Treason Summit Fallout

Ken AshfordElection 2016, L'Affaire Russe, Russia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

It’s been compared to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. These comparisons, to me, aren’t apt.  For one thing, people died.  More importantly, those tragedies weren’t self-inflicted. But the gravity of what Trump did has even surpassed his “both sides” comment of Charlottesville.

Virtually every politician and pundit has condemned the disastrous press conference.  “Treason” and “traitor” are on many lips, while some weak Republicans simply criticized Trump for a “missed opportunity”

You can count the number of people actually supporting Trump.

Sean Hannity, of course
Tucker Carlson, of course
Paul Rand (more on that below)
Jeanine Pirro (“What was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin? Putin said, “I didn’t meddle in your election,” so the president should say hang on, let me execute this guy”)

Newsbusters is on Team Trump, and they made this compilation showing liberal media “hysteria” over what happened, but if you notice, it is not just liberal media. It is academics and former CIA directors and people of all stripes

Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, addressed the president directly this morning, telling him he got it wrong when he backed Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the evidence-based conclusions of his own intelligence services. Senior Republicans have been among those saying Trump got it badly wrong at the summit in Helsinki. Addressing Trump directly, Kilmeade said: “When Newt Gingrich, when Gen. Jack Keane, when Matt Schlapp say the president fell short and made our intelligence apparatus look bad, I think it’s time to pay attention and it’s easily correctable from the president’s perspective. Nobody’s perfect, especially [after] 10 intensive days of summits, private meetings, and everything on his plate. But that moment is the one that’s going to stand out unless he comes out and corrects it.”

I was very curious as to how the White House would try to spin its way out of it today.  Right now — mid-morning after — it doesn’t look like they are going to try.

As for himself, Trump offered this tweet:

Yeah, that’s the excuse Rand Paul offered.  Maybe it’s time to do a little historical perspective:

MUELLER: 14 months (so far)
PLAME LEAK: 3 years
IRAN-CONTRA: 6 1/2 years
WATERGATE: 4 years

Here’s a helpful chart:

Reports are that Trump went against his advisers:

Administration officials had hoped that maybe, just maybe, Monday’s summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would end differently — without a freewheeling 46-minute news conference in which Trump attacked his own FBI on foreign soil and warmly praised archrival Russia.

Ahead of the meeting, staffers provided Trump with some 100 pages of briefing materials aimed at laying out a tough posture toward Putin, but the president ignored most of it, according to one person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal deliberations. Trump’s remarks were “very much counter to the plan,” the person said.

“Everyone around Trump” was urging him to take a firm stance with Putin, according to a second person familiar with the preparations. Before Monday’s meeting, the second person said, advisers covered matters from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to its interference in the U.S. elections, but Trump “made a game-time decision” to handle the summit his way.

“I think that the United States has been foolish,” Trump said at one point, referring to tensions with Russia. “I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office.”

A senior White House official disputed the idea that the president acted unilaterally, and said he had numerous sessions with senior administration officials preparing for the summit in addition to briefing materials.

I tend to believe the administration officials who said Trump ignored them.

The reports are that the staff saw this trainwreck coming:

Signs that things might not go according to plan were evident during the two days Trump spent holed up at his luxury seaside golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland.

The president spent much of the weekend “growling,” in the words of one White House official, over the Justice Department’s indictment Friday of 12 Russian intelligence officials for interfering in the 2016 election. He fretted that the release of the indictments just before the meeting could hurt him politically, the official said.

Growling. Yes, I can see that. And if was growling THEN, what will he do now?

Here’s more inside baseball:

The prevailing theory among Trump aides and alumni is pretty simple. “He can’t separate meddling from colluding,” said one source close to Trump. “He can’t publicly express any nuanced view because he thinks it concedes maybe there’s something he did wrong.”

  • Trump has, at times, privately conceded that Russia probably hacked. But the minute the word “election” comes up in conversation, his brain shifts into an attack mode that throws U.S. intelligence out the window and delights Putin.
  • The source added: “His P.R. and legal strategy right now is to impugn the FBI in order to inoculate himself from the Mueller investigation writ large.”

What we’re hearing:

  • A former senior White House official, who worked closely with Trump, immediately texted us: “Need a shower.”
  • One of Trump’s own former National Security Council officials texted: “Dude. This is a total [effing] disgrace. The President has lost his mind.”
  • CBS “Face the Nation” anchor Margaret Brennan, who was in the audience, told AP she was messaging some U.S. officials during the speech who said they were turning off the television.

The most forgiving spin of what happened yesterday would acknowledge that Trump’s words are the product of an ego so fragile that he simply can’t handle any insinuation that his electoral triumph is tainted in any way Russian actions — so he has defend his victory at every opportunity, no matter how inappropriate the setting. In other words, Trump’s press conference wasn’t about advancing America’s interests, it was about defending Trump’s accomplishments.

But Americans don’t care about Trump’s accomplishments as much as they do about, well, America.  And this makes this presidency a “Put Trump First” presidency.  That’s the BEST spin you can put on this: it’s ego. But that hardly makes it better.

Even conservative Max Boot says we can’t use that as a defense now:

We are past the point when Trump’s conduct — which leaves future elections wide open to Russian manipulation — can be ascribed to his unwillingness to do anything that will tarnish his glorious victory. It is true but insufficient to point out that that Trump’s unwillingness to acknowledge the Russian attack on America is putting his own interests above the country’s.

Even if Trump were thinking only in terms of his own political survival — his usual mode — he would be tougher on Putin, because he must realize that kowtowing to the Russian only strengthens suspicions of collusion. But Trump just cannot bring himself to do it. Is that because he hopes for more aid from Putin in the future — or because he is afraid of what Putin can reveal about him? Either way, he gives every impression of betraying his oath of office.

It’s also embarrassing domestically and internationally.  Look at the headline from a Finnish newspaper:

But IS it just ego?  Consider that it also might be something else. Maybe there really is a pee tape. Or other compromat. I tend to believe Russia has the goods on Trump because of financial dealings.

There are talks of impeachment (there were before), more serious talks of censure, calls for three Senate Republicans to leave the GOP caucus thus giving Dems control of the Senate, calls for high-ranking White House people or agencies to resign in protest.  I don’t think any of those things will happen, because despite the outrage, all Republicans seem to be as spineless about Trump as Trump is about Putin.

Today, there will be a protest outside the White House, which seems to be in bunker mentality mode.  But I don’t know. Trump is in fight mode this morning obviously:

It’s unclear how Trump expects the media to report favorably or otherwise about his meeting with Putin, given that no details about what was discussed have been released, and nobody besides the two leaders and translators was present for it.

We’ll see as the day develops, but if Charlottesville didn’t turn the tide, I doubt yesterday is a “tipping point” either. I mean, the response to GOP politicians who agree that Russia is trying to undermine democracy is a loud “WELL WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?”

UPDATE — It looks like White House is trying to tell us we didn’t hear what we heard.

UPDATE #2 — Ah! Here we go. Trump to clean up his own mess in a carefully prepared speech that he will NOT divert from (I’m sure) and he will NOT take questions (I’m sure)

Nope. It looks like it’s one of those bunch-of-white-men-around-the-table things….

This will be good.

UPDATE 2:30 pm — I don’t know what’s happening? Is it still on?

Oh, ok.

He has said that before and then went on to completely negate what he said. In fact, that is what he did yesterday.

Doesn’t pass the laugh test. It doesn’t explain the defense of his performance this morning on Twitter, or all the other opportunities he had during that press conference to say it was Russia. It  doesn’t clarify attacks on FBI or DOJ, or comments like: “Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today” “All I can do is ask the question” “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the US has been foolish”

Whoops. He WAS wobbly with reporters!

So he took it back and then equivocated.

Aaaand welcome back, spineless Republicans:

In Other News, The OTHER Trump-Russia Connection

Ken AshfordBreaking News, Campaign Finance Reform, Gun Control, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

This is getting almost no coverage (update: okay NOW it is), but there is breaking news on another front. The DOJ just announced the arrest of an unregistered Russian agent, Maria Butina. Right now, the only charge is that Ms. Butina was an unregistered foreign agent, but the FBI was investigating her on the belief that she worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government to influence the US elections by channeling Russian money to the Trump campaign through the NRA.

The NRA donated $30MM to Trump (after only $12MM to Romney) and that might have inclued $21MM in dark money. But McClatchy News investigation reported could be as much as $70MM all in.

The affidavit in support of the complaint is cloak-and-dagger-y:

Here’s a video from 2015 where Trump is asked a question from Maria Butina (Why did he call on her? Did he know her? Or because she is pretty?)

Stay tuned…

Treason Summit

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Russia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

On the heels of the NATO summit, where President Trump dissed our strongest allies, Trump is now visiting Vladimir Putin in Russia. Just moments ago, he and Putin ended their special two-hours-and-10-minutes one-on-one meeting with no advisers and no witnesses and no note-takers. One official, according to CNN, said it was because he doesn’t want his aides interrupting or undercutting him (his aides being people knowledgeable about things, in theory).  But who knows what the real reason is for the private meeting?

Some call the meeting Trump’s annual performance review, as he has become a virtual Russian asset in his speech and in his policy.

It is also important to remember the context — just 3 days ago, Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in hacking Americans — the DNC, especially, and attempting to get into the voter rolls of many states.

Today saw one of Trump’s most anti American tweets ever:

Yup.  This was even too outrageous for Fox & Friends.

Trump’s tweet was met with approval by… wait for it… Russia itself.

Russia applauds Trump for spreading Russian disinformation.

But that’s not all And he gave an interview in which he said that the European Union is a foe and a tweet yesterday criticizing the American press:

It’s already being called the Treason Summit. Trump has SAID he would bring up the Russian hacking, but nobody expects him to berate Putin over it. Trump himself indicate that he would merely ask Putin if Russia was involved, and he expected Putin would deny it. That, it seems, would satisfy the President of the United States.

It’s not the first time Trump’s rhetoric has mirrored Russia’s. Trump and Putin have also used the same talking points to dismiss concerns about Russia’s election interference. Both world leaders have suggested Russia has been unfairly blamed because the hacks could’ve originated from anywhere in the world. Mueller’s latest indictment indicates Trump and Putin are mistaken.

During remarks made to the press pool on Monday at the beginning of the summit — just ahead of a 90-minute meeting with Putin in which no notetaker would be present — Trump didn’t so much as mention Russia’s attack on American democracy or the country’s illegal invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

Instead, Trump appeared to wink at Putin — and told him, “I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship.”

Charles Blow at the New York Times has an opinion piece titled “Trump: Treasonous Traitor”:

Put aside whatever suspicions you may have about whether Donald Trump will be directly implicated in the Russia investigation.

Trump is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country. It is his failure to defend.

The intelligence community long ago concluded that Russia attacked our election in 2016 with the express intention of damaging Hillary Clinton and assisting Trump.

And it was not only the spreading of inflammatory fake news over social media. As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out:

“In 2016, cyber actors affiliated with the Russian Government conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure. Russian actors scanned databases for vulnerabilities, attempted intrusions, and in a small number of cases successfully penetrated a voter registration database. This activity was part of a larger campaign to prepare to undermine confidence in the voting process.”

And this is not simply a thing that happened once. This is a thing that is still happening and will continue to happen. As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee in February, “Persistent and disruptive cyberoperations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy.” As he put it, “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”


Now Trump is set to pursue just such a relationship as he meets one-on-one with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Monday in Finland. As Trump said earlier this month at a rally:

“Will he be prepared? Will he be prepared? And I might even end up having a good relationship, but they’re going, ‘Will President Trump be prepared? You know, President Putin is K.G.B. and this and that.’ You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people.”

Actually, none of this is fine. None of it! Trump should be directing all resources at his disposal to punish Russia for the attacks and prevent future ones. But he is not.

America’s commander wants to be chummy with the enemy who committed the crime. Trump is more concerned with protecting his presidency and validating his election than he is in protecting this country.

This is an incredible, unprecedented moment. America is being betrayed by its own president. America is under attack and its president absolutely refuses to defend it.

Simply put, Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous.

Technically, it is neither. But as hyperbole goes, it is pretty close.

UPDATES: Following the one-on-one meeting, Trump responded to a reporter’s shouted question by saying that it had been a “very good start” … but the question is, a very good start on what? What exactly are Trump and Putin trying to work out here?

The sign was something about nuclear weapons ban.


And now this… a joint press conference


Trump now saying that the “probe” is separating the two countries.  Now claiming that he beat Hillary “easily” and repeats “zero collusion”.  All this standing next to Putin.

Trump says there was “nobody to collude with”.  Um, WHAT?!?

OMG, now PUTIN is saying “Could you name a single fact that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense. Just like the President recently mentioned”  These two are on the same page.

About the 12 intelligence officers indicted, Putin says he will “look into it”.

Asked by Reuters reporter if (1) he will condemn Russia in front of the world for election interfering and (2) whether he believes his own intelligence community over Russia. Trump talks about the Hillary Clinton servers and other irrelevant issues (Hillary Clinton emails).  He says he asked Putin and Putin denied.  Trump also says, “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere.  This is incredible.

