Breaking: Mueller Finishes Investigation

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

Mueller has concluded his investigation and turned in his report to AG Bill Barr. Nothing is known about except this: there are no more indictments to hand down.

Conservatives are ecstatic and progressives not, except . . . well, the smarter ones on both sides know that the end of the Mueller investigation is not the end of the scandal. We don’t know, for example, if there was evidence of collusion — just not enough to prosecute — or what. Mueller, unlike Comey when looking into Hillary, is not going before the press to explain what he knows.

The Justice Department has notified Congress and Barr told the press that he may notify Congress of the inquiry’s “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.” The only problem: Barr has full discretion about how much of the report to reveal publicly.

By the Washington Post’s tally, the special counsel’s investigation has resulted in criminal charges against 34 individuals. That number includes four campaign officials and advisers: former Chairman Paul Manafort, Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates, adviser George Papadopoulos, and self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone. It also includes the president’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former personal attorney Michael Cohen. The vast majority of the rest of the indictees are Russian nationals, many of them directly tied to the DNC computer hackings and distribution of propaganda during the 2016 election.

The central mission of the special counsel investigation was to discover if any members of the Trump campaign – including, most importantly, Trump himself – conspired with Russia to meddle in the election. None of the Americans charged by Mueller are accused of that. Still, while Mueller appears to be done with his probe, Congress will likely continue its own investigations based off his findings—whether or not Barr provides enough details to Congress.

Barr should release the full report. Both parties appear to support this. Last week, the House voted unanimously on a nonbinding resolution to make the entire document—and supporting materials—public. The real test will be whether reflexively pliant GOP lawmakers have to defy any presidential grumblings. We’ll find out soon enough.

One thing to remember: the Mueller report is not a legal document. It is an investigative document with some legal, and some political, ramifications.

And there is no realm of public life in which we insist on using absolute legal standards in order to make non-legal judgments. And we couldn’t even if we wanted to, because legal standards vary widely. To wit: Different legal proceedings impose different burdens of proof. There’s a reason that in courts sometimes the law requires “substantial evidence,” sometimes “reasonable belief,” and sometimes belief “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

As the public surveys the Mueller report, we are not bound to use legal procedures to come to our conclusions about Donald Trump. If the origins of the investigation were, in fact, improper—and yet the investigation reveals substantial wrongdoing, the public is not required to overlook this wrongdoing just because a court of law might be required to do so.

Spoiler: The court of public opinion isn’t a real court.

Trump Reverses His Advisors On NK Sanctions

Ken AshfordNorth Korea, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Yesterday:

Today:

He reversed…. by tweet. What?? Why??

I guess if you can con the President into thinking you like him (not hard to do), he will let you get away with anything.

Why Is Trump Trying To Hide His Putin Conversations?

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Trump claims he has nothing to hide — so why is he going to such great lengths to make sure no one ever finds out what he discussed with Putin?

The White House on Thursday rejected a request from House Democrats to turn over documents pertaining to Trump’s conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguing that such communication is off-limits to Congress, and therefore to the public as well.

In a letter sent to Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), White House counsel Pat Cipollone cited executive authority as his rationale for refusing to divulge any information about Trump’s talks with foreign leaders, including Putin.

But the White House didn’t just reject this specific document request — it also laid out an argument claiming that any presidential communication related to the “conduct of foreign affairs” is not subject to congressional oversight, and that no one can compel the White House to release any information pertaining to such communication.

“The President must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes,” Cipollone writes. “And foreign leaders must be assured of this as well.”

Of course, what he didn’t say is that the rationale for the document requests is not to obtain information for “partisan political purposes,” but to ensure that Trump did not make any promises or give away any state secrets that could affect foreign relations or imperil national security.

Engel, Cummings, and Schiff — the chairs of the Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, and Intelligence committees, respectively — sent the requests to both the White House and State Department in early March seeking documents and transcripts from interviews with senior aides and advisers related to an inquiry into Trump’s communications with Putin.

The request came after a January report in the Washington Post revealed that Trump had withheld details of his talks with Putin from top officials in his administration, including confiscating notes from an interpreter who was present during one of the meetings.

According to the Post, there is a lack of detailed records for at least five of Trump’s face-to-face meetings with Putin.

A short time later it was revealed that Trump had also quietly met with Putin at last year’s G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, without a translator or anyone from his administration present during the exchange. Beforehand, the White House had denied that any such meeting would take place.

In a statement responding to Thursday’s White House letter, Reps. Cummings, Engel, and Schiff said the refusal to comply with the document request “continues a troubling pattern by the Trump Administration of rejecting legitimate and necessary congressional oversight with no regard for precedent or the constitution.”

Despite the White House’s claim that there is no precedent for turning over such documents, the lawmakers cited examples of previous presidential administration’s complying with similar records requests, adding, “President Trump’s decision to break with this precedent raises the question of what he has to hide.”

“We will be consulting on appropriate next steps. Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight and investigate these matters, and we will fulfill that responsibility,” the lawmakers wrote.

For someone who claims that he has nothing to hide, Trump sure is going to great lengths to make sure no one ever finds out what he discussed with Putin — now or in the future.

New Zealand Gets It Done

Ken AshfordGun ControlLeave a Comment

Jacinda Ardern and her government are not fucking around:

“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” said Ardern.

The ban on the sale of the weapons came into effect at 3pm on Thursday – the time of the press conference announcing the ban – with the prime minister warning that “all sales should now cease” of the weapons.

Ardern also directed officials to develop a gun buyback scheme for those who already own such weapons. She said “fair and reasonable compensation” would be paid.

The reason that the ban had immediate effect was to avoid stockpiling.

2,288 days have passed since Sandy Hook.

Why Does Trump Attack McCain and Conway?

Ken AshfordMental Health, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

President Donald Trump’s feud with the late Sen. John McCaindates back many years, to long before the real estate magnate launched a campaign for president.

Trump, who occasionally re-airs his grievances with the late Arizona Republican, launched a new line of attack during an address in Ohio Wednesday, suggesting the McCain family never thanked him for “the kind of funeral that he wanted.”Trump’s role in the services were limited to allowing McCain’s body to fly on planes used as Air Force Two.

As the lurid disputes dominated cable news for several more hours, it was unclear whether Trump had any strategy in mind. Some people close to Trump speculated that he might be consciously trying to remake the news environment — creating a bizarre spectacle to displace criticism of his tepid response to the massacre of dozens of Muslims in New Zealand, the timing of the administration’s decision to ground Boeing’s 737 Max jets, and frenzied anticipation around the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.

But the saga has left even White House aides accustomed to a president who bucks convention feeling uncomfortable. While the controversies may have pushed aside some bad news, they also trampled on Trump’s Wednesday visit to an army tank manufacturing plant in swing state Ohio.

“For the most part, most people internally don’t want to touch this with a 10-foot pole,” said one former senior White House official. A current senior White House official said White House aides are making an effort “not to discuss it in polite company.” Another current White House official bemoaned the tawdry distraction. “It does not appear to be a great use of our time to talk about George Conway or dead John McCain. … Why are we doing this?”

The Conway stuff may be more explainable, since Conway is alive (unlike McCain) and clearly baiting Trump. And Trump takes the bait, making it news.

The Conway and McCain feuds nonetheless revealed a handful of truths about the president and his White House, starting with the president’s hair-trigger sensitivity over accusations of mental instability. After the author Michael Wolff raised questions about Trump’s mental health in a 2018 book, the president lashed out — despite warnings that he was only inflating Wolff’s book sales — and insisted that he was a “stable genius.” Those who know him say these barbs are a point of particular sensitivity, and his dispute with Conway appears to have originated from the attorney’s recent suggestions that Trump is mentally ill.

After tweeting images from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the text medical professionals use to diagnose mental illness — listing the characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Conway charged that Trump is “unfit and incompetent for the esteemed office you temporarily hold.”

“I don’t think that Trump is laughing at that,” said Jack O’Donnell, a former Trump casino executive who has become a critic of the president. “He takes that stuff pretty personally.”

By the way, Trump saying he had to approve McCain’s funeral arrangements?

Who Is Running The Show?

Ken AshfordCrime, DisastersLeave a Comment

NY Times:

As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits.

One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.

For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons.

Sometimes these optional features involve aesthetics or comfort, like premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms. But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations.

This is insanity. How come no government regulator ever stepped in and said, “This is crazy???”

But at least someone is looking into the crashes besides the NTSB.

The FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, lending its considerable resources to an inquiry already being conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation agents, according to people familiar with the matter.

The federal grand jury investigation, based in Washington, D.C., is looking into the certification process that approved the safety of the new Boeing plane, two of which have crashed since October.

