in criminality. The point is not that he’s innocent; the point is that *he won*, and people should let him keep his trophy.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:13 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]


Daniel Dale: This is 100% the weirdest Trump speech I've ever heard.

Dale has watched every Trump rally.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:18 AM on March 2 [76 favorites]


Trump Aides Keep Writing Memos to Protect Themselves (David A. Graham, The Atlantic)
Their urge to document the president's requests and interactions is justified by his behavior.


Yeah if people working for this administration are anything like me (questionable) there are all KINDS of documentation of unethical stuff waiting to be uncovered by close audits. When I worked for a delusional narcissist it got to the point that almost every progress note or documentation I made read "At direction of Administrative Director [Narcissist's Name]...." Because I knew I was breaking the law but was directly ordered to do so.

I also quit as soon as I could get another job. So did LITERALLY ALL my coworkers within a month, leaving them with zero people to actually do that particular job. (Did the boss get fired? No. Last I heard she was promoted.)
posted by threeturtles at 11:24 AM on March 2 [11 favorites]


Dale covered CPAC's swivel-eyed froth-mouthed looniness on Thursday and Friday, but even that wasn't sufficient preparation for Trump's two-hour rant today (Threadreader version).

This one defies simple excerpting (though of course there are the usual lies from his campaign rallies). Trump narcissistically feeds off the energy of his MAGA crowds, upping his rhetoric whenever he senses applause coming, but CPAC is an inmates-running-the-asylum convocation, with virtually nothing off limits—except mocking Jeff Sessions's accent.

This was an indication of how badly Cohen's testimony and the Hanoi summit's breakdown have affected Trump. We can expect more like this as his political fortunes wane.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:48 AM on March 2 [35 favorites]


We are listening to Candle in the Wind. Elton John is a staple of Trump-speech playlists.

What are the chances it was the “England’s Rose” version?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:56 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Inside the Trump defense strategy (Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon)
Playground rules persist and Trump plows forward in the wake of Michael Cohen's stinging testimony

Facts, logic, and argument are simply not on the Republicans’ side when it comes to defending Trump. I’ve had people call me terrible names like “liberal” all the time when I write Salon columns pointing to incidences of possible “collusion” between the Russians and Trump, but only very occasionally does one of my Republican critics venture very far into the facts involved.
...

They knew exactly who he was and what he meant. That’s why they voted for him.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:59 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Time for a change: Can 2020 Democrats break free from the failures of neoliberalism? (Paul Rosenberg, Salon)
One of the most striking things about the blossoming 2020 Democratic primary campaign is how much the candidates have broken with the party’s defensive, neoliberal posture of the past quarter-century — a period of time in which Republicans have only won the popular vote for president once, but have nonetheless dominated the parameters of debate. Now, all that has changed.

... [It is] a transformation leading away from the Democrats’ decades-long infatuation with neoliberalism, with a similar expansion of support for ideas like a $15 minimum wage, debt-free college education, taxing the wealthy, a federal jobs guarantee and a Green New Deal.
...

In short, neoliberals argued they shared liberal/left values, but favored "more practical solutions."

But time has shown them not to be more practical after all, as Democratic activists and base voters have increasingly come to realize. The question in 2020 is how the party as a whole evolves, how it honestly comes to terms with its past. It’s a question that all the presidential hopefuls must grapple with — and their supporters as well.
...

Ideally, the Democrats' 2020 primary campaign could and should involve a full-throated debate about the best ways to realize the full meaning of inclusive growth, including all the non-economic dimensions of recognition as well. It should flesh out specific aspects of what progressive populism means, and how to achieve its goals. It should promote sound policies to advance inclusive growth. And it should reclaim the once commonsense idea that while the market can be a good servant, it makes a terrible, tyrannical master.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:37 PM on March 2 [7 favorites]


‘We’re not going to turn on our own’: Republicans rally around Trump as threats mount (WaPo)
Acquiescence to Trump is now the defining trait of the Republican Party more than two years into his presidency — overwhelming and at times erasing principles that conservatives viewed as the foundation of the party for more than a half century.

Trump’s ownership of the GOP was on vivid display again Saturday, when the president appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, an annual gathering that has transformed into a raucous celebration of Trump, featuring propaganda-style art and a speaker who declared that the president was “chosen by God.” [...]

“They fetishize this nonconservative in the Oval because it’s tribal,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran GOP strategist and Trump critic. “It’s us versus them, we’re right and they’re evil, and it’s created this Trump cult that dominates the party.”
Trump's Base Clings Tight Despite Rising Tide of Troubles (Bloomberg)
Recent surveys by Reuters/Ipsos and Politico/Morning Consult each placed Trump’s job approval rating with self-identified Republicans at 82 percent, roughly double his rating among the public at large.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:00 PM on March 2 [11 favorites]


Trump’s job approval rating with self-identified Republicans at 82 percent, roughly double his rating among the public at large.
But the percentage of Americans who are self-identified as Republicans is shrinking steadily...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:12 PM on March 2 [22 favorites]


Vox's Aaron Rupar has assembled a highlights reel of CPAC's batshittery (Threadreader version), of which Trump videos make up a large portion. Still, even among Skittles parties and Stalin's anti-hamburger agenda, Trump's performance is the nuttiest:

Trump makes out with the American flag
TRUMP: "You know I'm totally off script right now. And this is how I got elected -- by being off script"
Trump says "bullshit.": "We had the greatest win of all time... Unfortunately you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for a long time that should not be there. All of a sudden, they are trying to take you out with bullshit. With bullshit." (Fox suddenly stopped caring about politicians using profanity once Trump attacked Mueller with it.)
TRUMP: "I am in love. You are in love. We are in love together. We have done something nobody has ever done."
This is Trump reenacting how his friends act when they call him on the phone

Normally I think it's important to supplement reading transcripts of Trump's speeches with watching videos of them to see how he plays to the crowd, but this is ridiculous.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:45 PM on March 2 [20 favorites]


—Trump makes out with the American flag

Seriously, we need to amend the US Flag Code (4 U.S.C. § 1 et seq) to outlaw hugging the flag. It's just so, so creepy.
posted by scalefree at 3:57 PM on March 2 [17 favorites]


Trump, in his speech, apparently said he met a general named Raisin Cane. Does anyone know if this is a real person?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:02 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Speculation that that person is Brig Gen J. Daniel Caine.
posted by peeedro at 4:07 PM on March 2


But the percentage of Americans who are self-identified as Republicans is shrinking steadily...

This is a comforting thought that many progressives hold but it isn't actually true. It's fairly steady over the last decade.
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on March 2 [17 favorites]


(formerly Lt Col, now Brig Gen) Daniel "Razin'" Caine
posted by scalefree at 4:12 PM on March 2


Isaac Chotiner, A BuzzFeed Reporter Explains His Controversial Reporting on Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, an interview with Jason Leopold
Those people are seizing onto Cohen’s use of the word “directly.” The President didn’t “directly tell me to lie.” That’s an adverb that characterizes the underlying instruction to lie. And Cohen says almost immediately after that that the President was telling him to lie “in his way.” So there is no longer any question about the direction Trump gave Cohen. The debate is now about how the direction was given, and a lot of people don’t want to admit that they were wrong.