And now video of his abomination the world just saw:

Even Neil Cavuto at Fox News can’t handle it:

Former CIA director now calling for impeachment:

No response from ANY congressional Republican yet, except this:

Now more coming in fro GOP leaders. Lindsay Graham lacks outrage, but is critical:

These are better…

And here’s Speaker Ryan…

Here’s one from the daughter of the US Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman (she’s also a weekend host on Fox):

But there’s this too…

This is interesting…

I think of all those people asking, on the lead-up to the summit, “What is the plan? What is the agenda?” That is why these things are worked out in advance.  Related…

Well, this explains the private meeting.

Oh, look, Trey Gowdy —

They haven’t so far, Trey!!

I’ll end up with McCain. “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.” Thank God for McCain.

UPDATE — I lied. More fallout, first from Trump’s Director of National Intelligence.

The New York Daily News reports:

Rudy Giuliani came out batting for President Trump after his softball press conference with Vladimir Putin on Monday, claiming he doesn’t see what good it would do to confront the Russian leader over his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

“I don’t know what it would have accomplished if Trump said, ‘I believed Putin did it,’” the former New York mayor told the Daily News minutes after Trump wrapped up his joint appearance with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Finland. “I don’t think we need to call Putin a liar.”

Like Trump, Giuliani disputed the U.S. intelligence community’s consensus that Russian government operatives interfered in the 2016 election with Putin’s knowledge and endorsement. “As far as I know there’s nothing showing that Putin knew about it,” Giuliani said. “We just assume Putin knew something.”

“I don’t think we need to call Putin a liar”???????  Yes, we do!!


Um, that’s NOT what you said. And your emphasis on MY makes it only worse, as does your “that’s in the past” rhetoric. They will do it again!

Axios quotes unnamed WH sources for the explanation of Trump:

Weekly List 87

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week Trump continued his ramped up level of lying and unhinged behavior as he once again made a spectacle of himself on the world stage at the NATO Summit in Brussels. Trump continued his pattern of hostility towards allies, while maintaining an overtly collegial tone towards Putin, even as the Mueller probe indicted 12 members of Russian military intelligence on charges of hacking and disrupting the 2016 U.S. election and Director of National Intelligence Coats warned, “warning lights are blinking red” for further attacks.

At home, Trump and his allies are taking every possible step to discredit the Mueller probe and attempt to preview FBI information. This week Trump continued his hostility towards the free press and his attacks on free markets, while taking steps to consolidate power. Important developments, like Trump’s executive order doing away with non-partisan administrative law judges and the confirmation of Brian Benczkowski to a top Justice Department position, got very little notice in the chaos.

Trump views immigration as the winning issue for Republicans in the midterms. This week he continued his indifference towards the plight of separated migrant families, while his regime quietly carries out inhumane and alarming tactics to make America more white. Trump also preached his anti-immigrant message on his trip abroad, while hundreds-of-thousands marched in protest of his visit and message.

