Trump Makes Policy Shift To Kill ALL Of The Affordable Care Act

Ken AshfordHealth Care, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday announced that it is siding with a district court ruling that found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

The move is an escalation of the Trump administration’s legal battle against the health care law.

The DOJ previously argued in court that the law’s pre-existing condition protections should be struck down. Now, the administration argues the entire law should be invalidated.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in December that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of law is therefore invalid.

The DOJ said Monday that it agrees the decision should stand as the case works its way through the appeals process in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the department said in a short letter to the appeals court.

The move is certain to prompt new denunciations from Democrats, who had already seized on the Trump administration’s earlier call for the pre-existing condition protections to be struck down.

That stance was a major issue in last year’s midterm elections, and many Republican candidates in tough races struggled with whether to say they agreed with the Trump administration’s position.

Many legal experts in both parties think the lawsuit, which was brought by 20 GOP-led states, will not ultimately succeed. The district judge who ruled against the law in December is known as a staunch conservative.

The case centers on the argument that since Congress repealed the tax penalty in the law’s mandate for everyone to have insurance in 2017, the mandate can no longer be ruled constitutional under Congress’s power to tax. The challengers then argue that all of ObamaCare should be invalidated because the mandate is unconstitutional.

Most legal experts say legal precedent shows that even if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of ObamaCare should remain unharmed, as that is what Congress voted to do in the 2017 tax law that repealed the mandate’s penalty.

Here are a few of the things that would disappear if the 5th Circuit agrees with the DOJ:

-staying on your parents’ plan until age 26
-assistance for seniors’ with high drug costs
-free preventative care
-no discrimination for preexisting conditions

Yeah, But Is Trump Still A Russian Dupe?

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment


I’m seeing an awful lot of hot takes about the Mueller report — winners and losers, who got it most wrong, etc., — and it’s sort of flabbergasting to me that we’re already rolling with these since NO ONE HAS READ THE FUCKING REPORT AND KNOWS WHAT IS IN IT. I’m assuming that is the Republican plan: gaslight us for a couple weeks until the conventional wisdom has sunk in, and then when public opinion is firmed up the way they want, release the report.

No, I am certain the full report won’t contain a smoking gun showing collusion or whatever you want to call it. But it is likely to give context on what Mueller investigated, and what he found, and what influence Russia had or has on Trump even NOW.

This backgrounder by Chuck Rosenberg and Joyce Vance is useful to read at this juncture:

The authority of the FBI to conduct criminal investigations and, with United States attorneys, to prosecute lawbreakers in our nation’s federal courts, is well known. Those cases, often reported in the press and dramatized by Hollywood, cover an enormous range of criminal behavior, from public corruption, to fraud, to crimes against children, to cyber intrusions, to the actions of violent gangs wielding guns and dealing drugs.

But the Russian investigation that has monopolized the news cycle for the past year has focused attention on another — lesser known — aspect of the FBI’s role: as the leading “counterintelligence” agency on U.S. soil. Of vital importance, that work often occurs outside the public eye, and is less well understood by citizens. This fact was reinforced over the weekend by shocking but not surprising reporting in The New York Times revealing that following President Donald Trump’s controversial firing of former FBI director James Comey in May of 2017, “law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”

But what does counterintelligence entail — and what do we even mean when we say counterintelligence?

The Russian investigation that has monopolized the news cycle for the past year has focused attention on another aspect of the FBI’s role: as the leading “counterintelligence” agency on U.S. soil.

First, the basics. Intelligence is really just a fancy word for information. Agents and prosecutors collect information for use in court; when we use information that way, we refer to it as “evidence.” But when the U.S. government collects information for other purposes, such as to inform and guide the decision-making of U.S. national security officials, we call it intelligence. Evidence and intelligence are essentially the same thing: information, just put to different purposes.

Foreign governments, like our own government, have intelligence services. Those foreign intelligence services (think the CIA in our country or MI-6 in the United Kingdom) gather information about other countries, their leaders, their abilities, their industries and their intentions. Much of that work is classified — as you would expect.

We don’t worry about the U.K. (or other close allies) spying on us, but we do worry about hostile foreign governments (think Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others) that attempt to, according to the FBI, “gather information about the U.S. that adversely affects our national interests.” Those hostile foreign governments collect intelligence about us — our industries, our research and development, our technology, and our leaders — so they can use it to their advantage and to our detriment.

The FBI is charged with countering the efforts of those hostile foreign intelligence services — thus, we say that the FBI conducts counterintelligence. The FBI explains the scope of that mission on its website, noting its work in this realm “include[s] foreign and economic espionage, or ‘spying’ activities, that may involve the acquisition of classified, sensitive, or proprietary information from the U.S. government or U.S. companies. The FBI investigates whenever a foreign entity conducts clandestine intelligence activities in the United States. [The FBI’s] counterintelligence investigations also help combat international terrorist threats, including those involving weapons of mass destruction and attacks on critical infrastructures.”

Indeed, the FBI has an entire division within its National Security Branch — the aptly named Counterintelligence Division — dedicated to this mission. The men and women of this division — special agents, analysts and professional staff — work on matters that may never see the inside of a courtroom. That requires some explanation, too.

Often, the intelligence-related activities of hostile foreign governments also violate domestic U.S. law. For example, Robert Mueller’s team recently indicted 12 Russian GRU (military intelligence) officers for hacking into U.S. computers. The conduct of the Russians constituted both an intelligence gathering operation directed against our country — and our 2016 presidential election — and a federal crime. In this instance, the Mueller team and the Department of Justice chose to charge those Russian officers with a crime.