And if I could just go back to the question you asked me about “explicit.” Let me just say this: Anthony and I and, obviously, BuzzFeed are standing by what our sources told us, which is not contradicted by Cohen’s testimony, and what he said is that he knew a hundred per cent what the President was telling him to do. You know, Isaac, if that is not an explicit instruction, then everything short of “Michael, please lie for me” isn’t, either. Cohen understood it to be an order, a direction, an instruction.
posted by zachlipton at 4:37 PM on March 2 [30 favorites]



>But the percentage of Americans who are self-identified as Republicans is shrinking steadily...

This is a comforting thought that many progressives hold but it isn't actually true. It's fairly steady over the last decade.


@Justinian, I'm not quite sure what you mean? From your own link, in 1994 33% identified as Republican vs 26% in 2017--a drop of over 20%--compared to 0% change in self-identified Democrats. Seems like a steady decline to me, no?
posted by reformedjerk at 4:43 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


1994 is 25 years ago(!).
posted by Justinian at 4:50 PM on March 2 [7 favorites]


Senator Graham (R-SC) defends Trump regarding Cohen's documentary evidence: “Most people don't write checks if they think they're involved in a crime.”

“Most people don’t be taking notes on a criminal f*ckin’ conspiracy!”, he didn't add.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:50 PM on March 2 [13 favorites]


But the percentage of Americans who are self-identified as Republicans is shrinking steadily...

This is a comforting thought that many progressives hold but it isn't actually true. It's fairly steady over the last decade.


According to the Pew Research Center in March 2018:
Millennial voters continue to have the highest proportion of independents of any generation. But when their partisan leanings are taken into account, they also are the most Democratic generation.

More than four-in-ten Millennial registered voters (44%) describe themselves as independents, compared with 39% of Gen Xers and smaller proportions of Boomers (32%) and Silents (27%).

However, a majority of Millennials (59%) affiliate with the Democratic Party (35%) or lean Democratic (24%). Just 32% identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:53 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Well-regarded pollsters Emerson have a big Dem primary poll for South Carolina. Topline numbers:
  1. Biden - 37%
  2. Sanders - 21%
  3. Harris - 9%
  4. Booker - 6%
  5. Warren - 5%
  6. O'Rourke - 5%
  7. Everybody Else - lol%
It seems likely to me that the nomination is Biden's to lose if he runs, with it coming down to Biden -vs- Sanders. With the result being roughly the same as in 2016: Sanders hanging in there but with no actual chance to pass Biden. The question is whether Biden could hit 50% and avoid a convention thing.

According to the Pew Research Center in March 2018:

Why are a bunch of people arguing against something I didn't say? Weird. Millenials are the most Democratic generation. Which doesn't have anything to do with Republican numbers staying fairly steady for the last decade. Also why numbers from 25 years ago don't really matter.
posted by Justinian at 4:57 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


I would say the numbers in SC are pretty awful for Harris, fwiw. She needs a bump out of SC and into California. She'll still get a hefty chunk of delegates here but CA alone isn't nearly enough to win the nomination.
posted by Justinian at 4:58 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Why are a bunch of people arguing against something I didn't say? Weird.

I'm just looking for hope in the future of our democracy:
Millennials are on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. As of July 1, 2016 (the latest date for which population estimates are available), Millennials, whom we define as ages 20 to 35 in 2016, numbered 71 million, and Boomers (ages 52 to 70) numbered 74 million.

Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers in population in 2019 as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million. Generation X (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.
As far as I'm concerned, you're both right - there has been a fairly steady trend in the past, and it also now appears to be shifting away from the GOP.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:08 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Pretty early to be handicapping a primary almost a year away. The poll results merely indicate name recognition at this point, except for Sanders and Biden (and possibly Warren) IMO.
posted by haiku warrior at 5:08 PM on March 2 [11 favorites]


For Pete's sake, Beto hasn't even announced yet. Let's let the election play itself out, yes?
posted by scalefree at 5:12 PM on March 2 [17 favorites]


The South Carolina primary is tentatively set for Saturday, February 29, 2020. That's almost exactly a year off. WAY too early to make conclusions. For a candidate nobody in the state had even heard of three months ago to get close to double-digits is impressive... but let's stay away from HorseRace Handicapping this, especially when the reliability of all poll results are not what they used to be.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:14 PM on March 2 [8 favorites]


I hate that elections take this long too, but this thing is really happening. It's on. The debates are starting soon, people's minds are being made up. It's happening.

especially when the reliability of all poll results are not what they used to be.

Polls are as reliable as they've ever been, perhaps more so. They're way more expensive to conduct reliably but that's a separate issue.
posted by Justinian at 5:16 PM on March 2 [9 favorites]


This is a comforting thought that many progressives hold but it isn't actually true. It's fairly steady over the last decade.

"Fairly steady" and "Last decade" are kinda doing a lot of heavy lifting, here . . .

Your own link shows an 8% advantage to the Democrats, with a sharp change in about 2016. 8% is pretty significant across the entire US population. The Pew Research report that image came from notes: "The 8-percentage-point Democratic advantage in leaned partisan identification is wider than at any point since 2009, and a statistically significant shift since 2016, when Democrats had a 4-point edge (48% to 44%)."

The Brookings Institute: Trump owns a shrinking Republican party, which contains a Gallup table that shows a heavy drop-off of Republicans post-Trump (and a BIG drop in both parties in 2009.)

Gallup Historical Trends page on "Party Affiliation" - scroll down to the "(Asked of independents) As of today, do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party? Figures are combined party identifiers + leaners" section and look at the change from 2016 onwards.

There's a definite "Trump effect" in people willing to claim Republican affiliation. It's not of course a 100% guarantee that "official" Independents won't vote for Trump in 2020 or generally go Republican, but a growing Democratic advantage is not entirely an illusion.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:18 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Polls are as reliable as they've ever been, perhaps more so.
Are they? I have historically been someone who answered polls (and I live in Iowa, so I've been polled a fair amount), but I've stopped answering my phone to any unknown number in the past couple of months, because of the robocall apocalypse. I don't know anyone who is answering their phone anymore. I think phone polling may be a thing of the past.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:26 PM on March 2 [7 favorites]


Are they?

Yup.

I don't know anyone who is answering their phone anymore.

Yup, response rates are down in the single digits. This is fine for accuracy -- which depends on total numbers of respondents and not how rare they are, praise Gauss -- but makes polling a lot more expensive than it was* 20 years ago.

