“If the people don’t have the facts, democracy can’t work.”
March 15, 2019 8:57 AM   Subscribe

In a hearing with many choice quotes, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson nearly doubled the prison sentence of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to seven and a half years, denouncing him as a man who “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system.” Minutes later, Manafort was indicted in New York state, on charges that fall outside Trump’s pardon power. “No one is beyond the law in New York,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement announcing the indictment.

• Mueller Investigation Round-up:
Where the investigations related to President Trump stand (AP) "During Wednesday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson brushed aside Manafort’s pleas for leniency. She rebuked him for misleading the government about his lucrative foreign lobbying work and for encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf." • Manafort gets 7 years in prison, then faces fresh NY charges (AP) "Prosecutors are updating judges this week on the cooperation provided by other key defendants in the case. Mueller is expected to soon conclude his investigation in a confidential report to the Justice Department."

Mueller says Flynn’s cooperation ‘complete’ (Politico) "“While the defendant remains in a position to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, and could testify in the EDVA case should it proceed to trial, in the government’s view his cooperation is otherwise complete,” Mueller’s lawyers wrote. [...] “The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” the special counsel wrote in a heavily redacted December sentencing memo that counted 19 Flynn interviews with its office and other Justice Department prosecutors."

Prosecutors Seek Records on Cohen’s ‘Back Channel’ With Giuliani (NYT) "Before he pleaded guilty and began assisting federal prosecutors last summer, Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, spoke with a lawyer who agreed to reach out to the president’s legal team on his behalf. The lawyer, Robert J. Costello, had about a dozen conversations with Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to emails and documents reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with people involved in the matter.”

House overwhelmingly approves resolution urging release of Mueller report (Politico) "The 420-0 vote came after a fiery debate on the House floor, during which some Democratic lawmakers were admonished for their criticisms of President Donald Trump [...] “A vote for this resolution will send a clear signal to both the American people and to the Department of Justice that Congress believes transparency is a fundamental principle necessary to ensure that government remains accountable to the public,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the lead sponsor of the effort." • Graham blocks resolution calling for Mueller report to be made public (The Hill) "Graham, a close ally of Trump's who chairs the Judiciary Committee, objected after Schumer refused to amend the House-passed resolution to include a provision calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to appoint a special counsel to investigate DOJ misconduct in the handling of the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's email use and the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications."
• Congressional Investigations Round-up:
Former Fox News reporter’s lawyer: ‘We’ll comply’ with House request for documents about Trump and Stormy Daniels (Politico) "Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is asking that Falzone turn over to his panel any documents “relating to women alleging extramarital affairs with Donald Trump, payments by the President or anyone on his behalf to silence them, or any potential campaign finance violation.” [...] “A government inquiry also trumps an NDA,” Erika Smith [Falzone's attorney] said, going further than her comments on MSNBC earlier this week when she told Ari Melber that a subpoena would be necessary for Falzone to share what she knows. “No NDA can prevent anybody from participating in an government investigation. We don’t really need a subpoena.”"

Whitaker ‘did not deny’ talking to Trump about Cohen, personnel at SDNY, top Democrat says (WaPo) "Democrats found suspect Whitaker’s assertion then that he never discussed his views regarding Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Whitaker was interviewing to join the White House legal team and had voiced his negative opinions about Mueller’s probe as a television pundit before Trump recommended him to be Sessions’s chief of staff." • Nadler: Whitaker "did not deny" talking to Trump about Cohen (Axios) "Whitaker testified last month that Trump had never pressured him to intervene in any investigation."

Mnuchin says U.S. government would shield Trump tax returns from Congress (Reuters) "Section 6103 of the U.S. tax code allows the chairs of three committees — Neal’s House panel, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation — to request confidential tax returns, and says the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” the documents." • Mnuchin says he'll protect Trump privacy if taxes requested (AP) "Mnuchin did not specifically say he would turn them over. The unprecedented move likely would set off a huge legal battle between Trump’s administration and Democrats controlling the House. The fight could take years to resolve, possibly stretching beyond the 2020 presidential election."

Trump's defense chief rules out "cost plus 50" demand of allies (Axios) "The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee described the reported idea as "monumentally stupid," and other lawmakers privately fretted that Trump would demand too much and undermine relationships with key allies. [...] Alaskan Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan grilled Shanahan about the press reports in today's hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee."

Govt’s ‘Landlord’ Refuses To Answer Q’s On WH Meddling In FBI Building’s Plans (TPM) GSA Administrator Emily Murphy declined to answer questions from a House oversight committee about White House interference in the development plans for the FBI's headquarters building. A GSA IG's report previously accused Murphy of giving "incomplete" and "misleading" testimony on the subject.

Wilbur Ross grilled over role in adding citizenship question to 2020 census (NBC News) "“The key question we will ask Secretary Ross today is, what was he hiding from the Congress?" Rep. Elijah Cummings said. [...] “Mr. Secretary, you lied to Congress, you misled the American people, and you are complicit in the Trump administration’s intent to suppress the growing political power of the non-white population,” [Rep.] Clay [D-Mo] said. “You have already done great harm to the census in 2020, and you have zero credibility, and you should, in my opinion, resign.”
• National Emergency Round-up:
The Senate voted 59-41 to disapprove of Trump's national emergency declaration, leading to a veto threat by the President. Sens. Graham, Cruz, and Sasse made a last-ditch pitch (CNN) to avert the vote by crashing dinner at the White House Wednesday night to try to secure the President's support for a measure that would limit the length of national emergencies: "So they showed up at the White House uninvited Wednesday night while Trump was having dinner. Sources told CNN the meeting went downhill fast as Trump grew frustrated at attempts to limit his ability to declare national emergencies in the future. A White House lawyer was brought in to point out problems with the idea and explain why it wouldn't work for the White House, a source said. The overall meeting itself, the source said, was 'just unproductive.'" • Trump threatens veto after senate rejects national emergency in sharp rebuke (Guardian) "Nevertheless, Graham voted against the resolution to block Trump, declaring: “I believe the president is on sound legal ground. While I respect those who disagree, it is time to build the wall.”"

Trump and Dems destroy GOP effort to escape national emergency bind (Politico) "President Donald Trump scuttled a final effort by Senate Republicans to avoid an intraparty clash on his emergency declaration this week, a move that could juice the number of GOP senators that vote to rebuke Trump on the floor." • G.O.P.’s Attempt to Avoid Emergency Showdown With Trump Is Scuttled, by Trump (NYT) “If we don’t want our president acting like a king, we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so,” [Senator Mike Lee of Utah] said.

What Emergency? (Gen. Michael Hayden and Matthew G. Olson, Politico Magazine) "an informed and honest assessment of the facts demonstrates that there is no national security crisis. We offer this assessment as former government officials with decades of experience in security, intelligence and law enforcement, serving Democratic and Republican presidents alike."

Senate Rejects Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration, Setting Up First Veto (NYT) "As the Senate was delivering its rebuke, senior military commanders announced they would begin to scale back about 40 percent of the 6,000 troops deployed at the southwestern border at Mr. Trump’s request. “It’s a security challenge — not a military threat,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Joint Chiefs chairman, when asked Thursday morning during a Senate Armed Services hearing to assess the threat posed by an influx of migrants from the Mexican side of the border."

House likely to try to override expected Trump veto on March 26 (Reuters)
• Transgender Service Ban Round-up:
Transgender Troops Caught Between a Welcoming Military and a Hostile Government (NYT) "They started coming out publicly in 2016 when the military lifted a longtime ban, after concluding that doing so would have no significant negative impact on budgets or operations. [...] in testimony before the Senate last spring, the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all said they were not aware of any issues caused by having transgender troops serving openly."

New Pentagon Policy Requires Most People To Serve In Their Birth Gender (TPM) "The final legal injunction blocking the new policy was lifted last week, allowing the Pentagon to move forward. But restrictions on transgender troops are likely to face ongoing legal challenges and have been slammed by members of Congress as discriminatory and self-defeating." • Military to begin enforcing Trump’s restrictions on transgender troops (WaPo) "Democrats, who are hoping to reverse the ban through bipartisan legislation, criticized the Pentagon’s decision to begin enforcing the measure." • Transgender Service Ban Nears Implementation (LawFare) "Attorneys for the plaintiffs in Doe 2 contend that, despite what the government says, the injunction in D.C. remains in place because the D.C. Circuit has not yet issued its mandate, as the period for the plaintiffs to seek rehearing en banc has not yet run. The 21-day window in which the plaintiffs may request rehearing opened on March 8, when two judges on the D.C. Circuit panel released full opinions in support of the per curiam judgment the court issued in January." • New Directive Says Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Will Officially Start Next Month (MoJo) "“Not only does the Trump-Pence transgender military ban violate the Constitution, but now the administration is also defying a court order,” Jennifer Levi, another lawyer for the plaintiffs in DC, said in a statement. “With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so.”"

The Role of Deference in Adjudicating the Military Transgender Policy, DACA and the Census (LawFare) "As Robert Chesney wrote in a much-cited paper, courts often note that they lack the fact-finding resources of the political branches. But in rescissions, an earlier administration has found the facts. The real issue should be whether new facts justify a rescission of the policy."

IN OTHER HEADLINES:

Youth climate strikes to take place in more than 100 countries (Guardian) "Hundreds of thousands of children are expected to walk out of their classrooms on Friday for a global climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis." • Climate strikes: students around the world walk out to demand change – live (Guardian)

US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public (Guardian) “One of the things that I have found absolutely thrilling in working for this administration,” said Balash,“is the president has a knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else while we do all the work that needs to be done on behalf of the American people.”

China hits back at US 'prejudice' in human rights tit-for-tat row (Guardian) "“The US government continues to publicly and fiercely accuse the media and journalists of creating ‘fake news’ and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and hostility,” the report said. “Reporters’ legal right to report has been violated,” it added, pointing to cases of the White House stripping some reporters of press credentials."

North Korea threatens to suspend denuclearization talks with the United States (WaPo) "“Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good, and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful,” [Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui] said, while accusing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton of creating an atmosphere of “hostility and mistrust.” [...] [Pompeo] described his own talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, as professional and joked that he “vaguely remembered” having also been called “gangster-like” by North Korea last year."

DeVos Illegally Delayed Special Education Rule, Judge Says (NYT) "Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia called the Education Department’s delay of the special education rule “arbitrary and capricious.” The rule, drafted under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, would require states to identify districts with “significant disproportionality” in the number of minority students channeled into special education services, segregated in restrictive classroom settings or disciplined."

A Tale Of Two Economies: Comparing Trump's Economic Forecast With CBO's (Forbes) "President Trump’s 2020 budget is based upon an extremely optimistic view of the nation’s economic future. The White House forecast is in stark contrast to the Congressional Budget Office’s projection from just two months ago, which sees far slower growth." • Trump pledges support for health programs but his budget takes ‘legs out from underneath the system’ (WaPo) "In addition to combating HIV, the president has taken aim at childhood cancer and the opioid crisis, but his budget would undermine all those efforts by shrinking the health infrastructure that people struggling with those issues rely on while throttling back national cancer research spending — even as it offers discrete pots of money for those causes, policymakers say."

Perfect Trump Re-election Slogan: ‘I Don’t Keep Any Promises But My Voters Are Too Stupid to Notice’ (San Jose Mercury News, Opinion)

Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on Chemicals Contaminating Drinking Water (NYT) "Frustration is only increasing across the United States as the Trump administration moves slowly to confront the challenge. [...] Several state and local governments — including the Security Water District in Colorado, the city of Newburgh, N.Y., and the state of New Mexico — have already filed lawsuits against the Defense Department."

Summer Zervos' Lawsuit Against President Donald Trump Can Proceed, Court Rules (ABC) "The New York State Appellate Division’s First Department turned down Trump’s argument that the case should be halted until he is out of office because, as a sitting president, he was immune from a lawsuit brought in state court. “We reject defendant President Trump's argument that the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution prevents a New York State court - and every other state court in the country - from exercising its authority under its state constitution,” the judges wrote."

Today is the 785th day of the Trump administration. There are 598 days until the 2020 elections.

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...

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: "His deceit, which is a fundamental component of the crimes"

Megathread-Adjacent Posts and Sites:
Sanders Announces Campaign
The United State Of Labor
Breaking Point (UK Politics)
Saving The World 101
Who is Andrew Yang?
Tragedy in Christchurch
• OnceUponATime's Active Measures site
• Chrysostom's 2018 Election Ratings & Results Tracker

Elsewhere in MetaFilter: Help me be a single issue voter (Climate Change)Will having political bumper stickers on my vehicle jeopardize my job?Working for a Campaign 101Should I volunteer for this candidate?Find me a backgrounder on Trump / Russia / Special Counsel Investigation (AskMe).

As always, please consider MeFi chat and the unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack for hot-takes and live-blogging breaking news, the new MetaTalk venting thread for catharsis and sympathizing, and funding the site if you're able. Also, for the sake of the ever-helpful mods, please keep in mind the MetaTalk on expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter. Thanks to Doktor Zed, zachlipton, and i.forgot.my.password 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 (1886 comments total) 140 users marked this as a favorite
 
Committee Probe Of Trump Organization Could Derail Infrastructure Talks (Tim Mak for NPR, March 15, 2019)
Nowhere else in the House of Representatives is the tension between legislation and investigation more present than on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where a bipartisan infrastructure deal could be in the making — even as the Democrats on the committee launch a reinvigorated investigation into the D.C. Trump Hotel.

"I have to do my duty over here and get questions answered," committee Chairman Peter DeFazio told NPR. "But I also need to pursue vigorously working with the White House to try and move an infrastructure package. And I'm willing and able to do both, and I think that the president will understand that if he really wants to do infrastructure."

Trump famously declared at his latest State of the Union address that members of Congress could choose between working with him on passing bills or probe his business and administration — not both.

"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation," Trump said. "It just doesn't work that way."

DeFazio thinks that he can balance drafting legislation and probing the president's business. But Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs told NPR he'd prefer if DeFazio let the House oversight committee take the lead on questions related to the president's finances.

"It's going to take committee time, take resources from the committee and the staff, and we should be working on getting an infrastructure bill done," Gibbs said. "Because if we don't get something moving here fast, before the August recess, the chances of getting it done appropriately in the next year, with presidential politics and all that, the odds get slimmer."
Huh, it's as if he should have actually had a plan to complete his infrastructure ... week when he had a chance to previously. But how many previous Infrastructure Weeks were there?

NPR recapped "Why It's Infrastructure Week Again in March 2018, counting four Infrastructure Weeks at that point.

Be forewarned!: Trump preps return of Infrastructure Week -- Rachel Maddow warns viewers that Donald Trump is looking to revive Infrastructure Week, and reminds them of the major Trump scandals that broke in previous iterations of the event. (MSNBC video clip, Jan. 18, 2019)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


[Vox]
Deeyah Khan spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists.
What she learned was more hopeful than ever
posted by growabrain at 9:55 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]


Personally I've been trying not to even think about the primaries... but this news about Beto being a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow is pretty amazing. For those who aren't up on hacker history I highly recommend the linked twitter thread by Joseph Menn. And I thought he was cool for being in a Punk band...
posted by cirhosis at 9:56 AM on March 15 [26 favorites]


Beto was clearly designed in a lab with personality traits and lifestyle choices required to get left-leaning people to look past his lack of an actual position on things.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:08 AM on March 15 [66 favorites]


Trump's defense chief rules out "cost plus 50" demand of allies

Given how specifically that was wiorded, I have to wonder if the actual demand is going to simply be a different number. "Cost plus 25% is not cost plus 50%, so what I said earlier was completely true."

The entire goal of course being to end US basing of soldiers entirely. Which is in line not only with Trump, but with the Right's nativist approach.
posted by happyroach at 10:12 AM on March 15


US bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators

“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

Another normal day in a healthy civilization.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:28 AM on March 15 [39 favorites]




Via Steve Herman on Twitter:

"This will be the first veto signed by @POTUS. He'll be joined by Angel Moms, members of the @CBP and other law enforcement officers, @hogangidley45 tells reporters."

Today of all days. He tweeted some empty sentiments to New Zealand, but the racist hatemongering show must go on!
posted by marshmallow peep at 10:34 AM on March 15 [23 favorites]


Buzzfeed: Trump’s 2020 Team Is Already Doing Something His White House Has Struggled With For Years: Hiring
The campaign has also already hired the directors for each area of responsibility, according to a spokesperson, and they are beginning to build out their teams. Trump’s reelection effort is using its headstart over Democrats’ campaigns to lay “the groundwork for recruiting and training almost 2 million volunteers across the nation,” the spokesperson said. “Time is one of the biggest advantages we have and we aim to use it.”

Those close to the administration also acknowledged that the campaign, which so far hasn't seen the type of internal feuding that was common in the 2016 campaign and at the White House, has been a more attractive option for ambitious Republicans.

"The talent pool is a lot higher than the people willing to go to the White House," said a source close to the campaign.

Another former White House official said joining the campaign made sense because it is the "closest thing a Republican operative can get to working in an actual White House,” which he and other sources described as too much work for little long-term payoff since several companies and lobbying firms have been reluctant to hire from the Trump White House.

"You're working for the president, but not in as toxic of an environment and for an entity that doesn't tarnish your resume the way the current White House would," the official said. "On the campaign of adults, you're honing your skills, bettering yourself, and making connections. In the White House of children, you're wasting your time playing whack a mole every day."
Also, the money's better.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:37 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


It’s Gonna Be Huge: The many towers that Trump never built (Bruce Handy, The Atlantic)

I wonder how many walls he's never built.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:40 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Mueller Might Not Be Done With Manafort Yet (Natasha Bertrand, Atlantic)
Nevertheless, Mueller might not be quite done with Manafort yet, former prosecutors tell me. Court documents and pre-sentence hearings that dealt with the breach of Manafort’s plea deal suggest that prosecutors might have more ammunition to go after the 69-year-old on matters that go directly to the question of a conspiracy with Russia, rather than the financial crimes and violations of foreign-agent laws that he’s been charged with to date. […]

Still, the content of the 2016 meeting was only revealed by accident due to a redaction error by Manafort’s lawyers, and the significance of the episode to Mueller’s main probe, while hinted at by Weissmann, has yet to be fully explained.

“It’s hard to imagine that something so explosive and central to the mission of his investigation wouldn’t be addressed either in charges against someone (Manafort or others) or in a report,” Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, wrote in an email. “And the fact that the special counsel hasn’t brought it out but it was only revealed inadvertently, reinforces the idea that [Mueller] is saving it for something else.” […]
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 AM on March 15 [14 favorites]


Still, the content of the 2016 meeting was only revealed by accident due to a redaction error by Manafort’s lawyers...

Who is paying Manafort's lawyers?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:45 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


"You're working for the president, but not in as toxic of an environment and for an entity that doesn't tarnish your resume the way the current White House would," the official said. "On the campaign of adults, you're honing your skills, bettering yourself, and making connections. In the White House of children, you're wasting your time playing whack a mole every day."

You'd think there'd be some glimmer of awareness from the person making that comment, but nope.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:59 AM on March 15 [39 favorites]


"On the campaign of adults, you're honing your skills, bettering yourself, and making connections. In the White House of children, you're wasting your time playing whack a mole every day."

My suspicion is that it's more like they're both houses of children, but one of them is better suited to the ways of children than the other. Campaigns are about tug-of-war, painting the walls, and dress-up in a way that governing (normally) is not.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:05 AM on March 15 [10 favorites]


Doktor Zed: "You're working for the president, but not in as toxic of an environment and for an entity that doesn't tarnish your resume the way the current White House would," the official said. "On the campaign of adults, you're honing your skills, bettering yourself, and making connections. In the White House of children, you're wasting your time playing whack a mole every day."

Because a (re)election campaign is more secret and less public than actually running a country.

I somehow doubt that there'll be less tarnish on working from Re-Elect This Orange Monster than working for the Orange Monster's Administration, but I'm sure some would-be employees are convinced.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:07 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Beto was clearly designed in a lab with personality traits and lifestyle choices required to get left-leaning people to look past his lack of an actual position on things.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:08 AM on March 15 [10 favorites +] [!]

I laughed out loud at this, but I also thought it might be a good idea for him to be Vice President and learn the reality of governing and then run for president. 16 years of Dems! I know the normal thing would for him to be a senator or governor first, but these times are not normal, and he clearly attracts some voters that wouldn't normally vote for a woman of color. Like a Biden 2.0.
posted by mumimor at 11:15 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


In the White House of children, you're wasting your time playing whack a mole every day.

Meanwhile, actual children have mobilized a coordinated global protest: Thank you, climate strikers. Your action matters and your power will be felt (Rebecca Solnit, Guardian Opinion)
I am writing you in gratitude and enthusiasm as someone who has lived for almost six decades, which has been time enough to see extraordinary change. To see what had been declared impossible happen over and over again. To see regimes topple when ordinary people rise up in nonviolent direct action. To see dramatic expansions of rights in both law and imagination. To see what were once radical new ideas about gender and sexual orientation and race, about justice and equality, about nature and ecology become ordinary accepted ideas – and then to see people forget how our minds were changed, and how much that process matters too. [...]

I saw wind and solar power go from awkward, ineffectual, expensive technologies only 20 years ago to become the means through which we can leave the age of fossil fuel behind. I have seen a language to recognize the Earth’s environmental systems arise in my lifetime, a language that can describe how everything is connected, and everything has consequences. Through studying what science teaches us about nature and what history teaches us about social forces I have come to see how beautiful and how powerful are the threads that connect us. Here’s one. Who did Greta Thunberg describe as a key influence on her actions? Rosa Parks.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:16 AM on March 15 [60 favorites]


[Vox] Deeyah Khan spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists. What she learned was more hopeful than ever

This was really pleasing to read.  There’s been this common thread in discourse lately, that humans can’t change their minds, that we only double down on irrational beliefs rather than discard them, and it’s treated like received wisdom.  In point of fact it is utter fucking bullshit—just another bit of craptastic biological determinism worming its way into pop culture.  I swear, it’s this century’s phrenology and we’ll eventually cringe at our collective stupidity for buying into it.  Humans do change their minds.  We can learn.  We can learn tolerance.   We can learn compassion.

The Doom & Gloom™ message that we’re all just irretrievably locked into our worldview is inherently dehumanizing, and it frustrates me to no end.  I mean, how in the world do people think we got this belief in tolerance and acceptance that we’re all fighting to defend in the first place?  Is it some sui generis event that simply emerged, unbidden, into human society at some point?   No!  It’s been a long struggle, with constant setbacks.  It’s always been a two steps forward, one back process.  That’s not gonna change, and to give up now…well, you can’t win if you don’t try.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:20 AM on March 15 [46 favorites]


Thank you, climate strikers. Your action matters and your power will be felt

This is excellent and better than I could articulate.

My 15-year-old daughter wasn't going to go (she had a test), but called me from school this morning to tell me she was walking out to get on a city bus, because she couldn't miss this protest. Very proud.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:22 AM on March 15 [67 favorites]


You'd think there'd be some glimmer of awareness from the person making that comment, but nope.

In fairness, the quote is credited to a "former White House official." For all we know, this person might have worked for the Obama administration.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:28 AM on March 15


“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

"And so we will never require our military or civilian personnel to take part in crimes against humanity," Pompeo didn't say.
posted by Gelatin at 11:35 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]


You're working for the president, but not in as toxic of an environment and for an entity that doesn't tarnish your resume the way the current White House would

That's... an interesting sales push.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:38 AM on March 15 [8 favorites]


There’s been this common thread in discourse lately, that humans can’t change their minds, that we only double down on irrational beliefs rather than discard them, and it’s treated like received wisdom. In point of fact it is utter fucking bullshit—just another bit of craptastic biological determinism worming its way into pop culture.

It's both true and not. People can change. They can, in the right circumstances, be brought into the light through the actions of others or at least normed into behavior by peer pressure. I think the way this is deployed in the modern discourse is really talking about where it is absolutely true: that you can't deploy that one special trick and truth that's gonna flip someone you're arguing with online. Both because the nature of humanity is that folks on the other side of a screen are not real to them the way in-person relationships are and because when you're encountering these folks online you're dealing with them in their en garde posture.

The online efforts to Reach Someone are doomed to fail because you're almost always dealing with them when they've made a deliberate effort to push their viewpoint out into the world. They're in fighting stance already and that's the circumstance all the studies are talking about where they demonstrate that showing people evidence just makes them double down. Aunt Becky, when she posts that Islamophobic meme on her facebook page, is taking a stance and you're not gonna argue her into enlightenment. You might reach her if this behavior means you block her and she doesn't get to see pictures of the baby anymore but that's about using personal leverage, not debate.

People should be less lazy in how they talk about other humans being lost causes and I include myself in that. But there's a legit danger in trying to engage with everyone on the internet with the idea that everyone can be reached. We don't have to give up on folks but we also don't have to give hate spewing any sort of audience. Giving people a simple "I don't know how to convince you that you should care about other people" and a quick block is a valid technique.

Probably there's be a lot less of this thread in discourse about humans not changing their mind if so many of the calls for trying to reach people weren't coming from friends of loathesome folks like Milo or Weev. The "cut em off" calls didn't come out of nowhere, they were responses to supposedly legitimate outlets running opeds about how we have to keep these people in our lives if we have any hope of turning them.
posted by phearlez at 11:40 AM on March 15 [20 favorites]


Deeyah Khan spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists.
What she learned was more hopeful than ever

There is a Danish-Kurdish former politician who works with this.
My former husband was a German whose parents had been Hitler Jugend. They sometimes struggled with some concepts, but they had changed, they honestly weren't holding on to the racism that had been drilled into them when they were young.
People can change.
posted by mumimor at 11:45 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


My 15-year-old daughter wasn't going to go (she had a test), but called me from school this morning to tell me she was walking out to get on a city bus, because she couldn't miss this protest. Very proud.
posted by mcstayinskool


Eponysterical. Ironysterical?
posted by chris24 at 11:59 AM on March 15 [51 favorites]


People can change.

They can, if they want to or I guess when people make superhuman efforts to reach them. Folks like Özlem Cekic are an inspiration and deserve so much credit ... but at the same time, I would hate for the onus to be put on the people who are having abuse heaped on them to reach out to the haters. It should not be the responsibility of the abused and marginalized to do the additional emotional labor to educate and reform bigots, racists, homophobes, etc.
posted by jzb at 12:03 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


The online efforts to Reach Someone are doomed to fail

I think the Internet Research Agency has falsified this hypothesis. Being vocal online can and does change minds. I suspect it mostly changes the minds of "bystanders" who witness the debate and not the people you're actually debating with (unless it contributes to a change of heart that comes years later). And I suspect it only changes the minds of 3% of the bystanders, and then probably mainly by influencing perceived norms rather than changing core beliefs. More research is needed.

But one way or another, I'm convinced it has an effect. And if the IRA was a "troll army," I think we all have a duty to get out there and argue online as a part of the volunteer anti-troll army.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:04 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


There's a really great and interesting thread on that really great and interesting link titled "Deeyah Khan spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists. What she learned was more hopeful than ever," and I think that we should all move our really great and interesting comments there.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:09 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


Foreign nations are ignoring U.S. diplomats, focusing on wooing Trump directly ('Hunter', Daily Kos)
The Wall Street Journal reports that world leaders are beginning to ditch the formal processes of diplomacy when they want something from the United States, preferring instead to court Trump directly. That the Journal's prime examples are North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Vladimir Putin is probably more telling than the note intends them to be, but both the glaring omission of Saudi Arabia and the fulsome efforts to explain that other, past American presidents also had summits with world leaders suggests a continued resistance on the Journal's part to fully parse out the implications of what's going on here.
So they're pointedly not talking about the 'elephant in the room' (i.e. obvious problem - see wiki entry) but glancing at the corner it's in, and alluding to it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:11 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


I think people sometimes conflate "no one should feel any obligation to debate with bigots" with "no one should ever attempt to debate with bigots."
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:14 PM on March 15 [26 favorites]


WaPo: Christian Conservatives In Trump Administration Build Global Anti-Abortion Coalition
Over the past few months, [Health and Human Services Department Senior Policy Advisor Valerie] Huber and other U.S. officials have traveled the world inviting other nations to join the cause. In meetings, according to people privy to the discussions who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, Huber, who previously founded an abstinence-only sex education group, has explained that “health and rights mean different things to different people.”

The first test of the coalition comes this week as U.S. negotiators seek to excise references to “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights” — which they argue promotes abortion and normalizes sexual activity among youth — in an annual document about empowering women by the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women. They also want to replace “gender-responsive” with “family-centered” in calls for more-inclusive public services.

And they’re pushing to add a section recognizing that “women’s contribution to the home, including through unpaid care and domestic work, which is not adequately recognized, generates human and social capital.”

U.S. representatives have indicated that a declaration without their proposed changes is “unacceptable,” according to participants at the meetings.

Their position has the backing of nontraditional allies such as Bahrain, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and possibly Russia but has drawn strong opposition by many European countries.
American anti-abortion activists have been building bridges to UK political parties and politicians for some time now, e.g. the Democratic Unionist Party and anti-abortion Tories such as Jacob Rees-Mogg. This phase, begun under G. W. Bush, is unsurprising.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:15 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


[It's time to take debate-the-trolls strategizing to its own thread if there's this much interest in it. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:45 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Sign at the Minnesota state capitol strike:

"Why should we go to school if you won't listen to the educated?"
posted by ryanshepard at 12:48 PM on March 15 [136 favorites]


A progressive group is trying to create a 2020 litmus test on judges (Li Zhou, Vox)
Demand Justice, a progressive activist group dedicated to blocking Republican efforts to remake the federal judiciary, has issued a report card [13 pg PDF] rating how Democratic senators voted on judges this past year. And it’s got some pretty harsh feedback for some presidential hopefuls.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:50 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


I strongly recommend the Atlantic article posted on the previous thread on White Nationalism, and also, see the video below it. They are both chilling but also very true.
Way back when Reagan was running against Carter, my cousin brought home a college friend who was a young Reaganite. Most of my family was shocked by his racism, but obviously polite. I went out and did some farmwork (for a week). White suprematism never disappeared, it just hid for a while.
posted by mumimor at 1:26 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale has been live-tweeting Trump's "National Emergency" veto event at the White House this afternoon. (He also has a transcript of Trump's remarks specifically about New Zealand.)

Notably, “Asked if he thinks white nationalism is a rising threat around the world, Trump said, "I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."” But of his manufactured southern border national emergency, he said, "It is a tremendous national emergency. It is a tremendous crisis."
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:00 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


From The Hill: New Zealand suspect wrote in manifesto he supported Trump 'as a symbol of renewed white identity'

Because of course he did.   Sigh.  I didn't want to make the current New Zealand tread about the U.S; it feels more appropriate here instead.  The man is poison.  

Headlines like this one from The Atlantic give me hope though: Secular Democrats Are the New Normal

If the politics of the past thirty years can even begin to detangle itself from religion as we move forward, I'll be utterly thrilled. I've always felt that the refusal to unabashedly double down and embrace secular government was a failure of strategy on the part of Democrats.  Secular government—the need for it—has always been a part of our national history.  The Democratic party has repeatedly let the right dictate the terms of the discussion of religion in government, and I'd like to see them refuse to engage in it any longer.  We're a pluralistic society, always have been, and I'd like to see this correction pointed out every time someone calls us a "Christian" nation.  At least they've got demographics on their side.  We're growing consistently less religious as a population, and I have little doubt that the tipping point getting closer and closer is what's freaking out people like Pence.  They've managed to wrest control of the apparatus the past few decades, but now the numbers are working against them like never before.  The writing's on the wall, and they know it—at least I keep telling myself that.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 2:05 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]




It seems that Beto has forgotten that he's not just running in Texas anymore. You're not supposed to say the Republican positions out loud.
posted by JackFlash at 2:11 PM on March 15 [22 favorites]


It's almost like "not as bad as Ted Cruz" isn't the best qualification to represent the entire Democratic party.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:13 PM on March 15 [67 favorites]




[I'm not sure where people got the idea where the megathread is a good place for video reaction shots to super-early primary news, but I regret to inform you that you are incorrect. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:21 PM on March 15 [59 favorites]


> It's almost like "not as bad as Ted Cruz" isn't the best qualification to represent the entire Democratic party.

Given the clown car nature of the primary field so far, O'Rourke could probably build some Betomentum™️ by being qualified to represent perhaps a third or a quarter of the party, or at least be like the second or third choice for a half of it. And yet.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:24 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, Sanders 2020 is the first major presidential campaign to unionize thier campaign workers

This is great news and a good way to remove what would have been a negative charge against the Sanders campaign. Now that issue is neutral.
posted by Justinian at 2:28 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


Asked if he thinks white nationalism is a rising threat around the world, Trump said, "I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."

He also said he just had no idea whether the Christchurch shooter had anything to do with white nationalism because he doesn't “know enough about it yet.” A redux of pretending to not know who the KKK was on the 2016 campaign trail, and thus supposedly being unable to say whether he would reject its support.

Saying this stuff, he's basically wearing a sandwichboard sign saying white nationalist can depend on him and deserve his support.

It's the same thing as Nikki Haley responding to the 2015 AME Church shootings by saying “we'll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another” after the white shooter said, while he was killing his black victims, “You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go.”
posted by XMLicious at 3:20 PM on March 15 [49 favorites]




CNBC: Mueller: Former Trump Campaign Official Rick Gates ‘Continues To Cooperate’ In Several Investigation
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations,” special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday.

“Accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate” to move on to Gates’ sentencing phase, the filing in Washington, D.C., federal court said.

The joint report from Mueller and Gates’ attorney, which asks a federal judge for 60 more days before providing the next update on Gates’ status, comes amid increasing speculation that the special counsel’s Russia probe is coming to an end.
Marcy Wheeler delves deeper: On the Exonerating Information Rick Gates Just Provided "In her minute order on this (doing nothing about the breach determination), ABJ did indeed order the passage (page 36 line 16) where she discussed the recipients of the data to be corrected, making it virtually certain Manafort shared the data with one Russian and two Ukrainian oligarchs." Emphasis added, because coincidentally Trump went off on Twitter this morning, declaring "there should be no Mueller report".
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:38 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


[Reload; a bunch deleted related to a non-story.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:30 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Newsweek, 12/27/18: President Trump's Tactics of Fear And Loathing Can Be Defeated: An Interview With Martha C. Nussbaum
The 71-year-old Nussbaum, a moral philosopher and law professor at the University of Chicago, is passionately concerned with justice and how it affects the personal and political. But her interest goes beyond the theoretical; she is committed to using philosophy to improve the very vocabulary of public discourse. Nussbaum has written five major books dedicated to this. The most recent, The Monarchy of Fear, is an engaging consideration of our current political crisis from the perspective of emotion—how anger, disgust and envy have been used, since antiquity, to divide people

Nussbaum disproves the dig on modern academics—that theylive above the political fray, in ivory towers—perhaps because she takes her cues from the OGs of philosophy. “The great thinkers of the ancient tradition were not detached from political issues,” she says. “Seneca was regent of the Roman Emperor Nero, and he was trying to curb him from doing terrible things. There was no escaping political reality.”

Fear has dominated political conversation in the U.S. for a lot longer than Donald Trump has been president. But the noise of it has grown deafening and debilitating in the past two years. Though Nussbaum is certainly adept at putting fear in context, as well as articulating how it is used for political strategy and to justify rage, she—and we—are equally interested in how to move beyond it. With hate crimes on the rise and talk of impeachment everywhere, there is perhaps no more pressing concern. Below, a conversation on how to “purify” anger and find hope in the Trump era.
posted by homunculus at 6:19 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


Hundreds 'plank like RBG' outside Supreme Court to celebrate Ginsburg's birthday
posted by growabrain at 6:23 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]




Below, a conversation on how to “purify” anger and find hope in the Trump era.

From the Guardian:
Over 24 hours of climate action, organizers of the climate strike believe more than 1 million students skipped school on Friday or protest government inaction on climate change. From Australia and New Zealand, to Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America, students from all over the world took to the streets to demand change. Organizers said there were more than 2,000 protests in 125 countries.
From the Washington Post:
Starting in the South Pacific and moving west with the sun, the protests blanketed grand city centers and humble village squares, national parliament buildings and tiny town halls. The demonstrations stretched to every continent, across more than 100 countries and 1,700 locations, from India to South Africa to Greenland.

The coordinated demonstrations were planned as the largest manifestation to date of the Fridays for Future movement, in which students forgo classes each week in favor of something they have said is more important: pleading for action on an issue that will affect every person on the planet, but young people most of all. [...]

An estimated 150,000 people turned out in dozens of demonstrations across Australia. Somewhat smaller protests unfolded in cities across Asia. In Europe, capitals such as Berlin, Paris and London were filled with placard-wielding students who had packed into trains and subways to reach the demonstrations. Tens of thousands of people were estimated to have turned out in each of those cities.

Large groups also turned out in New York, Washington and some other U.S. cities in roughly three dozen U.S. states.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:10 PM on March 15 [26 favorites]


A short history of President Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry
Trump is an Islamophobic bigot. As president, his words matter. He is using them to spread hatred. And deranged, unwell or evil people have allegedly been inspired by those words to target the very people that Trump targets in his speeches and his tweets. The charged suspect in New Zealand cited Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” (though he also said he rejected Trump as a policymaker and leader).

...

Some of the president’s supporters might accuse me of “politicizing tragedy,” but that is the only appropriate thing to do when tragedies are made more likely because of our politics. Hollow statements of condolence are meaningless if you are willing to turn around and support an Islamophobic bigot in the White House who makes those condolences more necessary.
posted by homunculus at 7:44 PM on March 15 [18 favorites]


Russian Oligarch Sues U.S. Over Sanctions (NYT (via))

Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin, sued the United States government on Friday, demanding it lift sanctions that he claimed have cost him billions of dollars, made him ‘radioactive’ in international business circles and exposed him to criminal investigation and asset confiscation in Russia.

In a lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Washington, Mr. Deripaska said that the sanctions, leveled in April by the Treasury Department, should be struck down because they deprived him of due process and relied on unproven smears that fell outside the sanctions program.

... The Treasury Department justified the sanctions partly by citing accusations against Mr. Deripaska of bribery, links to organized crime and even murder. But Mr. Deripaska’s lawyers described the accusations as “nothing more than false rumor and innuendo and originate from decades-old defamatory attacks originated by his business competitors,” and “completely untethered” from the claims of aiding Russia’s malign activities.

The Treasury Department, Mr. Deripaska contended, did not try to link him to “the interference of democratic processes, nor has Deripaska been charged anywhere in the world for doing so.”


"Y'all locked up my boy Paulie, after we got y'all elected, and he owes me money! Gimme the rest o' my criminal blood-money billions motherf*rs", said Deripaska (okay that last part I made up, but it's based on a true story) I'd like to think a lot of discovery and cross-examination will be involved here, but.
posted by petebest at 7:52 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


Think we should be at school? Today’s climate strike is the biggest lesson of all (Greta Thunberg, Anna Taylor and others, Guardian)
These strikes are happening today – from Washington DC to Moscow, Tromsø to Invercargill, Beirut to Jerusalem, and Shanghai to Mumbai – because politicians have failed us. We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. We’ve seen fracking, deep sea drilling and coalmining continue. Politicians have known the truth about climate change and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.

[...] This is not just about cutting down emissions, but about equity – the system we have right now is failing us, working only for the rich few. The luxury so few of us enjoy in the global north is based on the suffering of people in the global south.

We have watched as politicians fumble, playing a political game rather than facing the facts that the solutions we need cannot be found within the current system. They don’t want to face the facts – we need to change the system if we are to try to act on the climate crisis.

This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. The vast majority of climate strikers taking action today aren’t allowed to vote. Imagine for a second what that feels like. Despite watching the climate crisis unfold, despite knowing the facts, we aren’t allowed to have a say in who makes the decisions about climate change. And then ask yourself this: wouldn’t you go on strike too, if you thought doing so could help protect your own future?

So today we walk out of school, we quit our college lessons, and we take to the streets to say enough is enough. Some adults say we shouldn’t be walking out of classes – that we should be “getting an education”. We think organising against an existential threat – and figuring out how to make our voices heard – is teaching us some important lessons.

Other adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But we don’t want your hope. We don’t want you to be hopeful. We want you to panic and we want you to take action. We want you to join us.
'I want you to panic': Greta Thunberg issues climate warning at Davos (Guardian video)
posted by Little Dawn at 7:58 PM on March 15 [45 favorites]


> Over 24 hours of climate action, organizers of the climate strike believe more than 1 million students skipped school on Friday or protest government inaction on climate change. From Australia and New Zealand, to Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America, students from all over the world took to the streets to demand change. Organizers said there were more than 2,000 protests in 125 countries.

It's a source of real hope to see young people all over the world doing this. Younger voters have usually been less politically active than older ones, but that could change if they can hang onto their idealism. And this international bond they're forging could make them the first truly cosmopolitan generation in history. Here's a Twitter mega-thread (70+ tweets) with pictures and video clips of the protests around the world:

"[THREAD] Greta has been on #ClimateStrike for 30 weeks now. Today, she will be joined by students all over the world in over 123 countries on all continents. Only one word for this. Historical."
posted by homunculus at 7:59 PM on March 15 [32 favorites]


Houston Chronicle: Sen. Ted Cruz fined $35,000 by Federal Elections Commission Over 2012 Loans
The Federal Election Commission this week issued a $35,000 fine to Sen. Ted Cruz for failing to disclose more than $1 million in campaign loans from Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

The commission found that Cruz took out loans from the banks for use in his 2012 Senate campaign but improperly reported them as coming from his “personal funds,” according to the settlement agreement posted online by the Campaign Legal Center.

“As has repeatedly been reported, the loans were public at the time and fully disclosed on Senate ethics disclosures, but they weren’t reported correctly on the FEC forms,” said Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier, referring to a New York Times report from 2016. “This agreed settlement resolves that filing mistake once and for all.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:41 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


i read (most of) the deripaska filing (challenging sanctions against him/his stuff as "arbitrary and capricious", as petebest linked above; can't recall where i read the filing earlier, but have just found it embedded via scribd at the bottom of this cnbc story), and browsed the administrative procedures act hoping for quick easy confirmation of my intuition/hope that the court will summary-judgment that thing away with prejudice, but my haphazard search was unavailing. i lack the stamina/time/will to read all the sources i'd need to arrive at a minimally-competently-reasoned conjecture, and, knowing that, stopped reading just at that point i'd otherwise had to have started taking notes and citations. i haven't even finished reading lisa page's testimony yet, or found a transcript of judge jackson sentencing manafort!

oleg "don't call me oligarch" deripaska's got a lawyer named ferrari who signs the filing with a pennsylvania avenue address. i idly wonder how he gets paid.

(is oleg objecting to being called an oligarch eponysterical? or false-cognasterical? homophonisterical?)

i can't believe that determinations to impose sanctions get the same treatment as, say, administrative rulemaking does under the apa. two executive orders, an act of congress, a public and a classified dossier supporting the office of foreign asset control recommendation, in the case of the plaintiff, strike me as likely satisfying due process strictures, on their face, and lacking any more particular facts (or ... actual thorough and comprehending consultation of the relevant authorities).

on the other hand, this case being live, hovering ominously in the dockets, might represent a subtle pressure in favor of the agency in a currently-pending appeal concerning a challenged agency action the supreme court is supposed to hear in, i think, april. not that deripaska's case is similar to the wilbur ross case except insofar as each challenges an agency action. for one thing: the agency in deripaska has not presented a tribunal sitting in judgment with a fabricated administrative record, yet (if only because they haven't had the chance).
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:05 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


The Federal Election Commission this week issued a $35,000 fine to Sen. Ted Cruz for failing to disclose more than $1 million in campaign loans from Citibank and Goldman Sachs.


You know, I’m...not sure that’s actually going to be a deterrent to future criming. More like just the cost of doing business.
posted by darkstar at 9:47 PM on March 15 [49 favorites]


The Federal Election Commission this week issued a $35,000 fine to Sen. Ted Cruz for failing to disclose more than $1 million in campaign loans from Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

Instead of a fine, the punishment for FEC violations ought to be removal from office.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:04 PM on March 15 [59 favorites]


Colorado has formally joined the National Popular Vote Compact. Delaware and New Mexico are poised to do so, as well.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:48 PM on March 15 [66 favorites]


CNN notes an interesting development at the Bijan Kian trial: Flynn done cooperating with Mueller probe, but info he provided is still part of ongoing investigations, government says
Federal prosecutors in Virginia want to restrict sharing some special counsel memos of interviews with Flynn because of the "ongoing investigation" into matters he shared with investigators.

In court Friday, the prosecutor said the ongoing probes were unrelated to Flynn's Turkish lobbying case -- raising the possibility it touches on Flynn's ties to the Trump campaign, transition, administration or the Russian government.

The prosecutor in court Friday stopped himself after he acknowledged other US attorneys may be looking at what Flynn shared with the special counsel.

"At least one other district," he said, correcting himself after first saying "districts," before asking to withdraw his statement in court representing the number of ongoing investigations.
The Kian defense team is asking the judge for access to all SCO memos from Flynn's cooperation so they can prepare to cross examine him at the Turkish lobbying trial this summer.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:46 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act: Civil Rights Under Trump

I've seen all of these separately I think but this is a concise collection of the major stories about dismantling federal civil rights protection.
posted by XMLicious at 4:12 AM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Instead of a fine, the punishment for FEC violations ought to be removal from office.

President Boehner approves of this message.
posted by Etrigan at 5:42 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


A clear majority of Americans oppose Trump’s emergency declaration (WaPo)
Numerous polls suggest Trump’s decision was popular among his Republican base. But his decision to use executive authority to fund a wall along the southern border is opposed by a clear majority of the public.

That is reflected in six polls taken from early January to early March. By roughly a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose Trump’s decision to use emergency powers to build a border wall. That’s a wider margin than the Senate resolution to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, which passed 59 to 41.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:11 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Flynn business partner facing prosecution complains he was singled out (Politico)
MacDougall noted the rarity of prosecutions under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, saying there have been just seven prosecutions in recent years. The argument echoed complaints from lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also claimed he was singled out over foreign-lobbying because he had the misfortune of coming into Mueller’s crosshairs.

However, Gillis noted that Kian is charged not only with conspiring to violate FARA but a more serious offense of acting in the U.S. as an unregistered agent for a foreign government. Those charges are typically brought in cases considered closer to espionage, but there need not be any military or national security secrets at stake.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:20 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Supreme Court to rule if citizenship census question is constitutional (Axios)
The announcement followed a federal ruling in early March that Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross — whose agency is responsible for the census — is in breach of the Constitution's Enumeration Clause. A federal judge in New York also blocked the Trump administration from including the question, ruling that Ross "violated the public trust" with the citizenship question.
Supreme Court expands scope of census citizenship question case (NBC News)
Ross has argued that the question was added at his direction after he received a letter from the Department of Justice in late 2017 that said the data was needed to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act. Ross came under intense scrutiny for the move and recently defended his rationale during a fiery congressional hearing.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:45 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


MacDougall noted the rarity of prosecutions under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, saying there have been just seven prosecutions in recent years. The argument echoed complaints from lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also claimed he was singled out over foreign-lobbying because he had the misfortune of coming into Mueller’s crosshairs.

By this logic nobody should get speeding tickets because they only ticket about 4% of speeders.
posted by srboisvert at 7:48 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


[Robert Reich]

What does a megalomaniacal president do when he’s cornered? We’ll soon find out.

The Democrats are beginning a series of investigations about Trump. Senate Republicans have begun to desert him. Twelve defected on the wall. Seven refused to back Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

Almost all have gone on record that they want Robert Mueller’s report made public. That report, not incidentally, appears imminent.

Trump cannot abide losing. His ego can’t contain humiliation. He is incapable of shame.

So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.

We must be on red alert.

posted by growabrain at 7:57 AM on March 16 [50 favorites]


Although the NY AG Letitia James's court filing in the state's lawsuit against the Trump Foundation this past Thursday came up in the previous megathread, the news is receiving surprisingly little coverage for a clear case of fraud and election law violations.

Here's the AP wire's story, which is the most widely circulated: NY Attorney General: Evidence Shows Trump Misused Charity
Insider testimony, emails and other evidence show President Donald Trump turned his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a new court filing Thursday.

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, detailed her case against the foundation in a 37-page court filing in a lawsuit that seeks $2.8 million in restitution and an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.

The filing was a response to an earlier court submission from the foundation’s lawyers, who have argued that the lawsuit against the charity is both flimsy and politically motivated.[…]

James said the evidence of banned coordination between campaign officials and the foundation includes deposition testimony from Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg and emails he exchanged with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

In one email, a Trump company vice president asked Lewandowski for guidance on how to distribute the money that was raised.

“Do you have a list of which veterans charities you want these funds sent to and how much for each charity??” the vice president, Jeffrey McConney, wrote Lewandowski on Feb. 16, 2016, according to the filing. “Lastly, how much longer do you want to keep the TrumpforVets website up and running?”

Trump was also accused in the suit of directing that $100,000 in foundation money be used to settle legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole he had built at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, instead of paying the expense out of his own pocket.
The RNC's Rona Romney McDaniel calls this a "personal and political vendetta" against Trump in a typical example of the Trumpist talking point of politicizing the accusation without addressing the substance.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:23 AM on March 16 [29 favorites]


"what is ailing the American economy?"
There are two main culprits. The first is a savings glut. Americans are saving more and spending less partly because the rich now take home so much of the economy’s income — and the rich don’t spend as large a share of their income as the poor and middle class. The aging of society plays a role too, because people are saving for retirement.

The second big cause is an investment slump. Despite all the savings available to be invested, companies are holding back. Some have grown so large and monopoly-like that they don’t need to invest in new projects to make profits. Think about your internet provider: It may have terrible customer service, but you don’t have a lot of alternatives. The company doesn’t need to invest in new technology or employees to keep you as a customer.

Beside a lack of competition, the investment slump stems from what Summers calls the de-massification of the economy. Developers aren’t building as many malls and stores, because goods now go straight from warehouses to homes. Offices don’t need as much storage space. Cellphones have replaced not just desktop computers but also cameras, stereos, books and more. Many young people have decided they’re happy living in small apartments, without cars.

For all of these economic problems, there are promising solutions. But the United States is not giving those solutions a try.
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:43 AM on March 16 [30 favorites]


‘The President … Is Not Above the Law’ (NYT Editorial Board)
A New York appeals court on Thursday ruled that Mr. Trump, like Mr. Clinton before him, is not protected by the presidency from answering civil charges. The five-judge panel in Manhattan said that the Constitution’s supremacy clause does not bar state courts from hearing claims over “alleged unofficial misconduct” — that is, claims of improper or illegal action before a president took office. The decision expands on the precedent set in Clinton v. Jones, in which a unanimous Supreme Court in 1997 ruled that a federal court had jurisdiction over a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, a former low-level Arkansas state employee, against Mr. Clinton.

Yes, the presidency is important and its occupant may have important duties to attend to other than to produce documents or sit for depositions in a civil suit alleging sexual misconduct and defamation, the court explained, but “the President is still a person, and he is not above the law.”

Two judges dissented, observing that the threat of contempt, should Mr. Trump resist the legal process, would put a state court in “direct control” over the president. [...] Mr. Trump’s lawyers said they would appeal the ruling in the Zervos matter.

If past is prologue, these lawsuits could be a minefield for Mr. Trump, who so far has avoided, on his lawyers’ advice, a face-to-face interview with the special counsel, Robert Mueller — in no small part because of the president’s tenuous relationship with the truth.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:27 AM on March 16 [16 favorites]


Trump says he told House GOP to 'play along' on Mueller report vote (Politico)
President Donald Trump on Saturday said he encouraged House Republicans to vote in favor of a resolution calling on the Justice Department to make Robert Mueller’s final report public — despite tweeting a day earlier that the special counsel “should never have been appointed” and that “there should be no Mueller Report.”

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved in a 420-0 vote the measure urging Attorney General William Barr to release the entirety of Mueller’s findings and make them available to Congress. The resolution was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.

“On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!”
posted by Little Dawn at 10:48 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Mueller's busy week offers new signs his report is coming soon (Politico)
“The signs I see are all pointing towards an investigation that is wrapping up,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who has worked with Weissmann on organized crime cases. “[We are] probably a few weeks or even a month or more away from the issuing of a final report, but certainly a fairly complete draft is already being circulated inside the Mueller team.”

[...] Even if Mueller’s investigation is all but complete, however, his prosecutions will continue for months.

[...] Friday’s filing suggests Gates may be helping federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Trump's inauguration committee, which he helped run alongside real estate developer and longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack. The committee is facing questions about the source of its donations and how it spent its record-level $107 million haul.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:57 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Dear Editors: Stop trying to predict the Mueller report.

Mueller is close to done, but the Weissman news is overblown.
Let me be clear: I do agree Mueller is just about done with the investigation. He’s waiting on Mystery Appellant, possibly on Andrew Miller’s testimony; he may have been waiting on formal publication of Jerome Corsi’s book yesterday. Multiple other details suggest that Mueller expects to be able to share things in a month that he’s unable to share today.

None of that tells us what will happen in the next few weeks. There is abundant evidence that Trump entered into a quid pro quo conspiracy with Russia, trading dirt and dollars for sanctions relief and other policy considerations. But it’s unclear whether Mueller has certainty that he’d have an 85% chance of winning convictions, which is around what he’d need to convince DOJ to charge it. There is also abundant evidence that Trump and others obstructed the investigation, but charging Trump in that presents constitutional questions.

If Mueller does charge either of those things, I’d still expect him to resign and either retire or move back to WilmerHale and let other prosecutors prosecute it. That’s what Leon Jaworski did in Watergate.
posted by gucci mane at 11:05 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Monday is the deadline for complying with the 81 document requests that the House Judiciary Committee sent out. I wonder how many will comply, and how many will resist
posted by growabrain at 11:58 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]




> So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.We must be on red alert.

