MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Trump has decided to hire the longtime Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova, who has pushed the theory on television that Mr. Trump was framed by F.B.I. and Justice Department officials, to bolster his legal team, according to three people told of the decision.
As seen on TV…. of course.
Mr. diGenova is not expected to take a lead role but will instead serve as a more aggressive player on the president’s legal team. Mr. Trump broke over the weekend from the longstanding advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly attacking the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation.
I wonder what role he will take. He certainly will butt heads with other counsel, making Trump’s round table of legal counsel as chaotic as his White House.
The hire has not been announced, and Mr. Trump frequently changes his mind and sometimes adjusts his plans based on media coverage. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump planned to hire other lawyers.
Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”
That’s an easy thing to say, but there clearly was a crime. The Russian hacked. The Russian manipulated social media. Those things happened, unless of course, you want to bring in the CIA and military intelligence into the conspiracy. I’ll be the first to say that Trump personally may not have known or colluded with the crime, but let’s not say that there is merely a “falsely created crime” to begin with.
Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.
Mr. diGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Ms. Toensing has also represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign co-chairman, and Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor Blackwater and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump. Mr. Prince attended a meeting in January 2017 with a Russian investor in the Seychelles that the special counsel is investigating.
This could be a conflict of interest.
Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing have spent decades pushing smears of Democrats in the press. They played a key role in pushing debunked claims that the Obama administration was threatening Benghazi “whistleblowers.” So, their addition to the team means this is another made-for-TV reality show.
WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known time that the special counsel demanded documents directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.
The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mr. Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that oversees Mr. Trump’s business ventures. In the subpoena, delivered in recent weeks, Mr. Mueller ordered the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating, the people said.
The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months. Word of the subpoena comes as Mr. Mueller appears to be broadening his investigation to examine the role foreign money may have played in funding Mr. Trump’s political activities. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned witnesses, including an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, about the flow of Emirati money into the United States.
Neither White House officials nor Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer representing the Trump Organization, immediately responded to requests for comment. The Trump Organization has typically complied with requests from congressional investigators for documents for their own inquiries into Russian election interference, and there was no indication the company planned to fight Mr. Mueller about it.
Much more at the link, but the real outstanding question is why use the subpoena rather than the normal investigator to corporate legal counsel request letter or letters. The reason for the Special Counsel’s decision to go this route is unclear and/or unknown at this time.
UPDATE: This might be the answer…
Senior congressional source says that Mueller beginning with a subpoena, rather than typical document request, suggests special counsel intends to put every Trump Org staffer on alert not to destroy evidence.
Another big consideration: In July Trump told NYT that Mueller would be “crossing a red line” if he investigated his family’s finances, which he argues is outside of the scope of Russia-related matters. This subpoena crosses that line. It is the first known demand for Trump’s business records.
Two people familiar with the subpoena told NYT that Mueller is requesting some documents related to Russia from the Trump Organization, though the organization maintains that they have never had real estate in Russia.
But in 2015 Felix Sater, one of Trump’s longtime business associates, sent an email to Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, bragging about his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also encouraged Trump to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, saying it would help him win the election. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in the email, according to NYT. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
NYT notes that Trump signed off on a “letter of intent” for the Trump Tower project in Moscow in 2015 (though it was nonbinding) and he later discussed it with Cohen three times.
Witnesses recently interviewed by Mueller’s team have been asked about this real estate deal, per NYT.
Will Mueller get fired for crossing the line? One way to get a sense of the White House reaction to this revelation is to turn on Fox News.
Immediately after the report, Fox News turned to its chief intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge. Herridge revealed she had already spoken to Trump’s lawyers about the the New York Times report. She then articulated a harsh criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Herridge noted that it has already been reported that Mueller has been investigating whether the United Arab Emirates tried to financially influence the Trump campaign. This, Herridge claimed, meant that Mueller had already exceeded the authority granted to him by the Justice Department.
She then set her sights on Rod Rosenstein. “Every time Mr. Mueller goes beyond that mandate,” Herridge said, “it’s not like he’s a rogue actor. He has to get the permission of the deputy attorney general. What we know is that he’s had Rod Rosenstein’s permission to go beyond that original mandate…”
Herridge suggested the subpoenas could indicate another expansion of the investigation approved by Rosenstein.
Another consideration — this subpoena was served WEEKS AGO, so Trump has known about it for a while
Reading the piece carefully, the subpoena was issued sometime within the past few weeks.
So the subpoena itself was likely responsible for the rumor activity with regard to DoJ firings.
And possibly even prompted more aspects of recent WH induced chaos and destabilization.
Many reports the man is acting alone and had body armor.
Other reports are saying 3 hostages.
Reported gunman at #Yountville Veterans Home reportedly is 36-year-old man discharged from on-campus Pathway Home two weeks ago.
#Napa authorities say the shooter is known to local law enforcement. He is believed to be holed up in one building on the veterans home complex with as many as 3 hostages. #Yountville#activeshooter@24_7_News.
The man who killed three hostages at a Northern California veterans’ home suffered from bipolar disorder, various physical ailments and anger issues, sources said.
Authorities said that Albert Wong, a 36-year-old Army veteran, used to be a resident of the Pathway Home, the Yountville facility where he engaged police in a standoff Friday. The Pathway Home, which operates out of the Veterans Home of California, is a nonprofit that helps post-9/11 military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, including by counseling clients with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ordeal ended when police stormed the building and found Wong and three of the facility’s employees — Jennifer Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Jennifer Gonzales, 32 — dead.