However, in some situations where a foreign country is conducting an intelligence operation against our country, our national interests can sometimes best be served by not charging these bad actors with a crime. For instance, we might prefer a diplomatic solution to a criminal one. Or the intelligence we gather can be used to inform our judgments about the foreign country’s capabilities and inclinations, guiding longer term policy. Often, counterintelligence investigations do not end up in court because we exercise these other options or because the way in which we learn stuff about our adversaries is extraordinarily sensitive and we do not want to risk having them know about our capabilities.

As the FBI notes, “[f]oreign influence operations — which include covert actions by foreign governments to influence U.S. political sentiment or public discourse — are not a new problem. But the interconnectedness of the modern world, combined with the anonymity of the Internet, have changed the nature of the threat and how the FBI and its partners must address it. The goal of these foreign influence operations directed against the United States is to spread disinformation, sow discord, and, ultimately, undermine confidence in our democratic institutions and values.” …

The big questions about Trump’s bizarre behavior remain unanswered. It’s possible they don’t know any more than we do. Trump is, after all, a pathological narcissist and reflexive liar. But there is good evidence we’ve already seen that he was compromised by the Russians with those lies about Trump Tower Moscow and the unreported Trump Tower Meeting.  Needless to say, his suspicious behavior toward Vladimir Putin and unwillingness to admit the election interference, are still live issues.

Maybe the counterintelligence people can shed light on this but maybe not. What we may have on our hands is someone who is so dishonest, unethical, disloyal and stupid that he’s done all of this simply because that’s how he’s always operated.  If that’s the case, we are going to have to grapple with the fact that this is what almost half of our citizens admire about him.

Barr Summary of Mueller Reports: No Collusion, No Obstruction Prosecution

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

I had a busy weekend so I only read the Barr summary of the Mueller investigation which came down yesterday at 5 pm.

Let’s start with one truism: When prosecutors say that an investigation “did not establish” something, that doesn’t mean that they concluded it didn’t happen, or even that they don’t believe it happened. It means that the investigation didn’t produce enough information to prove that it happened. Without seeing Mueller’s full report, we don’t know whether this is a firm conclusion about lack of coordination or a frank admission of insufficient evidence. The difference is meaningful, both as a matter of history and because it might determine how much further Democrats in Congress are willing to push committee investigations of the matter.

With that kept in mind, I don’t think this development moves the ball at all from what we already knew. No “collusion” by Trump? I think we suspected that, but it doesn’t negate a willingness to collude with Russia by Don Jr and others in the campaign (i.e., the Trump Tower meeting), which Trump himself may have known about. That may not have legal implications, but it still has political ones. And Mueller clearly found *evidence* of obstruction by President Trump, which may not — in Barr’s opinion — rise to a prosecution level, but it doesn’t it doesn’t erase the cloud over the Administration either.

From a legal/criminal standpoint, my money has always been on non-Mueller issues anyway — that is, the SDNY and NY Attorney General investigations, which include campaign fraud (the unreported Stormy Daniels payoff), bank fraud (overstating his assets to get bank loans) insurance fraud (understating his assets to get favorable policies and possible bogus claims), tax fraud (does his income match what he tells the banks?), and even the emoluments clause violations. Trump has already (quietly) admitted to civil violations involving personal use of funds from his bogus Trump charity. That alone would bring down any other presidency.

With all that, we should remember that Russia DID try to influence the election, using social media infiltration and computer hacking, and this President’s absence of a response, while not illegal, is certainly negligent to the point of near complicity.

I think we need to consider that the Trump Tower Moscow wasn’t considered part of Mueller’s remit. In other words, if it didn’t have something to do with the “election interference” it wasn’t considered. And yet that is likely the real reason for Trump’s obsequious behavior toward Putin during the campaign and as president.

That’s a  matter of kompromat counterintelligence question and may not even be prosecutable without strong proof of the quid pro quo. But you can imagine that Trump certainly knew that Putin knew he was lying throughout the campaign and beyond about his business dealings in Russia.

And we may have to consider that Trump was a total dupe, manipulated at every stage by nefarious foreign actors which may just mean that he should be impeached for the high crime of being a corrupt authoritarian and a cretinous moron rather than a Russian agent.

Yes — Trump, his cohorts and his supporters are going to have a few days overplaying their we’ve-been-vindicated hand. That’s fine. But with the 2020 elections heating up, Trump is facing a slew of very serious legal problems — legal problems he never thought would see the light of day because he never expected to win — and those legal problems are destined for the front burner in the weeks and months to come.

This is what law professor Neal Katyasl writes in the New York Times:

Sometimes momentous government action leaves everyone uncertain about the next move. This is not one of those times. Congress now has a clear path of action. It must first demand the release of the Mueller report, so that Americans can see the evidence for themselves. Then, it must call Mr. Barr and Mr. Mueller to testify. Mr. Barr in particular must explain his rationale for reaching the obstruction judgment he made.
No one wants a president to be guilty of obstruction of justice. The only thing worse than that is a guilty president who goes without punishment. The Barr letter raises the specter that we are living in such times.

I’m pretty agnostic about the full Mueller report. While I would like to see what it says, I don’t think it will move the ball any more than the Barr summary letter. Nobody can say that Mueller’s decisions not to interview the president, or to recommend an obstruction charge, were out-and-out wrong. These are close judgment calls, and it seems to me that any non-election takedown of a President cannot be premised on a close call of any kind.

But the other legal problems of Trump do not fall in that category. If he committed bank fraud, that’s easily provable by the documentary evidence, or at least, certainly more provable than obstruction, which involves an inquiry into intent and motive. So my focus is on the New York investigations, and I am staying buckled up for those.

Lawfare:

Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report is ominous for the president. While Mueller did not find that Trump obstructed his investigation, he also made a point of not reaching the opposite conclusion: that Trump didn’t obstruct the investigation. Indeed, he appears to have created a substantial record of the president’s troubling interactions with law enforcement for adjudication in noncriminal proceedings—which is to say in congressional hearings that are surely the next step.

