We Must Turn The Country Around

Balloon Juice - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 15:14

I attended a symposium on authoritarianism a week or so ago. Two of the presentations implicitly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and Hugo Chavez. The parallels are striking. Jay West, retired from teaching Russian history at Middlebury College, spoke about Nazi Germany and the temptations of fascism, something that naturally accompanies Russian history. Charles Shapiro, American ambassador to Venezuela during the Chavez years, spoke about his experience with Chavez.

Hitler, Chavez, and Donald Trump were all elected. Portions of the electorate disapproved of them for one reason or another, but they supported them because they thought they shared common goals and that those elected would be controllable. West and Shapiro gave much longer lists.

Trump has removed the people who might have braked his worst inclinations: the generals and legal staff and cabinet members who have carried out his orders imperfectly in his judgment. He has hollowed out government agencies designed to provide the president with information. He is behaving increasingly erratically; he now opposes his own State Department on Libya. Policy on North Korea and Russia is equally confused. This is the way wars start. Trump has threatened legal action against his enemies. Mitch McConnell is packing the courts with judges who will approve Trump’s agenda. Trump’s rhetoric uses hate and fear to divide the country.

We are in a sequence of events similar to those of the 1930s in Germany or the early 2000s in Venezuela. We must do something that the Germans of the Weimar Republic and the Venezuelans failed to do: stop the progress toward fascism and destruction.

I can’t think of a historical example of a country this far down that road that turned back, but that may be my limitation. Populism had some successes in the United States in the late 19th century, so there may be some examples there. If you’ve got an example, please send it along; we need to look at the historical successes as well as the disasters that rivet our attention.

Today’s situation, while analogous to points along the way to those historical disasters, has significant differences. The courts have struck down a number of Trump’s initiatives, most recently Trump’s reversal of a moratorium from the Obama administration on federal coal leasing. According to the Mueller report, members of the administration have slowed or thwarted actions Trump desired. Voters mobilized sufficiently in November 2018 to turn the House of Representatives Democratic. The system is partly holding.

With the Mueller report, the press seems to be turning from its reflexive “both sides do it” and the overwhelming desire to see Trump become a “normal” president. It’s not clear whether this change in direction will last.

Trump is far from giving up. He has shown extreme persistence in trying to find a way to build a wall along America’s southern border, legal or not. As French Ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, said

[Trump] once criticized the French president [Emmanuel Macron], and people called me from Paris to say, “What should we do?” My answer was clear: “Nothing.” Do nothing because he will always outbid you. Because he can’t accept appearing to lose. You have restraint on your side, and he has no restraint on his side, so you lose. It is escalation dominance.

Trump and his minions are now touting the Mueller report as a success for them. How far that fiction will go is not clear.

A segment of the population will continue to support Trump no matter what; they will see information unfavorable to him as a test of faith. Another segment has been strongly opposed to him since he began his presidential campaign. A middle segment that supported him may have reservations about his behavior in office that are now reinforced by the Mueller report. Elected Republicans are totally committed to him or have felt that they need to support him to avoid primary challenges.

Most analyses of the possibility of impeachment look at those divisions and commonplace sentiments about how voters are likely to behave. There is no reason to believe that any of that basis is lasting. It is very early for polls, but an Ipsos-Reuters poll shows a decrease in Trump’s support. The Mueller report is wide-ranging over Trump’s malfeasance. It will continue to make news, which is likely to continue to erode his support. Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins have expressed concern about Trump’s behavior. Yes, they have expressed concern before in empty ways. Let’s see how this goes.

My point is that a static analysis of impeachment is a mistake. Opinions will change as investigations continue in the House of Representatives. Trump will likely become more incoherent and unhinged in his tweets, which even many of his fans express doubts about. Opinions will change.

We don’t know the direction of that change, of course, but I suspect it would be largely against Trump. It’s possible there would be a reaction in his favor, although that seems unlikely as more of his malfeasance is revealed. There will be little change if things continue as they are. But if we are to stop the descent into fascism, we must change direction.