Wong had been kicked out of the program after he threatened one of the women, a law enforcement source told CNN.
“Whatever happened out there, he didn’t say he was going to shoot anybody,” Wong’s brother, Tyrone Lampkin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “He said he wanted to get back at them, talk to them, yell at them, not to kill them. He didn’t mention that.”
Lampkin, who told CNN Wong was his adoptive brother, said they hadn’t seen each other since 2010 but communicated via text.
Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2011 to March 2012, the records show.
Lampkin told CNN Wong seemed OK after his stint in the military.
“He talked to us about it, showed us pictures on Facebook, seemed happy, like nothing was wrong,” said Lampkin, who lives in Minneapolis.
But Wong was dogged by leg and back injuries and struggled with bipolar disorder, Lampkin said. He needed medication for his condition, Lampkin said, but complained that it was ineffective and would go off the drugs because he didn’t think they were helping.
The White House didn’t make the announcement. It was made by the South Korean envoys on the White House driveway (this Administration really can’t do PR right). But everyone agrees (for a change) on one thing — it is potentially historic:
WASHINGTON — North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has invited President Trump to meet for negotiations over its nuclear program, an audacious diplomatic overture that would bring together two strong-willed, idiosyncratic leaders who have traded threats of war.
The White House said that Mr. Trump had accepted the invitation, and Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean official who conveyed it, told reporters that the president would meet with Mr. Kim within two months.
“He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Mr. Chung said at the White House on Thursday evening after meeting the president. Mr. Trump, he said, agreed to “meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
The president expressed his optimism about the meeting in a post on Twitter, saying that Mr. Kim had “talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze.”
“Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time,” Mr. Trump added. “Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
Most see this as a breathtaking gamble. No sitting American president has ever met a North Korean leader, and Mr. Trump himself has repeatedly vowed that he would not commit the error of his predecessors by being drawn into a protracted negotiation in which North Korea extracted concessions from the United States but held on to key elements of its nuclear program.
The highest-level American official to meet with a North Korean leader was Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who visited Pyongyang in 2000, near the end of the Clinton administration. Dr. Albright had planned to arrange a visit by President Bill Clinton.
But it fell apart when Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, would not agree to a missile deal in advance; he wanted to negotiate it face-to-face with the president. Mr. Clinton decided not to take the risk, skipped the trip, and used his last weeks in office to make a race for Middle East peace instead.
The immediate response falls to how much faith you have in Trump to not cause an international incident.
Those who see Trump as some kind of messiah are dancing around and praising Trump for bringing world peace.
But the rest of us are considering Trump’s long, detailed history of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and completely offending somebody, in the process. He is uninformed and we don’t have a diplomatic corps to bring him up to speed. Seriously though — who would be advising Trump? Our ambassador to South Korea just resigned. Tillerson is persona non grata (he was out of the loop on the whole thing yesterday), McMaster is on his way out, and Jared doesn’t have clearance OR expertise. Although, Trump eschews experts anyway, so perhaps it matters little. And that’s what makes many nervous.
Aaron David Miller, a senior analyst at the Wilson Center, has advised a number of Republican and Democratic secretaries of state.
Miller told VOA he believes if this recent offer of direct talks does represent a transformative change in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s position, then it is too valuable an opportunity to waste, and the U.S. should test it — first through discreet dialogue before any structured negotiations take place.
Asked who in the Trump administration could prepare and conduct sensitive, complicated and grueling direct talks with North Korea, Miller drew a blank.
“Right now, it is hard to identify any single individual or team of individuals that has both the negotiating experience and knowledge of the history, the cultural and political sensitivity, and knowledge of how the North Koreans behave and how they see the world,” he said.
He added: “In this republic, you might have to reach for people who have had experience and who are part of another administration. This administration may not be willing to do that.”
Miller said if this offer of talks becomes serious, it would mean months, if not years, of negotiations. He said the president has created some “running room” for diplomacy, and that all sides are in a better position than they were before.
Perhaps, but the mere agreement to meet with Kim is a diplomatic failure, in my view. Most presidents would refuse to make a deal with North Korea while it holds three American prisoners. President Trump has handed the North Koreans that greatest propaganda coup in their history by elevating their status. Trump is giving Kim Jong-Un exactly what North Korea has always wanted—a meeting as equals with few or no preconditions. Following on the heels of North Korea being feted at the Winter Olympics, complete with round-the-world broadcasts of Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong looming above Mike Pence, Trump’s agreement completes not just the normalization of North Korea, but the elevation of the rogue state to major player on the world stage.
And what exactly will happen when they meet?
The president’s deal-making skills, one of his aides said on Thursday, could produce an outcome different from previous rounds of diplomacy, which have always ended in failure and disappointment.
Most of the president’s business deals have also ended up in failure. So has his presidential attempts at negotiation (how’s that gun control bill coming?) He gets very easily rolled, as we have seen many times.
What is odd is that we have two people who deal BADLY. In Trump we have a guy that makes an agreement on DACA or guns and then backs away from it within hours. Kim knows this. And Kim’s word isn’t any more reliable. He really has no incentive to give up his nukes and every reason to keep producing them. After all, he has gotten Trump’s attention by having them.