What makes the document more complicated still is the fact that it offers only a skeletal description of Mueller’s report. It only purports to convey Mueller’s top-line findings and does not include any of the evidence or legal analysis that underlies those findings. It doesn’t tell any of the stories that the Mueller report will tell. It only distills and announces two high-altitude legal conclusions from those stories. Assuming that Barr is characterizing Mueller’s findings reasonably, that leaves a whole raft of questions unanswered about what those stories will be—and what their impact will be.

***

In laying out this summary, Barr’s letter reveals several new facts about Mueller’s obstruction probe. First, it notes that Mueller’s report covers several actions by Trump that could raise obstruction concerns, “most of which have been the subject of public reporting.” This confirms what has long been suspected: that Mueller believed that at least some of the president’s publicly reported actions—likely including some of his public actions—could raise obstruction problems. It also suggests that there are potentially obstructive acts that have not yet been reported. Barr’s letter thus leaves the distinct sense that Mueller’s detailed accounting of the president’s potential acts of obstruction is significant, regardless of Barr’s own judgment as to the criminality of any of those acts.

It also makes clear that the Mueller report creates an extensive record on the obstruction question. And that may well be the point. After all, what is the point of a prosecutor’s amassing a factual record and then refusing, as Mueller apparently has refused, to evaluate it in a traditional prosecutorial framework? The answer the letter suggests but does not state is that the Mueller report has teed up the question of presidential obstruction for evaluation by a different actor—to wit, by Congress—on a decidedly noncriminal basis. Mueller, being barred from indicting the president, has done the investigation, has apparently declined even to evaluate the matter as a prosecutor, and has laid out all of the facts and the arguments for and against treating the president’s behavior as criminal. It is now for other actors to decide whether the conduct Mueller describes is acceptable in a president. 

While Mueller left the question of criminality unaddressed, Barr himself did not. Barr opines that Mueller’s “decision to describe the facts of his obstruction inquiry without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime”—though it is not clear why Barr felt this to be the case. Barr includes his own determination, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s, that Mueller’s evidence “is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

In justifying this view, Barr notes Mueller’s determination that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian electoral interference” and argues that the lack of evidence of an underlying crime, though not dispositive, “bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.” The report does not identify any actions that, in Barr’s and Rosenstein’s view, “constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent,” each of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to establish the crime of obstruction of justice under Justice Department guidelines.

Notably, Barr says that his and Rosenstein’s assessment was made independently of constitutional questions about the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president. Though Barr does not make reference to any concerns over the interaction between presidential authority and possible obstruction offenses, it is worth keeping in mind his memorandum on the subject from June 2018, in which he argued that conduct authorized by Article II definitionally cannot constitute obstruction.

Finally, Barr indicates that more material from Mueller’s report is forthcoming, writing that his office is at work identifying information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)—which protects material obtained before a grand jury from public disclosure—and “information that could impact other ongoing matters.” After that, Barr writes, he “will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released.”

So the good news is that there is more information on the way—though it is unclear how much more or when it will appear. Democratic members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are already calling for the report to be released in its entirety. Pelosi and Schumer released a joint statement indicating skepticism of what they call “Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry,” and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler indicated that his committee will call on Barr to testify. Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Richard Burr, for his part, thanked the attorney general for his letter and called for the release of “as much of the report as possible.”

The White House has, predictably, taken the opportunity to gloat: Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, echoing the president, declared Barr’s letter to be a “total and complete exoneration of the President.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blandly announced his hope that “the Special Counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.” Donald Trump Jr. chose to blast what he called “Collusion Truthers.”

Whether this proves the beginning of the end of L’Affaire Russe or the prelude to a series of additional disclosures about activity on the part of the Trump campaign and the president himself that are disturbing but happen to fall just short of criminal activity, it is important not to lose sight of the significance of the investigation having been completed. That Mueller was able to complete his probe into a sitting president without having his investigation blocked—despite ongoing presidential braying against the probe and menacing of the Justice Department’s leadership—is no small thing.

That Mueller was able to write his report, to document his findings in a fashion that can allow for transparency and, if necessary, accountability, is of immense value. The question of what to do with the record Mueller has compiled will ultimately fall to Congress.

Weekly List 123

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week started with maniacal tweeting by Trump: more than 50 tweets over the weekend on a variety of unrelated topics, including multiple retweets of conspiracy theorists. The week’s news was overshadowed by Trump’s daily attacks against deceased Senator John McCain and George Conway, husband of senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. The off-kilter — even by his standards — behavior by Trump seemed foreboding, and sure enough, on Friday, Mueller’s final report was delivered to Attorney General William Barr.

Among the subjects of his ire on Twitter this week, Trump continued to focus on alleged and unsubstantiated bias of social media companies, as his ally Rep. Devin Nunes filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against Twitter and three Twitter accounts. Congressional probes moved ahead, including new revelations that Jared Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate on official White House business, including with foreign officials, and in possible violations of the Presidential Records Act — as did Ivanka Trump for White House business with her use of a personal email account. Meanwhile the White House refused to cooperate with Congressional document requests, as Rep. Elijah Cummings accused them of “stonewalling.”

As the week came to a close, the country waited on edge for the findings from the Mueller report, and Democrats agitated for the full report to be made public. Unlike the prior weekend’s flurry, Trump did not send a single tweet or provide any comment to reporters after the report was delivered to the AG.