Aaron Blake: Trump again nods toward violence by his supporters — and maybe something bigger

I made a Twitter thread with these and several other articles about Trump's violent rhetoric and stochastic terrorism, if anyone's interested.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on March 16 [23 favorites]


From the Aaron Blake piece:
The inclusion of bikers is also interesting — and timely. As The Post wrote last week, motorcycle gangs known as “colectivos” have served as enforcers for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. That, of course, wouldn’t explain why Trump included bikers when he said this in September.
This is probably just Trump fantasizing about having the same para-military toys the other kids have. Here's an article and short film (.mp4) from The Guardian in 2016 about a Russian biker gang called the Night Wolves / Ночные Волки who have moved into Eastern Ukraine to participate in the conflict and otherwise demonstrate loyalty to Putin.
posted by XMLicious at 3:44 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


Facebook faces fresh questions over when it knew of data harvesting.
Allegations come as US prosecutors investigate claims of cover-up.
posted by adamvasco at 3:52 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


"I like presidents who aren't whiny traitors"
Trump slammed as ‘a vile human being’ for attacking John McCain (who died 6 months ago)
posted by growabrain at 4:00 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


He's right though: McCain used the ACA as grist for campaigning for years, and then did grandstanding against it when he thought that was politically expedient. That one particular line is maybe one of the few times trump will ever be right - McCain was a coward and a hypocrite, and he doesn't deserve honor just because he finally had the decency to die.
posted by codacorolla at 4:17 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


As much as McCain may have flipped politically, it must be remembered that he was a prisoner of and tortured by the North Vietnamese army for a period of time that far exceeds the president*'s attention span. He was absolutely not a traitor, in the primary and most important sense of the term.

The simplicity of that definition is also well past the presidential* comprehension level, so much so that it is clear he was in fact a traitor, in the primary sense of that word, and his only defense may be that he does not seem to understand that primary definition, of loyalty to one's county.
posted by Dashy at 4:47 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


The NYT examines how Mar-a-Lago influence-peddler Cindy Yang suspiciously raised $50K to get a fund-raising photo op with Trump:
The invitation limited campaign contributions to $5,400 per person, so Ms. Yang, a Chinese immigrant who had set up a string of day spas in Florida and was active in groups backed by the Chinese government and Communist Party, needed others to chip in.

Over the weeks leading up to the event, at least nine people in Ms. Yang’s orbit, some of them with modest incomes, made donations at exactly $5,400. She ended up at the dinner.[…]

One of the $5,400 political donations came from a 25-year-old woman who gives facials at a beauty school, in a strip mall in nearby Palm Beach Gardens that is owned by Ms. Yang’s family. Another $5,400 came from a woman who says she worked as a receptionist at a massage parlor owned by Ms. Yang’s husband. A third gift of $5,400 came from an associate of Ms. Yang’s who had been charged in 2014 after a prostitution sting with practicing health care without a license, police records show.

The receptionist, Bingbing Peranio, listed as a “manager” on her disclosure, spoke with a reporter about her relationship with Ms. Yang. She described herself as a big fan of Mr. Trump’s and said Ms. Yang, a registered Republican, was seen as a leader among Asian-American Republicans in Florida.

Ms. Peranio said Ms. Yang had come to the spa where she worked at the time and helped fill out the check toward the president’s campaign. “I can’t say she was pushing me or not pushing me, but I worked there then,” she said, speaking at her home in Jupiter. “I was working there. I didn’t say no.”

Asked if Ms. Yang had reimbursed her for the $5,400, Ms. Peranio said, “I do not want to answer that question.” Reimbursing someone for a political contribution or contributing in the name of another person is illegal.
Yang had no comment for the NYT reporters, and she has deleted the photo of her and Trump from her company's website.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:46 PM on March 16 [41 favorites]


'Pay-for-access to Trump club': Mar-a-Lago faces renewed ethics concerns (Guardian)
With the winding down of the annual Palm Beach social circuit comes the end of another season of controversy, scandal and ethics concerns that swirl around the exclusive resort, which drips with gold-leafed opulence and where a $200,000 “initiation fee” appears to cover the privilege of bending the president’s ear.

This year’s cast of notable characters includes the Chinese former owner of a massage parlour snared in a high-profile prostitution sting, a Russian investor wanted in his home country for tax fraud and a cosmetic dentist who influenced Trump’s thinking on veterans’ care by writing policy advice on a cocktail napkin.

Add to the mix last summer’s confirmation as ambassador to the Dominican Republic of Trump’s longtime friend and former insurance agent Robin Bernstein, a Mar-a-Lago founding member, and renewed concerns by ethics experts over the ease of access to and influence over Trump when he visits his resort are easy to understand. [...]

The Yang saga was followed by another eye-opening scandal this week when the Herald exposed the presence at a Mar-a-Lago charity event last year of Sergey Danilochkin, a Russian real estate investor accused in his home country of a $170m tax fraud. There is no suggestion he met Trump, but the Herald reported he was there as part of a $600-a-head event hosted by Elizabeth Trump Grau, the president’s sister. [...]

Some of the more extraordinary and questionable moments at Mar-a-Lago have their roots closer to home, and involve club members. Palm Beach handbag designer Lana Marks, for example, is Trump’s pick for US ambassador to South Africa.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:13 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Biden almost announces he's running for president in Delaware speech
"I get criticized by the new left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United ... anybody who would run," Biden said, catching himself at a Delaware Democratic Party fundraising dinner. "I didn't mean ... Of anybody who would run! Because folks, we have to bring this country back together again."
...
"We need a little more of the Delaware way. We got to make it more the American way and it's lost. Our politics has become so mean, so petty, so vicious that we can't govern ourselves, in many cases, even talk to one another. It can't go on like this, folks," he said.
You really. Really. Don't.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:54 PM on March 16 [36 favorites]


I like Biden, think he was a great VP, and will vote for him against Trump without a second thought if he should win the nomination... and I think that's pretty hilariously wrong. It's okay not to have the most progressive record of the approximately ninety-seven candidates. Only one person can, after all.

But come on Joe. Love ya, buddy, but no.
posted by Justinian at 7:11 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


"Yellow vest" demonstrations in Paris turn violent (Axios)
Tensions were running high on Saturday as protesters committed arson and looted luxury stores on the streets of Paris, in the 18th weekend of "yellow vest" demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron, the AP reports. [...]

In response to the chaotic events, Trump tweeted Saturday asking: "How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France?"
posted by Little Dawn at 7:12 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Reporters are asking Democratic politicians "Are you a Socialist? " Once again, the media is doing the far right's dirty work as our candidates have to explain the nuances of Democratic Socialism or, on the flip side, having to mount a defense of Capitalism.

I propose that all Republican politicians be asked "Are you a White Nationalist?" When they get outraged over the question, we should point out that they support a president who is an icon of the White Nationalists and whose speeches are indistinguishable from the speeches of other White Nationalists.

The GOP is embracingd White Nationalism and it is long past time to stop dancing around this.


[Paraphrasing from DM]
posted by growabrain at 7:20 PM on March 16 [81 favorites]


In response to the chaotic events, Trump tweeted Saturday asking: "How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France?"

In the meantime, Trump administration lifts protections on federal land, opens leases to energy industry (Axios)
Walking back a 2015 regulation under President Obama, the Trump administration on Friday finalized a move to lift protections on nearly 9 million acres of federal lands for the greater sage grouse, with the aim of expanding leases for the oil, gas and mining industry, reports the Washington Post. [...] Per WaPo: “In pursuit of that agenda over the past two years, the administration has sought to reverse dozens of regulations aimed at making oil platforms safer, reducing carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere, and protecting the habitats of endangered animals and those on the verge of an endangered status.”
posted by Little Dawn at 7:24 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


It's okay not to have the most progressive record of the approximately ninety-seven candidates.

It's even ok to say your views have evolved since the 1980s and your 30 years in office, and then explain how and what you believe today. That's the honest way to campaign and address your "flip flops", Gillibrand is doing a pretty good job of exactly that approach. What's not OK is to pretend you've been the biggest progressive the whole time and never been wrong and anyone who criticizes you from the left is doing so in bad faith. Particularity with Biden's actual record of 30 years of stanning for credit card companies, being a primary force behind the failed war on drugs, the man most responsible for the disastrous 2005 bankruptcy reform bill, countless mini #metoos, and on and on. If that's going to be Biden's whole campaign, japing at progressives for daring to point out his real record, while trying to appropriate the label and promising that no no, really, THIS TIME all it'll take is to get Mitch McConnell in a room and ask "so what's the deal, really?", like he wasn't even there for the entire 8 years he was VP...it's going to be a really long primary.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:28 PM on March 16 [40 favorites]


"We need a little more of the Delaware way. We got to make it more the American way and it's lost." - J. Biden

Salon, Feb. 22, 2016: How Delaware became an American haven for "grand corruption"
An international watchdog just called out the First State for its dangerous role in the corporate ecosystem.

Normally, when one of our 50 states gets singled out by an international body of some consequence, you would hope it would be good news and something that the locals would brag about. But that’s not likely to be the case with Delaware’s recognition by Transparency International this month as one of the world’s best examples of “grand corruption.” The dubious distinction comes in recognition of the state's laissez faire corporate registration system, which critics say provides corporations, fraudsters and wealthy individuals secrecy and asset protection that puts it on a footing with notorious tax havens like the Cayman Islands.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:30 PM on March 16 [24 favorites]


...it's going to be a really long primary.

But you gotta admit, Biden stepping on his own candidacy announcement with an unforced gaffe is like the most on-brand Biden thing ever.
posted by Justinian at 7:35 PM on March 16 [90 favorites]


THIS TIME all it'll take is to get Mitch McConnell in a room and ask "so what's the deal, really?", like he wasn't even there for the entire 8 years he was VP...it's going to be a really long primary.

Biden and Obama let all these tumors grow because they wanted to appear above politics. Heckova jorb Bidey!
posted by benzenedream at 11:08 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


On Twitter, AOC had an interesting perspective:
If you want to know what subconscious bias looks like, it’s a headline saying “AOC is underwater with every group EXCEPT women, nonwhites, and 18-34 year olds.”

So older, conservative white men are considered “everyone” and everyone else is discounted as an exception.

Cool 👍🏽
The tweet she links has since been deleted.
posted by Harald74 at 11:40 PM on March 16 [134 favorites]


Words do not mean anything any more, exhibit #976:
Ilhan Omar Accused of Supporting Aipac after Critiquing Assad [Jerusalem Post]
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Joe in Australia: Ilhan Omar Accused of Supporting Aipac after Critiquing Assad [Jerusalem Post]

That's a classic perspective from certain corners of the interwebs: Foreign military intervention, especially by the USA, has predictably horrendous consequences... therefore Bashir al-Assad didn't really gas anyone, it was the people of Syria gassing themselves to make him look bad, and they should just submit to him already (also the rebel side is helped by ISIL and obviously that makes the regime doublegood).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:37 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]


Salon, Feb. 22, 2016: How Delaware became an American haven for "grand corruption"


Has Delaware, in living memory, ever been anything more than a state level flag of convenience?
posted by ocschwar at 5:45 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


In response to the chaotic events, Trump tweeted Saturday asking: "How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France?"

Just for comparison, Nebraska is underwater right now. Yeah, Nebraska. The one in the middle. The state that is entirely surrounded by land-locked states.
posted by Etrigan at 5:45 AM on March 17 [51 favorites]


See also: Gabbard, Tulsi.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:50 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Preet Bharara: ‘I Didn’t Call Trump Back And It’s One Of The Best Decisions I Ever Made'
Fired by the president, the former US attorney has written his first book. He talks about if and when Trump will face justice – and why he fears for his own safety[…]

It starts with a phone call he received on 9 March 2017. The president of the United States was on the line, he was told, did he want to take it?

Bharara was puzzled. He’d been summoned to meet the president-elect in Trump Tower shortly after the November 2016 election, when Trump had invited him to stay on at the helm of the SDNY.

Before the meeting ended, Trump asked Bharara for his phone number. That struck the lawyer as odd, though he duly wrote it down on a Post-it note. Now, a few weeks after Trump had been anointed, here he was again on the phone and, against protocol, wanting to talk.

Bharara did not pick up. And he did not call back.

It has been two years since then, and Bharara is still at a loss about why Trump called him. He wonders why, the day after the call, he was told to resign, when Trump had specifically requested that he stay on. (Bharara refused to quit, forcing Trump to fire him 48 hours after his unanswered phone call, on 11 March.) More importantly, he asks himself what that call had been about. What had Trump been after?

“Imagine what it would look like now if I were still US attorney and it became known that I had quiet little chats with the president at the same time we were investigating the Trump organisation and Michael Cohen. So I didn’t call back, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.”
NYMag's Olivia Nuzzi on Trump's telephone addiction: Who’s in Trump’s Rolodex?—Trump’s Phone Friends May Be More Important Than His Staff. So Who’s He Calling?

"One person who has received late-night calls from the president told me this: “If you’re Trump, the last thing you want is a moment of self-reflection. That’s why he’s constantly on the phone at night. Everybody’s afraid of themselves. People fear silence because they don’t want to hear voices. But Trump really fears that.”"
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:17 AM on March 17 [46 favorites]


Trump 2020: a huge war chest, a million volunteers and a revamped digital campaign (Guardian)
How significant Cambridge Analytica, which gained access to information on 50 million Facebook users as a way to influence their behavior, and Russian operatives were in Trump’s victory over the well-oiled Hillary Clinton machine remains hotly disputed.
Cambridge Analytica a year on: ‘a lesson in institutional failure’ (Guardian)
Christopher Wylie, a 28-year-old Canadian and former research director at Cambridge Analytica, revealed how the company had exploited Facebook data harvested from millions of people across the world to profile and target them with political messages and misinformation, without their knowledge or consent. [...]

Last week, on the 30th anniversary of the worldwide web, its creator Tim Berners-Lee urged people to stop the “downward plunge” to “a dysfunctional future” that the Cambridge Analytica scandal had helped expose. It was, Berners-Lee said, the moment people realised that “elections had been manipulated using data that they contributed”.

The problem is that while the tech companies have been called to account, they haven’t actually been held accountable. In November, after Zuckerberg refused to comply with a summons to parliament to answer questions about Facebook’s role in the scandal, Collins convened an international committee of nine parliaments. Zuckerberg refused to come to that too. [...]

The story was about how a company was able to use and abuse our personal information to target us in ways we can’t even see, let alone understand. But the scandal that followed seems to reveal something far more shocking. That Facebook is not just bigger than any nation state on Earth, with 1.74 billion users, and plays a pivotal role in their elections, but that it’s completely out of control. [...]

Wylie appeared before Collins’s parliamentary committee just over a week after the initial Observer story. Since then – in what he describes as his “global testimony tour” – he has testified to Congress and given evidence to regulators and lawmakers from across the world. He testified to the European parliament “and to the [US] House Intelligence Committee for something like five hours. I’ve testified multiple times to the House Intelligence Committee. And also the House Judiciary and Senate Judiciary.” In the US, the FBI is also investigating, as is the Department of Justice, the Securities Exchange Commission, 38 state attorney generals and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), all triggered by the story. The FTC is expected to impose a fine that will run into billions. Wylie gave evidence to pretty much all of them. [...]

“I was asked by a journalist to sum up the story in a minute,” he says, “and I was like: ‘No’. It goes from Trump to Brexit to Russian espionage to military operations in Afghanistan to hacking the president of Nigeria. Where do you even begin?” [...]

In the meantime, while Robert Mueller in the US painstakingly sets out the evidence of how Russia subverted Facebook during the presidential election, we know almost nothing about what happened in Britain.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:36 AM on March 17 [23 favorites]


Trump spy agency nominee marooned in Senate standoff (Politico)
Sen. Chuck Grassley is accusing the Trump administration of stonewalling him over a request for documents related to the Russia investigation, and he’s taking it out on the president’s nominee for a critical U.S. intelligence post.

The Iowa Republican’s demand for Justice Department documents on its probe of possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow has left William Evanina’s nomination to head the National Counterintelligence and Security Center in limbo for the past year, frustrating the nation’s top intelligence leaders and even some fellow Senate Republicans. [...]

Grassley’s refusal to allow Evanina to be confirmed threatens to inflame tensions between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress at a time when national security leaders are warning that China and Russia are not only stepping up espionage efforts but likely preparing significant operations to influence the 2020 election.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:13 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


So it looks like whoever wrote the @realDonaldTrump tweets this morning defending Jeanine Pirro may have actually included some white supremacist dog whistles...

From @JuddLegum
1. Wow.

This could be a coincidence but one of Trump's tweets this morning appears to contain a coded message of support to white nationalists.

In defense of Jeanine Pirro, who said wearing a hijab was "antithetical" to the Constitution, Trump tweeted "be strong & prosper"

2. The 1683 Battle of Vienna is extremely significant to white nationalists. It's revered as a victory of Christians over the Ottoman Empire, which is viewed as a prelude to their current battle against Islam.

The New Zealand shooter even wrote "Vienna" on one of his weapons

3. There was a contemporaneous account of the Battle of Vienna.

The first line ends: "Be strong and prosper in thy way on behalf of the Christian faith."

(link to the account on google books)
There are screenshots/pics on the thread.

On one hand, it seems a bit tinfoil hat. On the other the white power types really do like their historical allusions and using coded references to publically flaunt their beliefs.
posted by Buntix at 8:29 AM on March 17 [49 favorites]


Jeanine Pirro’s Show Was Bumped by Fox, to President’s Chagrin (NYT)
Fox News removed Ms. Pirro’s program, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” from its usual 9 p.m. time slot on Saturday, one week after the network took the rare step of publicly rebuking the host for an on-air monologue that questioned a Muslim lawmaker’s loyalty to the United States. [...]

At least one regular viewer of Ms. Pirro seemed to notice. Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter on Sunday morning, urged the network to “bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro.” [...] In what amounted to a presidential pep talk, Mr. Trump seemed to directly address his favorite television station, which has faced criticism in recent days over comments by Ms. Pirro and another star host, the pundit Tucker Carlson.

“Fox must stay strong and fight back with vigor,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them.” [...]

The president has been friendly for years with Ms. Pirro, whose ex-husband, Al Pirro, served as Mr. Trump’s Westchester County power broker in the 1990s before going to prison for conspiracy and tax evasion. Ms. Pirro, whose television career had stagnated, has watched her ratings rise as she became one of Mr. Trump’s most fervent on-air defenders.

But even Fox News, which has mostly stood by star personalities in past scandals, flinched last week after Ms. Pirro’s on-air remarks about Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, a Muslim who wears a hijab. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Shariah law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” Ms. Pirro asked on her March 9 program.

Among those calling her comments prejudiced was a Muslim producer at Ms. Pirro’s own network. Several advertisers said they would no longer sponsor her show. The network said Ms. Pirro’s remarks “do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly,” though officials there have not elaborated on that discussion or what internal punishment, if any, was meted out. [...]

On Sunday, Mr. Trump seemed to channel Mr. Carlson’s words. “The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country,” the president wrote on Twitter. “They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:37 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I don’t think it’s too tinfoil hat-ty. White supremacists love throwing little cryptic symbols all over the place, from the more common 1488, to Dylan Roof wearing Rhodesian flag patches on his clothes, to the almost esoteric, occultish symbols the KKK has adopted.
posted by gucci mane at 8:50 AM on March 17 [25 favorites]


I've brought this up before and people downplayed the possibility that Trump hangs out on alt-right forums. I see tons of reasons to think he does, and none to think he doesn't. He has the free time, he constantly uses signaling that fits in with their conspiracy bullshit, and it's in-character for him. This latest signal fits in with that assumption.
posted by odinsdream at 8:54 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


He doesn't, but Stephen Miller does.
posted by readery at 9:01 AM on March 17 [88 favorites]


Facebook, Google and other big tech giants are about to face a ‘reckoning,’ state attorneys general warn (WaPo)
For many of these top law enforcement officials, the fear is that Silicon Valley has amassed too much personal information about Web users and harnessed it in a way that’s jeopardized people’s privacy and undermined competition, often without much oversight.

“I think what we’ve found is that Big Tech has become too big and that, while we may have been asleep at the wheel, they were able to consolidate a tremendous amount of power,” Jeff Landry (R), Louisiana’s attorney general, said in an interview. [...]

“We are in a moment where the federal government’s level of effectiveness and engagement on a range of issues, on technology, consumer protection and privacy, is limited,” added Phil Weiser (D), Colorado’s attorney general. Absent federal intervention, he said, “states in general or state AGs are able to act.” [...]

The appetite for action seemed apparent last week, when state officials gathered in Washington for events that included an annual forum with the National Association of Attorneys General, of which Landry is president. Concerns about the tech industry’s privacy practices were on full display, while a few miles away, the District appeared in court to argue that Facebook had deceived its users about its approach to collecting and monetizing their data. The lawsuit stems from Facebook’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that improperly accessed data about roughly 8 million of the site’s users without their knowledge or permission.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:03 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


We saw White Right: Meeting the Enemy (Netflix) last night and can't recommend it highly enough. Mrs. Shell, who is a counseling psychologist, confirmed that the parts of the documentary where they talk about people's emotional and mental health are relevant and accurate.
posted by M-x shell at 9:07 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


Re: Cambridge Analytica: You can shut down a company like that but what happens to their data? Does someone somehow manage to shut down all connections at some point in time? Does that even matter if the wrong people have already made their copies? Do any of them even care what happens to the company so long as they get to keep the data?
posted by M-x shell at 9:11 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


> On one hand, it seems a bit tinfoil hat. On the other the white power types really do like their historical allusions and using coded references to publically flaunt their beliefs.

Far right groups' coded language makes threats hard to spot (Guardian)
References to “shitposting”, YouTube stars and the 17th-century Battle of Vienna are hallmarks of “that online culture where everything can be a joke and extremist content can be a parody and deadly serious all on the same page,” said Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. “Distinguishing between the two is extremely difficult. You have these communities who routinely practise extreme rhetoric as a joke, so it’s very easy to fit in if you’re a real extremist.”

That confusion can lead to observers underplaying the risk from such communities, rendering it harder to secure convictions for crimes such as hate speech, and even missing obvious red flags until it’s too late.

“People will be asking why people didn’t flag this up, but it all sounds like that,” Nimmo said. “The problem is that’s the way that community speaks. You can’t just point to the comments they’re saying and say that should be a warning light. There are plenty of people who post like that and are not going to pick up a weapon and start massacring people.”

It also leads to situations where mainstream observers unknowingly aid terrorists by spreading propaganda without recognising it for what it is.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:13 AM on March 17 [19 favorites]


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand formally launched her presidential bid on Sunday morning, announcing she will deliver her first major speech next week in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City. -- from CNBC piece; video at MSN
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:18 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]


I've brought this up before and people downplayed the possibility that Trump hangs out on alt-right forums. I see tons of reasons to think he does, and none to think he doesn't. He has the free time, he constantly uses signaling that fits in with their conspiracy bullshit, and it's in-character for him. This latest signal fits in with that assumption.

I don't think there is much evidence that Donald Trumps reads more than 240 characters at a time.

He is however very clearly comfortable surrounding himself with people who do live in and even lead the alt-right so either they are handling his messaging or he is picking it up second hand from them after bathing in it socially. I'm leaning toward the it being the former over the latter because I am not confident he would have the attention span or memory to remember things correctly.

If it were just Trump alone I'd expect him to accidentally tweet about vienna sausage instead.
posted by srboisvert at 9:20 AM on March 17 [19 favorites]


If it were just Trump alone I'd expect him to accidentally tweet about vienna sausage instead.

I'm wary about underestimating Trump's capacity to understand the crazy-making impact of his language choices, and I would not be surprised if the idea that he's too stupid/illiterate/naive to be held accountable as "Individual 1" becomes part of a future defense - basically that his innocent intentions were exploited by a dense thicket of gangsters and grifters who run his businesses, his charitable foundation, his campaign, his inauguration, and his administration.

The 'buck stops with everybody,' much?
posted by Little Dawn at 9:38 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Have you *seen* these alt-right forums? They're built for a Twitter-level kind of engagement personality. They're ideal for Trump. I'd find it absurd to learn he isn't reading them, honestly.
posted by odinsdream at 10:27 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


I mean it doesn't matter if he's reading them directly or not, because he's not actually that important a person.

If I had to place money on it, though, I would bet that he doesn't have the technical knowhow to find /pol/ or 8chan whatever, but I would also bet that Miller every so often prints out his favorite chan shitposts and slips them into 45's daily flattering-stories-about-45 reports.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:41 AM on March 17 [32 favorites]


I don't think there is much evidence that Donald Trumps reads more than 240 characters at a time.

I don’t think trump knows how to use the internet in a general sense. He’s a documented non-emailer. Twitter just serves everything up for you so you don’t have to go looking.

But Steven MIller? That dude is on 8chan and gab.ai 100%.
posted by dis_integration at 10:45 AM on March 17 [42 favorites]


Kaine: Trump's rhetoric 'emboldens' white nationalists (Politico)
"The president uses language often that's very similar to the language used by these bigots and racists," Kaine said. "And if he's not going to call it out then other leaders have to do more to call it out and I certainly will."

"I think the president is using language that emboldens them. He's not creating them. They're out there," Kaine said, adding, "That kind of language from the person who probably has the loudest microphone on the planet Earth is hurtful and dangerous and it tends to incite violence."
posted by Little Dawn at 10:47 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


The clearest failure of journalism as an check on authoritarian power is the fact that Stephen Miller still exists.
posted by SakuraK at 10:49 AM on March 17 [41 favorites]


Trump's 2020 map from hell (Axios)
"I’d sooner be the Dems than Trump," David Axelrod, Obama's campaign architect, told me. "He drew an inside straight in 2016 with narrow wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He is vulnerable today in each, with no obvious prospect of adding a state to his column in 2020."

But Axelrod added: "[P]residents often run better against an opponent than they do in the abstract, and Trump does have a kind of feral genius for caricaturing his foes and dominating the media."
posted by Little Dawn at 10:59 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Current Affairs podcast - meet the candidates! (Part 1) the entire crew comes together to profile each of the announced Dem candidates for 2020. This episode covers Joe Biden, Marianne Williamson, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro , Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, and Howard Schultz. More to come in Part 2. Pull quote “There shouldn’t be a president, a dog should be chosen for president via sortition.”
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


feral genius for caricaturing his foes and dominating the media

Let's not treat the media as passive here; they are very often willing subs to the narrative that Trump wants to push.
posted by nubs at 11:09 AM on March 17 [45 favorites]


Politico finds a DoJ attorney who worked on a Mueller murder conviction has returned to his orbit: Prosecutor Who Worked With Mueller 2 Decades Ago Surfaces Again
Recently unsealed court records show one veteran prosecutor who’s helping out Mueller’s office also played a role in one of Mueller’s most celebrated cases more than two decades ago.

Elizabeth Trosman, who’s now the chief of the appellate section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, was serving in a similar role back in the 1990s when Mueller made a surprising move that has become one of the most-cited aspects of his impressive biography: He gave up a partnership in a high-paying law firm and went to work as a front-line homicide prosecutor trying to rein in Washington’s sky-high murder rate.[…]

Trosman’s name surfaced again last month when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals released records about a grand jury subpoena showdown between Mueller’s special counsel team and a mystery company owned by a foreign government.

The case is one of several where lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. are sharing joint responsibility with Mueller’s prosecutors, a phenomenon thought to suggest that Mueller’s operation may soon wind down*.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed Trosman’s role in both cases, saying she was the deputy chief of the appellate operation in the 1990s and serves as the head of it today.
* Another explanation could be that Mueller is protecting the SCO investigation by sharing responsibilities with, or transferring them to, other sectors of the DoJ as an insurance policy (as he did with Michael Cohen).
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:15 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


feral genius for caricaturing his foes and dominating the media

Let's not treat the media as passive here; they are very often willing subs to the narrative that Trump wants to push.


Yeah do not let the corporate media off the hook here, Donald Trump is President partly cause Rupert Murdoch wanted him to be president and cause CNN saw he was good for ratings.
posted by The Whelk at 11:26 AM on March 17 [30 favorites]


New media, too. Facebook and Twitter were instrumental to getting Trump elected to the extent that they contorted their hate speech policies to justify their decisions to publish anything he poops out of his stubby little fingers.
posted by SakuraK at 11:39 AM on March 17 [15 favorites]


Yeah do not let the corporate media off the hook here

Trump's media attacks are an abuse of power. We're holding him to account (Wajahat Ali, Guardian Opinion)
Journalists and attorneys are partnering together in a new amended lawsuit filed by Pen America arguing the president is abusing the machinery of the government to threaten and target journalists, neutralize critical media coverage and exact retribution in direct violation of the first amendment. [...]

Trump Inc’s utter contempt for facts and decency is only matched by its disregard for the rule of law and loathing of the free press. Trump himself has repeatedly vilified the New York Times as “the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”. The president, who has uttered more than 8,000 false statements in the past two years, has the audacity and shamelessness to declare the “press has never been more dishonest than it is today”.

Trump has unpredictably emerged as a fickle, thin-skinned narcissist whose tiny fingers tweet perpetual victimhood, bile and hate against critics and enemies, real or imagined, even though he occupies the greatest seat of power and privilege. [...]

If Fox News and the rightwing media ecosystem has now fully transformed into state TV and propaganda, abdicating all pretenses of journalistic ethics and professionalism, then what is the responsibility for the rest of us who are at least attempting to be fair, thorough and truthful?

When an administration blatantly fails to protect a free press and instead willfully and maliciously abuses its power to threaten writers, journalists and critics, then it’s imperative for the rest of us to band together, rise up and fight back using facts, our words and the rule of law.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:08 PM on March 17 [44 favorites]


Does Trump know the words he's using are also white power code? Did Trump really not know Cohen was doing business in Russia? Did Trump really not read the book of Hitler speeches on his night table? Was Trump really just helpfully linking people to Breitbart news just after the New Zealand massacre?

I feel like I'm in high school and one kid keeps saying his dog ate his homework, and the teacher keeps saying she has to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't care whether or not Trump is actually on 8chan or just hangs out with members, he knows what he's doing on some level.

Personally? I think he wants you to know he knows what he's doing. He wants you to know that he knows that you know and that he gets away with it anyway. That's how trolling works. It's not as much fun for him or his followers if he pisses on your leg and you're genuinely confused as to whether or not it's rain.
posted by xammerboy at 1:19 PM on March 17 [57 favorites]


NYT: Kirsten Gillibrand Officially Enters 2020 Democratic Race.

What's that you say? You thought KG had already officially entered? Yeah. That's how well its going for her so far.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on March 17 [13 favorites]


Emerson poll of 2020 primary in WI.
  1. Sanders: 39%
  2. Joe Biden: 24%
  3. Warren: 14%
  4. Everybody Else: lol
Those are strong numbers for Sanders, mediocre numbers for Biden, and Warren is in third which hasn't been the case elsewhere. Terrible numbers for everyone else, but particularly Harris and Klobuchar 'cause sub 5% isn't gonna cut it in the midwest for either of them. Sanders won the 2016 primary here 56-43 over Clinton, so this is one of the states he does need to show strength in to win in 2020.

The GE matchup against Trump shows Biden mopping the floor with him by 8% while Sanders leads by a smaller but not insignificant 4%.

BERNIEMENTUM?
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


In one breath he’s an inarticulate dementia ridden fool. In another, he’s a master communicator, capable of encoding his secret thoughts within his public speech to reassure his followers, all the while leading everyone else astray from the truth. Where in the past has he ever exhibited the ability to create and carry out long range strategic thinking? Given that he’s portrayed here as an impulsive child. I don’t think you can have it both ways. Either he’s a masterful political operative with great but underhanded communication skills or he’s an impulsive fool who can’t speak in any articulate way and just lies his way through life in a very obvious manner. To me, it’s as if the press, who are supposed to be both our voices as well as our analytical tools are afraid to speak the truth. Our constitution and our political system was unable to prevent a rank racist fool with authoritarian and narcissistic tendencies from becoming president. Our system failed. Big time. And for the last two years, in the public sphere, we have been dancing around that situation, afraid to admit that we as a nation have fucked up in a really huge way. Instead we argue about details, look for others to blame, and wait for our saviors in the SCO and the Democratic Party to save us from this man.
posted by njohnson23 at 1:51 PM on March 17 [20 favorites]


Trump has unpredictably emerged as a fickle, thin-skinned narcissist

I’m sorry; to whom was this emergence unpredictable?
posted by nubs at 2:18 PM on March 17 [42 favorites]


References to “shitposting”, YouTube stars and the 17th-century Battle of Vienna are hallmarks of “that online culture where everything can be a joke and extremist content can be a parody and deadly serious all on the same page.”

If you scan the posts on r/The_Donald every post is a bad joke. They have to be, because you couldn't get away with posting any of those messages in all seriousness. In our culture, you can say anything if it's a joke, whether or not it's acceptable, whether or not it has merit. If you want to be funny, the more outrageous the better. A lot of people believe if something's funny, instinctively, it's probably true. And if it's funny, you share it.
posted by xammerboy at 2:41 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


The current meme incarnation of Joe Biden: Obama's Wingman has no relation to the person and Senator he was for his entire career before 2007. He's running on the meme, and getting mad that people still remember the BeforeTimes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:42 PM on March 17 [36 favorites]


njohnson23: In one breath he’s an inarticulate dementia ridden fool. In another, he’s a master communicator, capable of encoding his secret thoughts within his public speech to reassure his followers, all the while leading everyone else astray from the truth. Where in the past has he ever exhibited the ability to create and carry out long range strategic thinking?

Encoding secret thoughts, a la dog-whistling or simple bullshitting, isn't exactly a high-level skill. xammerboy correctly compared it to the kid saying the dog ate his homework. And aside from that, specifically, being a cliche (and thus interpreted more like "Obviously the president isn't serious"), just imagine the result if he did that. Plenty of outlets would correctly call it a lie, but at the end of the day it would "work" insofar as he would't be fully discredited with everyone. You wouldn't have Mitch McConnell saying in public "Hold on a moment, how can we trust this guy? He literally said a dog, which he doesn't have, ate the national emergency declaration, and that's obviously untrue."

The more precise parallel to his (or Miller's) use of white-nationalist signlas is that routine I remember from middle-school, where it was a sworn truth that "wenis" was the medical term for the skin of the elbow. Of course it's not, and the whole point was to have the plausible deniability for potty humor. These kids weren't engaging in next-level psyops.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:43 PM on March 17 [14 favorites]


“The problem is that’s the way that community speaks. You can’t just point to the comments they’re saying and say that should be a warning light. There are plenty of people who post like that and are not going to pick up a weapon and start massacring people.”

Why not? In all seriousness, why not? Why don't we try that, actually? Let's take everyone's online words at face value, and work from the assumption that they mean what they say. Let's see what effect that has.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:55 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


Either he’s a masterful political operative with great but underhanded communication skills or he’s an impulsive fool who can’t speak in any articulate way and just lies his way through life in a very obvious manner.

You don't have to be Goebbels to be good at communicating to people what they want to hear and getting them fired up, you just need the instinct for it and the ability to string words together (and you don't even need to be good at the latter). And you also don't need to be Goebbels to be good at media manipulation, because if your narcissism and impulsiveness and lies are outrageous enough then they're happy to cover the sideshow since the media is so focused on eyeballs and dollar signs that they don't know and/or don't care that covering sideshows as sideshows still gives the sideshows a platform. I doubt he knows shit-all about the *chans, but the people around him sure do and no doubt feed him the chain-email-from-your-racist-uncle version of it.

Regarding dementia: dementia manifests in fits and starts. You don't just wake up one day unable to function. In the early stages you can be perfectly capable of a string of days of functionality before having an episode. He could both have dementia and still have moments of control. Now, the long-term loss of vocabulary and decline in speech is a better indicator of whether it is affecting a person . . . and if you want to judge Trump on that, well, just look at videos of his younger self speaking. He didn't always used to be this way.
posted by schroedinger at 3:04 PM on March 17 [26 favorites]


I know he's going to try and use this when he gets to NY, but he's clearly unwell and there *is* a lot of blame to go around - it shows an absence of concern for the country for these supposed uber patriots to prop up a mercurial figurehead for their agenda like this is some ancient monarchy in decline. I want to know what they knew about this and when they knew it, too.
posted by Selena777 at 3:17 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]






And here's a disturbing thread by @Stonekettle (previously) on the overt extremism on full display not far from his home.
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


Following on from homunculus' links
Meet William S. Lind, the Extremist Author Who Might Have Influenced Donald Trump.
In Spring 2016, Donald Trump met William S. Lind who gave Trump the 2009 William Lind / Paul Weyrich co-authored book The Next Conservatism, which includes discussion of “cultural Marxism” and Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW).
posted by adamvasco at 3:59 PM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Lind and Trump.
posted by adamvasco at 4:01 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


Judd Legum doesn't suggest that Trump came up with idea of including an alleged literary phrase. There's a very good reason for that: We can all see that Trump doesn't have the attention span or memory to use quotations. The only person he quotes is himself. But I'm not at all persuaded by Judd's theory that it is a quotation. What Trump actually said was "be strong and prosper, be weak and die", which (according to Google) is apparently original to him.

On the assumption that this was just Trump adding his own special twist to a better phrase I looked for the "be strong & prosper" language by itself. As one might imagine, it's been used by a bunch of people, very often chambers of commerce. It's not remarkable enough to point to a particular source, the alleged source isn't so well known, and if it were a quotation then the person transcribing it messed it up. If Legum is looking for a smoking gun tying Trump to racist violence then he doesn't need to find coded messages: he can just point to Trump's description of migration as " an invasion of drugs, criminals, & people", emitted only hours after the New Zealand massacre. There, boom, quotation done.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:46 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]



Meet William S. Lind, the Extremist Author Who Might Have Influenced Donald Trump.
In Spring 2016, Donald Trump met William S. Lind who gave Trump the 2009 William Lind / Paul Weyrich co-authored book The Next Conservatism


This theory falls apart if it rests on Trump reading the book. I know that him being a non reader has become a popular joke but seriously it seems far fetched to think that he digested and put into practice some ideology he learned from a book in 2016.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:14 PM on March 17 [15 favorites]


Yeah, but you can explain Crypto-Marxism in a sentence:

Mr. Trump, did you know highly esteemed professors believe communists used mass media to secretly promote feminism, homo-sexuality, and multi-culturalism in order to corrupt mainstream American culture?

Top professors, Mr. Trump, from the biggest name schools, write about it in best-selling books, which are in the most powerful countries' libraries and richest billionaire's homes. As far as theories go Mr. Trump, this one is a fact.
posted by xammerboy at 5:45 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


The most likely scenario to me is one of two things, and perhaps a combination:

1.) trump allows a bit more outside input on tweets than he'd like to let on. Some racist semi-intellectual ghoul like Miller gave him some ideas, and perhaps made a few touch-ups to help with 'the base'. This seems plausible given the fact that we can occasionally see an obviously Miller tweet to push some awful bit of executive overreach, like the during Muslim bans.

2.) trump is getting briefings from white supremacist leaders (possibly Lind himself), and/or is getting daily messaging advice from someone who's well versed (again - likely Miller). I agree that it's unlikely he read anything longer than the back of a cereal box, but his wormy brain does have a knack for retaining the vague shape of words and ideas that he claims as his own. As far as far right propaganda go it's got more panache than normal, so I don't see it being beyond belief that he tucked it away like a magpie only to bring it out of the nest at a later date.

That being said, I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea that this doesn't necessarily change much or inform a new strategy. Winking towards white supremacist slogans isn't new for either trump nor the Stephen Miller style American Right. However, I would argue that not-so-subtle nods like this have one purpose: to condone and stoke stochastic terrorism.
posted by codacorolla at 6:24 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


I know that him being a non reader has become a popular joke but seriously it seems far fetched to think that he digested and put into practice some ideology he learned from a book

Yet he slept next to a book of Hitler’s speeches for years and he learned things from it via means other than osmosis. Trump isn’t as stupid as people make him out to be. As Cohen described in his sworn testimony, Trump gives orders by suggestion so that he has plausible deniability. When he vaguely references white supremacy and white paranoia, he isn’t being stupidly imprecise. He’s putting exactly as much of his neck on the line as is required to whip up the his base.
posted by SakuraK at 6:31 PM on March 17 [14 favorites]


( There is a suspicion that Bruce Wilson, quoted above could be mefi's own from a long, long time ago.)
posted by adamvasco at 6:48 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


The WaPo has a ticktock of the decision to ground the 737 Max jets, Trump cast himself as Boeing’s decider in chief, showing the perils of injecting politics into crash investigations.
posted by peeedro at 6:51 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


It Isn’t Complicated: Trump Encourages Violence (David Leonhardt, NYT Opinion)
I’m well aware of the various see-no-evil attempts to excuse this behavior: That’s just how he talks. Don’t take him literally. Other Republicans are keeping him in check. His speeches and tweets don’t really matter.

But they do matter. The president’s continued encouragement of violence — and of white nationalism — is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing. Funny how that works.

After Trump’s latest threat, I reached out to several experts in democracy and authoritarianism to ask what they made of it. Their answers were consistent: No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon. But Trump’s words are still corroding democracy and public safety. [...]

Drawing a direct line from the purveyors of hateful rhetoric to any specific hate crime is usually impossible. And it’s usually a mistake to try. The motive for these crimes — be it in New Zealand last week or Pittsburgh last year — is typically a stew of mental illness, personal anger and mixed-up ideology. Trump doesn’t deserve to be blamed for any specific crime. But he does deserve blame for the trend.

It isn’t very complicated: The man with the world’s largest bully pulpit keeps encouraging violence and white nationalism. Lo and behold, white-nationalist violence is on the rise. You have to work pretty hard to persuade yourself that’s just a big coincidence.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:20 PM on March 17 [51 favorites]


After another Giuliani-less Sunday of political talk shows, Axios looks into the recent absence of Trump's cable TV lawyer from the airwaves: Inside Rudy's vanishing act
Sources familiar with Giuliani's thinking say he views a major part of his job as trying to undermine public confidence in the Mueller probe and harden the support of Republican voters for Trump to protect him against impeachment. So for Giuliani to stay off TV for an extended stretch is odd.

White House officials had expected Giuliani's Jan. 20 Sunday show appearances to be an easy "victory lap" after Mueller's office took the rare step of publicly disputing a BuzzFeed story accusing Trump of committing a felony.

Instead, Giuliani tripped over himself, saying the Trump Tower Moscow talks may have lasted up until November 2016. The claim was both unhelpful and, in the White House's view, incorrect.[…]

Two sources with direct knowledge told me that both Trump and the White House lawyer handling the Russia investigation, Emmet Flood, have privately griped about some of Giuliani's TV appearances.

A third source said Trump thought it would be best if Giuliani stayed off TV for a while after his Jan. 20 hits.
On the other hand, Giuliani's almost certainly part of the regular leaks to the media on the Mueller beat, especially those predicting the imminent release of the SCO's report.

By the way, @realDonaldTrump has been on an extended Twitter tear today, CNN's Manu Raju notes:
By 3pET Sunday, Trump this weekend has attacked
- Fox News weekend anchors
- McCain twice
- Mueller report
- GM
- Local UAW leader
- Google
- HRC
- SNL
- Christopher Steele
- Dems
- Paris climate deal
- And retweeted attacks on Mueller, McCabe, HRC
And earlier this evening, he outright accused the Democrats of "trying to steal a Presidential Election" and just now tweeted all-caps MAGA exclamation point. So, a perfectly normal Sunday for a perfectly normal president.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:27 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


15 years ago, Elizabeth Warren fought to protect families facing bankruptcy.
The person she was fighting against: Joe Biden
posted by growabrain at 7:32 PM on March 17 [78 favorites]


Giuliani's problem is, as noted, Trump's way of giving orders by suggestion. If he's not going to be precise, you can't blame Rudy for falling off a trail that doesn't exist. You can blame Rudy for a lot of things, but accurately implementing Trump's policy and PR is not one of them, because that accuracy is only in Trump's brain (if anywhere).
posted by rhizome at 8:04 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Rudy 911 showed up out of nowhere this evening with a weird non sequitur tweet about Cohen and Flynn, where the underlying motivation isn't clear. There have been a lot of "something's going on" weekends that panned out to nothing, but this weekend has been pretty batshit.
posted by holgate at 8:08 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


finished lisa page testimony (day 1, haven't seen -- or noticed? -- day 2). as to revealing anything, marcy wheeler has it: Lisa Page Confirms That the Trump Campaign Investigation Was Different Than Russian Info Ops Investigation. as to the rest, well, i do not have a lot of useful reaction.

believe this is the first i've heard from ms. page directly; i found her credible and irritating. an extreme--rather than representative, of her consistent low-level glib informality, imho--excerpt, amid questioning by house oversight committee minority staff [counsel] janet kim, at pp 82-3:
Q: ...as i previewed earlier i would like to return to the text messages that --

A: i love the text messages.

Q: -- you discussed with the majority earlier. as a general matter, when you communicate by text, do you generally spend a great deal of time perfecting your word choice?

A: no. the only thing i really care about is spelling, because misspellings drive me nuts.
the gowdys and jordans and ratcliffes and the rest got up to the same old shennanigans: throwing sand in our eyes while suggesting with all available damning gravity that each grain is incontrovertible evidence of nefariousness. and various committee counsels on the minority side did more clear lawyerlike questioning to elicit facts and establish coherent timelines and context for otherwise plausibly questionable individual statements the other guys tried to bang on, with occasional cameos from representatives. ms. page made some good distinctions between the roles of doj and fbi, which should not have been news to anybody on the committee though it does seem as though some of those 'publicans might have been out sick that day in civics class and never picked up the coursework. she owned the inspector general's conclusions concerning the injudicious communications with strzok, maybe a touch flippantly. again, it is not clear how releasing this bolsters the authoritarian right's efforts to obstruct everything, or even how they could think it might (except i spent time reading that instead of some murderer's so-called manifesto or john allegro's the sacred mushroom and the cross from archive.org).

oh also a lot of the fbi person couldn't be dishonorable because institutional pride includes honor kind of reasoning. which...
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:10 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Paul Manafort Didn’t Get Off Easy — Unless You Compare Him to Whistleblower Reality Winner
Manafort, sentenced by a federal judge in Virginia on Thursday, did get a shorter term than Reality Winner. While Manafort was sentenced to 47 months for bank fraud and tax crimes, Winner last year got 63 months for leaking a classified document about Russian hacking attempts. And that should bother anyone who cares about equality under the law and press freedom in the United States.

...

In 2018, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report that showed it was the press, not the federal government, that deserved credit for warning state elections officials to the growing Russian threat to their voting systems. The federal government had done next to nothing to alert them to the problem, and many state officials didn’t realize that there even was a threat until they learned about it from the press.

In other words, Winner performed a public service, one that even the U.S. Senate has indirectly, and grudgingly, acknowledged.

As Will Bunch wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer last year, “Winner did what Daniel Ellsberg, Mark Felt and others whose difficult decisions made in real time have long since been vindicated by history had done: She blew the whistle. In sending her evidence to the news media, Winner took down a cover-up of information that the Russians had, in fact, been far more aggressive — and successful — in targeting voting systems.”

Yet while Manafort was given a 47-month sentence that was below the federal guidelines for his crimes, Winner was sentenced to 63 months, which is the longest ever handed down to someone accused of leaking to the press.

The bottom line is this: The person who tried to warn America about Russian interference in the 2016 election has been punished more severely than one of the most important figures in the Trump-Russia case.
posted by homunculus at 8:38 PM on March 17 [94 favorites]


No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon.

Maybe. Someone above posted a link to a tweet with a picture of a town sign reading "We will protect our President. You have been advised." I've seen similar signs posted at bars across the country.

Sunday is gun day on r/The Donald. This means every other post is someone showing off their automatic rifle and other weapons, usually while extolling the need to rise up against a tyrannical government if necessary.

Nothing seems all that organized, but it really seems like a lot of people are ready and waiting for armed conflict of some kind. How many assault weapons do you need to buy before you begin, on some level, to actively want armed conflict?
posted by xammerboy at 8:39 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon.

I mean what do we call the weekly mass shootings and attempted bombings by political radicals we got now?
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 PM on March 17 [62 favorites]


"Sporadic."
posted by Scattercat at 9:00 PM on March 17 [11 favorites]


How many assault weapons do you need to buy before you begin, on some level, to actively want armed conflict?

One.
posted by contraption at 9:50 PM on March 17 [62 favorites]


I forgot to check at the time but in January the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists made no change to the Doomsday Clock, leaving it at two minutes to midnight, so the same as 1953 and 2018. From the announcement:
Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger.

In the nuclear realm, the United States abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and announced it would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), grave steps towards a complete dismantlement of the global arms control process. Although the United States and North Korea moved away from the bellicose rhetoric of 2017, the urgent North Korean nuclear dilemma remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the world’s nuclear nations proceeded with programs of “nuclear modernization” that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons.

[...]

Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world.
posted by XMLicious at 10:33 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


ProPublica, Federal Authorities Raided Trump Fundraiser’s Office in Money Laundering Probe
Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.

Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans.

The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
...
The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials. To obtain a search warrant, authorities have to convince a judge that there’s a probable cause they will find evidence of those specific crimes.

The search warrant also for the first time links Broidy to a globe-trotting Miami Beach party promoter.
Remember, Cohen, Wynn, and Broidy were all RNC finance chairs.
posted by zachlipton at 4:09 AM on March 18 [30 favorites]


So anyone thinking Beto not wanting to reveal his first 24 hour donations the other day meant he did shitty... nope.

$6.1m, more than anyone else thus far, outpacing Bernie’s $5.9m which outpaced everybody else by a large margin.
posted by chris24 at 4:44 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Would be interested in the composition of Beto vs Bernie's donations. Specifically, across how many individual donations and what was the average and median size of each donation? Geographical information would be interesting as well, but pretty sure that's not the sort of thing made public.

*Edited for clarification of language.
posted by Telf at 5:04 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon.
Well any 'new' form of widespread political violence. The usual everyday historical terrorism from within our authorities still continues. Take Ferguson for example. <NBC News.

" Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.
Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.

Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.

But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown’s death, citing threats — mostly anonymous — that protest leaders continue to receive."
posted by Harry Caul at 5:07 AM on March 18 [25 favorites]


From the article linked by chris24:
Now the question is whether he can sustain that level of support. Mr. Sanders raised his first $10 million quickly in February, much of it in small contributions. There is no way to independently confirm either candidate’s initial contributions; Mr. O’Rourke, Mr. Sanders and the rest of the presidential hopefuls must file fund-raising reports at the end of March. Those first-quarter filings will be made public on April 15.
posted by Telf at 5:12 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Trump administration ignoring human rights monitors, ACLU tells UN (Guardian)
Protests have poured in from organisations objecting to the government’s virtual boycott of established systems designed to protect human rights, after the US withdrew from the United Nations human rights council last year. Washington is accused of rebuffing official complaints from monitors, undermining human rights bodies and threatening officials with prosecution should they set foot on US soil. [...]

The ACLU statement, submitted by its director of human rights, Jamil Dakwar, noted that under Trump the US has not extended a single invitation to UN experts to visit the country as part of routine oversight. It notes that the UN expert on the human rights of migrants has asked repeatedly to be allowed to visit the US-Mexican border, given the serious deterioration of treatment of undocumented migrants, to no avail.

In January, the Guardian revealed that the US government had ceased to cooperate with tried and tested international procedures, in a move which threatened the nation’s standing as a beacon of good practice on the world stage. At that point, the state department had failed to respond to 13 complaints by UN monitors raising fundamental questions about America’s commitment to international law.

The number of unanswered requests from the UN’s so-called “special rapporteurs” has risen to 22. The last such demand that received a reply from any Trump official was in May last year.

The chill in US relations with the human rights community has been widely condemned as a betrayal of American values. It is also seen as potentially providing encouragement to regimes such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea to flout international norms. [...]

One of the most recent unanswered complaints to the state department was made on 7 March by Felipe González Morales, the UN monitor on the human rights of migrants. In an official letter he objected in strong language to the Trump administration’s policy since January of sending migrants back to Mexico to wait for asylum applications to be processed.

González warned that the approach amounts to “collective expulsion”. It may be in breach of both US and international law, in leading to the return of vulnerable people to their countries of origin to face danger.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:52 AM on March 18 [33 favorites]


So anyone thinking Beto not wanting to reveal his first 24 hour donations the other day meant he did shitty... nope.

$6.1m, more than anyone else thus far, outpacing Bernie’s $5.9m which outpaced everybody else by a large margin.


I may be wrong but i think the bigger deal here is not the volume of donations but the tactical savvy implied by their initial disinterest in disclosing the number and then holding back the big number. . . it is sort of out of character for a campaign that has made a bunch of rather unstrategic choices.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:58 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


And earlier this evening, he outright accused the Democrats of "trying to steal a Presidential Election"

@realDonaldTrump, presumably without the professional, calming influence of Bill Shine, continued yesterday's harangues this morning, complaining "Fake News Media" was "working overtime" to blame him for the New Zealand terrorist attacks, mocking Joe Biden as "another low I.Q. individual", boasting about a made-up "93% Approval Rating in the Republican Party", and trying to insert himself into the upcoming GM-UAW labor negotiations.

Afterward Kellyanne Conway, CBS's Mark Knoller reports, “defends President's multitude of tweets this weekend, saying he "absolutely believes" they're a direct way for him to communicate with the country. "I would think those in the business of transparency and accountability should appreciate that," she tells press gaggle.”

And George Conway, after tweeting screenshots of the DSM-5 entries for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Personality Disorder, wrote, "*[A]ll* Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress—and the Vice President and Cabinet." (Last night, he simply commented, "His condition is getting worse.") Even if his wife isn't revealing information to him about Trump's behavior behind closed doors, there's enough in public to support his concerns, if his fellow Republicans would listen.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:02 AM on March 18 [16 favorites]


I don't trust George Conway one bit. Trump has turfed out staff for a lot less than one of his closest advisors husbands publicly accusing him of having a worsening mental condition.
posted by PenDevil at 8:07 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


he "absolutely believes" they're a direct way for him to communicate with the country. "I would think those in the business of transparency and accountability should appreciate that," she tells press gaggle.”

I don't think the question is if they are a "direct way to communicate", the question is around what he is choosing to communicate, and the lack of accountability for the statements that are false, misleading, or serve as support & cover for racist/xenophobic groups on Twitter.

But hey, let Kellyanne change the subject again. Beyond me why the media even bothers to talk to her.
posted by nubs at 8:18 AM on March 18 [10 favorites]


The only thing more exhausting than the constant stream of "Mueller is almost done" tweets is the constant stream of "Trump is more unhinged than usual so something big must be about to happen" tweets.

It's impossible to calculate "more unhinged," and yes, something big probably is about to happen. Something big has happened every few days for years now.
posted by diogenes at 8:19 AM on March 18 [44 favorites]


Beyond me why the media even bothers to talk to her.
Cuz they love their Leaker No. 1.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:20 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


How many assault weapons do you need to buy before you begin, on some level, to actively want armed conflict?

How many carts do you need to pull a horse?
posted by perspicio at 8:26 AM on March 18 [16 favorites]


Forum post: AOC is heckled, makes it a teaching moment on how funding cuts are designed to divide us (poster 'Subir', Daily Kos)
AOC was hosting a town hall in her district and was talking about public schools. She talked about her dad getting into Brooklyn Tech (one of the selective NYC high schools). AOC then asks why every school can’t be like Brooklyn Tech, why NYC only has a handful of such selective high schools. She was heckled by some attendees who oppose changes to the testing program for these schools.