The FBI’s Seattle field office lies in proximity to Boeing’s 737 manufacturing plant in Renton, as well as nearby offices of Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials involved in the certification of the plane.

The investigation, which is being overseen by the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division and carried out by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General, began in response to information obtained after a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Oct. 29, killing 189 people, Bloomberg reported earlier this week, citing an unnamed source.

It has widened since then, The Associated Press reported this week, with the grand jury issuing a subpoena on March 11 for information from someone involved in the plane’s development, one day after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 near Addis Ababa that killed 157 people.

The FBI’s support role was described by people on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the investigation.

The Mueller Report Is Highly Anticipated. Here’s What We Already Know: An Interactive Post

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

By LARRY BUCHANAN and KAREN YOURISH MARCH 20, 2019

The investigation has revealed a range of events
related to Russian interference and the 2016 election.

After more than two years of criminal indictments and steady revelations about contacts between associates of Donald J. Trump and Russia, we already know a lot about the work done by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Here are the main findings and lines of inquiry and the people involved in each.

Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks. As part of a complex effort to sabotage the campaign of Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump’s 2016 rival, Russia’s top military intelligence service hacked the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the private email account of the chairman of the Clinton campaign and released tens of thousands of stolen emails through WikiLeaks to the public, according to an indictment filed by Mr. Mueller. Only the Russians have been charged.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Twelve Russian intelligence officers
Julian Assange
Roger J. Stone Jr.
Jerome Corsi
Randy Credico

Russian Social Media Manipulation. The Russian government also directed a network of Internet trolls who used fake accounts on social media to manipulate potential voters and influence the election, according to the special counsel.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Thirteen Russian nationals
Richard Pinedo

Trump Tower Moscow. Mr. Trump and other Trump Organization executives were involved in discussions throughout the 2016 campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly denied having any business interests in Russia, but has since admitted that discussions took place.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Michael D. Cohen
Felix H. Sater
Donald J. Trump
Ivanka Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Dmitri Peskov

Trump Tower Russia Meeting. Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after being told that the Russian government wanted to share damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. After the meeting was uncovered by The New York Times, the Trump team pushed a false narrative about the reason for holding it.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Donald Trump Jr.
Aras Agalarov
Emin Agalarov
Paul Manafort
Jared Kushner
Natalia Veselnitskaya
Irakly Kaveladze
Rob Goldstone
Rinat Akhmetshin
Donald J. Trump
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Jay Sekulow
Hope Hicks
Alan Garten

Russian Contacts. All told, Mr. Trump and more than a dozen of his associates had more than 100 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the campaign and transition. These included multiple offers of dirt on Mrs. Clinton, attempts to arrange “back-channel” meetings between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and private messages with WikiLeaks and other Russian fronts. At least 10 other advisers were told about these interactions but did not have any themselves.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Jared Kushner
Ivanka Trump
Michael D. Cohen
Michael T. Flynn
Jeff Sessions
Paul Manafort
Rick Gates
Roger J. Stone Jr.
Rick Dearborn
George Papadopoulos
Carter Page
J. D. Gordon
Erik D. Prince
Avi Berkowitz
Sergey I. Kislyak
Sergey N. Gorkov
Konstantin V. Kilimnik
Natalia Veselnitskaya
Rinat Akhmetshin
Emin Agalarov
Aras Agalarov
Ivan Timofeev
Olga Polonskaya
Arkady V. Dvorkovich
Dmitri Peskov
Kirill Dmitriev
Alexander Torshin
Maria Butina
Viktor F. Vekselberg
Julian Assange
Felix H. Sater
Rick Clay
Paul Erickson
Joseph Mifsud
Rob Goldstone
Dmitry Klokov
Elena Klokov

Russian Sanctions: Several people close to Mr. Trump engaged in discussions about deals to give Russia relief from economic sanctions. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, had repeated conversations with a Russian business associate about a plan to end a guerilla war between Russia and Ukraine that might have led to sanctions relief. Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer, delivered a sealed proposal to Mr. Flynn’s White House office for the same purpose. And Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, spoke with the Russian ambassador about sanctions (court documents show that Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team knew about these callsand coached Mr. Flynn on how to respond).

RELATED PEOPLE:
Michael T. Flynn
Sergey I. Kislyak
K.T. McFarland
Jared Kushner
Thomas P. Bossert
Reince Priebus
Sean Spicer
Stephen K. Bannon
Michael D. Cohen
Felix H. Sater
Paul Manafort
Konstantin V. Kilimnik
Andrii V. Artemenko

Other Foreign Contacts: Other foreign officials also reached out or offered assistance to the Trump campaign. An emissary for the leaders of two Arab nations told Mr. Trump Jr. that the princes were eager to help his father win election. An Israeli company was asked to provide a proposal for using social media manipulation to help defeat Mrs. Clinton. And an informal adviser to Mr. Trump’s team during the presidential transition attended a meeting in the Seychelles that was convened by the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Donald Trump Jr.
George Nader
Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Mohammed bin Salman
Joel Zamel
Rick Gates
Erik D. Prince

Obstruction Inquiry: Mr. Trump’s public and private attacks on investigations have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice. These include efforts to pressure the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, to end the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Flynn, firing Mr. Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and attempting to fire Mr. Mueller.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Donald J. Trump
Donald F. McGahn II
Jeff Sessions
Donald Trump Jr.
Hope Hicks
Stephen Miller
Mark Corallo
James B. Comey
Rod J. Rosenstein
Robert S. Mueller III

Other Charges: Mr. Manafort and his longtime business associate, Rick Gates, were convicted of fraud and other crimes related to their work for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before joining the Trump campaign. Mr. Manafort and a Russian associate were also charged with witness tampering. Several others, not shown here, have been charged in spin-off investigations.

RELATED PEOPLE:
Paul Manafort
Rick Gates
Alex van der Zwaan
Konstantin V. Kilimnik

Six people connected to Trump have been charged.
Five 
have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

Michael T. Flynn

Michael T. Flynn: Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts
Russian Sanctions

Michael D. Cohen

Michael D. Cohen: Mr. Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about negotiations to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign. He has also been sentenced to prison in a different investigation related to hush-money payments he made on behalf of Mr. Trump.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow 
Russian Contacts
Russian Sanctions

Roger J. Stone Jr.

Roger J. Stone Jr.: A longtime friend and adviser to Mr. Trump, Mr. Stone was indicted on charges of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks
Russian Contacts

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort: A longtime Republican consultant and lobbyist, Mr. Manafort served on the Trump campaign from March until August 2016, including three months as chairman. He was convicted of financial fraud and conspiracy stemming from consulting work he did in earlier years in Ukraine on behalf of pro-Russian political figures. He also had multiple contacts during the campaign with a Russian associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence and shared private Trump campaign polling data with him. Mr. Manafort lied to the special counsel’s office after pledging to cooperate with its inquiry, a judge found.


RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts
Russian Sanctions 
Other Charges

Rick Gates

Rick Gates: Mr. Gates, a deputy campaign chairman, was Paul Manafort’s longtime right-hand man in Ukraine. He agreed to cooperate with the special counsel inquiry after pleading guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts 
Other Foreign Contacts
Other Charges

George Papadopoulos

George Papadopoulos:A former Trump campaign adviser who had multiple contacts with Russians and repeatedly told campaign officials about them. He pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Twenty-eight others — including 26 Russians — have also been charged.

Alex van der Zwaan

Alex van der Zwaan: A lawyer who worked with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates and who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about conversations he had with Mr. Gates over work they did together for a pro-Russin Ukrainian political party.

RELATED EVENTS:
Other Charges

Konstantin V. Kilimnik

Konstantin V. Kilimnik: A longtime Russian business associate of Paul Manafort who had multiple contacts with Mr. Manafort while he was the Trump campaign chairman and who received private Trump campaign polling data. He was charged with conspiring with Mr. Manafort to obstruct justice by trying to shape the accounts of prospective witnesses in Mr. Manafort’s case.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts 
Russian Sanctions
Other Charges

Richard Pinedo

Richard Pinedo: A California man who sold fake bank accounts and was an unwitting participant in Russia’s scheme to influence the election.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Social Media Manipulation

Twelve Russian intelligence officers

Twelve Russian intelligence officers: Charged with hacking the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the private email account of the chairman of the Clinton campaign and then releasing tens of thousands of stolen emails through WikiLeaks to the public.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks

Thirteen Russian nationals

Thirteen Russian nationals: Charged with manipulating social media to subvert the 2016 election and help the Trump campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Social Media Manipulation

Dozens of others have been swept up in the investigation, including campaign and administration officials, family members, Trump Organization executives and members of Mr. Trump’s legal team.