Good pollsters, not being dumb as a box of rocks, have heard about people not answering and reweight people on the back end inverse to their probability of response. Exactly how they do this and the variables they use for reweighting, as opposed to those they allow to fall where they may after the reweighting, is a mix of art and science and a place where pollsters put their secret sauce. And even the best reweighting can go wrong if you happen to sample a weirdo, like that one Republican black kid at one point in the 2016 cycle.

Even if phone polling disappeared, there's a lot you can do with internet polling. The way yougov does it is that they have a big stable of respondents that they pay some pittance. They sample out of census data -- okay, we need a 45 year old African American woman making between $30 and $50K in Arkansas -- and then find someone(s) in their respondent pool who's closest to that. Repeat a couple of thousand times. If you really want to and have the demographics, you can poststratify reasonably accurate poll results out of rankest-shit opt-in internet "polls."

*Well, than it would have been 20 years ago if they had the same tech they do now. Dunno how it balances.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:40 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


[Guys that's plenty on a super-early poll from one state.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:41 PM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Lawmakers exploring possible pardon talks involving Michael Cohen (WaPo)
Privately, lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees pressed Cohen this week on whether he had had any discussions about a possible pardon, and if so, when and with whom those conversations took place, the people said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the testimony was not public.

It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Cohen told lawmakers to pique their interest. Depending on the details, such pardon talks could be incendiary, suggesting an effort to dissuade Cohen from cooperating with law enforcement. Cohen is to return to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, declined to comment on the closed-door testimony, though he said on MSBNC on Thursday night that “new information was developed that could be game changing,” and it was about “lying and obstruction evidence.”

“It’s pretty explosive,” he said.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:53 PM on March 2 [12 favorites]


Trump cites 'just released' book manuscript to attack Cohen (Politico)
President Donald Trump said Saturday that a "just released" manuscript of a book written by Michael Cohen would show his longtime personal lawyer had lied to Congress, without offering further evidence for the explosive claim.

“Virtually everything failed lawyer Michael Cohen said in his sworn testimony last week is totally contradicted in his just released manuscript for a book about me. It’s a total new love letter to “Trump” and the pols must now use it rather than his lies for sentence reduction!” Trump tweeted.

It’s not yet clear whether the manuscript exists, if Trump has actually seen it or if he is simply continuing a line of attack started on Friday, when the president demanded Congress obtain the alleged manuscript as proof that Cohen was lying in his testimony.

“The brand new manuscript for a new book by failed lawyer Michael Cohen shows his testimony was a total lie! Pundits should only use it,” Trump tweeted minutes later.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:58 PM on March 2


The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand: Michael Cohen’s Road Map for Democrats
House Oversight Committee Democrats are now poring over Cohen’s transcript for new names and leads, according to a committee spokeswoman, and the chairman, Elijah Cummings, has indicated that anyone Cohen mentioned can expect to be asked for an interview. “All you have to do is follow the transcript,” Cummings told reporters when asked who would be brought in to testify. Asked who could corroborate some of his claims about the Trump Organization’s alleged misconduct over the years, Cohen brought up names both familiar—including Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization—and unfamiliar, including the former Trump bodyguard Matthew Calamari, and Ron Lieberman, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president in charge of management and development.

The House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, plans to have Cohen back for a second closed-door interview on March 6. To say the panel learned something new from the president’s longtime personal lawyer behind closed doors “would be an understatement,” Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California, who sits on the committee, told CNN on Thursday, adding that “there’s very valuable new leads that we learned.” And Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters following Cohen’s closed-door testimony earlier this week that the Russia investigation “may be the most important thing I’m involved in in my public life in the Senate. Nothing I heard today dissuades me from that view.”[…]

The focus on Trump’s business dealings isn’t arbitrary, veteran investigators have explained. Rather, it’s “essential” to any real understanding of an individual’s network, Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, told me in a recent interview. “I think people think of following the money simply as a way of uncovering whether somebody's been involved in money-laundering, or a financial crime, which is of course important,” McCabe said. “But on a much more fundamental level, it's a way of understanding relationships and networks, to understand who the person that I'm interested in is connected to, who they’re communicating with, and who they’re receiving money from or giving money to.”

“That is all association evidence,” McCabe continued. “And it goes to proving the existence of an organization—or, as RICO [the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] would say, an enterprise.”
Meanwhile, the SSCI is interested in hearing from Senate investigators have also been particularly interested in hearing from Moscow-based Russian-American businessman David Geovanis, who has ties to Oleg Deripaska and who organized Trump's 1996 visit to Moscow.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:17 PM on March 2 [9 favorites]


The Most Important Moment of the Michael Cohen Hearing was Elijah Cummings' closing remarks -
It wasn’t what Michael Cohen said.
It was how Elijah Cummings responded
posted by growabrain at 6:22 PM on March 2 [11 favorites]


including the former Trump bodyguard Matthew Calamari

Please enjoy the time Calamari appeared on the live finale of Season 2 of the Apprentice, if you're wondering what kind of a witness he'll be.
posted by zachlipton at 6:31 PM on March 2 [12 favorites]


I asked if they would support higher taxes for millionaires if it meant that people like them would get free healthcare. Gaudet didn’t hesitate. “No, because one day we might be the millionaires.”

You have to wonder what happens to these types of people when enough years have passed that it becomes fairly obvious that, if they haven't become millionaires by now, then they never will. Do they still cluelessly cling on to said dream despite everything until the day they die? Or do they just become embittered fugs taking out their frustration on everyone around them?
posted by gtrwolf at 6:55 PM on March 2 [15 favorites]


Trump’s bullshit-laden rage speech at CPAC 2019 was the longest in his history by nearly 40 minutes. according to Samantha Vinograd, It also looked like Putin scripted his speech.
posted by growabrain at 6:59 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Jeb was ahead in most poll numbers at this point in 2015. With Walker in second. So maybe Biden/Bernie isn’t how it ends up.
posted by chris24 at 7:10 PM on March 2 [38 favorites]


Remember, Calamari is a dead ringer for the composite sketch put together based on Stormy Daniels' description when she and her young daughter were threatened...at a time when he was working just down the street from the crime scene (and IIRC when I1 was in town (Vegas) as well)...this was gone into in much detail by Michael Avenatti about 12-15 of these threads (or approx 15,000 Scaramuccis) ago.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:29 PM on March 2 [48 favorites]


It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Cohen told lawmakers to pique their interest.

“Unfortunately, this topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York."

I suspect there was either a carrot or a stick, and either would be of interest.
posted by holgate at 9:06 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


And when Hilary was up double digits after the Democratic convention.