And this is the special moment, she points out that in many, many areas of public services, we have created an environment of scarcity. This ends up pitting communities against each other for resources. Instead, she suggests we should make the fight for more resources across the board, rather than fighting over scraps because funding has been slashed, and we’re letting plutocrats get away with rampant tax evasion aided by corrupt politicians. That’s not hyperbole, both the former NY Assembly Speaker and the NY Senate leader are in prison for corruption.

It’s worth watching how AOC turns this conversation around, arguing that we bake a bigger and better public services pie rather than fight over small pieces of it.
The video of the exchange is in the post.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:47 AM on March 18 [114 favorites]


Afterward Kellyanne Conway, CBS's Mark Knoller reports, “defends President's multitude of tweets this weekend, saying he "absolutely believes" they're a direct way for him to communicate with the country. "I would think those in the business of transparency and accountability should appreciate that," she tells press gaggle.”

This is great news in one way, actually: she's acknowledging that Trump intends for his tweets to serve as official communication, as part of an acknowledged effort to be transparent and accountable. So, although she can't officially speak for Trump, this is one more WH official saying on the record "Make no mistake, this guy absolutely means to say X totally-fucked-up or harebrained thing," which deflates the idea that he's joking, or speaking off-the-cuff, or (somehow) isn't speaking as the POTUS.

So, not an airtight case that Trump's tweets are official statements (and therefore subject to scrutiny by Congress and the courts as such), but maybe a pretty good indication that he'd be stupid enough to go on record himself saying they are (hint hint, journalists at his next press conference).
posted by Rykey at 8:48 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


How Google influences the conversation in Washington -- Google lobbying has shifted into overdrive as Big Tech comes under increased scrutiny. (Nitasha Tiku, Wired.com via Ars Technica*, March 16, 2019)
Google is very active in shaping public policy. Last year, the company reported spending $21 million on federal lobbying, more than any other company in America. Google was also the highest-spending corporate lobbyist in 2017.

Over the past year or so, the network of academics, think tanks, trade organizations, and advocacy groups funded by Google has repeatedly come to its defense at key moments, such as after Warren’s broadside, the days after the midterm elections, and the weeks surrounding Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s December appearance before Congress. When Trump took office in January 2017, Google listed 141 organizations that receive funding from the company’s public policy division. Since then the number has more than doubled, to 349.

Op-eds by antitrust and privacy experts sympathetic to Google’s views have appeared on right-wing and cable news sites. In the editorials, the authors frame populist fervor to regulate Big Tech as the work of unserious “hipster antitrust” activists who don’t understand the law and argue that consumers are better off with the status quo.

Scholars and experts may hold these positions independent of financial incentives from tech companies like Google, but both regulators and the public are sometimes left in the dark about potential conflicts of interest. Larry Downes, project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, coauthored an op-ed in The Washington Post in January about the tech backlash “going askew.” Google’s donation to the Georgetown Center was not noted on its transparency page until about 10 days later, according to records from Archive.org. A Google spokesperson said the company updates its page twice a year. Downes did not respond to a request for comment. Georgetown said as a private university it does not disclose donor information.

Warren’s post last week brought out some of Google’s reliable defenders, like Geoffrey Manne, head of the International Center for Law & Economics, a nonprofit research group that receives money from Google; Wright was previously director of research there and coauthored some papers with Manne. Manne’s conflicts of interest have previously attracted attention, including New York Times articles in 2015 and 2016 that mentioned funding the center received from Comcast during the net neutrality debate.

A rebuttal to Warren, coauthored by Manne, argued that Google might stop investing in improving its products if it is regulated. He said a decline in business dynamism, cited by Warren, could be because entrepreneurs want to sell their startups to big companies, contradicting founders who say they would rather become the next Mark Zuckerberg than sell to him.

Manne’s piece was shared approvingly on Twitter by the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and the VP of policy at the Niskanen Center—both of which receive funding from Google—as well as by a senior research fellow at the Koch Institute (a recent Google ally on antitrust) and assorted venture capitalists and was eventually published by CNBC. Manne did not respond to a request for comment.
...
“Google is much savvier at this game than Comcast or AT&T in that it doesn’t pay for strict quid pro quos. Its strategy relies on social capture,” one congressional staffer told Wired. Google finds an organization that seems to share Google’s values and then donates money without a specific ask, the staffer said.

But Google’s tactics backfired last year when its employees revolted against the company’s sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference, attended by white nationalists and members of the anti-LGBT movement, and where speakers included French nationalist politician Marine Le Pen.

Google did not sponsor this year’s conference, held in late February and early March. But Google was still there, indirectly. The company funds at least eight think tanks and nonprofits whose officials spoke or who sponsored events at CPAC, including Americans for Tax Reform, the Heritage Foundation, National Review Institute, and the Federalist Society. Google has been funding the American Conservative Union, the organization behind CPAC, since 2012.
I'll wimp out here and not include all the out-bound links from this blockquote, but if you're interested in this broad topic, you can read more from this article's links.

And spinning my own response, not in defense of Google, but perhaps providing broader context, Google's "spend widely to shape many support many viewpoints that align with ours" sounds a lot like the Koch Brothers' actions, including: When you're a billionaire, or the most valuable company (CNN, 2016), you can fund a lot of diverse studies and efforts, shaping public actions and perceptions. Maybe it's time to require anyone or any agency/ company receiving outside funding to start wearing Nascar-like badges of sponsorship (Common Dreams), not just politicians.

* It's interesting to see Wired re-publish articles from other sites, and now Ars Technica re-publish Wired. Bonus from this link: no view metering, as on Wired.com.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:49 AM on March 18 [15 favorites]


[Folks, I know it's really hard, but we don't want to get in the weeds about primary stuff literally a year before the actual primaries.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:59 AM on March 18 [17 favorites]


It’s worth watching how AOC turns this conversation around, arguing that we bake a bigger and better public services pie rather than fight over small pieces of it.

This excellence in public speaking and reacting positively to public comments makes me think of a vaguely similar example of Beto O'Rourke explaining why NFL players kneeling during the anthem is not disrespectful (link to comment by ZeusHumms on October 28, 2018). Not all people, let alone politicians, can do this, but this ability to pivot a tough question or heckler's comment into teaching moment is what makes some politicians stand out, regardless of their policies.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:59 AM on March 18 [52 favorites]


she's acknowledging that Trump intends for his tweets to serve as official communication

President Donald Trump's tweets are official government statements, Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge

Trump's Tweets 'Official Statements,' Spicer Says
posted by BungaDunga at 9:09 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


A Guardian interview with Pete Buttigieg (new to me)
posted by growabrain at 9:12 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


And an amusing Peter Buttgieg twitter story to go along with the interview..
posted by gusottertrout at 9:38 AM on March 18 [27 favorites]


A rebuttal to Warren, coauthored by Manne, argued that Google might stop investing in improving its products if it is regulated.

The corpses of Google Reader, Wave and all the other useful products they axed spin silently in digital graves.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:04 AM on March 18 [61 favorites]


A rebuttal to Warren, coauthored by Manne, argued that Google might stop investing in improving its products if it is regulated.

The corpses of Google Reader, Wave and all the other useful products they axed spin silently in digital graves.


Reducing regulatory impediments and costs to "doing business" has failed to motivate Verizon to improve their service coverage, and prior "limitations" didn't really limit the investments made by Charter, a major ISP: If even if Google plays the victim and reduces its innovations in reaction to regulations, then other companies may find openings that Google leaves, allowing ... a reduction in their monopoly. Huh, not a really compelling case there, Manne.

Meanwhile, I wonder what the latest Grumpy Trump technophobe comment will do to stocks or confidence in technology: Report: Trump “would never get in a self-driving car” -- "I don't trust some computer to drive me around," Trump reportedly said. (Timothy B. Lee for Ars Technica, March 18, 2019)
Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, has worked hard to avoid placing regulatory barriers in the way of self-driving cars. But Chao's boss is a driverless car skeptic, Axios reports.

One Axios source had a conversation with Trump in 2017 where he mentioned owning a Tesla with Autopilot technology. According to the source, Trump "was like, 'Yeah that's cool but I would never get in a self-driving car... I don't trust some computer to drive me around.'"

On another occasion, Trump reportedly said, "Can you imagine, you're sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can't stop the f---ing thing?"

Trump has reportedly dismissed the concept of driverless cars as "crazy," preferring a human driver to be in control of any vehicle he's riding in.

Trump's reported views on self-driving cars are in line with his views of autonomy more generally. "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly," Trump tweeted last week in the wake of a Boeing 737 MAX crash. "Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT." People, he wrote, were "always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better."

This apparent divergence between Trump's personal views and the policies of his administration aren't that unusual. Recently, for example, the White House released a budget proposing significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid—despite Trump's long-standing promises not to cut those programs.
It's as if the President isn't really driving his own policies. (Hah!)

Or, he's not a reliable negotiator, and we should stop listening to what he says, and react to what he does (or at least signs).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:24 AM on March 18 [18 favorites]


I don't trust George Conway one bit.

Nor do I in general, though dissent against Trump from the right should be recognized. He's not just publicly tweeting against the Trumpist grain, he also organized a group called "Checks and Balances" for #NeverTrumpers from the Federalist Society. I suspect the Conways are working a Carville/Matalin long game.

Meanwhile, Politico reports on Kellyane's reaction to her husband's Twitter feed: “"No, I don't share those concerns," she said. "I have four kids and I was getting them out of the house this morning before I got here so I can talk to the president about substance, so I may not be up to speed on all of them," she said of her husband's tweets.” Just a normal morning for a normal D.C. couple.

And late this morning, Trump is gleefully tweeting about a new USA Today/Suffolk survey's results, though of course he elides over its negative news.

USA Today: Poll: Half of Americans say Trump is victim of a 'witch hunt' as trust in Mueller erodes
[A] new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans now agree with President Donald Trump's contention that he has been the victim of a "witch hunt."

Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent.

Despite that, the survey shows a nation that remains skeptical of Trump's honesty and deeply divided by his leadership. A 52 percent majority say they have little or no trust in the president's denials that his 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow in the election that put him in the Oval Office.[…]

What's more, Trump's relentless attacks on Mueller and his inquiry have taken a toll on the special counsel's credibility. Now, 28 percent say they have a lot of trust in the former FBI director's investigation to be fair and accurate. That's the lowest level to date, and down five points since December.[…]

The poll finds overwhelming and bipartisan support for releasing the report, whatever it finds. In all, 82 percent say it is important to them that the report be made public; 62 percent call that "very important."
If these results seem schizophrenic, then Trump and Kellyanne may take a little credit for persistently inserting noise in the media coverage.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:35 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Former DNC chair Donna Brazile has joined FOX News as a contributor. She has issued a statement justifying her decision by, among other things, castigating liberals for having safe spaces and proclaiming a need to reach out to FOX viewers.
posted by sotonohito at 10:39 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon.

Here's another pertinent thread by Bruce Wilson: "@nytimes contributor @DLeonhardt's op-ed notes 'The United States, thank goodness, does not have armed citizen militias carrying out regular attacks.' But such citizen militias *do exist*, and Trump has ties to their waiting command structure, the CSPOA..."
posted by homunculus at 10:39 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I don't trust George Conway one bit.

Nor do I, but there's nothing in his DSM tweet that requires trust.
posted by M-x shell at 10:40 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


ProPublica, Federal Authorities Raided Trump Fundraiser’s Office in Money Laundering Probe

Remember, Cohen, Wynn, and Broidy were all RNC finance chairs.

The RNC Deputy Finance Chairman who's under investigation for money laundering is a different guy from the RNC Deputy Finance Chairman who pleaded guilty in a federal fraud case and they're both different from the RNC Finance Chairman who's accused of rape and sexual misconduct. (@KevinMKruse)

Heh.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:47 AM on March 18 [44 favorites]


[“a salubrious and morally uplifting enterprise” / or Read The Comments Dept.]

I recently reviewed Victor Davis Hanson’s new book, The Case for Trump. Writing at National Review Online, Hanson responded with a rejoinder that was nearly twice the length of my initial piece. I had not planned to return to the discussion. I had had my say and Hanson had his. There I would have been content to let the matter rest: to allow readers to read both pieces and form their own opinions.

But things took on a life of their own.

posted by growabrain at 10:52 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


If these results seem schizophrenic, then Trump and Kellyanne may take a little credit for persistently inserting noise in the media coverage.

And the media can take a lot of credit for letting them. Unfortunately, conservatives will never, ever, every admit the media isn't "liberal" when it's so much to their advantage to maintain the charade.
posted by Gelatin at 11:05 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


mocking Joe Biden as "another low I.Q. individual"

Perhaps I am incredibly ignorant or naive, but it seems so incredibly easy to make Trump look like an idiot in the public arena.

How in the world does Joe Biden (or Maxine Waters before him) not say something like, "Great idea! Let's both take IQ tests! I would be fascinated to find out just how much higher your IQ is than a low IQ person like myself."

Then when he doesn't respond or dismisses the idea of taking an IQ test, he immediately should call him a coward. Repeatedly.

Clinton should have done that when he requested she take a drug test. I understand why she didn't. It would have been a sideshow. It would have been demeaning to everyone. But that was then. This is now. We know everything is going to be a sideshow and demeaning to everyone no matter what happens. At the very least, he should be called out on his bluffs relentlessly. Part of the reason he gets away with doing things outside the norms is because he knows that everyone's responses will remain inside the norms. We are way past that.
posted by flarbuse at 11:09 AM on March 18 [40 favorites]


Former DNC chair Donna Brazile has joined FOX News as a contributor.

lol

proclaiming a need to reach out to FOX viewers.

i can't decide if she's really that dumb or if she's just grifting
posted by entropicamericana at 11:10 AM on March 18 [16 favorites]


Former DNC chair Donna Brazile has joined FOX News as a contributor. She has issued a statement justifying her decision by, among other things, castigating liberals for having safe spaces and proclaiming a need to reach out to FOX viewers.

posted by sotonohito 10 minutes ago [3 favorites +] [!]


If Brazille thinks Faux Nooz is going to do anything other than use her to amplify their own propaganda, I've got several bankrupt casinos I'd like to sell her. Anyone got her number?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:14 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Former DNC chair Donna Brazile has joined FOX News as a contributor.
Brazile is a friend and frequent guest of Bill Maher's on his show. He's been stomping on this idea like it's some brilliant insight for a while now. He regularly harasses guests with the question of when they are going to go on Fox. It's baffling.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:16 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: Former DNC chair Donna Brazile has joined FOX News as a contributor. She has issued a statement justifying her decision by, among other things, castigating liberals for having safe spaces and proclaiming a need to reach out to FOX viewers.

The media is "liberal" only because a number of outlets occasionally report facts, and not just Republican talking points that are either poorly sourced statistics or outright lies. So, by crying "liberal bias!," conservatives can push the narrative towards their un-reality, in the name of "balance."

For a general example, there's only a Conservapedia (Wikipedia entry, I'm not linking to the actual muck) because Wikipedia is too liberal to include such articles as Athiesm and Mass Murder ("Joseph Stalin's atheistic regime killed tens of millions of people") or note in the article on vaccines that "Many injuries from vaccination are admitted by the government, and severe potential side effects are disclosed on packaging labels that most parents never see."

And safe spaces are created because of open hatred acts of violence by angry, empowered groups or individuals. What she calls 'safe spaces' ("We have to engage that audience and show Americans of every stripe what we stand for rather than retreat into our ‘safe spaces’ where we simply agree with each other.") are echo chambers.

Like Fox News.

Classic GOP move, change the definition of a term to fit your angle.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on March 18 [18 favorites]


I wish I were surprised by the Donna Brazile news. She seems to hold multiple grudges in multiple directions and at one time she went a little bit down the "Who Killed Seth Rich" rabbit-hole, though not to any significant depth. It's not clear at this point what she even believes.

Of course, Fox is displaying blatant hypocrisy after having made so much hay from the time Brazile gave primary debate questions to Hillary, but that turnaround is even less surprising.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:21 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Clinton should have done that when he requested she take a drug test.

Counterpoint: Elizabeth Warren taking the DNA test.

Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
posted by diogenes at 11:32 AM on March 18 [41 favorites]


Re Donna Brazile - How much does Fox pay for such a contract?
posted by growabrain at 11:37 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The corpses of Google Reader, Wave and all the other useful products they axed spin silently in digital graves.

Well, get ready for those digital graveyards to get a lot more crowded, if Warren's plan goes through. She explicitly wants to separate the single part of Google that makes any money (search advertising) from all the other parts. I hope no one here is too attached to their @gmail.com email address.
posted by sideshow at 11:38 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


If you're suggesting that all I would need to do in order to break up a massive monopoly that long ago tossed "Don't Be Evil" into the bin and gleefully embraced it instead is to trash my gmail account, I mean, I'll take that deal.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:42 AM on March 18 [52 favorites]


No kidding. Email addresses are a dime a dozen. I could have another one set up in 5 minutes.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:46 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


"I would think those in the business of transparency and accountability should appreciate that," she tells press gaggle.”

This is not what transparency or accountability means.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:28 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


MoJo: Dems Ask FBI to Investigate Massage Parlor Owner Who Was Selling Access to Trump
Top Democrats on four congressional committees have asked the FBI investigate the activities of Cindy Yang, the massage parlor owner who offered to sell Chinese business executives access to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

In a letter sent Friday, the lawmakers requested that the FBI conduct “criminal and counterintelligence investigations into credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities by Ms. Yang.” They also ask the bureau to conduct an assessment of counterintelligence risks or related concerns “associated with any interactions between President Donald Trump and Ms. Yang.”[…]

“If true, these allegations raise serious counterintelligence concerns,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which they sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. “China has frequently used non-traditional intelligence collectors and businesspersons to compromise targets.”[…]

The letter was sent by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
Also, the Daily Beast reports that the House Judiciary Committee is planning a hearing on the rise of white nationalism.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:32 PM on March 18 [36 favorites]


"I would think those in the business of transparency and accountability should appreciate that," [Kellyanne Conway] tells press gaggle.”

This is not what transparency or accountability means.


Of course not. It isn't enough that Republicans merely act in bad faith; they make their bad faith obvious, as a signal of contempt. In this aspect they're no different from the scurviest Internet troll, and no more worth anyone's valuable time, let alone the national media's. And valid criticism of her point will only be used as in-group signaling and a cue to dismiss the so-called "liberam" media.

At the same time, the audacity of the performance -- a spokesperson for the most corrupt and deceptive administration since Nixon -- impresses and amuses those who approach political coverage from a theater criticism perspective. Given that Kellyanne Conway has the job od defending Trump, which can't be done honestly, why wouldn't she dissemble like this? The fault is in the media that airs her comments as if they had any value, in doing so inherently giving them credibility, worth, and value they don't deserve.
posted by Gelatin at 12:46 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]




stunningly irresponsible advice

We just can't recognize agitation for more stochastic terrorism even when it's right in our faces. "In order to educate yourself about what a confused and crazy guy the killer is, you should definitely read the manifesto" is all over the mainstream conservative ecosystem right now: see Steven Crowder.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:21 PM on March 18 [28 favorites]


Meanwhile, Ben Shapiro is running scared, because he knows that if anyone reads the manifesto they might start noticing a few things about his own rhetoric.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:26 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


Nazis contain multitudes.
posted by Yowser at 1:26 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Ben Shapiro is running scared, because he knows that if anyone reads the manifesto they might start noticing a few things about his own rhetoric.

In Ben's case it's because he provided much of the propaganda consumed by the Quebec killer. Ben already has a confirmed body count and therefore has reason to be a bit coy, unlike Kellyanne and Crowder.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:31 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


From Mother Jones cover story for March/April 2019 issue: How Facebook Screwed Us All.

All along the way, as Facebook pumped headlines into your feed, it didn’t care whether the “news” was real. It didn’t want that responsibility or expense. Instead, it honed in on engagement—did you share or comment, increasing value to advertisers? Truth was optional, if not an actual hindrance.

But as with actual salt and fat, we humans didn’t evolve as rapidly as our information diets did. We were still looking for information when the platforms were giving us engagement. People Googling “Hillary Clinton” in 2016 wanted to know about a candidate. When the top search results led them to a Breitbart piece on Benghazi, which generated a recommendation for an Infowars video, which sucked them into a wormhole of conspiracy chats, they weren’t thinking, “I’m being shown engaging content.” They were reading a perfect personalized newspaper.

This is what Zuckerberg and the other platform chiefs still haven’t grappled with: Their tools are great at helping you find content but not truth. (Even YouTube’s app for kids, as Business Insider discovered, recommended conspiracy videos about our world being ruled by reptile-­human hybrids.)

Facebook et al. became the primary sources of news and the primary destroyers of news. And they refused to deal with it because their business is predicated on the fallacy that technology is neutral—Silicon Valley’s version of “guns don’t kill people.”

posted by Bella Donna at 2:36 PM on March 18 [59 favorites]


USA Today: Poll: Half of Americans say Trump is victim of a 'witch hunt' as trust in Mueller erodes

CNBC: Experts push back on Trump-touted poll that shows 50% of Americans calling Mueller probe a 'witch hunt'
"President Trump has called the Special Counsel´s investigation a 'witch hunt' and said he´s been subjected to more investigations than previous presidents because of politics. Do you agree?" the new USA Today/Suffolk University poll asked 1,000 registered voters in live telephone interviews between March 13 and 17.[…]

"I'm sorry to say this question violates three basic principles of questionnaire design," said Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates, which polls for ABC News and others.

Langer said in an email to CNBC that the question is "triple-barreled" because it asks three things within a single question: whether the probe is a witch hunt; whether Trump has been subjected to more investigations than other presidents; and whether those probes have been lodged because of politics.

"Answers to each can differ," Langer said.

He added that asking respondents if they agree — without asking if they disagree — makes the question "unbalanced." And agree-disagree questions in general are "fundamentally biasing, because they lack the alternative proposition," Langer said.
The poll’s wording on the other questions (PDF) is a lot simpler, so perhaps that explains this particular outlier. Much of the poll is currently embargoed, though, so I expect we’ll hear more about it this week.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:04 PM on March 18 [22 favorites]




Beto O’Rourke tells you how to do the hokey pokey (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
You put a hand in. Maybe it’s the right, maybe it’s the left. Maybe it’s the hand of a friend, a neighbor. Maybe it’s my hand. Could it be my hand? It’s not Donald Trump’s hand, that’s for sure!

Then you take it — maybe you take it to beautiful Keokuk, Iowa, a place it’s been my honor to visit for the first time today. I love the enthusiasm here. Or you take it to the humble hotel of a proprietor just trying to make it. Maybe you take it to the hearts of millions of Americans. Somewhere. I’m not sure. Kerouac. The Clash.

Then who can say? Do you shake that hand? Maybe it’s not for me to say. Millions of Americans have hands. I look across this country, and I see a forest of hands. Driving across, you wonder: What’s it all about? I’m coming to that. Dust yourself off, come back stronger. Could be. I don’t know.

Drive until the answer becomes clear.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:53 PM on March 18 [28 favorites]


From the 'I guess this is the future now' department:

U.S. Blocks U.N. Resolution on Geoengineering
posted by MrVisible at 5:16 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


So the suspect in the killing of the Gambino boss appears to be a QAnon follower. In court today he flashed his hand on which he'd penned QAnon sayings such as "MAGA forever," "Patriots in charge," and a giant Q.

In case you were wondering if 2019 was going to get more insane... yup!
posted by bluecore at 5:27 PM on March 18 [45 favorites]


Doktor Zed Wow. I'm far from an expert in polling, but I did take an intro level class back in university and that's almost a textbook example of how to rig a poll. Asking "do you agree" is well known to produce a **STRONG** bias towards agreeing, people are shockingly eager to please even strangers. Plus the fact that it's three questions in one, and that the questions are presented in a manner that is clearly very pro-Trump.

A better poll would have been something like "President Trump has said the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, other people say it's both fair and necessary, do you think it's a witch hunt or not?" And alternated the order in which those were presented so half the respondents got it presented one way and the other half got it presented the other way "Some people say the Mueller investigation is both fair and necessary, President Trump says it's a witch hunt, do you think it is necessary or a witch hunt?"

Or just left off the preliminaries and asked "do you think the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt or a fair investigation?" again with the order the options are presented flip flopped for alternate respondents.

But presenting it as listed there is all but explicitly designed to produce results favorable to Trump, and to be honest I'm stunned that they were only able to get 50% of respondents saying the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt given the way it was phrased.

I'd also like info on how they selected their sample, because I'll bet that if they were rigging the questions so blatantly they were also selecting their sample for a solid pro-Trump bias as well.
posted by sotonohito at 5:49 PM on March 18 [26 favorites]


Daily Beast: Cambridge Analytica Secrets Allegedly Covered Up by Trump Campaign Veterans—The High Court in London heard that former insiders, including Rebekah Mercer, were pulling the strings of “biased” officials responsible for the fate of the company.
The High Court heard that administrators had deliberately misled a judge during a previous hearing by obfuscating their financial links to Emerdata, a company which was set up by [former CEO Alexander] Nix, Rebekah Mercer, and other senior figures who were previously involved with Cambridge Analytica.[…]

In Britain, court-appointed administrators are supposed to work independently on behalf of all creditors to take over running of the company, similar to chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. But the legal team of David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School in New York who is fighting for access to the data compiled on him, claimed that the administrators of Cambridge Analytica has succumbed to undue influence. Emerdata appointed the administrator and subsequently committed to pay them up to $1 million in fees.

The administrators, Vincent Green and Mark Newman of Crowe U.K. LLP, were accused of trying to liquidate the company before a full investigation into the company could be held.[…]

Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer, are listed as directors of Emerdata. As is former Cambridge Analytica chairman Julian Wheatland, who is named on the list of people close to President Trump being probed by the House Judiciary Committee, alongside Nix, who resigned as a director of Emerdata on the same day that he was called back for further questioning by a committee in Britain’s House of Commons. Nix remains a shareholder.
Speaking of the Mercers, Caroline Orr writes for Byline: Robert Mercer is Fueling a Multimillion Dollar Anti-Muslim Propaganda Industry
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:02 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


The NYT with goods on DeutscheBank. We're finally getting to Justin Kennedy.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:18 PM on March 18 [50 favorites]




We're finally getting to Justin Kennedy.

We're going to look back in 20 years at this time, and Anthony Kennedy selling his Supreme Court seat to Donald Trump to save his son will be the single most corrupt thing that happened.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:23 PM on March 18 [65 favorites]


I hope Brett Kavanaugh's debts disappearing is a thread coming from this, too.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:26 PM on March 18 [50 favorites]


Speaking of the Mercers

(If you want more Mercer info, head over to the aptly named /r/MercerInfo).
posted by Jpfed at 6:38 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


NYT: "Mr. Jain said he was surprised by [I-1's] low level of debt, the executives said"

Oh dear. He repeatedly bullshitted his net worth, been blacklisted by every US lender, and Deutsche Bank somehow didn't think he was bullshitting them? Fuckin' geniuses.
posted by holgate at 6:55 PM on March 18 [19 favorites]


the suspect in the killing of the Gambino boss appears to be a QAnon follower.

I'd be real interested in learning more about this guy's motivations and connections, because just, wow. The article mentions that he was mad at Cali because he wouldn't let him date his niece, but this isn't usually how major mob figures are brought down.

Either way, it would be so completely nuts totally 2019 if there was nobody bigger connected to this guy. Although if he's unconnected, I am kind of curious what MAGA/QAnon people would have against the mafia, what with a dimestore mafioso being in the White House and all.
posted by Rykey at 7:21 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Trump borrowed money from Deutsche Bank with a personal guarantee. When he was facing default he sued them, arguing that a financial crisis was "an act of God" that should free him from any personal obligation. And they subsequently lent him more money on the theory that they would benefit in two ways:
1) he would use some of it to pay back the other debt; and
2) since he would deposit some of the borrowed money with Deutsche Bank, they would earn money from the interest rate spread.

In other words, "Lend me $100. I'll use it to repay the $20 I owe you and I'll even lend you $10 myself." I don't think most people would have had the chutzpah to make those arguments, and I don't think most banks would have accepted them, but there you go and here we are.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:27 PM on March 18 [29 favorites]


The NYT with goods on DeutscheBank.

From the "Demagogy and Defaults" section of the NYT article:
After Mr. Trump won the election, Deutsche Bank’s board of directors rushed to understand how the bank had become the biggest lender to the president-elect.

A report prepared by the board’s integrity committee concluded that executives in the private-banking division were so determined to win business from big-name clients that they had ignored Mr. Trump’s reputation for demagogy and defaults, according to a person who read the report.

The review also found that Deutsche Bank had produced a number of “exposure reports” that flagged the growing business with Mr. Trump, but that they had not been adequately reviewed by senior executives.

On Deutsche Bank’s trading floor, managers began warning employees not to use the word “Trump” in communications with people outside the bank. Salesmen who violated the edict were scolded by compliance officers who said the bank feared stoking public interest in its ties to the new president.

[...] Two years after Mr. Trump was sworn in, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. The chamber’s financial services and intelligence committees opened investigations into Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump. Those inquiries, as well as the New York attorney general’s investigation, come at a perilous time for Deutsche Bank, which is negotiating to merge with another large German lender.

Next month, Deutsche Bank is likely to start handing over extensive internal documents and communications about Mr. Trump to the congressional committees, according to people briefed on the process.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:28 PM on March 18 [16 favorites]


Meanwhile back in farm, Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and some accounts called “Devin Nunes Mom” and “Devin Nunes Cow”. Seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages
posted by growabrain at 7:29 PM on March 18 [13 favorites]


Devin Nunes has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Liz Mair, Devin Nunes's Cow and Devin Nunes's Mom.

Devin Nunes' attorney, Steven Biss, had his law license suspended for all of 2009 for violating securities law and general incompetence, because that's the kind of lawyer Devin Nunes would get, to sue Devin Nunes' Cow. Devin Nunes' attorney, Steve Biss, then had his law license suspended an additional 30 days for continuing to practice law while his license was suspended, then got into more trouble in October 2010 and was publicly reprimanded by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board.

Which goes some way to explaining the verbiage and attachments included in this lawsuit, as they are hysterically bad. The lawsuit accuses “Devin Nunes’ Cow” of false claims to its 1,204 Twitter followers including "He’s udder-ly worthless," it's "pasture time to move him to prison” and “Devin is whey over his head in crime.”
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:33 PM on March 18 [54 favorites]


That Nunes thing is incredible. To think Devin Nunes's Mom would falsely state that he had herp-face.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:38 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


Since we're likely to be hearing it a lot, I much prefer the old-fashioned "demagoguery" over "demagogy" which just sounds half-heartedly flaccid. Not for the first time, I am disappointed in the NY Times.

I agree the Justice Kennedy story is very likely to reveal some of the deepest and most systemic wells of corruption - Trump is a venal, greedy narcissist but the Kennedy thing has potential to make the worst conspiracy theories seem like night-night stories.
posted by Rumple at 7:40 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


I much prefer the old-fashioned "demagoguery" over "demagogy"

Could be some weird news-style-guide thing to save ink and column inches like how they prefer “caldron” over “cauldron” and don’t use the serial comma.
posted by stopgap at 7:50 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Vox: Elizabeth Warren gives a full-throated endorsement for reparations at CNN town hall
posted by Chrysostom at 7:52 PM on March 18 [28 favorites]


Lobbying Case Against Democrat With Ties to Manafort Reaches Key Stage (NYT)
The case involving the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington. The previously undisclosed move was driven by Justice Department officials in Washington, and reflects an eagerness within the department to prosecute violations of lobbying laws after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, focused on foreign influence in his investigations. [...]

The work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort, who was then a political consultant collecting millions of dollars from clients in former Soviet states. [...] The Manafort case, and others developed by Mr. Mueller, marked the first high-profile criminal charges in years under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. The 1938 law requires Americans to disclose detailed information about lobbying and public relations work for foreign governments and politicians. [...]

The Justice Department recently signaled that its enforcement efforts were just getting started, indicating that scrutiny of foreign influence in American politics will continue after Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which began with a focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

One of the first significant initiatives under the new attorney general, William P. Barr, was the reorganization of the unit that oversees FARA, suggesting that enforcing laws on foreign lobbying will become a priority of his tenure. [...]

According to people familiar with the case, Manhattan prosecutors have retained control of the investigations of the two lobbying firms. They are Mercury Public Affairs, whose lead partner on the account was Vin Weber, a former Republican member of Congress, and the Podesta Group, led by Tony Podesta, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser whose business collapsed in 2017 under the glare of Mr. Mueller’s scrutiny. [...]

Supporters of Mr. Craig bristled earlier this month when Mr. Demers appeared to again call out both Mr. Craig and Skadden Arps at an American Bar Association conference in New Orleans. The firm “was on the hook” for FARA violations because it “made a series of representations to the Justice Department that were not accurate” based on Mr. Craig’s misleading statements, Mr. Demers said, though he did not identify Mr. Craig by name. [...]

“The purpose of enforcement is increased transparency” and “lying to the government has always been a crime,” said Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman. “That is not new, nor should it be portrayed as such.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:01 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Trump walks into a bank alone. He has no accountant or lawyer. He asks for a hundred million dollar plus loan. Trump has no paper work, not even bank statements. He makes up some figures that nearly everyone finds highly suspect. They give him the loan.

There's a great SNL sketch with Eddie Murphy. He's a reporter who dresses up in white face to find out what life's really like for rich white people. He finds out everything is free, so long as there are no black people around. Banks simply hand him bags of money with no questions asked.

SNL deserves a Peabody award.
posted by xammerboy at 8:03 PM on March 18 [69 favorites]


Holy fuck that NYT article is bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. DB loaned money to Trump repeatedly because of the old-boys-network bullshit that's so prevalent everywhere, and then started lending him money to pay another part of the bank back, started lending him money expressly on the promise that Trump would put some cash in his DB brokerage account???! Trump thought his agent at DB WAS "IN CHARGE / THE HEAD OF" THE BANK. It's INSANE.
posted by odinsdream at 8:05 PM on March 18 [33 favorites]


There's a great SNL sketch with Eddie Murphy. He's a reporter who dresses up in white face to find out what life's really like for rich white people.

That's "White Like Me" from December 1984. It really is pretty great.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:06 PM on March 18 [21 favorites]


Devin Nunes has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Liz Mair, Devin Nunes's Cow and Devin Nunes's Mom.

A lot of folks are sharing the Devin Nunes complaint that Fox News posted, but that document has no proof that it was even filed. There's not even a case number.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:30 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


I read that NYT article on Deutsche Bank today while I was at work. I actually work in commercial real estate lending, albeit at a much smaller bank that actually has some ethics and a proper sense of risk. I found myself repeatedly saying "Are you fucking kidding me?!" as I read, but started actually laughing out loud when I got to "Aside from his history of defaults, he was an attractive borrower."

Aside from his history of defaults. Aside from his history of defaults. ASIDE FROM HIS HISTORY OF DEFAULTS.

You know, the reddest of red fucking flags in a borrower's history. Where I work, we have long memories. There are developers we will never lend to because, say, they tried to screw over a coworker.. when they worked at a different bank.. twenty years ago. There are builders that are still infamous in my department, even though everyone who worked with them no longer works here, and we will pass on the cautionary tales to the next folks who work here.

The fact that senior members in Deutsche Bank's credit department just casually signed off on lending Trump a bunch of new money after he had sued them while claiming the economic downturn was an Act of God just... I don't even know what to do with that fact. I want to say nothing surprises me in this industry anymore, but.. holy fuck.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:33 PM on March 18 [112 favorites]


Nadler: ‘Tens of thousands’ of documents delivered in Trump obstruction probe (Politico)
The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it received responses from a “large number” of the 81 individuals and entities who were asked to provide documents as part of the panel’s wide-ranging investigation into obstruction of justice allegations against President Donald Trump — but the committee was mum on details about who complied.

“I am encouraged by the responses we have received since sending these initial letters two weeks ago,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement on Monday, the deadline for document requests the committee sent on March 4.

“It is my hope that we will receive cooperation from the remainder of the list, and will be working to find an appropriate accommodation with any individual who may be reluctant to cooperate with our investigation,” added Nadler. [...]

Most of the documents the committee asked for have already been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller and to federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, both of which are investigating similar allegations involving the president and his associates.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:34 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


So the suspect in the killing of the Gambino boss appears to be a QAnon follower.

That explains the pickup truck. I imagine the killer felt Trump was being squeezed by the mobster and decided to do him a favor. A slim possibility is Trump or someone near him actually organized it. Either way, I wonder if those mobsters will take this lying down?

DeutscheBank

What I wouldn't give to be the next president of the United States and have a nice chat with Ms. Merkel. For example, since everyone is surprised that DeutscheBank was behaving so stupidly, maybe there is more to the story. Like, maybe there is a silent partner, who just so happens to be one or two steps removed from Putin? I hear the German's have decent intelligence services, so how much did Ms. Merkel know and when?

Anthony Kennedy

I can only pray his deal with the devil comes out and he loses his legacy, and more, and still won't have saved his son, and lives with his shame for years to come without dementia.
posted by M-x shell at 8:38 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]



The fact that senior members in Deutsche Bank's credit department just casually signed off on lending Trump a bunch of new money after he had sued them while claiming the economic downturn was an Act of God just... I don't even know what to do with that fact. I want to say nothing surprises me in this industry anymore, but.. holy fuck.


There has to be a threshold where Hanlon's Razor no longer applies, and malfeasance is the likelier explanation. In which case, I do hope the German Federal Republic's intelligence agencies are investigating, and that a DB official will soon deem it most prudent sneak into a bathroom and French kiss a defibrillator. [)]

[0] Breaking Bad reference, for those who didn't see the show.
posted by ocschwar at 8:38 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


DB was laundering Russian blood money through Trump. They were willing to "lose" money on him, because they made a lot more money by selling their institutional reputation to Putin.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:43 PM on March 18 [40 favorites]


So the suspect in the killing of the Gambino boss appears to be a QAnon follower.

The way I've read this, in gang terminology I think what he's doing is "claiming" QAnon, an association with them. It's really up to QAnon to validate that membership, and since Q is just such a big ol' mystery we don't have any way of validating it any way else. One reason this could be a ruse would be as a way to take attention completely off the Mafia.
posted by rhizome at 9:03 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Shit, and if Trump is as mobbed up as rumored then this could be a bit more orchestrated to divert law enforcement resources to internet characters and groups over the long term. Just like he's eviscerated almost every other oversight agency, the Organized Crime Taskforce (or whatever) morphs into something more abstract like "group crime" or something that keeps the allocation malleable and away from the OGs. I mean, that's one possibility, that the Mafia is about to have a rennaissance.
posted by rhizome at 9:13 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


CNN: White House expects to see Mueller findings before they go to Congress
White House lawyers expect to have an opportunity to review whatever version of Robert Mueller's report Attorney General Bill Barr submits to Congress before it reaches lawmakers and the public, multiple sources familiar with the matter said, setting up a potential political battle over the hotly anticipated document.

The attorneys want the White House to have an opportunity to claim executive privilege over information drawn from documents and interviews with White House officials, the sources said.[…]

While Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested privilege could be used to keep parts of the report from public view, the issue is up to the White House, not the President's personal attorneys.[…]

As the White House is bracing for Mueller's investigation to conclude, some officials describe a sense of anxiety at the contents of the report, even as they welcome the probe's end.[…]

Emmett Flood, the White House lawyer tasked with handling the White House's response to the Mueller probe, and officials have held meetings to game out the White House's response to whatever becomes public, a senior White House official said.

Officials have prepared the outlines of how the White House would react to different scenarios, based on the extent of Barr's disclosure to Congress and whether the findings are exculpatory or damaging to the President, the official said. Those efforts have largely been undertaken by Flood and his team, rather than by officials in the White House press shop, which has sought to keep its distance from the Mueller investigation.
Of course, if the Trump White House tries to sit on the Mueller report by claiming executive privilege, House Democrats will undoubtedly take the issue to court.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:02 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Let's hope so...

"The President is immune from indictment" is bullshit. Set the precedent.
posted by Windopaene at 10:12 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


David Cay Johnston interviewed by Democracy Now last week:

I think the single most important thing is how much money he got from the Kremlin. The Russian oligarchs are essentially a criminal gang led by Vladimir Putin. And we know they have been putting money into his pocket, as have many other—remember, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the theft of the property of the people of the old Soviet Union. And Donald has been a person who’s laundered money for these people, held money for these people, done deals that make no sense for these people and with them. And we need to understand that Donald Trump is not a loyal American. The kindest thing, Amy, I could say about Donald is he has divided loyalties. His own actions have indisputably shown that. I think he is a Kremlin agent—unwittingly, perhaps, because Donald is not very witting. But he is absolutely, in my view, a Kremlin agent.
posted by growabrain at 10:14 PM on March 18 [23 favorites]


"The President is immune from indictment" is bullshit. Set the precedent.

No need.
Franklin Pierce was arrested while serving as president for running down a woman while on horseback.
While president, Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage.

Presidents can be arrested.
Presidents have been arrested.
No one is above the law.
Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:54 PM on March 18 [92 favorites]



DB was laundering Russian blood money through Trump. They were willing to "lose" money on him, because they made a lot more money by selling their institutional reputation to Putin.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:43 PM on March 18 [7 favorites −] [!]

Just finished the article and had a similar thought. I got a twinge like I was watching Better Call Saul or something. Trump (or any other big client around the world) receives a loan layered with dirty money from one division of a bank along with a promise to deposits into personal brokerage. Then those accounts fund investments in the “legit” interests of the criminals on the other side.

Seems incredibly brazen to do it entirely internally but it fits the bank’s MO, to chase risk in incredibly innovative ways.

Favorite trump quote with regards to DB: “They’re really fast.”

A definitive quote really. He likes fast fire trucks, fast 6G internet, and fast banks.
posted by dagosto at 11:04 PM on March 18 [18 favorites]


Concertina wire used in the border fence is being stolen and re-purposed for home security in Tijuana.
posted by rdr at 12:53 AM on March 19 [51 favorites]


Concertina wire used in the border fence is being stolen and re-purposed for home security in Tijuana.
Chef's kiss. This is the kind of thing that keeps me from throwing myself off a bridge and makes me want to pour buckets of money on the L.A. Times.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:23 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


Todays Krugman is depressing: Getting Real About Rural America
Nobody knows how to reverse the heartland’s decline.
By Paul Krugman/NYTimes
As you read this, Democratic presidential hopefuls are crisscrossing Iowa, trying to assure farmers that they share their concerns. Commentators are publishing opinion pieces about how Democrats can win back rural voters. Think tanks are issuing manifestoes about reviving heartland economies.

There’s nothing wrong with discussing these issues. Rural lives matter — we’re all Americans, and deserve to share in the nation’s wealth. Rural votes matter even more; like it or not, our political system gives hugely disproportionate weight to less populous states, which are also generally states with relatively rural populations.

But it’s also important to get real. There are powerful forces behind the relative and in some cases absolute economic decline of rural America — and the truth is that nobody knows how to reverse those forces.

Put it this way: Many of the problems facing America have easy technical solutions; all we lack is the political will. Every other advanced country provides universal health care. Affordable child care is within easy reach. Rebuilding our fraying infrastructure would be expensive, but we can afford it — and it might well pay for itself.
It's bleak, and maybe he is right, but he hints at something else, which is that 40 years ago, you could have written an identical piece on the inner cities. Back in the 70's and 80's no-one could see how the inner cities could ever return to their former glory. But while there still are places that struggle, cities in general are becoming unaffordable and rather than depleted. I hope and on good days I believe that the rural areas will rebound. Maybe because agriculture needs to change with global warming. Or because young people give up on finding space in the cities.
posted by mumimor at 4:47 AM on March 19 [20 favorites]


In December, in a past uspolitics thread, Bella Donna recommended the podcast Mueller, She Wrote (RSS)... I've been listening to it since then and wanted to add my endorsement! Lots of incisive commentary and swearing.

In yesterday's episode (27min in here) they mentioned a theory I don't think I've seen elsewhere, that the apparently lenient sentences for Manafort might be a product of further attempts to get him to flip on collusion issues instead of just general criming.
posted by XMLicious at 5:13 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


NYT: U.S. Pressures Iraq Over Embrace of Militias Linked to Iran
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose confrontational stand on Iran has already strained ties with European allies, is leading the push for Iraq to confront its fellow Shiite-majority neighbor. He will arrive in the Middle East on Tuesday to speak with officials in Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon about containing Iran.

Under plans recommended by Mr. Pompeo and some White House officials, the State Department would designate Iran’s military Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It would be a first instance of the United States designating a unit of another government’s military as a terrorist group; American officials said it could put United States troops and intelligence officers at risk of similar actions by foreign governments.[…]

The proposal was described to The New York Times on condition of anonymity by a half-dozen American and Iraqi officials and experts familiar with the sensitive diplomatic plans but not authorized to discuss them by name.[…]

Officials at the Pentagon and the C.I.A. — which Mr. Pompeo ran in the Trump administration’s first year — oppose designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards or the Iraqi militias as terrorist groups, fearing a backlash that could constrain American troops.
Elsewhere at the State Dept., CNN reports: State Department Bars Press Corps From Pompeo Briefing, Won't Release List of Attendees It's entirely possible that Pompeo didn't want the mainstream media to hear about his rapture-ready, end-of-days, apocalypse-now evangelicalism.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:27 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]


I pushed to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ The transgender ban defies our values. (Adm. Mullen, WaPo Opinion)
The Defense Department announced plans last week to reinstate a ban on service by openly transgender Americans that, until now, has been blocked by multiple court rulings. This decision hurts our national security, deprives our ranks of much-needed talent and flies in the face of the values our military institution represents.

I should know. As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, I advocated — and led our armed forces through — the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy that similarly forbade gay and lesbian troops from serving openly. [...]

I was troubled that our military had a policy forcing service members to lie about who they were as a condition of service. This, I felt, was a blow to their integrity, as well as to our military’s. If there were no cost for equal treatment and a high cost — in talent, careers and integrity — for discrimination, ending the ban was a simple choice. Subsequent research shows our military was stronger for it.

In 2015, a similar process took place around transgender service. The Pentagon created a working group consisting of military and civilian personnel representing all the services and the Joint Staff, and it also engaged the Rand Corp. to conduct an exhaustive study into the readiness implications of open service. The process confirmed what prior research and experience had told us: There is no valid medical or military rationale for banning openly transgender Americans from serving as their true selves, or from obtaining medically necessary health care. [...]

Several of these service members gave poignant testimony before Congress last month, displaying the kind of talent and bravery our military needs. [...] The Pentagon is being too cute by half when it claims it is not banning transgender people from service. A policy that targets proxies of being transgender amounts to an effective ban. [...] Discriminating against a group of proven patriots is no way to appeal to the next generation of fighters and serves only to place politics above readiness.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:51 AM on March 19 [20 favorites]


Pentagon sends Congress list of military construction projects that could be delayed to free up money for wall (WaPo)
Trump is planning to access the funds for the wall under Section 2808 of the U.S. code that governs the military. It allows the defense secretary, in the event of a national emergency requiring the use of the military, to undertake military construction projects “not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”
Emphasis added, due to this megathread link:
Senate Rejects Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration, Setting Up First Veto (NYT) "As the Senate was delivering its rebuke, senior military commanders announced they would begin to scale back about 40 percent of the 6,000 troops deployed at the southwestern border at Mr. Trump’s request. “It’s a security challenge — not a military threat,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Joint Chiefs chairman, when asked Thursday morning during a Senate Armed Services hearing to assess the threat posed by an influx of migrants from the Mexican side of the border."
posted by Little Dawn at 6:06 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


835 pages of Michael Cohen search warrant applications now published.

@matthewamiller: On quick read, looks like everything related to the campaign finance probe is redacted. Good sign that investigation is very much ongoing.

One thing we learned is how early this started, with Mueller’s office getting warrants for Cohen’s email in summer 2017 before referring the case to SDNY.

More as reporters work their way through the docs.
posted by zachlipton at 6:16 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]


Trump officials prepared to stonewall Democratic oversight demands (Politico)
Over the last two months, Trump’s intent has become clear: He doesn’t plan to negotiate with Congress over their demands for information and witnesses the way his predecessors did. Instead, House Democrats are going to have to fight him for everything.

POLITICO contacted the 17 House committees that unsuccessfully requested records or witnesses from the Trump administration over the last two months. In most cases involving the White House itself, as opposed to agencies and departments, the request was ignored altogether. [...]

Another deadline came and went on Monday. The White House ignored Nadler’s latest request for a slew of documents about fired administration officials, Russian nationals and Trump businesses, according to a person familiar with the situation. The White House and Committee declined to comment.

As a result — despite high hopes among Democrats that they would quickly be in possession of troves of internal Trump administration documents, and grilling a succession of administration witnesses — a long and frustrating fight with Trump lawyers lies ahead, a fight that could end up in court. [...] “I think they have an arrogant attitude toward Congress,” said Charles Tiefer, former solicitor and deputy general counsel of the House. “You have to go back to the Nixon administration to find this.”

That doesn’t mean Congress will get nothing.

House Democrats are likely to get documents, particularly on policy issues, from agencies and departments, that don’t have as many protections as the White House. And even if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t block Trump nominees, she can resort to other parliamentary tactics, including holding up appropriation riders and authority for different programs.

Even the most aggressive Trump lawyers can do little or nothing to prevent Democrats from getting some records from people and entities not associated with the federal government, including Trump’s adult children and business associates, who have no protections.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:17 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


That NYT article is bananas.

(One of the wildest parts is when they actually use the word "lie" in the sentence, "... among other things, [Trump] had been spreading a lie about President Barack Obama being born overseas..."!)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:32 AM on March 19 [26 favorites]


Another Trump Facebook election (Axios)
President Trump's re-election campaign has quietly spent nearly twice as much as the entire Democratic field combined on Facebook and Google ads, according to data from Facebook and Google's political ad transparency reports, aggregated by Bully Pulpit Interactive. [...]

The Facebook ad spend by all candidates is far-outpacing Google ad spend, according to the data. Overall, all candidates are spending roughly 3 times as much on Facebook ads than on Google ads. The Trump campaign is investing even more heavily on Facebook, spending 3.5 times as much there as on it is on Google. [...] Trump's Facebook influence won't be limited to ad spend. Even though Facebook has experienced a major backlash since the 2016 election, data from news analytics companies suggests that the same organic media trends that propelled Trump's base on Facebook in 2016 are still prevalent leading up to 2020.

National political stories thrive on Facebook, according to data from news analytics company Parse.ly. Since February, almost 28% of all traffic referrals (direct and indirect) to articles about politics, law and government came from Facebook. By comparison, just 9% came from Google.

Partisan news sources also thrive on Facebook. Fox News is the most popular news outlet on Facebook so far in 2019, according to a new report from Newswhip, which measures social engagement. Right-wing publishers like The Daily Wire, Daily Mail and Breitbart almost made the cut, as well as some left-leaning outlets.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:43 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


The NYT’s Maggie Haberman proposes that bored shitposting was the reason for Trump’s spike in Twitter rants this weekend:
Mr. Trump on Friday was rebuked by Senate Republicans, 12 of whom voted with Democrats against a national emergency to build a border wall. But the border barely figured into Mr. Trump’s weekend tweets, which appeared to be driven more by idle hands and an empty weekend schedule.

People who spoke with Mr. Trump on the phone over the weekend said he seemed to be in good spirits. Others who communicated with him said he had spent some time railing privately against Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director. But they also said he appeared to be a little aimless, and the outpouring seemed to be more driven by a lack of structure. Mr. Trump had skipped his regular weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, because of a family commitment that kept him grounded in Washington.[…]

Tweeting has also become a normal part of how the president circumvents the news media and his own advisers to communicate to the public what is on his mind. But the weekend whirlwind was so unusual that it created its own mini news cycle, with targets using their own platforms to respond and aides fielding questions from reporters about the president’s mental state.
Right on cue, @realDonaldTrump tweeted this morning, “The Fake News Media has NEVER been more Dishonest or Corrupt than it is right now. There has never been a time like this in American History. Very exciting but also, very sad! Fake News is the absolute Enemy of the People and our Country itself!”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:45 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


The Pentagon is being too cute by half when it claims it is not banning transgender people from service. A policy that targets proxies of being transgender amounts to an effective ban.

You can stay in the service so long as you affirm the sex you were assigned at birth. Of course, this means if you identify as, or look, female, you would need to shower with the men, etc. And again, that's trolling. Someone probably cruelly laughed as they made that up that rule.
posted by xammerboy at 7:05 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


“Very exciting” is Trump’s attempt at a positive spin in a tweet that ups his attacks on the Fourth Estate. Since his electoral rout last November, he’s been trying to frame his re-election message as “My election was a historic victory, and everything would be great in America again if it weren’t for these people sabotaging me!” It’s a pretty standard propaganda ploy from the authoritarian handbook.

Shortly after, he approvingly quoted Fox Business talking head Stuart Varney, “‘You can’t dispel this mood of positive energy.’ @Varneyco The Economy is Great!” Varney then interrupted his program to publicly thank Trump for the tweet.

And just to reinforce the Fox-GOP axis, today Murdoch’s restructured News Corp. announced that former House Speaker and Trump lickspittle Paul Ryan is joining its board of directors (Variety).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:14 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


Homeland Security Chief Cites Top Threat to U.S. (It’s Not the Border) (NYT)
Ms. Nielsen did dedicate a portion of her speech on Monday to what she called a “humanitarian and security catastrophe” of Central American families traveling to the border.
Emphasis added. (upthread link)
Ms. Nielsen also assailed President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the Kremlin “for a concerted effort to undermine our elections and our democratic process using cyberenabled means.” And she said the average American citizen or company was “no match” for virtual threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

“I am more worried about the ability of bad guys to hijack our networks than their ability to hijack our flights,” Ms. Nielsen said. “I am concerned about them holding our infrastructure hostage, stealing our money and secrets, exploiting children online and even hacking our democracy.”
posted by Little Dawn at 7:15 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Vladimir Putin signs sweeping Internet-censorship bills -- Publishing "unreliable socially significant information" can lead to big fines. (Timothy B. Lee for Ars Technica, March 18, 2019)
President Vladimir Putin has tightened his grip on the Russian Internet Monday, signing two censorship bills (Moscow Times) into law. One bans "fake news" while the other makes it illegal to insult public officials.

Russia has never really been a liberal democracy. It lacks an independent judiciary, and the government has found a variety of techniques to harass and intimidate independent media in the country.