Categories: Politics

Saturday midday open thread: U.S. energy consumption rose 4% in 2018; reflections on Columbine at 20

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 15:00

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos…

  • Politicians are not celebrities, and we are constituents, not fans, by Mark E Andersen
  • Trump colluded with Russia and obstructed justice. Right-wing won't care but independents just might, by Ian Reifowitz
  • After Trump team lied about Mueller report, press has no reason to ever believe them again, by Eric Boehlert
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' Fox News town hall: a template for a Democrat in the foxhole, by Egberto Willies
  • Trump's immigration plans are all about pain, fear, cowardice, bigotry, and punishment, by Frank Vyan Walton
  • Election 2020: Who's got policies? Who's got platitudes? by Sher Watts Spooner
  • Trump and Barr bring three decades of GOP criminality full circle, by Jon Perr
  • After the Barr hoax, press has no reason to ever believe Trump team again, by Eric Boehlert
  • Resurrection from the ashes, by Denise Oliver Velez  

Republican State Rep. joined on-line discussions about taking violent action against leftists:

Washington state Republican politician took part in private discussions with rightwing figures about carrying out surveillance, “psyops” and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies, according to chat records obtained by the Guardian.

State representative Matt Shea, who represents Spokane Valley in the Washington state house, participated in the chats with three other men. All of the men used screen aliases – Shea’s was “Verum Bellator”, Latin for true warrior. The Guardian confirmed the identity of those in the chat by cross-checking phone numbers attached to the Signal accounts.

U.S. coal production down again in 2018, but energy consumption way up: Overall consumption from sources of all kinds rose by 4% while consumption of natural gas rose 10%.  Fossil fuels account for 80% of Americans’ energy use. Renewable energy consumption also hit a record high, with a 22% rise in the use of solar power. Wind and solar now make up the most of the new U.S. electricity generation as costs continue to decline. But while the growth in their use has soared, renewables still make up just a sliver of overall energy consumption. Chris Field, a climate scientist and director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, says these statistics from the Energy Information Administration shows the U.S. doesn’t have the policy levers needed to ensure that renewable fuels are chosen for new electricity-generating installations. “Renewables are increasingly rapidly, but not as rapidly as necessary to drive down total [greenhouse gas] emissions,” he said.



Families of Columbine High School shooting victims reflect on hope and healing on the 20th anniversary of the slayings

“Columbine is something to the Columbine community that the rest of the world will never understand,” said Coni Sanders, daughter of Dave Sanders, the teacher who bled to death inside a classroom that day while desperate students tried to save his life. “I’m somewhat saddened over the years that Columbine became a euphemism for mass shooting. It’s become a fascination for murderers around the world.

“It used to be a flower,” she said wistfully. “It used to be a school. It used to be a community that now, if you say it even 20 years later, people will tell you where they were when they heard about it, what they remember about it, how they’re connected to it. It’s like a fantasy thinking back to what Columbine was prior to April 20, 1999, and I wish with all my heart that’s what it could still be. But it’s not.”

Movement to build national support for a Green New Deal kicks off in Boston, “City of Revolutions.”

More than five weeks after massacre in Christchurch, videos of the shootings are still on Facebook: 

[37] days after a terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, live streamed their attack on Facebookthe world’s biggest and most well resourced social media network is still hosting copies of the violent attack video on its own platform as well as Instagram.

Some of the videos, which are slices of the original 17 minute clip, are trimmed down to one minute or so chunks, and are open to be viewed by anyone. In one instance, instead of removing the video, which shows the terrorist shooting and murdering innocent civilians from a first-person perspective, Facebook has simply marked the clip as potentially containing “violent or graphic content.” A video with that tag requires Facebook users to click a confirmation that they wish to view the footage.

The news highlights Facebook’s continued failure to keep one of the most high profile pieces of white supremacist terrorist propaganda off its platform, and which originated on Facebook in the first place.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

Categories: Politics

Message To Squishy Democrats: Do Your Sworn Duty!

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 14:16
 Do Your Sworn Duty!

It shouldn't take an ex-Republican to tell Democrats to do their duty, but that's what happened on AM Joy this morning. David Jolly was blunt: "They have a duty under the constitution to consider whether or not the president broke the law."