Even if the national polling result in 2016 was generally within the statistical range of accurate, we've lived through two "black swan" events in the last 5 presidential elections. 40% of presidential elections in my adult life have been at best democratically illegitimate and I believe criminally stolen. Polling has no predictive power for results whatsoever in our anti-democratic, minority-rule, intentionally easy to manipulate, intentionally unaccountable, untraceable, unverifiable and hostile to actual participation based system. There's no reason to even look at a poll again, issues and message and organizing will lead us back to power and save democracy, or not, and if not, polling won't matter anymore anyway.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:09 PM on March 2 [26 favorites]


SNL Cold Open: Michael Cohen, which isn't really a parody so much as a stylized re-enactment

Bonus content: This Mueller float at the #MardiGras parade in New Orleans is everything
posted by zachlipton at 9:17 PM on March 2 [22 favorites]


Isn't it kind of strange that someone who went to military school would ... molest an American flag during their speech?
posted by xammerboy at 10:36 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


He spends most of his days molesting America so he might as well make the metaphor literal and go for the physical Flag too.
posted by Justinian at 10:50 PM on March 2 [13 favorites]


I don't recall seeing here this interesting HuffPo article from a few days back about AOC's questioning of Cohen. I speculated earlier about her line of questioning and potential tensions with the party leaders, but that may have been quite mistaken, if we are to believe this report, which suggests how much of a team player she actually was:
Working alongside intergovernmental affairs chief Randy Abreu, [Klarissa] Reynoso [Ocasio-Cortez’s chief legislative correspondent who supervised the congresswoman’s preparation for the hearing] began her research on Cohen last Thursday when the staff learned the date of Cohen’s committee testimony. The professional staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform worked nonstop last weekend to draft a list of 35 questions that each Democrat on the panel could choose from, and put their own stamp on. On Tuesday, after conferring with Ocasio-Cortez, Reynoso met with committee staff to select a question. She chose to pursue the line of inquiry about Trump’s efforts to devalue golf course property to lower his taxes...

Reynoso and Abreu drafted text of the question for Ocasio-Cortez, complete with references to supportive articles from The Washington Post and The New York Times. Ocasio-Cortez edited the copy with her own flourishes and ad-libbed some of the delivery to make it as accessible as possible to the ordinary viewer...

Since Ocasio-Cortez was one of the last oversight committee members to question Cohen, committee staff were also in constant real-time communication with Reynoso to make sure Ocasio-Cortez got a chance to follow up on questions for which other members had not received complete answers. As a result, Ocasio-Cortez was able to pick up a line of questioning from Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) about the existence and whereabouts of a “treasure trove” of incriminating documents that American Media Inc. CEO and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker had allegedly assembled on Trump’s critics. Cohen confirmed that Pecker, Barry Levine and Dylan Howard would know about whether the trove still exists, laying the groundwork for the committee to potentially subpoena those three individuals. In framing her question about Trump’s devaluation of assets for tax purposes, Ocasio-Cortez also nodded briefly to questions from fellow Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri about instances in which Trump inflated his assets in order to obtain loans from Deutsche Bank. She confirmed from Cohen that Trump had provided inflated asset assessments to an insurance company in the past.
This tells a pretty solid story of how cooperative the entire Democratic team was here, with the committee staff working up the questions, and various members choosing which ones to target. Admittedly, many of the legislators chose to use their five minutes mainly posturing, but AOC at least seems to have been a very integral team player. This is more evidence that AOC is being pretty cooperative so far, supporting Pelosi's election, fulfilling her segment of the questioning with efficiency, and in light of the "motion to recommit" brouhaha earlier, potentially even serving as left-wing enforcer when Pelosi needs someone to hammer the right flank into line -- though all of these are presumably provisional marriages of convenience as long as there's not too great a divergence between her goals and Pelosi's.
posted by chortly at 11:17 PM on March 2 [83 favorites]


Can't for the life of me find it now but earlier tonight I saw a tweet from a reporter to the effect of Sarah Sanders releasing a statement that the White House does not comment on nonexistent books, in response to a query about the alleged Cohen book.
posted by scalefree at 11:52 PM on March 2


Speaking of books...

@joshtpm So the release of Roger Stone’s book attacking the DOJ and the Mueller probe isn’t “imminent”. A big chunk is already published... just a few examples here
posted by scalefree at 12:00 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


Just a little Sunday brightness:
Ocasio-Cortez outrages Republicans by refusing to respect their ignorance
Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian
AOC is ignorant, ungrateful and coming for your meat
Large swaths of America appear to be suffering from a debilitating condition known as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Derangement Syndrome (AOCDS). Symptoms include bouts of extreme condescension, an inability to stop sputtering the word “socialist”, and overwhelming anger that a young woman of colour is unapologetically succeeding.

The latest conservative to succumb to AOCDS is Grace-Marie Turner, the president of a non-profit devoted to “counter[ing] the march towards toward government-controlled medicine”. (Can we just pause for a moment and contemplate what sort of person spends their life trying to ensure there will never be affordable healthcare in the United States?)
posted by mumimor at 1:46 AM on March 3 [31 favorites]


Radio New Zealand interviews Professor Stacy Cordery of Iowa State University about “Trump's place in presidential histories of slacking off” (~20min audio, .mp3)
posted by XMLicious at 2:51 AM on March 3 [5 favorites]


As Ilhan Omar endures anti-Muslim racism, most lawmakers in Congress remain silent
Indeed, at the time of publication, neither Democratic leaders in the House and Senate — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — had publicly condemned the actions of the West Virginia GOP.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:26 AM on March 3 [37 favorites]


Sunday morning political shows - the good, the bad & the ugly (not necessarily in that order).

@rgoodlaw The self-defeating and dangerous John Bolton (this time, on #Venezuela):

“In this administration we’re not afraid to use the phrase Monroe Doctrine.”

Also says this having just said US wants as broad a coalition as possible to oust Maduro. Reviving Monroe Doctrine won’t do that

@MeetThePress FULL INTERVIEW: Sen. @MarkWarner joins to discuss Michael Cohen's testimony and the questions that still remain in the Senate's investigation into Russian collusion. #MTP

@MeetThePress DATA DOWNLOAD: Democratic voters weigh in on ideal 2020 candidate traits. #MTP
posted by scalefree at 7:37 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


Nadler: Dozens of document requests to be sent in Trump probe (Politico)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Sunday said the panel will be issuing document requests to more than 60 people as it begins an investigation of President Donald Trump for “obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.“ [...]

Nadler said that he believes "impeachment is a long way down the road" and they "don’t have any facts yet," although he did state he believed that Trump is guilty of obstructing justice concerning the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Nadler also said he considers the act “of seeking to sabotage a fair election” would “be an impeachable offense.”
Which may help further explain this completely unhinged thought process:
“The brand new manuscript for a new book by failed lawyer Michael Cohen shows his testimony was a total lie! Pundits should only use it,” Trump tweeted minutes later.
And this CPAC speech quote:
"Right now we have people in Congress that hate our country. And you know that, and we can name every one of them if we want. They hate our country."
And this opinion from Robert Reich: If Trump loses, we know what to expect: anger, fear and disruption (Guardian)
Every time he has lost a legislative or legal battle during his presidency he has blamed the other side, and has lashed back: shuttering the government, declaring a national emergency, whipping up his followers against recalcitrant judges, Democrats, the media or whomever he holds responsible.