But the new legislation gives the Russian government more direct tools to censor online speech. Analyst Maria Snegovaya told The Washington Post that the legislation "significantly expands the repressive power of Russia’s repressive apparatus."

Under one bill, individuals can face fines and jail time (Bloomberg) if they publish material online that shows a "clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and bodies exercising state power."

Insults against Putin himself can be punished under the law, The Moscow Times reports. Punishments can be as high as 300,000 rubles ($4,700) and 15 days in jail.

A second bill subjects sites publishing "unreliable socially significant information" to fines as high as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000).

"Russia has not historically had major constraints on Internet freedom," analyst Matthew Rojansky told the Post. "The Internet has thus been one realm in which full diversity of opinion and free expression, even on the most sensitive political topics, were generally permitted."
Trump asked "can I do that now?" /fake
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Rosenstein staying "a little longer" at DOJ (Guardian)
Rod Rosenstein, the number two official at the Justice Department is planning on stay “a little longer.” Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe until the confirmation of William Barr to be attorney general, had been planning to leave in March. However, he has decided to postpone his resignation.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:21 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


The demobilization of the resistance is a dangerous mistake (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)
The Women’s Marches over-awed Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Protesters at airports checked the initial version of Trump’s travel bans. Ordinary Americans’ phone calls and door knocks defeated multiple attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. It all sent a clear message during Trump’s first two years in office: Resistance works.

Engaged protesters were not able to block the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but they did render both toxically unpopular. The resistance spurred an unprecedented level of interest in special elections, swinging seats across the country, and powered Democrats to sweeping wins in the 2018 midterms.

And then it stopped. There was no mass mobilization to call senators in advance of the resolution blocking Trump’s border emergency declaration. There were no crowds on Capitol Hill. There are no reports of Republican senators canceling town halls because they’re afraid to face angry crowds demanding a floor vote on the anti-corruption bill HR 1. There are no protesters demanding that Trump accede to Congress’s request for his tax returns in part because no request has been made.

The resistance has demobilized. And for Democrats, it’s probably a huge mistake.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:26 AM on March 19 [46 favorites]


[One deleted. If folks want to dig deeper specifically about rural areas and related policy stuff, better to make a separate thread for that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:27 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


@mjz_dc: Oof. This is terrible news. SCOTUS rules 5–4 that ICE may arrest and detain an unauthorized immigrant *indefinitely* once he has been taken into criminal custody. Doesn't matter if he was released from custody months or even years ago....Breyer writes that he fears the court's decision "will work serious harm to the principles for which American law has long stood." Calls it a violation of "basic American legal values." Yeah. He's mad.
posted by zachlipton at 7:28 AM on March 19 [63 favorites]


xammerboy: You can stay in the service so long as you affirm the sex you were assigned at birth. Of course, this means if you identify as, or look, female, you would need to shower with the men, etc. And again, that's trolling.

It's also self-perpetuating, because then the social conservatives can take stories and images of obviously/visibly mixed-gender situations and use that as an example of "the future the liberals want". It's what happened when, for instance, a trans male high-schooler was forced by terrible rules to wrestle in the girls' division rather than the boys' -- it was easily reframed into "The trans agenda is at it again, look at this obviously unfair competition" when of course the opposite is what trans people (including that boy) wanted.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:29 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


President Trump's re-election campaign has quietly spent nearly twice as much as the entire Democratic field combined on Facebook and Google ads, according to data from Facebook and Google's political ad transparency reports

Not that this would be acknowledged by Trump, who just now tweeted, “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA”

Media Matters’s Matthew Gertz notes, “Read this tweet with the knowledge that Fox News and Fox Business have been running segments all morning promoting Devin Nunes' lawsuit.” e.g. Nunes interview on Fox News, in which he threatened, "We're not going to let all these fake news stories that were written about this [Russia] investigation, about this hoax, that were lies, we're going to challenge every single one of them in court, we're just starting with Twitter."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:32 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


we're going to challenge every single one of them in court, we're just starting with Twitter.

I'm so confused. Are th faces eating the leopards now?
posted by archimago at 7:40 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


While reading this Wired article, which contains the following:
To recap, the campaign chairman and deputy campaign chairman were involved in a decade-long, $65 million money-laundering scheme that defrauded the US government, banks, and taxpayers while they worked on behalf of pro-Russian interests, a conspiracy that continued right through the campaign. Meanwhile, the campaign’s national security adviser was working as an unregistered foreign agent of the authoritarian government of Turkey, and the president’s longtime adviser and lawyer was also involved in his own years-long bank and tax fraud around taxi medallions.
...
At the same time, there’s still truth to the President’s increasingly unhinged tweet storms: There is “NO COLLUSION,” at least not yet.
it occurred to me that the reason Trump harps on this (collusion) so much is that it's a classic con of misdirection. If he knows there was no direct communication with Russia, then when that is stated by Mueller, he gets to claim a huge PR win, and the other crimes (see above) get swept under the rug.

Keeping the focus on Russia rather than on money laundering and influence peddling is good for him and bad for the rest of us.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:00 AM on March 19 [26 favorites]


If he knows there was no direct communication with Russia . . . outside of Manafort, Jr., and Kushner with Veselnetskaya et al in Trump Tower, Manafort and Gates with Kilimnik, Flynn, Kushner and Sessions with Kislyak, and Trump himself in the Oval Office, and in private chats with Putin worldwide.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:12 AM on March 19 [37 favorites]


And Cohen calling up Putin's press secretary over the Moscow tower. .
posted by BungaDunga at 8:14 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]


Concertina wire used in the border fence is being stolen and re-purposed for home security in Tijuana.

It's what's been done with border fortifications for decades. DUH.....

That big beautiful wall would in no time be used for storage sheds on the south side of the border.
posted by ocschwar at 8:22 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


How a 2007 Clinton Campaign Memo Foreshadowed the Rise of Donald Trump (Jeremy Schulman, Mother Jones)
Twelve years ago today, Mark Penn suggested going after Barack Obama’s “lack of American roots.”

When Mark Penn visited the White House last month to advise President Donald Trump on polling, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. The former strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton—who insists he’s still a Democrat—had been loudly defending the president for months. Still, it was jarring to see Penn cozying up to the man who has repeatedly said that Hillary should be in prison.

Then again, Penn has long been comfortable with Trump’s divisive style of politics. Exactly 12 years ago today—as the 2008 Democratic primary campaign was getting started—Penn wrote a remarkable memo outlining his vision for how Hillary Clinton could win the nomination. The document, first reported by Joshua Green in The Atlantic, belittled Obama’s “diverse, multicultural” background and his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii. Penn suggested subtly drawing attention to Obama’s “lack of American roots” by, among other things, using “our logo to make some flags we can give out” […]
Unhappy anniversary?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:23 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]


835 pages of Michael Cohen search warrant applications now published.

NBC: Michael Cohen Search Warrants Show Federal Probe Began Nearly a Year Earlier Than Known “The documents show that the first FBI warrant was executed on July 19, 2017, seeking Cohen's Gmail messages from all of 2016 to the present.[…] The search warrants show that Mueller's office was also investigating Cohen for a previously-unknown allegation: that he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Cohen has not been charged with that crime.” (Screenshots from Marcy Wheeler of the three separate warrants for FARA violations, but we don’t know for which country.)

The FT’s Kadhim Shubber posted a deep-dive thread into the Cohen docs. n.b. “Curious redaction here. This section deals with money Cohen received via Essential Consultants. Elsewhere, it's fully disclosed that he received cash form Novartis, etc. But here, it references 'foreign sources' but seems to hide their identity”.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:27 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


When Mark Penn visited the White House last month to advise President Donald Trump on polling, it wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Given Penn's track record, I hope Trump makes him campaign manager.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:28 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


Huh. My state rep's husband is going to be Bernie Sanders's senior adviser and speechwriter. Not sure what to make of that, other than that I did think it was kinda weird for a Colorado state house candidate to get an endorsement from Sanders. Hope this doesn't distract her too much during the legislative session; she's been doing good work.
posted by asperity at 8:28 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Twelve years ago today, Mark Penn suggested going after Barack Obama’s “lack of American roots.”
Very much not to defend Mark Penn, but the idea that no one else would have thought to make insinuations about Obama's supposed foreign-ness is transparently nonsense.
posted by neroli at 8:30 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


[Couple deleted; first, re-read the first clause of what neroli rather than attacking them for defending Penn. Second, we are so, SO not going to have a fight about Mark Penn or Clinton's campaign.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:03 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


Because the Sanders Campaign thread is now closed:

Bernie Sanders Campaign Announces 10 New Women Hires

Including the super talented Briahna Joy Gray from the wonderful socialist magazine Current Affairs as National Press Secretary!

The Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign has announced 15 new hires in key positions, 10 of whom are women. This comes on the heels of the campaign hiring four key Iowa staffers and three 2016 veterans in New Hampshire last week.

The campaign says that now, every single one of its teams — management, political, policy, organizing, communications, advance, digital, and fundraising — has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions. Overall, the national leadership team is around 70% women.

posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:14 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Sanders also hired David Sirota who’s written hit pieces on Beto, Biden and Harris while insisting it was all just journalism and nothing to do with his association with Bernie. And deleted all his tweets from before February of this year.
posted by chris24 at 9:22 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


You're telling me Sanders had the gall to hire someone who supports his candidacy and has objections to other candidates?

Writing negative takes about the more centrist candidates seems like normal behavior for a lefty journalist. And deleting your tweets before gaining a heavily scrutinized role of national prominence seems normal to me too.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:32 AM on March 19 [15 favorites]


If you’re supporting a candidate then maybe you’re not acting as a journalist.
posted by chris24 at 9:37 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


[If we need a new thread for folks who want to argue about Sanders, go ahead and make one.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:39 AM on March 19 [14 favorites]


"Never in my life did I think I'd like to see a dictator, but if there's going to be one, I want it to be trump"
An angry Trump supporter attending a Steve Bannon-led pro-border wall rally this week wished that Trump could become a dictator so he could crush Congress and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
posted by growabrain at 9:40 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


The woman in that Bannon rally clip has a stare that I like to call The Eye of the Leopard.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:43 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


And deleted all his tweets from before February of this year.

Well, yeah, it looks a little weird if you go from calling for Beto to be the next Speaker of the House to saying he's a centrist scumbag.

The resistance has demobilized. And for Democrats, it’s probably a huge mistake.

I think it's less demobilized and more that it has shifted into pre-2020 mode. That said, there's a good argument to be made for the fact that our long, ridiculous, and non-stop election schedules probably do drain resources from organizing around causes.
posted by asteria at 10:02 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]


WaPo’s Seung Min Kim reports on the Trump-Bolsonaro presser: “Per pool: @realDonaldTrump says he will look “very, very strongly” at giving Brazil NATO privileges”

Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale has more: “What happened: Trump was asked about giving Brazil "NATO privileges" (though his admin has actually been planning to name Brazil a major non-NATO ally, a MNNA), and Trump said, as he often does when he doesn't know the specifics, that he'll look into it.”

Bloomberg’s Justin Sink runs through the highlights:
Trump in oval:
- says he’s ‘very inclined’ to make brazil major non-nato ally
- says he’ll support brazil bid for oecd
- says all options on table w venezuela
- trades soccer jerseys with bolsonaro
- says: “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.
NATO membership is a non-starter, of course, but Trump apparently has to show his approval of Brazil’s new fascist leader in the most hyperbolic fashion.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:16 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


On Pod Save America Jon Lovettt declared Mayor Pete the love of his life, and then described how Mayor Pete astounded a Norwegian journalist by speaking Norwegian. Mayor Pete read some book by a Norwegian, wanted to read his other books, the books hadn't been translated, so Mayor Pete taught himself Norwegian so he could read the other books.


The latest Pod is also incredibly soothing if you, like me, are grumpy about Biden, Beto, and Bernie sucking the oxygen out of the room.
posted by angrycat at 10:26 AM on March 19 [26 favorites]


Mayor Pete read some book by a Norwegian

This New Yorker profile of Buttigieg identifies the book as Naïve. Super which might be the most millennial thing ever.
posted by peeedro at 10:48 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Here's another pertinent thread by Bruce Wilson: "@nytimes contributor @DLeonhardt's op-ed notes 'The United States, thank goodness, does not have armed citizen militias carrying out regular attacks.' But such citizen militias *do exist*, and Trump has ties to their waiting command structure, the CSPOA..."

This is because they barely have to do anything. They subverted determining the actual result of an election by staging the Brooks Brothers Riot pantomime. The mere suggestion of violence gave the conservative supreme court justices the fantods if you believe their written opinions (I don't....it just gave them the cover to give the presidency to their guy).
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]


says: “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.

And he said that as almost a tag line before signing off with a “thank you very much” while the press is shooed out. It was about the only thing he didn’t lie about. Bolsonaro was pretty grim faced the entire time but only lightened up after the press was being sent out, and seemed to be terrified until then.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman posted an emoluments suit update: The Justice Department And Trump's Lawyers Argue No One Should Be Able To Sue Him For Profiting From His Hotel:
President Donald Trump's personal lawyers and attorneys from the Justice Department argued Tuesday that no one should be able to sue Trump for profiting from his businesses while he's in office — and for the first time in more than a year, things went well for the president in the case.

The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia accusing Trump of violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the US Constitution by refusing to give up his interest in the Trump International Hotel in Washington. To date, a federal judge in Maryland has repeatedly ruled against Trump.

But the three-judge 4th Circuit panel expressed deep skepticism Tuesday about DC and Maryland's positions on a host of issues, including what exactly they wanted a judge to order Trump to do, whether claims that Trump's hotel had an unfair competitive advantage were too speculative, and whether DC and Maryland — or anyone, for that matter — could bring a lawsuit against a president under the emoluments clauses.
n.b. the 4th Circuit judges in this case are all GOP appointees.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:23 AM on March 19 [28 favorites]


I think it's less demobilized and more that it has shifted into pre-2020 mode. That said, there's a good argument to be made for the fact that our long, ridiculous, and non-stop election schedules probably do drain resources from organizing around causes.

Plus, well, people have lives. This administration is perpetrating horrifying things on the public nearly every week. Besides, look at the weather we've been having. Are people supposed to rally in blizzards and floods and below-zero temperatures?

I think people have also noticed that petitioning Republicans doesn't do shit to make them reconsider their horrible actions, and aren't wasting their time on it anymore.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:25 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]


WaPo, ‘A total loser!’: Trump lashes out at George Conway, who has been questioning his mental health, notable for Conway talking about his interactions with the President:
“A total loser!” Trump wrote in the tweet targeting Conway’s husband, a prominent conservative attorney. The president’s tweet also included a dubious assertion from Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, that the president “doesn’t even know” his senior adviser’s husband.

But George Conway said in an interview Tuesday that he has had a number of notable interactions with Trump over the past decade, including legal representation and sensitive legal matters since Trump became president. He described the president as “mendacious” and “incompetent” and predicted he would not win reelection.

Conway also suggested his own tweets questioning the president’s mental health were aimed in part at avoiding conflicts with his wife.

“It’s so maddening to watch,” said Conway, a longtime Washington attorney who is well-known in conservative circles. “The mendacity, the incompetence, it’s just maddening to watch. The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her about it.”
Oh, well, glad none of this actually matters to you and you’re just getting it out of the way.
In a conversation with Trump at the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in June 2017, Conway said Trump approached him and complimented him for not taking a job under then-attorney general Jeff Sessions.

“He said to me, I remember it clearly, you were smart not to work for that guy,” George Conway said. “He is so weak.”

Trump then ranted for several minutes that Sessions should have never recused himself from the Mueller investigation. “I told him, I’d heard the recusal issue was pretty clear, that Sessions had to recuse himself,” Conway said. “He took great affront at that.”
...
During that flight, Trump repeatedly quizzed Conway if he should fire Preet Bharara, then the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Conway said. “I said in general, it’s better to have your people in terms of important positions than others,” Conway said. He said the president did not appear motivated by anything other than political machinations. Trump eventually fired Bharara in the spring of 2017.

During the transition, Conway said he also rode in a black SUV with Trump, his wife and Stephen K. Bannon to a costume party at the home of GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer. Trump had heard about the party and wanted to attend. During the car ride, Conway said the president was fixated on John Bolton’s prominent mustache — and that it was a reason not to pick him as secretary of state. Since then, Trump picked Bolton as his national security adviser.

“He didn’t like the mustache,” Conway said. “He just went on and on about the mustache.”
posted by zachlipton at 11:29 AM on March 19 [17 favorites]




[A few deleted. Let's not get off into broad and pretty obvious tangents on stuff like whether today's judges are impartial -- if you want to talk about that, please make a separate thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:45 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


From the Trump-Bolsonaro joint press conference this afternoon, via Daniel Dale:
—"We have many views that are similar," Trump says of himself and Bolsonaro, mentioning trade.
—Trump calls on the Maduro forces to "step aside." He calls Maduro "nothing more than a Cuban puppet." He adds, "The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere," and "hopefully" in the United States too. "The last thing we want in the United States is socialism."
—Trump makes the scheduled announcement that he'll designate Brazil a Major Non-NATO Ally, then adds, off-script, "Or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally." He says he'll have to talk to "a lot of people" to make that one happen.
—Trump gives his second question to the Daily Caller. He rejects the idea of adding seats to the Supreme Court. He is then asked by the Caller about going after social media companies.* He complains about Twitter taking followers away from him.
—Trump makes unfounded and unspecific allegations of "collusion" involving social media companies. "Something has to be going on," he says, adding, "Something's happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter."
* The LAT’s Eli Stokols has more: “Trump, responding to a Q about the Nunes lawsuit: "We have to do something" about social media." Says social media "discrimination" against conservatives "is collusive."”
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:24 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]


From above: Rosenstein staying "a little longer" at DOJ (Guardian)
And also:  Rosenstein Extending Stay At DOJ Indefinitely—TPM

This fascinates me, because every time someone new is installed into the Attorney General's office, they seem to suddenly decide that the investigation might not be such a bad idea after all.  Just what are they seeing?
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:39 PM on March 19 [52 favorites]


CNN’s Katylin Polantz: “👀Mueller's top appellate lawyer Michael Dreeben tells judge he can't respond to @washingtonpost request to unseal Paul Manafort court docs because he and co-counsel "FACE A PRESS OF OTHER WORK" this week.👀

“(What is keeping him so busy???)” (w/screenshot of motion)

n.b. The mystery appellant case is coming up in the Supreme Court this week (Bloomberg).
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:35 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


I got a kick out of this passage in the New Yorker article peeedro linked to above:

...he believes that millennials are suffering from their elders’ short-term thinking on climate change, economics, and other issues. Whoopi Goldberg wondered whether such a case could be made without alienating older Americans...

I know it's anecdote and not data, but my dad who will be 89 this year is really excited about Pete Buttigieg running. He's regularly forwarding me articles and just ordered Buttigieg's book "Shortest Way Home."
posted by maurice at 1:45 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


[WaPo]

Trump's administration has a stunning fail rate when it comes to getting his policies implemented with federal judges smacking them down because they don’t meet minimums of legal reasoning.

“the normal ‘win rate’ for administration officials to get new policies implemented with court approval is 70 percent. Under Trump, it has fallen to an almost non-existent 6 percent".
posted by growabrain at 1:46 PM on March 19 [61 favorites]


Meanwhile back in farm, Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and some accounts called “Devin Nunes Mom” and “Devin Nunes Cow”.

@devincow homepage now has a jpeg at the top with a sign stating
TWITTER CONSPIRACY MEETING TONIGHT
DON'T TELL DEVIN
I laughed.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:47 PM on March 19 [52 favorites]




[Comments deleted; seriously make a different thread if you want to argue about Sanders.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:45 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Daily Mail US political correspondent David Martosko found some odd credits in the latest document from the Trump White House:
Interns who helped with the president's economic report apparently include John Cleese, John Snow, Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Steve Rogers, Kathryn Janeway, J.T. (Jabba The) Hutt, and someone's "Aunt May."

I'm guessing John Snow knows nothing.

p. 624 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ERP-2019.pdf
Trump's Council of Economic Advisers insists this report was published like that on purpose. I'm not sure which way would reflect worse on the administration.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:21 PM on March 19 [32 favorites]


Full results of the CNN nationwide primary poll.
  1. Biden: 28
  2. Sanders: 20
  3. Harris: 12
  4. O'Rourke: 11
  5. Everybody Else: lol
The age split between Biden and Sanders supporters is roughly the same as what we always see. Under 45s have Sanders over Biden 32-19 while over 45s have Biden over Sanders 36-13.

I wonder what age has them closest to tied? Looks to be roughly my age, which makes sense, since I would vote for either of them against Trump pretty unreservedly.
posted by Justinian at 3:38 PM on March 19


State department briefing open only to "faith based media." No word on what faiths count.
posted by Emera Gratia at 3:38 PM on March 19 [19 favorites]


State department briefing open only to "faith based media."

As someone who once took a Constitutional Law course, I have questions. Because this strikes me as problematic in multiple ways. I don't see how any court could reasonably uphold this.
posted by suelac at 3:48 PM on March 19 [40 favorites]


If the Church of Satan isn't on that call my faith in Our Dark Lord will be shaken.
posted by contraption at 3:53 PM on March 19 [15 favorites]




Daily Mail US political correspondent David Martosko found some odd credits in the latest document from the Trump White House:

I think that there's a theory that says, more or less, that the attitudes and habits of an organization are essentially dictated, both knowingly and unknowingly, by the attitudes and habits of the leadership. In this case, I think we're seeing this in action with the CEA adopting two key features of Trump: 1) lack of attention to detail, and 2) inability to own up to any mistake, no matter how small or inconsequential.
posted by mhum at 4:20 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


In this case, I think we're seeing this in action with the CEA adopting two key features of Trump

Hmm, I may need to retract this line of thinking. According to the NYT, the CEA also inserted two jokey names into the list of interns in the 2018 report (giant pdf) as well, specifically J. T. Kirk and J-L. Picard. Maybe it really is a running gag? Although, if it is a running gag, it appears to have started only in 2018 since the 2017 report (another giant pdf) doesn't seem to have jokey names in the intern list.
posted by mhum at 4:39 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Elijah Cummings in the WaPo, The White House hasn’t turned over a single piece of paper to my committee.

There will be no cooperation with oversight committees, get on with the subpoenas already.
posted by peeedro at 5:06 PM on March 19 [49 favorites]


Harry Enten on a bit from the CNN poll showing Sanders' favorability down to roughly even among the general electorate. Chris Hayes broadens the point to politics in general:There's a broader lesson here about the fickleness of public opinion. I see people argue all the time things like "Medicare for All is popular!" and that's true! But also public opinion is not fixed and is only really tested in the crucbile of sustained political battle.

We saw the same thing with Clinton in, say, 2014 vs 2016. Very popular... until she entered the race at which point her popularity dropped rapidly. This is why we should always look skeptically at statements about how popular a politician is when they aren't actually running for anything at present (assuming sufficient name recognition). Because it is unlikely to last.
posted by Justinian at 5:13 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Worth keeping in mind that since we don't have a national Democratic primary, national primary polling is of somewhat questionable value.

Poll IA, NH, SC, CA, NV. After that, we're probably down to only four candidates.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:28 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


The sooner we consign IA/NH's prominence in the process to the dustbin of history the better as far as I'm concerned. Could you pick a less representative sample of the Democratic electorate? No, really, could you?
posted by Justinian at 5:33 PM on March 19 [27 favorites]


CNN poll showing Sanders' favorability down... There's a broader lesson here about the fickleness of public opinion.

There's more going on here than fickleness. Plenty of people who thought Sanders was the best candidate for 2016, do not think he's the best for 2020, and not because they're bored with him or they've changed their minds. The field is different now; the circumstances are not the same. Believing "Sanders was the best candidate in 2016" is not the same as thinking, "Sanders is the best presidential candidate in any year that he's running for the office."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:42 PM on March 19 [46 favorites]


I used Amazon to preorder the edition of "The Mueller report" that the Washington Post announced they were publishing. I think the "release date" it originally showed was March 26th.

I just got this message in my email...
We have received new release date information for the item in the order below. The release date has been changed by the publisher and we want to provide you with the updated release date. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this delay. We'll keep your pre-order open on your account and you'll receive a confirmation when the item is available for download.* As a reminder, you can change, cancel, or view the status of your orders in Your Orders on Amazon.com.

Your new pre-order release date:
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:52 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


... some odd credits in the latest document from the Trump White House...
There is some odd content in that economic report. How often is state-sanctioned murder usually mentioned in these things?

Chapter 8, Markets versus Socialism, "Socialism's Track Record" section:
The socialist narrative emphasizes exploitation and class struggle, which in an agricultural economy refers to the power dynamic that determines the division of agricultural income between landlords and farm workers. State farms purport to end the exploitation by eliminating the landlords, known as kulaks in the USSR. (26)

(26) With landlords resisting the seizure of their property, the state often imprisoned or murdered landlords (Conquest 1986; Rummel 2011).
The CEA thinks B. Sanders is a worthy foe; in the same chapter, an extended cameo:
- "Senator Sanders has made specific proposals for the taxation of capital in the United States," as shown in Table 8-2.

-- Then, "He has also proposed adding 24 points to the top estate tax rate, even though the U.S. rate is already well above Nordic rates."

--- Per a footnote, "Senator Sanders, who is the leading socialist in Federal politics today, proposes to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced the combined Federal-State statutory corporate rate by 13 percentage points (Bollier 2018)."

---- Want to learn more? "The other rate proposals are reported on Senator Sander’s website (http://sanders.senate.gov) and by Cole and Greenberg (2016)."

Maybe one of the pseudonymous interns is secretly feelin' the Bern.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:54 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Each new pronouncement from your American administration is more bone chilling than the last, Iris Gambol.
posted by Yowser at 6:00 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


The resistance has demobilized. And for Democrats, it’s probably a huge mistake.

HR1 probably should have been broken into separate bills and given more intuitive names. I think you would have seen protests for a gerrymandering specific bill. I don't know who thinks these things through for the Democrats, but they do a consistently lousy job selling themselves.
posted by xammerboy at 6:37 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


NBC: Ex-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Explains Why He Considered Taping a Call With Trump "We considered […] taping the president.[…] I wanted to make sure, because I had a certain amount of mistrust. It was an odd phone call to be making, it would be my word against him if he decides to say something inappropriate. […] It's something we discussed and talked about, did not think it was appropriate, did not think it was the right thing to do, so we didn't do it."

On another topic, many thanks to Oyéah for making a new Hyucking Hyuck thread on MeTa.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:49 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]


She was the victim in Jeffrey Epstein’s secret plea deal. She didn’t even know it. [CW: sexual assault]
(Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald)
The lawyer for the 16-year-old girl who state prosecutors now say was the victim attached to the mysterious plea deal given to multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein says neither he nor his client was ever informed that it was her case that ended Epstein’s prosecution.

The victim, who is now 31, wasn’t among Epstein’s youngest victims, but she was among those who were more brutally sexually assaulted, repeatedly, by both Epstein and others, according to records reviewed by the Miami Herald.

“I was never told that any of my 16 victim clients were part of Epstein’s charges in state court,’’ Robert Josefsberg said. “I can tell you that when the judge asked the prosecutor whether the victims were informed, and she said that they were, that mine were not.’’

The revelation, which comes 11 years after the case was closed, raises more troubling questions about how federal and state prosecutors misled Epstein’s victims, the public and the judge who sentenced him in 2008.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:13 PM on March 19 [52 favorites]


There's more going on here than fickleness. Plenty of people who thought Sanders was the best candidate for 2016, do not think he's the best for 2020, and not because they're bored with him or they've changed their minds. The field is different now; the circumstances are not the same. Believing "Sanders was the best candidate in 2016" is not the same as thinking, "Sanders is the best presidential candidate in any year that he's running for the office.

This is essentially where I am. I've been saying since just after the 2016 dust settled that the vitriol from a certain segment of the party he'd been building up wasn't going anywhere. Friends thought I was exaggerating, but I could see it in how a lot of Clinton supporters were speaking about him. The distaste is intense. From what I understand favorability typically doesn't start to uptick again once it's had a significant regression.

I still think he's the best candidate, but will concede that he's probably not the right candidate for the moment.

Warren and/or (potentially) a fleshed-out Buttigieg run look promising. Otherwise I'll be holding my nose and swallowing the medicine.
posted by dreamlanding at 8:09 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


HR1 probably should have been broken into separate bills and given more intuitive names. I think you would have seen protests for a gerrymandering specific bill. I don't know who thinks these things through for the Democrats, but they do a consistently lousy job selling themselves.

Neither approach would lead to any new laws being passed, and breaking up the bill specifically to drive up energy for a lost cause is just going to burn people out and frustrate them even more, take valuable time away from investigating Trump and his oligarchs, and goad Trump into committing even more outrageous and horrific stunts to force all the media attention back on himself. We're still over a year and a half out from the election, and it doesn't make sense to exhaust ourselves this early.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:21 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Neither approach would lead to any new laws being passed

The consolidated HR1 approach at least generated a long list of House Republicans who voted against all of the things in HR1.
posted by holgate at 8:43 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


15 years ago, Elizabeth Warren fought to protect families facing bankruptcy.
The person she was fighting against: Joe Biden
More stuff from Biden's past: Biden’s tough talk on 1970s school desegregation plan could get new scrutiny in today’s Democratic Party (Matt Viser, WaPo)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:13 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


HR1 probably should have been broken into separate bills and given more intuitive names.

No, because passing the full thing is worth talking about.

Now it's time to break out fifty separate bills with broad-appeal names and push them through quickly, so that Republicans have to be on record voting against "Voting Access," "Nonpartisan Districting," "American Money for American Elections," "Ethical Justice," and "Know Your President's Financial History."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:18 PM on March 19 [17 favorites]


I am worried about Biden. I don’t think he has the capacity to win the nomination. If he somehow will, I have the feeling that he will join the Dukakis, Gore, Kerry line of honorable losers.
posted by growabrain at 9:37 PM on March 19 [15 favorites]


As a reminder, this is what happened in the 2012 Republican primary, and this is what happened in the 2016 Republican primary. We are currently at the equivalent of the far left edge of both. We don't know anything yet. If there is any lesson to be learned from the last decade of polling, it's that we know far, far less than almost everyone claims.
posted by chortly at 9:43 PM on March 19 [18 favorites]


I think Secretary of State would be an excellent cap to Joe Biden's career.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:43 PM on March 19 [24 favorites]


‘Heil Hitler’: 30 Gravestones Vandalized At Jewish Cemetery In Massachusetts
[...] Among the graffiti written in black marker were “Heil Hitler,” “Hitler was right,” and “Oy vey, this is MAGA Country.” [...]
I'm not saying that Trump supporters are antisemites, but it's interesting that antisemites think they are.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:06 PM on March 19 [53 favorites]


When Trump Blocks You on Twitter, He’s Violating the First Amendment (Joshua Geltzer and Laurence Tribe, Politico Magazine)
Trump’s threats to America’s core traditions of freedom of speech and of the press have taken many forms. He repeatedly attacks the media, in language reminiscent of dictators, as “the enemy of the people.” He has also targeted particular journalists and media outlets whose coverage displeases him. Trump stripped CNN reporter Jim Acosta of his White House press credentials in retaliation for his vigorous questioning, and threatened to revoke the licenses of television stations whose reporting he dislikes. He pressured his administration to oppose the merger between AT&T and Time Warner not, many suspected, because of legitimate antitrust concerns but because of personal animus against CNN (owned by Time Warner). He reportedly sought to raise shipping rates for Amazon because of similar animus against the Washington Post (owned by Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos). He retaliated against American journalists he dislikes by barring them from covering his dinner with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And, most recently, his administration is reported to have assembled a list of journalists and lawyers to interrogate at America’s southern border. [...]

A small subset of the president’s actions—like the rescission of Acosta’s White House press credentials—have been challenged in court, where Trump promptly lost. But most will never see the inside of a courtroom.

That makes the argument to be held in a New York federal court on March 26 especially significant. The legal dispute began when some Twitter users found themselves blocked by the president’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account after they tweeted comments about Trump or his policies that he evidently disliked. They sued, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute and alleging that the president’s blocking of them on Twitter violated their First Amendment right to free speech. A federal district court ruled in their favor. Trump appealed. Now the case will be heard by a three-judge appeals court.
Alarm over leaked US database targeting journalists and immigration activists (Guardian)
That database, part of something called Operation Secure Line, listed 59 advocates and journalists tied to the migrant caravan, according to leaked documents obtained by local news station NBC 7. [...]

“I have not seen this kind of systematic targeting of journalists and advocates in this way,” said the ACLU staff attorney Esha Bhandari. “I think it is very troubling, very disturbing.” Bhandari said there was a link between the database and the Trump administration’s arrests of immigrant activists and advocates, which could have a chilling effect on people exercising their right to free speech. “It means that the debate about immigrants’ rights, about the treatment of immigrants, about the treatment of asylum seekers, is going to be suppressed or censored because the people who are speaking out with a voice that’s critical of the government are going to be singled out for harsher treatment or punished,” Bhandari said.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:47 AM on March 20 [17 favorites]


Document: Judge Clarifies Preliminary Injunction of Transgender Service Ban (Lawfare)
On March 19, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia clarified in a filing that the court's nationwide preliminary injuction of President Trump's transgender service ban remains in effect, in response to the Defense Department's announcement that it would begin enforcing the policy in April. The notice is available in full here and below.
Emphasis added.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:54 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]




The further politicisation of a nominally independent judiciary is not even subtle.
posted by jaduncan at 5:21 AM on March 20 [25 favorites]


The emoluments suit appeared to face a rough reception in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

From the article:
One of those judges suggested that the suit could be a precursor to attempting to drive the president from office through impeachment. And two of the judges came close to accusing the Maryland-based district court judge handling the suit, Clinton-appointee Peter Messitte, of impropriety for trying to engineer the challenge rather than responding to legal issues presented to him by the officials who brought the suit: the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Does this seem... weird to any law-persons here, for a court of this stature? Who would argue seriously that as a possible "precursor" to something else, the per se merits of a case should not be considered? 'Cause I for one would like to be able to argue that my next speeding ticket be thrown out because it might be a precursor to railroading me for murder.

Also, to me it seems like the judges' pointing this out is a bad idea in itself. This suit "could be a precursor to attempting to drive the president from office through impeachment", you say? Please, elaborate on why this case would make a particularly good precursor for such a case.
posted by Rykey at 5:59 AM on March 20 [54 favorites]


From the article:

One of those judges suggested that the suit could be a precursor to attempting to drive the president from office through impeachment.


IANAL, but boy howdy, but that sounds like an admission that Trump is in open violation of the Constitution, and also that the judge doesn't want to address the case on its merits because of disliking the political implications for their preferred side.
posted by Gelatin at 6:08 AM on March 20 [40 favorites]


Trump’s Tax Cut Won’t Power the Growth He Predicts, Officials Concede (NYT)
They also include steps to roll back regulations — many of which are at the state level and out of the control of Congress — that the administration says serve as a barrier to more Americans working. It cites occupational licensing rules, which restrict workers from entering certain fields without certification, and regulations that raise the cost of child care, such as caps on the ratio of children to staff in day care centers.

“One way to reduce the financial burdens of child care for both single and married females considering working is to reduce the direct costs of care,” the report says, adding, “Regulations that impose minimum standards on providers can decrease the availability and increase the cost of obtaining care, thus serving as a disincentive to work.”
Or, child care subsidies (Brookings Institution), without the entrenched sexism noted above that erases men from parenting responsibilities:
Most young children in the U.S. have parents who work outside the home. Both parents work in 56 percent of married families with children under six. For single mothers raising a young child the employment rate is 65 percent. It is 83 percent for single fathers who are the custodial parent. Childcare is a necessity for these families, which in aggregate constitute 60 percent of families with young children. [...]

There are a range of consequences of the high costs and low affordability of childcare. Among them are deleterious effects on children of unregulated and often substandard childcare;[9] [...]
See also: Why Subsidized Child Care is Vital (U Chicago), Maintaining Work: The Influence of Child Care Subsidies on Child Care-Related Work Disruptions (J Fam Issues. 2011 Mar; 32(3): 346–368.)
posted by Little Dawn at 6:14 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


I am not opposed to thinking there are judges in this case who are putting their thumb on the scale, but some intense questioning about who can pursue this and under what circumstances isn’t remotely unusual or surprising. The question of standing might be the most significant thing in law that the press does the most shit job covering, and suits over emollients are pretty lacking in precedent. If anything is going to result in a wide ranging and often random series of questioning I think this sort of new ground is it.
posted by phearlez at 6:42 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


The question of standing might be the most significant thing in law that the press does the most shit job covering

And justiciability, as discussed in this 1950 law review:
As a working hypothesis for carrying out the doctrine of "separation of powers" which is implicit in the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court early adopted the "political question" guide.2 That is, when the issue is one on which final decision rests with the executive or legislative branches, the Court will not take jurisdiction. The controversy is non-justiciable, for the reason that it is a question for the "political departments" and not for the judiciary to decide.
Robert E. Giles, Federal Jurisdiction -- Political Question -- Justiciability of Political Rights, 29N.C. L. Rev.72 (1950). Available at: http://scholarship.law.unc.edu/nclr/vol29/iss1/17
posted by Little Dawn at 6:58 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Does this seem... weird to any law-persons here, for a court of this stature? Who would argue seriously that as a possible "precursor" to something else, the per se merits of a case should not be considered?

Also, from the Congressional Research Service, The Political Question Doctrine: Justiciability and the Separation of Powers (2014, at 2)
Understanding exactly when the doctrine applies, however, can be difficult.13 The “precise contours of the doctrine are murky and unsettled,”14 without a clear consensus among the members of the Supreme Court or academia.15 The Supreme Court itself has noted that the political question doctrine has caused “[m]uch confusion”; and determining if it applies to a given case requires “a delicate exercise in constitutional interpretation.”
So my guess is that references to impeachment in Congress as the ultimate enforcement of the emoluments clause is hinting at the political question doctrine as a possible way to dismiss the case for lack of federal court jurisdiction.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:19 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I'm following Kirsten Gillibrand (and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren) on Twitter, and damn it but I'm sick to the death of every.single.statement by KG filling up with replies braying and caterwauling about Al Franken. Same with Daily Kos - diaries discussing Gililbrand and her platform inevitably get brigaded with shitposts.

If they think they are convincing me that KG is the devil incarnate they are wrong; it makes me like her even more. How's that for a perverse incentive? Let it go, folks! Franken is gone and replaced by another Democrat! All your whining is just pissing a lot of us off! And some of us want to read about actual policy platforms without endless background noise.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:53 AM on March 20 [39 favorites]


NBC: Schiff: Real Question Is If Trump Is Under the Influence of a Foreign Power
[I]n an interview with NBC News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he is steering his investigation in a new direction to focus on it — and he will demand any relevant evidence compiled by the FBI or Mueller's team.

The California Democrat also expressed concern that Mueller hasn't fully investigated Trump's possible financial history with Russia.[…]

Schiff told NBC News he is not convinced that Mueller's Russia investigation — tasked with examining whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference — delved deeply into Trump's personal finances.

"The concern I've had in terms of the scope of the Mueller investigation is that the president has tried to draw a red line around certain aspects of his finances," Schiff said. "That's not a line that can be observed and still protect the country."[…]

He added: "If the president has been successful in chilling the DOJ from looking at his finances, then the Congress needs to do it… Any way in which this president or those around him might be compromised by a foreign hostile power is front and center in our probe."[…]

Schiff said he is particularly concerned about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the real estate development Cohen was pitching to the Kremlin while Trump was running for president.

He noted that when it first emerged that Cohen had emailed Putin's office seeking help, Putin's spokesman, Dmitri Pescov, said he never answered the email. But it later emerged in court documents that an assistant to Pescov did respond, emailing Cohen and asking him to call, which he did.

"So here we had the Kremlin facilitating a cover up by the president of the United States," Schiff said. "This needs to be exposed."
Another ares that concerns Schiff is whether or not Mueller performed "diligent investigation" of Trump money-laundering for Russian oligarchs through Deutsche Bank.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:05 AM on March 20 [34 favorites]


In defense of Kirsten Gillibrand: Liberals can quit harassing her over Al Franken now (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
If Democrats want to beat the groper-in-chief in 2020, they need to stop defending Al Franken's misdeeds […]

Why [harp on the question]? Not because it's important, but because editors and producers know this idiotic controversy will drive clicks, ratings and ad dollars,. And that's true because some Democratic voters, donors and operatives continue to obsess over this issue, and use bad-faith arguments about "due process" or conspiracy theories to justify what is their transparent belief that Franken should just been allowed to get away with it.

The factual, dry numbers — 35 Democratic senators, eight accusers — may surprise readers. The way this story gets told and retold, both on mainstream and social media, leaves the impression that Gillibrand singlehandedly strong-armed Franken into resigning his Senate seat after a single, unsubstantiated accusation from a conservative operative. […]

If Democratic voters and donors are serious about defeating Trump in 2020, they have to let this stupid controversy go. Every time an undecided voter hears a liberal railing on about how Kirsten Gillibrand is evil and Al Franken was railroaded, they are more inclined to believe that no one in politics really cares about sexual harassment, and to conclude that they might as well vote for Donald Trump, who at least isn't a sanctimonious hypocrite about it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:09 AM on March 20 [37 favorites]


The precise contours of the doctrine are murky and unsettled without a clear consensus among the members of the Supreme Court or academia.

The emoluments clause says the president won't receive benefits of any kind from a foreign power. It doesn't say what the punishment is or how the rule should be enforced. There is no precedent of the law being used to serve as a guideline.

It's crystal clear the president's hotel and other businesses are unconstitutional, but the courts are saying they're not sure what to do about it or how. That's a really bad excuse for abdicating one's responsibility to uphold the law.
posted by xammerboy at 8:10 AM on March 20 [31 favorites]


on Twitter ... brigaded with shitposts

I wish it wasn't the case, but those two things are never going to become disconnected. It's like hoping for meaningful conversation in the YouTube comments, or your community FaceBook page, or the comments below online articles for your local paper. Trolling seems to be hardwired into our DNA.
posted by diogenes at 8:14 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted; fine to post the occasional update about where the twitter troll armies are being directed, but again let's not drive off into general primaries stuff in here please.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:15 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Jared and Ivanka: Moderates? Forget it. These vacuous looters epitomize the Trump presidency (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
Vicky Ward's "Kushner, Inc." paints an unsurprising but chilling portrait of the White House power couple
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was the kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"
In the new book "Kushner, Inc." by Vicky Ward, Jared and Ivanka -- people so famous everyone refers to them by their first names -- are revealed as exactly what one would expect: spoiled, arrogant, narcissistic, corrupt and recklessly overconfident. As tempting as it is to mock them, it would be a mistake. These two vacuous socialites are a perfect reflection of the inept celebrity president who sits in the White House where all three wield unimaginable power over the lives of every person on this planet.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:15 AM on March 20 [30 favorites]


Some intense questioning about who can pursue this and under what circumstances isn’t remotely unusual or surprising.

Yes, but unfortunately those questions seem to be taking the entirety of the presidential term to answer. The Supreme Court could and should have heard this case on day two of Trump's presidency.
posted by xammerboy at 8:17 AM on March 20 [11 favorites]


It's crystal clear the president's hotel and other businesses are unconstitutional, but the courts are saying they're not sure what to do about it or how. That's a really bad excuse for abdicating one's responsibility to uphold the law.

The more so because, as everyone knows, the Judiciary branch reserved the right to decide what is Constitutional and what isn't in the landmark Marbury v Madison decision.

The Courts absolutely get to say "the Constitution says you can't do that." And as noted, at least one Republican judge as much as admitted Trump is in open violation of the Emoluments Clause. They just don't like the implications of holding the leader of their team to the clear letter of the law.
posted by Gelatin at 8:19 AM on March 20 [34 favorites]


Gorsuch Provides Decisive 5th Vote In Case Interpreting Treaty With Indian Tribe (Nina Totenberg for NPR, March 20, 2019)
Every year, the Supreme Court hears dozens of cases, and while there will usually be a few blockbuster opinions, the majority garner little media attention. But these more obscure decisions can often illustrate something interesting, even unexpected, about one of the justices. And so it was on Tuesday with Justice Neil Gorsuch and a relatively obscure and underplayed Indian treaty case (PDF).

On this conservative court, Gorsuch has been one of the most conservative voices. But in cases involving Indian treaties and rights, he is most often counted among those sympathetic to Indian claims.

On Tuesday, Gorsuch split from his conservative colleagues, siding with the court's more liberal members in a case involving the Yakama Tribe and its right under an 1855 treaty to travel the public roads without being taxed on the goods brought to the reservation.

Not only did he provide the decisive fifth vote in the case, he wrote an important concurring opinion for himself and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court's liberal wing.

For those familiar with Gorsuch's record, his vote was not a surprise. He is, after all, the only westerner on the Supreme Court; indeed, prior to his 2017 appointment to the court, he served for 11 years on the federal court of appeals based in Denver — a court that covers six states and encompasses 76 recognized Indian tribes.
First, I'm glad that Gorsuch's position as "one of the most conservative voices" on the SCOTUS was included, to counter the "what-if" comments from people who were trying to counter the "liberal outrage" at Gorsuch's nomination. But second, it's interesting to see him vary from his conservative colleagues, if on a "smaller" case.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:30 AM on March 20 [20 favorites]


Meanwhile, D.C.'s Female Judges Are Central To The Russia Imbroglio, Often Behind The Scenes (Carrie Johnson for NPR, March 20, 2019)
Years from now, when people look back on the aftermath of Russia's attack on the 2016 election, a key part of that history will have been written by women.

Most of the federal judges in Washington, D.C. — who have been quietly managing the grand jury process and presiding over arraignments and guilty pleas for nearly two years — happen to be women.
The article goes on to profile judges Amy Berman Jackson, Beryl Howell, Dabney Friedrich, and to a lesser degree, Dabney Friedrich.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:35 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


From upthread:

Would be interested in the composition of Beto vs Bernie's donations. Specifically, across how many individual donations and what was the average and median size of each donation? Geographical information would be interesting as well, but pretty sure that's not the sort of thing made public.

Some new info available on this:

@BetoORourke reveals to supporters in NH that he had 128k unique contributors for an average of $47 a person in the first 24 hours.

By comparison- @BernieSanders had $5.9 million from 223k donors for an average of $27 a person in the first 24 hours.

posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:09 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Folks in that linked twitter thread are doing a good job of analyzing how little information that actually is, including:
  • The claim by the Beto campaign was about "unique contributions," not contributors, so it's even less clear how many individual persons contributed, and
  • it's not yet possible to know how many of those were maxed out donations of $2,800, and how many were tiny $1 donations, and that's important - or to put it in my own words, the mean doesn't tell us anything without the median
  • One person did a further analysis on Beto's numbers by predicting how many small donors he may have had based on prior campaign data.
I have to say though, that among all that interesting discussion, this:
Documentation for all candidates will be published between April 1 & April 15 at http://fec.gov Until then you have to take ALL candidates at their word. Knowing it’s all public in a month, not good strategy to make numbers up.
strikes me as something that was blindingly obvious in 2015 and remarkably unaware in 2019.
posted by solotoro at 9:44 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. If you want to fight about Sanders please make a separate thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:46 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Senator Gillibrand, she and Sen. Cory Gardener proudly announced that they're introducing legislation that would limit opioid prescriptions to seven days, down from 30. It has not gone over well on the twitterverse. And I have to say, this is a hard line issue for me, if this goes through, not only will I vote against her, I will actively work against her. (And him, should he reach for national prominence, and any Senator who votes for this.) None of them are trained pain specialists, none of them have to pay a doctor 160 a month now, when before, low grade pain killers were refillable. Now, you have to take a hand written prescription to the pharmacy, who will then act like they're not going to fill it, then will give you a lecture. All for a single 10mg hydrocodone a day.

If I had to do that every week? Lose a day of work every week? Pay 160 every week until I hit my 12k deductible? Would they prefer I be unemployed, homeless and in a wheelchair? Because that's how you get me unemployable, homeless and in a wheelchair.

That's insane. This legislation is insane. She is clearly a puritan who thinks she knows what's best for people, despite having zero medical training. I am furious. Furious. I am tired of Senators making medical decisions for me, whether it's my uterus or my spine.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:53 AM on March 20 [140 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. I get this is all over the place right now but if folks want to talk opioids or Gillibrand, please make a separate thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:13 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


How to Survive the 2020 Presidential Campaign Without Losing Your Mind

"After a while, you might notice we are no closer to impeachment, the results of the Mueller investigation, or picking the Democratic nominee than we were last week.
“If you do it for a month you realize, nothing really changed,” he said. “I’m writing the same shit every day.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 10:42 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


Jared and Ivanka: Moderates? Forget it. These vacuous looters epitomize the Trump presidency

Jared is a high-end slum lord.

AP: NYC Official: Kushner Firm Flouted Rules, Endangered Tenants
New York Oversight Committee Chair Ritchie Torres said his investigation showed that the firm once run by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been renting apartments to hundreds of tenants in nine buildings with certificates of occupancy that expired months or years ago. Torres also said that the company has been trying to push low-paying tenants out of its buildings and didn’t want the regulatory scrutiny that comes with inspections required to renew the certificates.

“The goal here is a concerted campaign to evade scrutiny,” said Torres at a news conference outside the Kushner Cos. headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue. “The company is engaged in what I call the weaponization of construction — the use of construction as a weapon for harassing tenants out of their apartments.”[…]

The Kushner Cos. was fined $210,000 by city regulators last year after an Associated Press report found that the company had submitted paperwork to regulators that claimed it had no low-paying, rent-stabilized tenants in dozens of its buildings when it, in fact, had hundreds. The false paperwork allowed the company to avoid inspections and other scrutiny during construction work that critics have said are often used by landlords to chase low-paying renters out.
AP, a year ago: AP Exclusive: Kushner Cos. filed false NYC housing paperwork
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:53 AM on March 20 [17 favorites]


Some wonk needs to write “The Rise of the Single-Issue Candidate” about the 2020 Democratic field hosting campaigns like Inslee for the environment, Yang for UBI, Williamson for reparations, and now memetic Mike Gravel for pushing the left-most candidates even further left. The presence of single issue candidates is even more pronounced by the DNC’s reforms to be more inclusive in the first round of debates and the usual modern advances in communications and information distribution.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:21 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Nate Silver:
Which candidates' announcements got the most press coverage? Looks like the order is roughly speaking

1. Bernie
2. Beto
gap
3. Harris
4. Warren
gap
5. Booker
6. Klobuchar
big gap
Everyone else.
posted by octothorpe at 11:31 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]




The Kushner Cos. was fined $210,000 by city regulators

"I'm sorry, but you're going to have to launder some of that money through the city."
posted by rhizome at 11:43 AM on March 20 [10 favorites]


Trump on Mueller report: 'Let it come out' (Politico)
President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe to be made public, expressing confidence that it will vindicate him. "Let it come out. Let people see it," the president said, though he added that it's up to Attorney General William Barr on whether the report will be released for public view.

The president added that his supporters also want to see the report. "I want to see the report. You know who wants to see it? The tens of millions of people that love the fact that we have the greatest economy we've ever had," he said. "I look forward to seeing the report."
It's de ja vu all over again: Trump says he told House GOP to ‘play along’ on Mueller report vote (Politico)
“On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!”
posted by Little Dawn at 11:50 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Nate Cohn writes in the NYT: Can Polls Be Predictive This Early? Yes, if Old Rules Still Apply.

The headline sums it up but its a good read if you're way too into this stuff like someone who isn't me I swear.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


YouGov has a graphic showing all the 2020 Dems favorability (and Trump).

Trump is at -14. Every Democrat is between -1 (Buttgieg) and -12 (Gabbard)... except Biden at +13. As the favorability posts yesterday pointed out that's likely to drop some once he gets in for real but it is still what Biden supporters are likely to point at in terms of electability. Because it isn't that he's the most progressive of all the candidates, which one can only assume was the result of some sort of fever dream on Biden's part.

Oh yeah, and Howard Schultz is at -20. Considerably worse than even Trump. Because everyone hates you, Howard.
posted by Justinian at 11:59 AM on March 20 [15 favorites]


Deutsche Welle: Germany: US ambassador Richard Grenell should be expelled, says FDP deputy leader
Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), said Richard Grenell's repeated interference in German sovereignty should prompt Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to immediately declare Grenell persona non grata.

"Any US diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits," said Kubicki, who is also one of five deputy speakers of Germany's Bundestag parliament.[…]

Carsten Schneider, caucus manager of the Social Democrats (SPD) within the parliament, told the German news agency DPA on Tuesday that "Mr Grenell is a complete diplomatic failure."

Grenell's behavior, said Schneider, reminded him of "a flail," a farmyard term for somebody who thrashes around wildly, adding that "Mr Grenell damages trans-Atlantic relations with his repeated clumsy provocations."[…]

Michael Grosse-Brömer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative alliance (CDU/CSU), urged Grenell to show restraint.

"If one keeps an overall view, many comments made are more coherent than those of the American ambassador, if he thinks he has to comment on something every week," said Grosse-Brömer.
As for what set this round of condemnation off, the Fox News headline runs “US bristles at Germany's defense budget plans after it falls short”.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:01 PM on March 20 [14 favorites]


Schultz is a stalking horse. He might stay in until the convention, writing his travel expenses off his taxes, but he'll ultimately drop out. He's just making sure certain things get asked and talked about, kind of like the Devin Nunes Cow lawsuit.
posted by rhizome at 12:02 PM on March 20




Politico, quoted by Little Dawn: “On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!”

"My plan all along" is what I'd expect him to say about it regardless, but it's probably mostly true this time. As soon as I learned how much Republican support the bill had, I was skeptical. I'm still unsure that it was the right move for them strategically, because I think the more effective approach is for them to keep moving the Overton window in the direction of "We love our criminal president, so we'll make a big show of covering up his crimes" rather than "We love our innocent president, so we'll make a big show of transparency".

But if nothing else, Individual-1 being so blatant about the con has to be added to the mountainous evidence for "not quite all there". It's literally equivalent to telling one's fellow poker players "I only have a pair but I think I'll bluff this round. I raise!" and inwardly considering oneself a tactical genius for being so bold as to bluff.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:13 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Conway's husband knows how to drive Trump crazy

My question is, will Kellyanne have more personal integrity than Ted Cruz did after Trump insulted his wife and father?

RON HOWARD VOICE: She won't.
posted by Rykey at 12:17 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


The precise contours of the doctrine are murky and unsettled without a clear consensus among the members of the Supreme Court or academia.