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr.: Mr. Trump’s eldest son arranged the now-famous Russia meeting at Trump Tower. He also exchanged private messages with WikiLeaks and was aware of negotiations to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts
Obstruction Inquiry 
Other Foreign Contacts

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump: Michael D. Cohen said he briefed Ms. Trump and Donald Trump Jr. on the Moscow Trump Tower project during the campaign. She was also contacted by a Russian woman whose husband offered to help her father develop a separate real estate project in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow
Russian Contacts

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner: As a senior campaign official, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law attended the Trump Tower Russia meeting. He was also told that a campaign aide had been approached about setting up a back-channel meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, and that Donald Trump Jr. received a private message from WikiLeaks. As a senior transition adviser, Mr. Kushner met at Trump Tower with the Russian ambassador and discussed setting up a way to communicate with Moscow during the transition. He also met with a Russian banker close to Mr. Putin in an attempt to establish a direct line of communication to the Russian president.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts
Russian Sanctions

Hope Hicks

Hope Hicks: A fixture of Mr. Trump’s inner circle throughout the campaign and in the White House, Ms. Hicks was involved in the drafting of a false statement in response to questions about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Obstruction Inquiry

James B. Comey

James B. Comey: Former F.B.I. director who alleged that Mr. Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into Michael T. Flynn.

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Rod J. Rosenstein

Rod J. Rosenstein: Deputy attorney general who appointed the special counsel to investigate Russia’s election interference.

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Robert S. Mueller III

Robert S. Mueller III: The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possible involvement of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Alan Garten

Alan Garten: The Trump Organization’s general counsel was involved in the drafting of the misleading statement about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting

Stephen K. Bannon

Stephen K. Bannon: Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman and chief White House strategist emailed Roger J. Stone Jr. in October 2016 for insight into WikiLeaks’s plans to publish documents that could damage the Clinton campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Rick Dearborn

Rick Dearborn: A campaign adviser who was approached by a Russian intermediary about arranging a back-channel meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Donald F. McGahn II

Donald F. McGahn II: The former White House counsel threatened to quit after Mr. Trump asked him to fire Mr. Mueller.

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions: Weeks after he was confirmed as attorney general, the former senator recused himself from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the election after revelations that he had failed to report encounters with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts Obstruction Inquiry

Carter Page

Carter Page: Russian intelligence operatives tried to recruit Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, in 2013. During the campaign, Mr. Page gave a speech in Russia and met with at least one Russian government official in Moscow. He told at least four members of the campaign about his trip.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller: As a top adviser to the president, Mr. Miller helped draft a letter, which was never sent, that explained why the president wanted to fire James B. Comey. During the campaign, Mr. Miller was among top campaign officials whom George Papadopoulos told about his Russian contacts.

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Sam Clovis

Sam Clovis: Mr. Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials whom George Papadopoulos told about his contacts with Russians.

J. D. Gordon

J. D. Gordon: Mr. Gordon met briefly with the Russian ambassadorduring the Republican National Convention. He also had contacts with Maria Butina and was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Carter Page would be traveling to Russia in July 2016.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway: Ms. Conway was among the high-level campaign officials who were told by Donald Trump Jr. that WikiLeaks had contacted him.

Thomas P. Bossert

Thomas P. Bossert: A senior transition official and former deputy national security adviser who was aware of conversations about sanctions that occurred during the transition between Michael T. Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Corey Lewandowski

Corey Lewandowski: Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Carter Pagewould be traveling to Russia in July 2016. He was also told about George Papadopoulos’s contacts with Russians. In 2017, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Lewandowski to pressure Mr. Sessions to resign, but Mr. Lewandowski did not act on the request.

K.T. McFarland

K.T. McFarland: A senior transition official and former deputy national security adviser who was aware of conversations about sanctions that occurred during the transition between Michael T. Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus: A senior transition official and former White House chief of staff, Mr. Priebus was forwarded an email exchangeduring the transition that said Michael T. Flynn was discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador. In a December 2017 meeting in the West Wing, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Priebus how his interview had gone with the special counsel’s investigators and whether they had been “nice.”

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary who was forwarded an email exchange during the transition that said Michael T. Flynn was discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Avi Berkowitz

Avi Berkowitz: A White House aide who works for Jared Kushner, Mr. Berkowitz met with the Russian ambassador at Mr. Kushner’s request during the presidential transition.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Mark Corallo

Mark Corallo: A former spokesman for Mr. Trump’s legal team who told Mr. Mueller about a conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks in which, he said, Ms. Hicks said that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting “will never get out.”

RELATED EVENTS:
Obstruction Inquiry

Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump: The president has repeatedly sought to dismiss the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow
Trump Tower Russia Meeting
Russian Contacts
Obstruction Inquiry

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Ms. Sanders, the White House press secretary, initially said the president “certainly didn’t dictate” the false statement issued by Donald Trump Jr. about the Trump Tower Russia meeting.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting

Jay Sekulow

Jay Sekulow: Mr. Trump’s private lawyer initially said the president was not involved in a false statement about the Trump Tower Russia meeting. Separately, Mr. Cohen has alleged that Mr. Trump’s lawyers, including Mr. Sekulow, helped with Mr. Cohen’s false testimony to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting

These Russians or Russian intermediaries are also of interest.

Aras Agalarov

Aras Agalarov: A Russian real estate developer who co-hosted the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with Mr. Trump in Moscow. He set the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in motion after being told by a Russian government official that Russia wanted to share damaging information about Mrs. Clinton with the Trump campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts

Emin Agalarov

Emin Agalarov: Aras Agalarov’s son and a Russian pop star who helped Donald Trump Jr. arrange the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts

Rob Goldstone

Rob Goldstone: A British-born publicist who served as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Agalarovs.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts

Sergey N. Gorkov

Sergey N. Gorkov: The head of a Russian bank who is close to Mr. Putin, Mr. Gorkov met with Jared Kushner during the transition. The bank, Vnesheconombank, is under American sanctions.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Sergey I. Kislyak

Sergey I. Kislyak: The former Russian ambassador to the United States who met with multiple members of the Trump campaign and transition.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts 
Russian Sanctions

Felix H. Sater

Felix H. Sater: A Russian émigré and Trump business associate who was involved in negotiations during the campaign about developing a Trump Tower in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow 
Russian Contacts
Russian Sanctions

Maria Butina

Maria Butina: A Russian who admitted to being involved in an organized effort to open up unofficial lines of communication between Russians and Americans in the N.R.A. and the Republican Party. She posed for a photo with Donald Trump Jr. at a 2016 dinner hosted by the N.R.A. in Louisville, Ky.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Andrii V. Artemenko

Andrii V. Artemenko: A pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who pushed a plan to end a guerilla war between Russia and Ukraine that might have led to sanctions relief. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sater were also involved.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Sanctions

Alexander Torshin

Alexander Torshin: A former Russian government official close to Mr. Putin who made contact with the Trump campaign and appears to have been behind efforts to use an N.R.A. meeting to arrange back-channel communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Ivan Timofeev

Ivan Timofeev: A Russian who said he had connections to Russia’s foreign ministry and who had repeated contacts with George Papadopoulos about setting up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russia.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Viktor F. Vekselberg

Viktor F. Vekselberg: A Russian oligarch who met with Mr. Cohen at Trump Tower.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Irakly Kaveladze

Irakly Kaveladze: An executive at Aras Agalarov’s real estate development company who represented Mr. Agalarov at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting

Paul Erickson

Paul Erickson: A Republican operative who reached out to the Trump campaign about arranging a back-channel meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Rick Clay

Rick Clay: An advocate for conservative Christian causes who reached out to the Trump campaign about arranging a back-channel meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Rinat Akhmetshin

Rinat Akhmetshin: A Russian-American lobbyist who attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts

Arkady V. Dvorkovich

Arkady V. Dvorkovich: A Russian deputy prime minister who met with Carter Page in Moscow and expressed strong support for Mr. Trump.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Kirill Dmitriev

Kirill Dmitriev: A Russian investor who is close to Mr. Putin and attended a secret meeting in the Seychelles that was convened by the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Olga Polonskaya

Olga Polonskaya: A Russian woman originally introduced to George Papadopoulos as the niece of Mr. Putin (she was not).