  1. The State Department barred the press corps from listening in on a call hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for “faith-based media” about international religious freedom ahead of his trip to the Middle East.
  2. Despite repeated inquiries and complaints from members of the press corps, the State Department refused to provide a transcript of the call, a list of which faith-based media outlets were included, or criteria to be on the call.
  3. In an interview later in the week with Christian Broadcasting Network, citing the holiday of Purim, Pompeo said God may have sent Trump to save Israel from Iran, saying, “I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”
  4. On Saturday, a week after Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s remarks about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s hijab and patriotism, the network pulled her show claiming it was because of “scheduling matters.”
  5. On Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that the New Zealand mosque massacre had nothing to do with Trump, and that Trump “is not a white supremacist.”
  6. On Monday, on “Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway said the mosque shooter was “not a conservative” and “not a Nazi,” and encouraged people to “read the entire” manifesto.
  7. By contrast, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rejected hate, said the shooter should be “nameless,” expressed sympathy and love for Muslim communities, and said she would push to enact new gun reform.
  8. Over the weekend Trump sent a manic barrage of over 50 tweets and retweets from Friday morning through Sunday evening. NYT reported since the election, Trump has averaged 16 tweets per weekend.
  9. Trump did not play golf, or participate in any meetings. He only left the White House to attend a church service Sunday. He spent the weekend tweeting, venting on current tensions and stoking old grievances.
  10. Trump tweeted: “Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro,” adding, “the Radical Left Democrats” and the “Fake News Media” are “using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country.”
  11. Trump also tweeted, “They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well,” adding, “stop working soooo hard on being politically correct,” and “Be strong & prosper, be weak & die!”
  12. Trump also tweeted: “Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine,” adding, “your competitors are jealous” and “they can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!”
  13. Trump also attacked SNL, calling it “not funny/no talent,” adding the show “can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me).” The show was a rerun of a show that Trump had previously attacked on Twitter too.
  14. Trump also tweeted SNL was “like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows…” and threatened “Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?
  15. Trump retweeted a report on right-wing sites that Minnesota Democrats are unhappy with Rep. Omar, and retweeted Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter known for advancing conspiracies, including “Pizzagate.”
  16. Trump also retweeted conspiracies that Christopher Steele used posts by “random individuals” in the dossier, on “Russiagate,” and that Andrew Weissman was the “Kingpin of Prosecutorial Misconduct.”
  17. Trump sent four tweets attacking General Motors for closing a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, blaming a union leader who is a Democrat and saying, “Get that big, beautiful plant in Ohio open now” and “Bring jobs home!”
  18. Trump also tweeted he spoke to GM CEO Mary Barra, saying, “I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING,” adding, “She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”
  19. On Friday, in an effort to appease Trump, GM staged a ceremony for a $1.4 billion new investment at a Michigan factory. Barra, wearing safety glasses, made the announcement alongside UAW leaders and workers.
  20. Trump also attacked Google, saying the company “is helping China and their military, but not the U.S.” adding, “Terrible!” A Google spokesperson promptly responded: “We are not working with the Chinese military.”
  21. Trump also accused the Democrats of “trying to steal a Presidential Election,” at the ballot box, “then, after that failed, with the ‘Insurance Policy,’” calling it “the biggest Scandal in the history of our Country!”
  22. Trump also tweeted quoted a Suffolk/USA Today Poll, tweeting “50% of Americans AGREE that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a Witch Hunt.” Some pollsters objected to the way the poll question was worded.
  23. According to the database Factba.se, this was the 261st time Trump used the term “witch hunt” in a tweet.
  24. Trump did not mention the New Zealand massacre over the weekend. On Monday however he ranted in a tweet that the “The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me,” adding, “ So Ridiculous!”
  25. Trump also attacked deceased Sen. John McCain, saying, “spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier ‘is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain,’” quoting a Fox News interview of Ken Starr.
  26. Trump also tweeted of McCain, “‘last in his class’” (he was fifth to last), and that he “sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election.” McCain sent it to the FBI after the election.
  27. Trump also falsely claimed of McCain: “He & the Dems, working together, failed.” Several Republicans and Democrats in the Senate condemned Trump’s comments, but Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a neutral statement.
  28. On Tuesday, during an appearance with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Trump said “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” calling it a “disgrace” that McCain voted against repealing Obamacare.
  29. Trump also said at this joint news conference with Bolsonaro that he would make Brazil “a major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally.”
  30. He later acknowledged he would have to talk to “a lot of people” about admitting Brazil to NATO. Trump also said he backs Brazil’s effort’s to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
  31. Trump also said at his joint news conference that he was “very proud to hear the president use the term ‘fake news.’” Attacks on the Brazilian media have spiked in the past year.
  32. Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “the Fake News Media has NEVER been more Dishonest or Corrupt than it is right now,” adding, “Fake News is the absolute Enemy of the People and our Country itself!
  33. On Tuesday, just before midnight, Trump retweeted a QAnon conspiracy theorist, adding, “Not a good situation!” about a video of a young man going through a very thorough pat-down by a TSA agent.
  34. On Tuesday, McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, posted a message she received in which the sender said she was “glad” McCain, a “traitorous…warmongering shit,” was dead, and hoped daughter Meghan “chokes to death.”
  35. On Wednesday, Trump continued his attacks on McCain at an event in Ohio, saying, “I have to be honest, I’ve never liked him much. Hasn’t been for me. I really probably never will.”
  36. Trump also claimed he gave McCain “the kind of funeral that he wanted,” but “I didn’t get a thank you.” Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral. Sen. Johnny Isakson was the only GOP senator to strongly speak out against Trump’s statements.