  1. WAPO released a fact check of Trump’s Montana rally in Week 86 and found of his 98 factual statements,76% were false, misleading, or unsupported by evidence.
  2. The Toronto Star charted a sharp increase in the number of daily lies Trump is telling, starting in Week 85and continuing.
  3. After his Moscow trip, Sen. Ron Johnson told the Washington Examiner on election interference, “We’ve blown it way out of proportion.” He also questioned the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Russia.
  4. On Sunday, the British woman who in Week 86 was exposed to the Russian nerve agent Novichok died.
  5. On Saturday, outside Bristol Bar & Grille in his hometown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was confronted by angry protestors for a second time in two weeks over immigration, asking “Where are the children?”
  6. On Monday, WAPO reported other Trump aides have also faced protest in Washington D.C. A protestor confronted Kellyanne Conway at a supermarket and said, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go look in the mirror!”
  7. Stephen Miller was confronted after picking up $80 of takeout sushi, when a bartender followed him out and yelled “Stephen,” then raised both middle fingers and cursed at him. Miller threw the sushi out.
  8. On Sunday, NYT reported the Trump regime stunned world health officials this spring when at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly the U.S. delegation opposed a resolution encouraging breastfeeding.
  9. The U.S. delegation, embracing infant formula manufacturers, threatened Ecuador that if they refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid.
  10. On Monday, Trump tweeted “The failing NY Times Fake News story… must be called out.” The Times defended the reporting, tweeting, “Our report is accurate. You can read it here.”
  11. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported Sinclair Broadcasting is planning to launch a free TV streaming servicewhich would house a 24/7 channel, creating a new competitor for Fox News.
  12. On Sunday, Giuliani told “This Week” he advised Trump not to publicly discuss pardoning Michael Cohen until the investigation concludes, but does not believe Trump should rule out a pardon in the future.
  13. Giuliani also said Cohen “should cooperate with the government. We have no reason to believe he did anything wrong,” adding, “I have no concerns that Michael Cohen is going to do anything but tell the truth.”
  14. On Monday, Cohen’s newest attorney Lanny Davis shot back, tweeting, “Trump/Giuliani next to the word “truth” = oxymoron,” and adding, “Stay tuned. #thetruthmatters.”
  15. On Monday, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In 2009, Kavanaugh wrotepresidents should be immune from criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as personal civil suits, while in office.
  16. On Wednesday, Davis told Hill.TV that a president lying, such as “lying about asking Michael Flynn not to be prosecuted,”is an abuse of power and “could be an impeachable offense.”
  17. Davis also said of Cohen’s telling George Stephanopoulos that he would “not be a punching bag” for Trump’s defense strategy was part of his “declaration of independence two days before July 4.
  18. On Sunday, Sacramento Bee reported 91 year-old Rodolfo Rodriguez was beaten with a brick on July 4 and told, “Go back to your country” by a mother after bumping into her toddler daughter on the sidewalk.
  19. On Tuesday, the mother, 30-year-old Laquisha Jones was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Rodriguez has been hospitalized since the attack.
  20. Michael Selyem of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office was put on leave after posting about Rep. Maxine Waters, “Being a loudmouthed c#nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch.”
  21. On Tuesday, “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin said she was harassed in the Hamptons on July 4, saying about 20 kids ran in front of her home, yelled the N-word, and said, “This is America…this is our holiday.”
  22. On Tuesday a video went viral showing Timothy Trybus berating a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt in at Caldwell Woods in Chicago, saying “You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
  23. A Cook County Forest Preserve District officer ignored her calls for help. A police report of the incident did not include any mention of the woman’s request for assistance.
  24. On Thursday, prosecutors filed the two Class 3 felony hate crime charges against Trybus. The officer was initially reassigned to desk duty pending the investigation. He resigned on Thursday.
  25. On Thursday, the Boston Globe reported a Martha Vineyard’s bus driver was fired after driving past a passenger trying to flag the bus down, and later admitted it was because the passenger was black.
  26. In Columbus, Ohio, a woman called the police on a 12 year-old black boy who was helping his mother deliver newspapers. The police who showed up and asked what they were doing said race did not play a role.
  27. On Monday, Politico reported Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner disclosed earnings from a fund that owns Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit healthcare provider that profits off ICE detention center contracts.
  28. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Giuliani continues to work for foreign clients, both individually and through his security firm while serving as Trump’s attorney, a departure of standard practice and possible conflict of interest.
  29. Giuliani works with Brazil, Colombia and other countries, and delivers speeches for dissident groups as he did in Week 86, but he has never registered with the Justice Department on behalf of his overseas clients.
  30. Giuliani has lobbied Trump to promote his son Andrew, a low-level White House aide, before becoming Trump’s attorney, and according to sources, continued to lobby Trump after he became Trump’s attorney.
  31. On Thursday, WAPO reported Kushner does not have the security clearance level required to review some sensitive materials, which could complicate his ability to handle a foreign policy portfolio
  32. In late May, Kushner was granted only “top secret” status. He has not yet been approved to review “sensitive compartmented information,” which involve U.S. intelligence sources and surveillance methods, by the CIA.
  33. NYT reported Brookfield Asset Management is close to completing an investment of up to $700 million in the Kushner Cos’ 666 Fifth Avenue, a boon to the Kushner family for this over-leveraged property.
  34. Simultaneously, a unit of Brookfield is awaiting approval from the Trump regime’s Committee on Foreign Investment for its acquisition of the nuclear-power company Westinghouse Electric. Brookfield is headquartered in Canada.
  35. WAPO reported last week Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross informed the Office of Government Ethics of a tardy sale: on June 11 he sold shares of Air Lease Corp., saying he had overlooked the shares held in a separate account.
  36. On Friday, a report produced by Senate Democrats revealed Novartis sent Cohen a list of proposals to lower drug prices. Several proposals were included in the Trump regime’s “blueprint” to lower drug prices in May.
  37. Democrats say Cohen capitalized on his ability to offer companies access to Trump regime officials. Cohen’s attorney Davis challenged the findings, saying Cohen “provided strategic advice to his client.”
  38. On Sunday, AP reported migrant children as young as 1 year-old separated from their parents under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy are appearing before immigration judges and going through deportation proceedings.
  39. Hundreds of separated children are appearing, many of whom do not know why their family fled. Some will be reunited in Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, the violence-plagued countries they escaped.
  40. On Monday, a federal judge denied the Trump regime’s request to alter the Flores consent decree which limits detention of immigrant children to 20 days, calling the regime’s legal arguments, “tortured.”
  41. Trump’s executive order was based on detaining families indefinitely. The judge suggested the regimereconsider “their current blanket policy of family detention,” and instead reinstate prosecutorial discretion.
  42. On Monday, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, a Trump ally, expressed frustration with the government’s “lack of information” on separated families, calling it “unsatisfactory.”
  43. Johnson said, “These are human beings… It boggles my mind,” adding “I just would assume…the reunification would have been a relatively simple matter.” Johnson said he may hold hearings if questions are not answered.
  44. On Tuesday, the court deadline for the Department of Health and Human Services to reunite migrant children under 5 with their parents, just four out of 102 children had been reunited according to the joint filing submitted by the government and the ACLU.
  45. On Tuesday, when Trump was asked about the missed deadline for reuniting migrant children under 5, he responded, “Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution.”
  46. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported pregnant women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care. Some women have been shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities.
  47. Advocates say at an ICE run facility in Texas, an officer promised to bring pregnant women to off-site medical professionals but never did. A woman from El Salvador miscarried due to lack of care, and was left to bleed out.
  48. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board wrote our treatment of refugee children is a national disgrace, contrasting the regime’s actions to the rescue of 12 children and their soccer coach in Thailand.
  49. The editorial board added, “This is the kind of behavior that, when carried out by non-superpowers, gets people hauled before the International Criminal Court or some special war crimes tribunal.”
  50. On Tuesday, NYT reported migrant toddlers who were recently reunited in Phoenix after months of separation did not recognize their mothers.
  51. On Tuesday, Texas nonprofit RAICES announced it will symbolically offer the government $20 million to post bonds for 2,500 separated families, and demanded immigrant mothers be released from detention centers.
  52. KETV-7 reported posters have been spotted around the Omaha metro area which read, “It is your civic duty” to report “illegal aliens,” adding “they have broken the law.” ICE claimed they had nothing to do with the posters.
  53. Miami Herald reported Trump’s DOJ is seeking to denaturalize Norma Borgono, a 63-year-old secretary who immigrated from Peru in 1989, volunteers weekly at church, and raised two children on $500-week.
  54. Borgono had a minor role in a fraud scheme over a decade ago. She worked two jobs, she paid off her restitution and was relieved of her sentence early. The DOJ rarely pursued such cases in past decades.
  55. In addition to Citizenship and Immigration Services denaturalization task force in Week 86, DHS plans to spend $207.6 million to look for such cases and ICE will be hiring more than 300 new agents and scores of staffers.
  56. On Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported that according to a shelter in El Paso, TX that houses women,government officials told four immigrant women they must pay for their DNA tests in order to be reunited with their children.
  57. On Wednesday, ABC News reported Margarito Silva and Concepcion Barrios were taken into custody by ICE when they went to visit their pregnant daughter and son-in-law who live on Fort Drum in New York.
  58. The couple presented a New York City identification card for entry, which had worked in the past, and their Mexican passports. The couple has no prior criminal record and no prior interactions with ICE.
  59. On Thursday, Customs and Border Protection alleged in a letter that NYC mayor Bill De Blasio crossed the border illegally on foot while visiting a detention facility for youth in El Paso, Texas.
  60. A report by tech watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation found some shopping malls in California are scanning license plates and sending that data to The Irvine Company, a surveillance vendor that works with ICE.
  61. On Friday, San Diego federal justice Dana Sabraw praised the government’s “substantial” efforts in reuniting 57 of the 103 migrant children under 5. The court deadline had been Tuesday.
  62. With the next deadline looming, the judge ordered the government to carry out an orderly process for the larger group, estimated at 2,551 older children over 5. The government says it will reunite 200 children a day.
  63. The judge also signaled he was inclined to accept the ACLU request that the government shoulder the travel costs for reuniting families, even though the government attorney called it a “huge ask” not in the budget.
  64. On Monday, Trump’s personal driver for 25 years, and registered Republican, Noel Cintron sued the Trump Organization for overtime, saying it didn’t pay him overtime and raised his salary only twice in 15 years.
  65. On Monday, Trump attacked Pfizer and other drug companies, tweeting they “should be ashamed” for raising drug prices, adding the companies are “taking advantage of the poor & others who can’t defend themselves.”
  66. Trump also threatened, “We will respond!” Trump had promised to lower drug prices as part of his 2016 campaign, but took no concrete steps other than saying there would be a “voluntary, massive drops in prices.”
  67. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “Just talked with Pfizer CEO” and HHS secretary Alex Azar, saying, “Pfizer is rolling back price hikes.” Pfizer subsequently announced it would defer raising prices.
  68. On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order giving agency heads greater discretion over hiring and firing administrative law judges, replacing non-partisan career judges, who make legal rulings on regulatory actions.
  69. The order will make it easier for the Trump regime to compel the 2,000 regulatory judges to follow its anti-regulatory policies, or to fire them if they do not, allowing Trump to further consolidate power.
  70. On Tuesday, Trump threatened to broaden his trade war with China, announcing a list of $200 billion tariffs on Chinese goods. The tariffs will undergo a two-month review process.
  71. On Wednesday, the Senate passed a nonbinding measure 88-11 asserting “a role for Congress” when Trump imposes tariffs. The measure has no teeth, and GOP advocates said there wasn’t backing for a strong bill.
  72. On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Brian Benczkowski as director for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, which oversee parts of the Mueller probe and Cohen investigation.
  73. Benczkowski has no prosecution experience and has never tried a case. He told lawmakers he supports Mueller’s investigation, but would not promise to recuse himself from issues involving Russia.
  74. Benczkowski was nominated by Trump in June 2017, but his confirmation was stalled because he represented Alfa Bank, a Russian bank, even after it was a subject of the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
  75. A new bill introduced by House Republicans titled the “Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018,” says Antifa activists could be jailed for up to 15 years for wearing masks.
  76. On Thursday, Marc Short, a top Trump aide and director of legislative affairs, resigned. Short declined to comment on the reason.
  77. On Thursday, the NYT reported a Federal Emergency Management Agency report found the agency wassorely unprepared for 2017 hurricane season, which was the most destructive on record.
  78. The report, scheduled to be released Monday, was made public after the NYT obtained a draft. The final version removed a paragraph noting that FEMA’s hurricane plans had so underestimated disaster impacts.
  79. The report found FEMA had thousands fewer workers than it needed, and many of those it had were not qualified to handle major catastrophes. FEMA had to borrow workers from other agencies to try to keep up.
  80. As Puerto Rico braces for hurricane season, 10 months after Hurricane Maria, roughly 1,000 households are without power, and the management of the island’s government-owned electric utility, Prepa, is in turmoil.
  81. On Tuesday, 70 education leaders sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking them to not remove Obama-era guidance meant to eliminate racial disparities in school discipline.
  82. On Tuesday, the Trump regime decreased grants for grassroots groups that help Americans get Affordable Care Act insurance from $62.5 million in 2016 to $10 million for the enrollment period that starts in November.
  83. Also new, instead of choosing solely between ACA plans, the groups receiving grants will now also offer health plans that bypass ACA’s consumer protections and required benefits.
  84. On Thursday, watchdog group Sunlight Foundation reported the Trump regime removed entire sections about the ACA from the official site, its hub for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.
  85. On Thursday, the Daily Beast reported a database known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse, which includes 20 years of critical medical guidelines, has been scheduled by HHS to “go dark” on July 16.
  86. On Tuesday, Lisa Page canceled her appearance before the House Judiciary Committee for Wednesday. Her attorney said they were not shown any of documents that were subject of the hearing after waiting more than three hours.
  87. On Tuesday, aboard the flight to NATO, Trump tweeted, “hear reports that the FBI lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are getting cold feet on testifying about the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by 13 Angry Democrats.”
  88. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted “Lisa Page today defied a House of Representatives issued Subpoena,” adding, “Together with her lover, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the Rigged Witch Hunt.”
  89. On Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan threatened Page with contempt charges, saying the House will “do what we need to do to protect this branch of government” and that he stands behind committee chair Robert Goodlatte.
  90. On Friday, Page met with the House Judiciary Committee privately. Without offering specifics, Republican lawmakers claimed she provided new information that further convinced them of political bias at the FBI.
  91. On Thursday, Strzok went before the House Judiciary Committee in a 9.5 hour contentious hearing that turned into a circus-like setting with insults, fighting, shouting, character assassination, and partisan bickering.
  92. Strzok expressed “significant regret” for the way his texts to Page had hurt his family and the FBI. He smirked most of the hearing as lawmakers battled each other, Republicans attacked and Democrats defended him.
  93. During the hearing, GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy threatened Strzok with contempt, Louie Gohmert attacked his infidelity and character, Darrell Issa made him read his own texts, and Paul Gosar said he could read Strzok’s body language as a former dentist.
  94. On Monday, Madeleine Albright and 15 other former foreign ministers urged Trump in a letter to shore up America’s “deteriorating relationship” with its Western allies, and not ignore the threat posed by Putin.
  95. On Tuesday, by a vote of 97-2, the Senate approved a motion of support for NATO on the day Trump arrived in Brussels for the NATO summit, amid concern of Trump’s ambivalence towards the alliance.
  96. On Tuesday, Trump told the media as he was leaving for his weeklong trip to Europe that his summit with Putin “may be the easiest” of the meetings he has scheduled.
  97. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that the US embassy in London warned Americans in London to “keep a low profile” during Trump’s visit, saying large demonstrations against Trump could turn violent.
  98. On Tuesday, Trump pardoned the Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond who were the inspiration behind the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
  99. The Hammonds were sent to prison in 2012 on arson charges for a series of fires to hide evidence of killing a herd of deer on their ranch that spread to federal land, and were imprisoned for a second time in 2015.
  100. On Wednesday, as the NATO summit got underway in Belgium, Trump launched a clearly planned attack on Germany, saying the country is “a captive to Russia” because it imports much of its energy from Russia.
  101. Trump’s comments shocked NATO allies. Norwegian prime minister Stoltenberg was reportedly reduced to spluttering as Trump cut him off after he started to explain that allies have always traded with Russia.
  102. Trump also ripped into NATO allies for not having reached 2% of their GDP’s on defense yet, although the guidance is by 2024, and later at a closed-door meeting said allies should instead pay 4% of GDP on defense.
  103. Trump also credited himself for getting NATO allies to pay more on Twitter after his last visit, “at my request,” but said, “it isn’t nearly enough,” adding, “They pay only a fraction of their cost.”
  104. On Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker said Trump’s comments about NATO have been “damaging” to American leadership in an apparent effort to “tear apart” a critical alliance.
  105. On Thursday, Trump showed up late to the NATO summit, skipping meetings with at least two world leaders and prompting the secretary general to call an emergency meeting.
  106. After the meeting, Trump recommitted to NATO, but warned uneasy allies “I’ll do my own thing” if their spending did not rise quickly enough. Allies also remain concerned about Trump’s ties to Putin.
  107. Following the summit, Trump held a news conference in which he said of Putin, “I think we’ll get along well,” adding “he’s a competitor,” but “not my enemy,” and “Hopefully some day, maybe he’ll be a friend.”
  108. Politifact reported the statements made by Trump during the NATO summit news conference related to NATO spending, Wisconsin, U.S. farmers’ export to the EU, and other items were mostly false or misleading.
  109. On Wednesday, CNN reported that according to a source familiar with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang last week, the White House felt it went “as badly as it could have gone.”
  110. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a letter dated July 6 from King Jong Un praising Trump as “your excellency,” a title often reserved for royalty. Trump called it a “very nice note,” adding, “Great progress being made!”
  111. On Thursday, during his first visit to the UK, while PM May rolled out the red carpet to Trump, a Murdoch-owned London tabloid published an explosive interview in which Trump blasted May’s Brexit compromise.
  112. In the interview, Trump also praised May’s archrival, Boris Johnson, as a potential future prime minister, and attacked London’s Muslim mayor, for being soft on crime and terrorism.
  113. On Thursday, the Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper, wrote as Trump was about to arrive that he “is a racist, a serial liar, and either a sex abuser or someone who falsely brags about being one.”
  114. On Friday, in a joint news conference, Trump vaguely apologized to PM May for his The Sun interview, saying, “I didn’t criticize the prime minister; I have a lot of respect for the prime minister.”
  115. Trump said “fake news” had omitted his praise of May. The Sun released a cover story and audio of the interview. When a reporter asked if his comments helped Putin, he said, “That’s such dishonesty reporting.”
  116. Trump said May is doing “a terrific job,”and called her “tough” and “capable,” but said she should have taken his advice on Brexit, and continued to praise her main political adversary Johnson.
  117. When asked about the Mueller probe, Trump said, “in the United States we have this stupidity going on — pure stupidity,” adding, “Anything you do, it’s always going to be, ‘Oh, Russia, he loves Russia.’”
  118. Trump also warned European leaders “better watch themselves” because immigration is “changing the culture” of their societies, adding, “ I think it is a very negative thing for Europe.”
  119. When CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump a question, he called the network “fake news,” and instead called on Fox News’ John Roberts, saying, “Let’s go to a real network.” Roberts asked an easy question, Trump answered.
  120. NYT fact-checked the news conference and found Trump told 10 lies or exaggerated statements on topics including American troops abroad, NATO spending, and his prediction of the Brexit vote.
  121. On Friday, nearly 250,000 protestors marched against Trump in central London. Protestors carried signs, and a giant balloon, which depicts Trump wearing a diaper and carrying a mobile phone in tiny hands.
  122. Trump then visited with the Queen of England, where he had many social miscues including walking in front of the queen, walking briskly and ahead of her at times, and shaking hands instead of bowing or curtsying.
  123. As Trump was meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, most networks went split-screen, and then broke away to coverage of a news conference with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
  124. Rosenstein announced 12 Russian military intelligence officers (GRU) were indicted in the Mueller probe on charges they hacked Democrats’ computers, stole data, and published files to disrupt the 2016 election.
  125. The 11-count, 29-page indictment gave granular detail on how the Russian government hackers implanted malware, and spread stolen information DC Leaks, Guccifer 2.0 and others to influence voters.
  126. The indictment notes on July 27, 2016, then-candidate Trump said at a news conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails.” That same day conspirators attempted to spearphish email accounts used by Clinton’s personal office for the first time.
  127. The indictment notes in August 2016, “the conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress,” and sent the candidate stolen documents on their opponent.
  128. The indictment also says GRU successfully hacked “test applications related to the DNC’s analytics,”and stole that data from the DNC, giving insight into the Clinton campaign’s analysis and plans.
  129. Rosenstein said GRU hacked a state election board website and “stole information about 500,000 voters,” They also hacked the computers of a software supplier used to verify voter registration information.
  130. Rosenstein also said, “The conspirators corresponded with several Americans,” although there is no allegation in these indictments that they “knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers.”
  131. Rosenstein closed by warning the US is still under attack by Russia, saying “We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable, and… protect against future interference, and defend America.”
  132. On Friday, shortly before Rosenstein’s news conference, Giuliani resurfaced on Twitter for the first time since December 2016.
  133. After Rosenstein spoke, Giuliani tweeted, the indictments “are good news..The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved,” and called on Mueller to stop pursuing Trump, and to say he is “completely innocent.”
  134. After the indictments, Democrats and Sen. John McCain called on Trump to cancel his upcoming one-on-one summit with Putin. The White House announced Friday afternoon that the summit is still on.
  135. As Rosenstein announced the indictment, House conservatives were putting on the final touches on a filing to impeach him. Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan said they could file the document as soon as Monday.
  136. Rosenstein said he briefed Trump on the allegations “earlier this week.” Trump made no statement after the indictments, but at his morning news conference with May, he called the Mueller probe a “rigged witch hunt.”
  137. On Saturday, Trump blamed the Obama administration for the Russian election meddling, tweeting, “Why didn’t they do something about it….Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”
  138. On Saturday, after denying it Friday, Roger Stone admitted to ABC News that he is the “US person” mentioned in the Mueller indictment who “was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign.”
  139. On Friday, director of national intelligence Dan Coats said persistent danger of Russian cyberattacks today was akin to the warnings the U.S. had of stepped-up terror threats ahead of the September 11 attacks.
  140. Speaking to a Washington DC think tank, Coats said, “the warning lights are blinking red again,” and warned, “digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”
  141. On Friday, Maryland state officials said the FBI informed them that their voter registration system, ByteGrid LLC, was purchased in 2015 by AltPoint Capital Partners, whose fund manager is a Russian.
  142. The largest investor in AltPoint is Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin. The FBI did not indicate a breach occurred. Maryland officials asked the DHS Election Task Force to assist with any corrective action deemed necessary.
  143. A new poll from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center found 71% of Russians view Trump unfavorably, 77% say he is “self-centered,” 16% say he is “trustworthy,” and a majority describe him as “dangerous.”
  144. On Tuesday, Michael Flynn was back in court for the first time since his guilty plea. The judge did not set a sentencing date, but scheduled to receive an update on the case from prosecutors and Flynn’s lawyers by Aug. 24.
  145. On Tuesday afternoon, WSJ reported Flynn had taken a new job, launching a consulting firm, Stonington Global LLC with Nick Muzin and Joey Allaham. Flynn’s bio appeared on the company’s website.
  146. Stonington will provide consulting and lobbying services for U.S. and foreign clients. Later Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyer said he is no longer joining the consulting firm, and that he did not personally issue a statement.
  147. On Tuesday, in an interview on “VICE News Tonight,” Emin Agalarov said he spoke to Donald Jr. three times prior to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. Donald Jr. told Congress he could not recall.
  148. CNN reported Facebook gave Mail.Ru Group, a Russian internet company with links to the Kremlin, an extension which allowed them to collect data on unknowing users of the social network after a policy change.
  149. Twitter announced that starting Thursday, the platform will begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts in its battle against fake accounts. The company plans to remove roughly 6% of users.
  150. On Tuesday, Paul Manafort’s attorney asked the Virginia judge to delay the July 25 hearing, saying the jury pool was tainted by the intense media coverage and Manafort needed more time to review thousands of documents.
  151. On Wednesday, a motion filed by Mueller’s team revealed prosecutors had been listening in on Manafort’s phone calls, in which Manafort told people he’s being treated like a “VIP” at the Virginia prison
  152. “Unique privileges” include a private bathroom and shower, a personal telephone and daily access to a workspace where he can meet with lawyer and prepare for trial. The judge did not allow the trial delay.
  153. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team also asked the federal court to issue 100 blank subpoenas to potential witnesses in the upcoming Manafort trial.
  154. On Thursday, Manafort was moved to an Alexandria jail. Manafort’s attorney tried to prevent the move, which the judge called “surprising and confusing” in light of their complaints. A mugshot was made public.
  155. The jail in Alexandria is a past home for spies and terrorists, including FBI agent-turned-Soviet mole Robert Hanssen and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person tried in a U.S. court for involvement in the September 11.
  156. On Thursday, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, sued Putin critic Bill Browder, alleging Browder defamed him by labeling him as a Russian intelligence operative.
  157. On Thursday, NYT reported the White House ordered that lawmakers be given access to classified information about an informant the FBI used in 2016 to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  158. FBI files will be available to all members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, not just the Gang of Eight. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials have expressed concern on broader sharing.
  159. On Thursday, a Fox News poll found 53% think Trump is not tough enough on Russia, including 32% of Republicans.
  160. Support for Mueller probe is down from 55 approve/27 disapprove in June 2018, to 48/40 now; although 54% say Mueller should take his time, while just 34% said he should wrap it up.
  161. On Thursday, shortly after midnight, Stephanie Clifford was arrested after being accused of squeezing patrons’ and undercover police officers’ faces between her bare breasts at Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus, Ohio.
  162. Shortly after, Clifford’s attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted Clifford was performing the “same act she has performed across the nation, adding, “This was a setup & politically motivated.” Charges were dropped on Thursday.
  163. On Thursday, Trump’s DOJ filed to appeal the AT&T-Time Warner merger. The deal won approval without conditions from a federal judge in June. Time Warner owns CNN.
  164. On Saturday, Trump attacked CNN, tweeting, “I just checked out Fake News CNN,” adding “they are dying in the ratings,” to see “if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy).”
  165. Trump also mocked CNN’s president Jeff Zucker, “Remember, it was Little Jeff Z” who said Trump could not win the election, adding “I got 306! They were sooooo wrong in their election coverage. Still hurting!”
  166. On Friday, Hudson Bay, Canada’s oldest department store, dropped Ivanka’s fashion line from its website, and said it will be phasing out the line from its stores, citing the brand’s “performance.”
  167. On Friday, Iceland was elected to the take the spot vacated by the U.S. on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  168. On Saturday, Trump golfed at his money-losing Turnberry golf course in Scotland. Watchdog group CREW said of the visit, Trump is using it as “a forced subsidy of an infomercial for his properties.”
  169. Protest against Trump continued during his trip to Scotland. Organizers say 60,000 protested Trump in Edinburgh, and during his golf round he was booed by demonstrators gathered at the perimeter.