In the end, we may get some prisoners, but any serious talks would take months to negotiate, and Trump/Kim are not going to do that. Even if they agree on broad outlines, they negotiations are likely to break down when it comes to working out the deets. In the end, it will just be one big PR thing, which works to the benefit of Kim more than Trump. Suzanne DiMaggio, who has been leading unofficial talks between the United States and North Korea, agrees:
Let’s hope “more spectacle than substance” is the worst possible outcome.
Before thinking about all the ways this summit could go wrong, the president’s critics owe it to him to try and consider the few ways it could go right. At the least, this decision forestalls war for the moment. Another day of peace on the Korean peninsula is a worthy goal and a far better approach than the childish taunts that have characterized the president’s approach so far.
Denuclearization is almost certain to fall off the table quickly, but one positive outcome would be if North Korea tries a bait-and-switch, in which they backtrack from denuclearization but agree to halt, indefinitely, all testing and production of an ICBM in exchange for sanctions relief. If the president manages even this much, his gamble might pay off, at least for a while.
Most likely, however, is that the White House is about to walk right into a trap the North Koreans have been laying for American presidents since the 1990s. A one-on-one summit between a U.S. president and one of the world’s weirdest and most irresponsible leaders would be a huge reward for a regime that has long chided other rogues and dictators for their weakness in dealing with the United States. (When Moammar Gadhafi of Libya was torn to pieces by his own people after NATO weakened his army, Kim taunted the world by noting that Gadhafi should have kept his nuclear program.)
Such a meeting would legitimize not only Kim’s regime, but his methods. No matter how the White House spins it, the North Koreans will claim a huge victory in getting Trump to bend to their will.
This isn’t to say that direct meetings are not a good idea. Sanctions are biting deeply in North Korea, and China is clearly fed up with its bizarre ally. But a summit should be a reward for months, even years, of careful work and actual progress. Meetings at lower levels should progress to more senior principals, and then to the heads of state.
Instead, we have yet another decision, much like the recent and incoherent announcement of tariffs, that looks like sheer impulse from a commander-in-chief who seems frustrated that his advisers keep telling him that nuclear diplomacy is more complicated than running a hotel or a golf course.
Worse yet, the short fuse for a meeting in May — and why the hurry?— means that this will be a summit without an agenda and with no time to devise one, which always increases the chances of a diplomatic train wreck. There is no evidence that this move was given any kind of serious analysis by military or diplomatic advisers. The Pentagon seems to be in the dark, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear just hours before the announcement that no such meeting was even on the horizon.
Given North Korea’s track record, here is what is more likely to happen. Kim and Trump will meet, and Kim’s regime will reap hours of footage of an American president shaking the hand of the Supreme Leader that will run forever in North Korea and go viral around the world. Kim will play the gracious host, and agree to everything, knowing that this kind of flattery will trigger a torrent of praise from Trump and perhaps even elicit reckless talk about lifting sanctions. (The North Koreans will surely have done their homework on the president’s psyche, which is on display all day, every day, on social media.)
After the summit, Pyongyang will then dig in on further talks. When those talks fail, Kim will blame Trump, leaving the president bewildered and angry. Trump will go back to his insulting ways, which will pave the way for Kim to exit any preliminary agreements. The whole business will fall apart, and North Korea will look like the sure winner: the co-equal of a United States president who has been humbled in front of America’s allies and embarrassed in front of its enemies. The unveiling of a functional, nuclear-armed North Korean ICBM will follow.
I hope I’m wrong. Talking to the North Koreans is certainly a far better idea than war. Trump and Kim could surprise us all and begin the process of removing nuclear weapons from North Korea. But it’s far too early to think about any calls to Oslo just yet.
This just happened and I didn’t see it, so I’m pulling it together. Apparently Katy Tur of MSNBC was talking to Sam Nunberg, former campaign adviser to Trump. Nunberg just got a subpoena from Mueller. Nunberg lost it. Here’s some video released by MSNBC:
Watch: Ex-Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg says he’s refusing comply with Mueller subpoena:
“I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to come into a grand jury for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor. Roger is like family.” pic.twitter.com/jUtBCPNiDe
PLEASE listen to Sam Nunberg spontaneously go on @MSNBC to *lose his mind* over being subpoenaed by Mueller. He says
1) Trump was going to ENDORSE Hillary if not nominated
2) He believes Trump “did something” illegal during election
3) Mueller is asking about Trump Tower Moscow https://t.co/YEpDwy7p54
Sam Nunberg was unhinged. More so than Carter Page usually is. Said last week investigation was legit, and now, that he and Bannon believe Trump colluded with Russia, but hey “I don’t want to read a bunch of my emails to key players, so I’m not going to cooperate.” https://t.co/Acm0KpxXB6
Of the gazillion things that interest me abt this is that when Nunberg keeps saying he won’t turn over emails he KEEPS TALKING ABOUT BANNON. But he left the campaign maybe a year before Bannon joined the campaign. What’s up with that?
Sam Nunberg to CNN on Mueller looking at Miss Universe pageant: “I never spoke to the president directly about it. I was told that if you asked him he would lie and tell you Putin was there. I was told that that idiot Emin had offered to send women up to Trump’s room.”