  37. On Wednesday, Meghan McCain called Trump’s attacks “a “bizarre new low,” and said her dad “would think it’s hilarious” that Trump “was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death as well.”
  38. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted a muted response: “Today and every day I miss my good friend John McCain. It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate.”
  39. On Thursday, a spokesperson for the National Cathedral said of McCain’s funeral, “No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official.”
  40. On Thursday, Trump defended his attacks on McCain, telling Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo, “I don’t talk about it. People ask me the question, I didn’t bring this up.” Bartiromo said, but “he’s dead.”
  41. Trump said he spends “a very small portion” of his time attacking McCain, adding, “I’m not a fan. He was horrible what he did with repeal and replace,” adding, “you people bring it up, I don’t bring it up.”
  42. On Monday, George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, sent a series of tweets included images from the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
  43. Conway included pages on “narcissistic personality disorder” and “antisocial personality disorder,” sayingTrump’s “condition is getting worse” and that “there are now fewer people” to check his worst impulses.
  44. On Monday, when asked by reporters, Kellyanne said, “No, I don’t share those concerns,” and “I have four kids, and I was getting them out of the house this morning to talk to the president about substance.”
  45. On Monday, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted: “We all know that Trump turned downMr. Kellyanne Conway for a job he desperately wanted.” This statement is false—Conway turned Trump down.
  46. Parscale added, “Now he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success. POTUS doesn’t even know him!”On Tuesday, Trump quoted the tweet, adding of George Conway, “A total loser!
  47. On Tuesday, minutes later, George Conway tweeted: “Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism! Great job!”
  48. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump has wanted to attack Conway before on Twitter, but aides were able to talk him out of it, saying it would cause unnecessary drama. They had been successful until this week.
  49. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Conway who is “often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway” is “VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted.”
  50. Trump also called Conway “a stone cold LOSER” and “husband from hell!
  51. Later, when asked by a reporter if his attacks fit Melania’s anti-bullying campaign, Trump said Conway is “a whack job,” and he is “doing a disservice to a wonderful wife,” and “I call him Mr. Kellyanne Conway.”
  52. On Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway defended Trump, tell Politico he is a “counterpuncher” and “don’t play psychiatrist any more than George should be” and that Trump “is obviously defending me.”
  53. On Thursday, Conway sent a series of tweets attacking Trump and his mental state, saying Trump was no longer articulate and coherent, and “couldn’t be allowed” to talk to Mueller because “he’d lie his ass off.”
  54. On Friday, Conway attacked Trump again, tweeting: “THINK about the fact that we don’t just have a mentally unstable president — but a president who thinks he needs to be re-elected to avoid being indicted.”
  55. On Sunday, AP reported police arrested Noel Thomas Becht on suspicion of trespassing, disorderly conduct, and threatening and intimidating at United Islamic Center of Arizona, a Phoenix mosque.
  56. On Monday, Corinne Terrone, a public school clerk in Connecticut resigned after a viral video showed her repeatedly calling a Black man the N-word at a Shop Rite. Her children were present during the incident.
  57. Elecia Dexter, the black editor who took over The Democrat-Reporter after her predecessor Goodloe Sutton called for the KKK to ride again, stepped down citing Sutton’s continued interference.
  58. NBC News reported in addition to the Customs and Border Protection database in Week 122, one journalist and four immigration attorneys have also been stopped and questioned at border stations in Arizona and Texas.
  59. On Monday, Rep. Steve King posted a meme on Facebook of a pair of blue and red figures, with the words “civil war” and “one side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”
  60. At a town hall Tuesday, King claimed he “wasn’t aware” the image had been posted his page. Also, when asked whether “a white society is superior to a nonwhite society,” he said, “I don’t have an answer for that.”
  61. Daily Beast reported Virginia police officer Daniel Morley was suspended after leaked chat logs revealed he was onboarding new members for white nationalist group Identity Evropa at a local high school.
  62. On Tuesday, federal judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rebutted the Trump regime’s claim that no legal blocks remain to enforcing its transgender military ban, saying the injunction she issued in 2017 remains in place.
  63. On Wednesday, NBC San Diego reported Customs and Border Protection defended the decision to detain 9 year-old Julia Isabel Amparo Medina for 32 hours after she got out of a car to walk to school across the border.
  64. CBP officials accused Julia Medina, a passport-holding U.S. citizen, of lying about her identify, saying she did not look like her photo, and took her into custody “to perform due diligence” of her identity and citizenship.
  65. WAPO reported Selene Saavedra Roman, a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines who has DACA status, was detained by ICE for six weeks in what advocates say is an example of how the Trump regime seeks to end DACA.
  66. In Fall River, Massachusetts, 59 gravestones were defaced with anti-Semitic language and swastikas. The police chief said he could not remember seeing “something on this scale” before, and will treat the vandalism as a hate crime.
  67. The Charlottesville, Virgina school board closed the schools for two days citing a race-based threat of “ethnic cleansing” made on Wednesday. On Friday, police arrested a 17 year-old from another school for making the threat.
  68. On Friday, William Sullivan was arrested in an upstate New York supermarket, after telling a Jewish co-worker “You’re in the gas chamber now,” and then insulting her Jewish faith with an expletive.
  69. WAPO reported an analysis done by University of North Texas professors using data from the Anti-Defamation League’s HEAT map found counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226% increase in hate crimes.
  70. On Friday, Mississippi’s governor signed a law that bans abortions after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat during an ultrasound. The state has only one clinic that provides abortion services.
  71. On Friday, Georgia’s senate approved House Bill 481, which would also outlaw abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat in the womb, usually around six weeks.
  72. On Friday, Michigan’s attorney general said the state will no longer fund adoption agencies that deny LGBTQ parents. The agency cited, Catholic Charities, was mentioned by Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast.
  73. The Washington state senate passed a bill 28-21 to require presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns in order to appear on the primary or general election ballot. It will now head to the assembly.
  74. Colorado became 12th state and first swing state and to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement under which states pledge their presidential electors to whoever wins the popular vote.