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Dmitry Klokov

Dmitry Klokov: A former Russian Olympic weight lifter who offered to help the Trump Organization develop a real estate project in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Elena Klokov

Elena Klokov: A Russian woman who reached out to Ivanka Trump on behalf of her husband, Dmitry Klokov, about helping Mr. Trump develop a real estate project in Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Natalia Veselnitskaya

Natalia Veselnitskaya: A Kremlin-connected lawyer who attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Russia Meeting 
Russian Contacts

Joseph Mifsud

Joseph Mifsud: A London-based professor with connections in Moscow who told George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts

Dmitri Peskov

Dmitri Peskov: Mr. Putin’s spokesperson who Michael Cohen contacted about Trump Tower Moscow.

RELATED EVENTS:
Trump Tower Moscow 
Russian Contacts

The head of WikiLeaks and people who are connected to Mr. Stone.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange: The founder of WikiLeaks, which released tens of thousands of Democratic emails stolen by the Russians during the 2016 election.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks
Russian Contacts

Jerome Corsi

Jerome Corsi: A conspiracy theorist and political commentator who was asked by Roger J. Stone Jr. to be an intermediary between Mr. Stone and WikiLeaks.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks

Randy Credico

Randy Credico: A New York comedian and former radio host who may have acted as an intermediary between Mr. Stone and WikiLeaks in 2016.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks

Other foreign officials or intermediaries.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan: The crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates who convened a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that brought together a Russian investor close to Mr. Putin and Erik D. Prince.

RELATED EVENTS:
Other Foreign Contacts

Erik D. Prince

Erik D. Prince: The founder of Blackwater and an informal Trump adviser who arranged a meeting in August 2016 between Donald Trump Jr., George Nader and Joel Zamel. He also attended a meeting in the Seychelles that was convened by the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. He is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary.

RELATED EVENTS:
Russian Contacts 
Other Foreign Contacts

George Nader

George Nader: A Lebanese-American businessman who told Donald Trump Jr. that the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. wanted to help his father win the election. He is cooperating with the special counsel.

RELATED EVENTS:
Other Foreign Contacts

Joel Zamel

Joel Zamel: The owner of an Israeli firm that put together a proposal for the Trump campaign to manipulate social media.

RELATED EVENTS:
Other Foreign Contacts

Mohammed bin Salman

Mohammed bin Salman: Crown prince of Saudi Arabia who was among the Arab leaders George Nader said wanted to help the Trump campaign.

RELATED EVENTS:
Other Foreign Contacts

Thank God For The Federal Courts

Ken AshfordCourts/Law, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

WaPo:

Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters.

In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance for shifting policy, including providing legitimate explanations supported by facts and, where required, public input.

Many of the cases are in early stages and subject to reversal. For example, the Supreme Court permitted a version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from certain predominantly Muslim nations to take effect after lower-court judges blocked the travel ban as discriminatory.

But regardless of whether the administration ultimately prevails, the rulings so far paint a remarkable portrait of a government rushing to implement far-reaching changes in policy without regard for long-standing rules against arbitrary and capricious behavior.

“What they have consistently been doing is short-circuiting the process,” said Georgetown Law School’s William W. Buzbee, an expert on administrative law who has studied Trump’s record. In the regulatory cases, Buzbee said, “they don’t even come close” to explaining their actions, “making it very easy for the courts to reject them because they’re not doing their homework.”

Two-thirds of the cases accuse the Trump administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a nearly 73-year-old law that forms the primary bulwark against arbitrary rule. The normal “win rate” for the government in such cases is about 70 percent, according to analysts and studies. But as of mid-January, a database maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law shows Trump’s win rate at about 6 percent.

Must be all those Obama judges, right? Nope.

Trump has blamed his losses on “Obama judges” in the West Coast states that make up the 9th Circuit. While 29 setbacks have come from 9th Circuit judges, the trend is national, with 34 originating elsewhere, particularly in the District of Columbia Circuit, according to a count by The Washington Post.

Democratic appointees, many of them tapped by presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, are responsible for 45 decisions. Republican appointees dating back to President Ronald Reagan issued the other rulings. Magistrate judges, who are not appointed by presidents, made three of the decisions.

On major issues on which multiple judges have ruled, there has been little disagreement among them, no matter where the judges are located or who appointed them.

Four judges, for instance, have rejected the decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected from deportation nearly 700,000 people brought to the United States as children. All four judges said essentially the same thing: that the government’s stated reason for ending DACA — that it was unlawful — was “virtually unexplained,” as U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, an appointee of President George W. Bush in Washington, said in an April opinion. A second explanation — that DACA creates a “litigation risk” — was derided by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in California as mere “spin.”

Three judges have invalidated the attempt to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, the latestbeing U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco on March 6. All rejected as unbelievable Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s explanation that the move was intended to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Suing Fictional Cows And Other Twitter Embarrassments

Ken AshfordCongress, Social Networking, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

This is funny, but also disturbing in the sense that some are actually taking it seriously.

Yesterday, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) sued a fictional cow for $250 million.

In addition to the anonymous Twitter account “Devin Nunes’ Cow,” Nunes is suingthe “Devin Nunes’ Mom” Twitter account, a political operative named Liz Mair, and Twitter itself.

Nunes, a close ally of President Trump, says in his complaint that he endured what “no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life.” He said it caused him to win reelection last November by a narrower margin than in the past and distracted him from running the House investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.

Among other things, Nunes, from Tulare, cited a variety of tweets that used crude humor to accuse him of criminal behavior, including soliciting prostitutes.

Most politicians and celebrities today face similar parody accounts. Many just ignore them, though a few play along. A Twitter account called @Betosblog lampoons Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rouke. Parody accounts of President Trump have hundreds of thousands of followers.

The @DevinNunesMom account was suspended by Twitter after his actual mother, Toni Dian Nunes, complained.

But if Nunes hoped his lawsuit would intimidate his trollers into silence, the move may have backfired.

The @DevinCow account has jumped from just over 1,000 followers to more than 354,000 right now, and still rising (the real Devin Nunes’ personal account has 394,000 followers). Spoof accounts proliferated: Devin Nunes Mom’s CowDevin Nunes’s Cow PsychiatristDevin Nunes’s MulletDevin Nunes is a Whiny Baby.

UPDATE:

Actually, it is 415,000 now.

END UPDATES

Why did these tweets wound Nunes so deeply? The accounts’ jibes resemble much of the political commentary on Twitter—including the president’s. Nunes’s real grievance appears to be with Twitter itself. “Twitter represents that it enforces its Terms and Rules equally and that it does not discriminate against conservatives who wish to use its ‘public square,’” he told the court. “This is not true. This is a lie. Twitter actively censors and shadow-bans conservatives, such as Plaintiff, thereby eliminating his voice while amplifying the voices of his Democratic detractors.”

Twitter has denied that it uses shadow banning—making a user’s posts visible to themselves but invisible to others—but that hasn’t stopped Republican lawmakers, including Trump, from making the claim as part of a broader narrative that Silicon Valley is censoring conservative voices.

Nunes’s claim for damages also doesn’t hold up. He says that Twitter bears legal responsibility for any defamatory posts made on its platform. In reality, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally shields websites from civil liability related to third-party content on their platforms. Nunes himself should be pretty familiar with this: As Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown pointed out, he and his colleagues have been working to change Section 230 for this exact reason.

Nunes adopts a patriotic mien when it comes to the broader free speech issues at stake. “Access to Twitter is essential for meaningful participation in modern-day American Democracy,” he told the court. “A candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate. The ability to use Twitter is a vital part of modern citizenship. A presence on Twitter is essential for an individual to run for office or engage in any level of political organizing in modern America. This is because Twitter is not merely a website: it is the modern town square.”

This paean to civic speech might be more convincing if Nunes didn’t ask the court to force Twitter to “reveal the names and contact information” behind four of the pseudonymous accounts. What’s more, he also wants the court to “permanently enjoin and order Twitter” to suspend Mair and the other accounts. Twitter is a vital part of modern American citizenship, Nunes says, and he wants the government to strip people of access to it for being mean to him.

Speaking of twitter, Trump continues unabated with tweets goaded by his critics (George Conway, the media) and by what he sees on Fox News and his Twitter feed (TSA patdown of a kid).

It is embarrassing.

For what it is worth, Trump’s statement that George Conway “didn’t get the job he wanted” is a proven lie, and Conway leaked the letter saying he TURNED DOWN the job.

Trump Crimes Update

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Stormy Daniels & Karen McDougal Affairs, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

(1) This is interesting.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is extending his stay at the Department of Justice for at least “a little longer,” according to Tuesday NBC reporting.

Slated to leave in mid-March, Rosenstein has reportedly spoken to Attorney General William Barr about staying for an indefinite amount of time.