Indeed. Then Jolly took it one step further, and again hit the nail on the head.

"And the finality that will confront Democrats is this," he warned. "If you refuse to impeach the president and hold him accountable, you're taking the same actions that Attorney General Bill Barr is taking by saying, 'I see the Mueller evidence, but I'm not going to hold the president accountable.'"

This should go without saying! The only reasons I can see for any Democrat, whether a voter or an elected official, to demur from their moral, ethical and constitutional duty is ignorance (they haven't taken the time to read the report) or cowardice. Republicans will shirk their duty because they're addicted to power and are completely sold out to the Trump Crime Syndicate (see Romney, Willard).

Bottom line: There are no other options and we shouldn't need a former Republican to tell us that.

To put an exclamation point on it, hear what panelists Tara Dowdell and Elie Mystal have to say.

"But the arguments that people are making is that it's going to divide the country. We're already divided," Dowdell said. To which I say, AMEN. Stop pretending we're not.

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Categories: Politics

GOP Inc., wholly owned by Donald Trump, is solidifying its alienation of college educated white vote

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 14:00

Robert Mueller's redacted Russia report was frankly too thorough, stunning, and damning to reduce down to any one singular conclusion. But the response to Mueller’s opus on Capitol Hill did make one takeaway crystal clear: While Democrats are grappling with how to move forward given the depraved portrait Mueller painted of Donald Trump, Republicans have entirely cemented their place in history as a pack of servile lap dogs, though nowhere near as cute or cuddly.

Unless I missed something, with the one exception of Sen. Mitt Romney declaring himself “sickened” by the revelations, Republicans either bit their tongues or went ahead and sacrificed any shred of dignity they had left at the alter of their 2020 reelection. Witness Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who will be vying next year to continue his servitude as a useless Trump minion.


Cornyn, once again proving, there's absolutely nothing Trump can do that's too gross, unpresidential, or even treasonous that Republicans won't give him cover. What that means is that every GOP lawmaker fighting for reelection next year has affixed their fate to Trump—a man who deeply believes that some 60 percent of the electorate doesn't matter and is in fact worthy of derision.

Categories: Politics

Current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani calls former Trump attorney Don McGahn a liar

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 13:53

The first responsibility of being Donald Trump’s lawyer seems to be attacking Donald Trump’s previous lawyers. First that meant Michael Cohen, and now it’s former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

So far as Trump is concerned, McGahn made a basic error—he was truthful and cooperated with a criminal investigation. In the process McGahn made it clear just how much Trump tried to hamstring, harm, and end the investigation into Russia’s interference in a the 2016 election. As the New York Times reports, McGahn became one of witnesses most cited in the report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller. References to the White House counsel’s testimony came up 157 times. 

And there was a good reason. Trump twice called on McGahn to remove Mueller and end the investigation. That includes an event in June 2017, just a month after the investigation began, in which Trump claimed that McGahn should get Mueller fired because “he had several conflict of interest issues.” Instead, McGahn threatened to resign, saying that Trump was ordering him to do “crazy shit.”

Clearly, speaking the truth is the one sin that cannot be tolerate by Trump or anyone around him, so current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has issued an attack on McGahn. According to Giuliani, McGahn’s statements “can’t be taken at face value.” He followed up by speculating that McGahn was lying, or McGahn wasn’t remembering correctly, or Trump was only making a joke by “venting his frustrations” with Mueller.

Trump had previously posted a twisted attack on McGahn’s credibility for a reason that for anyone else, would seem incredibly strange. McGahn took notes during meetings. According to the former counsel, Trump asked about the notes at the time, and McGahn had to explain that it was what “real lawyers” did. But Trump later tweeted “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”

Trump famously does not take notes. Or use email. Or do anything else that can possibly be used to document the instructions he provides to others. The concept that other people want an accurate record of events isn’t just odd to Trump, it’s threatening.

Categories: Politics

Laura Ingraham Thinks Damning Mueller Report Proves She And Fox Are Owed Apologies

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 13:38
Laura Ingraham Thinks Damning Mueller Report Proves She And Fox Are Owed Apologies

Apparently, Laura Ingraham thinks that just because Donald Trump was not indicted or otherwise directly accused of a crime in the Mueller report, that proves she and Fox News Trumpers were right about a witch hunt!