Of course, Trump himself seems to be feeling pressure today (response is by the normally soft-spoken former CIA Director John Brennan (2013-2017)
This tweet is a great example of your paranoia, constant misrepresentation of the facts, and increased anxiety and panic (rightly so) about the Mueller investigation. When will those in Congress and the 30 percent of Americans who still support you realize you are a charlatan?
Man, this is when your white shoe law firm needs to mobilize its elite tactical assault unit, break into your house or safe house as the case may be, tackle you, take away your cell phone and stick a sock in your mouth.
MSNBC dubbed it “a historic interview.” CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “a wild edition of ‘The Lead.'” Drudge’s banner headline, with a cable screengrab: “cRaZy!”
Here’s what it was: A sad, epic meltdown — a troubled Trump flunky, pecked at and picked apart like roadkill on the Russia Interstate, in his last gasps of public fame and shame.
Sam Nunberg, an early Trump campaign aide who was fired in 2015 but has remained a vocal alumnus, melted down cable interview by cable interview yesterday as he declared his refusal (later retracted) to comply with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Finally, CNN’s Erin Burnett said during an on-set interview with Nunberg: “Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath. … I know it’s awkward.”
Nunberg replied he hadn’t consumed anything “besides my meds — antidepressants. Is that OK?”‘
In a cry for help, Nunberg kept trying to top himself, giving longer and longer interviews (including a call-in to cable’s NY1 in New York!).
Nunberg provided the subpoenaanonymously to Jonathan Swan over the weekend, then gave it on the record to the N.Y. Times’ Maggie Haberman, then waved the wrinkled subpoena on-air with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, with a close-up shown on air.
And he contradicted every piece of news he made, telling AP last night: “I’m going to end up cooperating with them.”
That’s right. At the end of the day, he decided he should cooperate. I thought the Melber interview was by far the best.
So what was it about? Attention? Was he drunk? Having a manic attack? Who knows. But I think this from the Atlantic might explain it:
It was just after 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, and the suddenly-famous Sam Nunberg had phoned me from Dorrian’s Red Hand Restaurant, a yuppie hangout on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he was reveling in his triumph.
After announcing earlier that day his intention to defy a grand-jury subpoena he says he received in the Russia investigation (“Arrest me,” he’d dared prosecutors), the former Trump aide had spent the day conducting a manic media blitz—popping up on multiple cable-news programs, granting interviews to dozens of journalists, and hijacking the news cycle with a car-crash procession of blustery soundbites. Legal experts were warning that his failure to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could put him in serious legal jeopardy—but at this moment, it seemed, Nunberg was in a celebratory mood.
I won’t venture a guess as to which theory best explains his actions. But as anyone who’s known Nunberg for a while can attest, his behavior Monday doesn’t necessarily require special explanation. He’s been pulling stunts like this for years—this is just the first time he’s gotten the kind of audience he’s always craved.
I first met Nunberg in person in 2014, when he arranged for me to interview his boss, Donald Trump, on a flight from New Hampshire to New York. Thanks to an unexpected blizzard that effectively shut down LaGuardia Airport, we ended up flying to Palm Beach instead, where I spent 36 hours marooned at Mar-a-Lago with Trump as my host and Nunberg as my sidekick.
At the time, what most struck me about Nunberg was the way he seemed to mimic Trump’s speaking cadences (“fantastic,” “huge,” “loser”) and sartorial aesthetic (wide lapels, shiny ties, thick knots). But, as I would later learn, his true mentor was actually Roger Stone.
As Nunberg told it, he was sitting in a law-school class one day when someone emailed him a Weekly Standard profile of the notorious Republican operative. Stone was described in the piece as a “Nixon-era dirty trickster” and “professional lord of mischief,” and he was quoted talking about politics as “performance art … sometimes for its own sake.”
Nunberg was enthralled by the mythology surrounding Stone, and seemed determined to develop a similar reputation for himself. Soon enough, he was studying under the dark-arts master, and experimenting with his own low-stakes “dirty tricks.” The maxims of amorality espoused by his mentor—canonized as “Stone’s Rules”—included, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack,” and, “Nothing is on the level.”
We only spoke for about 20 minutes Monday night—he said he was with his father, “who’s about to kill me,” and his lawyer—but as our conversation wound down, I tried to get Nunberg to grapple more seriously with the potential repercussions of his actions. I noted that Susan McDougal had spent 18 months in jail on contempt charges in the 1990s for failing to answer questions before a grand jury during Kenneth Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton.
“Have you thought this through?” I pressed him. “Are you actually willing to go to jail over this?”
“I’ve thought it through, and I don’t think Mueller’s willing to send me to jail,” he said. “If Mueller sends me to jail, I will laugh and I’ll be out within two days.”
How would you pull that off? I asked.
“Because I’ll give him my fucking emails!”
Some other, less Stone-ian political operative might have hesitated to admit that he’d just single-handedly dominated American political news for a day by issuing an empty threat he had no intention of following through with—but not Nunberg. He simply went on about the next stages of the stunt, musing about how he might be willing to spend a day or two in jail before handing over his emails just to “show that this whole thing is a joke and Mueller’s an asshole.”
Still, he doubted it would come to that. “They don’t know what to do,” he said, proudly. “Nobody’s done a spectacle like this before.”
I’m not sure anything Nunberg has done will show that Mueller is the asshole here
It is the first day of March 2018. I wrote a lot of posts yesterday, and I didn’t even it HALF of the things going on. The breaking news that would be major scandals in any other White House. It was insane.
