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?)
(MUST-SEE VIDEO) The Russian national who asked this question of Trump about sanctions, Maria Butina, was just charged with a major crime. There’s *every possibility* that Trump knew this woman when he called on her—as her boss says he’s a friend of Trump. https://t.co/GytXVfE5Fr
Wait, so you're saying the National Rifle Association might have illegally cut a deal with an oppressive foreign government? That seems totally out of character for an organization run by [checks notes] Oliver North
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.
Russians have consistently offered more info re this meeting and their dealings with Trump than the Trump White House https://t.co/KN4JaSaVY9
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:
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!
…over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems…
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.
At start of meeting with Putin, Trump says they will talk about trade, nuclear weapons, missiles and China, makes no mention of Ukraine, Syria, poisoning in the UK or election intervention.
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.
“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?
NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell says that a man, apparently a reporter with The Nation, was removed from the Trump-Putin press conference after heckling.
The man returned to collect his belongings, held up a sign and was then forcibly removed from the room. (video via CBS) pic.twitter.com/QOE1fbXa2Q
Trump: “During today’s meeting, I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person. We spent a great deal of time talking about it.”
Wow, Trump is going out of his way to praise Russia. I guess “wow” is now an understatement, but this is truly a remarkable moment in American history, 72 hours after the DoJ accused Russia of a criminal act against the democracy, POTUS essentially forgives Russia on world stage
Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin. #ABetterDeal
Trump says there was “nobody to collude with”. Um, WHAT?!?
Trump, standing next to Putin, outright refuses to blame Russia (at all) for election interference. He again says it was an excuse for why the democrats didn’t win. Mueller indicted 12 Russian intel officers on FRIDAY!
This is truly insane! The Russians invaded our election and the American president yanmers about what a brilliant campaign he ran without one word of reproach to Putin for lying about Russia’s actions, which are ONGOING!!
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.
This Reuters reporter is asking Trump-Putin two of the smartest, best crafted questions I’ve ever heard at a high stakes news conference.
The President of the United States trusts the word of a former KGB agent over the consensus of the American intelligence community backed by a ton of facts. That is a shocking reality. Everyone who excuses Trump’s behavior must answer that now, and when history inevitably judges.
Ex-FBI Asst. Dir. Frank Figliuzzi: “In 25 yrs of working counterintel for this government, I never thought that I would sit here and watch a U.S. president castigate and denigrate the U.S. Intelligence Community … standing alongside the leader of an adversarial country.” @MSNBC
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.
Rubio: “Foreign policy must be based on reality, not hyperbole or wishful thinking … Reality is Russia is an adversary. Because Putin doesn’t believe in win/win scenarios & thinks only way to make Russia stronger is to make U.S. weaker. Any approach not based on this will fail”
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…
One thing I’m picking up from several people in the White House: Trump was/is frustrated that so many people (even within his own administration) didn’t want the summit to happen and that so many people have told him to be harsh to Putin.
A relatively minor point but when Trump says he wants to know “what happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC?”… Federal prosecutors answered that question two weeks ago. https://t.co/ApbT1NNrq5pic.twitter.com/0ga20CYdDV
@TGowdySC : “Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.”
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.
“Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been. Nor does he want to be our friend,” Senate intel chairman @SenatorBurr with a key point on Trump/Putin summit today
JUST IN: VP Pence offers a rose-colored view of Trump’s Putin summit: “What the world saw, what the American people saw, is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.”
That’s some serious gaslighting.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 16, 2018
White House officials are openly admitting they don’t know how to respond to questions about President Trump’s press conference. Asked if anyone from the administration will resign over the president’s remarks, a senior White House official quipped, “Good question.”
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!!
UPDATE — TRUMP TRIES DAMAGE CONTROL
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
On Friday, shortly before Rosenstein’s news conference, Giuliani resurfaced on Twitter for the first time since December 2016.
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.”
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.
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.
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).”
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”
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:
The indictments Rod Rosenstein announced are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved. Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.
💥 BAM! June 8 is key June 3 after Agaralov's intermediary promised dirt on Clinton, Don Jr sent his "I love it" email. Then June 7 Trump promised "major speech" on the Clintons. Then June 9, Trump Tower meeting between Jr., Manafort, and Kushner and the Putin-linked lawyer et al pic.twitter.com/CK5NxqQzwr
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
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.
Ex-FBI LAYER Lisa Page today defied a House of Representatives issued Subpoena to testify before Congress! Wow, but is anybody really surprised! Together with her lover, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the Rigged Witch Hunt, perhaps the most tainted and corrupt case EVER!
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
LOL. GOP questioning of Strzok already basically comical.
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
We are now treated to the spectacle of Republican members of Congress threatening an FBI agent unless he answers questions about a pending, secret criminal and counterintelligence investigation. America, 2018.
Remarkable exchanges at this Strzok hearing. Chairman Goodlatte has said that Strzok can confer with his personal counsel but not FBI counsel about whether he can testify to matters related to an ongoing FBI investigation. Nadler wants to adjourn the hearing.
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.
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:
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.”