I haven’t read the complete Mueller report yet but the behavior described in it is shocking for anyone in public office. And Mueller explicitly did not exonerate Trump, especially in regard to obstruction of justice.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller writes. “We are unable to reach such a judgment.”

As The New York Times put it, the report reveals the White House as a “culture of dishonesty.” "So many lies. So many changed stories ...The report recaps one false statement after another," The Times wrote in the second of its seven key takeaways.

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Categories: Politics

Dear Congress: 5 Reasons To Start The Impeachment Process

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 13:36
 5 Reasons To Start The Impeachment Process

Dear Congress,

Before the Mueller report came out, starting the impeachment process seemed like a bad political move. But avoiding impeachment is no longer an option. Because in the words of America's favorite show, Winter is Here. You need to finish the job that Bob Mueller started.

The Special Counsel went as far as he could given the restraints of the DOJ and Attorney General Barr. You need to shine a light on what is going on with the Trump administration. Start the impeachment process to send a message that there is accountability and rule of law in this country. You don't have to FINISH the process---just get things moving! We've waited for 2 years while Trump and his team have walked all over America's laws and rules, we can't wait another 2 years if we want to keep our democracy safe.

Here are 5 good reasons to start the Impeachment process.

#1 - Mueller Created a Roadmap

Mueller gave Congress a detailed roadmap to begin impeachment proceedings. Mueller and team investigated for two years, gathering an insane amount of factual details that can't be shrugged off as "fake news". It is the duty of Congress to follow Mueller's facts to find out more.

Mehdi Hasan wrote a great letter to Congress about this subject:

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Categories: Politics

Elie Mystal Nails The Problem With Institutionalists

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 13:23

As can have been expected, most of Saturday morning's AM Joy show focused on the Mueller Report, and how Democrats should consider shaping their response. It was a refreshing change from Thursday's and Friday's coverage, which seemed to take a cautious, "let's be practical" approach to how to proceed — especially regarding impeachment. What has felt like a lying down, playing dead response from many of the liberal talking heads has been infuriating. As always, Joy Reid's panel had a super cross-section of opinions, but the majority brought the message home with force that this is not a time to play timid.

Joyce Vance (whom I love - let's be clear) played the role of the calming, this is how things are supposed to work, let's give it time, and Mueller was respecting the rule of law kind of role, particularly when it came to the OLC memo. But guess what? The ultimate rule of law in this land is the Constitution, and it is extremely clear about the circumstances under which Congress not only a right, but a duty to impeach when our executive branch is in the hands of someone like Trump.

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Categories: Politics

Columbine: 20 years

Balloon Juice - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 13:19

It never gets easier. It’s difficult to realize these beautiful children might now have children of their own. Maybe one of them would have run for office or become the scientist who solved climate change.

It was awful when it happened, so close to home. What I didn’t realize was it was going to keep happening….


Categories: Politics

Rick Stengel Is All Of Us — WHY DIDN'T Mueller Say He Wanted To Indict Trump?

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 12:19

There was a pretty vigorous argument going on over at Deadline White House today over how explicitly Mueller should have stated that he wanted to indict Trump for obstruction of justice. Rick Stengel represented most of us frustrated Democrats who cannot for the life of us understand why Mueller did not go the extra step of actually either indicting Trump for obstruction, or at the very least, SAYING he wanted to indict him, but was constrained by the OLC guidelines stating he shouldn't.

Here's what the Mueller report stated:

"The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."

Wallace recounted a New York Times article, which said that the report makes it crystal clear — the evidence it contains can and should be examined by other institutions (HELLO, CONGRESS!) for potential action to be taken. It states the investigation was conducted, in part, to preserve the memories and evidence while they were still fresh and materials available. Also from the Mueller report:

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Categories: Politics

Baked Alaska: Global warming turns deadly in America's largest state

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 11:56

Throughout the spring, climate change has generated refugees across much of the Midwest as unprecedented storms and record flooding drove thousands from their homes and flooded farms, business, neighborhoods, and military bases. But the climate change being experienced over most of the United States is mild compared to what’s happening further north. With the Arctic on track for a record year of melting ice and above freezing temperatures becoming more common even in winter darkness, things are changing in a way that is turning into a place that even its oldest residents do not recognize.