The hearings for his replacement are currently scheduled for early April.

So it looks like he may be staying for when the Mueller Report comes out.

(2) Trump, on the heels of a 50 tweet weekend is seemingly feeling some pressure and continuing with the “blame the media” tactic.

A favorite target of late is Kellyanne Conway’s husband:

(3) Here is a link to the 269 pages released today (PDF) on an application from the media. It is the background documents leading to the search warrant of Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen.

I don’t think they reveal much — except perhaps the fact that the FBI was investigating President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer for nearly a year before agents raided his home and office. Since July 2017 in fact — far longer than had previously been known.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said the release of the search warrant “furthers his interest in continuing to cooperate and providing information and the truth about Donald Trump and the Trump organization to law enforcement and Congress.”

Updates From Our Tweeting President

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Beginning at 8 am, Donald Trump put up no fewer than 30 tweets on Sunday. A total of 50 for the entire weekend. Busy guy! Here are the subjects that are obsessing him at the moment:

  • Saturday Night Live making fun of him too much.
  • The Steele dossier and the whole Russia witch hunt (7 tweets).
  • St. Patrick’s Day (2 tweets).
  • Fox New taking Judge Jeanine Pirro off the air because she suggested that someone who wears a hijab might not support the Constitution. Trump is pis-s-s-s-s-ed about this. He put up nine tweets related to the Judge Jeanine affair, including four that basically called Fox News a bunch of pussies for giving in to the left-wing hate mob.
  • The border (3 tweets).
  • The immense popularity of Donald J. Trump (3 tweets).
  • MS-13.
  • The Lordstown auto plant (2 tweets).
  • The Democrats effort to steal the 2016 election.
  • Make America Great Again!

It’s worth noting that two of Trump’s tweets were actually retweets of Jack Posobiec, a lunatic conspiracy theorist who helped promote the pizzagate fable among many, many others.

Anyway, this is what’s on Trump’s mind as of March 17, 2019. I’m sure we all feel safe with him at the helm.

Trump’s rants usually occur shortly before serious bad news is about to drop: Trump’s favored strategy when facing a media crisis is to counterpunch, often in advance, as hard as he can in order to intimidate, distract and control the narrative. There can be little doubt that Trump feels the walls closing in around him and is worried he has few allies left.

New Zealand Responds In A Way America Can’t

Ken AshfordGun ControlLeave a Comment

It is a little depressing watching New Zealand move quickly on gun control:

One day after 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 49 people in a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that her country’s “gun laws will change.”

Attorney General David Parker took those statements further, announcing at a vigil at Auckland’s Aotea Square on Saturday that New Zealand will ban semi-automatic rifles.

These statements were praised by gun control advocates in the United States, who have seen lawmakers in Washington fail to enact gun reform time and time again after mass shootings.

Weekly List 122

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week in what was perhaps his most authoritarian act to date, Trump issued his first veto after the House and Senate voted to block his emergency declaration. The veto followed Trump’s declaration of a national emergency after Congress refused to fund his wall, which was unprecedented. Taken together, Trump irreverently thumbed his nose at the separations of power.

Trump also continued his record pace of appointments to the judicial branch, this week with the aid of newly installed ally Sen. Lindsey Graham as Judiciary Committee Chair. Graham discarded a century old norm of allowing in-state senators to submit a “blue slip” to oppose nominations, allowing Trump to appoint two judges to the 9th Circuit Court.

In New Zealand, 49 people were murdered while worshipping at two mosques in Christchurch in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.” In his manifesto, the killer parroted several Trump terms, and wrote he saw Trump as a symbol “of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Trump tried to distance himself and the uprise of white nationalism from blame for the massacre.

This week Paul Manafort got his second sentence, and as Trump continued to hint at a pardon, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance filed separate charges, out of the purview of a Trump pardon. New York Attorney General Letitia James opened an investigation into Trump’s financing for projects, and subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, raising Trump’s ire. Several Congressional investigations also progressed this week, as the country awaits the findings of the Mueller probe.