  75. On Thursday, a circuit court judge ruled Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature acted illegally when it convened a lame duck session and stripped power away from incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
  76. On Sunday, NYT reported that in the past year, Saudi Crown Prince MBS authorized a secret campaign to silence dissent, which included surveillance, kidnapping, detention, and torture of Saudi citizens.
  77. On Sunday, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska told CNBC in Moscow that he sued the U.S. Treasury Department for “weaponizing the financial system” against him, and denied the Kremlin encouraged his legal action.
  78. Sanctions have been lifted against his companies, but not against him personally. Deripaska claimed he is “a victim of this country’s political infighting,” adding sanctions have forced him to adapt to a “new reality.”
  79. The Atlantic reported Alexander Ionov, the founder of an NGO called the Anti-Globalization Movement,raised money to fund Maria Butina’s legal defense, reaching about 2 million rubles (approximately $30,000).
  80. On Monday, Reuters reported that Norway claims it has provided proof that Russian forces disrupted global positioning system signals during recent NATO war games, and demanded an explanation from Russia.
  81. On Monday, ProPublica reported a sealed search warrant they obtained showed federal prosecutors raided Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and the Trump regime.
  82. The warrant showed agents were able to compel Broidy, a major Trump campaign fundraiser and deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, to use his hand and face to unlock any phones.
  83. The warrant sought records in Broidy’s office related to the United Arab Emirates, UAE adviser George Nader, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and any travel to the Middle East.
  84. The warrant cited investigations of conspiracy, money laundering, and lobbying on behalf of foreign officials, and also lists names “Joel Rouseau” and “Intelligent Resources,” which has an address in Miami Beach.
  85. On Thursday, NYT reported Jared Kushner’s brother Josh was in Saudi Arabia in October 2017 just days before Jared was there to talk policy. Josh is the founder of eight-year-old venture capital firm Thrive Capital.
  86. Josh attended a three day exclusive investor conference where Crown Prince MBS promised to spend billionsof dollars. Kushner was granted private conversations with high ranking Saudi officials.
  87. Jared sat on the board and investment committee of Thrive until January 2017. His May 2018 financial disclosure form shows he received $8.2 million in capital gains from Thrive while working at the White House.
  88. On Monday, NYT reported on Trump’s nearly two decade relationship with Deutsche Bank, which lent him well over $2 billion, when other banks refused to lend due to his uncreditworthiness.
  89. When Trump was elected, the bank switched into damage-control mode over their intertwined relationship. Rosemary Vrablic, a managing director at Deutsche Bank in private banking, attended his inauguration address.
  90. In the late 1990s, the bank tried to make a name for itself in the U.S., its investment banking division went on a hiring spree, including hiring Justin Kennedy, the son of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
  91. In 2003, the bank’s bond desk helped Trump sell debt to finance his casino. Trump promised them a trip to Mar-a-Lago if the tough deal got done. After, he flew 15 salesmen on his Boeing 727 for a weekend of golfing.
  92. In 2005, when Trump wanted to finance a skyscraper in Chicago, he told the bank his net worth was about $3 billion, while bank employees concluded $788 million. Nonetheless the bank lent him $500 million.
  93. In 2008, with the project mostly built, Trump used a “force majeure” clause citing then Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan calling the financial crisis a tsunami, to try to get out of repaying the loan.
  94. Starting in 2010, Vrablic helped Trump get a loan to repay his Chicago loan, and even though Trump overstated his net worth dramatically and repeatedly, financed his bid for an NFL team and other transactions.
  95. On Monday, a CNN poll found Trump’s disapproval rating down to 51% — the lowest disapproval found in the poll since Trump took office. The poll found 42% approve of Trump’s performance.
  96. On Monday, CNN reported Trump’s White House expects to be able to review Mueller’s findings before they are sent on to lawmakers, and to have the opportunity to claim executive privilege over information.
  97. On Tuesday, a senior Justice Department official said deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had decided to remain at the DOJ “a little longer,” after meeting with AG William Barr. The reason why was not disclosed.
  98. Later Tuesday, a CNN reporter said according to her source, Rosenstein wanted to stay on so he can be the “heat shield,” or absorb the punches, if there is fallout from the Mueller report.
  99. On Tuesday, in court filing, Mueller’s team asked for more time to hand over Manafort’s records requested by WAPO, citing they are too busy with “other work” right now, and asking for an extension until April 1.
  100. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters when the Mueller report would be released, Trump responded: “I have no idea. No collusion, no collusion,” adding, “a man gets appointed by a deputy. He writes a report.”
  101. Trump also said, “Let’s see whether or not it’s legit,” calling Mueller “conflicted” and criticizing the lawyers who worked on the case. Trump also said the report should be made public, saying, “let people see it.”
  102. On Monday, top Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees asked FBI director Christopher Wray in a letter to conduct criminal and counterintelligence probes of Cindy Yang.
  103. The letter cites allegations of human trafficking, foreign lobbying, and potential campaign finance violations. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement they joined in urging an investigation.
  104. On Monday, Daily Beast reported the House Judiciary Committee is planning to hold hearings on the rise of white nationalism, and will hear from federal agencies on what they are doing to confront the threat.
  105. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee said it had “tens of thousands” of documents by the deadline from a “large number” of the 81 people, agencies, and organizations from whom it sought documents.
  106. However Trump’s lawyers denied the request, informing Chairman Jerrold Nadler they would not be turning over documents. It was unclear if the committee would move to subpoena the documents.
  107. The Hill reported Thursday, according to a letter it obtained, Roger Stone invoked the Fifth Amendment and said he would not produce the requested documents “on the advice of counsel.”
  108. Reuters reported Friday that Kushner will cooperate with the House committee’s probe. Kushner reportedly submitted documents to Nadler’s panel on Thursday.
  109. On Tuesday, in an op-ed, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings wrote “the White House hasn’t turned over a single piece of paper to my committee.”
  110. Rep. Cummings said he has sent 12 letters to the White House on a half-dozen topics, and accused the White House of engaging “in an unprecedented level of stonewalling, delay and obstruction.”