The emoluments clause says the president won't receive benefits of any kind from a foreign power. It doesn't say what the punishment is or how the rule should be enforced. There is no precedent of the law being used to serve as a guideline.

It's crystal clear the president's hotel and other businesses are unconstitutional, but the courts are saying they're not sure what to do about it or how. That's a really bad excuse for abdicating one's responsibility to uphold the law.
posted by xammerboy at 10:10 AM on March 20 [18 favorites +] [!]


I get the frustration, but IA almost AL, and there's a pretty good reason for their reticence, one that's got nothing to do with their political affiliation.

That reason is: say they declare that yes, indeed, Trump's hotels are in violation of the emoluments clause. Say, even, implausibly, that SCOTUS affirms that decision on appeal. Then what? Then nothing. Trump's in control of the enforcement apparati.

Marbury taught the Court that it could rule on Constitutional issues just like colonial courts had done. But Worchester v. Georgia taught the Court that without a willing executive, its opinions are just so much paper. And issuing a decision from a court of appeal or the highest court in the land which you're pretty sure is going to fall dead the moment it's published is a bad look that SCOTUS has historically tried to avoid.
posted by TheProfessor at 12:20 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


I have been and am really, really suspicious of George Conway, like Michael McKean.
posted by rhizome at 12:33 PM on March 20 [11 favorites]


My question is, will Kellyanne have more personal integrity than Ted Cruz did after Trump insulted his wife and father?

I don't think this question applies, because I get the feeling that this is all a big game/joke to the Conways. Like they'll get together for dinner later and give each other a high five because they finally got Trump to call him out. They'll probably start drafting his next tweet.
posted by mikepop at 12:46 PM on March 20 [13 favorites]


Jackie Calmes:
Trump has turned his speech at a government tank-mfg plant in Ohio, with the defense secretary in tow, into an extended attack on John McCain, a decorated military vet & POW--for voting agst an Obamacare repeal, for favoring an Iraq war based on "lies" and more.
It got worse...

Trump claims of McCain, "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. I didn't get a thank you."

It does seem the audience at this tank plant has gotten more subdued, the applause muted and less frequent, since unexpectedly Trump launched into his marathon attack on the dead John McCain.
I mean it's hard to precisely quantify how unhinged Trump is but this seems pretty damn loopy.
posted by octothorpe at 12:53 PM on March 20 [38 favorites]


WaPo: Trump could be left off some states’ ballots in 2020 if these bills become law

Has anyone opined as to what leaving Trump off the ballot might do to turnout and downballot races in those states?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 12:53 PM on March 20 [13 favorites]


The president getting boo'ed or even worse, ignored, at his own rallies might be the thing that finally does him in, finally allows the public to acknowledge how not-coherent he is.

I know plenty say "oh his supporters will never turn on him" and yea, they won't as long as he isn't literally pissing himself on-stage or rambling a series of words absolutely devoid of any sense.

Their insistence on supporting him thus far might finally bring us to that point. He hasn't been shuffled out of public life due to dementia or whatever is going on with him as would've happened with any politician before now, but we've already been though a lot of "first evers" with this administration, haven't we?
posted by odinsdream at 12:58 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]


He was expecting a dead man to thank him?!

He was explicitly uninvited & didn't show up to make a scene. That's what he wants thanks for, just being civil for once.
posted by scalefree at 12:59 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]


WaPo: Trump could be left off some states’ ballots in 2020 if these bills become law

Hey now, all Trump would have to do to comply with these laws would be to release his tax returns.

A pretty dilemma, I admit.
posted by Gelatin at 12:59 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


> Trump claims of McCain, "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. I didn't get a thank you."

Even as someone with genuinely low expectations for Trump's mental health, this seems bonkers to me. Who is he expecting a thank you from, exactly? He's lost his mind.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:59 PM on March 20 [12 favorites]


The tank speech is still going (C-SPAN)

Trump just said something about Mingo Junction, which, in Lima, Ohio, might evoke memories of James Traficant. Then he held up some random graph and said 'You don't have to know what is on it--that's a good line.'
posted by box at 1:00 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


I'm lost. What set off this current round of McCain bashing?
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 1:03 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Steelmanning a bit, he was probably talking about getting a thank you from McCain's living relatives. Or (and I'm not going to watch any streams to check) it could have been a joke.
posted by Jpfed at 1:07 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


> Marbury taught the Court that it could rule on Constitutional issues just like colonial courts had done. But Worchester v. Georgia taught the Court that without a willing executive, its opinions are just so much paper. And issuing a decision from a court of appeal or the highest court in the land which you're pretty sure is going to fall dead the moment it's published is a bad look that SCOTUS has historically tried to avoid.

In Marbury, the Court found that its core function is judicial review, and as the weakest branch, it surely relies on the appearance of integrity to help ensure compliance with its decisions. The political question doctrine suggests that there are cases beyond the Court's jurisdiction due to the separation of powers in the Constitution, and it would seem to undermine the integrity of the Court if they tried to overstep those boundaries.

Also, Politico reported in December 2017: Judge dismisses suits claiming Trump violated emoluments clause
Daniels, who sits in Manhattan and is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, also said the issue was one that Congress should police, not the courts. “As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power,” the judge wrote. “If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.”
With this construction of the Emoluments Clause, federal court jurisdiction may be problematic, and it tosses the hot potato to Congress for investigation.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:11 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


RedOrGreen: Even as someone with genuinely low expectations for Trump's mental health, this seems bonkers to me. Who is he expecting a thank you from, exactly?

The media, the political elite, the people whose appreciation he wants (plus the family, as Jpfed said). It can be interpreted as "McCain himself didn't thank me from beyond the grave" but I don't think that's necessarily the case. Key here is that he really feels that his display of petulance at the time should be understood as huge self-control and expects gratitude for not somehow canceling the funeral altogether.

I do think some reporter should have the guts to ask a question premised on McCain still being alive, like "Last week, John McCain told me he'd like to run against you in the 2020 primary. What are your thoughts? Do you plan to beat him?" If done with a straight enough face, it really could prompt an answer other than "Huh? He's not alive", and more like "Absolutely I will, he doesn't have a chance". It probably wouldn't move many needles (there would be a whole "Totally unfair to ask such a loaded question" thing, plus "Obviously joking"). But who knows -- there are a lot of rats out there anxiously looking for The One Big Reason to jump ship.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:11 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Say they declare that yes, indeed, Trump's hotels are in violation of the emoluments clause... Then what? Then nothing.

If all the court did was say that Trump is violating the constitution, and then Trump does nothing, at the very least we can have that out in the open. As far as the public is concerned, it's no longer an open question. Maybe Trump isn't forced to step down, maybe Trump isn't forced to liquidate his assets, but Americans get to decide how they feel about a president who ignores the constitution.

If the court further ordered Trump to stop receiving foreign money through his businesses, and he refuses, the court could either leave it at that, in which case case at least the public knows their president is ignoring an order from the Supreme Court, or they could have him arrested for contempt. Several courts have let these cases proceed. They must feel there is some merit to these arguments.

I don't think you're wrong. The court could make a decision. The president could ignore the court, and that would show up the court as being powerless. I just feel strongly that if that's the case then it's the court's job to make it plain, so that it can be fixed in the future and the public can render their own judgement.
posted by xammerboy at 1:13 PM on March 20 [15 favorites]


Anyone who is still ostensibly looking for One Big Reason to jump off the Trump Train at this point is going to find Any Old Excuse to not do so when the curtains of the voting booth are drawn.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:15 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


Trump has turned his speech at a government tank-mfg plant in Ohio, with the defense secretary in tow

As a reminder to journalists, Patrick Shanahan is merely the acting Secretary of Defense. The United States hasn’t had a Senate-approved Defense Secretary for two and a half months, and Trump is in no hurry to nominate anyone. Back in January, he declared, “My ‘actings’ are doing really great. […] But I sort of like ‘acting.’ It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that? I like ‘acting.’ So we have a few that are ‘acting.’”

Also, Shanahan is now under investigation by the IG for his pro-Boeing remarks at the Pentagon (Politico). (Maybe that’s why the Trump White House was ducking the question about nominating him for DefSec.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:16 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


I don't think this question applies, because I get the feeling that this is all a big game/joke to the Conways. Like they'll get together for dinner later and give each other a high five because they finally got Trump to call him out. They'll probably start drafting his next tweet.

I believe completely that they have a difference of opinion on Trump and it may even be a slight source of friction between them. But they are not on opposite sides here about baby eating: yea or nay. They are just arguing about the method of preperation or perhaps where to dine.

Conway is just another flavor of person who is annoyed at Trump saying the quiet parts loud. They're all in line on the overall mission.
posted by phearlez at 1:23 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


I'm lost. What set off this current round of McCain bashing?

I'm not sure what prompted Trump's initial tweet about McCain's ObamaCare vote last week, but the ongoing attacks are probably in response to Meghan McCain calling him "pathetic" and "jealous."
posted by diogenes at 1:24 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Isaac Chotiner, Donna Brazile Explains Why She’s Working for Fox News

It's a very odd interview.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Civil Rights And Faith Leaders To FBI: Take White Nationalist Violence Seriously (Leila Fadel for NPR, March 20, 2019)
A group of civil rights and faith leaders are demanding a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks that killed at least 50 people as they prayed in mosques. The killer was a white nationalist who named President Trump as an inspiration in his online racist screed.

The groups want the FBI to address "the threat to public safety" and to their communities "by white nationalist violence."

Leaders from Muslim Advocates, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Sikh Coalition all signed a letter sent to Wray on Tuesday, urging the FBI to take the threat seriously.
...
The letter cited a spate of attacks by white supremacists on houses of worship in recent years, including the killing of six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., in 2012; the murder of nine African Americans as they worshipped at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015; and the slaying of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., last year.
...
Following the New Zealand attacks, President Trump was asked if he sees white nationalism as a rising threat around the world. "I don't really," he said. "I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems." But Khera argues this downplaying of white nationalist violence predates President Trump's administration.

Khera points out that, when nine African Americans were gunned down in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015, the killer was a white supremacist who said he wanted to start a race war. Yet then head of the FBI, James Comey, wouldn't call the murders an act of terrorism.

That attitude has only deepened, Khera says, under the current administration.
The letter is embedded in the NPR article.

Speaking of institutional racism, Supreme Court Justices Seem Incredulous At Repeated Racial Bias In Jury Selection (Nina Totenberg for NPR, March 20, 2019)
The U.S. Supreme Court signaled strongly on Wednesday that it is likely to rule for a death-row inmate in Mississippi who was prosecuted six times for the same crime by a prosecutor with a history of racial bias in jury selection.
...
Wednesday's case involved the conduct of Doug Evans, a district attorney in Winona, Miss., and his pursuit of a conviction against Curtis Flowers, a black man who prior to this case had no criminal record. Months after a quadruple murder in Winona, Flowers was arraigned, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He has been on death row for 22 years.

During that time, the state Supreme Court three times threw out his murder conviction for prosecutorial misconduct.

The misconduct was not some technicality. It ranged from misleading the jury about evidence that did not exist to striking prospective jurors based on race.

In the fourth and fifth trials, Evans ran out of strikes; at least two black jurors were seated; and the juries deadlocked. But in the sixth trial, with one black juror, the jury convicted, and the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction, ruling that this time, there had not been any racial discrimination in jury selection.

In arguments on Wednesday, most of the U.S. Supreme Court members did not seem inclined to uphold that conclusion.

Chief Justice John Roberts pressed defense lawyer Sheri Johnson to identify what rule the court should adopt for cases "not as extreme as this"?

The current rule that requires looking at the prosecutor's history is good enough, she said, but, here, the Mississippi Supreme Court didn't do that.

Mississippi Assistant Attorney General Jason Davis admitted that the history of the case was "troubling," but he insisted that aside from that, the jury selection in the sixth trial was done correctly, given that Winona is a small town, population less than 5,000, where everybody knows everybody.

Justice Samuel Alito interrupted to ask, couldn't the attorney general of Mississippi have said, "Enough already, we're going to send one of our own people to try this case, preferably in a different county"?

Yes, replied attorney Davis, but the local prosecutor would have to request that, and Evans didn't do that.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh interjected, "You said, if we take the history out of the case" but "we can't do that." Here, 41 of 42 potential African-American jurors were struck, he observed.

Davis insisted that each of the potential jurors struck in the sixth trial was struck for a good reason. That brought an astonished reaction from Justice Elena Kagan, who noted that one of the struck jurors would seem to be the "perfect prosecution juror," because she strongly favored the death penalty and her brother was a prison guard.

Kavanaugh noted that one of the reasons the court has embraced increasingly tough rules to eliminate racial bias in jury selection is the need for "confidence of the community in the fairness of the criminal justice system."

And, he asked, "against that backdrop of a lot of decades of all-white juries convicting black defendants ... can you say confidently, as you sit here today ... that you have confidence in how all this transpired in this case?"
Again, somewhat reassuring to see Kavanaugh siding with what appears to be a clear case of racial or social justice, though to hear him talk about "the fairness of the criminal justice system" made me snort derisively. Cocky thing to say, Bart.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:55 PM on March 20 [26 favorites]




Okay, if Trump is taken off the primary ballots in states with a considerable number of delegates, is it possible that a token primary challenger could win the Republican nomination?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:01 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


What set off this current round of McCain bashing?

Last week was the 40th anniversary of McCain’s release as a Vietnam POW (USA Today). Seeing the hagiographic coverage all over the media, especially the contemporary TV clips, must have gotten under his skin. Also, it no doubt gives him a nasty thrill to trash McCain while Lindsey Graham has to stay quietly on Trump’s good side, unlike his GOP senate colleagues (The Bulwark).
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:07 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Okay, if Trump is taken off the primary ballots in states with a considerable number of delegates, is it possible that a token primary challenger could win the Republican nomination?

Technically the answer to this question is yes but I think it's based on a mistaken understanding of what's happening. There isn't so far as I'm aware any significant movement to change the rules for the Republican primary which is what your question is about. A couple states have shown some movement towards requiring general election candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the ballot. So Trump would still be on the Republican primary ballot he just wouldn't have his name on the ballot in November.

Even if this happens it's only being talked about in solid blue states where Trump wouldn't win anyway. But some people think it could have downballot effects if MAGAheads didn't show up to the general if they knew their god-king wasn't on the ballot.

But it has no effect on the Republican primary AFAIK, where rules are set by the Republican Party and not the state government.
posted by Justinian at 2:20 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


I've disliked Lindsey Graham since he was an impeachment manager against Clinton, but was fooled into a grudging respect during his brief and phony anti-Trump phase. He's a fucking coward and I despise him not standing up for his alleged lifelong friend.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:29 PM on March 20 [26 favorites]


Why should he stand up for McCain? McCain's dead, nobody can profit from that. Graham can always profit from sucking up to Trump.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:39 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


A dead McCain is an even better foil for His Trumpness than a live one, since Dead McCain can't defend himself and can't vote in the Senate.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:43 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I'm lost. What set off this current round of McCain bashing?

In addition to the other theories proffered I’d like to offer Trump’s Razor: It’s a Trump fed shitstorm centered on Trump.
posted by notyou at 2:44 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]


It's also an object lesson for the Senate GOP at a time when they've given him their very first baby steps of pushback. Deviate from Trump's Will and you will be hounded by Trump and his Trumpoids even beyond the grave.
posted by delfin at 3:04 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]




Trump’s strange rant about John McCain’s funeral, decoded. There’s also some weird stuff about Russia, naturally. (Vox)
... But that’s not even the most telling thing Trump said during his McCain diatribe. At one point, he vents about McCain’s role in the beginning of the Russia investigation.

You might recall that McCain played an instrumental role in bringing the Steele Dossier — the source of the “pee tape” rumor and more grounded evidence of Trump-Russia ties — to the FBI’s attention. McCain received a copy of the dossier late in 2016, before it was public knowledge, and quietly sent it over to the appropriate authorities.

Trump believes he shouldn’t have done this. ... This isn’t the logic of a public servant, to put it mildly.

Trump didn’t have to say any of this. It’s not a hostile interview or a televised debate. It’s just a speech, where he decided — for no reason at all — to say stuff that makes him sound guilty and angry at a man who’s been dead since last August.

Our president is extremely normal.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:27 PM on March 20 [46 favorites]


Why should he stand up for McCain?

I dunno...honor?
posted by kirkaracha at 3:37 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


A bit of good news about bail from Mother Jones: In November, Democrats swept Harris County, Texas, courtrooms, replacing every Republican judge to occupy each of the 59 seats on the ballot. Many of those candidates, including the 19 black women who campaigned together, ran on reform-minded platforms focused on upending the county’s bail system. “We’re locking up a lot of nonviolent people that can’t afford to get out,” said Toria Finch, a Democratic judge who won a seat in a misdemeanor court, during a radio interview soon before the November election. “That’s not right.” Now, the judges have a chance to do just that. A federal judge in Harris County is currently considering a case that would transform the way bail is set for people charged with felonies, a population that comprises the vast majority of people in jail awaiting trial.

Note: Harris County has a population of 4 million and is the third-largest county in the country.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:57 PM on March 20 [37 favorites]


Schultz is a stalking horse. He might stay in until the convention, writing his travel expenses off his taxes, but he'll ultimately drop out. He's just making sure certain things get asked and talked about, kind of like the Devin Nunes Cow lawsuit.

I really don't think he will drop out. He's in the race on behalf of the rich overclass, who cannot abide Bernie or Warren winning the general and raising thier taxes or unleashing real enforcement from the oversight agencies. Schultz already laid out his game, if the nominee is Biden or someone the rich trust to make the right mouth noises to the base, but not actually come after their assets when in office, yes, he'll drop out. If it's Warren, he will stay in and attack her exclusively, while never mentioning Trump. His entire goal is to make sure the 1% tax cuts keep on coming, and all he needs is 1-2% of the vote in Michigan to make sure that happens. That's his real plan, and he's willing to help reelect Trump to achieve it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:14 PM on March 20 [23 favorites]


He's in the race on behalf of the rich overclass

If the nominee does turn out to be somebody willing to openly go after the aristocracy, I really wonder if Schultz being in the race would be a net hindrance or a help. What a perfect punching bag he'll be, just a universally-reviled case study in privileged entitlement, up there for all to see trying to throw the election to a fascist despite his alleged "Democratic" allegiances. It's one thing to tell people the billionaires aren't acting in their interests, but it's quite another to be able to point across the debate stage at a representative example.
posted by contraption at 4:21 PM on March 20 [11 favorites]


If the nominee does turn out to be somebody willing to openly go after the aristocracy, I really wonder if Schultz being in the race would be a net hindrance or a help.

Sadly, one cannot discount the ability of the electorate to vote in opposition to their own best interests. If Schultz stays in, he will be a hindrance, to be sure. Despite what we hope for, 2020 will be a lot closer than is comfortable. Schultz staying in will very probably monkeywrench things enough to deliver a second term for his orangeness.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Say they declare that yes, indeed, Trump's hotels are in violation of the emoluments clause... Then what? Then nothing.

The Emoluments Clause is also known as the Titles of Nobility Clause:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
The Supreme Court has no power to impose penalties on an official who accepts a foreign title; the only remedy for that is impeachment, which is a power reserved for Congress. I have to think that similar logic applies to the other wrongs enumerated in that clause.

There may be other remedies, such as civil forfeiture of the emoluments, but I think it will be hard to demonstrate a legislative basis for them. It's not as if this sort of thing comes up very often. Alternatively, someone like, e.g., a hotel owner affected by unfair competition for the business of foreign diplomats might apply for an injunction, but I don't know what they'd be trying to enjoin - it's not like Trump needs to post ads saying "Stay at Ye Olde Poste Office if you want to Get Special Treatment in Washington, Hint Hint".

Going forward, there should be special legislation covering this stuff, but at present the real remedy seems to be impeachment followed by criminal prosecution for things like tax evasion and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. I don't think this action would be taking place if Congress were impeaching the President , which (apart from the other problems) really does make it the sort of political question that courts aren't equipped to resolve.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


The easy and obvious remedy is civil and/or criminal forfeiture.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:48 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I did discuss civil forfeiture. As for criminal forfeiture, it's basically a fine and it can only be a remedy for crimes that a court can address. It's not all clear to me that courts have any way of prosecuting unlawful emoluments of this sort, any more than they can prosecute the receipt of foreign titles. The penalty for misfeasance in office is impeachment.

Civil forfeiture is closer to the old maritime proceedings against property in rem, like seizing a ship for unpaid harbour fees. Except, in this case you're seizing money or goods because they're the proceeds of crimes. Whatever form of forfeiture is used, though, it needs to be explicitly sanctioned by the law. You can't just say "this was money earned wrongfully, therefore we will confiscate it". Is there a State or Federal forfeiture law broad enough to cover money earned through a breach of Constitutional duties? I don't know of one.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:07 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


The worst part about the McCain bashing is seeing how many people (conspicuously white and Republican, of course) are disgusted by it all...but not so disgusted by the Muslim Ban, or the abandonment of Puerto Rico after the hurricane, or all the kids locked up and effectively orphaned by this administration.

They're moved by disrespect for a white man. That's it. None of them have learned anything or changed at all.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:09 PM on March 20 [79 favorites]


the titles of nobility clause is art. i, sec.9.
there is also art. ii, sec.1, clause7, which reads,
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
the u.s. district court for the district of maryland (where DC and MD seek injunctive and declaratory relief) calls these the "foreign" and "domestic" emoluments clauses, respectively. as to the latter, judge messitte notes, at p.45, in the section considering "political question" -- a prudential principle bearing on determination of standing -- that
[T]he Domestic Emoluments Clause clearly does not assign any oversight role to Congress or any other entity. Insofar as a State has a right to pursue a violation of the Clause, it may do so directly and Congress has nary a say about it.
the judge also fails to find a "a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department," (internal citation omitted) -- or, in english, a clearly dispositive separation of powers issue -- in the case of the foreign clause.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:13 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Ratfucking Florida Republicans are attempting to ratfuck the felon reenfranchisement amendment that voters just passed.
posted by Weeping_angel at 6:38 PM on March 20 [22 favorites]


Plenty of Democratic billionaires- Oprah, Zuckerberg, Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Joe Sanberg, (Dwayne Johnson?) have decided against running this election. Especially Bloomberg, who always makes noises about running, and then backs out every year. Schultz is deeply unpopular in current polls. But he might be the first one dumb enough to give it a go.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:40 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


sorry y'all. that was the opinion on standing, march 2018; this is the more recent opinion denying president horrorshow's motion to dismiss (for failure to state a claim) that, unappealed, would lead to scheduling discovery in the normal course of litigation against the president. july 2018; same judge, same court. judge messitte goes deeper, here, on the clauses themselves, and promises another ruling considering president horrorshow's motion to dismiss "the individual capacity claims...." i do not find that opinion, if it issued. scanning some of the appellate briefs suggests messitte opened discovery on the "official capacity" claims without ruling on the individual capacity claims.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:53 PM on March 20


Schultz is deeply unpopular in current polls. But he might be the first one dumb enough to give it a go.

He doesn't have to win to get his way, just pull a Ross Perot and spoil it for "his" side.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:23 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I look forward to soon re-introducing my legislation re-naming the Senate Russell Building after American hero, Senator John McCain.

Seems like the appropriate name for a building of people who have lots of concerns that they never act on much like Senator John McCain.
posted by srboisvert at 7:27 PM on March 20 [15 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: "The worst part about the McCain bashing is seeing how many people (conspicuously white and Republican, of course) are disgusted by it all...but not so disgusted by the Muslim Ban, or the abandonment of Puerto Rico after the hurricane, or all the kids locked up and effectively orphaned by this administration.

They're moved by disrespect for a white man. That's it. None of them have learned anything or changed at all.
"

I don't care about John McCain's honor or anything like that but it's still pretty disturbing to have a president get into a bitter feud with a dead person.
posted by octothorpe at 7:28 PM on March 20 [52 favorites]


Does the electoral college spark joy? (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Take up the electoral college from your closet. Lay it in a pile. Stare at it. I think you want to keep it. After all, consider:
  • If the electoral college is abolished, people would be forced to stop ignoring Massachusetts during campaign season, and it would be awkward after all those years of pretending not to see it, during which Massachusetts started to build a life and identity of its own that didn’t revolve around the attention of presidential candidates.
  • The electoral college is very old, and why would you want to get rid of something very old, even if it did not spark joy? Consider measles, something we thought about getting rid of and then decided to hang onto because of nostalgia!
  • Has it ever steered us astray?
  • Okay, point taken, but if the election of Donald Trump occurred within the guardrails of the electoral college, I can’t even picture what might be lurking outside those guardrails?
  • FiveThirtyEight would be forced to change its name.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 PM on March 20 [46 favorites]


All [Schulz] needs is 1-2% of the vote in Michigan to make sure [Trump wins].

Polls show Democrat candidates beating Trump by less of a margin than Hillary beat Trump. It's still early, but if the election were held today we'd be looking at razor thin margins.
posted by xammerboy at 8:11 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Re Devin Nunes speechifying at the Saint Ronnie event. I will personally help kickstart cow costumes. If I lived nearby I would wear one.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:23 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


Schumer: "I look forward to soon re-introducing my legislation re-naming the Senate Russell Building after American hero, Senator John McCain."

This would be a great improvement on the Russell name. Richard Russell was a virulent white supremacist and diehard proponent of racial segregation. Russell was one of the authors of the Southern Manifesto, which was a congressional denunciation of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision declaring segregation of public schools illegal. Russell's name on one of the most prominent Washington office buildings is an insult to history.

Republicans, of course, are opposed to the renaming just as they are opposed to removing Confederate monuments. If Schumer can leverage the John McCain backlash to Trump and remove the Russell name, it would be a win for posterity.
posted by JackFlash at 8:25 PM on March 20 [42 favorites]


Politico: Gillum to launch Florida voter-registration campaign to trip up Trump
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 PM on March 20 [35 favorites]


WP: Federal judge demands Trump administration reveal how its drilling plans will fuel climate change -- The ruling temporarily blocks drilling on 300,000 acres of leases in Wyoming.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:52 PM on March 20 [33 favorites]


I don't care about John McCain's honor or anything like that but it's still pretty disturbing to have a president get into a bitter feud with a dead person.

They are all diversions, Nunes Mom, too. Absolutely substance-free bullshit they can riff on when anybody asks them about it. Sure the McCain family is hurt by his words, but that doesn't affect him.

This is how they eliminate the possibility of talking about anything anyone else wants to talk about, how they control the conversation. They suck all the air out of the room by saying or doing something...not even controversial (though they obviously don't shy away from that), just...headliney. Attention-grabbing dipshits, and I wish there was some grand realization that made Lard Lads out of these people.
posted by rhizome at 9:11 PM on March 20 [17 favorites]


CNN: Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director and long-time confidante of President Donald Trump, plans to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into potential obstruction of justice.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:19 PM on March 20 [48 favorites]


Devin Nunes is going to be the keynote speaker at the Fresno Lincoln Reagan award dinner

Nobody moo. Pass it on.
posted by scalefree at 10:44 PM on March 20 [32 favorites]


WaPost has a brief history about the incoming enigmatic Murdoch heir, Lachlan. The headline teases some sort of anti-Trump era, but the details anonymously sourced inside describe to me, a post-Disney deal Team Trump 2.0 being formed. Lachlan's new crew includes Hope Hicks, AMC-turnaround-master Charles Collier, and Paul Ryan on the board. All this is also interesting context for Donna Brazile's arrival.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:17 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]


I don't care about John McCain's honor or anything like that but it's still pretty disturbing to have a president get into a bitter feud with a dead person.

Even weirder that he is managing to lose the fued.
posted by srboisvert at 5:54 AM on March 21 [54 favorites]


The Eastwood principle: Never debate an empty chair.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:08 AM on March 21 [31 favorites]


All kinds of trial balloons from the accidentally-announced Biden campaign this morning.

Scoop: Biden advisers debate Stacey Abrams as out-of-the-gate V.P. choice

Biden Weighing Unique Steps to Reassure Voters Concerned About His Age
Mr. Biden and his top advisers are considering nodding to the rising next generation in Democratic politics — and elevating an heir — by announcing a running mate early, well before the nomination is sealed. Also under discussion is a possible pledge to serve only one term and framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country, according to multiple party officials.
So if you're concerned about being too old to do the job of president...maybe the answer is not to run for president, rather than promise to be a useless lame duck from day 1.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:23 AM on March 21 [46 favorites]


framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country

This is hilarious framing for a Biden campaign. He'll "rescue" us by restoring our save point to 2015, so the next bumbling fascist can win in 2024 after 4 years of bog standard centrist Democratic leadership.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 6:29 AM on March 21 [65 favorites]


Has any presidential candidate ever announced their running mate at the same time they announced their own candidacy? Like, ever?
posted by DrAstroZoom at 6:32 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


He'll "rescue" us by restoring our save point to 2015, so the next bumbling fascist can win in 2024 after 4 years of bog standard centrist Democratic leadership.

The next fascist won't be a illiterate grifter surrounded only by his inbred failsons. It only takes a marginally more competent Republican fascist the next time now that Trump has shown the way and proved the country is primed for dictatorship.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:35 AM on March 21 [58 favorites]


Has any presidential candidate ever announced their running mate at the same time they announced their own candidacy? Like, ever?

Not any who weren't already elected President that were just keeping their current VP.

It concedes an enormous amount of leverage as the VP slot can be used to bridge intra-party divides and sooth over hurt egos. The fact that Biden is floating that is proof that he know's he has such a major deficiency as to sacrifice that advantage so he can secure the nomination.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:35 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]


Also under discussion is a possible pledge to serve only one term and framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country We really don't need any more narcissistic white male savior complexes calling the shots, please.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:35 AM on March 21 [24 favorites]




Remember how well it went for Cruz and Fiorina?
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:04 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


octothorpe: I don't care about John McCain's honor or anything like that but it's still pretty disturbing to have a president get into a bitter feud with a dead person.

rhizome: They are all diversions, Nunes Mom, too. Absolutely substance-free bullshit they can riff on when anybody asks them about it. Sure the McCain family is hurt by his words, but that doesn't affect him.

And better yet, John McCain himself can't reply, so I realize that it's so very Trump to use a dead guy as a punching bag.


T.D. Strange: The next fascist won't be a illiterate grifter surrounded only by his inbred failsons. It only takes a marginally more competent Republican fascist the next time now that Trump has shown the way and proved the country is primed for dictatorship.

You'd think so, but a counterpoint is that Jair Bolsonaro’s First 53 Days As President Of Brazil Have Been A Resounding, Scandalous Failure (adamvasco's Brazilian politics post from Feb. 22, 2019).

It seems that fascists, like many fringe political movements that suddenly come into power, may win thanks to some ugly, terrible appeal, or succeed because of other turmoil, possibly stirred up by locally vested or external instigators, they have no idea of how to actually achieve their terrible visions. They're not really politicians, in the functionally operating the political system sense, but terrible idea men who think they can bring about some change, without understanding the legal paths to achieve those changes.

My worry is that these fascists can stick around long enough and somehow cobble together a staff that stays long enough that they actually learn how to implement their ideas. Yes, Trump is continuing to be disastrous for the United States, the people who live and work here, and our allies, but his staff don't stick around (CNN interactive record of administration staff duration, last updated March 12, 2019), and federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters (Washington Post, March 19, 2019)
Seth Jaffe, a Boston-based environmental lawyer who represents corporations and had been looking forward to deregulation, said the administration has failed to deliver.

“I’ve spent 30 years in the private sector complaining about the excesses of environmental regulation,” Jaffe said, but “this administration has given regulatory reform a bad name.”

Some errors are so basic that Jaffe said he has to wonder whether agency officials are more interested in announcing policy shifts than in actually implementing them. “It’s not just that they’re losing. But they’re being so nuts about it,” he said, adding that the losses in court have “set regulatory reform back for a period of time.”
Emphasis mine -- you don't say that the Social Media President, who rose from being the GOP Reality TV Candidate, doesn't actually care about the policies as much as the optics.

That said, Trump's administration has made significant negative impacts, as seen in a running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy from National Geographic, published March 15, 2019.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on March 21 [21 favorites]


The WaPo gives this choice quote from the McCain camp:
Some of McCain’s supporters said the criticism would amuse McCain, who would have appreciated that the president was still tormented by his legacy. Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime friend and co-author, said that at first he was angered by the president’s mischaracterizations.

“It’s reaching a point of boredom for all of us. McCain is getting some kind of amusement out of it that he’s still in the guy’s head somewhere,” Salter said. “It doesn’t help him, but he can’t control himself. He obviously resents John. He obviously craves the admiration that John received in life. He may excoriate the establishment and fake news and everything else, but he craves its approval.”
NYMag's Yashar Ali notes, "John and Cindy McCain’s daughter Bridget, who never speaks out....until now." Here are her two tweets to @realdonaldtrump.

Also, Lindsey Graham posted this video interview in which he said (in a hushed voice), "I think the president's comments about Sen. McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Sen. McCain. […] A lot of people are coming to John's defense now that called him 'crazy' and 'warmonger'. […] So it's kind of interesting to see the politics, how this dispute is being used to bash Trump by people who are against both Trump and McCain. My job is to represent the people of South Carolina. They want me to work with the President where I can. I've got to know the President. We've got a good working relationship. I like him. I don't like it when he says things about my friend John McCain, and the best thing I think that can happen for all of us is to move forward[…]." What an utterly abject spectacle.

Finally, the Daily Beast turns up what may be the origin of Trump's feud with McCain: Trump's "Television City" multi-tower estate project that Jerry Nadler fought in the 90s—and that McCain denounced in the Senate.
Nadler was joined by Sen. John McCain in opposing the financing. McCain gave a speech from the Senate floor that may have still rankled Trump in 2016. Maybe the truth is that Trump likes war heroes who don’t challenge one of his scams.

“The Department of Housing and Urban Development is processing an application from a team of developers, headed by the venerable Donald Trump,” McCain began.

McCain noted that the loan guarantee would entitle Trump to “a vast array of municipal tax benefits, which one group calculates to be in the range of nearly $4.5 million per ‘needy’ individual assisted.”

“Not exactly what most Americans would consider cost-effective use of government assistance,” McCain said. “I certainly have nothing against luxury apartments nor do I have anything against very successful project developers, including Mr. Trump. I do object, however, to asking the taxpayer to bear the risk of a development for one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the country, to help finance a project that will predominantly benefit upper-income Americans.”

McCain noted, “Congressman Nadler, who represents the area in the House and who is a member on the other side of the aisle, does not consider the area around the development site to be blighted and he opposes the project.”

McCain went on, a principled conservative Republican expressing an opinion he shared with the ultra-liberal Nadler: “The Donald Trumps of the world can more than afford to bear the risk of their endeavors, and should not be indemnified with taxpayer dollars.”
And, as we know, Trump never forgets a defeat and always wants revenge.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:29 AM on March 21 [23 favorites]


It's been a week since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and I keep waiting for a response from the US government, even just an acknowledgment that this unprecedented disaster is happening:

‘Everything is destroyed’: Mozambique fears massive human toll from Cyclone Idai (WaPo)
Government and aid agency officials sounded the alarm on Tuesday after the first flights over a vast area of wreckage wrought by Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, Malawi and especially Mozambique spurred fears of a massive human toll. [...] The United Nations estimated that more than 2.5 million people need immediate assistance. And with the crops and homes of thousands of families destroyed, a prolonged humanitarian crisis appeared inevitable. [...] “There’s a sense from people on the ground that the world still really hasn’t caught on to how severe this disaster is,” Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
‘It was too late’: Hundreds are dead as rescue efforts stall in Mozambique and Zimbabwe (WaPo)
“Many people are in a desperate situation, fighting for their lives at the moment, sitting on rooftops in trees and other elevated areas — this includes families and obviously many children,” UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said in a video released Wednesday. [...] The government estimates that about 400,000 people have been displaced, but WFP said that about 1.7 million people were in the cyclone’s path and that “the extent of the human suffering is not known.” Given the vast size of the affected region, “we do expect the death toll to increase significantly,” the agency said.
Thousands still need rescuing as aid agencies struggle with cyclone aftermath in Mozambique (WaPo)
Ceaseless rain and widespread devastation hampered rescue operations Thursday as underequipped aid agencies struggled to cope with the extensive damage inflicted by Cyclone Idai on central Mozambique. [...] For now the aid agencies and local authorities struggling to help people are woefully underequipped, with just two U.N. helicopters that arrived from Uganda and South Africa and one cargo aircraft. There is also an urgent need for flat-bottomed boats to venture out into the flooded areas to find people.
Cyclone Idai: satellite images show extent of flooding around Beira (Guardian)
A large number of people in and around Beira who sought refuge on rooftops and trees are still waiting to be rescued a week after the cyclone struck. [...] Gerald Bourke, the regional communications officer at the World Food Programme, said the affected area was one of the most densely populated in Mozambique and rescuers still did not know how many people remained trapped. [...] More than 150 sq miles in the region are flooded and in some places the water is six metres (19ft) deep. At least 600,000 people have been affected, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ranging from those whose lives are in immediate danger to those who need other kinds of aid.
Although I did find this press release today, after some searching: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deploys Disaster Assistance Team to Mozambique in Response to Cyclone Idai
Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is activating a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Mozambique to lead the U.S. Government's response to Cyclone Idai, which has caused catastrophic flooding, killed hundreds of people, and affected hundreds of thousands of others in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. To date, USAID has mobilized $700,000 in total assistance to support emergency water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter needs in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi caused by torrential rain and flooding in early March, followed by Cyclone Idai.
Foreign aid begins flowing to cyclone-hit southern Africa (ABC News)
The United Nations allocated $20 million for a humanitarian response to the crisis. The European Union released 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) in emergency aid, while the U.K. pledged up to 6 million pounds ($7.9 million). Neighboring Tanzania's military airlifted 238 tons of food and medicine. The United Arab Emirates plans to provide 18.3 million dirhams ($4.9 million) to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the Emirates News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Emirates Red Crescent. Norway said it was providing 6 million krone ($700,000).
posted by Little Dawn at 7:30 AM on March 21 [30 favorites]


It's been a week since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and I keep waiting for a response from the US government, even just an acknowledgment that this unprecedented disaster is happening

Has the US government even acknowledged the flooding in Nebraska?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:35 AM on March 21 [40 favorites]


‘No PAC money’ pledges leave corporations in a partisan bind (Kate Ackley, Roll Call)
Corporate PACs fear upending of their ‘balanced approach’ as more Democrats reject their cash
Many PACs donate to both Republicans and Democrats. Some have specific ratios that they're mandated to reach. The current wave of Democratic candidates refusing to take PAC money throws these ratios off (and reduces the possibility of influence).

Corporate PACs Sad No One Likes Them Anymore :( (Libby Watson, Splinter)
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:41 AM on March 21 [45 favorites]


Some errors are so basic that Jaffe said he has to wonder whether agency officials are more interested in announcing policy shifts than in actually implementing them. “It’s not just that they’re losing. But they’re being so nuts about it,” he said, adding that the losses in court have “set regulatory reform back for a period of time.”

He's making every policy position he supports a little more toxic every time he advocates for it.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:45 AM on March 21


Always figured this was coming, at some point:
Trump to order colleges to back free speech or lose funding
(AP) -- President Donald Trump is expected to order U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal funding.

White House officials say Trump on Thursday will sign an executive order requiring colleges to certify that their policies support free speech as a condition of receiving federal research grants.

Trump initially proposed the idea during a March 2 speech to conservative activists. The Republican president highlighted the case of activist Hayden Williams, who was punched in the face while recruiting at the University of California, Berkeley.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:48 AM on March 21 [12 favorites]


Parker Malloy points out that the person who punched Williams was arrested and charged with several counts so exactly what was the deficiency here anyway.
posted by phearlez at 7:55 AM on March 21 [20 favorites]


Donald Trump is using Stalinist tactics to discredit climate science (Michael Mann and Bob Ward, Guardian Opinion)
The Trump administration has already purged information about climate change from government websites, gagged federal experts and attempted to end funding for climate change programmes.

Now a group of hardcore climate change deniers and contrarians linked to the administration is organising a petition in support of a new panel being set up by the National Security Council to promote an alternative official explanation for climate change.

The panel will consist of scientists who do not accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are behind climate change and its impacts. [...] Media reports suggest that Professor Happer and his fellow propagandists will target the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was prepared by leading researchers in the United States, and concluded last November: “The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country.”

Although the report was subjected to rigorous review by America’s top experts at the National Academy of Sciences, it was rejected by President Trump, who told journalists: “I don’t believe it.”
posted by Little Dawn at 7:55 AM on March 21 [13 favorites]


Has the US government even acknowledged the flooding in Nebraska?

Pence showed up the other day to hang out with Governors Ricketts and Reynolds et al. No information on whether Mother came along to chaperone the meetings that included several women. We have been assured that the Government stands with us. Is this better or worse than "tots and pears"? To quote a fatuous gasbag: "We shall see."
posted by Fezboy! at 8:04 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


“But once you realize McConnell has already achieved his life’s dream, and ascended to the limits of his ambition, his behavior suddenly starts to make more sense. He’s not trying to cap off his career with a legislative masterstroke, because he doesn’t care about legislation. He already won. He’s the Senate majority leader, his parliamentary prowess is regularly feted, and he has already left his legacy indelibly inscribed on the highest court in the land.” Mitch McConnell, Nihilist In-Chief
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 AM on March 21 [19 favorites]


Trump on Thursday will sign an executive order requiring colleges to certify that their policies support free speech as a condition of receiving federal research grants.

What does such a certification actually look like, and what does "free speech" in this context actually mean, though? As always, the devil's in the details. Let's hope it's some stupid goddamn optics stunt—university presidents sign a statement that says "This school supports free speech," Trump's base high-five each other for his owning the libs, and that's the end of it.
posted by Rykey at 8:13 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Donald Trump is using Stalinist tactics to discredit climate science

Not to stand up for Uncle Joe but at least Lysenkoism was intended to increase the food supply. "Everything's fine because screw you lib, and hey maybe CO2 is actually good for you and we should make more if it" is way beyond any Soviet bad science, if for no other reason than that Stalin's science only killed millions of people and not billions.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:15 AM on March 21 [10 favorites]


The Fight to Tame a Swelling River With Dams That May Be Outmatched by Climate Change (NYT)
Mr. Remus controls an extraordinary machine — the dams built decades ago to tame a river system that drains parts of 10 states and two Canadian provinces. But it was designed for a different era, a time before climate change and the extreme weather it can bring.

“It’s human nature to think we are masters of our environment, the lords of creation,” said Mr. Remus, who works for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. But there are limits, he said. And the storm last week that caused him so much trouble was beyond what his network of dams can control. “It was not designed to handle this,” he said.
‘Potentially historic’ flooding may deluge parts of US south, experts warn (Guardian)
Scientists are warning that historic flooding could soon deluge parts of several southern states along the lower Mississippi River, and floodwaters could persist for several weeks.
As part of Midwest starts flood cleanup, downstream region braces for inundation (WaPo)
Communities across the Midwest are facing massive cleanup efforts after last week’s late-winter “bomb cyclone” caused at least four deaths, forced the evacuation of entire communities and drenched vast tracts of land with icy and often polluted water. Nebraska’s emergency agency set the estimated cost of the destruction at $1.3 billion on Wednesday, including $400 million for dead livestock, $440 million in lost grain and $439 million in damaged infrastructure.

Vice President Pence promised prompt federal aid when he surveyed the destruction Tuesday and visited a shelter in Nebraska. [...] But for many in the devastated region, the start of the cleanup was coupled with a realization that the recovery could be prolonged, amid warnings that the current infrastructure of dams and levees will not be adequate to protect them from the increased frequency and severity of flooding that comes from climate change. “It will last for months,” said Tom Waters, chairman of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:17 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


A one-term promise from Biden (76) would make for some pretty awkward questions for Sanders (77). There is a lot of appeal to the idea of one term, but it feels like that would just turn into the 2024 election cycle beginning the day after the election.. or hell, maybe the day after the democratic convention. And it would fix the spotlight on the VP choice, because I guess the VP would be the presumptive 2024 nominee should Biden win, and the 2022 midterms would become a referendum on the presiding VP, and so the VP would have to take a front and center position leading up to the midterms, and the VP's relationship to Congress and ability to get legislation passed would need to be tested, and just what is the point of Biden being president in all of this?
posted by skewed at 8:19 AM on March 21 [16 favorites]


He’s not trying to cap off his career with a legislative masterstroke, because he doesn’t care about legislation. He already won. He’s the Senate majority leader
Confirmed. For more on McConnell's career long single need to feed his injured ostracized ego burns, check out the excellent and brief 'The Cynic' by Alec MacGillis. McConnell has gone from supporting pro-choice and public employee unions to revolutionizing his party's obstructionism not as some long range master plan, but as a pragmatic principle for how to always win no matter what. He has no loyalties besides his need to aggrieve his imagined wounds. One of his earliest nicknames among his staff was "love me love me love me."
posted by Harry Caul at 8:22 AM on March 21 [9 favorites]


skewed: "A one-term promise from Biden (76) would make for some pretty awkward questions for Sanders (77)."

These men are too old to serve as President.

The fact that the Presidency has a minimum age requirement, but not a maximum one, is yet another increasingly-major oversight that we desperately need to address.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:26 AM on March 21 [40 favorites]


(AP) -- President Donald Trump is expected to order U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal funding.
In which case, these colleges, like cities hosting major-party presidential nominating conventions, could happily comply by erecting 'free-speech' zones, i.e. cramped little enclosures complete with 10-foot-high chain-linked fences topped by loops of razor wire, and surrounded by security personnel armed with truncheons and pepper spray. But meanwhile back in the real world, nobody ever went broke overestimating the willingness of college upper administrators to enthusiastically comply with the whims and wishes of authoritarian governments.

And further to Rykey's comment above, hands up everyone who hears the term 'free speech' and knows the speaker 99% of the time means 'fascism.'
posted by hangashore at 8:35 AM on March 21 [22 favorites]


ThinkProgress story (a scoop according to the writer) from yesterday: Why was Franklin Graham schmoozing with a sanctioned Russian official this month? Graham described his meeting with one sanctioned Russian official as an "honor"—and claimed Mike Pence signed off on it.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:36 AM on March 21 [9 favorites]


I would begrudingly vote for a Biden-Abrams ticket with a one-term promise if Stacy Abrams told me to.

I would GLEEFULLY vote for a Biden-Abrams ticket with a one-day promise.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:37 AM on March 21 [10 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window, but: "hands up everyone who hears the term 'free speech' these days and knows the speaker 99% of the time means 'fascism.'"
posted by hangashore at 8:38 AM on March 21 [20 favorites]




Why was Franklin Graham schmoozing with a sanctioned Russian official this month?

Because American evangelical protestantism is entirely inseparable from the ascendant alliance of intercontinental ethnonationalism and has less than nothing to do with religion. Franklin Graham was schmoozing with a Russian fascist because they're buddies and their interests align as fascists, no more speculation necessary.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:46 AM on March 21 [30 favorites]


I don't care about John McCain's honor or anything like that but it's still pretty disturbing to have a president get into a bitter feud with a dead person.

It seems Trump has reached the "Nixon talking to the portraits on the wall" stage of his dementia.
posted by JackFlash at 8:50 AM on March 21 [9 favorites]


So hey, I just found out a well-regarded local bookstore here in DC (beloved by upper-crust white liberals) is hosting an author event with George Papadopoulos featuring his conspiracy fantasies that the Deep State is sabotaging Trump.

awesome
posted by duffell at 8:54 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]




So hey, I just found out a well-regarded local bookstore here in DC (beloved by upper-crust white liberals) is hosting an author event with George Papadopoulos featuring his conspiracy fantasies that the Deep State is sabotaging Trump.

One of those liberal/leftist dichotomy moments.

See also: NH youth ask Beto to sign a pledge to not take fossil fuel industry money, Beto refuses
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:01 AM on March 21 [13 favorites]


The fact that the Presidency has a minimum age requirement, but not a maximum one, is yet another increasingly-major oversight that we desperately need to address.

I learned through a previous job that Supreme Court Justices in Nepal have a mandatory retirement age of 65 (I assume this exists in other countries as well). When I first heard this, my gut reaction was "but isn't this age discrimination?" These days I'm much more equivocal about it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:06 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


[Salon]
We are about to learn something important about this country. Trump is running for re-election as a flat-out racist and bigot, and we are going to discover who we are as a nation by how many of our fellow citizens vote for him in 2020. Whether Trump wins or not, I’m afraid it’s going to be a bitter, nasty lesson.

It’s hardly worth discussing anymore whether Trump is a racist. After three years of tweeting and screeching his anti-black, anti-woman, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-anyone-who-isn’t-a-white-male-just-like-him, Trump’s wide ranging prejudice is a settled issue. He doesn’t even pretend otherwise. It’s the centerpiece of his campaign, practically the whole reason he’s running for a second term.

The GOP has surrendered to the racist-in-chief and has become the white people’s party. Support for the president among Republicans runs between 80 and 90 percent. They have almost completely thrown in their lot with him and will turn out in force in 2020. The election has boiled down to a contest between a man who coddles white supremacists and belittles African-Americans, and any Democrat at all willing to stand in opposition to Trump’s hateful mien.

How did we get to be a country with such a disgusting piece of racist, bigoted garbage as our president? It seems incredible to think of now, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when racism seemed on the wane. I’m not talking about the moment Barack Obama first took office in 2009, when newspaper pages and cable news shows were awash in talk of a “post-racial” America. The time I’m thinking of was back in the 1980s, when I first saw, if not a racial healing, at least a diminishment of racial animus.

posted by growabrain at 9:12 AM on March 21 [29 favorites]


How did we get to be a country with such a disgusting piece of racist, bigoted garbage as our president?
Well, it starts with The 3/5ths Compromise which is found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:17 AM on March 21 [28 favorites]


Miami Herald has a scoop in the Cindy Yang scandal: Cindy Yang Helped Chinese Tech Stars Get $50K Photos With Trump. Who Paid?
More than a year before her Super Bowl selfie with the president, Li “Cindy” Yang brought two Chinese-born tech executives — an Australia-based cryptocurrency guru known in the industry as “the Martian” and a startup CEO whose firm recently became a jersey sponsor for the Dallas Mavericks — to take formal photos with President Donald Trump.[…]

But neither Ryan Xu nor Lucas Lu appear to have paid for the privilege. A search of a federal database showed no record of either man giving to Trump Victory, the political action committee that sold tickets — as well as perks like photos with the president — for the Dec. 2, 2017, breakfast fundraiser hosted by the Republican National Committee in New York City.

So who paid Trump Victory for their photos?

Yang isn’t saying — but she and three associates with an Asian-American political group donated a total of $135,500 to Trump Victory in the weeks leading up to the event. None of those associates would comment either. One of them told the Miami Herald she could not recall making a $25,000 donation listed in her name and address.[…]

Selling tickets to campaign fundraisers without disclosing the buyer to the Federal Election Commission is illegal. Selling tickets to foreign nationals, who are banned from donating to American political causes, would be an additional violation of U.S. law. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents can contribute, although foreign nationals can attend fundraisers if they do not reimburse anyone for their tickets. It would be legal for Yang and her associates to give away tickets and high-dollar extras like photos with the president as gifts, but illegal to sell them.

Through a spokesman, Lu said a friend gifted him a ticket to the event, which is legal because he said he never paid the friend back. He declined to name the friend. Lu’s spokesman provided a copy of his green card, issued three weeks before the event. His company, 5miles, offers an online marketplace through a mobile app. Last year, the company, which has branches in Beijing and Dallas, secured a three-year deal to place its patch on the Dallas Mavericks’ jersey, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Xu, a bitcoin miner whose business is mostly outside the United States, did not respond to emails and calls. It is unclear if Xu would have been legally able to pay for his presidential photo. He lives primarily in Australia and his U.S. immigration status could not be determined.

An RNC spokeswoman said both Xu and Lu were guests of a U.S. citizen — and had been vetted by the Secret Service — but declined to name the donor or donors who brought them. The RNC would have little way of knowing whether any guests had reimbursed donors for tickets.[…]

In Chinese-language social media posts and news accounts, both men were listed as guests of Yang’s political group, the Washington, D.C.-based National Committee of Asian-American Republicans. The group is often called the Asian GOP.
Elsewhere in Spa-gate, Politico reports: Trump Wants Patriots Owner Robert Kraft At White House Despite Prostitution Bust—The prospect has White House aides worried the visit could turn a feel-good photo op into an embarrassing media spectacle.. Because doubling down on a sex scandal is the Trumpist way.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:21 AM on March 21 [28 favorites]


As a Georgian and huge Stacey Abrams supporter, I'd just like to point out that it's not clear that she has agreed to be Biden's running mate, and as someone who remembers his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, Biden not caring about the wishes of a black woman remains a bad look for him.

For the record, what Abrams was quoted as saying yesterday about meeting with Biden:
"Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is willing to meet with any candidate running for president in 2020, but she warned she has two ground rules before she starts meeting with the wide range of Democratic hopefuls.

“My two requirements,” Abrams said Tuesday at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “One, you have to tell me what you’re going to do about voter suppression. And two, you have to believe Georgia is a swing state.”
posted by hydropsyche at 9:35 AM on March 21 [64 favorites]


How did we get to be a country with such a disgusting piece of racist, bigoted garbage as our president?

Well, it starts with The 3/5ths Compromise which is found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.


I object to this glib fatalism. 40-50 years ago we were trending in the right direction, becoming a better country where racism was not socially acceptable.

The more precise answer is the regression got underway with Reagan. The more important point is that white supremacy may be our original sin, but it does not have to be our preordained eternal destiny.

At least I hope not.
posted by whuppy at 9:40 AM on March 21 [48 favorites]


Kamala puts Beto on notice (Politico)
Kamala is coming after Beto — in his own backyard. Hours before the former El Paso congressman unveiled his presidential bid, Harris announced she was heading to Texas — an unmistakable warning shot at a fellow upstart competing to capture the imagination of Democratic voters.

She’ll meet Friday outside Dallas with Tarrant County Democrats, then it’s on to Houston Saturday for a big rally at Texas Southern University in Houston. It’s the start of a sustained, delegate-focused strategy that aims to take advantage of the front-loaded primary calendar in which Texas and California will significantly shape the race on March 3.

Harris has already reached out to Congressional Black Caucus members from Texas, including Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, Colin Allred and Marc Veasey ... The aggressive maneuvering is the surest sign yet that for all of O’Rourke’s appeal at home — owing to his tantalizingly close loss to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last fall — Harris isn’t ceding Texas to O’Rourke or his fellow Texan Julián Castro, the former Obama-era Housing and Urban Development secretary from San Antonio. If anything, it’s the opposite: She wants to make clear that she’s willing to go toe-to-toe with O’Rourke, the charismatic Gen-Xer who starts the race with more money and a similar knack for drawing media and exciting audiences.