Imagine it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down.

Only this time he’s already president, with all the powers a president commands.
The idea that the president is a slacker is a comforting thought under these circumstances, but it also seems contradicted by how hard he appears to be working on his own self-preservation.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:38 AM on March 3 [26 favorites]


Melania’s spokeswoman: Donald Trump’s bullying has nothing to do with ‘Be Best’
But critics ask, shouldn't "being best" begin at home?
Melania Trump’s spokeswoman defended the first lady’s “Be Best” program from the often-heard criticism that the anti-bullying effort would be better directed at her combative husband.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham appeared on CNN Saturday to promote Melania Trump’s plans to take her “Be Best” initiative on the road during a three-state tour, its first unveiling for a U.S. audience. The first lady plans to travel to Oklahoma, Washington state and Nevada on March 4 and 5.

Melania Trump’s signature White House initiative seeks to address the well-being of children, social media use and opioid abuse.
[...]
But the first lady’s communications director was challenged about President Trump’s penchant for hurling insults and invective on the campaign trail, via Twitter, and pretty much everywhere else.

“How does she balance her platform against some of the things the president does?” CNN anchor Christi Paul asked.

“I think that, honestly, one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other, and she is focused on helping children,” Grisham answered.

“She has said many times that her husband is an adult. He is president of the United States and he knows what he’s doing. She’s focused on ‘Be Best,’ focused on helping children. Children are the ones that are impressionable. She’s going to go out and do the best she can to help them succeed.”
posted by scalefree at 7:42 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


@ABC BREAKING: @GStephanopoulos: "Do you think the president obstructed justice?"

House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler: "Yes, I do. It's very clear that the president obstructed justice"
[video]
posted by scalefree at 7:50 AM on March 3 [52 favorites]


Mueller's Final Report Will Ignite an Epic War Over Disclosure (Bloomberg)
“We will try to get anything we can get -- including by subpoenaing the report. Subpoenaing Mueller is also an option, as well as anyone else on his team,” Democrat Jamie Raskin, a House Judiciary panel member, said. “It just seems exceedingly unlikely that they would be able to hide this report in a file cabinet someplace."

The demands for full disclosure could result in a legal struggle going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Some Republicans -- who spent two years demanding and getting internal FBI and Justice Department documents that they say showed bias against Trump and for Clinton -- agree that everything should be disclosed.

“I mean everything,” Representative Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Thursday. “Witness interviews, wiretaps. Everything.” [...]

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has described “an administration run amok.” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said his panel will make sure “that the policy of the United States is being driven by the national interest, and not by any financial entanglement, financial leverage, or other form of compromise” by “the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else.”
In the meantime:
Federal prosecutors in New York are still looking into Trump’s company, presidential campaign and inaugural committee. Mueller has been sharing some matters and handing off others to U.S. attorney’s offices in New York, Virginia and Washington as well as the Justice Department’s national security division.

State and local prosecutors in New York also are pursuing potential cases.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:54 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


@GStephanopoulos House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told me on @ThisWeekABC that Intel Chair Adam Schiff "has now met Schiff's own standard" of why Rep. Devin Nunes had to recuse himself and now Schiff "needs to recuse himself from any new investigation"

@ABC NEW: House Minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy responds to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nader on @ThisWeekABC: "I think congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election."
posted by scalefree at 7:59 AM on March 3


"We don't have the facts, yet" is the actual quote...

ABC News (with video)
“What we learned from the Cohen testimony is that he directly implicated the president in -- in various crimes, both while seeking the office of president and while in the White House,” Nadler said on “This Week.”

“We don’t have the facts yet. But we’re going to initiate proper investigations,” but not impeachment investigations.

“The Republicans spent two years shielding the president from any proper accountability ... [T]hey threatened to impeach people in Justice Department, they threatened the -- the Mueller investigation. It’s our job to protect the rule of law. That’s our core function. And to do that we are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption of -- into corruption and into obstruction of justice,” Nadler said.

Nadler said that there can be crimes that “there can be crimes that are impeachable offenses and impeachable offenses that are not crimes.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:04 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


@GStephanopoulos House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told me on @ThisWeekABC that Intel Chair Adam Schiff "has now met Schiff's own standard" of why Rep. Devin Nunes had to recuse himself and now Schiff "needs to recuse himself from any new investigation"

Nunes never actually recused himself.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:08 AM on March 3 [59 favorites]


House Judiciary chairman says he will launch probe of Trump’s ‘abuse of power’ (WaPo)
A person who was familiar with the pending document requests but was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter said requests surrounding potential obstruction of justice would focus on Trump’s alleged efforts to remove perceived enemies at the Justice Department, including former FBI Director James B. Comey, and install more loyal replacements. The requests would also look at potential abuses of power, the person said, including the possible dangling of pardons and witness tampering, as well as Trump’s broader attacks on the entities investigating him and the press.
Top Senate Democrat concerned ‘a great deal’ by Kushner security clearance (Politico)
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday he was bothered “a great deal" by a report that President Donald Trump ordered a security clearance for his senior adviser Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.

"The fact that he, in effect, chooses to give a family member [a security clearance], overriding the recommendations of the community, bothers me a great deal," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said on CNN's "State of the Union."
posted by Little Dawn at 8:24 AM on March 3 [9 favorites]


'Kim knew': top Republican contradicts Trump over Otto Warmbier's death (Guardian)
On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, McCarthy contradicted the president when he flatly said: “North Korea murdered Otto [Warmbier]. I think Kim had all authority to do that. I think Kim knew what happened, which was wrong.” [...]

Host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Trump has said he holds North Korea responsible for Warmbier’s death, not Kim.

“I think Kim knew,” McCarthy repeated. [...]

Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House intelligence committee, told CBS’s Face the Nation the summit “was a spectacular failure made all the worse by the president’s obsequious comments when it came to the murder of an American citizen, Otto Warmbier”.

Bolton told the same show Trump had “been very clear he viewed what happened to Otto Warmbier as barbaric and unacceptable”, and repeated what some might call an optimistic demand: that the secretive totalitarian state should provide “a full description of what happened”.

To CNN host Jake Tapper’s contention that most North Korean experts would agree nothing could have happened to Warmbier without Kim knowing about it, Bolton said: “Good for them.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:53 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


One last link before I head out for the day. It's a doozy.

Full Jordan Interview: 'I don't think the president's lied about Russia at all'
In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) talks about Michael Cohen's public hearing in front of the House Oversight Committee.
posted by scalefree at 9:26 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Not holding a president accountable for lying that compromises democracy and national security, or publicly pretending you don't think a president has lied when it's clear that they have—either of these are excellent reasons people like Jim Jordan should never be allowed in public service. I'd go so far as to say either should be a prosecutable offense.
posted by Rykey at 9:38 AM on March 3 [8 favorites]


OK I lied. But this is such open, blatant corruption you need to see it to believe it. Yes, even after everything we've seen, he still has the ability to shock me.