  111. On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told NBC News that it is an open question if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power, and whether that would present a national security threat.
  112. Rep. Schiff cited concern that U.S. foreign policy was dictated by Trump’s “desire to make hundreds of millions of dollars off a tower in Moscow,” adding it was unclear if Mueller’s team had fully investigated this angle.
  113. On Tuesday, at a town hall Rep. Nadler compared Trump’s rise to that of Hitler, saying of Trump’s rhetoric around immigrants, “This is the same type of propaganda that we heard in the 1920s.”
  114. On Wednesday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn told NBC News that Trump and his family are “the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime.”
  115. Clyburn said when Hitler was elected he “went about the business of discrediting institutions to the point that people bought into it,” adding, “Nobody would have believed it now…We had better be very careful.”
  116. On Thursday, in a letter, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone rejected House Oversight, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees’ Democrats’ request for documents related to Trump’s communications with Putin.
  117. Cipollone cited “unbroken recognition that the Constitution assigns the conduct of foreign affairs exclusively to the Executive Branch,” and said Democrats did not provide any law or regulation that would justify access.
  118. On Thursday, WSJ reported the House Judiciary Committee is considering a second wave of document requests from Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen’s former lawyer related to pardon discussions, as well as Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn.
  119. On Thursday, House Oversight Chair Cummings revealed in a letter that Ivanka and Jared Kushner used private messaging accounts for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws.
  120. Ivanka and Jared’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, told his committee last year that in addition to private email accounts, Kushner used the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp for official business, including with foreign contacts.
  121. Lowell told lawmakers Ivanka did not preserve some emails from her private account that she did not reply to. He now claims after September 2017, she forwarded all official business to her White House account.
  122. Lowell said he was unsure if Kushner communicated classified information on WhatsApp, but said he took screenshots of communication and sent them to his official White House account or the National Security Council.
  123. Rep. Cummings said in a letter to Cipollone the new findings raise possible violations of the Presidential Records Act by members of the Trump regime, including Ivanka and Kushner, and gave an April 4 deadline to reply.
  124. On Friday, Trump told reporters when asked about Kushner’s WhatsApp messaging, “I know nothing about it. I’ve never heard that.”
  125. On Tuesday, prosecutors released publicly redacted copies of the Michael Cohen search warrants that launched the FBI raid of his home, hotel, and office in April 2018.
  126. The documents showed the court-approved warrants were first obtained by Mueller’s team in July 2017 to search Cohen’s emails from all of 2016 up to July 2017 to assess if he illegally worked for foreign entities.
  127. Mueller’s team also got a second warrant a month later for the cloud backup files to Cohen’s phones, and a third warrant for emails dating to June 2015 related to his taxi business and false statements to banks.
  128. Mueller’s team turned over documents to the Southern District of New York in February 2018. The SDNY got an additional search warrant for emails from November 2017 to February 2018.
  129. The documents revealed Cohen was paid $583,332 from Columbus Nova, a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, from January to August 2017. Vekselberg was sanctioned in 2018 for election interference.
  130. The documents had significant redactions, including 18 1/2 pages in the section about hush-money payments to women titled “The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme.”
  131. The court stated that redactions were necessary because “disclosure would jeopardize an ongoing investigation” of the SDNY.
  132. On Monday, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter, two anonymous accounts, and political consultant Liz Mair for $250 million in damages, alleging “negligence, defamation per se, insulting words, and civil conspiracy.”
  133. Nunes told Fox News host Sean Hannity “this was an orchestrated effort,” adding “people were targeting me.” The Twitter accounts included one named “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and the other, “Devin Nunes’ Cow.”
  134. On Monday, Trump shared the news of Nunes’ lawsuit, tweeting an article in the Daily Beast, titled, “Rep. Devin Nunes Files $250M Defamation Lawsuit Against Twitter, Two Anonymous Twitter Accounts.”
  135. The account for Devin Nunes’ Mom was suspended this year, but the same user created “Devin Nunes’ Alt-Mom” and was active, as was “Devin Nunes’ Cow” — both spent Tuesday and beyond mocking Rep. Nunes.
  136. By Wednesday, the “Devin Nunes’ Cow” account had surpassed Rep. Nunes’ Twitter following of 395,000, with 467,000 followers and growing. Prior to the lawsuit, the cow account had roughly 1,200 followers.
  137. On Friday, dictionary company Merriam-Webster said in their weekly round-up: “There are a surprising amount of cow-related words this week.”
  138. On Tuesday, Trump renewed his attacks on technology companies tweeting, “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats.”
  139. NBC News reported that HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s 2017 schedule was extremely light. Carson held one senior staff meeting a week, and for 5 of 31 Fridays he was off or had no appointments, and on another 5 he left before 2 p.m.
  140. On Tuesday, Politico reported the White House plans to drop the “acting” from Mulvaney’s title, upgrading him to Trump’s chief of staff. One senior official said of Mulvaney that he “has stayed out of a lot of people’s way.”
  141. On Tuesday, Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, a safety expert, said in an op-ed, “Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged,” saying the Boeing 737 Max controversy is “unprecedented” and an “ugly saga.”
  142. On Tuesday, Trump named Stephen Dickson, a former executive of Delta Air Lines, as the permanent headof the Federal Aviation Administration. The position had been filled by an acting director for 14 months.
  143. Bloomberg reported Trump offered former campaign adviser Stephen Moore a position on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Moore would still need to complete a clearance process before the nomination.
  144. Bloomberg also noted the appointment appeared to be political meddling in the Central Bank. Moore has publicly criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and cheered the effects of Trump’s tax cuts.
  145. In his interview with Maria Bartiromo, Trump had blamed the Fed for 3.1% growth, saying, “If we didn’t have somebody that would raise interest rates and do quantitative tightening, we would have been at over 4.”
  146. On Friday, the Treasury Department said in its monthly budget report that the U.S. budget deficit for February was $234 billion, the largest ever in U.S. history. Corporate revenue was down 20% due to Trump’s tax cut.