  1. WSJ reported increasingly savvy world leaders are bypassing standard protocols and government processes of American diplomacy and instead going directly to Trump, who encourages such approaches.
  2. Authoritarian leaders including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin cut out the middle layer of aides and agencies to communicate directly with Trump.
  3. Senior officials have been left in the dark about the conversations, leading to confusion and in some cases needing to backtrack on Trump’s remarks. Trump has said he is his only spokesperson.
  4. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump lied to RNC donors at Mar-a-Lago Friday, telling them he said “Tim Cook Apple” really fast, and the “Cook” part of the sentence was soft, but all you heard from the “fake news.”
  5. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words,” adding, “the Fake News was disparagingly all over this, & it became yet another bad Trump story!”
  6. Trump also referenced Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments, telling RNC donors “the Democrats hate Jewish people,” and that he could not understand how any Jew could vote Democrat these days.
  7. On Monday, Trump proposed an annual budget to Congress including $8.6 billion in funding for his wall, with $5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and $3.6 billion for the Defense Department’s military construction budget.
  8. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said they were prepared to block Trump’s demand, writing in a joint statement: “The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.”
  9. Trump’s budget proposed freeing up funds for his wall and the military by cutting spending on Medicaid and Medicare, AIDS and other health programs, and a 15% cut in the Agriculture Department’s budget.
  10. The budget also called for drastic cuts in food stamps programs, and federal agency cuts of 31% in the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, and a 24% cut from the State Department.
  11. Trump’s budget projected the federal deficit will hit $22.8 trillion by 2025, more than 50% higher than the $14.7 trillion when he took office, after promising on the campaign trail that he would eliminate the debt.
  12. The budget included $20 million for Jack Nicklaus’ small children’s health project. Nicklaus golfed with Trump as least twice since November, and met with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
  13. Golf Magazine reported Trump is taking credit on his locker at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida, with a plaque saying he won the 2018 club championship, although he did not play in it.
  14. On Monday, Politico reported Facebook removed several ads place by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, after she called for the break-up of Facebook and other tech giants. Facebook later backtracked after the reporting.
  15. On Wednesday, Facebook suffered its most severe outage since 2008, with related Instagram, WhatsApp, and its messaging app also experiencing glitches. The cause of the outage was not made public.
  16. On Wednesday, NYT reported federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are conducting a criminal investigation of data deals Facebook struck with the world’s largest technology companies.
  17. A grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two makers of smartphones and other devices that entered into agreements to gain access to personal information on hundreds of millions of Facebook users.
  18. On Monday, CNBC reported new court filings revealed a mysterious $125,000 payment to Paul Manafort’s attorney in June 2017 originally came through a donation to a Trump PAC called Rebuilding America Now.
  19. Manafort installed Laurance Gay to run the PAC. Rebuilding America Now passed funds to Multi Media Services Corporation, whose silent owner is is Tony Fabrizio, chief pollster for Trump’s 2016 campaign, to make the payment.
  20. On Monday, Roger Stone’s attorneys said in a submission to the court that it did not occur to him until after the February 21 hearing that the new introduction for a paperback edition his book would violate the gag order.
  21. The submission claimed, “There was/is no intention to hide anything,” saying the introduction “presented a question we tried, obviously clumsily, to address,” adding “having been scolded” we only want to defend Stone.
  22. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders held the first press briefing in 42 days, the longest period without a briefing since Trump took office, appearing as Trump released his budget.
  23. According to data by the American Presidency Project, the length of time between briefings under Sanders is longer than any of the 13 previous press secretaries.
  24. When asked if Trump will pardon Manafort, Sanders said Trump will “make his decision when he’s ready.”
  25. On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff tweeted: “Congress is investigating reports that Trump and his legal team privately dangled pardons to obstruct investigations, including ours.”
  26. Schiff also tweeted: “Yesterday, the White House refused to rule out a pardon for Paul Manafort,” adding, “That Trump does so in the open is no less corrupt.”
  27. On Wednesday, Michael Cohen’s attorney clarified his testimony in a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, saying “at no time did Mr. Cohen personally ask President Trump for a pardon” nor did Trump offer.
  28. On Wednesday, CNN reported two emails provided to Congress by Cohen dated April 21, 2018, show Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani assured Cohen he could “sleep well tonight” because he had “friends in high places.”
  29. The emails were from Robert Costello, a lawyer who was part of the joint defense agreement, allegedly sent after speaking to Giuliani. Costello said that Cohen asked him to raise the issue of a pardon with Giuliani.
  30. Giuliani told CNN the emails were not about a pardon, rather, “That was about Michael Cohen thinking that the President was mad at him,” adding, “I called (Costello) to reassure him that the President was not mad.”
  31. On Wednesday, NYT reported federal prosecutors have requested emails and documents from Costello as part of an investigation into “possible violations of federal criminal law.”
  32. Costello wrote to Cohen, “I am sure you saw the news that Rudy is joining the Trump legal team,” sayingCostello’s relationship with Rudy “could be very very useful for you.” Cohen wrote back to Costello, “Great news.”
  33. Costello had agreed to reach out to Trump’s team on behalf of Cohen, and had about a dozen conversations with Giuliani, who was Trump’s lead lawyer at the time, creating a “back channel of communication.”
  34. During one conversation, Costello asked if Trump would put a pardon “on the table” for Cohen. Giuliani responded that Trump was unwilling to discuss pardons at that time.
  35. An email sent on June 13 from Costello to Cohen suggested Giuliani was about to speak to Trump, and said if Cohen had a message to convey “you should tell me and my friend will bring it up for discussion this evening.”
  36. On Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro questioned Rep. Omar’s support for the Constitution, saying she “wears a hijab,” adding. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Shariah law?”
  37. On Sunday, Fox News said in a statement, “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Representative Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
  38. On Sunday, an audio recording uncovered by Media Matters of Fox News host Tucker Carlson on “Bubba the Love Sponge Show” revealed he made numerous misogynistic statements, including saying that women are “extremely primitive.”
  39. On Monday, Media Matters released more audio from interviews between 2006 and 2011 of Carlson using racist and homophobic language to describe Iraqi people, African Americans, gay people, and immigrants.
  40. On Monday, after refusing to apologize Sunday, Carlson said on his show “the great American outrage machine is a remarkable thing,” in front of title cards that read “THE MOB” and “CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT.”
  41. On Tuesday, several advertisers had stopped running ads on the shows hosted by Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson.
  42. CNN reported 2,287 people in ICE custody were quarantined due to outbreaks of mumps and other diseases. There has been a spike of contagious diseases in the last year, including 236 cases of the mumps.
  43. On Monday, former Maine Gov. Paul LePage said the Democratic Party’s “money comes from” Jewish donors “for the most part,” in his reasoning for why Jews will donate less after Rep. Omar’s comments.
  44. On Tuesday, “Fox & Friends” ran a segment on “Jexodus,” a combination of the words “Jewish” and “exodus,” with picture of Rep. Omar, with the co-host claiming “now some Jewish millennials are leaving the party.”
  45. Shortly after, Trump tweeted the Jexodus spokesperson, tweeting “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts & worse.”
  46. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime will shut down all the international offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Duties will be transferred to domestic offices and the State Department.
  47. The Trump regime claimed it is maximizing resources. The closures will slow processing family visa applications, foreign adoptions, and citizenship petitions from members of the military stationed abroad.
  48. The move is viewed by experts as part of the regime’s efforts to discourage foreigners from coming to the U.S., adding that closing the offices will also lower U.S. engagement around the world.
  49. On Tuesday, House Democrats proposed the Dream and Promise Act which would allow more than 2 million immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship, including “Dreamers” and those with temporary work permits.
  50. On Tuesday, three Democratic lawmakers re-introduced the Journalist Protection Act, citing Trump’s “antagonistic rhetoric” encourages people to think that “violence against journalists is more acceptable.”
  51. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Ohio voted to uphold an anti-abortion funding law, which blocks public money for Planned Parenthood.
  52. On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee tried unsuccessfully to gut protections for Native American women from non-Native men on tribal lands from the Violence Against Women Act.
  53. On Wednesday, the Pentagon instituted Trump’s new transgender policy, requiring transgender persons currently in the military to adhere to the dress and grooming standards of their biological sex.
  54. On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and his sister hosted Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is openly gay, and his partner. Pence and his wife Karen, who was not present, are both openly anti-LGBTQ.
  55. On Thursday, NYTreported a poster hanging on the walls of New York City subway station in Brooklyn about the life and work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was defaced with a swastika and the words, “DIE JEW BITCH!
  56. On Friday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on an Office of Refugee Resettlement 28-page spreadsheet which shows that acting head Scott Lloyd tracked the pregnancies of unaccompanied minors.
  57. Lloyd tracked information about these girls, including teenagers and pre-teens, who reported being raped and pregnant, and used it to block them from being able to get access to abortions they requested.
  58. On Tuesday, as several countries grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two deadly crashes, Trump tweeted: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.”
  59. Trump also tweeted, “Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better,” adding, “I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot.”
  60. On Tuesday, WSJ reported the top job at the Federal Aviation Administration has been vacant for 14 months, as enforcement fines as dropped by 88% and long delays on the tarmacs have increased.
  61. Thirty-five Congressional mandates have also gone unanswered. Consumer advocates say the Transportation Department has been invisible, with no meaningful enforcement happening.
  62. Transportation Department Secretary Elaine Chao, in a push to reduce regulation, has also stopped a number of rules in progress during the Obama-administration from going into effect.
  63. On Tuesday, Dallas Morning News reported before the two crashes, at least five pilots filed complaints about suspected safety flaws in the Boeing 737 Max 8 in a federal database where pilots can voluntarily report.
  64. An FAA spokesperson said complaints were filed directly to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which serves as a neutral third party, adding, “thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues.”
  65. On Tuesday, the FAA, at risk of losing its status as the world’s aviation safety leader, doubled down on its decision not to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8, after China, the European Union, India, and other countries did so.
  66. NYT reported Trump spoke Dennis Muilenburg, the chief executive of Boeing, early Tuesday. A statement to the Times by Boeing said Muilenburg “reiterated our position that the Max is a safe aircraft.”
  67. Shortly after the 2016 election, Trump had attacked Boeing publicly over the cost of Air Force One planes. Weeks later, Boeing lowered the cost and donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
  68. On Wednesday, after 42 other countries had banned flights of the Boeing Max 8, Trump announced he would reverse an earlier FAA decision to keep the jets flying and ground flights, hours after Canada did the same.
  69. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump privately disparaged the Boeing 737, saying “it sucks,” and that he had not chosen the model for Air Force One, or for the airline he once ran that went bankrupt.
  70. Trump cited information exchange with Canada: “We were coordinating with Canada.” Throughout the process, Trump reportedly played the role of aviation expert, despite having no formal training in the area.
  71. Experts noted federal regulators typically take the lead on safety issues. Trump announcing the grounding was not normal. Secretary Chao or the acting FAA administrator should have made the announcement.
  72. A federal judge ruled Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos illegally delayed an Obama-era rule requiring states to address racial disparities in special education programs.
  73. The rule was drafted under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act to identify districts with “significant disproportionality” of minority students. The judge found DeVos’s delay to be “arbitrary and capricious.”
  74. On Wednesday, in a vote along party lines, the Senate confirmed Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on a key appeals court. Rao had come under scrutiny over her views and writings on date rape and abortion.
  75. In one essay as undergraduate at Yale, Rao had suggested women could avoid rape by remaining sober. She later apologized. Trump has now filled 20% of the nation’s appellate court judgeships.
  76. On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham is moving forward with Trump nominees to to fill two vacant seats in California on the 9th Circuit Court, despite oppositions by CA senators.
  77. A more-than-100-year-old Senate tradition allowed senators from the state to fill out a form called a “blue slip” to indicate opposition to a nominee and block them. For the first time under Graham, these are being ignored.
  78. Trump continues to push through judicial nominees at a record pace. With an additional confirmation of Paul Matey to the 3rd Circuit Court on Tuesday, Trump has now appointed 35 jurists to the appeals bench.
  79. On Friday, the Trump regime announced it will lift protections for the greater sage grouse on nearly 9 million acres, opening the land to leasing opportunities for the oil, gas, and mining industries.
  80. Additionally, Joe Balash, an Interior Department assistant secretary, confirmed to the Post that he told fossil fuel industry leaders the Atlantic coast will be included in the regime’s plan to expand leasing.
  81. Balash also said the regime planned to expand federal leasing to nearly the entire outer continental shelf.Offshore leases in the Atlantic have not been granted for decades, and drilling has not been allowed for a half-century.
  82. On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the regime will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces.
  83. The ICC has a pending request to look into possible war crimes in Afghanistan. Pompeo said the restrictions may also be used to deter efforts “to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis” without their consent.
  84. On Monday, the Miami Herald reported a federal court of appeals in New York took steps to unseal evidence of an international sex trafficking operation run by Jeffrey Epstein and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
  85. The documents related to a 2015 case filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed she was recruited by Maxwell while working at Mar-a-Lago when she was 16 years-old and that she and others were sexually abused.
  86. On Monday, in an interview with WAPO Magazine, Speaker Pelosi said, “I’m not for impeachment” adding, “Impeachment is so divisive…unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.”
  87. Pelosi also added, “I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.” Her comments drew broad attention, and were closely scrutinized for their meaning and intent.
  88. On Monday, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said he is interested in speaking to Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino, attorneys responsible for Trump’s ethics and financial disclosures.
  89. Cummings said in his request both “appeared to provide false information” to federal prosecutors relating to payments to Cohen by Trump. So far the two are not cooperating.
  90. On Tuesday, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee released the transcript from the committee’s interview of Lisa Page, the second transcript released following that of Bruce Ohr.
  91. Page explained her talk with Peter Strzok of an “insurance policy” referenced the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump’s team colluding with Russia taking on a greater significance if he won.