Here’s what happened JUST YESTERDAY:
Hope Hicks — without question, the aide (family aside) with whom Trump is closest — resigned one day after she admitted in closed-door Hill testimony that she told white lies for the president.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down on Jared Kushner, stripping his top security clearance, and watching anonymous aides leak about and trash him, while offering no public defense of the president’s son-in-law.
Jared, Ivanka and Don Jr. let it be known to friends they are furious with Kelly and his allies.
Jared loses his internal P.R. guru, Josh Raffel, when he needs him most.
Economic adviser Gary Cohn is at war with trade policy adviser Peter Navarro.
Trump is at war with Attorney General Sessions. … N.Y. Times lead story: “Trump Tears Into Sessions Over Russia Investigation.” … WashPost: “Behind the scenes, Trump has derisively referred to Sessions as ‘Mr. Magoo,’ a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling.”
Intelligence chiefs use every chance possible to contradict the commander-in-chief on Russia.
What did I get? Hope Hicks for one.
Oh, and a follow-up to Hope Hicks? Buzzfeedis reporting that many staffers in the White House are looking for the exits.
I also got Trump’s war with Jeff Sessions. (Oh, an update on that. Sessions went to dinner in a very public place with his Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the one who has the power to fire Mueller. The photo of them eating was on social media very quickly, and widely seen as a FUCK YOU from Sessions to the President).
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been investigating a period of time last summer when President Trump seemed determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job, according to people familiar with the matter who said that a key area of interest for the inquiry is whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.
In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in detail about Trump’s private comments and state of mind in late July and early August of last year, around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his “beleaguered” attorney general, these people said. The thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president’s goal was to oust Sessions in order to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during the 2016 election, these people said.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.
Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.
The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.
…In one line of questioning, investigators have focused on Trump’s public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted by his then-opponent Hillary Clinton from a private server she maintained while secretary of state. The comments came at a news conference on July 27, 2016, just days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.
“Two major loans to the Kushner Companies for real estate projects came after Jared Kushner, a senior adviser in the Trump administration, met with officials from those financial institutions at the White House… [Kushner] met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, several times at the White House early last year… In November, Apollo lent the Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance a mortgage on a building in Chicago, per the New York Times. …Kushner met with Michael Corbat, chief executive at Citigroup, in the spring of 2017 at the White House… After that meeting, Citigroup lent Kushner Companies $325 million to finance buildings in Brooklyn, the Times reported.”
Senior White House aides are furious about a series of negative stories about frivolous spending at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and have taken a more hands-on role in trying to stem the tide of negative news, sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN.
The former staffer, Helen Foster, said she was told to “find money” beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating. In one instance, she says a supervisor said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”
HUD also spent $31,000 last year to replace a dining room set in Carson’s office, according to federal records and a whistleblower. A department official said that the dining set in the secretary’s dining room at HUD headquarters was replaced because it was in a state of disrepair.
The sources told CNN that the stories infuriated top White House aides, who have had to deal with a sting of stories about questionable behavior and spending by Cabinet secretaries.
Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said Wednesday that she was resigning.
Ms. Hicks, 29, a former model who joined Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign without any experience in politics, became known as one of the few aides who understood his personality and style and could challenge the president to change his views.
Ms. Hicks had been considering leaving for several months. She told colleagues that she had accomplished what she felt she could with a job that made her one of the most powerful people in Washington, and that there would never be a perfect moment to leave, according to White House aides.
Her resignation came a day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee, telling the panel that in her job, she had occasionally been required to tell white lies but had never lied about anything connected to the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
She did not say what her next job would be, and her departure date was unclear, but it is likely to be in the next few weeks.
Yeah, this sounds like something she would have written herself. While she “could have left at any time” and “there would never be a perfect moment to leave”, probably the WORST time to leave from an optics standpoint is the day after she testified, invoked executive privilege a lot (actually, not even THAT), and revealed how she had to tell white lies to her boss, the President.
I’m sure there is more to the story. I suspect this move is not of her own volition. I don’t think it is because of her testimony, but rather, because she may be in over her head. Hard to believe that a 29-year-old former model might find herself over her head in this line of work, but yup, she probably is.
Hope Hicks departure is NOT about yesterday’s hearing, per multiple sources. She had planned it before, had been thinking about it for months. She had informed a very small number of people prior to Hill hearing that she planned to leave.
It really doesn’t make sense. She’s only been White House Communication Director for 5-6 months, so how can she “have been considering leaving for several months”?
Here’s her rise to fame:
This is no small thing. Throughout his career, Trump likes to have someone to talk to, to bounce ideas off. That has always been a pretty woman (because… Trump). In the White House, that was Hope Hicks. She was a steady influence throughout the campaign and in the first year. You remember that listening session of the victims of mass gun shootings that Trump had in the White House… and those notes telling him how to be empathetic?
That is the handwriting of Hope Hicks.
She was unhappy though. Didn’t like Washington. And last week, her boyfriend Rob Porter, the White House Staff Secretary, was fired because of wife-beating allegations.
Then came her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee where she admitted that she had told “white lies” to the press. Well, what else could she say? She was under oath. But reportedly, Trump reamed her out (“How could you be so stupid?!?) and that was the last straw.
But besides being out of the public for the most part (until now), Hicks has some legal problems — mostly relating the incident about Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russians. She reportedly said “those emails will never get out”, talking about the emails between Don Jr and those setting up the meeting. And as Trump’s confidante, she probably knows a LOT about a LOT of things.