Breaking: More Indictments Today

Ken AshfordBreaking News, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The Justice Department just announced that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be be holding a press conference at Main Justice at 11:45 ET to make a “law enforcement announcement.”

Rosenstein could be announcing action taken in any manner of case, but the last time we received a notice like this from the Justice Department was on a Friday in February when Rosenstein announced the indictment of 13 Russians and Russian entities allegedly involved 2016 election meddling.

Stay tuned …

UPDATE —  Indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials, charged with hacking Democratic National Committee.  Also attempted to hack state boards of elections, secretaries of state and US software companies that supply software for elections. Includes Guccifer 2.0. This come just days before a scheduled Monday summit in Helsinki between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

No allegations — in THIS indictment — that any Americans (i.e., Trump campaign) knew about this.  There is no allegation that vote count changed as a result.

Trump was briefed on this earlier this week, which is interesting since he still claims — even as early as this morning from London — that the Russian meddling is “fake news”


UPDATE #2 —  Uh oh.  Some “candidate for the U.S. Congress” is sweating….

Wikileaks is mentioned throughout, not by name, but as an unindicted co-conspirator “Organization 1”.

And Roger Stone is referred to — again not by name — in Paragraph 44.  We know this because we have the texts between him and Guccifer 2.0.


Oh, HERE’S something interesting….

Remember when Trump said at a news conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find the 30,000 emails”?

The date of that “request” was July 27, 2016.

The new indictment says that “on or about July 27, 2016…. for the first time”, the [Russian} Conspirators tried to access emails from Clinton’s personal office and 76 email addresses on the Clinton campaign website domain  (paragraph 22)

I’m sure it is a coincidence, right?

Here’s a sweaty tweet from Rudy:

UPDATE #4 — another timeline catch

Strzok To Testify

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Republicans, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Peter Strzok, a former FBI official who was removed from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections, testifies before a public joint hearing of two House committees responsible for FBI and Justice Department oversight.

Strzok is the right wing whipping boy — to listen to Fox, you would think he single-handedly masterminded the Trump-Russia investigation.

Here is what Strzok is “guilty” of:

(1) Having an affair; and
(2) Using FBI emails to express pro-Hillary and anti-Trump messages to his girlfriend

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Strzok exchanged thousands of texts messages from 2015 through 2017 with a former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair. At the time, he was the lead agent on the probe of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and later he helped spearhead the FBI’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The private messages were critical of Mr. Trump and politicians of both parties, including Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s first attorney general. They leveled their harshest barbs at Mr. Trump, however, calling him a “douche” and an “idiot.”

This is, of course, a “show” hearing.  I suspect the GOP to try to land punches but fail.  Strzok did some things wrong, which is why Mueller removed him from the Trump-Russia investigation (really, it was the appearance of impropriety rather than ACTUAL impropriety).  Trump, even abroad, is all over it.

Here is Strzok’s prepared comments:

Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy, Ranking Members Nadler and Cummings.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committees again, this time in an open hearing.

I testify today with significant regret, recognizing that my texts have created confusion and caused pain for people I love. Certain private messages of mine have provided ammunition for misguided attacks against the FBI, an institution I love deeply and have served proudly for more than 20 years.

I am eager to answer your questions, but let me first directly address those much-talked about texts.

Like many people, I had and expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary Presidential election. Many contained expressions of concern for the security of our country — opinions that were not always expressed in terms I am proud of.

But having worked in national security for two decades and proudly served in the U.S. Army, those opinions were expressed out of deep patriotism and an unyielding belief in our great American democracy. At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it’s been characterized, it was not limited to one person or one party – I criticized various countries and politicians, including Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, then-candidate Trump and others.

But let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took.

This is true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference, and for every other investigation I’ve worked on. It is not who I am, and it is not something I would ever do. Period.

I understand that my sworn testimony will not be enough for some people. After all, Americans are skeptical of anything they hear out of Washington. But the fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.

There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI, and our lack of bias.

In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.

That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau. And I am particularly proud of the work that I, and many others, did on the Clinton email investigation. Our charge was to investigate it competently, honestly, and independently, and that is exactly what happened.

I’m also proud of our work on the Russian interference investigation. This is an investigation into a direct attack by a foreign adversary – and it is no less so simply because it was launched against our democratic process rather than against a military base. This is something that all Americans, of all political persuasions, should be alarmed by. In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American Presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America. This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.

I expect that during this hearing, I’ll be asked about that ongoing investigation. During my testimony before these Committees two weeks ago, I was asked a number of questions, including about the ongoing Russia investigation, that counsel for the FBI instructed me not to answer. Consistent with my obligations, I followed the instructions of agency counsel. However, these exchanges generated significant tension with the Majority Members and numerous time-consuming sidebars and discussions amongst counsel.

Earlier this week, my attorney asked the Committees and the FBI to confer and agree on ground rules about which topics the FBI would allow me to testify about, and which I could not. As recently as last night, the FBI and Congress were still negotiating about what questions I would be allowed to answer here today. My understanding is that the FBI’s Office of General Counsel has provided the Committee with a list of questions that I will be permitted to answer today; the list includes certain questions that I was asked but instructed not to answer during my previous interview by the Committees. I am happy to answer any questions for which I have authorization to answer and where the FBI has directed me not to answer, I will abide by the FBI’s instructions – but let me clear: this is not because I don’t want to answer your questions; if I were permitted to answer, I would. And the answers would doubtless be disappointing to the questioners and undermine the conspiracy narrative being told about the Russia investigation.

In addition, I will testify today as accurately as I can, and to the best of my recollection. Nevertheless, my testimony will necessarily be less accurate, less precise, and less complete than it would be had the Committees not insisted on this unreasonable and unprecedented schedule. Only 36 hours ago I received access to thousands of pages of documents that the Department of Justice turned over to the Committees last week. Unlike the Members questioning me today, I do not have the transcript from my eleven hours of testimony last week. The time available for preparation has been wholly inadequate, as has my access to documents necessary for my preparation.

I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. But the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful – sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.

As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.

Updates to follow….

UPDATE #1 — And already fireworks

Counsel for FBI has instructed Strzok not to answer question relating to an ongoing investigation.  So he’s not.  Goodlatte (GOP Chair of the Committee) is threatening sanctions.  The Democrats and Republicans are now fighting over this.  Goodlatte is

Finally, Strzok gets to speak:

UPDATE #2 — Okay, it has calmed down post-Gowdy questioning. They are actually letting him talk.

Since Paul Waldman has done such a great job of capturing what happened, I’ll let him explain.

So today we saw, for instance, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) badgering Strzok about the meaning of individual words in his late-night text messages to his girlfriend, using Gowdy’s patented prosecutorial technique of shouting a question at a witness, and then when the witness begins to answer, interrupting and shouting a different question at a louder volume. Unsurprisingly, the hearing quickly devolved into a circus, with members yelling at each other, overlapping points of order, and a general sense of chaos.

FINAL UPDATE — It heated up several more times, but Strzok won the day overall.

The Daily Beast summarizes how I saw it too:

Those who forget the lessons of televised congressional hearings are doomed to repeat them, which is why the morning segment of the Capitol Hill show trial of veteran FBI agent and former head of the Bureau’s Counterespionage division Peter Strzok turned into a disaster for Republicans.

Donald Trump’s congressional enablers, sycophants, and political suck-ups wanted a punching bag, but Strzok instead delivered one of the rarest of moments: the full Joseph N. Welch.

Welch, the chief counsel for the U.S. Army during the infamous McCarthy hearings in 1954, had reached a breaking point. After McCarthy’s tendentious badgering reached a fever pitch, Welch delivered a famous rejoinder that ended the Wisconsin senator’s career. Watched by millions on live television, Welch went full beast-mode.

“If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so,” said Welch. “I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me… You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

This morning, it was Strzok’s turn. After an hour of drama-queen badgering from Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte, Strzok issued two passionate statements that will be the takeaways from an otherwise disorganized and contentious shitshow of a hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.

The first was a ringing defense of the FBI, with Strzok showing the kind of real passion that makes for great television. The FBI lifer issued a ringing defense of himself and his agency, punching Gowdy hard in the nose.

“I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn’t just me sitting here telling you you don’t have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director, and director of the FBI, and multiple layers of people below me, section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions. They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more than I would tolerate it in them.”

He closed with this fastball:

“That is who we are as the FBI. And the suggestion that I in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn’t happen. And the proposition that that is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the FBI, deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.”

The second was a shot across Donald Trump’s bow: “I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

This latest spectacle was designed for one purpose only: the destruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties. Republicans like Fredo Nunes who have tried to present a series of dramatic, table-flipping reality TV moments to reach that goal have failed time and again to derail the Mueller investigation. This morning was yet another swing-and-a-miss for the Trump GOP.