"There is no state in America we will cede to anyone," a senior Harris campaign official told POLITICO. "We see a lot of opportunity to deepen support with African American and Latino communities and to expand into suburban areas where Democrats are resurgent."
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:41 AM on March 21 [6 favorites]


[Folks, this is not the thread for Every Bad Thing Ever. Please keep it to national politics specifically. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:42 AM on March 21 [14 favorites]


I learned through a previous job that Supreme Court Justices in Nepal have a mandatory retirement age of 65 (I assume this exists in other countries as well). When I first heard this, my gut reaction was "but isn't this age discrimination?" These days I'm much more equivocal about it.

As I see it, there's a big difference between an ordinary job and one that involves public safety (as in airline pilots) or has the potential to affect millions of lives (Supreme Court Justices, President of the US). You want to work in retail or as a middle manager or a therapist until you're 80? Knock yourself out, and no-one should be forced out on account of age. But SCOTUS and POTUS are not ordinary jobs, and extraordinary jobs require extraordinary people. And I'm assuming Supreme Court Justices get cushy retirement packages and can go on speaking engagements, etc. afterwards. So yes, there should be an upper age limit. If nothing else, this will keep the Court from getting ossified. And it will keep the public from having to rely on the health of very old judges holding up.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:54 AM on March 21 [6 favorites]


CNN looks into the under-reported angle of how Team Trump's siphoning off legal fee payments from the re-election campaign's funds: Money, Power And Data: Inside Trump's Re-Election Machine
The campaign's fundraising has also served another crucial function: paying the legal bills of Trump campaign officials and family members.

In the first two years of Trump's presidency, donors to the Trump campaign have underwritten more than $6.7 million in legal expenses — more than $1 out of every $10 the campaign has spent on operating costs — at a time when the President, his family and aides have had to respond to federal and congressional investigations stemming from Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.[…]

The bulk of the campaign's spending on legal fees — nearly $4.4 million — has gone to the law firm Jones Day, which handles the campaign's FEC compliance and document request matters. Almost all the remaining $2.3 million has flowed to other law firms, several of which represent Trump campaign officials and Trump family members swept up in the Russia-related investigations.

More than $317,000 of those legal expenses have been paid out to firms representing Donald Trump Jr., who brokered the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016 with a Russian lawyer promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

And firms representing former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and Kushner have been paid nearly $366,000 by the campaign. A spokesman for Kushner's attorney said payments to his firm were related to the DNC's lawsuit against Trump's campaign officials, including Kushner.
And Forbes digs into more details about the Trump 2020–Trump Org axis: Trump Has Now Shifted $1.3 Million Of Campaign-Donor Money Into His Business
Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money.

In December, Forbes reported on the first $1.1 million that President Trump moved from his campaign into his business. Since then, his campaign filed additional documentation showing that it spent another $180,000 at Trump-owned properties in the final three months of 2018.[…]

It is also unclear what exactly the 2020 effort is renting from Trump Restaurants LLC, which has received $60,000 in campaign funds. Trump Restaurants LLC is another holding company tied to Trump Tower. The building’s website, which features a handful of Trump-branded eateries, includes a page of legal disclaimers for Trump Restaurants LLC.

Inside the building lie clues to the purpose of the payments. Near Trump Grill and Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor, there’s a kiosk where tourists can buy T-shirts, hats and other campaign memorabilia. The fine print at the bottom of a poster next to the stand says, “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”—the official name for the president’s 2020 campaign committee.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a list of questions, including whether the stand is in fact the basis for the payments and how many square feet it occupies. So a Forbes reporter paced out the space to take a rough measurement. It appears the entire stand is approximately 60 square feet. With monthly payments of $3,000, that implies that the campaign is paying $600 per square foot in annual rent. For comparison, Gucci rents prime space upstairs, along Fifth Avenue, for only $440 per square foot, according to an analysis of a debt prospectus obtained by Forbes.
The grift goes on…
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:54 AM on March 21 [39 favorites]


If Trump is a national emergency, it’s time for Democrats to act like it

Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason Democrats are hesitant to go full-out on the "this guy is a corrupt fascist" messaging is because they fear that when they say it out loud a significant percentage of the voting populace will realize that's the menu option they actually want.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:13 AM on March 21 [30 favorites]


I think they're hesitant to go full-out because most Democratic politicians are from the same elite social class as republican politicians, have no real skin in the game, and aren't particularly threatened in any meaningful sense by any of the foul shit the Trump administration has been up to.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:17 AM on March 21 [49 favorites]


I think they're hesitant to go full-out because most Democratic politicians are from the same elite social class as republican politicians, have no real skin in the game, and aren't particularly threatened in any meaningful sense by any of the foul shit the Trump administration has been up to.

When your life and livelihood aren't obviously at risk electoral politics become a game, and for gentlemanly sports fans it's unseemly to label the opposing team evil and to call its fans bad people.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:24 AM on March 21 [18 favorites]


How did we get to be a country with such a disgusting piece of racist, bigoted garbage as our president?

Trump ran against an army of conservative candidates. What differentiated Trump was that his policies were not conservative while his racism was front and center. This isn't a liberal take. Almost every prominent conservative is on the record openly acknowledging it.

When Trump's supporters were asked why they voted for him, they overwhelmingly said he says what he means instead of hiding it. If you look at virtually any conservative website today, its members are openly racist in a way that would have been unthinkable ten years ago.

Now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Trump's supporters have lately been saying another idea out loud that was supposed to remain quiet. Namely, it's more important to defeat liberals than to live in a democracy.
posted by xammerboy at 10:33 AM on March 21 [67 favorites]


Trump to order colleges to back free speech or lose funding

Right wingers like to pretend that Universities generally allow anyone with an idea to come and talk about it to large crowds of people. If one of their kind is denied such a platform, they call it a "free speech issue," which is, of course, nonsense. If I show up at Harvard and ask to speak to an assembly of faculty, staff, and students about my great idea for becoming emperor of reality so I can fix what's ailing us, they are not obliged to give me that opportunity and it's not a matter of denying free speech. It's a matter of selecting good faith intellectual arguments from reasonably informed and sincere people whose ideas are of interest to the community.

In short, fuck Trump.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:45 AM on March 21 [53 favorites]


Right wingers like to pretend that Universities generally allow anyone with an idea to come and talk about it to large crowds of people.

Jeffrey Sachs with a long twitter
THREAD: I'm on record as saying that there are a lot of sincere and principled people working the campus politics/free speech beat, but lately I've grown much more cynical about the entire thing. I'd like to give you an example of why...
posted by Jpfed at 11:20 AM on March 21 [11 favorites]


CheesesOfBrazil: Trump to order colleges to back free speech or lose funding

As has been said before, free speech doesn't mean you're free from its consequences.

Meanwhile, Pay Raises, More Staff, Earmarks: Lawmakers Propose Ways To Overhaul Congress (Susan Davis for NPR, March 21, 2019)
Members of Congress have not received a pay raise in a decade. So like most Americans, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., would like a raise.

"The cost of rent, childcare and other necessities has risen substantially in Washington and across the country in recent years, but members and staff pay and benefits have not kept pace with the private sector," Hoyer said last week at a hearing held by the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

Most House members make $174,000 per year, but they often have to maintain two residences and related expenses. Congress has not approved a raise since the economic recession hit in 2009. Hoyer said if Congress wants to attract Americans from all socio-economic backgrounds to run for office, it needs to pay better. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said that applies not just to lawmakers, but also to the thousands of staffers who work on Capitol Hill.

"Simply put, we don't have enough staff to do our jobs. The staff we have are underpaid, and they don't stay very long," she told the committee.

Better pay and more employees are just two of hundreds of ideas offered up at a recent lawmaker spitballing session on how to make Congress function better. It's a question a new bipartisan task force has just one year to answer before making formal recommendations for change.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is equally divided between six Republicans and six Democrats, and it is expected to file a report by the end of the year with formal recommendations for how best to reform the House's internal operations. Last week, the panel held a hearing in which all lawmakers were invited to come and offer up their best ideas for change.
NPR has a sampling of the current proposals.

In other news, Fentanyl-Linked Deaths: The U.S. Opioid Epidemic's Third Wave Begins (Martha Bebinger for NPR, March 21, 2019)
Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there's an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl.

These findings, published Thursday in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlight the start of the third wave of the nation's opioid epidemic. The first was prescription pain medications, such as OxyContin; then heroin, which replaced pills when they became too expensive; and now fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can shut down breathing in less than a minute, and its popularity in the U.S. began to surge at the end of 2013. For each of the next three years, fatal overdoses involving fentanyl doubled, "rising at an exponential rate," says Merianne Rose Spencer, a statistician at the CDC and one of the study's authors.
The article includes some theories on geographic distribution differences, and why men are dying more than women (in short, because women usually use drugs with someone else, who can get help if the user ODs, where as men do drugs alone more often).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on March 21 [13 favorites]


Democrats are hesitant to go full-out on the "this guy is a corrupt fascist" messaging because they fear ... [voters] will realize that's the menu option they actually want.

Yesterday we were talking about why the supreme court won't rule on Trump's emoluments violations, and the upshot was that it's because everyone would likely see the supreme court's rulings can't be enforced. In other words, Trump's violating the constitution, but to officially declare that would be to point out that Trump's violating the constitution.

What happens then? Trump's obviously not stepping down. What if he says that he thinks the constitution is wrong? What if his supporters agree? What if Trump decides that the constitution is an old rag that deserves to be burned? I think we know it's likely a third of this country would be right there with him.

Why wasn't Trump arrested for obstructing justice when he said on national television that he fired the director of the FBI for investigating him? Why isn't Trump being impeached for asking for and receiving the hacked emails of his political opponent? The argument that there are fine legal distinctions that deserve weighty consideration has worn thin.

Quite simply, the operating procedure of government at this point is to give Trump what he wants, because otherwise he may decide to take it. We must sometimes pretend Trump's ideas have merit, because otherwise we're doing his bidding. We must act as if there is a question as to whether or not Trump's actions are legal, because otherwise it may become clear that they are not.
posted by xammerboy at 11:50 AM on March 21 [40 favorites]


The free speech thing is largely aimed at schools that block right wing speakers (especially the trolls and overt fascists/racists) from speaking unless they foot the security bill) because the cost of providing security (and possible liability when people get injured when they clash with counter protesters). Someone like Milo appearing at a CA University can easily hit $50k+ just for security and planning for the worst.
posted by Candleman at 11:51 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, I-1 is in full-on campaign mode ... for his friend Bibi.

NYT: Trump Wants U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights
The president’s announcement, in a midday Twitter post, came after repeated pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. ... Mr. Netanyahu, who is facing a tough challenge in upcoming parliamentary elections, immediately praised Mr. Trump on Twitter for his decision. ... Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Mr. Trump in Washington next week, and the new United States’ stance on the disputed land is expected to help the prime minister significantly.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:55 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Would a reporter please hold up a map and ask Trump to point at where the Golan Heights are, and then afterward reveal to him that it was a map of Idaho? Please?

I'm sick and tired of reporters saying things like "Trump Wants US to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights". No, Trump doesn't want that, one of his handlers does. Trump doesn't know half of those words.
posted by mmoncur at 12:20 PM on March 21 [57 favorites]


[Scary / Politico]

How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide

Trump has a low approval rating. He is engaging in bitter Twitter wars and facing metastasizing investigations.

But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.
posted by growabrain at 12:21 PM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Not to revisit Infrastructure Week again, but as far as climate change and dams go, we're in a real bind.

Most of the dams in the USA were built from the end of WWII through the mid 1970's, with a few final projects trickling to completion through the 1980's.

Most of the dams that were built have a roughly 60 year lifespan before they need to be taken down (and possibly replaced) or undergo extensive and very expensive maintenance. You may note that we're hitting that sixty year lifespan on a huge number of dams. Coupled with climate change adding more flooding we're looking at disasters like we're seeing in Nebraska, and which almost happened in California with the Oroville dam becoming increasingly common over the next decade or so.

There are several thousand dams teetering on the edge of failure right now, and it doesn't take much to push them into catastrophic failure. It'll cost several tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, to either safely decommission America's dying dams, or to make them safe for another 60 years.
posted by sotonohito at 12:24 PM on March 21 [26 favorites]


Better pay and more employees are just two of hundreds of ideas offered up at a recent lawmaker spitballing session

It's almost like their being treated like . . . teachers (gasp!)
posted by archimago at 12:26 PM on March 21 [4 favorites]


But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.

This article was a really longwinded way of saying "Incumbents running during a very strong economy usually get re-elected." Which I don't think anyone would argue with. On the other hand, Presidents with a very strong economy also don't usually have a net -12 approval, sooooooooooooo
posted by Justinian at 12:32 PM on March 21 [43 favorites]


But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.

Nothing about the 2020 election will be normal or predictable. Just get out there and do what you can.
posted by benzenedream at 12:42 PM on March 21 [32 favorites]


Man who'se strong economy is this anyway?
posted by The Whelk at 12:47 PM on March 21 [14 favorites]


sotonohito: There are several thousand dams teetering on the edge of failure right now, and it doesn't take much to push them into catastrophic failure. It'll cost several tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, to either safely decommission America's dying dams, or to make them safe for another 60 years.

I recently read about an old inquiry into how to fund roadway damages from a storm a decade ago that's still being disputed today. It's a small community, but because of a not-so-minor technicality, FEMA can't provide funds to repair the road because it's the "territory" of another federal agency. And in another instance, I've heard that a storm-damaged pipeline couldn't be moved out of a creek channel with disaster relief funds because that's a changed project, and those funds are only for replacing the damaged infrastructure, as-was. The local agency could move it, but that would cost twice as much, and the cost would come from their already limited local budget. So they'll use federal funds to put it back where it was.

Systematically, we're not ready to handle storm damages now, let alone when weather events continue to amplify in scale and scope. I imagine some of the "it's not our jurisdiction, it's theirs" kind of rules are 1) old, and 2) look like the kind of government inefficiency that might make the GOP happy because it means less coordinated government oversight, but when it comes to repairing weather-related damages, and more importantly, building infrastructure in places and ways that will make it more resilient to future events, we need to be able to have more fluid definitions and boundaries for oversight and support.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:47 PM on March 21 [17 favorites]


growabrain: How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide

Trump has a low approval rating. He is engaging in bitter Twitter wars and facing metastasizing investigations.

But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.


The problem with statements like "past presidents have been reelected under (circumstances)" is that they're true, until they're not (XKCD).


In some better news: Judge Restores Wisconsin Governor's Powers, Strikes Down GOP Laws (Shawn Johnson for NPR, March 21, 2019)
A judge has struck down the laws Wisconsin Republicans passed in December's lame-duck session of the Legislature, restoring powers to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, if only temporarily.

A county judge ruled Thursday that all of the laws and appointments passed by legislators were unlawful because they met in what's known as an "extraordinary session," which isn't explicitly allowed under the state constitution.

Gov. Evers seized on the decision almost immediately, calling on the Wisconsin Department of Justice, led by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, to withdraw the state from a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

"As the governor has requested, please take whatever steps are necessary to remove Wisconsin from Texas v. United States," wrote Evers' chief legal counsel, Ryan Nilsestuen in an email to the Department of Justice shortly after the ruling was released.

Evers and Kaul campaigned on leaving the case, but one of the lame-duck laws has prevented them from following through on their pledge.

The ruling also temporarily struck down 82 appointments former Republican Gov. Scott Walker made during the waning days of his administration, all of which were confirmed by Republican state Senators in the lame-duck session.

If the ruling holds, those appointments would now be Evers' to make.
The "If" is whether a higher court will step in to block Evers from taking further action.
Republican leaders Rep. Robin Vos and state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald promised to appeal the ruling, saying in a statement that it ran contrary to the way the Legislature had done business for years.
May they have the same luck as Trump has had in the courts.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:52 PM on March 21 [32 favorites]


Republican leaders Rep. Robin Vos and state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald promised to appeal the ruling, saying in a statement that it ran contrary to the way the Legislature had done business for years.

I am surprised that the Dems chose the argument that they did and shocked that they won. I do not think it will stand when it gets to the state Supreme Court. In Wisconsin, the judiciary traditionally gives the legislature deference as to how they go about legislation.
posted by Jpfed at 12:58 PM on March 21


This seems like a good time to mention that there's an election on April 2 for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Wisconsin's right wing is stanning hard for extreme anti-abortion activist Brian Hagedorn, a former staff attorney to Scott Walker. His opponent, Lisa Neubauer, used to volunteer for Planned Parenthood.

Wisconsin mefites, this is a statewide election, so please show up on April 2.
posted by duffell at 1:00 PM on March 21 [51 favorites]


> Yesterday we were talking about why the supreme court won't rule on Trump's emoluments violations, and the upshot was that it's because everyone would likely see the supreme court's rulings can't be enforced. In other words, Trump's violating the constitution, but to officially declare that would be to point out that Trump's violating the constitution.

As a clarification, the issue appears to be that the federal courts may lack jurisdiction to hear the dispute in the first place. It has nothing to do with a risk that a ruling might not be enforced - it looks like the case will be dismissed because it is within the authority of Congress to address (i.e. a 'political question'). Every branch of the US government is limited to the authority granted by the US Constitution, and the separation of powers is designed to be a critical check on any branch acting in a tyrannical manner. There are many reasons to be concerned about the integrity of our democratic institutions, but this does not appear to be one of them at this time. If anything, the political question doctrine should provide reassurance that there is a democratic process available, because it appears to be an issue for Congress.

A case like Worchester v. Georgia demonstrates the limits of federal court power, but the actual reason why there was no "enforcement" of that decision is because the historically important part of the ruling was dicta, which is sardonically known as the latin term for 'bullshit,' because it refers to court discussion of issues not properly before the court on appeal and therefore not within its authority to decide. We don't know what would happen if a genocidal president actually refused to follow a US Supreme Court ruling, because that did not happen in Worchester v. Georgia and its horrific aftermath.

The argument that there are fine legal distinctions that deserve weighty consideration has worn thin.

Except these legal distinctions go to the heart of our democracy. Each branch of government is limited to the authority granted by the Constitution, and it appears that we are in a period of American history where those limits are going to matter more than ever.

We must act as if there is a question as to whether or not Trump's actions are legal, because otherwise it may become clear that they are not.

I worry about giving up on constitutional guarantees like the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, because these protections are designed for all of us. It is clear that the GOP majority in Congress took no action to check a dangerous president, and the Democrats only won back the House, and now have to contend with the GOP's ongoing control of the Senate, as well as a current DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president. It is going to be hard enough to remove Trump from office under these circumstances, but giving up our fundamental rights to get it done seems even more dangerous to our democracy.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:13 PM on March 21 [6 favorites]


Spare me from the idea that any accountability for the powerful will destroy the presumption of innocence for all time. It was the GOP's refrain during the Kavanaugh hearings and it was fallacy then, too. It elides the distinction between being accused of a crime and being convicted of one, and it also pretends that "innocent until proven guilty" means you can't form a conclusion based on all the, y'know, proof that keeps showing up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:51 PM on March 21 [15 favorites]


The argument that there are fine legal distinctions that deserve weighty consideration has worn thin.

Except these legal distinctions go to the heart of our democracy. Each branch of government is limited to the authority granted by the Constitution...


How about the DOJ policy that you can't indict the President? That seems like a good example of a fine legal distinction that we're dithering over that isn't in the Constitution.
posted by diogenes at 1:58 PM on March 21 [9 favorites]


Trump gets $2.9 million payday earlier this month from mysterious real estate buyer (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos)
Well, here's another thing for House Democrats to scrutinize: Donald Trump sold a $2.9 million Manhattan condo earlier this month to a mystery buyer for a premium price.

Forbes reports that public documents show the condo went to an entity called Koctagon LLC, with a listed address that is a New York City condo on 45th Street, which may be owned by a person named Xiu Qong Li. City records show that particular condo is owned by Smile Caribbean LLC, which until last year had an address at a property in Queens that was also partly owned by one Xiu Qong Li.

Adding to the intrigue, the purchaser paid $3,069 per square foot for the condo at Trump Parc East, more than anyone has paid for a unit there since 2016. In fact, Trump went through a dry spell of nearly two years in sales of Manhattan condos that finally ended in January with the sale of another top-dollar unit in the same building.

So who's paying premium prices for Trump real estate that no one else seems to want? It's hard to know, but Trump—and the Trump Organization he still owns—are surely happy about it. If Trump had actually divested ownership of his company, perhaps it wouldn't raise such obvious questions around corruption and quid pro quos. But he didn't, which makes every new transaction landing him millions of dollars especially suspicious.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:04 PM on March 21 [35 favorites]


according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.

538: Models Based on ‘Fundamentals’ Have Failed at Predicting Presidential Elections
"The publisher’s description for Lynn Vavreck’s excellent 2009 book, “The Message Matters,” for instance, made the following claim:

The economy is so powerful in determining the results of U.S. presidential elections that political scientists can predict winners and losers with amazing accuracy long before the campaigns start.

[. . . ]

But is it true? Can political scientists “predict winners and losers with amazing accuracy long before the campaigns start”?

The answer to this question, at least since 1992, has been emphatically not. Some of their forecasts have been better than others, but their track record as a whole is very poor.

And the models that claim to be able to predict elections based solely on the fundamentals — that is, without looking to horse-race factors like polls or approval ratings — have done especially badly."
And to be completely honest, I'm not seeing "multiple models with strong track records" in the Politico article - I'm seeing mention of two (2) that happened to get the 2016 election right and one that didn't, out of a total of three models specifically cited. And with absolutely no clarification of how good their track record is beyond that.

That's a long way from being a robust enough sample size for us to throw our hands up in despair quite yet.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:30 PM on March 21 [7 favorites]


US judge halts hundreds of drilling projects in groundbreaking climate change ruling (Cassidy Randall, The Guardian)
In a rebuke of the Trump administration’s ‘energy-first’ agenda, a judge rules greenhouse gas emissions must be considered

In the first significant check on the Trump administration’s “energy-first” agenda, a US judge has temporarily halted hundreds of drilling projects for failing to take climate change into account.

Drilling had been stalled on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Wyoming after it was ruled the Trump administration violated environmental laws by failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions. The federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages US public lands and issues leases to the energy industry, to redo its analysis.

The decision stems from an environmental lawsuit. WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center sued the BLM in 2016 for failing to calculate and limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from future oil and gas projects.

The agency “did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing”, said Rudolph Contreras, a US district judge in Washington DC, in a ruling late on Tuesday. He added that the agency “must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions” generated by past, present and future BLM leases across the country.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:31 PM on March 21 [33 favorites]


> Spare me from the idea that any accountability for the powerful will destroy the presumption of innocence for all time.

My point is essentially about how to impose that accountability, in a way that also protects our democracy. I believe that Trump has already done a lot of damage to our democratic institutions, and I'm thinking about damage control.

and it also pretends that "innocent until proven guilty" means you can't form a conclusion based on all the, y'know, proof that keeps showing up.

It's probable cause, and I am surely not trying to say that there isn't plenty available. I also believe that we're in the midst of a constitutional crisis, and I don't have clear answers about how to fix it. I am trying to express caution about things that sound like an undermining of democratic principles, including because it looks like that was the point of the apparent Russian attempts to influence our elections and our political discourse.

> How about the DOJ policy that you can't indict the President? That seems like a good example of a fine legal distinction that we're dithering over that isn't in the Constitution.

I've previously posted this: Can the President Be Indicted? A Long-Hidden Legal Memo Says Yes (NYT) and I personally don't see the US Constitution as a bar to indictment of a sitting president, which is part of why I am such a fan of every time a court or prosecutor reminds us that "no one is above the law."

Technically, I think a similar 'separation of powers' argument could be made to try to block an indictment, because we still have Congress and its ability to impeach, but I think it is much weaker than the application of the 'political question' doctrine to an Emoluments Clause lawsuit, because Congress is not a law enforcement agency and Congress does not appear to have the authority to consent to criminal activity in the way it apparently can consent to an Emoluments violation.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:39 PM on March 21 [6 favorites]


Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty to mailing explosive devices to Trump critics (WaPo)
Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man accused of mailing explosive devices to more than a dozen politicians and media figures who have been critical of President Trump, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court.

Sayoc, 57, was arrested and charged in October after a series of possible explosive devices were sent to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the news network CNN, among others. Officials said he sent a total of 16 devices to 13 people across the country.

On Thursday, Sayoc appeared in a Manhattan court room and read from a brief written statement in a quiet, raspy voice. Naming recipients of the packages, Sayoc acknowledged that he had created the devices — using materials that included powder from fireworks — and sent them in the mail.

... “I was aware of the risk they would explode.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:41 PM on March 21 [12 favorites]




Gerrymandering Kept GOP Midterm Losses to a Minimum (NBC news)

An Associated Press analysis finds that Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats in the 2018 midterms “than would have been expected based on their average share of the vote in congressional districts across the country.”

“In state House elections, Republicans’ structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats.”


Cheaters, crooks, and racists! Oh my!
posted by petebest at 2:48 PM on March 21 [25 favorites]


Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Use Private Accounts for Official Business, Their Lawyer Says (NYT):
The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information on Thursday that he said showed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private messaging services for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws.

The chairman, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said that a lawyer for Ms. Trump, President Trump’s daughter, and Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, told the committee late last year that in addition to a private email account, Mr. Kushner uses an unofficial encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp, for official White House business, including with foreign contacts.
posted by peeedro at 3:00 PM on March 21 [29 favorites]


As a clarification, the issue appears to be that the federal courts may lack jurisdiction to hear the dispute [on Emoluments] in the first place.

I understand where you're coming from, but I just don't buy it. The Supreme Court's powers do not include deciding on whether or not Trump's violations are constitutional? If true, the Supreme Court is too busy to say it? Even though there are lawsuits in front of judges that apparently don't understand this rather fundamental point either?
posted by xammerboy at 3:16 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]



But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.


How's this possible now or in 2020? If Democrats actually come out to vote next time he can't win. And I think pretty much all of them are going to come out to vote.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:24 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


Mr. Kushner uses an unofficial encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp, for official White House business, including with foreign contacts.

WhatsApp, if you're listening...
posted by banshee at 3:29 PM on March 21 [21 favorites]


Liquidwolf: How's this possible now or in 2020? If Democrats actually come out to vote next time he can't win. And I think pretty much all of them are going to come out to vote.

A fundamentals model assumes that the economy, and perhaps other factors, are always a "baseline" for turnout/enthusiasm/etc, and that little deviation from this should be expected. The high 2018 turnout alone probably refutes the premise that's where we are.

That Nate Silver article linked by soundguy99 is from all the way back in 2012, but I think it still holds. The thing about outliers like 2016 is that they sear an impression that's maybe not proportionate to their actual significance.

An easy trick to convince at least some people you're a prophet is to always predict the opposite of "expert consensus". In principle this should just make you rack up bad predictions and ruin your reputation... but from time to time the experts screw it up big, and then you get to be The One Who Was Right When Everyone Else Was Wrong. One big win is a more digestible Cassandra story than a portfolio of successful boring predictions.

Do the "fundamentals" people just reverse the other experts? No, of course not -- they're doing real work that has some merit. But my point is how easy it is for anyone to make hay from major one-off events (as we see quite a bit in convos about FiveThirtyEight, both about 2016 and back in 2012 when the common discourse was "this election proves their amazing foresight").
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:38 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


WhatsApp Facebook if you're listening. (FB bought it for $19 billion.)
posted by emelenjr at 3:42 PM on March 21 [8 favorites]




From the link:

BARTIROMO: But Mr. President, he's dead, he can't punch back. I know you punch back--
TURMP: No.
BARTIROMO: --but he's dead.
TRUMP: I don't talk about it. People ask me the question.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:26 PM on March 21 [7 favorites]


Commandant of the Marines Says Deploying Troops to the Border Poses ‘Unacceptable Risk’ (LAT via KTLA)
In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment along the border that President Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.

The border deployment and funding transfers, as well as recovery costs from hurricanes Florence and Michael, new housing allowances and civilian pay raises, are taking a toll on combat readiness, Neller wrote to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

The Times obtained copies of the memos, dated March 18 and March 19.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:43 PM on March 21 [21 favorites]


Commandant of the Marines Says Deploying Troops to the Border Poses ‘Unacceptable Risk’ (

The memos read to me like they're designed to bolster Trump's claim that it's a national security emergency.
posted by The World Famous at 5:31 PM on March 21


How's this possible now or in 2020? If Democrats actually come out to vote next time he can't win. And I think pretty much all of them are going to come out to vote.

It also depends on who ends up running against him. And what policy stances they take, or don't take. And what smears do or do not stick to them. And how many people who pulled the lever for Trump because Otherwise, It's Hillary will accept whoever runs next year as a better alternative. And how many of Trump's faithful will remain faithful. And how the media -- mainstream and Mirror Universe, weighed separately -- will report on all aspects of the contest, the nominee and the horserace mentality. And what, if anything, Mueller's team has released and successfully gotten into the public eye by that point. And if the Senate, the courts or the general public care about that. And who we may or may not be at war with at the time. And many, many other considerations.

At this point, the only thing we know for sure about the 2020 election is that we do not know a goddamned thing yet.
posted by delfin at 5:40 PM on March 21 [13 favorites]


I think we know it's a lot closer than it should be. I guess that's how I'm feeling in regards to things like the emoluments violations, etc. This stuff seems a lot more complicated than it should be. I'm sure there are good arguments and reasons, but on the whole it just seems like Trump should have been impeached and his support dried up a long time ago. It's inconceivable to me that he's running again with a real chance of winning.
posted by xammerboy at 6:06 PM on March 21 [8 favorites]


That Nate Silver article linked by soundguy99 is from all the way back in 2012, but I think it still holds. The thing about outliers like 2016 is that they sear an impression that's maybe not proportionate to their actual significance.

2020 won't be a "normal" election either. There will never be another election where Repulbicans respect the democratic process. They do not believe in it. Full stop. They will try to steal every election from now until eternity. They're going to do it again. They're going to cheat again. They're going to ask for, and receive, Putin's help, again. This time they're going to have the full weight of the Federal government behind them, including a bought and paid for Supreme Court majority. We don't have "models" for elections weighted by direct foreign interference and Republican subversion of the democratic process. All models based on past results are tire fires.

2020 will be another "outlier", because it won't be free, or fair. We already know this. There's zero point in looking at polls, or past results that presume any semblance of small-d democratic values or equality. Polls have no predictive value whatsoever where there's no presumption of fair process, and that's American "democracy" now and going forward.

The only way to win is overwhelming numerical supremacy, such that it overwhelms their ability to subvert and steal. If it's a close election, they will steal it. If it's in dispute, their Supreme Court picks will award it to Trump. We're going to need to win by 4, 7, 10 points, beyond the margin of ratfuckery.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:48 PM on March 21 [93 favorites]


CNN: The American Bar Association says US immigration courts are 'on the brink of collapse'
The American Bar Association is proposing a major overhaul of the US immigration system, calling the courts that decide whether to deport immigrants "irredeemably dysfunctional."

"The immigration courts are facing an existential crisis," the association says in a report released Wednesday {PDF}. "The current system is irredeemably dysfunctional and on the brink of collapse."

The only way to fix "serious systemic issues," the report argues, is to create what's known as an Article I court. Akin to tax or bankruptcy courts, this would be a court that's independent from the Justice Department.[…]

The report also alleges that judicial independence has been called into question "with a resurgence of alleged politicized hiring and the adoption of policies that arguably undermine immigration judges' ability to perform their role as a neutral arbitrator of fact and law."
The US immigration courts have a backlog of over 800,000 cases at this time.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:36 PM on March 21 [34 favorites]


But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models with strong track records of picking presidential winners and losses.

Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown clickbait.
posted by Slothrup at 7:38 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]




Trump should have been impeached and his support dried up a long time ago. It's inconceivable to me that he's running again with a real chance of winning.

This, so this. We can allow that a republican led congress actively held back all investigations for two years, so we can say hey let's get the fire started and so on, but then "No Impeachment, don't think he's worth it", which, gotta wash that media reading jacket like 20 times to get the stink off it. And this "White House" strategy of just blatantly thumbing their noses at committee requests for information - I think that this is not so much a "politics is broken" thing as much as this is a "this *isn't* politics" thing. These guys are seriously mob connected, just not mobsters we're famliar with. These are CEO, luxury yacht, 8 billion in liquid, etc.

One of the big "red yarn figures" I want to see is the connection between Fox News, NRA, and whatever "magnificient" oligarch is assigned to drug them, compromise them, and then push in the demands. A lot of the Russia gate story is being performed by people who are absolutely in the mob, but they're not going to shakedown a local proprietor; they're selling weapons and oil and humans trafficking all day every day. Those are Trumps people. They are not government people, but they do have a very big rolodex, should they need one.
posted by petebest at 8:02 PM on March 21 [19 favorites]


“How I left the alt-right”

And how'd his radicalization start? "Then this youtube video popped up." Another algorithm casualty.

Of course that video was Stefan Molyneux, the "Great Replacement" popularizer who still puts out content every single day. There's going to be more blood on Stefan's hands.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:14 PM on March 21 [14 favorites]


Bloomberg notes that we're seeing lots of ideas that were seen as pretty non-mainstream - court packing, abolishing the Electoral college, DC statehood, killing the filibuster - being touted by multiple Dem presidential candidates.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 PM on March 21 [27 favorites]


Pentagon plan to fund Trump’s wall could hit Puerto Rico, European allies hard (WaPo)
The Trump administration plans to take up to $3.6 billion, or 83 percent, for the wall, meaning most of the projects on the shorter list face could be defunded. Puerto Rico is the most affected U.S. territory or state, with 10 projects at a value of $403 million on the smaller list, according to The Post’s analysis. The projects in Puerto Rico that would potentially have their funding taken away include the construction of a school for military children on what was once Ramey Air Force base and improvements to Camp Santiago, a training facility operated by the Puerto Rico National Guard.

Also on the most-vulnerable list is some $745 million worth of projects for the European Deterrence Initiative and its predecessor program. President Barack Obama launched the program in 2014 to shore up the defenses of European allies after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Aides struggle to see strategy in Trump’s Conway, McCain fights (Politico)
As the lurid disputes dominated cable news for several more hours, it was unclear whether Trump had any strategy in mind. Some people close to Trump speculated that he might be consciously trying to remake the news environment — creating a bizarre spectacle to displace criticism of his tepid response to the massacre of dozens of Muslims in New Zealand, the timing of the administration’s decision to ground Boeing’s 737 Max jets, and frenzied anticipation around the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:07 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


but then "No Impeachment, don't think he's worth it"

I saw on CNN or MSNBC today the first actual explanation that makes sense for Pelosi's comment. One of the panelists said that he's been told by people who are in a position to know that Pelosi and the Dem leadership believe that if they impeach Trump and he isn't convicted in the Senate that they guarantee his re-election in 2020. So, to them, there is no scenario following a vote to convict in the House besides either bipartisan conviction or Trump in office until 2024 which they rightly see as the worst case scenario.

We can disagree with that analysis and, frankly, I think they are probably overreacting to what they saw happen when Clinton was impeached for bullshit reasons in the 90s but it at least puts forward a rational basis for Pelosi's comment when before I was just like "what the fuck is she thinking".
posted by Justinian at 9:17 PM on March 21 [14 favorites]


> I think that this is not so much a "politics is broken" thing as much as this is a "this *isn't* politics" thing.

And the Mueller report should be made public due to this overwhelming law-enforcement need (ABC News)
If Mueller follows the guidance of the man who appointed him and supervised his investigation, he cannot publicly disparage those who have not been charged with a crime.

Rosenstein is emphatic on this point: "In fact, disclosing uncharged allegations against American citizens without a law-enforcement need is considered to be a violation of a prosecutor's trust."
posted by Little Dawn at 9:36 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


if they impeach Trump and he isn't convicted in the Senate that they guarantee his re-election in 2020.

I agree with this. It would not only mobilize his base, it would also look like a final "no" answer to the "is he a criminal?" question that the politically uninformed center was pondering.

I've also been worried for some time about this less-likely scenario:

1. Dem house impeaches Trump.
2. He IS convicted in the senate.
3. Trump leaves office, Pence becomes President, wins 2020 in a landslide on the "Republicans are the ones who solved the Trump problem" platform.

I think Impeachment is a gun aimed at a bear. Unless you're absolutely sure you have enough power to bring down the bear, best not pull the trigger.
posted by mmoncur at 9:37 PM on March 21 [16 favorites]


Why the Democratic leadership continues to think the Trump investigation is more like previous bullshit failed investigations of Democrats (Lewinsky, Benghazi) than like substantive, successful investigations of Republicans (Watergate, Iran-Contra) continues to baffle me. But I guess sticking with my current hobby-horse -- that we really can't predict anything -- then if an impeachment-scale investigation is only somewhat more likely to succeed than to backfire (not measured by conviction but by presidential approval post-investigation) then I guess the safest strategy is to avoid the chance of backfire even if success is more likely overall. If they're already assuming Democrats are likely to win in 2020, there's not much electoral advantage to a successful approval-decreasing investigation, whereas there's a definite electoral disadvantage to a backfiring, approval-increasing investigation. So best to play it safe, I guess is their reasoning. (Though I don't personally agree, on both moral and strategic grounds.)
posted by chortly at 9:38 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


substantive, successful investigations of Republicans (Watergate, Iran-Contra)

I mean, I agree, but I don't? One of the worst things in American governance is Ford pardoning Nixon for Watergate. If he'd gone to federal prison it might have dissuaded his Republican successors from breaking the law.

Reagan and Bush both should've been impeached and removed from office, possibly imprisoned, for Iran-Contra, but Bush skated and pardoned everyone.

How we let that shit slide and impeached Clinton for lying about an affair I don't know.

there's not much electoral advantage to a successful approval-decreasing investigation, whereas there's a definite electoral disadvantage to a backfiring, approval-increasing investigation

The Democrats don't need to conduct an Impeachment Investigation. Several committees are already investigating the president's malfeasance. All they need to do is say, "Holy shit! Look at all these crimes! Impeach the motherfucker!"

And all Pelosi's saying is that it's premature to say let's impeach until we get to that point. She said she opposes impeachment "unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan."

We're not there yet. But if we do get there, the Democrats will impeach Trump.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:47 PM on March 21 [15 favorites]


AOC responding to CNN report that Kushner was using WhatsApp to communicate government business...
posted by growabrain at 9:50 PM on March 21 [34 favorites]


Won’t impeachment proceedings like, expose Trumps long list of crimes? I thought that was one of the arguments for impeachment even though removal from office is unlikely.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:42 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


His crimes have already been exposed and it hasn't seemed to affect his support. Impeachment is a huge risk.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:45 PM on March 21 [15 favorites]


Democratic Socialists of America back Bernie: 'The best chance to beat Trump'
The Democratic Socialists of America has officially endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, with the organization throwing its growing political clout behind the Vermont senator ahead of the 2020 election.

The DSA’s National Political Committee leadership team voted to back Sanders during a meeting on Thursday night, after the rank-and-file membership had earlier overwhelmingly pledged their support.

The backing of the DSA will provide a further fillip to Sanders, who quickly outraised most of his rivals for the Democratic nomination. The DSA endorsed Sanders in 2016 and helped the leftwing candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib win long-shot elections to Congress in 2018.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:34 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


It’s amazing to watch this whole American way of life being dismantled in front of our eyes
posted by growabrain at 11:40 PM on March 21 [23 favorites]


the real question is if this is paper or what, if any, resources should be allocated to national electoral given that there's already an existing vibrant, well-funded electoral campaign.

This comes down to the convention in Atlanta and I know where I stand. (All power to the locals! Build socialism in your community!)

I'm going to be spending the rest of my life on the phone in a light blue suit saying "No the Caucus doesn't agree with that" aren't I?
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]




As I see it, the Sanders campaign is a fine opportunity for DSA members to join other organizations like Our Revolution and PDA and agitate for real socialist organizing from within those groups. Having DSA run its own parallel electoral campaign seems redundant and likely to siphon energy away from other important work.
posted by contraption at 12:02 AM on March 22 [8 favorites]


His crimes have already been exposed and it hasn't seemed to affect his support. Impeachment is a huge risk.

I think back to the NY Times story on the Trump family finances. They were so proud of themselves they made a documentary about it as they were writing about it.

No one cared.
posted by armacy at 3:59 AM on March 22 [21 favorites]


No one cared.

I think by then (late 2018), we were so far into full-blown stage four outrage fatigue it was like hearing about a documentary claiming John Gotti was involved in criminal activity.
posted by Rykey at 4:11 AM on March 22 [11 favorites]


Here at MeFi, we have a tendency to think of most voters as being like ourselves: curious news hounds who inform ourselves about the issues of the day. Pelosi knows which voters swing elections: poorly informed people who've kind of heard a thing about some stuff. There are lots of people who voted for Trump because he was a big-shot on TV (that reality show none of US watched, but plenty of other people did). I think her calculus on impeachment, while crushingly depressing, is correct.
posted by rikschell at 4:42 AM on March 22 [70 favorites]


Trump claims of McCain, "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. I didn't get a thank you."

CNN’s Jim Acosta: "According to the Washington National Cathedral, this is false: “Only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials. No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official.”"

CNN: GOP Struggles to Respond to Trump's Attacks on McCain. “Speaking anonymously, an aide to a Republican senator up for re-election in 2020 explained the dilemma many GOP senators face. Should they weigh in and criticize Trump, something that could draw his wrath, or let the news cycle pass without their fingerprints? This senator decided to stay mum after determining it was not worth inflaming GOP voters at home.”

Seen from that angle, Trump’s attacks on McCain look like another of his dominance ploys. By attacking a revered former colleague without repercussions, he’s paying them back for their vote against his national emergency. It’s a warning sign of his profoundly insecure narcissism, but his anti-establishment base is too busy revelling in how he makes the GOP senators squirm to notice.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:55 AM on March 22 [27 favorites]


Sure, Trump's a narcissist but, crucially, he's an unrequited narcissist. And that's the most dangerous kind.
posted by M-x shell at 5:13 AM on March 22 [14 favorites]


Why the Democratic leadership continues to think the Trump investigation is more like previous bullshit failed investigations of Democrats (Lewinsky, Benghazi) than like substantive, successful investigations of Republicans (Watergate, Iran-Contra) continues to baffle me.

Because it's like playing baseball where the umpires are openly wearing the uniform of the other team.

If impeachment happened in a vacuum -- where the investigators and Dems could present their case to an impartial jury, the GOP could defend Trump and Team Trump's actions, and a verdict would be reached -- the political calculus involved might be very different. The Benghazi hearings, as a counterexample, were a series of complete circuses because they were explicitly partisan. The Democrats who participated might as well have read aloud from the phone book, because nothing they had to say mattered to the Jim Jordans of the world who were solely interested in their own nakedly partisan agenda.

A successful impeachment will require the support of every Democratic Senator and double-digit support among Republican Senators. The Democrats know that reaching even a simple majority to convict in the current Senate, let alone the required two-thirds majority would be miraculous. The backlash of an unsuccessful impeachment attempt could be severe. Therefore, the only reason to hold such a hearing would be in the belief that getting the information and evidence out there is that self-sacrificingly important, because what would be revealed will motivate a sufficient percentage of the American viewing public to demand meaningful action in unignorable numbers.

And I'm not sure that anything on this planet could make that happen.
posted by delfin at 6:39 AM on March 22 [23 favorites]


His crimes have already been exposed and it hasn't seemed to affect his support. Impeachment is a huge risk.

As mentioned before, most of the public isn't following this nearly at all, much less as closely as those of us here. There's a huge difference between even the NYT doing a giant investigative piece and those actual criminals standing up in a congressional hearing pleading the 5th. I strongly believe, even considering the multiple good explanations for why impeachment isn't a good strategical move yet, that it is in fact worth pursuing solely because it is the duty of our representatives to get these things out into the public sphere, undeniable and in your face, rather than buried in multiple news articles everywhere.

We need criminal investigations to follow ASAP, at all the levels of this conspiracy, for all the layers of this administration. These are urgent national security threats of a very real, concrete nature, and they need to be treated as such by our public representatives. I'm glad to see all the current committee work on these matters, but it needs to scale up dramatically.
posted by odinsdream at 6:57 AM on March 22 [17 favorites]


Your morning dose of elections with consequences: Gov. Tony Evers withdraws Wisconsin from ACA lawsuit:
Gov. Tony Evers is pulling Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act after a judge blocked lame-duck laws prohibiting him from withdrawing the state from legal actions.
State and local elections make a huge difference. We may or may not be able to get Trump impeached, but we can definitely run and vote for Democrats on the state and local level, which will make a huge difference to their residents and shield them from the worst of federal excesses.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:58 AM on March 22 [68 favorites]


The backlash of an unsuccessful impeachment attempt could be severe. Therefore, the only reason to hold such a hearing would be in the belief that getting the information and evidence out there is that self-sacrificingly important, because what would be revealed will motivate a sufficient percentage of the American viewing public to demand meaningful action in unignorable numbers.

I suspect there’s also consideration by Democratic leadership of the very real possibility that any actual impeachment proceedings would trigger a not-insubstantial part of his base to take things into their own hands, and do so rather violently.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:01 AM on March 22


Little Dawn: Aides struggle to see strategy in Trump’s Conway, McCain fights

That was my snarky first-take, but isn't it pretty clear that his strategy is to control the narrative? That's how he won the election, and how he keeps losing court cases and members of his administration but his base still thinks he's winning.

Doktor Zed: “Speaking anonymously, an aide to a Republican senator up for re-election in 2020 explained the dilemma many GOP senators face. Should they weigh in and criticize Trump, something that could draw his wrath, or let the news cycle pass without their fingerprints? This senator decided to stay mum after determining it was not worth inflaming GOP voters at home.”

Seen from that angle, Trump’s attacks on McCain look like another of his dominance ploys. By attacking a revered former colleague without repercussions, he’s paying them back for their vote against his national emergency. It’s a warning sign of his profoundly insecure narcissism, but his anti-establishment base is too busy revelling in how he makes the GOP senators squirm to notice.


Aand then there's this. Trump is seeming to be more crazy like a fox than plain old crazy. I mean, his rambling speeches indicate that he's not 100% on top of things, but there's schroedinger's comment:

Regarding dementia: dementia manifests in fits and starts. You don't just wake up one day unable to function. In the early stages you can be perfectly capable of a string of days of functionality before having an episode. He could both have dementia and still have moments of control.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:06 AM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Calling all grifters: Federal Court Ruling May Open The Door To More 'Scam PACs' (Jessica Taylor for March 21, 2019)
he world of political fundraising is about to get a lot more complicated and confusing thanks to a federal court ruling that could lead to the rise of more groups that seek to raise money off of a candidate's name, even if the group has nothing to do with that candidate.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan struck down the Federal Election Commission's rules that prohibited unauthorized political committees from using a candidate's name.

Chutkan wrote (opinion, PDF) that that while the FEC's regulation prohibiting candidate names to be used is meant to prevent "confusion in the voting process," the rule violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The case stemmed from a challenge by Pursuing America's Greatness, a super PAC that supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2016 presidential campaign. The FEC tried to order the group to not use Huckabee's name on its website and on social media.
I have a number of conflicted thoughts on this, but mostly that it's going to make for a much noisier election cycle. And I'm not hoping for any changes in the laws with the current crop of grifters.

Which made me think about progressive candidates who are pushing the Dems left: the GOP is running on short-term personal gains under the guise of "smaller government for better businesses" (and often means big businesses who are in positions to donate to political campaigns), where the Democrats, particularly the progressive Democrats, are looking to bring broad improvements for the general public, and particularly the most in need of support and relief.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:24 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


I suspect there’s also consideration by Democratic leadership of the very real possibility that any actual impeachment proceedings would trigger a not-insubstantial part of his base to take things into their own hands, and do so rather violently.

We can't let that influence our decision.

(1) I suspect a large number of the militias would not actually take that step.
(2) For those that would, they will expose themselves and be dealt with.
(3) Lives may be lost, but we should never bow to terrorism or extortion.
posted by M-x shell at 7:24 AM on March 22 [39 favorites]


Turn in your smartphones! How Mueller kept a lid on Trump-Russia probe (Karen Freifeld, Nathan Layne; Reuters)
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:57 AM on March 22 [4 favorites]


A problem with bringing Trump to justice is that while his base is a minority, it is a fanatically rabid minority. At least in my lifetime, we've never had a President who so brazenly cultivated a cult of personality. Trump's followers don't care that he's done illegal things. On the contrary, they take pride in his breaking laws and getting away with it because it shows that he's strong, and if he's strong, then they are strong. They will never support impeachment because to them it's a loser's attempt to punish the winner for "winning." I don't see that changing at all unless he himself self-destructs.

But I think it's a bit premature to predict with any level of certainty all these nightmarish doomsday scenarios if impeachment were to come to pass. Sometimes it feels like people are morbidly excited by the prospect of civil war or suspended elections.
posted by xigxag at 8:04 AM on March 22 [10 favorites]


Turn in your smartphones! How Mueller kept a lid on Trump-Russia probe (Karen Freifeld, Nathan Layne; Reuters)

From that article:

"Mueller is widely expected to conclude his work anytime and send a report to the U.S. attorney general"

So we've gone from "Mueller expected to wrap up soon" to "Mueller expected to wrap up." Well yes. Yes at some point, either the heat death of the universe, or the next 5 minutes, I do expect him to finish up.

I'm not trying to just make a hot take here, and I've harked on this before but.... Every time you see a "Mueller report expected to wrap up soon" replace it with the more factual, "Eventually Mueller will be finished"
posted by Twain Device at 8:08 AM on March 22 [11 favorites]


Schools in Charlottesville, VA have been closed yesterday and today because of a threat of violence against black and Hispanic students posted online. We're used to losing a few school days a year because of snow, but now, right wing terrorist threats? We need to elect a Democrat to the White House as soon as possible who will appoint an Attorney General who will go investigate and go after these #%#^@%*#@#$%^&*!#@#$%^&*%#^@%*#@!%...

(I live in Charlottesville, and my house-mate has kids in school here.)
posted by nangar at 8:21 AM on March 22 [55 favorites]


Politico, Rick Reilly, Trump’s Caddy Will Put You in a Chokehold If You Criticize His Boss, an excerpt from Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, in which the President hits himself in the head and accuses his caddy of whacking him:
A.J. sticks with Trump no matter how much it costs him. “I used to caddy for a lot of the ladies here, sir,” he says, meaning the female members of the club. “But once Mr. Trump won the election, that all ended. Now I hardly do it at all, sir. I guess they don’t like him. I’m the president’s caddy and they’re not gonna ask for me, sir. So that’s it.”

One time, after a bad drive, Trump slammed his driver back in his bag, as guys will do, and wasn’t really watching what he was doing, and the driver ricocheted back and hit Trump in the head. “A.J.?” Trump asked, pissed. “Did you just hit me in the head with my own driver?”

“Sir, Mr. Trump, why would I do that?” A.J. said. “You’re my president!”
posted by zachlipton at 8:30 AM on March 22 [8 favorites]


As mentioned before, most of the public isn't following this nearly at all, much less as closely as those of us here.

Yep. Which is also why I don't think the messaging The Card Cheat suggests upthread would be terribly effective: a large number of would-be swing voters under 40 don't seem to be familiar with the term "fascism." (Not specifically criticizing your comment, Card Cheat. I've just had a number of conversations with younger people where my use of the term is met with a blank look until I explain what I mean).
posted by Rykey at 8:34 AM on March 22 [7 favorites]


We can't let that influence our decision.

(1) I suspect a large number of the militias would not actually take that step.
(2) For those that would, they will expose themselves and be dealt with.
(3) Lives may be lost, but we should never bow to terrorism or extortion.


History is not on your side. America has capitulated to almost every single instance of right wing terror except the civil war.
posted by srboisvert at 8:49 AM on March 22 [6 favorites]


Turn in your smartphones! How Mueller kept a lid on Trump-Russia probe

I realize that reporters don't write their own headlines - but this is a terribly misleading headline. It makes it seem that Mueller's extraordinary confidentially has to do with rules like confiscating phones, while that is a trivial part of it.

Mueller's office is a designated SCIF, Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, because they are routinely dealing with national security information. It is standard procedure that everyone surrenders their phones when they enter a SCIF so that shouldn't be news.

The real key is not simple phone rules. It is the integrity of Mueller and the integrity of the people he has selected to work with him. They don't leak, not because they don't have phones, but because it is the right thing to do.

Kenneth Starr and his crew in the Whitewater investigation routinely illegally leaked selective bits of secret grand jury proceedings to manipulate public relations in a blatantly political manner. Mueller's team does not. That should be the headline, not trivialities about phones.
posted by JackFlash at 8:52 AM on March 22 [71 favorites]


Re New SuperPAC rules. Let the trump brand poaching begin. I mean, is it ethically wrong to fleece the MAGA crowd? Asking for everyone.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:52 AM on March 22 [13 favorites]


Sure, Trump's a narcissist but, crucially, he's an unrequited narcissist. And that's the most dangerous kind.

Can Trump Survive Mueller? (Politico)
“He has very poor coping mechanisms when he is criticized or when he feels humiliated,” Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist from Yale and the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the second edition of which is out this month, told me, “and at these points he generally goes into attack mode and he threatens others or tries to get revenge. The Mueller report is of a scale that is probably unlike what we have seen him undergo before.”

Worst-case scenario? “Obliterate observing eyes of his humiliation,” Lee said. Meaning? “Destroying the world. That, very quickly, becomes an avenue, a perceived solution … for individuals with his personality structure.” [...]

Those who believe in the power of Trump’s survival skills to protect him from even this unprecedented threat draw an analogy between the Republican Party—its members of Congress and especially the Senate—and the institutions that have enabled him in the past.

“The banks were heavily invested in Trump, and they couldn’t have him go down,” former Trump campaign staffer Sam Nunberg told me, “and the Republican Party can’t have him go down.” “I think he believes that the presidency is too big to fail, too powerful to be taken down,” O’Donnell added. “And I think that this is kind of something that he learned in the ‘90s, where the banks basically said to him, ‘You’re too big to fail, we have to back you.’ And they did it, time and time again, in Atlantic City.”

To be determined in the coming weeks and months: how well those lessons will hold up. [...]

Those who predict Trump will ultimately fall don’t disagree that he has benefited from well-placed safety nets before. This time is different, they insist, because his high-wire act is being performed at unprecedented heights. [...]