Some people feel bad for Hicks, a nice pretty girl in way over her head. Others, like this guy in the New Yorker, don’t agree:
Hicks, however, is kidding herself if she thinks that her tenure will be judged only for harmless, situational untruths. The white lie is a phrase that goes back to the sixteenth century, at least. “Shakespeare’s World,” a collaboration between the Oxford English Dictionary and the Folger Shakespeare Library, reports that, in 1567, one Ralph Adderly wrote of his brother-in-law, “I do assure you he is unsuspected of any untruth or other notable crime (except a white lie) which is taken for a Small fault in these parts.”
The President’s daily communications are a tangle of falsehoods, defamations, and tall tales, and Hicks was his facilitator, his defender, his explainer. That line of work goes far beyond the scope of “white lies.” Sissela Bok, in “Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life,” writes that white lies are “the most common and the most trivial forms that duplicity can take.” They are lies “not meant to injure anyone.”
The Administration’s penchant for deception is injurious in many ways, not least because it devalues truth as a value in public discourse. Like Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Hicks, even in her camera- and microphone-shy way, spent years being loyal to Trump and his mendacities. She was always prepared to do his bidding, including when there was an ugliness to the bidding: She pushed back hard against the Pope when he dared to criticize the President’s hopes to wall off Mexico. She cast her lot with him and stayed with him as the injuries he inflicted multiplied. A well-reported Politico profile of Hicks portrayed her loyalty as eerily absolute: “Colleagues described Hicks as someone who communicates with Trump in a similar way to his daughter Ivanka––she can express her disagreements to the president privately, but ultimately supports his decisions unquestioningly.”
I don’t know. Power is seductive. You might overlook dysfunction to be near it. I can see the appeal. Glad she is getting out.
There is no one that can fill the void Hope Hicks will leave behind. She is in a league of her own and no one can replace her. Far and away one of the most talented and skilled people I’ve ever met and coming to work won’t be the same without her.
Asked about the tweet that the FBI would have got the killer if it hadn’t been focusing on “collusion”
“He was speaking not necessarily that that is the cause,” Sarah Sanders says of the president’s tweet saying the FBI missed the tip because it was too focused on Russia. “…He is making the point we would like our FBI agencies to not be focusing on something that is a hoax.”
Unless I misheard @PressSec had a chance to reject assault weapons ban just now and didn’t. You can’t take WH podium statements on policy seriously but, again, that’s a sign that Republicans are feeling political pressure.
The White House said Tuesday there was “an incident” last week which will be revealed in the coming days that will show how President Donald Trump is “tough on Russia.” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the comment at the daily briefing, but offered no more details. Trump has suggested on Twitter that President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t do enough to counter meddling in the 2016 election, and called himself “much tougher on Russia than Obama.”
I must have missed that. In any event, if we don’t know about it, it probably isn’t that big.
3:15 pm ET – Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Broward County Sheriff Office saying 20-50 hurt. Students and teachers told to barricade although some are evacuated. SWAT team present. Shooter(s) unknown and at large.
3:25 pm — Reports are that the police know who the shooter is, but not saying anything until confirmed. He is a student.
Another student on television said he had a rifle — knew him — said he was weird.
Today, close to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s dismissal, students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire. The school immediately went on lockdown but is now dismissing students. We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries. Law enforcement is on site.
4:10 pm — Ah, this explains it. The suspect in custody was apparently on a Youtube conversation about bombs last night (amazing how fast they got this info) so there is no all-clear because they need to check school for bombs.
4:15 pm — This happened toward the end of school. Many students did not have a last period class. There was a fire drill earlier in the day, which made the second one seem odd. There was a Broward County police officer on duty in the school when it happened. Press gets confirmation that suspect is in custody. Motive unknown.
Superintendent of schools say that there are “numerous fatalities” at the Stoneman Douglas High School.
5:00 pm — Apparently deranged, but teachers and the school knew of him as being a possible threat. He was told never to appear on campus with a backpack. Miami Herald is the first news outlet to confirm his name as Nikolas De Jesus Cruz, aged 19.
This is his high school picture.
7:00 pm — Death toll: 17. Three were killed outside the school.
Another 17 injured; 3 in critical condition
In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1–35 days.
“A child of God is dead. Can not we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this?” Former CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd breaks down into tears following the shooting at a Florida high school https://t.co/y6GqatInijpic.twitter.com/FuuB5gQsOs
Suspect used AR-15, and had multiple magazines. He pulled the fire alarm to make it easy to shoot students. He slipped out with the other evacuating students. He was expelled last year. Gun nut.
Sen. Chris Murphy speaks about Florida school shooting on the Senate floor: "We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else." pic.twitter.com/VLG6tLr284
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Donald Trump’s help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump’s support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.
But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel’s Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was “on my team.”
The episode is the latest to come to light portraying a President whose inquiries sometimes cross a line that presidents traditionally have tried to avoid when dealing with the Justice Department, for which a measure of independence is key. The exchange could raise further questions about whether Trump was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia and obstruction of justice by the White House.
At the December meeting, the deputy attorney general appeared surprised by the President’s questions, the sources said. He demurred on the direction of the Russia investigation, which Rosenstein has ultimate authority over now that his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself. And he responded awkwardly to the President’s “team” request, the sources said.