  147. On Friday, Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it had failed to protect sensitive personal data of 2.3 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the 2017 California wildfires.
  148. An analysis by WAPO found money being taken away from the Pentagon to pay for Trump’s wall would particularly hit construction projects in Puerto Rico and a program helping European allies deter Russia.
  149. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled the Interior Department violated federal law, saying it “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when it auctioned off federal land in Wyoming for oil and gas drilling.
  150. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on about 300,000 acres of land in Wyoming. The ruling could signal trouble for the regime’s efforts to boost fossil fuel production by auctioning off federal land for drilling.
  151. On Saturday, Politico reported on a leaked recording of oil executives at a private meeting at a beachside RitzCarlton in Southern California laughing about their access to the Trump regime.
  152. The influential industry group, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, celebrated that their lawyer David Bernhardt, was appointed by Trump to the powerful number two spot at the Interior Department.
  153. On Thursday, in a tweet, Trump said “after 52 years” the U.S. will “recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” a huge policy shift thought to help Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election.
  154. Countries around the world, including France, Germany, Russia, and Egypt criticized Trump’s announcement on the Golan Heights, saying it was a violation of international law and could further destabilize the region.
  155. On Thursday, the Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies, saying they have helped North Korea evade international sanctions — the first sanctions imposed since late last year.
  156. On Friday, Trump reversed the Treasury Department in a tweet, citing the “additional large scale Sanctions” imposed yesterday, and saying, “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”
  157. The shift caught the regime by surprise. In explaining Trump’s rationale, press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
  158. On Friday, all of Washington awaited the Mueller report as rumors swirled that it would be released. Giuliani told a reporter that morning, “They said it was going to be at noon or 12:30.”
  159. NYT reported starting in the morning, reporters and photographers congregated at the office building where the special counsel has its offices, including cameras waiting in the garage for Mueller and others’ cars.
  160. The Trump campaign sent out a text, saying, “President Trump has put up with the WITCH HUNT for two years.” Trump also brought Emmet Flood, his lawyer in the special counsel investigation, along to Mar-a-Lago.
  161. On Friday late afternoon, Mueller submitted a confidential report to AG Barr, ending his 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
  162. Around 4:35 pm, Emmet Flood was notified that the DOJ had received the report. Roughly half an hour later, Barr sent a letter to the relevant House and Senate committees, as well as senior congressional leaders.
  163. Barr wrote in the letter to the Chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, “I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
  164. Barr said he would consult with Mueller and Rosenstein, “to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public.”
  165. Barr also said he remained “committed to as much transparency as possible,” and that neither he nor any of his predecessors had challenged any actions Mueller took during his probe.
  166. The DOJ said Mueller has not recommended any further indictments. It was unclear if Mueller found Trumpcommitted a crime, but did not charge him due to DOJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
  167. On Friday, Democrats signaled they were ready to fight for the public release of Mueller’s complete findingson social media, on air and in statements, concerned that Barr may hold parts back to protect Trump.
  168. Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer said in a statement the Mueller “investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself,” adding, “the American people have a right to the truth.”
  169. The Democratic chairs of the six House committees said a joint statement: “Anything less than full transparency would raise serious questions” of whether DOJ policy “is being used as a pretext for a coverup of misconduct.”
  170. Leader McConnell said in a statement he welcomes the report, saying “Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests,” and hoped for “openness and transparency.”
  171. Watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center sued for the full release of the Mueller report, saying, “The public has a right to know the full scope of Russian interference “ and whether Trump played any role.
  172. Late Friday, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos tweeted: “Time to hit back!” and Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted he was looking forward to the report and, “This distraction is finally over.”
  173. Jerome Corsi told CNN that he and Stone “feel vindicated.” Corsi also said “I went in there to cooperate with them. They treated me as a criminal,” adding ,“I consider this entire investigation to be fraudulent.”
  174. On Friday, at Mar-a-Lago, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Trey Gowdy, who chaired the House Oversight Committee during the Benghazi hearings, joined Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
  175. Hours after the Mueller report was released, Graham spoke at a Mar-a-Lago dinner, joking about Trump opening a hotel in Jerusalem and asked the crowd whether they would like to see Gowdy on the Supreme Court.
  176. Graham called for an investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Steele dossier, to which the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!” Graham responded, “Don’t lock her up! We want her to run again.”
  177. Graham was the keynote for the annual fundraiser for the Palm Beach Republicans. Asked why Graham did not defend his best friend McCain to the audience, a spokesperson said he spoke about it earlier in the week.
  178. Trump spoke briefly, saying “If Lindsey’s speaking, I want to come down here for two reasons. No. 1: he’s a great speaker. And No. 2, I know if I’m here, he’s not going to say anything bad about me.”
  179. WAPO reported public perception of Mueller’s job performance was 58% approve, 28% disapprove (+30) six months in at November 1, 2018, but dropped on February 10, 2019 to 51% approve, 34% disapprove (+17).
  180. The drop was driven by largely by Republicans whose approval fell from 38% to 21% over that period. Independents dropped slightly from 56% to 52% and Democrats from 78% to 77%.
  181. On Saturday, Trump went to Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach for his 175th round of golf in his 653 days in office. Trump has not tweeted since the Mueller report was released.
  182. On Saturday, DOJ official announced AG Barr is not sending the “principal conclusions” of Mueller’s report to lawmakers today, but is still expected to do so this weekend.
  183. Beyond the Mueller probe, Trump faces numerous other legal woes, including investigations of hush money payments, his inaugural committee, Congressional inquiries, New York state investigations, a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, and the emoluments clause lawsuit.

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.”