Will Senate Republicans simply rubber stamp this nomination? The Benczkowski vote could mark a pivotal moment in the Russia investigation. The warning signs are clear. Read my letter here: pic.twitter.com/I3FbK26ZMJ
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.
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.”
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.
Tragically, no one in the “conservative” movement or in the Republican Congress. The Putin fetish is in full bloom. Trump is what the Russians call a “ useful idiot”. He is weakening the greatest alliance for peace in freedom in the history of the world. https://t.co/AvaO2AcNUP
Trump is doing with NATO exactly what he did with North Korea a month ago: escalate tension with bellicose rhetoric, than claim to have turned a crisis into a dramatic success by securing major new concessions from the other side, though those concessions do not exist.
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.
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 him: Donald 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 enough. Some 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:
Trump SCOTUS team has looked at Kavanaugh’s past comments on indicting a sitting president, we’ve confirmed. In 2009, Kavanaugh wrote: “The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government…” https://t.co/rDHJs5RiUY
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
So all three Senate Dems who backed Gorsuch’s confirmation—Manchin, Heitkamp, and Donnelly—were invited to WH tonight for #SCOTUS announcement and all declined https://t.co/kb2JF5fXVK
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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%.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
DHS & HHS SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED FOR DESTROYING IMMIGRANT FAMILY RECORDS
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.”
The judge will to order the Trump admin to give the @ACLU a list of all 100 immigrant children under 5yrs old by Saturday evening, including info on whether they will be reunited by Tuesday (and if so, why not). Then the Judge will decide Monday if he will change the deadline.
JUST IN: Federal judge agrees to delay next meeting about extending deadline to reunite 101 children under the age of 5 until Monday because Trump administration lawyer has “dog sitting responsibilities” this weekend.@JuliaEAinsley
Just won lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to claim the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia. They haven’t figured out that this was an excuse for them losing the election!
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.
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.”
“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:
That fourth wrestler called Jordan “a close friend,” and "said he is a Republican and that he contributed to [Jordan's] first political campaign for state rep in 1994."
“Jimmy’s a good guy. But to say that he had no knowledge of it, I would say that’s kind of hurtful.”
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 delayed, the 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.
WASHINGTON — President Trump accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, he said in a tweet on Thursday.
Mr. Pruitt had been hailed as a hero among conservatives for his zealous deregulation, but he could not overcome the stain of numerous ethics questions about his alleged spending abuses, first-class travel and cozy relationships with lobbyists.
The former E.P.A. administrator had come under criticism for lavish expenditures on foreign travel, including a trip arranged for him by a lobbyist to Morocco, a country where the E.P.A. has no policy agenda. His domestic travel also came under fire after a former staff member told congressional investigators that his boss often sought to travel to Oklahoma, where Mr. Pruitt owns a home, directing his employees to “find me something to do” there so he could justify charging taxpayers for the expense.
A New York Times report detailed Mr. Pruitt’s lavish spending and questionable practices in his home state.
While Democrats have criticized Mr. Pruitt since his nomination, in recent months even conservative Republicans had taken the unusual step of criticizing and questioning his ethics. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has started an investigation into Mr. Pruitt’s actions at the E.P.A., the first such Republican-led inquiry into a Trump administration cabinet member.
On May 2, Mr. Gowdy’s staff began conducting transcribed, behind-closed-doors interviews with Mr. Pruitt’s closest aides. Partial transcripts from one of those interviews revealed that Mr. Pruitt used one of his top aides last year essentially as a personal assistant, having her help him search for an apartment as well as try to procure a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel.
Per NBC, there were actually 16 investigations of Pruitt as of last week. The one investigation that was completed found that he had broken the law. There are 15 still ongoing.
The E.P.A. has denied any wrongdoing on Mr. Pruitt’s behalf. But in May, several members of his senior staff resigned, and many more top employees are said to be considering leaving.
Pruitt and his wife were one of the 800 people on the White House lawn yesterday enjoying a Fourth of July picnic celebration. What a difference a day makes.
I doubt that EPA policy (or lack thereof) will change with Pruitt’s replacement, but consensus — even on the right — was that Pruitt was the swampiest of the swamp. So bad, in fact, that it would hurt in the upcoming midterms.
I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will…
…on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!
Scott Pruitt did himself in with Trump by challenging Trump’s position at the top of the kleptocratic food chain. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most corrupt of us all?” can’t have any answer but one in this administration.
And in related news, Trump hires other swampy people.
After more than a week of rumors, the White House has made it official: Former Fox News co-president Bill Shine will become “Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.” The White House version of Shine’s qualifications is that “He brings over two decades of television programming, communications, and management experience to the role.”
Shine resigned from Fox News in May 2017 after he was accused in several lawsuits of covering up or downplaying allegations of workplace sexual harassment and racial discrimination. His resignation came two weeks after the network’s top-rated host Bill O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News following revelations that he and the network had paid out $13 million to settle complaints against him from five female co-workers.
Relevant skills for the Trump White House, no doubt!
And Fox News’s status as official state media becomes even a little clearer.