“Of course, we’re all on your team, Mr. President,” Rosenstein told Trump, the sources said. It is not clear what Trump meant or how Rosenstein interpreted the comment.
The Justice Department declined to comment for this story. The White House did not comment.
I’m guessing they are talking about December 2017.
This president does not learn his lesson about loyalty when it comes to law enforcement.
The article goes on to say that Trump gave members of Congress suggested questions they could ask Rosenstein to try to undermine the reputation of the Mueller probe. He SPECIFICALLY suggested GOP pursue accusation that Rosenstein appointed Mueller as payback against Trump. He EXPLICITLY was attempting to undermine Mueller’s investigation of Russian hacking… via coordination with House GOP.
Ok then. Let’s recap:
President Trump to FBI director Jim Comey (Jan 2017): “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
President Trump to acting FBI director Andy McCabe (May 2017): Who did you vote for?
President Trump to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (Dec 2017): Are you “on my team?”
Sarah Sanders likes to repeat how the White House is cooperating with the Mueller investigation. This does not seem to be the case.
Trump’s top public health official resigned from her post just now after mounting questions about financial conflicts of interest, the Department of Health and Human Services announced.
The resignation comes one day after POLITICO reported that Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bought shares in a tobacco, drug and food companies one month into the job.
But it is sex and it is easy to understand, so maybe this one will have legs. Stephanie Clifford has privately alleged that a sexual encounter took place with Trump after they met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Mr. Trump married Melania Trump in 2005, and Barron Trump was born in March 2006. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged payment to the former porn star, Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated an NDA to conceal alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
White House response: “These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.” https://t.co/Lq6sfKzIga
President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday.
The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and then prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.
A White House spokesman declined to offer an immediate comment on Trump’s remarks.
An Amtrak passenger train derailed and at least one passenger car is dangling on to Interstate 5 in Pierce County, Washington, according to the Washington state Department of Transportation. One train car was beneath the bridge sitting parallel to the roadway, an eyewitness said. Another train car was dangling from a rail bridge that crosses I-5 horizontally.
Amtrak tweeted that it was train No. 501 in its inaugural run, which left Seattle for Portland at 6 a.m., that derailed. According to WSDOT, the train was running down a new bypass created to avoid slow curves and “single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway main line tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound.” This was a new route but it wasn’t new track. It made use of an existing track, which locals said could not sustain high speed.
Fatalities have been reported.
UPDATE: At least 78 passengers and 5 crew members were on the train at the time of the derailment
The president is using the Washington state train derailment to push his infrastructure plan. https://t.co/Rm8uP7qsWx
WASHINGTON — After a business meeting before the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, a Russian participant offered to “send five women” to Donald Trump’s hotel room in Moscow, his longtime bodyguard told Congress this week, according to three sources who were present for the interview.
Two of the sources said the bodyguard, Keith Schiller, viewed the offer as a joke, and immediately responded, “We don’t do that type of stuff.”
The two sources said Schiller’s comments came in the context of him adamantly disputing the allegations made in the Trump dossier, written by a former British intelligence operative, which describes Trump having an encounter with prostitutes at the hotel during the pageant. Schiller he described his reaction to that story as being, “Oh my God, that’s bull—-,” two sources said.
The conversation with the Russian about the five women took place after a morning meeting about the pageant in Moscow broke up, two sources said.
That night, two sources said, Schiller said he discussed the conversation with Trump as Trump was walking back to his hotel room, and Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.
One source noted that Schiller testified he eventually left Trump’s hotel room door and could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night.
Two other sources said Schiller testified he was confident nothing happened.
Schiller said he and Trump were aware of the risk that hotel rooms in Moscow could be set up to capture hidden video, two sources said.
Schiller was grilled about the Moscow trip as part of four hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The questioning around the Moscow trip took a significant amount of time, the sources said. Schiller was also asked about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Russians, two of the sources said. He testified that he did not recall much about that day.
This doesn’t mean the tape exists, but it DOES mean that the salacious allegations in the dossier were not ENTIRELY made up out of thin air.
At least two people were fatally shot in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon by a gunman firing from his truck, police sources said.
The gunman, who is in police custody, shot at least six people at West Street and Chambers Street, which is near Stuyvesant High School, at 3:15 p.m.
“What happened was there was a car crash… he came out of one of the cars. He had two guns. He was running around Chambers and somebody started to chase him,” said a 14-year-old Stuyvesant student. “I heard four to six gunshots – everybody starts running.”
Video of the scene shows at least two people lying limp in the street. Photos show a smashed up Home Depot rental truck.
That is the Home Depot rental. AP is reporting that it drove down the bike path, hitting riders and pedestrians, then crashed.
Jesus! A car just ran over 2 people and then crashed into a school bus. I see two dead bodies and citibikes on the floor destroyed.
SOURCES: man driving box truck hits multiple people while going wrong way in bike lane near West & Chambers St. He crashes & exits w/ what is believed to be BB gun. He was shot by police & is in custody.
Suspect is 29 years old. This is being treated as a terrorist attack. At least eight are confirmed dead. The suspect had a paintball gun and a pellet gun.
Incredibly, the New York Halloween Parade, which is only blocks away from the incident, and starting at 7:30pm, is going to go forward on what many will see as an act of defiance. There will, of course, be heavily police presence and sand trucks.