  92. Page also pushed back that the FBI did not charge Hillary Clinton, saying the move would be too “constitutionally vague,” unprecedented, and “that they did not feel that they could sustain a charge.”
  93. On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul tweeted, “FBI Mistress, Lisa Page confirmed….there was an anti-Trump Insurance Policy,” adding, “it’s the fake Russian investigation…yet they continued with WITCH HUNT!
  94. On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office opened an investigation into financing of four major Trump Organization projects and Trump’s failed effort to buy the N.F.L.’s Buffalo Bills in 2014.
  95. The office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of the deals, at a time when other banks would not lend. The new inquiry was prompted by Cohen’s testimony.
  96. The inquiry is civil, not criminal, and its scope is unclear. The four deals being investigated are Trump Hotel DC; the Trump National Doral outside Miami; and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.
  97. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “New York State and its Governor, Andrew Cuomo, are now proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS,” adding, “The Witch Hunt continues!”
  98. On Wednesday, NY AG James announced she had reached an agreement with New York lawmakers to amend the state’s double jeopardy laws, adding “We anticipate that the bill will be passed in the coming week.”
  99. On Wednesday, in a series of morning tweets, Trump quoted a GOP tweet and NY AG James, adding “All part of the Witch Hunt Hoax. Started by little Eric Schneiderman & Cuomo. So many leaving New York!”
  100. Trump also retweeted an analysis by his supporters Diamond and Silk, saying “AG Letitia James of New York is abusing her power by targeting” him, adding it is “against the Law and a violation of the Hatch Act.”
  101. Trump also tweeted, “I greatly appreciate Nancy Pelosi’s statement against impeachment,” saying, “I never did anything wrong,” and claiming he is the leader with “the most successful first two years in history.”
  102. Trump also retweeted comments by Geraldo Rivera, saying Pelosi’s comments “are refreshing & conciliatory,” adding once Mueller exonerates Trump of allegations that “he’s a Russian spy, let’s move on.”
  103. Trump also parroted words by former late night host Jay Leno on “Fox & Friends,” tweeting “comedy is totally one-sided,” adding “the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable.”
  104. Trump then tweeted, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” and then “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
  105. Trump also accused “the Fake News” of editing photos of First Lady Melania Trump to stoke “conspiracy theories  “that it’s actually not her by my side in Alabama and other places.”
  106. Trump also seized on the release of the Page transcripts, tweeting “the just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine.”
  107. Later Wednesday, Trump quoted Fox News, tweeting “Double Standard,” Page “admits being told to go easy on Clinton,” and a second tweet saying, “Page testified Russian Collusion was still unproven.”
  108. Trump also tweeted he agrees with a tweet by Sen. Rand Paul, in which Paul uses Trump-like termsincluding, “FBI Mistress, Lisa Page,” “the fake Russian investigation!,” and “WITCH HUNT!”
  109. On Thursday, NY AG James told a judge in filing that Trump should “pay a $5.6 million penalty on top of $2.8 million in restitution for spending money” for using the Trump Foundation for business and political purposes.
  110. James said “Trump caused the foundation to enter repeatedly into self-dealing transactions and to coordinate unlawfully with his presidential campaign.” James is seeking a ruling without a trial.
  111. On Wednesday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler told reporters that in a closed-door meeting with former acting AG Matthew Whitaker, contrary to his public testimony, did not deny Trump had called him to discuss the Cohen investigation.
  112. Nadler said Whitaker had been “directly involved” in conversations about whether to fire unspecified U.S. attorneys, and in discussions about the “scope of the Southern District [of New York] attorney and his recusal.”
  113. Conversations about curtailing New York prosecutors’ investigations into Cohen could propel investigations by Congress and Mueller’s team into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice.
  114. On Thursday, the House voted 420-0 to pass a resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be made available to the public and Congress. The resolution is non-binding.
  115. Shortly after, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a vote on the measure, Trump ally Sen. Graham effectively blocked the Senate from taking it up.
  116. Graham said he would only move forward if the resolution also included the appointment of a new special counsel to investigate how the DOJ conducted its investigation, pointing to the surveillance of Carter Page.
  117. On Wednesday, ahead of the Senate vote, in a series of tweets, Trump said “Prominent legal scholars agree” that his national emergency is “both CONSTITUTIONAL and EXPRESSLY authorized by Congress.”
  118. Trump also tweeted, “If, at a later date, Congress wants to update the law, I will support those efforts, but today’s issue is BORDER SECURITY and Crime!!!” adding, “Don’t vote with Pelosi!”
  119. Trump also tweeted, “A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!”
  120. On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the Senate voted 59-41 to block Trump’s national emergency declaration, with 12 Republicans crossing over to join Democrats. Trump has vowed to veto the measure.
  121. Moments later, Trump tweeted “VETO!
  122. On Wednesday, in Washington D.C., Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 43 months, bringing his total time in prison to seven and a half years, including his sentence in Virginia in Week 121.
  123. After two hours of discussion in which Manafort finally apologized, Jackson described how he deceived the American public, and how secret lobbying on behalf of foreign governments in the U.S. hurts democracy.
  124. Jackson also said Manafort “backed away from the facts,” and that “Court is one of those places where facts still matter,” adding, “if the people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work.”
  125. Jackson made several strong statements before sentencing Manafort about the “no collusion” bunk, saying “the ‘no collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur,” and “not accurate, because the investigation is still ongoing.”
  126. After the hearing, Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing falsely claimed the judge “conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion” and “two courts have ruled ‘no evidence of any collusion.’”
  127. Downing had falsely claimed the same after the Virginia case, seeming to communicate with Trump. Shortly after, Trump told reporters of Manafort, “I feel badly for him,” adding it’s a “very sad situation.”
  128. Trump also told reporters, “On a human basis, it’s a sad thing,” and when asked about a possible pardon said, “I have not even given it a thought as of this moment,” and “It’s not something now that’s on my mind.”
  129. On Wednesday, a short time after Manafort’s sentencing, Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance charged Manafort with 16 crimes, including mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies.
  130. Vance said Wednesday the charges were filed to ensure Manafort will face prison time even if Trump pardons him for federal crimes. Manafort’s attorneys will challenge the indictment on double-jeopardy grounds.
  131. On Thursday, at a brief scheduling hearing, Judge Amy Berman Jackson set a trial date for Roger Stone of November 5, but did not address the issue of his latest possible gag order violation.
  132. Departing court, Stone’s attorney Robert Buschel told ABC News, “When I’m walking out of court with my client, it’s a good day,” referring to the possibility Stone could have been incarcerated for violating the gag order.
  133. On Thursday, in documents released related to Russian businessman, Aleksej Gubarev’s lawsuit against BuzzFeed, forensic evidence revealed his company was involved with the hack of John Podesta’s emails.
  134. The report found evidence which “suggests that Russian cyber espionage groups used XBT infrastructure to support malicious spear phishing campaigns against the Democratic Party leadership” and resulted in the theft of emails.
  135. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported Russian President Vladimir Putin supports new laws passed in the upper house of parliament which punish online media for spreading “fake news,” and jailing critics for disrespect.
  136. On Thursday, Rep. Cummings requested documents and an interview with former Fox News reporter Diana Falzone about Trump’s “debts and payments to silence women” prior to the 2016 presidential election.
  137. In his letter, Rep. Cummings also requested information about any “action taken against” Falzone in “connection with attempts to report on such stories.” Falzone’s attorney said she will comply.
  138. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified before the House Oversight Committee on whether he lied to Congress when he testified last year about his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
  139. Ross’s testimony came after a second federal judge found he violated federal law and the Constitution. Ross maintained the basis for his decision was the official DOJ memo released in March 2018.
  140. Democrats grilled Ross, and clashed with Republicans during the hearing. Chair Cummings requested Ross provide documents and written answers to unanswered questions, else possibly face a subpoena.
  141. On Friday, CNN reported that Trump’s lawyers are refusing to make former chief of staff John Kelly available for questioning on granting of security clearances. Rep.Cummings called it “stonewalling.”
  142. On Thursday, a New York appellate court voted 3-2, ruling Summer Zervos’ lawsuit against Trump can proceed, rejecting Trump’s argument that he cannot be sued in state court while in office.
  143. The decision will likely mean Trump will have to sit for a sworn deposition, currently scheduled for June. Zervos was one of 19 women who publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct during the 2016 campaign.
  144. On Tuesday, a joint status report filed by Mueller’s team and Michael Flynn’s attorneys indicated Flynn’s cooperation with the special counsel is “complete,” adding “Flynn remains “in a position to cooperate” if needed.
  145. On Thursday, NPR reported prosecutor Andrew Weissman is stepping down. The spokesperson for the special counsel said Weissman “will be concluding his detail to the special counsel’s office in the near future.”
  146. Weissman, who Steve Bannon called “the LeBron James of money laundering investigations,” had led the prosecution of Manafort, and is in talks with New York University Law School about a job.
  147. Weissman’s imminent departure, along with the recent resignation of the senior-most FBI agent working on Mueller’s team, Special Agent in Charge David Archey, signaled to some that the probe could be close to complete.
  148. On Friday, in a court filing, Mueller’s team said former Trump campaign official Rick Gates “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations,” and asked to delay his sentencing.
  149. The joint report from Mueller and Gates’ attorneys asked for a 60 day delay before providing the next updateon Gates’ status, countering the narrative that the Mueller probe was about to wrap up.
  150. On Thursday, in an interview released by Breitbart, Trump said, “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher.”
  151. Trump warned, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough,” adding, “it would be very bad, very bad.”
  152. On Friday, at least 49 people were murdered while worshipping at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Part of the massacre was broadcast live on Facebook in a 17-minute long video.
  153. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the attack “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.” The killer also sent a manifesto to Ardern, media, and lawmakers minutes before the attack.
  154. The killer said in his manifesto he wanted to “incite violence, retaliation and further divide” and used Trump terms like “invaders,” attacking “mass immigration,” and said he hoped to “directly reduce immigration rates.”
  155. Similar to the Pittsburgh synagogue killing, the killer said in his manifesto that he drew inspiration from the rise of white nationalism in America, calling Trump a symbol “of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
  156. The killer also identified conservative commentator Candace Owens as his biggest influence in the manifesto, writing “her own views helped push me further and further into the belief of violence over meekness.”
  157. Some democrats pointed to Trump’s long record of derogatory remarks about Muslims, his Muslim ban, and comments about Charlottesville in 2017, saying that both sides included “some very fine people.”
  158. On Friday, Trump tweeted: “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealandafter the horrible massacre,” adding, “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
  159. Trump then continued in a series of tweets, quoting a Fox News segment: “The ‘Jexodus’ movement encourages Jewish people to leave the Democrat Party,” adding, “Republicans are waiting with open arms.”
  160. Trump then again quoted Fox News, tweeting: “New evidence that the Obama era team of the FBI, DOJ & CIA were working together” to spy on and “take out” Trump, adding, “Peter Strzok’s testimony is devastating.”
  161. Trump also tweeted, “there was knowingly & acknowledged to be ‘zero’ crime when the Special Counsel was appointed,” adding, “the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary).”
  162. Trump also cited, “now disgraced Andrew McCabe,” and said that the special counsel “should never have been appointed” and that “there should be no Mueller Report.”
  163. Trump then concluded, tweeting “….THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”
  164. On Friday, in a letter to the attorney general, Sen. Graham requested a complete record of documents, conversations, and other communications relating to the discussions about removing Trump from office.
  165. Graham said conversations involving former FBI director Andrew McCabe and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and others about the 25th Amendment amount to “a coup” and promised to investigate.
  166. On Friday, Trump told reporters he does not believe white nationalism is a rising threat, saying, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
  167. When by reporters if she agreed with Trump’s comment that he doesn’t see white nationalism as a rising global threat, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “No.”
  168. On Friday, Trump issued his first veto after Congress voted to block his emergency declaration. Trump called the resolution to block his declaration “dangerous,” “reckless” and a “vote against reality.”
  169. After having previously acknowledged he could have waited for his declaration, Trump provided a flurry of statistics to support the contention that this was an emergency, though many were vague.
  170. Trump claimed that there is an “invasion” into the U.S. by migrants, adding so many of them had been apprehended that there was “nowhere left to hold all of the people that we’re capturing.”
  171. Trump was flanked by Pence, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General William Barr, who said the emergency order was “clearly authorized under the law” and “solidly grounded in law.”
  172. Secretary Nielsen said, “The fact that this is an emergency is undeniable. We have not seen this type of flow. As you know, it’s predominantly families and children…there’s a very unique and dangerous humanitarian crisis.”
  173. Pence said, “I don’t know that I have never been more proud to stand next to your desk than I am today,” adding “We have a crisis on our southern border.”
  174. Trump was also flanked by so-called Angel Moms, telling one before he signed the veto, “They will not have died in vain. Did I tell you that a long time ago? Three years ago, when we first met.”
  175. GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander noted the unprecedented nature of Trump asking for funding from Congress, Congress denying it, and then Trump using the “National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway.”
  176. On Friday, Speaker Pelosi said the House will vote to override Trump’s veto “to protect our Constitution and our democracy” on March 26, accusing Trump of a “lawless power grab.”
  177. On Friday, WAPO reported according to a court docket entry, Cesar Sayoc, the man accused of mailing bombs to Trump’s critics in Week 102, is likely to plead guilty to federal charges next week.
  178. On Friday, the WAPO Editorial Board condemned Trump’s response to the shooting, saying he should have spoken out about the killer and his nativist rhetoric, and noting his own rhetoric overlapped with the killer on Friday.
  179. The Post also noted that just hours later, Trump cited an “invasion” of immigrants to justify his national emergency declaration to build a wall.
  180. On Tuesday, Talking Points Memo reported Li “Cindy” Yang, who co-founded GY US Investments LLC with her husband, was also using proximity to Trump and his regime to peddle investor visas.
  181. GY US Investments offered “immigration investment projects,” a reference to the EB-5 visa program under which foreign citizens can get a two-year U.S. green card in exchange for making certain investments.
  182. On Friday, WAPO reported although Yang has not been accused of any wrongdoing, her ability to provide access raises concerns about access to Trump and his regime for members and guests of his clubs.
  183. Articles have identified Yang as deputy director of the Florida branch of the Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, whose chapters are overseen by a wing of the Chinese Communist Party.
  184. An expert noted China’s Communist Party seeks to “co-opt and control” diaspora communities to spread pro-China views. Sources say there is relatively light screening of guests at Mar-a-Lago.
  185. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he told House Republicans to vote to release the Mueller report, saying “ Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!”