As the Washington Post reports, temperatures this spring in Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow) weren’t up by one degree, or two, or even three — they were an astounding 18.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. That kind of drastic change has turned the areas’ traditional ice roads into lakes, exposed villages normally sheltered by sea ice to the pounding of spring storms, and it has led to at least five deaths when people fell through ice that had never before been an issue.

In many areas of the state there are no permanent highways. Lakes and rivers have long been treated as transport corridors, and some villages can only be reached by snowmobile. But with the warming conditions, routes that have been solid for generations are turning into dangerous slush. Three people, including an 11-year-old-girl, died in the last week after an excursion to visit family ended by a plunge through fragile ice.

Alaskan natives have experience in the area that goes back long before written history. But that experience doesn’t help, because none of their ancestors—going back to those who first crossed the ice to enter the area—have ever experienced conditions like those in Alaska today.

Utqiaġvik has set an all time high temperature rating in 28 out of the last 100 days. At this extreme northern point, the ground should still be hard frozen and any sign of spring still weeks away. Instead, rains are falling, permafrost is thawing, and both animals and people are struggling to adapt to an environment that has not existed for millions of years.

Categories: Politics

Excellent Reads: The Washington Post Takes Much-Deserved Victory Lap

Balloon Juice - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 11:40

Book critic Carlos Lozada:

The Mueller report is that rare Washington tell-all that surpasses its pre-publication hype.

Sure, it is a little longer than necessary. Too many footnotes and distracting redactions. The writing is often flat, and the first half of the book drags, covering plenty of terrain that has been described elsewhere. The story shifts abruptly between riveting insider tales and dense legalisms. Its protagonist doesn’t really come alive until halfway through, once Volume I (on Russian interference) gives way to Volume II (on obstruction of justice). The title — far too prosaic, really — feels like a missed opportunity. And it hardly helps that the book’s earliest reviewer, Attorney General William Barr, seems to have willfully misunderstood the point of it; he probably should not have been assigned to review it at all.

Yet as an authoritative account, the Mueller report is the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency. It was delivered to the attorney general but is also written for history. The book reveals the president in all his impulsiveness, insecurity and growing disregard for rules and norms; White House aides alternating between deference to the man and defiance of his “crazy s—” requests; and a campaign team too inept to realize, or too reckless to care, when they might have been bending the law. And special counsel Robert Mueller has it all under oath, on the record, along with interviews and contemporaneous notes backing it up. No need for a “Note on Use of Anonymous Sources” disclaimer. Mueller doesn’t just have receipts — he seems to know what almost everyone wanted to buy.

Befitting a best-selling work of political nonfiction — less than 24 hours after the report went online Thursday, paperback versions took the top two spots in Amazon’s new-release sales ranking — the Mueller report has its miniseries-ready signature moments. There is the obligatory expletive for the ages, when President Trump learns that Mueller has been appointed as special counsel. “This is the end of my presidency,” he moans. “I’m fucked.” There is the embarrassing contradiction from the president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who told reporters that countless FBI employees loved the firing of director James Comey but then admits to investigators that she’d made it up. (Though, in truth, it’s only embarrassing if Sanders maintains any residual capacity for said emotion.) There’s the contrast between the president’s public bluster, evident in his Twitter rants, and his private diffidence, embodied in Trump’s lawyerly written responses to Mueller’s queries, full of “I do not recall” and “I have no recollection.”…

Columnist Anne Applebaum, “Trump is not vindicated. But I am”:

But not only me: Everyone who began writing about the weird connections between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government in the spring and summer of 2016, is vindicated: Sarah Kendzior, Josh Rogin and Franklin Foer, for example. But, of course, there were many more. As it turns out, the Russian attempts to assist the Trump campaign were deep and broad, and those who described them, even if tentatively at first, were right to do so…