A story in 4 chapters.
@Trump "The landscape framework of @TrumpScotland comes close to an ideal. There is nothing missing & there are no weak holes." Dr. Martin Hawtree http://TrumpGolfScotland.com
@realDonaldTrump Very proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Also, furthers U.K. relationship!

Trump tweet touting one of his Scotland golf courses as ‘the greatest’ in the world draws criticism
Ethics watchdogs say early-morning missive advances president’s personal financial interests.

Scottish government wins Donald Trump wind power legal costs
Donald Trump's Aberdeenshire golf resort must pay the Scottish government's legal costs following a court battle over a major North Sea wind power development.
posted by scalefree at 9:39 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


It makes me laugh that Trump jokes about people not being able to watch TV due to lack of wind while a wind farm has resulted in him losing a court case and needing to pay the legal fees to the Scottish government.
posted by gucci mane at 9:50 AM on March 3 [21 favorites]


You think it's a coincidence he made that windmill joke yesterday? Trump's mind is a mathematical paradox - it's all surface.
posted by scalefree at 9:58 AM on March 3 [46 favorites]


the thing is, he probably really believes that’s how windmills work.
posted by valkane at 10:06 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


What was the windmill joke? Please don't make me scroll through his whole Twitter timeline.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:18 AM on March 3


What was the windmill joke?

Basically: "The wind is blowing, we can watch television now."
posted by Stoneshop at 10:20 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]


It was about a guy who couldn't watch TV because the wind wasn't blowing to drive the windmill. Complete with stupid voice.
posted by scalefree at 10:21 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


This NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is interesting. It's no surprise that 86% of Republicans approve of Trump. But: "Among voters who say they plan to vote in Republican primaries, 37% would like to see a GOP challenger to Trump"

It seems to me that in addition to that 14% non-approval, we can add 23% who are saying, "Of course I approve of Trump! I would never betray my party, and I did nothing wrong in supporting him! But it sure would be nice if he wasn't there any more, wouldn't it?"

Maybe Trump's popular downfall among Republicans is more attainable than it seems.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:35 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]




Scottish government wins Donald Trump wind power legal costs

David Frum
So this explains Trump's golf course tweet yesterday. He was threatening the UK government with harm to the US-UK relationship if he is forced to pay the Scottish government's legal costs in litigation Trump started & lost
posted by chris24 at 10:42 AM on March 3 [17 favorites]


The Scottish golf properties are among the few entities where there's a legal obligation to publish full accounts and other corporate notices. The most recent annual report for the Aberdeen course (covering 2017) showed an ongoing loss, loan debt to I-1 in a personal capacity in excess of the asset valuation -- a "shareholder's deficit" of £10.7m -- and a statement that it "is dependent on continuing finance being available to enable it to continue operating" and that DJT Holdings LLC has committed to provide financial support. Given that its annual turnover was £2.5m with about £130,000 cash on hand, any sudden legal bill would probably require a quick infusion of funds from somewhere.

At the same time, DJT Holdings LLC is under its own scrutiny because it's the parent company for the Old Post Office leasehold.
posted by holgate at 10:45 AM on March 3 [25 favorites]


Rand Paul will vote to oppose the emergency declaration, making it likely it won't pass the Senate either.
posted by skycrashesdown at 11:06 AM on March 3 [14 favorites]


Sadly there's little chance of a veto-proof majority in either house.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:08 AM on March 3


Transcript: National security adviser John Bolton on "Face the Nation," March 3, 2019:

MARGARET BRENNAN: We had different versions of the story as to why this summit failed to produce any results. Why was the president unable to negotiate a breakthrough?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well I don't consider the summit a failure. I consider it a success defined as the president protecting and advancing American national interest. There was extensive preparation for this meeting. Extensive discussions between the president and Kim Jong Un and- and the issue really was whether North Korea was prepared to accept what the president called "the big deal," which is denuclearize entirely under a definition the president handed to Kim Jong Un and have the potential for an enormous economic future or try and do something less than that which was unacceptable to us. So the president held firm to his view. He deepened his relationship with Kim Jong Un. I don't view it as a failure at all when American national interests are protected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to be clear, North Korea still has not agreed to denuclearize as the U.S. defines it.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Not as we have defined it although they have committed in public in prior regimes in North Korea-- four or five times in writing to denuclearize and that's something--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that doesn't mean much to you.


Ankit Panda:

Lots to say on Bolton's remarks, but ask yourself why Pompeo spent months after Singapore touting that the "final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," a phrase that did not appear in the US-DPRK Singapore declaration, was "agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore."

The administration knew all along that this gulf between definitions existed. There’s no way to rationalize the “FFVD, as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore” language than it being an attempt at gaslighting Kim Jong Un to come around on the US position.

All of this was the reason too that on December 20, KCNA featured a ‘Jong Hyon’ commentary reiterating North Korea’s definition of denuclearization. North Korea isn’t stupid—the U.S. attempt was called an “optical illusion.”

Illusions don’t last forever and the bill came due in Hanoi. In an attempt to push back on the illusion, many North Korea-watching folks were broken records between Singapore and Hanoi, pointing out every time Pompeo et al. said this that it wasn’t what Kim had agreed to.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:34 AM on March 3 [8 favorites]


The Guardian: The neo-Nazi plot against America is much bigger than we realize ’
In the early summer of 2017, US coast guard lieutenant Christopher Hasson had an idea. He had been trying to figure out an effective way of killing billions of people – “almost every last person on Earth” – but found himself coming up against the daunting logistics of such a task.

He suspected “a plague would be most successful”, but didn’t know how to get his hands on enough Spanish flu, botulism or anthrax. His idea, he wrote in a draft email from 2 June of that year, would be to “start with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply”. He acknowledged the plan needed more research.
When Cohen said he suspected Trump would not go quietly if he loses in 2020, this is the scenario I worry about most.
posted by xammerboy at 11:36 AM on March 3 [48 favorites]


So originally the National Emergencies Act said that an emergency declaration could be reversed with a simple majority in Congress, and that was not subject to presidential veto. A later Supreme Court decision said that the president did have the right to veto such a reversal.

It's my understanding that one of the legal arguments against Trump's declaration is going to be that the National Emergencies Act was never meant to give the president so much power. That when the court ruled that the president could veto a Congressional reversal, it should have invalidated the whole Act -- the part saying the president does not get a veto isn't really severable from the rest of it, because that was a key check on presidential power that Congress intended to include. (I may be wrong, I'm just describing am argument I read somewhere.)

It seems to me the Congress not only having already debated and failed to pass wall funding, but explictly rejecting this emergency in the terms described by the original Act, really strengthens the legal case against the wall. Clearly Congress is NOT delegating the power of the purse in this case. They didn't mean to give him that much power back in 1976 when they passed the National Emergencies Act without a presidential veto, and they are explicitly rejecting this particular emergency declaration.