Trump To Speak Live From The Oval Office To Sign His First Veto

Ken AshfordCongress, Immigration and Xenophobia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Donald Trump didn’t just lose any old Senate vote on Thursday. He didn’t even just lose a vote on his signature issue. When 12 Republicans voted to block Trump’s national emergency declaration, they did so despite Trump’s personal lobbying and insistence that the vote was about Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports that, in calls to Republican senators, “the president spoke of the battle almost exclusively in personal terms — telling them they would be voting against him while brushing aside constitutional concerns over his attempt to reroute billions of federal dollars for a border wall.”

And it didn’t work on a dozen Republicans. The threats, the me-me-me, fizzled into what will be Trump’s first veto in more than two years. 

In fact, the me-me-me approach may have hurt Trump’s effort. Republicans asked for information to put them on solid ground in opposing the resolution, and the White House did not provide it. The Defense Department didn’t tell senators what military construction projects would be cut. Mike Pence was Trump’s key negotiator with Congress, but he apparently wasn’t empowered to make a meaningful deal. 

So Trump has notified the networks that he will speak from the Oval Office at 3:30 today, where he will veto the not-an-emergency congressional resolution. It then goes back to the House for an override vote. Lawmakers don’t have enough votes to override the veto, but passage of the resolution in the Senate after it passed the House last month is nevertheless an embarrassing blow to Trump delivered by his own party over the President’s top campaign pledge of a wall at the US-Mexico border.

UPDATE: 3:40pm — No sign of an Oval Office address but Trump had an open-to-press meeting with reporters:

And this…

I think he has the players mixed up. He just used the same language as the New Zealand terrorist.

Update – 3:55 pm — Guess it isn’t a big address.