… Trump was working on business deals in Russia — which he lied about, repeatedly — through most of the 2016 campaign, as the Mueller report explains in great detail. Trump’s performance when standing next to the Russian president in Helsinki last July was bizarre: The sight of the American president cringing before the Russian president was shocking. (Watch it again if you’ve forgotten.) His repeated attempts to hold secret talks with Putin, with no U.S. officials present, might not be illegal. But neither are they normal, or acceptable, or comparable to the behavior of any previous American president…

Political columnist Paul Waldman, “The Mueller report puts it beyond dispute: Trump is profoundly corrupt”:

Now that we finally have the (redacted) report from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the Russia scandal, we have many questions to confront, such as whether President Trump should be impeached. But the report has also given us many answers, and it’s worthwhile to step back and take careful note of what it has clarified.

There are some things that were matters of dispute or insufficiently documented before, but are no longer in question. Let’s run through them:
– Vladimir Putin very much wanted Trump to become president of the United States, and undertook a comprehensive campaign to make sure it happened…
– Trump, his family and his campaign may not have set up a criminal conspiracy to cooperate with Russia, but they were eager to accept the help…
– The president’s attempts to obstruct justice were comprehensive and far-reaching…
– Nearly everything Trump called “fake news” turned out to be true…

Jennifer Daskal, “associate professor of law at American University Washington College of Law and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice”“Trump tried to obstruct justice. But he was too inept to do it”:

Reading the redacted report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Thursday felt like reading the story of a particularly clumsy mob boss. President Trump’s longtime former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is told: “The boss loves you.” “Everyone knows the boss has your back.” Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, gets the message: “Sit tight.” You will be “taken care of” as a result. Trump himself says of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort: Thank you for not flipping. You are so “very brave.”

Except that Trump doesn’t appear to have been anywhere near as effective as the fictional gangsters he resembles in Mueller’s work.

Perhaps one of the most striking takeaways from the report is the degree to which the president and those close to him tried their very best to coerce, coordinate and conspire — and ultimately break the law — but couldn’t quite succeed in doing so. Failure may be the key thing that has, at least for now, saved Trump and his immediate family members from indictment…

A central piece of the story is how little Trump is and was able to control. Despite his very best efforts, key members of his team refused or avoided what were clearly unlawful orders. In so doing, they took critically important, even if limited and self-protective, steps to protect the integrity of the investigation and thus the rule of law. It is the one bright side of what has emerged.

But there are too many dark sides to count. We now have, thanks to the Mueller report, a detailed accounting of an attempted president-dictator. We have a president who sought to cover up and get all those around him to cover up campaign contacts with Russians; to cajole and then ultimately threaten witnesses into lying; to interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigations; to run the executive branch like an arm of the mafia.

And we now have, in William P. Barr, an attorney general who is willing to spin the report with an advance news conference; to defend Trump’s obstructive actions and attempt on the grounds that he felt “frustrated and angry”; and to misrepresent Mueller’s reasons for not recommending an obstruction charge…

Categories: Politics

'State Of Mind' Legal Arguments Always Seem To Be Resolved In Favor Of White Guys In Expensive Suits

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 11:07
'State Of Mind' Legal Arguments Always Seem To Be Resolved In Favor Of White Guys In Expensive Suits

On the one hand, according to the Mueller report, President Trump is not clearly guilty of obstruction because he wanted to obstruct but was prevented from doing so by disobedient subordinates:

On the other hand, according to Attorney General Barr, Trump did engage in acts that could be considered obstruction, but they're not obstruction because he was motivated by anger:

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Categories: Politics

The Mueller investigation ended when Barr took office—because there was no point in continuing

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 10:12

The fact that the Mueller investigation ended so quickly after William Barr stepped into the role of attorney general made many suspect that it was more than coincidence—and according to the Washington Post, those suspicions were well founded. Mueller ended his report when Barr sat down, because there was a conflict between the two of them that meant any effort to go forward was pointless.

Mueller viewed the Department of Justice regulations regarding indicting a sitting executive seriously. He believed it meant he could not issue a formal indictment of Trump, “even if the charges remained sealed.” But more than that, Mueller believed he was not allowed to even accuse Trump of a crime, “even in secret internal documents.” As far as Mueller was concerned, there was no way for Trump to land an indictment, not even if he did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight.