It seems to me the argument that this is a presidential usurpation of a power reserved in the Constitution to Congress is really airtight, once Congress passes the resolution rejecting the emergency declaration.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:44 AM on March 3 [12 favorites]




It's no surprise that 86% of Republicans approve...

Almost never discussed in these polls showing overwhelming GOP popularity for the president are those that no longer consider themselves GOP because of the president. It's non-negligible, and therefore newsworthy.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:51 AM on March 3 [13 favorites]


NYT, To Woo a Skeptical Trump, Intelligence Chiefs Talk Economics Instead of Spies
Intelligence officials who brief the president have warned him about Chinese espionage in bottom-line business terms. They have used Black Sea shipping figures to demonstrate the effect of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. And they have filled the daily threat briefing with charts and graphs of economic data.

In an effort to accommodate President Trump, who has attacked them publicly as “naïve” and in need of going “back to school,” the nation’s intelligence agencies have revamped their presentations to focus on subjects their No. 1 customer wants to hear about — economics and trade.

Intelligence officers, steeped in how Mr. Trump views the world, now work to answer his repeated question: Who is winning? What the president wants to know, according to former officials, is what country is making more money or gaining a financial advantage.

While the professionals do not criticize Mr. Trump’s focus, they do question whether those interests are crowding out intelligence on threats like terrorism and the maneuvers of traditional adversaries, developments with foreign militaries or geopolitical events with international implications.
What could go wrong? There are a lot of details in this article about Trump's obsessions, including how he repeatedly wants to know why Merkel won't make a deal with him on military spending and how he runs around complaining "my generals don't understand business" after briefings.
posted by zachlipton at 12:14 PM on March 3 [10 favorites]


"my accountant doesn't understand sailing"

"My photographers don't understand taxes"

"My publicity team doesn't understand military strategy"

to continue along the lines of "my generals don't understand business"
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:46 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


@ABC BREAKING: @GStephanopoulos: "Do you think the president obstructed justice?"

House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler: "Yes, I do. It's very clear that the president obstructed justice"


I'm disappointed by this statement.

Mostly because the way it is framed there is no easy way to pluralize it.
posted by srboisvert at 1:50 PM on March 3 [7 favorites]


Enforcement of tax regulations is nonexistent: companies simply don't pay. Rich people don't pay. Who's going to make them?

The good news is: this is not a vast, uncountable number of people. This is, perhaps, several dozen people, maybe as many as a few hundred. This is an arrestable number of people. This is a group of people who could be named on national TV ("the following CEOs have been accused of felony tax evasion") the same way that other newsworthy crimes are announced.

A few sympathetic courts might decide that multi-millionaires accused of tax evasion are a flight risk, and not grant them bail at any amount. A few good journalists could note how much money they're accused of stealing from the government, and exactly which programs could be helped by that much money.

Overall, the problem with "who's going to make them?" isn't, "what mechanisms do we have to deal with crime at this scale," but "which legal jurisdictions are actually willing to enforce the law?"

This is something that progressive activism needs to push: these activities are crimes, just like shoplifting, and they cost the public a lot more money than shoplifters. Push that this isn't "dodging bureaucratic hassles;" it's theft from US citizens.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:57 PM on March 3 [62 favorites]


The brand new manuscript for a new book by failed lawyer Michael Cohen shows his testimony was a total lie! Pundits should only use it

@realdonaldtrump followed that up this morning with an extended Twitter rant:
After more than two years of Presidential Harassment, the only things that have been proven is that Democrats and other broke the law. The hostile Cohen testimony, given by a liar to reduce his prison time, proved no Collusion! His just written book manuscript showed what he said was a total lie, but Fake Media won’t show it. I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start - And only because I won the Election! Despite this, great success!
And this afternoon, he's been recapping Fox segments.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:04 PM on March 3 [6 favorites]


I am an innocent man
Can't get much closer to "I'm not a crook"
posted by mumimor at 2:16 PM on March 3 [23 favorites]


[Folks, there is still an active Sanders thread, please keep that stuff there. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:22 PM on March 3 [8 favorites]


That when the court ruled that the president could veto a Congressional reversal, it should have invalidated the whole Act -- the part saying the president does not get a veto isn't really severable from the rest of it, because that was a key check on presidential power that Congress intended to include. (I may be wrong, I'm just describing am argument I read somewhere.)

The Supreme Court invalidated that piece, but Congress quickly amended the law and replaced it with a joint resolution mechanism, which is the current procedure. The solution that would have somewhat maintained Congressional power would have been an automatic sunset of any emergency declaration, but the 1985 congress didn't go that way.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:49 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


So just to be clear. This Cohen manuscript - who has read it? Politico says:

"It’s unclear whether any such manuscript exists, whether Trump has seen it or whether the president is continuing a line of attack started on Friday, when he demanded Congress obtain the alleged manuscript as proof that Cohen was lying in his testimony."

....which, in Trumpverse, would be an example of "Fake Media won’t show it.", I suppose.

Has he just invented this out of whole cloth himself, or did someone on Twitter make this claim or something? Maybe Q can find the manuscript!
posted by thelonius at 2:51 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


This is something that progressive activism needs to push: these activities are crimes, just like shoplifting, and they cost the public a lot more money than shoplifters. Push that this isn't "dodging bureaucratic hassles;" it's theft from US citizens.

And for that matter, it's basically impossible to have a significant amount of wealth in the US that can't be seized, one way or another. If someone owes taxes, you can just repossess that property, and the US government is very good at that. See also: civil forfeiture.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:51 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


There is no book. Cohen said under oath he’d had preliminary discussions about a deal but had no deal. That’s pretty easy to confirm if he does have one so I doubt he perjured himself. And no way he’s written a book/paid a ghostwriter on spec. At best there was a summary proposal of what he’d write, which at the time maybe was complimentary to Trump. Trump is lying, making things up.
posted by chris24 at 2:59 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


If someone owes taxes, you can just repossess that property, and the US government is very good at that.

We're actually not very good at seizing property from the rich. At all. And we don't even try. The Chris Hayes podcast linked above talks about how Republicans have hollowed out the IRS with relentless budget cuts. There are less auditors overall, not per capita, now than at any time since the 1950s. The IRS budget has shrunk from 12bil in 2010 to around 8 billion. The IRS does not have nearly enough staff, much less trained and experienced staff, to perform complex audits of billionaires with near-infinite sources of income and assets, much less mega-conglomerates that would take a team of auditors to even start looking at. So what do they do instead? They announce ahead of time "areas of focus", telegraphing rich people and companies to clean up one particular party of their crimes, then only do cursory audits of that topic on the few people and companies that are actually tapped for an audit that year.