Because Trump supporters live in a hermetic media echo chamber, these hearings are part of a predictable, hokey Kabuki dance. They’re a device for generating a new round of hyperbolic base-only stories that will follow the same dumb arc as all the rest. In the coming days, you’ll see Sean Hannity flirt with apoplexy, coating the camera lens with flecks of spittle as he rants over Strzok’s perfidy. You’ll see pro-Trump columnists herniate themselves stretching to turn flippant text messages into a vast conspiracy. Twitter will be a flood of moronic memes, white-hot takes, and promises that Strzok will soon be in Gitmo alongside Hillary, Obama, Podesta, and Soros.

None of it will deter the Terminator in the Special Counsel’s office. None of it will change the facts of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and Trump’s ass-deep ties to Russian money and influence. Trump’s unhinged, shithouse-rat-crazy tweets today should tell you how deeply he fears Mueller.

Strzok was supposed to be a key in the imaginary conspiracy that Trump’s congressional lackeys and media fantasists have desperately tried to write as history. The idea that his text messages poison the entire Mueller investigation was a pillar of their defense of the president. This morning they were going for a quick kill. They needed Strzok to flail, and wilt. The Gowdy, Goodlatte, and Gaetz types needed their grandstanding, dick-waving mock outrage to leave Strozk shaking and begging for mercy.

Strzok had none of it. In this morning’s round he left the Trumpists of the House staggered in their corner, cut and shaky, wondering where Strzok learned to hit back that hard.

But Colbert, who usually doesn’t do these kind of deep dives, was on it too:


Breaking: Senate Confirms Benczkowski to Justice Department And He Could Decide Fate Of Russia Investigation

Ken AshfordBreaking News, Congress, Courts/Law, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

On purely partisan lines (Manchin broke Dem ranks; McCain unable to vote), the Senate has just confirmed a top Justice Department official who could help oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, despite his own troubling connections to Russia and his close ties to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Brian Benczkowski, a former Senate aide to Sessions, will now lead the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, a job that could give him sway over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Several Senate Democrats have argued that Benczkowski should be disqualified due to previous work on behalf of a Russian bank with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a general lack of experience in criminal law.

“The Benczkowski vote could mark a pivotal moment in the Russia investigation,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tweeted Tuesday, as the vote on the nomination approached. “The warning signs are clear.”

For the past year, Democrats have raised several concerns about Benczkowski. He has never tried a criminal case, and yet would lead the Justice Department’s criminal prosecutors. He was an aide to Sessions in the Senate and remains close to the attorney general. He led the Justice Department’s transition after Trump’s election and then asked Sessions for a job as a US attorney. In the meantime, he returned to private practice.In March 2017, Benczkowski took on Alfa Bank as a client. The bank, which is run by oligarchs with close ties to Putin, was part of a strange episode in the Trump-Russia scandal.

As Mother Jones reported previously:

In late October 2016, Slate reported that the bank and the Trump Organization had a high volume of connections between their computer servers. But the FBI had investigated the link and concluded there could be an innocuous explanation, according to the New York Times. Alfa Bank hired an outside firm, Mandiant, to study the data transmissions. With the limited data the firm was given, it found no evidence of substantive contact between the bank and the Trump Organization.

But in the first months of 2017, Alfa Bank’s server again logged suspicious traffic potentially connected to the Trump Organization. This time, Alfa Bank turned to Kirkland & Ellis, where Benczkowski took the case. His job was to oversee a second investigation of the new server connections, which was conducted by a different forensics firm, and to bring the results to the FBI and Justice Department. Benczkowski was in the midst of this effort when he was nominated to lead the Criminal Division. At his confirmation hearing, Benczkowski promised to recuse himself from any matters relating to Alfa Bank for two years, the minimum required, but not from the ongoing Russia investigation. The report overseen by Kirkland & Ellis again found no evidence of contact between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.

Democrats have argued that Benczkowski’s work for Alfa Bank, when he knew he might soon receive a Justice Department post, exhibited poor judgement. “The Senate does not know if Alfa Bank has been, or still is, under federal criminal investigation, nor do we know the full story behind Alfa Bank’s suspicious contacts with the Trump Organization during the 2016 campaign,” the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee stated in their letter to Trump this week.

As part of his work on behalf of Alfa Bank, Benczkowski got involved with another piece of the Russia investigation: the Steele dossier, which compiled uncorroborated reports of Russian interference in the US elections. Many Republicans in Congress have attempted to discredit the dossier and its author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele. The dossier, much of which was published by BuzzFeed in January, contained allegations about Alfa Bank:

According to the dossier, Putin has leverage over the bank’s owners and receives informal advice about the United States from two of the three oligarchs who run the bank, Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven. In his role as counsel for Alfa Bank, Benczkowski reviewed this portion of the dossier after it was published and advised Fridman and Aven on the viability of a defamation suit against BuzzFeed.

Ultimately, the bank’s three owners did sue BuzzFeed,though Benczkowski’s firm did not represent them.

During his confirmation hearing, Benczkowski agreed to recuse himself from matters related to Alfa Bank for two years, the minimum required, but declined to promise a recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017 due to his ties to the Trump campaign. Democrats fear that Benczkowski could end up as a backchannel to share information about the investigation with the attorney general—a fear that a Justice Department spokeswoman has dismissed as “insulting and absurd.” It’s likely that the position of Criminal Division chief would provide him a window into the Russia probe as well as the investigations by Mueller and the US attorney’s office investigation into Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen:

Justice Department official Stephen Boyd wrote to [Rhode Island’s Democratic Sen. Sheldon] Whitehouse in December that special counsel regulations require Mueller to “‘consult with appropriate offices within the Department for guidance’” on the rules and procedures of the department. That suggests that Benczkowski could have significant insight into the investigation, and even some control over aspects of it.

There is no special setup to wall off Mueller’s work from other components of the Justice Department, Boyd wrote.Mueller may have to seek approval for some actions through the same channels that a US attorney would, including from the criminal division. “[T]o ensure that information about the investigation is not disseminated more broadly than necessary, the Criminal Division has identified specific points of contact for the [special counsel’s office] with respect to various subject matters,” Boyd wrote. If confirmed, Benczkowski would have “no supervisory role with respect to the Special Counsel,” Boyd stated, but added, “it is possible that the [special counsel’s office] will seek approvals from the Criminal Division as required by statute, regulation, or policy.”

Watch this man.

Trump Acts Like An A-hole At NATO Because Of Course He Does

Ken AshfordForeign Affairs, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Donald Trump opened his visit to NATO by doubling down on his efforts to attack America’s closest allies and deploying his I’m-not-a-puppet-you’re-a-puppet defense on Russia.

Trump: Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia. Germany is a captive of Russia, It’s very inappropriate.

When he was confronted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the need for the alliance to stay united in the response to Germany, Trump dismissed the idea with contempt, saying that Germany had “gotten rid of all its coal and nuclear.” And, according to the Washington Post, Trump followed up with a declaration that seemed just one step short of walking away from the alliance.

Trump: We’re supposed to protect Germany but getting their energy from Russia. So explain that. And it can’t be explained and you know that.

Trump then stated that NATO was only “making Russia richer,” though he did not explain how. This opening, with Trump making blunt and inaccurate statements, then refusing to listen when others tried to correct his information, showed that he is still intent on weakening the alliance that has protected American interests for 70 years, still intent on dividing Europe over the subject of Russia, and still deaf to the concerns of America’s strongest allies.

The truth is that Germany has not “gotten rid of its coal.” In fact, German coal consumption has not decreased in two decades—though it now imports most of its coal from Australia, because the cost of mining remaining reserves in Germany is higher than the price of imports. German coal consumption is actually up slightly since 2010 and coal makes up a larger proportion of electrical generation in Germany than it does in the United States. Nuclear plants have begun to be phased out, with a plan to bring them offline accelerated after protests following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, but

Germany does import a lot of power—over half its energy comes from imports—but Russia is not at the top of that list. According to Clean Energy Wire, natural gas makes up 22.6 percent of Germany’s energy imports. Those imports were split almost equally between Russia, Norway, and the Netherlands. Russia also has about 39 percent of Germany’s market for imported oil used, as in the U.S., for transportation. But Germany simply has next to no oil and gas. It’s not a matter of shutting down local production and taking gas from Russia. There is no local production.

But the biggest source of new power in Germany hasn’t been Russia—it’s been renewables. The big change in Germany over the last two decades has been the rapid, successful, and cost-effective growth of solar, wind, and off-shore wind. Renewables now make up 14 percent of Germany’s electrical production, and that number is growing rapidly.

Which is why Trump is taking this special opportunity to attack them.

It’ s no coincidence that Trump’ s attack on Germany combines Russia, coal, and nuclear power all in one big mash-up. Because Germany is everything that Trump is working against in one bundle: They’re maintaining a democracy that is pushing back against right-wing white nationalism, they’re fighting back against Russia’s influence in both Europe and their local politics, and they’re rapidly building a base of renewable power that is set to displace their need for imported fossil fuels.

On the other hand, Trump is trying to demean renewable power and is pushing to use emergency executive power—under rules untapped since the 1950s—to force American electrical producers to retain coal and nuclear plants despite a higher cost. He’s pushing a program that is entirely based around the idea that limiting immigration to those with “merit” and turning away refugees is necessary to hold off crime.

It’s entirely in Trump’s interest to paint Germany—one of the most successful nations of the 21st century—as a kind of failed state, where Muslim immigrants pillage through the streets, the lights would go out without the help of Vladimir Putin, and the United States picks up the tab for their defense.

None of it is true. But that will not stop Trump from presenting this model.

Because the idea that a state can be welcoming to immigrants and refugees, and turn their dependence on fossil fuels into a rapid growth of renewables—and improve energy efficiency by 18 percent in just eight years — is a threat. A threat to the story he is selling.

Here’s Trump v Pompeo


Is Kavanaugh Really Bad?

Ken AshfordSupreme CourtLeave a Comment

Make no mistake about it: the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is bad news. But the bad news arrived on Election Day 2016, not yesterday.  Kavanaugh was inevitable.

I have been downplaying the fear and anguish that some on the left are going through.  Quite often, I’ve been hearing and reading things like this:

Kavanaugh has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office, Michael Kranish and Ann E. Marimow report. “Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation’s chief executive should be exempt from ‘time-consuming and distracting’ lawsuits and investigations, which ‘would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.’ If a president were truly malevolent, Kavanaugh wrote, he could always be impeached.”

Yes, Kavanaugh wrote that…. in 2008.  And he wasn’t taking a LEGAL position, but a political one.  Yet, some seem to think he is Trump’s ace in the hole for the Mueller investigation.  Trump himself may think that.

Kavanaugh has a conservative philosophy. He is pro-business.  He is a staunch defender of executive prerogative.  For progressives, this is clearly a setback.

But none of his views are outside the mainstream, like Trump is.  He is, like most educated conservatives, probably a Never Trumper.  And there is no indication that his political philosophy will override his judicial philosophy — should the two ever conflict.

Will he become a David Souter, who sided with liberals on the court?  Very, very unlikely.  Will he become a swing justice, like Kennedy (for whom he clerked and whose recommendation may have won the day with Trump)?  Also unlikely, but still possible.

I don’t think he is as bad as Scalia.  Or Gorsuch.  Or even Thomas.

And yeah, the Supreme Court is going to be terrible for the rest of my life, I expect.

But that just means we progressives have to fight harder.  In Congress.  For the White House.  And locally.

Who Will It Be?

Ken AshfordSupreme Court, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

NY Times:

Signaling he has not yet settled on his pick for the Supreme Court, President Trump on Monday morning worked the phones primarily seeking input about two judges who are apparently the finalists, Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas Hardiman, people familiar with the discussions said.

Mr. Trump appeared to be going back and forth between Judge Kavanaugh, the favorite of the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and Judge Hardiman, whom the president’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a former colleague of Judge Hardiman’s, has pressed him to choose.

Two other candidates for the seat of the retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Raymond Kethledge — were not the focus of Mr. Trump’s morning discussions, according to those familiar with the discussions.

The drama-focused president is going to announce his choice for the Kennedy seat in a Monday night address to the country at 9 p.m. He said on Sunday that he hoped to have made a decision by noon on Monday.

Alright, let’s take a look at these two.


Current position: Federal appellate judge (Third Circuit Court of Appeals)

Why Trump might pick himDonald Trump’s been known to say that “the police in our country do not get respect.” That is assuredly not Thomas Hardiman’s fault.

On the Third Circuit, Hardiman has consistently sided with law enforcement against defendants and inmates. He ruled that a policy of strip-searching jail inmates didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search (an opinion the Supreme Court upheld). He’s also written, in dissent, that the First Amendment does not give citizens the right to tape police — something with which every state in the union currently disagrees.

Hardiman’s pre-judicial career is full of the kinds of things liberals and Democrats don’t like: He donated to Republican candidates before being appointed to the bench (something that is neither illegal nor, to most legal experts, a big deal), and he represented plenty of political clients and political cases while he was in private practice. Most of this is insignificant: Just like it’s a defense lawyer’s job to defend murderers, it’s a civil lawyer’s job to defend companies accused of discrimination.