It was such a strict view of the regulation that it appeared to drive other members of his team, and other staffers at the Department of Justice to distraction. The whole existence of the special counsel position seemed to be predicated on the idea that it was removed from the normal constraints of the Justice Department rules and was empowered to make exactly that kind of accusation. 

But that wasn’t how Mueller saw it. Instead, Mueller was so determined to not make a decision, that he wrote all his findings as simply that—findings. For Mueller, it wasn’t just his role that was constrained by precedent to avoid making these decisions, it was everyone at the Justice Department. That’s why Mueller wrote his report with frequent references to the power of Congress: he created it with the assumption that the evidence would go to Congress, where the Article I of the Constitution would enable decisions that couldn’t be made by anyone within the executive branch.

William Barr did not agree. In fact, Barr didn’t agree to the point that he found Mueller’s positions astounding. As in astoundingly naive. Barr had already made it clear that he was perfectly comfortable making decisions about Trump’s guilt—and he didn’t even need the facts to make them.

With Mueller determined to not make a decision, and Barr having already made his decision, there was no reason for the investigation to continue.

Categories: Politics

Mitt Romney Ridiculed For His Sternly-Worded Tweet Condemning Trump

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 10:01
Mitt Romney Ridiculed For His Sternly-Worded Tweet Condemning Trump

Mitt Romney used words like "sickened" and "appalled" to describe his reaction to the conduct of the Trump administration that he read about in the Mueller Report. The Internet then ridiculed Romney, another Republican who uniformly votes in lockstep with what Trump is doing.

Source: USA Today

WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said the conduct by President Donald Trump and his campaign outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller's report left him "sickened" and "appalled" — marking one of the first prominent Republicans to make such critical comments of the president in the aftermath of the blockbuster investigation.

Romney, R-Utah, offered his reaction on Twitter after reading the full 448-page report, writing that while he was pleased that Mueller concluded that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, the level of lies and dishonesty outlined in the report left him with the realization of "how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles out the founders."

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Categories: Politics

Elizabeth Warren Goes There, Calls For Impeachment

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 10:01

Senator Elizabeth Warren has officially called for impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

In a series of tweets and an official emailed statement, she wrote, "The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack."

"Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: 'Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.'" she continued. "The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment."

"To ignore a president's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways."

"The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States," she concluded.

Donald Trump collaborated with hostile foreign powers to get elected. He helped our enemies, he betrayed our country and he lied to cover it all up, while abusing his power to obstruct Robert Mueller to get to the truth.

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Categories: Politics

It's not just Homeland Security: All of government is being bent toward Trump's nationalist whims

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 10:00

As Donald Trump moves to remake the Department of Homeland Security into an agency that will carry out his most extremist (and, often, illegal) orders, from military deployments on the southern border to the construction of detention camps for refugees to potentially closing the southern border completely, Carrie Cordero and Garrett Graff write that Homeland Security's "unique history,” compared to the other federal agencies, renders it far more pliable to Trump's white nationalist whims.

Trump’s new institutional target has few of the antibodies that allowed the Justice Department to resist his worst impulses. A young and immature department patched together after the 9/11 attacks, DHS is ripe for abuse by a would-be authoritarian—it has fewer institutional norms of behavior, less organizational DNA rooted in the rule of law, a comparatively high number of political appointees and a workforce and union base uniquely sympathetic to the president’s goals. These institutional susceptibilities should be particularly concerning for anyone paying attention to the rule of law under Trump.

This has already been demonstrated in the department's willingness to take extremist actions toward asylum-seekers on Trump's behalf, from leaving lines of refugees stranded at the border while the agency slow-walks applications to "zero tolerance" policies enforcing family separation (with little to no plans made for reunification afterwards). What is left largely unspoken, in the descriptions of the agency's nasty beginnings and perennial problems with corruption, criminality, and insufficient training, is the extreme racism that has pervaded the Border Patrol for decades. This is not an unknown quantity; there is a reason that the border agents' union embraced Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and it was not for his thoughts on corporate tax rates.