Bandy Lee is worried. The forensic psychiatrist from Yale has studied thousands of people with the mental disorders she perceives Trump has. Their behavior, untreated, had predictable and unpleasant results. She foresees a similar unraveling for Trump, albeit with a wild card she has never encountered in any of her patients: the awesome power of the commander in chief. “Under stress, we can see the limits of one’s ability to cope, and we can see that the president has reached his limits fairly rapidly, in terms of not being able to sit with the advancing special counsel’s investigation. You can see there is a heightening of activity and creation of crises, distractions, if you will, in order to distract both themselves as well as the public away from the bad news he is continuing to receive,” Lee said.

“He has very poor coping mechanisms when he is criticized or when he feels humiliated,” she continued, “and at these points, he generally goes into attack mode, and he threatens others or tries to get revenge.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:54 AM on March 22 [12 favorites]


The DCCC warned political strategists and vendors Thursday night that if they support candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats, the party will cut them off from business.

Coercive measures to prevent any and all primaries seem like yet another fantastic way to alienate your base but you do you, Democratic Party.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:03 AM on March 22 [25 favorites]


Somehow not covered in the prior thread (at least by name): Trump signs largest wilderness protection bill in a decade -- New law protects 375,000 acres of wilderness in California desert, expands Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks (Paul Rogers for Mercury News / Bay Area News Group, March 12, 2019)
Capping a rare bi-partisan effort in Congress, President Trump on Tuesday signed into law the largest wilderness preservation bill in a decade, a measure that includes new protections for California’s Mojave desert.

The new law, which passed the U.S. Senate last month by a vote of 92-8, designates 1.3 million acres of federal land in California, Oregon, Utah and New Mexico as wilderness, the highest level of protection, in which logging, oil drilling, mining and road-building are banned.

Among its provisions, the measure establishes 375,000 acres of new wilderness — an area nearly 13 times the size of San Francisco — in the Mojave Desert, most of it on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The legislation also enlarges Death Valley National Park by 35,929 acres and Joshua Tree National Park by 4,518 acres, and creates a new national monument in Los Angeles County as a memorial to 431 people killed when the St. Francis Dam collapsed in 1928 near Santa Clarita.

The White House did not issue a news release or remarks from Trump after he signed the bill, which also passed the House 362-63, enough to override a potential veto.

But Geary Hund, executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, said, “”This legislation is a huge win for conservation.”

He added, “It ensures that some of the most important natural and cultural resources in the Mojave Desert will be protected and connected in perpetuity.”
The bill in question is the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, in memory of John David Dingell Jr. (July 8, 1926 – February 7, 2019), who was a member of the Democratic Party, and he holds the record for longest-ever serving Congressperson in American history, representing Michigan for more than 59 years.

Emphasis mine -- because of course this is a monumental thing, something bigger than anything Obama did, that Trump does NOT mention repeatedly. But it's because it's not really his thing -- it's something of the people, in so far that a supermajority in both the House and Senate passed it, and they could override his veto.

Here's the Wikipedia article on the omnibus bill, which is broken into three main sections, Land Exchanges And Conveyances, Public Land And National Forest System Management, and Wilderness Designations And Withdrawals, and includes forty-five unique sections.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:04 AM on March 22 [44 favorites]


Unless you're absolutely sure you have enough power to bring down the bear, best not pull the trigger.

Maybe if we're nice to him, the bear will just leave.
posted by banshee at 9:06 AM on March 22 [14 favorites]


The Republicans impeached but did not convict Clinton in 1998. Two years later, they won the presidency, and we've been suffering the consequences ever since.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:11 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


There are lots of good things in that public lands bill, but one of the best is the Land and Water Conservation Fund is now permanently funded.
posted by edeezy at 9:14 AM on March 22 [24 favorites]


Emphasis mine -- because of course this is a monumental thing, something bigger than anything Obama did, that Trump does NOT mention repeatedly. But it's because it's not really his thing -- it's something of the people, in so far that a supermajority in both the House and Senate passed it, and they could override his veto.

Well, and it's fundamentally antithetical to all of his personal interests. He doesn't care about wilderness, he doesn't care about stewardship of the public lands, he doesn't care about protecting national parks or educating people about American history, he doesn't care about giving 4th graders free access to the public lands in perpetuity.

He wants to expand private-sector exploitation of the public lands, and this act expressly counters that. None of his wealthy buddies benefits personally from this act. And it's named after John Dingell.

I'm sure he loathes it, and has refused to take credit for it, which shows what a terrible politician he is. A smart politician would glom onto this as evidence that he's clearly not anti-environmental.
posted by suelac at 9:17 AM on March 22 [28 favorites]


The mostly-defunct Village Voice digs into its archives and finds a story from 1993: Rudy’s Long History of Quashing Trump Probes.
Tony Lombardi, the G-man who thought the G in his unofficial government title stood for Giuliani, single-handedly contducted a low-profile probe of Donald Trump in early 1988, closing it despite evidence of fraud and an informant who said he could implicate the supposed billionaire. The quick shutdown of this mysterious inquiry — which Lombardi concedes was never given a case number in Southern District files, or assigned to any assistant U.S. attorney, but which reportedly was known to then U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani — launched a personal relationship between the agent and his subject Trump. It may also have helped create a political alliance between Lombardi’s ambitious boss and the developer who was, at the time, both the city’s biggest political donor, and most outspoken critic of incumbent Ed Koch.

Within a few weeks of Lombardi’s two face-to-face, hour-long interviews with Trump about his alleged involvement in the suspect sale of two Trump Tower apartments to the mob-connected operator of the city’s largest illegal gambling operation, the developer announced in May 1988 news stories that he could raise $2 million in a half hour if the then U.S. Attorney decided to run for mayor. Trump ultimately did become of the the co-chairs of Giuliani’s first fundraisers, sitting on the dais of his May 1989 extravaganza at the Waldorf (he, his family, and his staff raised and gave at least $41,000 to the campaign.)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:20 AM on March 22 [13 favorites]


I think we mostly all agree there will never (barring unforeseen bombshells) be a Senate conviction. The pragmatic debate isn't about whether he will be removed from office, but about what the effects on his approval and reelection numbers will be in the scenario of impeachment trials in the House and Senate, vs just the existing array of committee-level investigations. As I've argued before, Democrats seem to overgeneralize from Clinton not just in assuming that that is the most likely outcome here, but even in generating the very idea of "backfire." Historically, investigations rarely "backfire" regardless of outcome: they damage the approval of their targets, whether or not they are indicted or convicted in the end, although that approval damage (as in Iran-Contra) may not last forever. And even Clinton is arguably not an example of backfiring: first, because his approval merely continued the grand trend upward experienced throughout the economic boom of the 90s, and second, because the Republicans did in fact win in the next election.

But regardless of the probabilities one assigns to these outcomes, there's no question that Democrats are once again adopting the most conservative, risk-averse strategy available. Best not to fire at the bear if you're not absolutely sure, which is the usual Democratic logic: don't try anything high-risk/high-reward, because what if it fails? And this makes sense when you are already ahead in the race: don't do anything to louse it up. That seems to be the logic of Pelosi and many others: 2020 is looking good, so don't risk lousing it up. This is also, in a way, the logic of incrementalist politics: whatever the local dips, the country is gradually improving across the centuries, so better to stick to the slow, low-risk path of incremental improvement than higher-risk grand policies that are more likely to fail or backfire.

But if you don't think 2020 is in the bag and things are basically going ok, you have to start taking risks. You don't win at poker by betting a nickel for every hand you get. Some things have to be gambled on if you want to get ahead after falling behind -- high risk, high-reward, potentially high downsides. Maybe despite the historical arguments you think there's too much downside risk to an impeachment trial relative to the upside benefits, or you think there's too much failure/backfire/cost downsides to the Green New Deal or Medicare for All or free college or whatever. But unless you are really, really sure 2020 is in the bag, some (judicious) risks have to be taken, otherwise we go into the next election with a pretty high likelihood the incumbent will win reelection just like they usually do, and if we do win, we spend the next eight years getting very little done, at which point an even worse Republican takes us two steps back.
posted by chortly at 9:41 AM on March 22 [7 favorites]


The Republicans impeached but did not convict Clinton in 1998. Two years later, they won the presidency, and we've been suffering the consequences ever since.
Except they stole the presidency. And the Dems refused to call them on that violation, and so refused to fight the good fight. That's where the consequences follow. Not fighting again is just asking for more.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:42 AM on March 22 [54 favorites]


Coercive measures to prevent any and all primaries seem like yet another fantastic way to alienate your base but you do you, Democratic Party.

The DCCC is not the Democratic Party. The DCCC is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It is a campaign committee set up and run by incumbent congress members to re-elect incumbent congress members. All the money in the committee is money raised and contributed by incumbent congress members. Why would incumbent congress members raise money to support their opponents? Would you expect Bernie Sanders to raise money for Joe Biden in the primary?

The DCCC is not the Democratic Party. The DCCC is not the DNC.
posted by JackFlash at 9:44 AM on March 22 [59 favorites]


In case DACA matters have fallen too far off the radar, here's one ongoing awful example: Airline Assured Flight Attendant She’d Be Safe to Fly to Mexico. When She Returned, ICE Detained Her.

Selene Saavedra Roman is 28 and has lived in the US since she was 3. She's got an American college degree, married an American citizen, has a SSN and pays taxes and is halfway through her citizenship process. She's been in ICE detention for a month and a half because her employer assured her she was safe to fly to Mexico for work on her passport.

There's a MoveOn petition for her release, for what it's worth.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:46 AM on March 22 [46 favorites]


I agree, Harry Caul. I believe the Brooks Brother Riot was the crossing of the Rubicon.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:55 AM on March 22 [13 favorites]


. Why would incumbent congress members raise money to support their opponents? Would you expect Bernie Sanders to raise money for Joe Biden in the primary?

This is wrong. The DCCC is an organ of the official Democratic party. It says right on the website: "the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives" and "the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way to fortify and expand our new Democratic Majority". Their official pupose is definitively not " to re-elect incumbent congress members", it's to elect more Democrats.

On top of that, what they're doing is not "rais[ing] money to support their opponents", they're telling election vendors that they will cut them off from all business with the party if they work with primary challengers. That's fundamentally anti-democratic. It's exactly what progressive accuse them of being. They're proving the Jill Stein deadenders and the worst Bernie Bros right, that they're much more worried about holding down progressive voices in the party than actually beating Republicans.

Primaries are democracy. If you're against primary challengers, you are anti-democracy. This is exactly what we mean when we say we need better Democrats. All of these people must go.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:26 AM on March 22 [36 favorites]


This is really, really strange.

@realDonaldTrump: It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!

Most Presidents would be afraid of looking incompetent if they proudly announce reversing their own government after they presumably saw what it did on TV, but yet here we are.

@ajmount: Over and over officials and optimists explain to me that negotiations policy is rational, unified, coordinated, managed by experts, that DPRK could never divide the government or the alliance, that the president effectively exerts leverage. Somehow I'm still not convinced. The Trump administration has applied "large scale" sanctions in the past to reduce the regime's currency intake and suppress its economy. Yesterday, OFAC simply designated two shipping companies based in China that helped evade existing sanctions. Where did Trump get the idea that these sanctions are "large scale" and must go? It's highly unlikely that it came from one of his advisors. Was there a communication from Pyongyang? If so, it implies an astonishing degree of deference and risk aversion. The message this sends is unmistakable. After refusing to consider sanctions relief at Hanoi, Trump volunteers to loosen enforcement in order to preserve the talks after facing coercive pressure at Sohae. It shovels leverage to other side, assuring them their tactics could work.
posted by zachlipton at 10:48 AM on March 22 [24 favorites]


I'm sure the Press Secretary's statement will clarify why the heck he would do such a—oh

@Bencjacobs: Per pool reporter @AndrewRestuccia, Sarah Sanders passes along the following comment "On North Korea Sanctions: “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
posted by zachlipton at 10:50 AM on March 22 [18 favorites]


It says right on the website: "the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives"

IN the House. And only in the House.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:50 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


The DCCC is an organ of the official Democratic party.

No it isn't. You quoted it right there - "the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives." It represents Democratic members in congress, not their primary opponents. It is setup by Democratic incumbents, not the party, it is run by Democratic incumbents, not the party, it is funded by Democratic incumbents, not the party, it works to re-elect Democratic incumbents. It would be stupid for Democratic incumbents to raise money and spend it for their primary opponents.

they're telling election vendors that they will cut them off from all business with the party if they work with primary challengers.

No they are not. They are telling them they will cut them off from the funds of the DCCC, money the incumbents raised to re-elect themselves. The DCCC is not the Democratic Party. The DNC, which represents the Democratic Party, has their own funds and their own committee that is entirely separate from the DCCC and makes their own decisions about who to support.

Vendors are people like ad agencies and campaign consultants. Look, would you be outraged by the headline "Sanders campaign says it will not hire ad agency if it works for Joe Biden."

Would you be outraged by the headline "Biden campaign says it will not be hiring David Sirota if he works for Sanders."

Why are you outraged by the headline "DCCC says it will not hire vendors who work for their opponents."
posted by JackFlash at 10:51 AM on March 22 [22 favorites]


[On preview, I've edited out some stuff regarding the DCCC strategy that T.D. Strange put more eloquently. But one additional point from the original article:]

Effectively, this means that the established consultancies, which for better or worse are a fundamental pillar of congressional elections, have to refuse all efforts to buy their services by new challengers. For centrist groups this is no problem, since they already serve mainly established incumbents anyway (a nice job if you can get it). But for more left-leaning groups who would like to support both left-leaning incumbents and left-leaning challengers, they are now in a pinch, and as the article points out, the result will be a potential division of firms into pro-incumbent, pro-establishment DCCC-supported firms (with mostly white and/or male clients) and anti-establishment firms (with much more female, non-white clients). But even this isn't really sustainable, because what happens when those challengers win their races? Does the DCCC demand that a consultant group drop last year's winner for their sophomore election if the group wants to continue to work with other left-wing challengers?

And just to reiterate a broader point: the DCCC isn't some generic organization. The DCCC is basically the electoral arm of (Democrats in) Congress, and as such is more, not less, important to Congress than the DNC or the "Democratic party" more generally. Its decisions are a big deal -- if they actually enforce this rule.
posted by chortly at 10:53 AM on March 22 [6 favorites]


Turn in your smartphones! How Mueller kept a lid on Trump-Russia probe (Karen Freifeld, Nathan Layne; Reuters)

Not for nothing, that reminds me of the pic of Mueller at the Apple Store. We don't really know exactly what he was getting help with there, but I suspect he was going over all of the icloud vs local backup/storage settings with the technician, making sure his and his wife's phones and laptop were as locked down as possible.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:01 AM on March 22 [6 favorites]


It is a campaign committee set up and run by incumbent congress members to re-elect incumbent congress members
That is far from the only thing it does. Last year the DCCC targeted over a hundred races without Democratic incumbents.
it is funded by Democratic incumbents
and by direct donations from individuals who want to support Democratic House candidates, incumbent or not.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:02 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


filthy light thief, thanks for your comment highlighting Trump signs largest wilderness protection bill in a decade.

That bill had true bipartisan support: 92-8 in the Senate, and 362-63 in the House, enough to override a veto.

There are some issues that have true bipartisan support, and I really celebrate the legislators choosing to get this done.

When I hear Democrats lauding bipartisan efforts, I think of laws like this, and the Violence Against Women Act - and I believe those Democratic politicians are correct in believing that most Americans want their representatives to pass the laws that have broad support across parties.

"Bipartisan" is only a dirty word when its meaning is perverted to "Republicans dictate, Democrats give in." Before Republicans became the Obstructionist Party, bipartisan bills were more common - and this shows that even in these bleak obstructionist days, some true bipartisan efforts can still pass.
posted by kristi at 11:14 AM on March 22 [19 favorites]


That is far from the only thing it does. Last year the DCCC targeted over a hundred races without Democratic incumbents.

Why is that surprising? That is exactly the point. They will contribute to campaigns for more Democrats in seats with no incumbent because more Democrats means more influence in congress. They will not contribute to their own opponents.

Dialing for dollars is one of the most hated but unfortunately necessary jobs of congress members. It would be insane to expect congress members to do this dreary job to help their opponents.
posted by JackFlash at 11:21 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Nobody is asking for the DCCC to “contribute” in any way to incumbent Democrats’ primary opponents. They are asking for consulting firms, who may have many clients, to be free to work for such campaigns without being blacklisted from DCCC-supported campaigns.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:23 AM on March 22 [22 favorites]


They are asking for consulting firms, who may have many clients, to be free to work for such campaigns without being blacklisted from DCCC-supported campaigns.

They are blacklisted if they are opposing DCCC members. The DCCC members raised the money for the DCCC. The DCCC is going to oppose giving money to vendors who run ads against their members. Why is that hard to understand?

Should Bernie Sanders be allowed to blacklist the same ad agency that is running ads for Joe Biden? You could go a step farther - should the Democratic Party be allowed to blacklist vendors working for Donald Trump?
posted by JackFlash at 11:44 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]


One of the definitions of playing "hardball" in politics (or the mafia, for that matter) is not whether you refuse to help people who do X (eg, run against incumbents in primaries) -- that's just "softball," the standard one-degree-of-separation strategy. "Hardball" is escalating it to two-degrees-of-separation: you refuse to support not only those who directly do X, but anyone who even works with those who do X (ie, freezing out all consultants who even work with primary challengers). That's hardball because it targets a vastly larger population, and in a way that leads to long-term polarization of the entire system into two opposed sides. There are of course plenty of examples of second-degree hardball that we like (eg, refusing to support Democrats who embrace Republicans, although we then get consternated with folks like Beto), and many may in fact support this second-degree strategy by the DCCC, but either way, adding such a broad new second-degree rule would change the landscape pretty significantly and lead to much more polarization between the far left and center left than if the DCCC merely continues to refuse to directly support primary challengers.

They are blacklisted if they are opposing DCCC members. The DCCC members raised the money for the DCCC. The DCCC is going to oppose giving money to vendors who run ads against their members. Why is that hard to understand?

Because in open races, multiple primary candidates can be DCCC members, so the DCCC already deals with multi-DCCC-candidate races. If the DCCC allowed primary challengers to be supported by and raise money for the DCCC, then those challengers would be DCCC candidates. So it's not the membership that causes the DCCC support, it's the DCCC (non)support that causes the membership. But again -- one can sympathize with the DCCC being pro-incumbent, but it's a whole nother ballgame to escalate that to a two-degree ban.
posted by chortly at 11:46 AM on March 22 [7 favorites]


David Dayen with the test question I really want to hear answered: Does this DCCC blacklist of companies working with primary challengers include challenges to @IlhanMN?

If that answer is 'no', it's not about protecting incumbents, it's about striking back at progressives.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:59 AM on March 22 [17 favorites]




CNN’s Joan Biskupic posts an excerpt from her upcoming bio of the Chief Justice: The inside story of how John Roberts negotiated to save Obamacare
Roberts' moves behind the scenes were as extraordinary as his ruling. He changed course multiple times. He was part of the majority of justices who initially voted in a private conference to strike down the individual insurance mandate -- the heart of the law -- but he also voted to uphold an expansion of Medicaid for people near the poverty line.

Two months later, Roberts had shifted on both.

The final tallies, 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate and 7-2 to curtail the Medicaid plan, came after weeks of negotiations and trade-offs among the justices.[…]

The decision was revealed on June 28, the last courtroom sitting of the 2011-12 session. As Roberts began reading his opinion from the bench, he tried to speak steadily, but he was nervous. About 13 minutes into the 20-minute announcement, after he had summarized various legal rationales, he misstated the overall judgment. Few noticed the slip because he had already laid out the reasoning.
Also, RGB is a badass, should there ever be any doubt:
When Ginsburg found out about Roberts' new position, her first thought was, "It ain't over till it's over." She understood that the process could continue to be fluid, especially in such a monumental case.

"People change their minds about what they thought. So it isn't at all something extraordinary, and that's how it should work. We're in the process of trying to persuade each other and then the public," she told me in a 2012 interview in her chambers.
At the time, Ginsburg knew that Roberts was not deviating from his view of limited commerce clause power, and she wanted to make her dissent as persuasive as possible.

"I was forcing myself to stay awake and work on the opinion," Ginsburg said.

Another complication for Ginsburg was that in late spring she had fallen on the marble floor of her bathroom and cracked several ribs. There was nothing to be done except to work through the pain.
The legalistic back-and-forth of upholding the ACA in exchange striking down Medicaid expansion is an object lesson in how SCOTUS sausage is made.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:04 PM on March 22 [21 favorites]


Also a lesson in John Roberts’ hypocrisy. The “I Just Call Balls And Strikes” justice completely flip-flopped his legal reasoning because he got cold feet about the outcome.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:05 PM on March 22 [22 favorites]




> Trump Nominates Famous Idiot Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board

kak·i·sto·cra·cy /kakəˈstäkrəsē/ (noun)
A kakistocracy is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word is derived from two Greek words, kakistos (κάκιστος; worst) and kratos (κράτος; rule), with a literal meaning of government by the worst people.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:22 PM on March 22 [35 favorites]


Proctocracy: government by assholes
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:29 PM on March 22 [17 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale: “After announcing he's reversing new North Korea sanctions because he likes Kim Jong Un, Trump's spokesperson issues a statement announcing his new sanctions on Venezuela, saying he won't allow Maduro to steal his country's wealth for personal gain while his people go hungry.” Screenshot
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:46 PM on March 22 [11 favorites]


Effectively, this means that the established consultancies, which for better or worse are a fundamental pillar of congressional elections, have to refuse all efforts to buy their services by new challengers.

Well, some of these consultancies have managed to lose elections despite winning the popular vote so maybe not a huge loss to have challengers need to find fresh talent.
posted by srboisvert at 12:56 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Giuliani tried to shoot down the theory that Trump conspired with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election by citing a Wikipedia entry:

“Since 2009 Steele has not been to Russia, or visited any former Soviet states and in 2012, an Orbis informant quoted an FSB-agent describing him as an ‘enemy of Mother Russia. The below excerpt from Wikipedia, if true, is another indication that the Steele Dossier about Russia is a phony work of political opposition research. Comey never bothered to check when Steele was last in Russia. So where was it written and who wrote it? We demand answers!”
posted by growabrain at 12:59 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Via The Daily Mail [*Not a reliable source]:
Police surround Ecuadorian embassy in London as Julian Assange stays inside.
This is after another story yesterday that the DoJ sent an airplane from Manassas, where its fugitive retrieval agents are based, to London.
posted by growabrain at 1:32 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Effectively, this means that the established consultancies, which for better or worse are a fundamental pillar of congressional elections, have to refuse all efforts to buy their services by new challengers.

Well, some of these consultancies have managed to lose elections despite winning the popular vote so maybe not a huge loss to have challengers need to find fresh talent.


Are those losses not more attributable to gerrymandering and targeted voter suppression than said consultancies? I'm sure if they too could purge rolls and redistrict congressional boundaries they'd have been a lot more successful.

I'm all for maintaining Democratic control in the house, but they must continue to be challenged from the left in my opinion, otherwise they're functionally conservative in practice.
posted by avalonian at 1:33 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


If Assange is somehow retrieved I'll have a dance party with myself.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:45 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


growabrain: "Trump Nominates Famous Idiot Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board"

The Intercept: "Capitalism is a Lot More Important Than Democracy, " Says Donald Trump's Economic Adviser
Moore is particularly notable because he’s entertainingly honest about prioritizing money over Americans. In the 2009 documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore said on camera that “Capitalism is a lot more important than democracy. I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”
That's a little on the nose, even for one of President Shitbag's nominees.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:01 PM on March 22 [17 favorites]


BREAKING - MSNBC: Attorney General Barr has the Mueller Report [sic] in-hand and this investigation is over (per DOJ)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:02 PM on March 22 [53 favorites]


JackFlash's line of argument mostly depends on pretending that the DCCC is solely a pooled re-election fund for incumbents, and we should judge it's actions the same way we'd judge any candidate running for election. Obviously, to fulfill the DCCC's goals--such as keeping a Dem majority in the house, or "support[ing] Democratic House candidates every step of the way"--it will sometimes function as if it's merely a re-election fund for the incumbents. But let's not pretend that's all the organization is.

Drawing lines in the sand like this, in the short term, will harm primary challengers and upstart, progressive organizations. But I think, from a long-term perspective, it's bad for the party as a whole.

House Democrats Move to Hobble Primary Challengers

The new protocol, intentionally debuted early in the off-year before most campaign hiring begins, presents a stark financial deterrent to the country’s top firms that provide essential services ranging from polling to TV advertising to strategy. It could cripple would-be primary opponents’ ability to entice top talent to join their staff. The DCCC independent-expenditure arm doles out millions in contracts to consultants and drives more revenue toward them by connecting campaigns with vetted operatives.

“The DCCC is oftentimes the gatekeeper for consultants to get to candidates,” said Ian Russell, a campaign media strategist and former top official at the committee. “Unless you have a steady stream of income coming from another source, it would be very difficult to navigate the House world if you were shut out by the DCCC.”


As mentioned upthread, this risks bifurcating the set of camapaign-supporting organizations into a challenger/progressive group and an incumbent/establishment group. If it does, then you might have a primary challenger who wins in one cycle finding it hard to hire the very people that got them elected during the next. Even if you buy the argument that the DCCC's only there to re-elect incumbents, the long-term consequences of their new policy are self-undermining, so not worth defending.
posted by davedave at 2:06 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


I am sick in bed, sneezing my head off, but not on my deathbed. So I may take a subway train to an open store to buy ice cream because even if I don't get to read the report, this is an ice cream day.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:07 PM on March 22 [9 favorites]


Here is an article in WaPo about the Mueller report, if you want to read about it.

Basically: Barr will summarize the report for Congress in the coming days. All the other info is backstory any threadreader is already aware of. Although you may have forgotten some.
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:08 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Julia Ainsley, NBC Justice correspondent, reports that Barr may be submitting the report to Congress as soon as this weekend.
posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


If you can't access WaPo, here's a link to Bloomberg:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his final report, a still-secret document that closes his 22-month investigation into whether President Donald Trump or those around him conspired in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The Justice Department has notified key lawmakers that Attorney General William Barr has received the report and that he will take some time to review it, according to department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

It’s only the beginning of a struggle between Barr, lawmakers and the White House over how much of Mueller’s findings -- and the evidence behind them -- will be disclosed to Congress and the public. That fight is likely to escalate from social-media wars between the president and his critics to hearing rooms on Capitol Hill and ultimately to the Supreme Court. ...

posted by Bella Donna at 2:10 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Mueller report: Special Counsel submits report to AG William Barr - The Washington Post
The Justice Department notified Congress late Friday that it had received Mueller’s report but did not describe its contents. Barr is expected to summarize the findings for lawmakers in coming days.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:10 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


So, no prosecution of Don Jr. Or Kushner. Or Ivanka. Or Eric Prince. Let's hope the report was also accompanied by a whole lot of referrals to SDNY.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:10 PM on March 22 [49 favorites]


The actual statement from DOJ is that Barr might release a summary of Mueller's conclusions as early as this weekend. That's a much different statement than Ainsley's stronger one, and could mean almost anything.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


I find the lack of indictments disturbing.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:15 PM on March 22 [65 favorites]


Mueller report released today, concluding FBI investigation into Russia interference in Trump Campaign and 2016 election - CBS News
Barr will now summarize it for lawmakers, in accordance with the law governing the special counsel. It is not clear whether the report or any part of it will be made public -- that's left to Barr's discretion.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:15 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Weren't there still many indictments under seal? If they were filed previously, they wouldn't be "new" indictments, even if they pierce directly into Trump's inner circle, right?
posted by Rhaomi at 2:18 PM on March 22 [9 favorites]




HEART PALPITATIONS HERE.

And that's nothing compared to what the Trump Klan and their minions must be feeling....

I find the lack of indictments disturbing.

How will the process work? Does Mueller handle the indictments under his purview and refer the rest to other jurisdictions? And does the lack of indictments for today mean he's done indicting people and it's up to other prosecutors now?
posted by orange swan at 2:20 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Friday after 5 p.m., right on time!
posted by Melismata at 2:20 PM on March 22 [15 favorites]


Just a reminder, from the WSJ: The wide-ranging inquiry yielded criminal charges against 34 people and the convictions of five Trump advisers, including his former campaign chairman, his first national-security adviser and his personal lawyer, several of whom admitted to lying about contacts they had with Russians before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

... Neither side may be satisfied by the immediate result. The regulation governing Mr. Mueller’s work mandates that Mr. Barr is only required to notify specific lawmakers that the investigation has concluded. He will likely spend the coming days combing through the report for information protected by grand-jury secrecy and other classified information, and assembling his own, abridged version to provide to Congress.

Democrats and some Republicans are particularly concerned about what Mr. Barr will do, given an unsolicited memo he wrote before being picked as attorney general criticizing what he believed at the time to be Mr. Mueller’s theory for investigating the president.

Even as the Mueller probe is ending, other legal threads involving the president and his allies, including his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who implicated Mr. Trump in federal campaign-finance crimes, will carry on under other jurisdictions. At the same time, House Democrats are intensifying their investigations into Mr. Trump and his associates, and the party is debating whether to initiate impeach proceedings against Mr. Trump regardless of what Mr. Mueller’s probe turns up.

posted by Bella Donna at 2:22 PM on March 22 [9 favorites]


So, no prosecution of Don Jr. Or Kushner. Or Ivanka. Or Eric Prince. Let's hope the report was also accompanied by a whole lot of referrals to SDNY.

It feels like justice and democracy got shafted
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:23 PM on March 22 [11 favorites]


So why again does Congress have to go through Barr for the report? As a coequal branch with oversight responsibility, shouldn't they have the right to receive everything in it direct from Mueller? I don't understand why the DOJ would be able to hide anything from Congress. Taxpayers paid for the report. Congress represents them. They should get everything.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:23 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


Russia-Trump inquiry: Special Counsel Robert Mueller ends Russia investigation - BBC News
Mr Mueller's report has been delivered to the Department of Justice, where Attorney General William Barr will decide how much to share with Congress.

In a letter to Congress, Mr Barr said he may be able to report back the principal conclusions by the weekend.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:24 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Subpoena everybody!
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:27 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Robert Mueller Submits Report on Trump Russia Probe - Bloomberg
congressional Democrats -- who now control the House -- say they want broad disclosure of Mueller’s investigative work, citing the earlier success of Republicans in pressuring the Justice Department to release details they said showed anti-Trump bias in the FBI. They have talked of issuing subpoenas to force disclosure and even public testimony by Mueller.

“We’re going to insist on the underlying evidence,” Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in February on ABC’s “This Week.”

“If you take the position that the president cannot be indicted, and the only remedy for improper, illegal or other conduct is impeachment, then you cannot withhold that information from Congress, or essentially the president has immunity,” he said.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he, too, wants Mueller’s report made public. “Let it come out,” he said. “Let people see it.”
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:30 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Weren't there still many indictments under seal?

There were some sealed indictments numbered between Flynn and Manafort, but no proven link to Mueller.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:31 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


Between this and Trump's 'yeah, let's make sure it's ALL public!' this week it sure feels like the fix is in, and Barr put it there. Hope I'm wrong.
posted by dragstroke at 2:33 PM on March 22 [15 favorites]


One of the sealed indictments must be for Assange no? That got leaked through improperly redacted court filings as I recall. I think the report dropping now adds credibility to growabrain's link above about Assange being surrounded by police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London today, which also seems to be bubbling up on twitter.

I wonder where Jared and Ivanka are this evening.
posted by aiglet at 2:35 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


downtohisturtles, your question is answered in the WSJ report I quoted. "The regulation governing Mr. Mueller’s work mandates that Mr. Barr is only required to notify specific lawmakers that the investigation has concluded."
posted by Bella Donna at 2:36 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I don't give a shit about the regs, I want this report read into the record, ASAP.
posted by odinsdream at 2:37 PM on March 22 [17 favorites]


I would really love more concrete updates on the Embassy in London. Twitter is just full of noise on it.
posted by Brainy at 2:40 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


You and me and everyone I know, odinsdream. Let us see what happens over the weekend. Meanwhile, I am off to get ice cream. Some right-wing asshole on Twitter made some comment about "no more indictments" and I thought, maybe no more from Mueller but don't you worry, asshole, more indictments are coming.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:40 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


There were some sealed indictments numbered between Flynn and Manafort, but no proven link to Mueller.

Yes, and there's no particular reason to think they were Mueller indictments. They could easily be completely unrelated.

So why again does Congress have to go through Barr for the report? As a coequal branch with oversight responsibility, shouldn't they have the right to receive everything in it direct from Mueller? I don't understand why the DOJ would be able to hide anything from Congress. Taxpayers paid for the report. Congress represents them. They should get everything.

First- a lot of it is grand jury testimony- they'd have to go through both Barr and the judge overseeing the grand jury.

Second- the tradition is that raw prosecutorial stuff doesn't leave the FBI. Nunes blew that up by subpoenaing all sorts of stuff, and getting it. There's good reasons for this, if you trust career FBI prosecutors, you probably shouldn't have pinhead legislators looking over their shoulders, even after the fact. But if the Dems want to press on it, they probably could get an awful lot.

your question is answered in the WSJ report I quoted. "The regulation governing Mr. Mueller’s work mandates that Mr. Barr is only required to notify specific lawmakers that the investigation has concluded."

The regulation requires that report, but it doesn't preclude a more expansive accounting of what happened. Barr or Mueller could call a press conference, Comey-style.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:41 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I suspect - hopefully I'm wrong - that the fact that none of DJT's kids have been indicted (as far as we know) means that there will be nothing in the report that actually harms DJT in any meaningful way.
posted by The World Famous at 2:43 PM on March 22 [23 favorites]


via Twitter: joint statement from Schumer and Pelosi
(NBC News)

They insist that Barr “must not give Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller's findings or evidence" and that the White House should not "interfere in decisions" related to how much should be made public:

“The American people have a right to the truth.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:44 PM on March 22 [30 favorites]


Same, dragstroke. There's a distinct feeling of Kavanaugh all over again. I just have to balance that against the fact that even the publicly available, unredacted evidence is, by any sane measure, damning for Trump:

1) His closest advisers, including his own family, attended a meeting at the skyscraper that houses both his home and office, with representatives of the Russian government who promised them "dirt" on his election rival, and discussed lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs should Trump become president.

2) His campaign manager, who was an illegal agent of the Russia-friendly Ukrainian government before its ouster, gave internal polling data to a KGB agent during Russia's pro-Trump electioneering campaign.

3) At the RNC, the only change the Trump campaign sought to the party platform was to soften its position on arming the newly Russia-unfriendly Ukrainian government.

4) The candidate himself publicly called on Russia to hack his opponent, which they proceeded to do.

If Mueller had a free hand in writing the report, the best conclusion Trump could hope for is that there is no evidence that he was aware of points 1 through 3, and we can't prove that the "Russia, if you're listening" speech was anything more than a wacky coincidence. Which is entirely possible (the lack of evidence in hand), even if it strains belief that it might be true for Trump to be innocent.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:45 PM on March 22 [23 favorites]


[Folks, I know this is big news, but we really need to manage both the funny one-liners and the doomsaying. Take those to their appropriate MeTa threads, please. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:50 PM on March 22 [16 favorites]




Second- the tradition is that raw prosecutorial stuff doesn't leave the FBI. Nunes blew that up by subpoenaing all sorts of stuff, and getting it. There's good reasons for this, if you trust career FBI prosecutors, you probably shouldn't have pinhead legislators looking over their shoulders, even after the fact. But if the Dems want to press on it, they probably could get an awful lot.

James Comey also blew up this precedent by handing over all of the Clinton emails investigation to Congress. The new precedent is that Congress gets every single shred of evidence Mueller looked at, just like the FBI did with the Clinton case. Call it the Comey Rule.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:57 PM on March 22 [43 favorites]


That means nothing for SDNY. It means nothing for all the additional legal trouble coming Trump's way in the future.
posted by xammerboy at 2:57 PM on March 22 [11 favorites]


CNN confirms no sealed indictments coming down the road (though that's only as far as Mueller's team is concerned).
posted by Rhaomi at 2:59 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


I have a suspicion that we aren't going to need to wait until past 10pm to start hearing what the report conclusions are. Like, I just can't fathom people in that office not starting to leak things tonight.

Also, the wording on the bit preceding "there were no such instances" seems to leave open the possibility that actions were denied on grounds that were not earth shattering, like it being outside scope, for whoever determines scope.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:02 PM on March 22




Was it actually Mueller's job to bring indictments against all those found to have been involved in criminal activity?

The ones he has brought seem to have been a part of the process as much as anything, ways of getting leverage and information.

It seems fairly improbable that there weren't other people and crimes ancillary to the Cohen and Stone cases for instance. It can't have been just them criming all by themselves.

I mean I'm personally not optimistic, and half expect us to be onto the next big news thing by next weekend. But there just doesn't really seem to be enough information yet to predict anything with certainty.

Also, The Guardian Liveblog seems to be on the good caffeine tonight and getting all the pertinant updates as fast as they appear.
posted by Buntix at 3:12 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


Like, I just can't fathom people in that office not starting to leak things tonight.

Very few people will have seen the report itself by tonight, and the people who will have seen it don’t leak.
posted by sallybrown at 3:24 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


via the Guardian: Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) Schiff to @MSNBC on 'no further indictments': "It doesn't mean, of course, that Main Justice, or the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's office or the Eastern District or others may not bring indictments ... It's entirely possible ... there will be other indictments."
posted by Little Dawn at 3:32 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


John Harwood: "Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, among the senior lawmakers directly informed this afternoon that Mueller has submitted his report, will be at Mar-a-Lago tonight".
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:35 PM on March 22 [12 favorites]


What does the Mueller report say and what does it mean for Trump? (Guardian)
Are any other Trump-related investigations still ongoing?

Yes, lots. While the special counsel’s office has concluded its work, investigations taken up by federal prosecutors in the southern and eastern districts of New York continue, and prosecutors have also been active in the eastern district of Virginia and the District of Columbia. Unlike Mueller, those prosecutors are not bound by narrow authorizations dictating what activity they can investigate, and there is no pressure to hasten the investigations.

Congress is conducting separate investigations of Trump’s campaign and other matters. Evidence gathered by Mueller could feed those investigations.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:47 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


Anything that doesn't lead to a Nixon style resignation full abdication followed by having his phone broken over his head will be disappointing. Most likely it emerge he and his cretinous sons were too incompetent to actually break a law. I'm going to stop refreshing and catch up on the sort reading that Jeeves would call 'improving'. This is a long war of attrition on the soul and it won't end here. Take care of yourselves and your communities.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 3:52 PM on March 22 [54 favorites]


Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is officially complete (Politico)
The department wouldn't discuss the precise format or length of the report.

“It’s comprehensive,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:54 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Small Story Good News Update: Selene Saavedra Roman has been released. Apparently the article I linked above got some media traction along with a tweet by Hillary Clinton and Roman was released today. (Her husband has to drive a mere four hours to pick her up.) She still has immigration hearings and the whole stupid incident may put her status in further jeopardy but at least she's out. Thank you to anyone here who signed the MoveOn petition or retweeted or anything.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:18 PM on March 22 [46 favorites]


@emptywheel Congratulations to Jerome Corsi who gambled huge and won.
posted by pjenks at 4:28 PM on March 22 [9 favorites]


@emptywheel Congratulations to Jerome Corsi who gambled huge and won.

Can someone break down the significance of this? I'm not seeing it. So Mueller isn't indicting this particular bit player. Who cares?
posted by diogenes at 5:19 PM on March 22


She is congratulating him on being a good poker player and/or playing chicken with Robert Mueller. He was offered plea deal copping to a single small charge. The general rule of thumb is that if you pass on a plea deal you will be charged with something bigger and in this case that doesn't appear to be true.
posted by mmascolino at 5:28 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Jill Wine-Banks on Chris Hayes MSNBC, her lapel pin is a diamante question mark.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:40 PM on March 22


Jerome Corsi seems small fry compared to a number of the other ppl that could potentially be fucked.
posted by gucci mane at 5:40 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Very Quick Thoughts on the End of the Mueller Investigation
It’s possible, for example, that Mueller is not proceeding against certain defendants other than the president because he has referred them to other prosecutorial offices; some of these referrals are already public, and it’s reasonable to expect there may be other referrals too. In this iteration, what is ending here is not the investigation, merely the portion of the investigation Mueller chose to retain for himself. It’s possible also that Mueller is finished because he has determined that while the evidence would support a prosecution of the president, he is bound by the Justice Department’s long-standing position that the president is not amenable to criminal process. On the obstruction front, he may well have concluded that, while the president acted to obstruct the investigation, he cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the president’s obstructive acts were not exercises of Trump’s Article II powers. It’s also possible that Mueller has strong prudential reasons for not proceeding with otherwise viable cases.

My gut instinct is that it is some combination of these factors that explains the end of the probe. Without knowing the reasons the investigation is finished, it is impossible to know how to assess its end—and nobody should try.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:46 PM on March 22 [12 favorites]


"But Her Emails" By Maggie Haberman (and Annie Karni)
posted by pjenks at 6:08 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I find it extremely disturbing that Mueller appears to have wrapped things up without getting testimony under oath from anyone named Trump, or filing any other charges. I mean, you'd think that'd be a pretty basic and necessary component of any investigation wouldn't you?
posted by sotonohito at 6:09 PM on March 22 [59 favorites]


If it turns out that Trump violated ethics and/or legal prescriptions — quite aside from whether he could be indicted or impeached — are there any civil lawsuit remedies available for, say, Hillary Clinton to pursue? Or for perhaps a state whose electors voted for Clinton, and thus were disenfranchised by Russian collusion?

It seems a long shot. But if there are factual crimes that just aren’t going to be indictable because of the DoJ’s rule against indicting the President, then surely there could be civil lawsuits, no?
posted by darkstar at 6:16 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


as soon as Trump came out to say “Mueller Report needs to be published” I knew he had already seen it, and nothing would happen.

I grew up during the Nixon years, and I became a young man during the Reagan years. As a news junkie, it was scary. But the thing is? I’m still here. As are we all. It ain’t over yet.
posted by valkane at 6:35 PM on March 22 [30 favorites]


This is report is supposed to answer the question of obstruction of justice.

I don't see how he could possibly look at all the evidence that is already public and not conclude there was obstruction.Of course, per DOJ policy, it won't lead to an indictment.

Still that is a stick of dynamite that feels like it might finally be about to detonate. The fuse is lit..
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:35 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I don't give a shit about the regs, I want this report read into the record, ASAP.

The standard here is in 75-100 years all of the report will be unclassified.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:37 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Update on the Andrew Miller loose end from the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand: “Update from Miller's lawyer: "Several days ago the Special Counsel notified us that they are still interested in having Andrew Miller testify before the grand jury...It is not clear at this point whether any further request for testimony will come from the U.S. Attorney's office"”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:38 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


Mueller has to understand the public needs Something Actually.

The whole purpose of the thing was to see if there was collusion and obstruction of justice by Americans on behalf of the Trump campaign. Mueller indicted several Russians, but has nothing to say on American involvement? Either there is something very weird in the report, or Mueller punted.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:42 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


As soon as Trump came out to say “Mueller Report needs to be published” I knew he had already seen it, and nothing would happen.

That made me think Barr was going to bury it and Trump was setting up the "I wanted it to be public but the AG said no" line of BS.
posted by carmicha at 6:49 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Seth Abramson Twitter threads on the news of report's release: Part 1; Part 2.

They're long threads - here's how it starts:

1/ At the risk of sounding like Mike Myers' famous SNL talk-show host Linda Richman, "Mueller's final Trump-Russia report" is neither "Mueller's," final, about "Trump-Russia" or a "report." So all the breathless "reporting" today suggesting otherwise is inaccurate and misleading.

2/ What we call the "Trump-Russia" investigation is a web of criminal, counterintelligence, and Congressional investigations that intersect with the work of the Special Counsel's Office. So there are three key "c"-words here—"criminal," "counterintelligence," and "Congressional."

3/ Special Counsel Mueller is part of the "criminal" investigation; Mueller's work *intersects* with the "counterintelligence" investigation; and his work feeds into and draws from the Congressional investigation. And here's the key: all three of these investigations are ongoing."

posted by soundguy99 at 6:52 PM on March 22 [17 favorites]


as soon as Trump came out to say “Mueller Report needs to be published” I knew he had already seen it

Am I missing something obvious? Mueller turned his report over to Barr earlier today. Are you saying Trump got a copy before Barr?
posted by Justinian at 7:15 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin: “Jerry Nadler tonight: "If the Justice Department doesn't release the whole report or tries to keep parts of it secret, we will certainly subpoena the parts of the report and we will reserve the right to call Mueller to testify before the committee or to subpoena him."” And “Jerry Nadler tonight: “The Mueller report concerns only crimes that may have been committed. Our constitutional mandate is to maintain the rule of law, which means examining not only crimes, but other abuses of power and obstructions of justice.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins: “President Trump is surrounded by more staff than normal in Palm Beach this weekend. Not only is he joined by Pat Cipollone & Emmet Flood, but also other members of the legal team, both press secretaries and several other West Wing officials. Usually only a handful of aides travel”

(So much for reports that Trump was just planning to have a family meal with Melanie and Barron tonight.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:16 PM on March 22 [12 favorites]


As has been noted above, the mandate was Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated their efforts with Russian operatives. Maybe the answer to that is not really beyond what we already know from the majority of indictments (mostly Russians). Along with the identification of lots of illegal Trump stuff outside the mandate that was tangentially uncovered that has been referred to other courts, that might be it.

The media is going to totally blow this out of proportion and Trump is going to be crowing on Monday.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:27 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]



Am I missing something obvious? Mueller turned his report over to Barr earlier today. Are you saying Trump got a copy before Barr?


yes I am.
posted by valkane at 7:28 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


Costa just reported on CNN w Anderson Cooper that the WH is quietly celebrating tonight.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:30 PM on March 22


Hyucking thread was succeeded by Political Humorizing Thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:37 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]




Well, if there's no federal indictments then there's nothing for Trump to pardon, and no reason to worry about double jeopardy when state indictments come through.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:53 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


Elsewhere:

@AOC: Huge update: JP Morgan & Wells Fargo have announced that they will no longer fund private prisons. How did this happen? Through organizing people & public pressure! Everyday folks began paying attention to who was funding for-profit prisons & family separation,+ acted on it.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:56 PM on March 22 [95 favorites]


Seth Abramson Verified account @SethAbramson 4h4 hours ago

22/ What we have today are a large number of non-attorney journalists who don't understand what a *small part* of the big picture is being dealt with and discussed today because they want to believe they have a handle on a story they do *not* have a handle on. That's distressing.
...
29/ But Mueller did something else for America that we are only just beginning to appreciate: news stories tracking down what Mueller was working on informed us that what we call "Trump-Russia" isn't really "Trump-Russia" at all—that Trump's malfeasance goes *well* beyond Russia.
...
35/ To put this in concrete terms: If Mueller found 81% proof that Trump criminally conspired with the Kremlin, it's entirely possible you wouldn't find that anywhere in any "report" Mueller files. Would you then call that a full and final "report on conspiracy"? No—you wouldn't.
...
41/ As for offenses underlying collusion and conspiracy—obstruction, witness tampering, perjury, bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, RICO and more—as to both Donald Trump *and* his family and aides I have every reason to believe such investigations and cases proceed onward.
...
47/ I'm sad that—for the sake of clicks, eyeballs, ratings, and the salaries of those who live by a breaking-news chyron—what happened today has wrongly been cast as the end of something rather than (as @neal_katyal wisely said) the beginning of something. But that's media today.


Either the Mueller SCO investigation was a polite fiction that didn't touch Trump und Der Org or we have the main attraction still to come and I agree with Seth Abramson. Which. Yeah. #2019
posted by petebest at 8:15 PM on March 22 [12 favorites]


Trump to lift 'not necessary' North Korea sanctions, White House confirms (Guardian)
On Thursday, White House national security adviser John Bolton praised the US treasury for taking “important action” to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping activities. “Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” he tweeted.

Adam Schiff, a Democrat who heads the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, blasted Trump for cancelling sanctions “imposed only yesterday and championed by his own national security advisor, because he ‘loves’ Kim”.

“Foolish naivete is dangerous enough. Gross incompetence and disarray in the White House make it even worse,” Schiff tweeted.

Hours after the sanctions announcement, North Korea on Friday pulled out of a liaison office with the South, a major setback for Seoul.

North Korea said it was quitting the joint liaison office set up in September in the border city of Kaesong after a historic summit between Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, early last year.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:29 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I feel like the megathreads have discussed Seth Abramson before and reached the tentative conclusion that he was, at best, ten notches more worth taking seriously than (for example) Louise Mensch. (No, I won't disclose my measurement scale.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:34 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


Meanwhile, Politico checks in at the Pentagon: Shanahan’s Nomination to Head Pentagon on Ice—An investigation into the acting defense secretary has stalled his hopes of winning President Donald Trump's nod.
Patrick Shanahan’s expected promotion to permanently head the Defense Department has stalled amid an ethics investigation and a series of unimpressive public performances, according to four people with knowledge of internal White House discussions.

Shanahan, who has served as the Pentagon’s acting chief since Jim Mattis resigned in December, has also been hampered by the deadly crashes of two airliners manufactured by his former employer, Boeing — the company that's also at the heart of his ethics problems.

The sources aware of the White House discussions believe Shanahan is still in the mix for the job, but they say recent events and his own missteps haven't done him any favors with President Donald Trump. And some said his fate will remain uncertain until the Defense Department's inspector general finishes a probe into allegations that Shanahan has privately boosted Boeing during meetings at the Pentagon.
Maybe it would have been better for Trump to have let Mattis stay on until the end of February, as he’d asked.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:42 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


he's obviously, though facilely, correct as to the descriptions concerning certain failures of that set of persons and organizations we collectively call the media (except those failures can hardly be surprising to anyone by now), and the three c's were a useful framework, though i think i recall page &/or ohr testifying to the effect that the counterintelligence investigation was folded into the special counsel's investigations. i think you have summarized the collective posture pretty fairly. (seems a counterintelligence investigation of things not directly related to election interference might persist, notwithstanding the special counsel completing its mandate, just fold it back out to the fbi)

for my part, my unwonted impulse to buttress my hopes -- or salve my anxieties -- in his pronouncements, seeing them just now, and despite the chance that i may entertain similar or congruent notions, is disturbing.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:50 PM on March 22


Politico: Trump Faces Mueller Report in Mar-a-Lago Bubble—The president kicked off a weekend at Mar-a-Lago with a speech at a fundraising dinner but few words about special counsel Robert Mueller.
The president spoke to the cheering crowd for about two minutes, with the first lady standing beside him on stage, according to a video of his remarks obtained by POLITICO. He said nothing about the Mueller news. Instead, he thanked “the legendary Pam Bondi,” Florida’s former attorney general who was honored at the dinner, and marveled at the first lady’s poll numbers. The president also cracked a joke about the keynote speaker, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“If Lindsey’s speaking, I want to come down here,” Trump said, “for two reasons. No. 1: he’s a great speaker. And No. 2, I know if I’m here, he’s not going to say anything bad about me.”[…]

“We'll see what happens,” Trump had said early in the day as he departed for his weekend in Florida. “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction,” he repeated once again. “Everybody knows it. It's all a big hoax. It's all a witch hunt.”

But he didn’t mention Mueller for the rest of the day. Though the president is often eager to field reporters’ questions, he ignored journalists as he sat alongside the Caribbean leaders, under two gold and crystal chandeliers. For once, it seemed, Trump felt he had nothing more to say. He was content to wait. By late evening, he had resisted tweeting once about Mueller or Russia.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak: “A “lock her up” chant broke out at Mar-a-Lago tonight during Sen. Graham’s speech as he called for an investigation into Clinton and the origins of the dossier. Trump watched on from a table in the ballroom.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:19 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


for my part, my unwonted impulse to buttress my hopes -- or salve my anxieties -- in his pronouncements, seeing them just now, and despite the chance that i may entertain similar or congruent notions, is disturbing.

You should always, always be at least as skeptical of someone telling you exactly what you want to hear as you are of someone telling you what you don't want to hear. I fear a lot of people are headed for a sort of Mueller Of The Gaps theology where they hold fast to the idea that Mueller could yet, like Barbarossa or Charlemagne or Arthur sleeping under the mountain, ride forth to save us all when we don't expect it via gradually shrinking windows of opportunity. (The Mueller Report! No? Gates/Flynn are still cooperating! No? Cohen's stuff is still being analyzed? No!??)

It's possible Mueller's report is going to say that Trump engaged in a campaign of obstruction that would have led to an indictment were he not the President. But as to a conspiracy to cooperate with Russia to steal the election... the fact that there were no more indictments really does, I think, mean that we're unlikely to ever see any Americans held to account for doing that. Either because they did immoral stuff that barely skirted the line of illegal conduct, or because the obstruction campaign hindered the investigation into proving the law was broken. Perhaps we'll learn which of those cases happened via Mueller. But I think the idea that this isn't a major milestone bringing to the close a big aspect of investigation into TrumpCo is an Abramson fantasy of telling people what they want to hear. Like, for example, Jill Stein's "recount" grift which suckered so many.

It's obvious Trump is a criminal and perhaps SDNY or NY state will reveal that in the fullness of time. One hopes. But it won't be about Russian interference in the election and it likely won't be before we have to toss Trump out on his ass electorally.
posted by Justinian at 10:39 PM on March 22 [36 favorites]


Extended Mueller theorizing is turning into the QAnon- or the Pizzagate- of the left. It'd be interesting to compare the left/liberal-aligned conspiracy theories that have arisen from 2016, much like the right-aligned theories that arose after 2008, and 1992.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:59 PM on March 22 [16 favorites]


Reminder: If you're hoping for the Special Counsel to have accused the President of a felony, please bear in mind that the President has already been accused of a felony by the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Michael Cohen was charged with and pleaded guilty to the felony of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and the felony of making an excessive campaign contribution. In his sentencing memo, Robert Khuzami, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said:
With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.
And who is this "Individual-1"?
In January 2017, Cohen formally left the Company and began holding himself out as the “personal attorney” to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States.
That narrows it down, certainly. The Department of Justice, while declining to indict a sitting president, has nonetheless told us without ambiguity that the President is guilty of a felony, a high crime, and all we are waiting for is for the Congress, or the Electoral College, to take action.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 PM on March 22 [78 favorites]


I had been ambivalent about impeaching Trump, given the situation with Republicans in the Senate. Like some other people, I was afraid that if we didn't get a conviction, the whole things could backfire.

My mind was changed by an article in the March edition of The Atlantic.