But it’s ironic that one of Hardiman’s most high-profile cases was a housing discrimination suit against a company accused of conspiring to keep out low-income clients — given that the president who might appoint him to the Supreme Court, early in his own career, settled a housing discrimination suit of his own against the federal government.

Perhaps most relevant to Hardiman’s chances, though, is that he was reportedly Trump’s second choice after Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia. Despite his conservative record, grassroots right-wing activists freaked out when his name was floated, arguing he could be a stealth liberal. (The evidence for this was shockingly weak.) Perhaps, then, second time’s the charm?



Current position: Federal appellate judge (DC Circuit Court of Appeals)

Why Trump might him: Brett Kavanaugh has about as long and high-profile a record in Republican legal circles as anyone on this list. A former clerk to Anthony Kennedy, as well as appellate judges Alex Kozinski and Walter Stapleton, he represented Cuban child Elian Gonzalez pro bono during the conservative battle to keep him from returning to Cuba, and was one of the George W. Bush campaign’s lawyers in the Florida recount.

Before that, though, Kavanaugh was a protegé of Kenneth Starr, whom he served both in the solicitor general’s office under George H.W. Bush and as independent counsel during the investigation into the Clinton family’s Whitewater real estate deal. He was a principal author of the Starr Report, which detailed Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and misrepresentations of that affair in sworn testimony.

“As a prosecutor, Kavanaugh set a bracing literary standard (‘On all nine of those occasions, the President fondled and kissed her bare breasts…’),” the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin recalled in 2012, “but his work as a judge may be even more startling.” Toobin cites Kavanaugh’s opinion on the DC Circuit when considering a constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act:

[A]ccording to Kavanaugh, even if the Supreme Court upholds the law this spring, a President Santorum, say, could refuse to enforce ACA because he “deems” the law unconstitutional. That, to put the matter plainly, is not how it works. Courts, not Presidents, “deem” laws unconstitutional, or uphold them. “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is,” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Marbury v. Madison, in 1803, and that observation, and that case, have served as bedrocks of American constitutional law ever since. Kavanaugh, in his decision, wasn’t interpreting the Constitution; he was pandering to the base.

It’s hardly his only stridently conservative opinion on the DC Circuit. In a profile for Ozy, Daniel Malloy notes, “Kavanaugh this year declared that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, given the agency’s independence and unitary structure, and he has voted repeatedly to slap back aggressive regulations from Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.”

But as Trump has considered Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy, some conservatives have started to voice concerns that the judge isn’t reliably conservative enoughSome conservatives, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), have pointed to Kavanaugh’s record on health care; others are concerned that Kavanaugh told senators during his DC Circuit confirmation hearing that he’d respect precedent on abortion and declined to share his views on Roe v. Wade. This could very easily be the typical DC song and dance of pretending not to believe what he clearly believes on key questions of jurisprudence, but it appears to be a concern.

The biggest problem for Kavanaugh, though, might be his association with Bush. Multiple reporters have heard from aides that Trump is suspicious of anyone in the GOP who was too closely tied to the Bushes. “You hear the rumbling because if you’ve been part of the establishment for a long time, you’re suspect. Kavanaugh carries that baggage,” one conservative organizer told the Washington Post.


All told, if it is down to those two, I am hoping for Hardiman, as he is the most likely to become a Souter or Kennedy.  Check out this graph by 538:

Second choice (for me) would be Coney Barett, but if the NY Times is to be believed, she is off the short short list.

But I am more and more convinced it will be Kavanaugh, and this is part of the reason why:

If they are LOOKING at self-preservation, then self-preservation is a criteria. And he’s the only one who seems to have addressed the “indictment of a sitting president” issue.  However, Kavanaugh wrote that Congress should pass such a statute — he specifically avoided the issue of whether the Courts can say so.

UPDATE — 3:14 pm — According to an updated version of the Times article excerpted above, Trump has made his decision.  We just don’t know which one yet.

UPDATE — 4:30 pm — Prediction markets have Hardiman surging as the days goes forward, but they are usually dumb about these things


UPDATE — 9:03 pm — It’s Brett Kavanaugh

Weekly List 86

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week Russia was front and center as a delegation of seven Republican Senators traveled to Moscow, without any Democrats or U.S. media along, for what was described as “conciliatory” meetings with their Russian counterparts. The meetings took place on the same day the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report saying Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the intent of helping Trump win.

As former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen publicly hinted he will cooperate and the Mueller probe continued to broaden, Trump seemed increasingly unhinged, attacking Democrats and Republicans, as well as the media and corporations. His rhetoric of “anarchy” and “better take it easy” and ICE “liberating” towns became increasingly hostile and inflammatory.

This week, as stories of migrant children being gravely mistreated continued to emerge, the regime was forced in court to admit it had underestimated the number of children in its care, and had no tracking system in place to reunify separated families. Meanwhile, the regime took additional steps to make America more white, setting up a denaturalization task force and discharging immigrants from the U.S. army. More everyday incidents of racism were reported across the country.