And instead of focusing on the rich where the money and evasion is, they've radically shifted priorities to auditing and criminalizing the working poor, who have much simpler incomes. Audits of the EITC, of people making less than 20k/yr, now make up nearly half of all audits.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:03 PM on March 3 [64 favorites]


At best there was a summary proposal of what he’d write, which at the time maybe was complimentary to Trump
Ah, that makes sense. Trump is not a reader, so a summary is probably the same as a book to him. If he saw it, it would have been at a time when Cohen still either hoped for a pardon or was all-in on the Trump delusion thing.
posted by mumimor at 3:11 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]




Warner: ‘Enormous amounts of evidence’ of possible Russia collusion (Politico)
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday lawmakers have found "enormous amounts of evidence" into potential collusion between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and the Russians during the 2016 election.

Mark Warner of Virginia made his remarks in response to an assertion that there is "no factual evidence of collusion" from the Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

As evidence, Warner cited on NBC's "Meet the Press" ongoing negotiations about Trump Tower and the dump of WikiLeaks material.

"Where that evidence leads, in terms of a conclusion ... I'm going to reserve judgment, until I'm finished," Warner said.

But he added: "There's no one that could factually say there's not plenty of evidence of collaboration or communications between Trump Organization and Russians."

Warner's House Intelligence Committee counterpart, Adam Schiff, said Sunday on CBS‘ "Face the Nation" that there's both "direct evidence" and "abundant circumstantial evidence" of collusion with Russia.

The California Democrat said "there is direct evidence" in emails from the Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton in what is described as the "Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump."

"They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president's son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts in furtherance of that," Schiff said. "That is the meeting at Trump Tower and all the lies to cover up that meeting at the Trump Tower, and apparently lies that the president participated in."
posted by Little Dawn at 3:45 PM on March 3 [34 favorites]


USA Today, Pompeo on the failed North Korea talks, Otto Warmbier and his own trip to Iowa, in which the Secretary of State is surprised by North Korea's statement on the negotiations and accuses the reporter of making it up:
Pompeo reacted angrily when asked about the North Korean foreign minister's statement, made hours after the talks dissolved, that the offer Kim made in Hanoi was final.

“That’s not what the North Koreans said,” Pompeo responded. “Don’t say things that aren’t true. ... Show me the quote from the North Koreans that said this was their one and only offer. Where’d you get that?”

After he was read a quote from Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho – in which he said “our proposal will never be changed” – Pompeo fell silent for about six seconds. Then he countered, “What they said is they’re prepared to continue conversations with us and that’s what we intend to do.”
Pompeo also tied himself in knots, much as Bolton did, trying to talk about Otto Warmbier without contradicting Trump.
Asked if he holds Kim responsible [for Warmbier's death], Pompeo said, “The North Korean regime is responsible for the death Otto Warmbier and the humanitarian violations that are continuing to take place.”

Pressed about Kim's personal responsibility and whether Kim knew about Warmbier’s case, Pompeo fell silent again before saying he had answered the question and been “very patient” with that line of inquiry.
posted by zachlipton at 4:39 PM on March 3 [18 favorites]


WaPo, McGahn joins global law firm — and remains involved in Trump’s judicial choices
McGahn, 50, said he will lead the firm’s government regulation practice as a partner in Washington and will stay involved with senior Senate Republicans as an outside adviser on nominations to the Supreme Court and federal courts.

“I enjoy the practice of law and I look forward to coming back to Jones Day,” McGahn said in an interview, adding: “I’m just going to practice law. No paid corporate speeches and no books, unlike some others who have worked in the White House.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will continue to seek his support on nominations.

“We keep in touch and talk from time to time,” McConnell said. “Some would argue we were co-conspirators going back to the 2016 campaign, where we worked on the number one priority I had and the president had.”
...
McGahn said he would not be lobbying, which requires lawyers and others to formally register with the federal government.
Ah yes, he's just picking judges, but totally isn't lobbying.
posted by zachlipton at 4:42 PM on March 3 [21 favorites]


If he saw it, it would have been at a time when Cohen still either hoped for a pardon or was all-in on the Trump delusion thing.

That's pretty much what it looks like. Politico notes that the Daily Beast reported in March 2018 that Cohen was shopping a book:
It also details a chapter titled “Says Who,” dedicated to Cohen’s famously embarrassing interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and a chapter titled “BuzzFeed & Me” about Cohen’s defamation suit against BuzzFeed News over the outlet’s decision to publish a dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia.
Following the April 2018 raid on Cohen's office, Politico reported that Cohen dropped the libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS, and:
Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct. [...]

Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case — both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe.
So it was written before he directly faced criminal liability for those statements.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:51 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


although, to be clear, because we are probably going to hear about this alleged book for awhile, only a proposal was reported by the Daily Beast.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:01 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Josh Marshall with a piece titled The Problem with Ilhan Omar. (Who had yet another dustup this week with a plausibly antisemitic statement.)

tl;dr - don't refer to Jews having "foreign allegiances".

None of which takes away from the disgusting example of Islamophobia on display in West Virginia this week.
posted by Justinian at 5:26 PM on March 3 [11 favorites]


It looks to me as if the comments made by Ilhan Omar were either triggered by or actually quoting similar comments made by Glenn Greeenwald. He's been pushing the "dual loyalty" line for a long time; and he's the one who described a Texan anti-BDS law as a "Israel loyalty oath", language that Rashida Tlaib later repeated. Most recently, it was on an interview with Greenwald's The Intercept that Omar walked her apology back:
Mehdi Hasan: Was it a badly worded tweet that you apologizing for or was it for being anti-Semitic wittingly or unwittingly?

Ihlan Omar: Absolutely not, I apologized for the way that my words made people feel. [...]
Greenwald is at best one of Russia's useful idiots: he continues to argue that the claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election are "fake news" and, by implication, that the Democrats are conspiring against a duly elected President. He is not a friend and should not be an associate of anyone who hopes for a Democratic victory in 2020.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:50 PM on March 3 [24 favorites]


The quote in question:

“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.”

The problem I guess is the implication that people (AIPAC, one supposes) want her to do this. But she definitely didn't claim that American Jews have a foreign allegiance. One could infer that she thinks AIPAC does - and given their mission statement I'm not sure she's wrong. They literally call themselves part of the pro-Israel movement on their about page.

So, her statement is factually correct and on it's face unobjectionable. People are criticizing it based on meaning they believe is hidden behind or maybe historically attached to specific words - here the word is allegiance. I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it. If she feels that she cannot criticize Israel's policies, that can reasonably be called a problem. In fact what she's found is she can't even criticize AIPAC without a huge amount of pushback. That can also reasonably be called a problem.
posted by dbx at 5:51 PM on March 3 [41 favorites]


In fact what she's found is she can't even criticize AIPAC without a huge amount of pushback.

Well, can't criticize AIPAC while using phrases and symbolism historically quite closely linked to virulent antisemitism, yes.
posted by Justinian at 5:54 PM on March 3 [12 favorites]


Oh, that tweet is a followup on statements she made at a conference, it's not the sum total of her commentary. Here's the NYT on that with the most relevant quote as: "I want to talk ab