But another factor here is that Homeland Security is not alone in its eagerness to come up with rationales for harming asylum seekers in accordance to White House wishes.

Categories: Politics

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Lies About Her Lie

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 09:30
Sarah Huckabee Sanders Lies About Her Lie

After being featured in the Mueller report for her fabulous lie, Sarah Huckabee Sanders paid a visit to Sean Hannity to clean up her mess, which of course means lying about her lie.

And who better than Sean Hannity to do it with, where the boss is sure to see her and explain how it isn't a lie even though it is clearly a lie?

It's Orwellian, isn't it? At any rate, the lying press secretary would like everyone to know she didn't lie as much as she messed up one teeny little word. It was just a "slip of the tongue" when she said countless FBI agents were happy FBI director Comey was fired. Nothing to see here. Nothing at all.

After Hannity set the table for her, Sanders said, Look, I acknowledge that I had a slip of the tongue when I used the word "countless," but it's not untrue."

Oh yes, it certainly is untrue, Sarah.

She added, "And certainly, you just echoed exactly the sentiment and the point that I was making, is that a number of both current and former FBI agents agreed with the president."

No, they didn't.

Here's a little walk down memory lane, courtesy of Andrew McCabe, while under oath:

read more

Categories: Politics

Russia viewed Trump's victory as their victory, and when he won, they rushed in

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 09:17

The biggest redaction from the Mueller report is the one we can’t even see—the counterintelligence operation, the primarily FBI-led effort to to assess and counter Russian influence on Trump before and after the election—is entirely missing from the report that was delivered to Attorney General William Barr. There are a few hints of its existence in the form of color-coded redactions within the version of the report made public by Barr, but the results of that investigation, which is still ongoing, are unknown.

What is clear is that Russia’s involvement in the election was extensive. In fact, it was more extensive than was known previous to the release of the report. Russia wasn’t just buying ads on Facebook or propping up false news sites to claim that Trump had won the endorsement of the Pope. It was also organizing actual protests and rallies inside the United States, including such events as a “Miners for Trump” rally in Pennsylvania. Russia had “boots on the ground” inside the United States. For Trump.

While the counterintelligence investigation may still be under wraps, assuming Barr hasn’t ordered it to be dismantled, some things about the Russian activities are made very clear. Among them is that Russia very much wanted Trump to win. As many had reported, Russia began in earnest setting up their program to disrupt the U.S. election in 2014, but later switched to support “favorite candidate Trump” while attacking Hillary Clinton. From then on everything it did—social media, thievery, planting stolen information, creating false narratives—was done for Trump. It was all part of the Russian government’s program to support Trump by conducting a massive operation, both online and on the ground, to wreck American democracy.

One of the other items that makes the report is just how excited Russia was by Trump’s victory and how quickly Vladimir Putin worked to capitalize on their new friend in the White House. As Politico reports, Trump became the subject of an “all hands” meeting at the Kremlin as Putin assigned Russian oligarchs to get close to Trump and his transition team. They began an immediate project to “establish a backchannel line of communication” to Trump.

And, just as they were during the campaign, Trump’s team was entirely “receptive” to this idea.

Categories: Politics

Mike's Blog Round Up

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 08:01
Mike's Blog Round Up

Happy Saturday, fellow crooks & liars! We have an embarrassment of riches as the blog-o-sphere continues to do what it does best: well-thought, deep, analysis, and not clickbait.

Lawyers, Guns Money: Impeaching Trump

Greg Fallis: Dude Ought To Be Impeached

Welcome Back To Gotham City: The Crooked Roads Not Taken

The Carpentariat: Trump is bungling his way to a united United States

And if all the political news is making you feel small and helpless, hecatedemeter gives us practical advice: Chop Wood, Carry Water

Bonus Track: Open Culture shows the best mural ever.

Round-up by Tengrain who blogs at Mock, Paper, Scissors. You can follow Tengrain on the Twitters, too. Send tips, requests, and suggestions to mbru@crooksandliars.com (with For MBRU in the subject line).

Categories: Politics