  1. The Families Belong Together marches tallied over 400,000 protestors at over 750 locations. Participants were 71% women, compared with 85% at the 2017 Women’s March, and 84% had a BA degree or more.
  2. Pew Research reported for the first time, the U.S. resettled fewer refugees than the rest of the world in 2017 — taking in 33,000, the lowest total since the years following the Sept. 11 when it resettled about 97,000.
  3. On Monday, WNYC reported Trump’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) iscreating a new denaturalization task force to examine bad naturalization cases.
  4. USCIS expects to hire dozens of lawyers and immigration officers in the coming weeks to find U.S. citizens they say were not properly naturalized, revoke their citizenship, and deport them.
  5. AP reported the U.S. Army quietly and abruptly discharged dozens of reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship. The total number of discharges is not known.
  6. Immigrants have served in the U.S. Army since 1775. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving.
  7. U.S. refugee resettlement is on pace to remain historically low in 2018 as the Trump regime lowered the refugee ceiling for fiscal 2018 to 45,000 refugees, the lowest cap since the Refugee Act was adopted by Congress.
  8. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he “never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill.” On Wednesday, Trump tweeted “House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill.”
  9. On Sunday, in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he would not move forward on a new NAFTA deal with Mexico and Canada until after the midterms.
  10. Trump also slammed our European allies, saying, “The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller. It’s terrible what they do to us.”
  11. Trump also attacked Harley-Davidson, saying; “Everybody who ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump … and they are very unhappy about it,” adding, “I think they are going to take a big hit.”
  12. Trump also said, “You get rid of ICE, you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house,”adding, “They go into Long Island, they actually liberate towns.” This repeated claim is false.
  13. Trump also threatened critics of him or his regime, saying, “I hope the other side realizes that they better just take it easy,” adding, “even some of the radical ideas, I really think they’re very bad for the country.”
  14. Bartiromo’s interview was widely criticized for its lack of substance and her refusal to push back on lies. Fox Business president Brian Jones defended Bartiromo and said, “We are proud of her hard work.”
  15. On Sunday, Axios reported on a leaked draft of a bill ordered by Trump in which the U.S. would effectively leave the World Trade Organization, and Trump could raise U.S. tariffs at will, without congressional consent.
  16. The Hill reported that Trump tweeted the phrase “stock market” 46 times in 2017, almost once a week. In 2018, as the market rally has stalled, Trump has only mentioned the stock market two times.
  17. On Tuesday, Trump again threatened Harley-Davidson, claiming “my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S.”
  18. Trump also tweeted, “Harley customers are not happy with their move — sales are down 7% in 2017.” The move was announced in 2018.
  19. Moog Music, the legendary synthesizer designer and manufacturer, said due to Trump’s China tariffs, the company may need to lay off workers or move some, if not all, of its manufacturing overseas.
  20. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort filed a request with the Department of Labor for 61 additional H-2B temporary visas for foreign servers and cooks.
  21. On Sunday, the staff of the Capital Gazette released a letter thanking those who offer support, and calling out Trump without naming him, “We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people.”
  22. On Monday, the Baltimore Sun reported Trump declined a request from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley last week to lower American flags in honor of the fatal shooting at the Capital Gazette last week.
  23. On Tuesday, Trump reversed as press secretary Sarah Sanders called Buckley in the morning to say the White House had issued a proclamation ordering the flags lowered nationwide until sunset Tuesday.
  24. On Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton told “Face the Nation,” relating to Trump’s upcoming meeting with Putin, “we’re going to have to see” if the U.S. eventually recognizes Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
  25. On Saturday, in Paris, Rudy Giuliani addressed the National Council of Resistance of Iran which was once listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Europe, and called for regime change in Tehran.
  26. AP reported Trump repeatedly pressed aides in August 2017 to invade Venezuela. Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster were reportedly stunned, and McMaster and others explained it could backfire and talked him out of it.
  27. On Tuesday, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg, the Trump regime is temporarily letting ZTE resume some business activities while the U.S. weighs ending a seven-year ban on the company.
  28. On Tuesday, in a court brief, nearly three dozen retired military officers and national security officials asked a federal appeals court to uphold an order blocking Trump’s transgender military ban.
  29. On Monday, George Stephanopoulos reported on his 45-minute interview of Cohen, which took place Saturday evening at a Manhattan hotel where Cohen has been staying — Cohen’s first public interview since the FBI raid.
  30. Stephanopoulos reported Cohen said, “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” adding, “I put family and country first,” not Trump.
  31. On Wednesday, July 4, Cohen scrubbed mention of Trump from his Twitter bio, and changed his Twitter header photo, deleting one that showed him standing behind a Trump campaign podium.
  32. On Thursday, Cohen hired Lanny Davis, the attorney and PR man who led President Clinton’s public defense against multiple scandals in the 1990s. Davis was also a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
  33. On Sunday, NYT reported that sponsors of migrant children trying to reunite the children with parents face considerable red tape, and must pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in airfare for the children.
  34. On Monday, a U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia blocked the systematic, arbitrary detention of migrants who have shown credible evidence that they were fleeing persecution in their home countries.
  35. The lawsuit noted that 1,000 asylum seekers had been denied parole in five ICE districts. Before Trump took office, more than nine out of 10 asylum seekers were granted parole.
  36. The judge ordered the government to conduct individualized reviews to determine whether a person is a flight risk, poses a national security threat, or is a danger to the community before denying parole.
  37. Bloomberg reported on a 15 year-old girl who said after fleeing El Salvador and forcibly separated from her mother, she was crammed into a windowless room with 60 other girls.
  38. The room was divided by wire fencing into three cages, each holding 20 separated girls, some as young as 3 years-old. She said she was deprived of proper sleep or food for three days, and that “the place was freezing.”
  39. Grassroots Leadership, a human rights organization, posted letters from immigration detention centers. One woman called the facility “la perrera,” the kennel, because of the chain-link cages she and others were held in.
  40. She said for eight days after she was captured, she was not allowed to bathe or brush her teeth. She and other women slept on the floor under “aluminum paper” blankets, saying they were treated like “we were animals.”
  41. Others described the anguish of being separated from their children. One woman wrote, “From then on, I didn’t know anything more about my children…They told us our kids would be adopted by other people.”
  42. In protest of Trump’s family separation policy, Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis arranged baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph statues in a chain-linked, enclosed cage on their lawn.
  43. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies, Geo Group and CoreCivic, which are involved in housing detained migrant families.
  44. Defense Secretary James Mattis sits on a board of a housing contractor, and Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos provided funds to one of the groups. Some contractors employ GOP lobbyists with ties to Trump.
  45. On Tuesday, Intercept reported that when Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured a detention facility housing women in Southern Texas, migrant mothers who were separated from their children were moved outdoors.
  46. The mothers tried to yell their questions to Nielsen from a distant soccer field but were ignored. Reporters were also not given access to Nielsen during the visit.
  47. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump renewed his calls for deporting migrants without due process, tweeting, “they must be told to leave without our … Country being forced to endure a long and costly trial.”
  48. Trump also tweeted, “Tell the people “OUT,” and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn,” and repeated his lie about needing to hire thousands of judges.
  49. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported that Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee is in weekly conversation with Christopher Steele, author of the dossier.
  50. On Monday, AP reported, according to internal memos and business records obtained, Konstantin Kilimnik was far more involved in formulating pro-Russia political strategy with Paul Manafort than previously known.
  51. Memos date back to 2004, and show Kilimnik helped formulate Manafort’s pitches to clients in Russia and Ukraine, including Oleg Deripaska, and that he helped Manafort plan to influence Western politicians and media outlets.
  52. On Monday, McClatchy reported Mueller’s team likely got access to the NRA’s tax returns, which would identify “dark money” donors, companies, and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of donations to Trump.
  53. On Tuesday, Trump accused the NSA of violating privacy, tweeting, “The NSA has deleted 685 million phone calls and text messages,” and trying to tie it to the unrelated Mueller probe: “The Witch Hunt continues!
  54. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Mueller is tapping more prosecutors to help with new legal battles as the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election continues to expand.
  55. Instead of adding to his staff, Mueller is making use of prosecutors from U.S. attorneys offices and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — and may hand off more cases as he did with Cohen.
  56. On Friday, a newly released court document showed Manafort is being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day ahead of his July 25 trial, saying his safety cannot be otherwise guaranteed while in prison.
  57. On Monday, the White House Twitter account — @WhiteHouse — falsely accused Sen. Kamala Harris of “supporting the animals of MS-13,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of “supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs, and victims.”
  58. On Tuesday, the White House Twitter account attacked two House Democrats, Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Mark Pocan, who announced last week they would introduce legislation to abolish ICE.
  59. On Monday, an image with a fake quote by Rep. Maxine Waters, which read, “Waters: SCOTUS pick should be illegal immigrant,” was posted and spread around pro-Trump Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  60. On Tuesday, Trump escalated his attacks on Rep. Waters, referring to her as “Crazy Maxine Waters,” and saying she is “one of the most corrupt people in politics.”
  61. On Tuesday, Trump continued attacks on gangs as a proxy for people with brown skin and his support for ICE, tweeting, “we have an “infestation” of MS-13 GANGS,” and “who do we send to get them out? ICE!”
  62. CNN reported that Trump’s tweet on Tuesday, falsely claiming Obama granted citizenship to 2,500 Iraniansas part of nuclear deal negotiations, came from a story on the Fox News website.
  63. ABC News reported Mark Harris, an insurgent Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina, hadquestioned in a 2013 sermon whether careers were ‘healthiest pursuit’ for women.
  64. WAPO reported on a white woman in Maple Heights, Ohio who called the police on a 12 year-old black boywho was mowing her neighbor’s lawn, after he had slightly crossed onto her property line.
  65. On Tuesday, a woman called the police on Rep. Janelle Bynum, a black Oregon state representative running for re-election, while she was going door-to-door campaigning and using her cellphone.
  66. On Wednesday, the Daily News reported the principal at the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York refused to allow the school’s first black valedictorian give a graduation speech.
  67. Instead, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren invited Jaisaan Lovett, who had served as her intern previously, the give his speech at City Hall. Warren said, “I think it was personal between Jaisaan and the principal.”
  68. On July 4, a white man in North Carolina asked a black woman who was swimming in a community pool for her ID, then called the police. After a video of the incident went viral, he was fired by Sonoco.
  69. On Friday, Larry Lappin, a white man in Petaluma, California apologized after a video of him cursing a neighbor on July 4 for playing Spanish-language music went viral, saying he had been drinking too much.
  70. On Friday, the day after a video surfaced of Michael Miselis, a member of a white-supremacist group,attending the Charlottesville rally and pounding on a black man, he was fired from his job at Northrop Grumman.
  71. The NAACP issued a new study showing a continued rise in hate crimes to “the highest level in a decade,” and said there is a direct relationship between the rise and “Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and racist policies.”
  72. The report found racially-motivated crimes comprise nearly 60% of overall hate crimes. Overall, the report found, “Anti-Black, anti-Semitic, anti-gay and anti-Latino were the most common type of hate crimes.”
  73. On Monday, Kentucky’s GOP governor Matt Bevin canceled dental and vision benefits for almost 500,000 people on Medicaid in his state, following a judge blocking the state’s Medicaid work requirements in Week 84.
  74. On Tuesday, Trump’s Department of Education rescinded an Obama-era guideline that encouraged the use of race to promote diversity, directing schools and colleges to adopt race-neutral admissions standard
  75. The regime instead reposted a W. Bush administration document strongly encouraging the use of “race-neutral” methods on the Department of Education website.
  76. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions withdrew 24 Justice Department guidance documents, most but not all dating back to the Obama administration, including materials about affirmative action and the right of refugees.
  77. NBC News reported Trump’s most recent financial disclosures reveal first lady Melania Trump earned between $100,000 and $1 million in 2017 from Getty Images for use of a series of images shot between 2010–2016.
  78. At least a dozen news agencies paid to use the photos, which include a requirement photos be used only in positive coverage. Several agencies removed the images from their websites after inquiries by NBC News.
  79. On Tuesday, Scott Schools, a top aide to Rod Rosenstein resigned. Schools was a senior official and played a critical role as a strategic counselor on institutional norms and ethics. His exit follows Rachel Brand.
  80. School’s role included recommending Andrew McCabe be fired for “lack of candor,” advising then acting AG Sally Yates about the boundaries of her congressional testimony, and getting regular briefings on the Mueller investigation.
  81. CNN reported based on a mortality database which they and Centro de Periodismo Investigativo sued Puerto Rico to obtain, 26 Puerto Ricans died from leptospirosis in the six months following Hurricane Maria.
  82. On Tuesday, 75 protesters blocked the entrance to an ICE building in Philadelphia, refusing to allow anyone to enter or leave. Nearly 30 were arrested after a clash with police.
  83. On July 4, Therese Okoumou climbed the Statue of Liberty in protest of Trump’s immigration policy of separating families. Police closed down and evacuated the Statue.
  84. Okoumou was among 40 Rise and Resist protestors who earlier had hung a banner on the Statue calling for the abolishment of ICE.
  85. Walmart stopped selling T-shirts and baby onesies that said “Impeach 45” after an social media outcry from Trump supporters who threatened to boycott the retailer.
  86. In an op-ed, Alan Dershowitz said he was being “shunned” on Martha’s Vineyard for defending Trump, saying one good thing is finding out “who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.”
  87. On Thursday, actor and Trump supporter James Woods revealed his agent, Ken Kaplan, had dropped him in a message saying, “It’s the 4th of July and I’m feeling patriotic. I don’t want to represent you anymore.”
  88. On Monday, CNN reported Trump is planning a one-on-one meeting with Putin at the start of their July 16 summit in Helsinki, before aides join their first formal meeting.
  89. On Wednesday July 4, a delegation of seven Senate and one House Republicans met with their Russian counterparts in Moscow. The meetings were closed-door and the media was not given access, nor were any Democrats invited.
  90. The senators struck a “conciliatory” tone. Sen. Richard Shelby told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth, I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”
  91. Among the Russian attendees were Sergey Kislyak, whose conversations with Michael Flynn led to Flynn’s firing, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The visit represents the most significant congressional visit to Russia in over a decade.
  92. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev raised Russia’s grievances about U.S. sanctions and seizure of Russian diplomatic properties. Kosachev was put under U.S. sanctions in April.
  93. While some GOP senators had hoped to meet with Putin during the trip, a spokesperson said Putin “had no time for the visitors.” Kosachev later told Russia state TV the GOP lawmakers’ visit was a concession.
  94. On Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report backing the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump.
  95. The report describes activity that goes far beyond the intelligence community’s initial January 2017findings, and says Russia is continuing its efforts to undermine U.S. democracy.
  96. The report also backed the intelligence findings that Russian intelligence services used digital operations to target both major political parties, as well as think tanks and lobby groups, in order to influence U.S. policy.
  97. On Wednesday, London Metropolitan Police said two people found unconscious in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday were exposed to nerve agent Novichok, the same used on Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
  98. The U.K. Home Secretary accused Russia of using Britain as a “dumping ground for poison.” The Russian embassy called the assertions “merely speculative,” and said May’s government was subjecting them “to hell”.
  99. On Friday, Sen. Ron Johnson, who was one of the seven GOP Senators in Moscow, told Sirius radio “The Big Picture,” that it was time to “evaluate” whether to lift sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.
  100. On Monday, WAPO reported two of Scott Pruitt’s top aides, both Trump appointees, have provided congressional investigators new details about his most controversial spending and management decisions.
  101. Aides said Pruitt sought a job for his wife that would pay over $200,000, requested help from senior EPA officials in a dispute with a Washington landlord, and disregarded concerns about his first-class travel.
  102. CNN reported that according to Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower, Pruitt and his aides kept “secret” calendars and schedules to hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives or others.
  103. On Monday, a mother carrying her toddler son confronted Pruitt at a D.C. restaurant and asked him to resign before scandal pushes him out, saying her son loves animals, breathing clean air, and drinking clean water.
  104. On Thursday, Pruitt resigned. WAPO reported the White House informed Pruitt that he had to submit his resignation. Trump tweeted shortly after that Pruitt did an “outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him.”
  105. In his resignation letter, Pruitt wrote it had been “a blessing” to serve under Trump and undertake “transformative work,” and blamed “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family.”
  106. On Friday, in his final hours at the EPA, Pruitt granted a loophole allowing a major increase in the manufacturing of older diesel freight trucks which produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as newer trucks.
  107. The newer technology reduced emissions of nitrogen oxide, which are blamed for asthma, lung cancer, and other ailments. The move was opposed by environmental, public health, industry players, and truck manufacturers.
  108. Pruitt will be replaced by his deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who shares Pruitt’s zeal for undoing environmental regulations. Wheeler is a Washington insider who has spent years effectively navigating the rules.
  109. The New Yorker reported on the record-setting turnover under Trump: as of the end of June, 61% of top-level advisers have turned under Trump. At the same point in, Obama’s turnover was 14% and W. Bush was 5%.
  110. With Pruitt’s departure, Trump’s Cabinet has the fastest turnover rate of any Administration in a hundred years. Turnover is also alarming at lower levels, where positions are held by second and third waves of aides.
  111. On Thursday, a federal judge in California rejected the Trump regime’s challenge to block three of the state’s sanctuary laws, allowing laws that restrict local law enforcement cooperation with ICE and require state oversight of facilities housing immigration detainees to stay in place.
  112. A third law which could require employers to notify employees about upcoming workplace inspections will stay in place, but the judge struck down a ban on employers voluntarily giving access to employee records.
  113. The ruling allows the California to keep in place its most significant legislative measures aimed at countering Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. The judge called on Congress to pass immigration reform.
  114. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said nearly 3,000 — not the 2,047 number he gave to Senators last week — migrant children are in custody after crossing the southern border.
  115. Azar said some of the children may have been separated before “zero tolerance,” and some children may not qualify for reunification because they were separated during their journey and not by U.S. border agents.
  116. Of the roughly 3,000 migrant children still in federal custody, about 100 are under the age of 5.
  117. DNA will be used to reunite families to meet the deadlines of the San Diego federal court ruling. Azar said the regime will soon start reuniting families in ICE detention centers while their asylum claims play out.
  118. Immigration advocates and others raised concerned over how DNA collected by migrants would be used in the future, including DNA could be used to track undocumented immigrants indefinitely.
  119. On Thursday, NYT reported that according to two Department of Homeland Security officials, records linking migrant children to their parents have disappeared or have been destroyed.
  120. DHS has deployed hundreds of federal workers to comply with an injunction from a federal judge in San Diego under which families must be reunited by July 26, with a July 10 deadline for children under 5.
  121. The Office of Refugee Resettlement had initiated procedures such as identification bracelets and registration numbers, but Border Patrol which handled the migrants for the first 72 hours, did not follow through.
  122. PBS reported on a motion filed Monday by Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and D.C., which includes 900 pages of declarations and personal testimonies from parents, children, and other family members.
  123. Olivia Caceres, separated from her 1 year-old son in November wrote, “(My son) is not the same since we were reunited,” adding “When I took off his clothes he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days.”
  124. An investigator for the Washington attorney general wrote, “The guards would wake all the girls up at 4 a.m. to count them by kicking on their mats.” Other stories were similarly excruciating.
  125. In hundreds of cases, Border Patrol deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family with a “family identification number,” leaving no record of how to reunite them.
  126. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Azar said the Trump regime “will comply” with the deadlines, though he criticized the judge’s timetable as “extreme.”
  127. Late Thursday, according to court records filed late in the day, the Trump regime said it would not be able to meet a federal judge’s deadline to reunite all migrant families separated at the southern border.
  128. Azur said HHS overall is caring for more than 11,800 minors through a nationwide network of shelters, overseen by ORR. More than 80% of the minors are teenagers, mostly males, who crossed the border alone.
  129. Despite Trump’s zero-tolerance policy being in place for much of June, more than 42,000 were apprehended in June, nearly double the number in June 2017. Border crossings tend to slow in summer months.
  130. On Friday, at a status hearing, the Trump regime said they cannot locate the parents of 38 migrant childrenunder the age of 5: 19 were released from custody, whereabouts unknown, and the other 19 were deported.
  131. When the judge asked about having counsel back over the weekend, the ACLU attorney said, “We will do whatever,” but the DOJ attorney said she could not attend because she had out-of-town dog-sitting responsibilities.
  132. The judge said he would agree to delay the July 10 deadline if the government could provide a master list of all children and the status of their parents by 10 a.m. Pacific time on Monday.
  133. On Thursday, one week after five were killed at the Capital Gazette, Trump said of the media at a rally in Montana, “Fake news. Bad people,” and “They’re so damn dishonest,” and “These are really bad people.”
  134. Trump said he would donate $1 million if he could test Sen. Warren — who he called “the fake Pocahontas” — for Native American heritage, adding, “but we have to do it gently because we’re in the MeToo generation.”
  135. To chants of “lock her up,” Trump said of Hillary Clinton, “She gets special treatment under the Justice Department. … Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. She gets special treatment under the Justice Department.”
  136. Trump also took aim at George HW Bush and his slogan on volunteerism, saying, “‘Thousands points of light’….What does that mean? I know one thing. ‘Make America Great Again’ we understand.”
  137. On his way to the rally, when asked about allegations Rep. Jim Jordan overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University, Trump said, “I don’t believe them at all. I believe him.”
  138. After the rally, Trump ramped up the rhetoric ahead of midterm elections, tweeting, “A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities,” and “Democrats want anarchy, they really do.”
  139. Trump also tweeted that the MS-13 “take jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans,” and repeated his false claim that ICE is “liberating communities from savage gangs like MS-13.”
  140. On Thursday, Bill Shine was named White House deputy chief of staff for communications, where he will report directly to Trump and oversee both the press and communications teams. Shine also has close ties to Hannity.
  141. The appointment of Shine, who was pushed out of Fox News over his mishandling of sexual harassment scandals at the network, met with protests from both advocates and some conservatives.
  142. A new Washington Post-Schar School poll found a huge gender gap in Trump’s approval — while his overall approval is 43%, just 32% of women approve compared to 54% of men.
  143. On Friday, South Korea media reporting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bought a CD of ‘Rocket Man,’ along with a letter from Trump, as gifts for Kim Jong Un. Pompeo laughed off, and would not confirm or deny it when asked by U.S. media.
  144. Pompeo met with Kim Jong Chol in North Korea to hoping to flesh out specifics, following evidence North Korea continues to build its nuclear program despite assurances given by Trump after the Singapore summit.
  145. On Saturday, AP reported Pyongyang called the visit by Pompeo “regrettable” and accused Washington of making “gangster-like” demands to pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear weapons.
  146. A statement from a North Korea spokesperson said, “We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust,” but those hopes were “naive” and “foolish.”
  147. Protests are planned across London for Trump’s visit next week, including a giant ‘Trump Baby’ balloon set to be flown close to the UK Parliament. Over 10,000 people signed a petition in support of the balloon.
  148. On Wednesday, donning a sombrero, Sheffield’s Lord Mayor Magid Magid announced “in solidarity” with Mexico, Trump will be banned from his city, “I further declare July 13th to be Mexico Solidarity Day!”
  149. On Friday, Guardian reported according to Downing Street, Trump will almost entirely avoid London during his four-day U.K. visit next week, prompting accusations he is trying to avoid planned protests against him.
  150. On Friday, Trump officially launched a trade war with China, imposing the first duties on $34 billion in Chinese goods.
  151. Moments later, China fired back, accusing the U.S. of violating World Trade Organization rules setting off “the largest trade war in economic history to date.” China said it would retaliate.
  152. Russia also said it would retaliate, imposing tariffs on U.S. products, and would be “joining the European Union, China, India and Canada in complaining to the World Trade Organization about the American action”
  153. The owner of a Chinese factory told an NPR podcast he was making flags for Trump’s 2020 campaign. It is unclear if the Trump campaign or related businesses put in the order.
  154. On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation tweeted a list of “Things to remember” countering Trump before his trip to Europe, including “Russia is the aggressor,” “Crimea belongs to Ukraine,” and Putin can’t be trusted.
  155. On Friday, WAPO reported allies are worried that similar to the week of G7, Trump will blow up the NATO summit then offer concessions to another autocrat, NATO’s main adversary Russia.
  156. At his rally in Montana, Trump railed against NATO, saying “you got to start paying your bills,” and “They kill us on trade,” while defending Putin, calling him “fine” at the event.
  157. WAPO also reported that Trump gave out his personal cell phone number to a handful of foreign leaders shortly after taking office, and his White House is not informed of his calls, nor is there a typical public readout.
  158. Aides have urged Trump to route all conversations with foreign leaders through the Situation Room, as required under federal records law, but Trump refuses, instead giving them a terse summary of his calls.
  159. In conversations with Trudeau, May, and Merkel, Trump is sometimes assertive, brash and even bullying. With Putin, Trump takes a more conciliatory approach, often treating the Russian leader as a confidant.
  160. White House aides worry that Putin is playing on Trump’s inexperience to gain the upper-hand, saying things like “fake news” and that U.S. foreign policy establishment, the “deep state,” is conspiring against them.
  161. On Friday, NYT reported Trump’s attorneys set new conditions for a Mueller interview, saying Mueller needs to prove he has evidence that Trump committed a crime and that his testimony is essential.
  162. This marks a shift to a more combative approach. According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll, 45% of Americans disapprove of how Mueller is handling the investigation, up from 31% in January 2018.
  163. On Saturday, Trump again attacked the media, tweeting that Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts, and asking will that “include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post.”
  164. In an op-ed, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist said Mueller “is under assault,” extolling, “No matter who is in the White House, we Republicans must stand up for the sanctity of our democracy and the rule of law.”