Here's an excerpt:
"In these five ways—shifting the public’s attention to the president’s debilities, tipping the balance of power away from him, skimming off the froth of conspiratorial thinking, moving the fight to a rule-bound forum, and dealing lasting damage to his political prospects—the impeachment process has succeeded in the past. In fact, it’s the very efficacy of these past efforts that should give Congress pause; it’s a process that should be triggered only when a president’s betrayal of his basic duties requires it. But Trump’s conduct clearly meets that threshold. The only question is whether Congress will act."
posted by NotLost at 12:11 AM on March 23 [30 favorites]


Michael Cohen was charged with and pleaded guilty to the felony of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and the felony of making an excessive campaign contribution. In his sentencing memo, Robert Khuzami, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Same Rob Khuzami who announced he was leaving the SDNY yesterday, for what it’s worth.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 4:54 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Luppe B. Luppen (@nycsouthpaw), writing for Yahoo, runs down the numerous loose ends in the Mueller probe: Subpoenas, sentencings and Stone: What will become of the special counsel’s unfinished business? For instance, the Mystery Appellant could argue before SCOTUS that the subpoena they’d been resisting is now moot.
That may not, however, be the end of the matter. Mueller’s grand jury in Washington, D.C., the legally independent body that issued the subpoenas, had its term extended in January for up to six months, just before its initial 18-month term was set to expire. Another part of the Justice Department, such as the department’s foreign influence unit or the prosecutors who take over Stone’s case, could seek to step in and begin working with the grand jury to obtain the witnesses’ testimony.

In addition, two former federal prosecutors agreed that the Justice Department would likely be loath to see recalcitrant witnesses come away with such an easy victory.

“I think some other unit within the Justice Department will likely see it through, either [the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C.] or maybe DOJ national security,” said Harry Sandick, a former prosecutor with the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office. “It would set a bad precedent for Mueller to let witnesses defeat a subpoena through delay.”

“I think that somebody will carry on the litigation because the grand jury is still in session until June,” said Elizabeth de la Vega, a former organized crime prosecutor, agreeing.
Same Rob Khuzami who announced he was leaving the SDNY yesterday, for what it’s worth.

NBC has more: New York prosecutor who oversaw case against Michael Cohen stepping down. “The decision has been in the works for weeks, according to multiple people familiar with the matter who stressed that Khuzami was not asked to leave.”

NY Law Journal profiles his successor: Audrey Strauss, Long Steeped in White-Collar Enforcement, Takes Over as SDNY's No. 2

👀Mueller's top appellate lawyer Michael Dreeben tells judge he can't respond to @washingtonpost request to unseal Paul Manafort court docs because he and co-counsel "FACE A PRESS OF OTHER WORK" this week.👀

We might have the answer about what was keeping them so busy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:30 AM on March 23 [11 favorites]


I've been thinking about what I am hoping and expecting this report to cover. Here are my five biggest questions.

1) It certainly looks like the president obstructed justice. He had "corrupt intent" (that is, intended to interfere with the investigation) when he fired Comey, which can be proved because the special counsel has a earlier draft of a memo justifying that firing which references the Russia, and because Trump publicly and privately made comments about his desire to end the investigation and belief that he had done so by firing Comey. He also fired a bunch of other DoJ employees who had been working on the investigation, and attempted to fire Mueller, once he was appointed. And finally, he dictated a misleading statement purportedly from Trump Jr about the Trump Tower meeting, which shows that he was not fully cooperating with the investigation. Does Mueller believe that, if Justice Department regulations allowed the president to be charged, this would rise to the standard of a prosecutable crime?

2) Trump also appears to have lied in his written answers (under penalty of perjury) when he said that "to the best of his recollection" 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. This is contradicted by Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee. The president also indirectly let Cohen know that he wanted Cohen to lie to Congress, and the president's lawyers approved Cohen's false testimony. Did the president perjure himself or suborn perjury?

3) Manafort colluded with Russia in that he shared proprietary campaign polling data with Konstantin Killimnik. He also offered briefings on the campaign to Oleg Deripaska. Everyone else who has been indicted so far (Stone, Cohen, Gates, Flynn, Papadopoulos) knew something more than the public about what Russia was doing and deliberately helped cover up those activities. Don Jr. knew about '"Russia and its government's support" for his father, and covered that up. Cohen and Don Jr. both knew about the negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow, and thus knew Trump was lying when he said he had no dealings with Russia. They covered THAT up. Since collusion does not have a legal meaning but just colloquially means "working together to do something bad," aiding the Russian efforts to cover up their activities can be construed as "collusion." However, Mueller evidently does not think it rises to the level of an indictable crime unless and until those lies are repeated to Congress or to federal law enforcement. Stone, Cohen, Gates, Flynn, and Papadopoulos were all indicted for lying to Congress or the feds as a part of this cover up effort. Did they coordinate those lies with the president?

4) We will hopefully learn a lot more about Cambridge Analytica, Erik Prince, each of which had suspicious contact with Russian entities relating to the campaign (the meetings in the Seychelles in Prince's case, and the use of Russian researchers and briefings of Russian Lukoil executives in Cambridge Analytica's). And about Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin, who are Russian, and had suspicious contacts with Americans relating to the campaign. At present the public does not know what was said or done during meetings Erik Prince attended, the briefings Cambridge Analytica arranged, the meeting between Torshin and Don Jr at the 2016 NRA convention, or the photo ops with Butina and other powerful Americans. Since the existence but not the content of these meetings has become public, we can hope that Mueller will also share with the public what he has learned about the content.

5) Michael Flynn led efforts to transfer nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries. Russian contractors would have been used in building the nuclear power plants, so this business opportunity would have required sanctions on Russia to be lowered, but otherwise, this appears to have been a separate issue, which Mueller began investigating after Flynn's arrest. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner were reportedly also involved in this planning, along with Rick Gates and Tom Barrack. We do not know yet if any part of this effort was illegal, but the law requires that Congress approve any transfer of nuclear technology to a foreign country. A House Oversight Committee report states that a senior director at the National Security Council (NSC), Derek Harvey, "reportedly ignored ... warnings and insisted that the decision to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia had already been made." Due to Flynn's and Gates' cooperation agreements, Mueller likely has a great deal more information to share with us on this topic.

Any Mueller report which does not summarize this already-public information and answer these questions which have been publicly raised would be incomplete, and the public should demand a fuller accounting.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:43 AM on March 23 [48 favorites]


Whoever was leaking information to Buzzfeed was a part of law enforcement and believed the evidence clearly indicated Trump directed Cohen to continue doing business in Russia while publicly lying about it. My gut feeling is that Trump will not be impeached for reasons along the lines of his using the words "cabbage" instead of "money". I doubt that's going to heal the divide in this country.
posted by xammerboy at 6:11 AM on March 23


The report could say that Trump traded sekret SMS with Vlad about the whole plot saying 'lets collude yo' and the chances of him being removed from office via impeachment and conviction in the Senate would still be around 1%.

2020 is the only way he'll be removed from office, and it won't be easy — we must do everything in our power to elect someone else.
posted by localhuman at 6:21 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


From Fast Company: President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Interior Secretary and his former lobbying firm have donated almost $1 million to senators who will vote on his confirmation since 2013.

David Bernhardt, a partner at the law and lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, was confirmed as the Interior Department’s deputy secretary in 2017. He has served as the department’s acting secretary since former Interior chief Ryan Zinke resigned in December.

A MapLight review of campaign finance data found that Bernhardt, Brownstein Hyatt employees and the firm’s political action committee contributed more than $225,000 to members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee between 2013 and 2018. The panel will hold a hearing on his nomination next week.

posted by Bella Donna at 6:39 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Extended Mueller theorizing is turning into the QAnon- or the Pizzagate- of the left. It'd be interesting to compare the left/liberal-aligned conspiracy theories that have arisen from 2016, much like the right-aligned theories that arose after 2008, and 1992.
posted by Apocryphon

This is astonishingly insulting both-sidesism garbage.

Pizzagate involved a dude firing an AR-15 at a restaurant. QAnon is not some abstract conspiracy theory but a community of far right-wing extremists who have both a) been directly cited in acts of terror and b)indirectly incited stochastic acts of terror, both of which are directly supported by the reigning regime's henchman, in public, right out in the open.

The contortions you have to go through to suggest that the above are equivalent to "the left" theorizing (i.e. like, thinking and writing about thinking?) regarding what criminal consequences might be for the Trump syndicate as the result of the legally appointed special counsel investigation are so extreme that I hope you stretched really well before writing this nonsense.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:40 AM on March 23 [85 favorites]


Justinian: I fear a lot of people are headed for a sort of Mueller Of The Gaps theology where they hold fast to the idea that Mueller could yet, like Barbarossa or Charlemagne or Arthur sleeping under the mountain, ride forth to save us all when we don't expect it via gradually shrinking windows of opportunity.

It's a mode of thinking I've done my best to avoid, and yet this news of the report's completion made me realize how susceptible I've been to "Mueller Report will be a panacea" regardless. It's rather like trying to commit to not caring about the Oscars, then nonetheless feeling nontrivial disappointment (or vindication) based on the outcome -- cultural osmosis is powerful stuff.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:41 AM on March 23 [19 favorites]


I feel the same intense anxiety about this situation that many people do, but there is no evidence to suggest Trump got an advance copy of this report, when that’s not only against federal regulations and DOJ policy but also contrary to what all sources are saying. Mueller is as principled as it gets for a lifetime fed gov lawyer. (I realize for some people that means “not that principled,” which is certainly fair considering the history of the DOJ.) There is no reason to believe he’s part of some grand cover-up or a patsy for Trump or corrupt or what have you. We haven’t even seen the report yet!

Real life is a lot more mundane. He spent the last two years investigating alongside some of the most talented prosecutors in the country, likely saw some crazy shit, wrote and presented a report that I bet is scrupulously by the book in the sense of only including things he could prove with reliable evidence, and went out for dinner last night with his wife to their local restaurant.

The content of the report—when none of us has seen the evidence the SCO has—should not be what drives your opinion of his or his team’s credibility.
posted by sallybrown at 6:51 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


there is no evidence to suggest Trump got an advance copy of this report

I just have such a hard time understanding why anyone still believes Trump's tweets and public statements are ever evidence of ANYTHING, and one of my biggest complaints with the news sources I consume is that they still report on his words as if they were meaningful. I mean fine, report on actions people are taking in response to his words, but stop reporting on his words themselves as if they function as any indication of what he intends to do.

I'm not even saying he is a liar; if he consistently lied then there would be relevant information in his communications, we could try to figure out what he is lying about. But he is never consistent. His words are not aligned or opposed to his actions, they are simply orthogonal. Sometimes he does something he said he'd do. Sometimes he does the opposite of what he said he'd do. Sometimes he does something he never talked about, sometimes he never does something he's talked about voluminously. You'd have better luck reading tea leaves then you ever will reading 45 tweets.
posted by solotoro at 7:01 AM on March 23 [22 favorites]


Bloomberg, Trump’s Sanctions Staff Defects as U.S. Expands Economic War
The U.S. office in charge of financial sanctions, President Donald Trump’s favorite weapon against American adversaries, risks being hobbled by staff departures due to management turmoil and growing private-sector demand for its expertise.

Trump has nearly doubled the number of people and companies under U.S. sanctions. But in the last two years, about 20 staff have left the office in charge of implementing and enforcing sanctions, the Office of Foreign Assets Control -- about 10 percent of its workforce.
posted by zachlipton at 7:04 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


Speaking of tweets and tea leaves, Trump has been quiet this morning. He was quiet last night. As of this writing, he hasn't tweeted anything for 18 hours. He was also relatively subdued at his party last night. I can't imagine he would be quiet if he had seen the report and the report exonerated him.

Seems like he's either in the dark like the rest of us, or he knows how unpleasant the report will be for him. On top of that, if the report had any notable distribution in the WH, there would be leaks about both the content and the reception.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:08 AM on March 23 [22 favorites]


This weekend reminds me of the part of Christmas morning between waking up and opening gifts—my parents making coffee in the kitchen while we sat around evaluating the size and shape of the wrapped gifts, trying to figure out what they might be.
posted by sallybrown at 7:13 AM on March 23 [15 favorites]


ProPublica’s Eric Umansky has posted a thread about remembering how Trump has already been exposed as a Moscow mook, whatever the conclusions of the Mueller Report:
There’s something I wanna say about Mueller Mania.

It’s something that became clear to me working on our Trump Inc episode about Trump’s Moscow Tower.

We may not get clarity on “collusion” —but what’s already clear is *Trump was compromised.*

Meet Trump’s Other Partners on His Attempted Moscow Tower — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast — ProPublica

Trump was secretly working on getting a tower in Moscow. It had the potential to be *his most profitable project.* To make it happen, he *needed* the Kremlin’s help.

Not in some hypothetical, vague way. In a very concrete way.[…]

So let’s remember, regardless of whether or not Mueller finds collusion:

Trump stood to make big $$ from cozying up to the Kremlin. That’s just a fact.

In case you’re wondering, we reached out to all the relevant parties here, as we always do. They didn’t comment.

Listen to our whole episode. It's nuts.
What concerns me is not that we megathread readers already know this, but that it hasn’t sunk in with the great American public. While the pending release (or not) of the SCO’s report will generate a lot of noise in the media and on Capitol Hill, maybe there’s a chance that we can revisit this and other recently uncovered evidence of Trump’s malfeasance.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:20 AM on March 23 [34 favorites]


What concerns me is not that we megathread readers already know this, but that it hasn’t sunk in with the great American public.

Cable viewers digest Mueller news through Hannity, Maddow
(AP)
For Sean Hannity, the “witch hunt” was finally over. Rachel Maddow considered it the start of something.

The diametrically opposed opinion hosts, who vie for the distinction of the most popular in cable news, were the windows through which many Americans digested Friday’s news that special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded a nearly two-year investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. While his report, or even a summary, has not been released, television news still had hours to fill talking about it.

Fox News Channel’s Hannity, a close Trump ally, focused on reports there will be no additional indictments from Mueller. “The left’s favorite conspiracy theory is now dead,” Hannity said. “It is buried, and there was no collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction. The witch hunt is over and there will be no further charges.” He lamented that lives were ruined by the investigation and said that people who have been prosecuted or convicted had committed “process crimes.” [...]

As he talked, Maddow was doing the same. Unlike most evenings, when the two figures work in studios across Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue from each other, Maddow had rushed to a studio in Tennessee where she had spent the day trout fishing. “Finally, it happened,” she said. “In terms of what that means and what Mueller has found, we know only the smallest little bits. This is the start of something, not the end of something.” In meticulous fashion, she detailed how the news that Mueller’s investigation had concluded was reported and what a letter by Attorney General William Barr meant about what will be released to the public. [...]

Still, some Fox personalities, including Chris Wallace and Harris Faulkner, had to caution guests that Mueller’s report hadn’t been seen yet. “To say that somehow this clears the president seems like the height of rushing to judgment,” Wallace said. He dismissed the idea that those prosecuted had been charged of process crimes, saying they were very serious.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:31 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


John Campanelli: “Is it possible, @PreetBharara or @benjaminwittes, that the filing of the report before tying up apparent loose ends (Company A, Corsi, etc.) is because the SCO believes its findings need to be seen by Congress ASAP? Or is that just wishful thinking?”

Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes considers this blue-sky thinking:
This is a very good question, and the short answer is that we just don't know. I'll be curious whether @PreetBhararaagrees with me on this but here's my sense of it.

The most logical explanation for wrapping things up with a lot of loose ends is that Mueller has construed his role very narrowly. Everything that does not need to be handled by the SCO is being kicked back to DOJ. The most dramatic example of this is Corsi, where OSC engaged in a plea negotiation but appears to have not followed through on an indictment threat.

Mueller has been behaving this way for a while: Even cases of Russian interference in electoral matters like Butina and Khusyanova have gone back to DOJ. And electoral matters like Cohen have been referred elsewhere as well. So have FARA matters like the Manafort spinoff cases.

So I think the most obvious explanation is that Mueller is just being disciplined. But that, in turn, raises another question: Is he being disciplined because his job is X, not Y? Or is he being disciplined because he feels a great urgency about resolving X and reporting on it?

Or both?

We don't know the answer to that question and won't until we read the report.
The alternative (“dark-sky thinking”?) is the worst-case scenario that Barr shut Mueller down.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:48 AM on March 23 [10 favorites]


To make a long story short, the mere fact of the delivery of the report to Barr is not actually news. It is merely fodder for speculation.

We will have news when we have in-depth reporting on the circumstances surrounding the delivery of the report, and when the contents of the report become known (or when a stonewall or cover-op operation surrounding the report becomes obvious).

Until then, nothing material has changed. Please be kind to yourselves and ignore your brains when they start building terrifying fortresses out of these wispy clouds.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:01 AM on March 23 [28 favorites]


FFS, no fewer than five white men have threatened to kill national treasure (yup, I am saying it) Maxine Waters. “I am pleased by the identification, arrest, and conviction of the men who threatened me, my family, and my staff in support of their racist, white supremacist, and hate-filled agenda. Let these convictions be a lesson to all those who would threaten to kill or cause bodily harm to us: you will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Unfortunately, these types of violent threats – and other acts of hate – by ultra right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the rise in this country and around the world. This disturbing trend is only made worse by the violent rhetoric and bullying tactics of the current President of the United States."

No kidding. CW for violent, racist, women-hating verbiage by these men quoted in the release issued by the office of the Congresswoman. So satisfying that four out of five (I believe) are in jail, and the fifth (the Coast Guard office with the gun collection) will be facing a trial.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:41 AM on March 23 [46 favorites]


Mueller was never going to be our savior, and if we want someone to actually punish Donald Trump and his misanthropic and corrupt toadies for their crimes, we need to get working class people and socialists into office who are not beholden to the same ideological and class interests that keep our current establishment unwilling to police itself.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:54 AM on March 23 [18 favorites]


Perhaps Mueller is so concerned about the compromised status of the President, who controls the Executive Branch and the Department of Justice, that he wishes to allow a coequal branch, the Congress, to decide whether to remove the President from office, before any further attempt is made to have the Department of Justice target the friends and family of their own President.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:56 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


In hindsight there might be a lesson here about putting all your antifascist faith in an old white republican cop.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:03 AM on March 23 [37 favorites]


[If people want to vent/talk in general terms about whether to despair, let's generally redirect that to the fucking fuck metatalk thread. Let's try to stick to actual updates in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:04 AM on March 23 [17 favorites]


From the ACLU: One pork sandwich every eight hours for six straight days. That’s the only food that Border Patrol provided to Adnan Asif Parveen, a Muslim immigrant who was detained in South Texas in January because his work permit had expired and was pending renewal. Mr. Parveen reportedly informed officials that his religion forbids him from eating pork, but they didn’t care. All he could eat were the slices of bread from the sandwich.

Mr. Parveen’s experience was not an isolated incident. While President Trump and his administration have repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to religious liberty, in practice, this has only translated to religious freedom for some. Detained immigrants are apparently not among them. Detained immigrants from various faiths — Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians — have reported incidents in which Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement brazenly violate their religious-freedom rights.


As has been mentioned so many times before, the cruelty is the point.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:18 AM on March 23 [75 favorites]


In hindsight there might be a lesson here about putting all your antifascist faith in an old white republican cop.

I forget who said it on Twitter, but when Mueller was appointed Democrats had only two levers of power in the federal government: filibusters in the Senate and shaming Republicans into taking specific actions that could fall within a hundred miles of human decency. The special counsel was at the time the only institution performing any concrete oversight of Donald Trump. So it's understandable for some people to see him as The Savior, because who else was there at the time? The Senate Intelligence Committee was the best second option there was. That no longer applies because we've got the entire Democratic House to do investigations, but emotions don't turn on a dime even when the facts underlying them suddenly change.

Also, I feel like emphasizing that Mueller's investigation has been immensely valuable even if he didn't go nearly as far as the known facts should warrant (whether it's because of DOJ guidelines, pressure from Barr to wrap it up or just the old-fashioned American tradition of letting white collar criminals get away with it), just because it means that the Democratic House isn't starting from square one to try and uncover all of the details about Trump Tower, Manafort/Kilimnik, Cohen, etc., etc., that came out from the SCO's court filings.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:21 AM on March 23 [23 favorites]


Who has said Mueller is a savior other than those saying he isn't one? He doesn't have to be "Capital-S Savior, Help Us Obi-Wan" in order to deserve support in helping the country right itself. I recognize the impulse to despair that elevates the rhetoric around Mueller's work, but it's misplaced exaggeration. Easy to say, harder to feel. I'm not a religious person, but I think maybe we're in the "three days" part of the story (oddly, there doesn't appear to be an official term for that period?). Muelleaster rather than Muellermas, perhaps.
posted by rhizome at 9:49 AM on March 23 [18 favorites]


I’ve never felt that we needed Mueller to accuse the President of conspiracy in order to justify the President’s removal from office. There’s now a wide web of Federal criminal investigations, state criminal investigations, and Congressional investigations, which could achieve the same thing. And if they don’t do it in time, it’s not beyond possibility to imagine the most corrupt President in history losing a presidential election.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:07 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Damn y’all, just relax for a second and take a deep breath! I’m just as scared and anxious as you are, but let’s take a step back and think about what’s happened thus far.

Mueller was ostensibly assigned to investigate allegations that members of the Trump campaign had communicated with Russians, whether Russian intelligence units had deliberately been used to mess with the election, and other matters related or unrelated. There are more details than that (obstruction of justice as it pertains to being a counter-intelligence operation, etc.) but let’s put the needle there for now.

So what has Mueller found out?

Well, we have two extremely specific indictments detailing the intricate measures that Russian intelligence units took in derailing the election for Trump. I personally think that these are some of the most invaluable pieces of information to ever be made public. We have detailed information on how the Russian intelligence units manipulated American social media in order to foment dissent and distrust (as far as I can tell, this would be considered a literal psychological warfare operation on our populace, a pretty big deal!!!), details of their intricate hacking operations, and other mischief (like how Russian agents came here and used fake IDs to scout out things). This is all a VERY VERY VERY VERY BIG DEAL!!!!!

He figured some things out about Trump campaign officials, and not just some random coffee boys. He was highly successful in that regard. We now know that Manafort shared proprietary polling info with Putin-linked oligarchs! Not bad, that’s one piece of the puzzle. We also know from public sources about all the other times the Trump campaign talked with Russians. I mean, we got Flynn talking to Kislyak almost immediately.

So I’d say just from this highly limited summary that Mueller and his team and everyone involved in this have done a pretty fucking good job. And we can debate the tenets of American prosecutorial law re: can a sitting president be indicted y/n? But I think Mueller and his people would have a pretty good idea as to the answer, maybe even a little bit more than we do.

I definitely hope that it’s some bombshell, the most exhaustive and complete document of American political corruption ever created, but I don’t think it’s going to be. I never once thought we’d get “Trump did it we’re hanging him from the gallows next week” out of the investigation (I’m not saying anybody really thought that either, I’m just exaggerating for fun). I’m shocked we’ve gotten as much as we have!

We have no idea what we’re going to get or what to expect. It’ll probably be underwhelming to be honest, but it could be p fucking good, too! The only words the DoJ official said were “it’s comprehensive”. That sounds pretty fucking good to me, even if the end result isn’t specifically “Trump did it”.
posted by gucci mane at 10:08 AM on March 23 [23 favorites]


Also I can’t imagine Mueller bringing a “comprehensive” report and there not being any goodies. His indictments are comprehensive af and they gave us hella goodies to snack on.
posted by gucci mane at 10:12 AM on March 23 [10 favorites]


I wish someone had actually been indicted for all the obstruction of justice that was going on. I guess that's just another thing that rich white people don't get prosecuted for.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:15 AM on March 23 [17 favorites]


"but I think maybe we're in the "three days" part of the story (oddly, there doesn't appear to be an official term for that period?)."

The Triduum. So the ... Muelliduum? It's also when the Harrowing of Hell happens, which feels like fertile ground for Mueller analogies.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:26 AM on March 23 [9 favorites]


Mueller has been all about the convincing painting of a large picture. He has gone to great lengths to make sure that certain events, actions, intentions, were made manifest and public. There was always a danger that his final report might be sat upon, so he sensibly communicated in other ways. I have every confidence that he has ensured that much more is about to become manifest, but probably not all at once. He would have been a fool to rely on the final report to communicate much of substance. He has given us every reason to believe he is not a fool.
posted by stonepharisee at 10:27 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


We have no idea what we’re going to get or what to expect. It’ll probably be underwhelming to be honest, but it could be p fucking good, too! The only words the DoJ official said were “it’s comprehensive”. That sounds pretty fucking good to me, even if the end result isn’t specifically “Trump did it”.

The failure to interview Trump or any of his family members seems pretty glaring. It makes me wonder if the report ultimately says "This is too big for the Department of Justice. Over to you congress."
posted by srboisvert at 10:30 AM on March 23 [12 favorites]


@kyledcheney: NEWS: DOJ has told lawmakers not to expect to receive Mueller findings today, per a source familiar with the discussion.

This appears to fit with last night's report, Battle Looms Over Executive Privilege as Congress Seeks Access to Mueller Files ("Mr. Barr also plans to consult with the White House about any confidential internal information, including private conversations of the president, that is potentially subject to executive privilege. Decisions about what to make public will be even more complicated.")

What's happening now is that Trump's handpicked AG, the guy who Trump previously wanted to defend him and also the guy who is such a crank he sent in a 19-page unsolicited memo dumping on the Mueller investigation, is chatting with the White House about whether stuff the President has said can be kept secret because the President said it. The whole "there's no news here; we're all just waiting" vibe is an incomplete picture. The news that's happening right now is that the guy specifically hired to cover up Trump's crimes is talking to Trump's lawyers about how much of the report to make public.
posted by zachlipton at 10:33 AM on March 23 [48 favorites]


MSNBC reports that Attorney General Barr will not be giving his summary to Congress today. Perhaps it is not as simple a summary as we might have imagined.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:33 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


This WNYC podcast episode is a great reminder of the timeline of events with all of the things Trump had going on with Russia during the campaign. It's worth a listen even if you consider yourself well-versed on what we know so far. It makes it super obvious that under even the most charitable explanation there was a Lot of bad shit going down on purpose in the campaign.
posted by odinsdream at 10:41 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]


The news that's happening right now is that the guy specifically hired to cover up Trump's crimes is talking to Trump's lawyers about how much of the report to make public.

And the next step will be for the SCOTUS justice Trump bought (along with the one McConnell stole) to rule on whether the withheld material was constitutional.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:49 AM on March 23 [10 favorites]


Kamala Harris, preparing the first new major policy proposal of her 2020 presidential campaign, will call for a major federal effort to boost teachers’ salaries.
(Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Kamala Harris plans to call for a federal effort to boost teachers’ salaries Saturday, offering up the first new policy proposal of her 2020 presidential campaign on an issue that is roiling school districts across the country and is dear to a powerful Democratic constituency.
The plan, which Harris is slated to unveil while addressing a morning rally at Texas Southern University in Houston, would promise an unprecedented federal investment in teacher pay because of widespread concern that teaching, a female-dominated profession, is badly underpaid, according to a campaign aide who was not authorized to discuss the plan on the record.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:07 AM on March 23 [17 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler writes on emptywheel.net about what we know the Mueller report will contain from the lies Trump’s aides told to cover up their ties to Russia: After Mueller: An Off-Ramp on Russia for the Venal Fucks
• Trump pursued a ridiculously lucrative $300 million real estate deal even though the deal would use sanctioned banks, involve a former GRU officer as a broker, and require Putin’s personal involvement at least through July 2016.
• The Russians chose to alert the campaign that they planned to dump Hillary emails, again packaging it with the promise of a meeting with Putin.
• After the Russians had offered those emails and at a time when the family was pursuing that $300 million real estate deal, Don Jr took a meeting offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” At the end (per the sworn testimony of four people at the meeting) he said his father would revisit Magnitsky sanctions relief if he won. Contrary to the claim made in a statement authored by Trump, there was some effort to follow up on Jr’s assurances after the election.
• The campaign asked rat-fucker Roger Stone to optimize the WikiLeaks releases and according to Jerome Corsi he had some success doing so.
• In what Andrew Weissmann called a win-win (presumably meaning it could help Trump’s campaign or lead to a future business gig for him), Manafort provided Konstantin Kilimnik with polling data that got shared with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs. At the same meeting, he discussed a “peace” plan for Ukraine that would amount to sanctions relief.
• Trump undercut Obama’s response to the Russian hacks in December 2016, in part because he believed retaliation for the hacks devalued his victory. Either for that reason, to pay off Russia, and/or to pursue his preferred policy, Trump tried to mitigate any sanctions, an attempt that has (with the notable exception of those targeting Oleg Deripaska) been thwarted by Congress.
If Barr leaves out any of this from his summary, we’ll know the fix is in.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:28 AM on March 23 [32 favorites]


EPIC has already filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the final report (pdf).
posted by peeedro at 11:30 AM on March 23 [12 favorites]


I pre-ordered the WaPo version of the book, and I got a confirmation email from Amazon that it will be delivered on Apr 30th. I wonder what I'm actually gonna get. ;-)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 11:34 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


If Barr leaves out any of this from his summary, we’ll know the fix is in.

I thought it was a foregone conclusion.
posted by petebest at 11:34 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


Well, yes, we know Trump appointed Barr as his DoJ fixer, but we have yet to see what he’ll try to get away with.

Further to Wheeler’s piece, here are five mutually non-exclusive possibilities for the report’s conclusion that she theorizes:
• Mueller ultimately found there was little fire behind the considerable amounts of smoke generated by Trump’s paranoia
• The report will be very damning — showing a great deal of corruption — which nevertheless doesn’t amount to criminal behavior
• Evidence that Manafort and Stone conspired with Russia to affect the election, but Mueller decided not to prosecute conspiracy itself because they’re both on the hook for the same prison sentence a conspiracy would net anyway, with far less evidentiary exposure
• There’s evidence that others entered into a conspiracy with Russia to affect the election, but that couldn’t be charged because of evidentiary reasons that include classification concerns and presidential prerogatives over foreign policy, pardons, and firing employees
• Mueller found strong evidence of a conspiracy with Russia, but Corsi, Manafort, and Stone’s lies (and Trump’s limited cooperation) prevented charging it
Some of those possibilities provide Barr with plenty of opportunity to muddy the waters in his forthcoming summary.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:49 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


The delay in turning over a summary could also suggest there’s a legitimately thorny legal issue involved (whether executive privilege, national security, etc). That could mean the report is not just a sunny “nothing to see here” or that Barr is struggling with how to summarize its contents (rather than just passing along that there were no indictable crimes or something similarly empty and generic).
posted by sallybrown at 11:50 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


It’s also interesting that they set an expectation yesterday for the timing of the summary, because any delay makes it seem like there’s something in there they weren’t expecting or find hard to deal with. I think it’s fair to assume Barr and other AG staff gamed out how they would proceed with crafting the summary long before yesterday (what types of things to leave in and out) and how they would interact with White House counsel versus Congress, so what wrench has been thrown in the works?
posted by sallybrown at 11:59 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


None of the kids or Kushner got indicted, that speaks for itself pretty clearly. The fact that the DOJ was scared shitless of going after the autocrat's relatives proves we're already well beyond rule of law territory.
posted by benzenedream at 12:02 PM on March 23 [54 favorites]


CNN’s Katelyn Polantz: “NEW: Rick Gates' case before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in DC federal court will be handled by the DC US Attorney's Office as Mueller exits, per the special counsel's office today.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:14 PM on March 23 [9 favorites]


Maddow had a guest on, sorry was listening, not watching and can’t remember who, who stated that Trump could have asked for and legally received a preliminary copy of the report, as well as demanding a copy as soon as Barr got it. Barr serves at the pleasure of the president, if Trump asked for it, there is no constitutional reason why Barr did not give it to him.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:16 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


[One deleted; please keep the "extinction", "we're doomed", etc, predictive stuff over in the fucking fuck metatalk thread and stick to specific updates on actual events in this one.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:33 PM on March 23 [15 favorites]


Maddow's guest was the awesome Chuck Rosenberg.
posted by effluvia at 1:04 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Am I missing something obvious? Mueller turned his report over to Barr earlier today. Are you saying Trump got a copy before Barr?

yes I am.


Since we're back to quoting Abramson, here's another blast from the past:
Chuck Schumer: AG Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers, or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller's findings or evidence. The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public. #ReleaseTheReport

@RoguePOTUSStaff: Too late.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:59 PM on March 23 [12 favorites]


I'm perfectly willing to believe that Barr immediately handed a copy of the report to TrumpCo. It's the idea that Mueller gave a copy of the report to Trump before Barr saw it that I was raising an eyebrow at.
posted by Justinian at 2:36 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


He's been tweeting to release the whole thing for days...something tipped him off it to say that.

Barr could've made some sort of ruling, or gotten a briefing and seen the contents, or otherwise gotten a look at a draft earlier this week, and done what he was put in place to do running straight back to Trump. There's no way Trump would've been calling for a full release if it recommended impeachment or charges.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:40 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]


25 subplots to watch in the Mueller Investigation (Politico)
The main plot of the Mueller probe is well-known — he is looking at whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and whether the president obstructed the attempts to find out about that potential collusion.

But there are also has intertwined storylines, subplots and characters that span the globe. We’ve broken the story into five acts and laid out some of the subplots for each to help organize this complex narrative. [...]

Trump’s incessant social media feed — logged forevermore as official presidential records — have represented something else for Mueller and his investigators: evidence that can be used to establish intent.

“They’re a gold mine,” a former DOJ prosecutor told POLITICO just weeks after the special counsel’s appointment.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:46 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


There's no way Trump would've been calling for a full release if it recommended impeachment or charges.

Trump calling for a full release is like Trump saying he'll release his tax returns. He doesn't actually mean it, it's just bullshit for the cameras. If he actually wanted it fully released it could have been fully released already. Trump has unilateral authority to release the thing without any redactions.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 PM on March 23 [34 favorites]


In answer to questions about whether Trump has seen the whole report, it's pretty clear that he has. Per Doctor Zed's post upthread: CNN’s Kaitlan Collins: “President Trump is surrounded by more staff than normal in Palm Beach this weekend. Not only is he joined by Pat Cipollone & Emmet Flood, but also other members of the legal team, both press secretaries and several other West Wing officials. Usually only a handful of aides travel”
posted by StrawberryPie at 3:53 PM on March 23


Moreover, it would be consistent with Trump's MO whenever he doesn't want to do a thing that many people feel he ought to do. He says "I want to do this thing." A day or two goes by. Then his lawyers come out with a statement saying "Trump will not be doing this thing." Then Trump says "I want to do this thing, but here my lawyers are saying I cannot. They are the bad guys, not me." Trump's moronic followers eat it up.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:55 PM on March 23 [13 favorites]


“President Trump is surrounded by more staff than normal in Palm Beach this weekend. Not only is he joined by Pat Cipollone & Emmet Flood, but also other members of the legal team, both press secretaries and several other West Wing officials. Usually only a handful of aides travel”

I think this is a good sign that Trump et al fear the findings, especially if he's already seen the report. I love the smell of flopsweat in the morning!
posted by carmicha at 4:03 PM on March 23 [7 favorites]




I'm sorry, I can't take Taibbi seriously when his entire article is ripping the media for jumping the gun and connecting too many dots, yet his second paragraph is doing exactly that:

As has long been rumored, the former FBI chief’s independent probe will result in multiple indictments and convictions, but no “presidency-wrecking” conspiracy charges, or anything that would meet the layman’s definition of “collusion” with Russia.


It's one thing to argue the media fucked up the Russia story, but he chooses to completely ignore all of the publicly available information (from guilty pleas, convictions, and DTJR's fucking emails) that is exactly evidence of collusion (not proof, mind you, but evidence).

Further, I'm challenged to accept the thesis in that essay. I simply can't imagine how anyone could argue the media has messed this story up in the same manner that they messed up WMDs in Iraq. The failure of Iraq was to accept the government line regarding intelligence reporting that the media had no obvious way of falsifying. With Russiagate, there's no such analog--Taibbi spends forever on the Steele dossier trying to act as though that's the same as the yellow cake uranium reporting. But it isn't at all the same, and there's way more to this story (including admitting obstruction of justice on national fucking television) than the dossier, which every outlet except Fox News has basically moved on from.
posted by Room 101 at 5:28 PM on March 23 [14 favorites]


I’m sorry, but if you’re going to post links to original “reporting” in here, don’t act surprised when some of us actually click the links:
Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.
This is, shall we say, not the observation of a sober observer in this particular universe.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:32 PM on March 23 [12 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler:
I keep wondering if William Barr has been reflecting today about these comments he made.
Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function. Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.
* * *
"Do you believe a President could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient's promise to not incriminate him?" Leahy asked.

"No. That would be a crime," Barr responded.
Some things Trump has done that the Attorney General says amount to a crime:

1) Floated pardons to at least 3 people
2) Had his lawyer edit false testimony
3) Draft a statement that became false testimony
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:34 PM on March 23 [24 favorites]


Those are apparently just "process crimes".
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:39 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]


I look forward to seeing them all in “process jail.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:41 PM on March 23 [54 favorites]


As appalling as it is, I am fascinated to see the introduction of a new term like "process crime" work its way into the mainstream of public consciousness in real-time, thanks to its vigorous promotion by everybody's favorite propaganda network and their allies.

It's repugnant to me to think that anyone is cynical enough to deliberately construct such phrases in order to excuse criminal culpability at the highest levels of our government but it's clearly the process of a unified messaging push, rather than just something that a guest threw out there which the network glommed onto. It would not, in fact, surprise me in the least if it had been workshopped, focus-grouped, tested via push-polls, and who knows what else. I know this is not news but we can never forget for a moment that this is not the effort of a few crazies who somehow wound up at the top -- our current situation is the result of a decades-long coordinated campaign to undermine American values and manipulate opinion for the most cynical of ends.
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:55 PM on March 23 [16 favorites]


Isn't a "process crime" still a crime crime?
posted by kirkaracha at 6:02 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]


As appalling as it is, I am fascinated to see the introduction of a new term like "process crime" work its way into the mainstream of public consciousness in real-time, thanks to its vigorous promotion by everybody's favorite propaganda network and their allies.

I don't think it's term they just made up.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:10 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Seems like astute talking-points-makers could rebut this easily enough: "Thing is, many 'process crimes' are felonies, which carry prison time. Which attorneys advising the president know."
posted by Rykey at 6:16 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]


WaPo Opinion (from January): How Trump defenders try to play down charges against his associates

“Many of the charges brought so far by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against those close to President Trump — including Stone, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen — involve similar charges of lying to investigators or to Congress. Trump’s supporters have been quick to dismiss such charges as mere “process crimes.” As a former federal prosecutor, I can tell you prosecutors don’t use the term ‘process crimes.’ They just call them ‘crimes’ and take them very seriously, because these crimes threaten the very foundations of the justice system.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:19 PM on March 23 [13 favorites]


They're only "process crime" when committed by Republicans. The media, to say nothing of Republicans, didn't draw any distinction between "process crimes" and "actual crimes" for either Bill or Hilary Clinton. And tried for 4 years to find any crimes, process or otherwise, connected to Benghazi.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:33 PM on March 23 [12 favorites]


Why doesn't the HSCI just subpoena I-1 and get this thing going. He'd admit to 20 crimes in his opening statement, which he'd veer off from many times.
posted by petebest at 6:41 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Aiding in the cover up of Russia's crimes IS collusion, in my book. It helps the Russians get away with it. Being part of the cover up is like being the getaway driver.

And that's what Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos, Stone and Cohen lied in service of. (Not to mention Patten!)

The "process crimes" are the collusion.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:05 PM on March 23 [10 favorites]


Benjamin Wittes writes in Lawfare: How to Understand the End of the Mueller Investigation (Hint: You Can’t Yet)
I have a confession: I don’t understand the reaction to the news of the Mueller investigation’s end. I don’t understand the evident glee among some of the president’s defenders. I don’t understand the gloom among some of the president’s critics. I don’t understand either why people seem surprised at news that has been foreshadowed for months in a sequence of stories by good reporters in a variety of different reputable news outlets.[…]

But here’s the thing: Having vested in an executive branch official the principal authority to investigate the president—having done so knowing that this official cannot indict the president, and thus knowing also that all he can do is “report” about him—the report becomes everything. It becomes the only mechanism by which you can figure out why the investigation is over. It becomes the central vehicle for the redeployment of the criminal probe for all of the other democratic purposes we have invested in that probe. At least as regards the president himself, one cannot then read much into the end of the investigation without reference to the text of the report. The report is the investigation and the investigation is the report.

If the Mueller report declares that there was, as a factual matter, no cause for concern about the relationship between President Trump and the Russian Federation, I will accept that finding. If it declares that the evidence of an untoward relationship between Trump world and Russia is insufficient to justify criminal prosecution, I will accept that finding. If Mueller concludes that the president’s interactions with law enforcement were all within his Article II powers, I will confine my future criticisms of Trump on this score to the normative acceptability of his conduct and accept the judgment that the criminal law has nothing to say about such presidential behavior. But to accept these conclusions, one needs to be in the same position that one is in at the end of a normal high-profile investigation. That is, one needs to know within a certain broad set of parameters not merely that the investigation has concluded but why.

We don’t know that yet. Until we do, the end of the Mueller investigation means very little—a great deal less than many people seem to imagine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:28 PM on March 23 [19 favorites]


> As appalling as it is, I am fascinated to see
> the introduction of a new term like "process
> crime" work its way into the mainstream of
> public consciousness in real-time..
I don't think it's term they just made up.
No, you're right, and I struggled (clearly unsuccessfully) with how to express in simple terms that the term, while not newly coined, is pretty newly introduced to the public discussion of these kinds of issues.

But probably by the end of the weekend and if not, certainly within a week it will have been repeated hundreds of times on Fox and people who had never heard the term before will have strong and surprisingly deeply held opinions on how process crimes are or are not different in nature than "regular" crime. And I would venture to guess that while we're having a national argument about the nature of process crime we'll wind up talking a lot less about the underlying criminal acts committed by Trump and his enablers than we otherwise might be.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:11 PM on March 23 [17 favorites]


Fair enough, Nerd of the North. Sorry for the misunderstanding - probably a sign I should get some sleep.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:37 PM on March 23


See, “process crimes” are the kind of crimes committed by wealthy, connected white people. So they are dismissible as irrelevant. Mere peccadilloes, really.

“Regular crimes” are committed by those “other” people. So they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the mandatory-sentencing-minimum, tough-on-crime, broken-window-theory, three-strikes, rule of the long arm of the law, don’t you know.
posted by darkstar at 8:48 PM on March 23 [19 favorites]


“But once you realize McConnell has already achieved his life’s dream, and ascended to the limits of his ambition, his behavior suddenly starts to make more sense. He’s not trying to cap off his career with a legislative masterstroke, because he doesn’t care about legislation. He already won. He’s the Senate majority leader, his parliamentary prowess is regularly feted, and he has already left his legacy indelibly inscribed on the highest court in the land.” Mitch McConnell, Nihilist In-Chief

Just wanted to agree that this Alex Pareene article is a good Mitch McConnell encapsulation, and well worth the time! Rich interior lives and convictions are overrated.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:10 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


You guys, I just checked and Trump hasn't tweeted at all today. Not once. That, more than anything else, gives me hope about what's in Mueller's report.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:20 PM on March 23 [24 favorites]


See, “process crimes” are the kind of crimes committed by wealthy, connected white people. So they are dismissible as irrelevant. Mere peccadilloes, really.

Agree with all of the above, but Clinton was impeached over a process crime. It’s not enough to be wealthy, white, and connected to get a pass on process crimes - you also have to be Republican.
posted by SakuraK at 9:49 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]


Mueller's Report is Done -- Here's What to Expect Now.

You guys, I just checked and Trump hasn't tweeted at all today. Not once. That, more than anything else, gives me hope about what's in Mueller's report.

He hasn't tweeted in *32 hours*, and hasn't mentioned the Mueller Report. Someone on his staff has definitely put the fear of God into him, and my guess is they may have taken away his phone.
posted by orange swan at 10:11 PM on March 23 [12 favorites]


Donald Trump has been committing 'process crimes' since long before he declared himself as a Republican, and was waved on by prosecutors including Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie. You don't HAVE to be Republican in New York to get away with it (but it helps). If he can handwave away the specific charge of 'collusion', there are so many other crimes for today's prosecutors to choose from... they just need to find a combination of crimes that are not shared by the entire Forbes 400.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:21 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


"Process crime" might have been a practical distinction in the past, but now it just means that law enforcement is to blame for any criminality they uncover. Just like "gotcha journalism" had a useful meaning until it was used to shame the press for asking a republican VP nominee what newspapers she was reading.
posted by peeedro at 10:43 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]


Pelosi has said that she will not try to impeach Trump without compelling evidence and broad based bi-partisan support. We don't know what's in the report, but the lack of new indictments suggests it does not include the kind of smoking gun evidence Pelosi feels is needed to move forward.

Where will that leave us? Waiting to see what other investigations find while we sit on a mountain of circumstantial evidence and impeachable offenses? Again, we don't know what's in the report, but this possible paralysis in the face of obvious wrong doing doesn't bode well for the country.
posted by xammerboy at 10:43 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


None of the kids or Kushner got indicted, that speaks for itself pretty clearly.

Mueller report: Trump camp celebrates but danger is not past yet (Guardian)
Kushner is reportedly cooperating with the committee’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by firing perceived enemies, such as FBI director James Comey, from the justice department and abused his power by possibly dangling pardons or tampering with witnesses.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:44 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


@JuliaDavisNews: Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee: "After Trump's Golan statement, any demagoguery about Crimea is groundless."

Politico, Trump's Golan Fiasco: Recognizing the disputed territory won't help Israel. But it will reverberate all over the world.
So the fallout from Trump’s abandonment of these principles will extend well beyond the Golan Heights. Take American opposition to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea—Trump now has no leg to stand on. Moscow can likewise call out American hypocrisy in its refusal to recognize the Russian-sponsored “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia. Morocco and Algeria can now dismiss the U.N. mediator for the Western Sahara, whose work Trump’s administration has sought to bolster. Or what if Saudi Arabia waltzes into Qatar? If Washington stops upholding the core international principle opposing the acquisition of territory by force, we should expect more states to seize territory they covet from their neighbors.
posted by zachlipton at 11:59 PM on March 23 [22 favorites]


Foreign policy doesn't seem to be the President's strong suit...

Seems like most of his policies help Russia more than the US interests. How odd...
posted by Windopaene at 12:09 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


But apart from foreign policy, domestic policy, the symbolic duties of the office, respecting the rule of law, and setting an example for our children he's ok!
posted by Justinian at 12:32 AM on March 24 [26 favorites]


As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York
Even as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, submitted his confidential report to the Justice Department on Friday, federal and state prosecutors are pursuing about a dozen other investigations that largely grew out of his work, all but ensuring that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates, according to court records and interviews with people briefed on the investigations. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, with about half of them being run by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.
About the Mueller report: I'm thinking how it must be to be Barr. I have no doubt that the report is damning, and points directly at the president and his crime family. Its release will lead to at least huge political turmoil, at worst a constitutional crisis. How does one handle that as a Republican and as Attorney General, a member of the administration? I think the silence we are hearing now is very natural and it covers a chaotic scramble to figure out what to do. Because of course the Trump administration didn't plan in advance for something like this to happen even though they must have known it would happen for at least a year now. Maybe they will figure out some patch that will fool the Fox viewers and push out the release for a while. But the report will come out. This is the leakiest administration ever.
posted by mumimor at 2:49 AM on March 24 [11 favorites]


Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris posted a thread about reasonable expectations for the Mueller report:
Regarding Mueller, there are of course a lot of possibilities, but here are a few predictions to occupy the mind while we wait.

First, we are told no more indictments are coming (beyond the many already filed), but I bet the Mueller report will still include significant new derogatory information on the Trump inner circle and probably on POTUS himself.

My bet is that, despite this new derogatory information, Mueller declined to bring new indictments mainly for "prudential reasons." Meaning, for example, that some key evidence cant be used because it's classified (despite CIPA); or there are problems with witnesses or document provenance; or the evidence shows that guilt is very likely, but it isn't quite proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.

If/when all or most of the facts come out, which is very likely, Trump critics will say Mueller was too cautious (I would not be surprised if some *within* SCO held that view), but in any event they will argue that the report makes out a clear case to impeach. Trump defenders, I predict, will go with "no-indictment-no-collusion" and/or discover a newfound appreciation for DOJ traditions and the vital democracy-protecting prudential standards in the Justice Manual.

In the end, however, while it may not be as sexy as Russia, I predict that SDNY (or NYAG) will get him fair and square for campaign finance or other crimes.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:48 AM on March 24 [19 favorites]


The NYT has some DoJ leaks in their update yesterday: Mueller’s Findings Will Remain Confidential at Least Another Day
Attorney General William P. Barr and his team on Saturday pored over the highly anticipated report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, a senior Justice Department official said, preparing to deliver the investigation’s “principal conclusions” to jittery lawmakers and President Trump as soon as Sunday.

Mr. Barr and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller and oversaw much of his work, were cloistered inside the Justice Department debating how to present the findings. Mr. Mueller was not participating in the process, the official said.[…]

Only a few people in the Justice Department had seen the report and a copy had not been given to the White House, said the senior law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.[…]

When Mr. Barr was briefed on the investigation this month, he was told that there would be no more subpoenas or indictments, and that Mr. Mueller’s team was ready to wrap up in mid-March, according to people familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to discuss it. The special counsel’s office later notified Mr. Barr that it needed a few additional days to take care of administrative issues, which pushed the delivery to Friday.
And Maggie Haberman contributes Trumpworld leaks:
Allies surrounding the president at Mar-a-Lago found themselves in a similar place. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and aides urged him to stay quiet, people briefed on the discussions said. Wait and see what was in the report, and trust that Mr. Barr is not trying to harm you, they cautioned. They assured him that there would be ample time to claim vindication after they knew what was in the report, the people said.[…]

One friend of Mr. Trump said that despite his outward good spirits, the president remained anxious about the contents of the report and was concerned that its release was taking longer than he expected.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has been canvassing friends and allies for their opinions of Mr. Barr, a long-serving Republican legal hand who was confirmed last month. Mr. Trump, people who have spoken with him said, does not know Mr. Barr well or what to expect from him.

“Do you know Barr?” the president has asked others of his attorney general.
(Caveat lector, as always—this isn’t what the players are necessarily thinking as much as what they want people to think they’re thinking.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:07 AM on March 24 [14 favorites]


Politico: Pelosi tells Dems she'll reject highly classified briefing on Mueller findings
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Saturday she’ll rebuff any efforts by the Justice Department to reveal details of special counsel Robert Mueller's findings in a highly classified setting — a tactic she warned could be employed to shield the report's conclusions from the public.

Three sources who participated in a conference call among House Democrats said Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers she worried the Justice Department would seek to disclose Mueller's conclusions to the so-called Gang of Eight — the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate — which handles the nation’s most sensitive secrets. The substance of Gang of Eight briefings are heavily guarded.

“Everyone pounded the transparency drum continuously,” said a source who was on the Saturday afternoon call.[…]

During the conference call, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) both cited the Clinton precedent as evidence to support their calls for complete transparency.
Also yesterday, from the WaPo: Democrats will direct FBI, White House counsel to preserve records shared with Mueller
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:18 AM on March 24 [19 favorites]


The drought is over.
@RealDonaldTrump:
7:01:44 Good Morning, Have A Great Day!
7:02:59 MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
posted by pjenks at 6:41 AM on March 24 [7 favorites]


Our prez-bot has rebooted.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:17 AM on March 24 [25 favorites]


The drought is over.

Those tweets sound like a kidnapper has his phone and is sending unconvincing proof of life.
posted by Emera Gratia at 7:19 AM on March 24 [68 favorites]


The drought is over.

Probably a mistake for me to try to read the twitter tea leaves, but those tweets feel like "they're starting to do stories about how unusual it is he hasn't tweeted, so we better tweet something." But if he rages about it, then it'll come off as the report having damning evidence, and if he praises it then the next question is: why not release the full report?
posted by bluecore at 7:20 AM on March 24 [18 favorites]


Update about Charlottesville: Police have arrested the person who posted the threat, who's been identified as a teenager who lives in Albermarle County just outside Charlottesville. Schools will reopen Monday.
posted by nangar at 8:05 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


Fox News Poll today showing the two old white guys still dominating the democratic field with Biden at 31%, Sanders at 23% and everyone else in single digits.
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


> I don’t understand the reaction to the news of the Mueller investigation’s end. I don’t understand the evident glee among some of the president’s defenders. I don’t understand the gloom among some of the president’s critics.

The American public has a twenty-minute attention span and no capacity for nuanced understanding. If the Mueller report is anything but utterly, immediately damning, there's a very good chance the way it'll be reported is 'no new indictments, guess that means they didn't find anything,' and that'll be the end of public interest in it. And public interest in it is the only thing that can possibly compel Congress to act against Trump. The broad public perception of it is, unfortunately, very important.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:35 AM on March 24 [32 favorites]


Of all the screwy, wrong, and even evil stuff that Trump has done... that recognition of Golan, it seems so incredibly wrong and stupid, even for him. Surely nobody, not even Bolton, would be advocating for such an unforced error. He did not even devote 45 seconds to thinking through the repercussions of that decision. What a maroon.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:03 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


@JenniferJJacobs: Congress will get highlights of the Mueller report today from the attorney general, @cstrohm reports.

(@JenniferJJacobs - White House reporter for Bloomberg).
posted by Buntix at 10:27 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Surely nobody, not even Bolton, would be advocating for such an unforced error. He did not even devote 45 seconds to thinking through the repercussions of that decision.

I'm quite sure he did it for no better reason than feeling sympatico with Bibi.
posted by flabdablet at 10:50 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman is hearing this as well: “Barr's report to Congress on Mueller's "principal conclusions" is expected today, per source familiar with the situation” And “AG Bill Barr, DAG Rod Rosenstein, and DOJ's congressional liaison Stephen Boyd are all here at DOJ headquarters today”
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:51 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Did Mueller even interview Don Jr., Ivanka, or Jared?

I don't understand why he didn't indict Don Jr. and Jared for their involvement in the Trump Tower meeting. Publicly-available evidence suggests they're guilty as fuck.

I get not indicting Trump due to the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president (even though I disagree with it) but what excuse is there for not indicting the family members?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:33 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


Recall that Mueller built his career on and has kind of almost a passion for wrapping up crime families and large syndicates. I still believe we're about to see the shit really hit the fan.
posted by odinsdream at 11:35 AM on March 24 [11 favorites]