Trump Administration Can’t Reunify Families It Broke Apart

Ken AshfordCourts/Law, Crime, General corruption, Immigration and Xenophobia, Political Scandals, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment


The Justice Department asked a federal judge this afternoon to extend the court mandated deadlines for reuniting nearly 3,000 migrant children who were separated from their parents while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Attorneys for the U.S. government claimed the court mandate for returning all children under age 5 to their parents by July 10 and all other children by July 26 does not account for the time required to verify and vet each parent.

“The government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunification,” lawyers for the Justice Department said in their response to the court. “At the same time, however, the government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of the child.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that his agency is using DNA testing to confirm parent-child relationships for nearly 3,000 children.

The Justice Department argued that inconclusive DNA tests can delay reunification, as can the work necessary to make sure children are going to parents who are fit to care for them.

Alternatively, the court could clarify its mandate by allowing the vetting process to be shortened, the government argued.

“If the court concludes that HHS must truncate (the vetting) process to meet court-ordered deadlines, then the court should so order in a manner that provides HHS full clarity,” the government lawyers argued in the filing.

The response also asked the judge to clarify how many children it should be seeking to reunify.

President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy requiring every immigrant crossing the border illegally to be prosecuted and therefore separated from any children went into effect in early May, but HHS interpreted its mandate to mean that children separated before the policy went into effect should also be reunited. Trump signed an executive order June 20 ending separation.

The government also argued that it was too difficult to find parents who have already been deported back to their home countries, asking the judge to extend the timeline to find those parents or exclude them from the population who must be reunified.

This is a humanitarian disaster of the Trump administration’s failing. They separated kids from parents, and didn’t even create a database or any other mechanism to reunite.

The hearing before the judge is happening now, and the government just told the judge that only half of the roughly 100 children under age 5 separated from their parents will be reunified by July 10 deadline. 20 pct of parents have been released and their whereabouts largely unknown.

I hope the judge sanctions the US government.



Washington— The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should be investigated for violating the Federal Records Act through the apparent disappearance and destruction of records linking immigrant children to their parents, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Archivist of the United States. The complaint was also sent to the departments’ respective inspectors general.

This morning, the New York Times reported that “[r]ecords linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.” In hundreds of cases, Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family.

This would be a blatant violation of the Federal Records Act (FRA), which ensures the documentation and preservation of government records.

“Rarely, if ever, has a potential violation of the FRA had such grave implications,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The reportedly destroyed records bear directly on the lives of thousands of immigrants seeking entry to our country, threatening the permanent separation of parents from their children.”


A Clarification

Ken AshfordDemocrats, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

It would be a full time job trying to correct this asshole, but I can’t let this one slide.

but let’s get a couple things clear:

1. It wasn’t the lawsuit filed by the DNC.

2. The judge threw out the lawsuit for lack of standing & specifically said it was “not based on a finding that there was no collusion”

Here’s what really happened two days ago:

A federal judge in Washington has tossed out a lawsuit claiming President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russian agents and WikiLeaks to publish emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee. However, Judge Ellen Huvelle wrote that her ruling was “not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.”

Huvelle, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, said the conspiracy claims in the lawsuit centered around meetings between Trump staffers and Russian operatives in New York, making New York the proper place for the lawsuit.

The suit was filed on behalf of DNC donors Eric Schoenberg and Roy Cockrum and former DNC staffer Scott Comer. It claims the hack invaded their privacy, attempted to inflict emotional distress and violated their right to support the candidate of their choice.

The DNC was not a party to the suit the two donors and the former staffer filed last July. However, in April of this year, the DNC brought its own lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, accusing the Russian government, the Trump campaign, Trump’s son Donald Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and various other figures of roles in events related to the hacking. That case is still in its early stages.

Four — No, FIVE — Wrestlers Accuse Rep. Jim Jordan Of Ignoring Molestations

Ken AshfordCongress, Republicans, Sex Scandals, Sex/Morality/Family Values, Tea PartyLeave a Comment


Two more former Ohio State wrestlers came forward Thursday to claim that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) knew about allegations of rampant sexual abuse carried out by the team doctor while Jordan was the assistant coach, despite his denials.

This brings the total up to five of Jordan’s former wrestlers accusing him of lying.

Two more former Ohio State wrestlers came forward Thursday to claim that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) knew about allegations of rampant sexual abuse carried out by the team doctor while Jordan was the assistant coach, despite his denials.

This brings the total up to five of Jordan’s former wrestlers accusing him of lying.

“I participated with Jimmy and the other wrestlers in locker-room talk about Strauss. We all did,” Dailey told NBC, referring to Jordan. “It was very common knowledge in the locker room that if you went to Dr. Strauss for anything, you would have to pull your pants down.”

NBC reported earlier this week the accounts of three other former wrestlers who alleged similar experiences with Strauss. Dailey confirmed the account of one of them, Dunyasha Yetts.

“Dunyasha comes back and tells Jimmy, ‘Seriously, why do I have to pull down my pants for a thumb injury?’” Dailey said. “Jimmy said something to the extent of, ‘If he tried that with me, I would kill him.’”

Daily added that his coming forward is in no way politically motivated, as he is a Republican and has contributed to Jordan’s campaign in the past.

“What happened drove me out of the sport,” said Dailey told NBC. “So I was surprised to hear Jim say that he knew nothing about it.”

“Jimmy’s a good guy,” he added. “But to say that he had no knowledge of it, I would say that’s kind of hurtful.”

A Thursday Wall Street Journal report contained another account of utter disbelief that Jordan would feign ignorance, as the allegations of assault were so widespread.

“There’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,” Mark Coleman, former Ohio State wrestler and UFC world champion, told the Wall Street Journal. “I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned.”

Strauss committed suicide in 2005 and a university investigation into his conduct has since been opened.

Jordan has consistently denied that he had any knowledge of the abuse allegations. President Donald Trump lent his support to Jordan on Thursday, saying that he doesn’t “believe [the wrestlers] at all” and only believes Jordan.

Though investigators’ initial emails were sent to Jordan via a bad email address,communication has now been straightened out and an interview with Jordan is in the works.

Yes, Jordan deserves due process and a presumption of innocence, despite giving those to no one else who has entered his crosshairs. In Congress, that means an Ethics Committee investigation. The accusations in this case precede Jordan’s time in Congress. And I think the House Ethics Committee’s purview may not extend to that. But from what I can tell there’s been no move to call for any investigation from Jordan’s Republican colleagues.

Indeed, Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the authoritarian-leaning “Freedom Caucus” which Jordan founded, has suggested that accusations themselves may be part of some “deep state” conspiracy to derail Jordan’s bid for the Speakership. “I know it’s not true,” said Meadows who did not know Jordan at the time and has not investigated the matter: “I think in time it will all come out that not only did Jim not know anything about it, but if he had, he would have acted upon it.” President Trump agrees that the accusers are not telling the truth: “I Don’t Believe Them At All.”

Doesn’t sound like a deep state conspiracy to me:

Huge Scandal If True

Ken AshfordImmigration and Xenophobia, Military Issues, Political Scandals, Race, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

At least 40 immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits have been discharged or now have questionable futures in the country despite having been promised citizenship in exchange for their military service, the Associated Press reports.

Per the AP, some who have been discharged said they didn’t get an answer as to why, while others said they were told “they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.” The Pentagon told the AP they were unable to comment “due to the pending litigation.”

One Pakistani recruit explained how he learned of his discharge over a phone call, and said he “was devastated, because I love the U.S. and was so honored to be able to serve this great country.” He enlisted in April 2016, the AP reports, and had been expecting to ship out for basic training in January 2017, but it had been delayed.

The discharged recruits have had their basic training delayedthe AP reports, meaning that they can’t be naturalized. There are “an estimated 10,000 immigrant recruits currently serving in the military.”

If they are being discharged because they wash out in training or fail for some other legitimate reason, that’s one thing. But if it is purely because of their immigration status, that is hugely gross.

Less than one year ago, during National Hispanic Heritage Month, president Trump proclaimed:

From America’s earliest days, Hispanic Americans have played a prominent and important role in our national heritage, and Hispanic Americans continue to embody the pioneering spirit of America today.

Along with that proclamation and in honor of “Hispanic Heritage in the Defense Department,” DoD published several stories on how immigrants have distinguished themselves in and contributed to the U.S. military.

As a matter of fact, more than 700 — or more than 20 percent — of the 3,500 recipients of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, are immigrants.

Not that Trump cares about that now that he is unleashed from his handlers.