Suspect is Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, from Tampa Florida, who came to the US in 2010 from Uzbeckistan. It is thought he had the fake guns because he wanted the police to shoot him and kill him (this getting martyrdom).
LATE UPDATE —
Final toll is 8 dead, 11 injured. Five of the dead were tourists from Argentina celebrating a 30th high school reunion.
Another of the dead was a mother of two children from Belgium. She was on a city trip with her two sisters and her mother, who were unharmed.
Saipov appears to be an “ISIS-inspired” lone wolf.
Trump, ever the coward, politicizes it the following morning, by blaming prominent Democrat:
Trump, of course, didn’t know what he was talking about in asking for getting rid of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Republican Jeff Flake responded:
A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.
There’s a good reason why Mashable’s Andrew Freedman dubbed Hurricane Harvey—now barreling toward Texas and Louisiana—“the meteorological equivalent of a White Walker from Game of Thrones.” This is no joke. Harvey is likely to be the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. Harvey will make landfall late Friday or early Saturday. The storm is expected to hit middle Texas coast. After that, Harvey will likely stall over the state, which could lead to catastrophic flooding. In fact, the storm surge of 20+ inches is the highest ever predicted.
Harvey was upgraded to Category 3 (winds of 111 to 129 mph) less than an hour ago.
One HOPES that FEMA and other regulatory agencies are consistent despite changes of the President, but with Trump, you just don’t know. Trump has been active on the twitter front regarding the hurricane as well, re-tweeting a photo of his conversation with Texas Governor Greg Abbot, and a video of Trump meeting being briefed by various FEMA officials ahead of the impending storm. But that’s PR.
So far, though, so good. Dallas News reports FEMA has also set up a command center at an Airfield near Seguin TX, stationed trailers containing supplies, food, and water in San Antonio, and placed FEMA staff at Texas’s State Operation center to make coordination efforts as seamless as possible – while letting Texas officials take the lead. Gov. Abbott activated 700 or so members of the national guard ,the Houston School District announced multiple closing ahead of the storm, a state of disaster has already been declared for multiple counties, and those in power are speaking directly to the citizens regarding what to expect, how to prepare, and how to get out.
Scheduled for noon and 4 pm. I’m following live feeds and the anti-protesters seem to have taken over downtown Durham. Not much of a fascist presence. Looks peaceful at the moment — some minor vandalism of base of statue that once had confederate monument. Basically everything postponed until 4 pm.
(2) By the way, this is Infrastructure Week at the White House, but it’s been overshadowed by racism in the Oval Office of the White House. Being Infrastructure Week, this news is particularly embarrassing:
President Trump has decided to dismiss his embattled chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general election victory, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest, according to two people familiar with the move.
Trump had been under mounting pressure to dispatch with Bannon, who many officials view as a political Svengali but who has drawn scorn as a leading internal force encouraging and amplifying the president’s most controversial nationalist impulses.
Bannon told friends on Friday that he expected to soon be informed whether he is being cut loose from the White House, according to multiple people close to him. One of them said Bannon is resigned to that fate, and has said he is determined to continue to advocate for Trump’s agenda on the outside.
“No matter what happens, Steve is a honey badger,” said this person, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. “Steve’s in a good place. He doesn’t care. He’s going to support the president and push the agenda, whether he’s on the inside or the outside.”
And this has gotta hurt:
Traders on the NYSE floor cheering after NYT reports Bannon’s departure from Trump’s executive office
Not surprising, since Bannon wanted a trade war with China.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Bannon was not pulling the strings on Trump. Trump was weened on rightwing and fake news, email forwards, and general bullshit. Bannon simply was a kindred spirit in ideology. His removal was good in the sense that he was one of the few who could actually put some of the shit into action.
Remember, Bannon was not a party loyalist or even a Trump loyalist. Trump served Bannon’s interest. But Bannon, the ideologue, is unchained, and he has a mouthpiece in Breitbart News. This could get ugly:
a source close to Bannon says “he’s ready to go full Rambo spaceman rocket launcher”
The same morning that Anthony Scaramucci is appointed as White House Communications Director, Sean Spicer resigns. Reports are that he vehemently opposed Scaramucci’s appointment.
Trump offered Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. Trump requested that Spicer stay on, but Spicer told Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus and top adviser Steve Bannonhad also resisted the appointment, according to NBC.
“This was a murdering of Reince and Bannon. They said Anthony would get this job over their dead bodies,” said one top White House official.
Source close to WH: (POTUS) “expecting Spicer to serve as press sec and quasi comms director while Scaramucci would play a ceremonial role.” https://t.co/m4WluDRdjP
But Scaramucci is said to be very close to the Trump family and that Trump likes him.
Anthony Scaramucci rose through the financial ranks of New York, ardently defending Wall Street and founding a global hedge fund.
A Goldman Sachs alum, and named Wall Streeter of the Year by Yahoo Finance in 2016, Scaramucci founded and co-managed SkyBridge Capital, a fund of hedge funds with a reported $11.8 billion in assets. Skybridge may or may not have violated Russian sanctions.
Scaramucci made headlines in 2010 when he asked Obama during a televised town hall meeting when he was going to “stop whacking at the Wall Street piñata.”
The fact that Scaramucci was appointed over the objections of Priebus, Bannon AND Spicer just shows how difficult managing Trump has been. Spicer’s defection, coming on the heels of defections by the spokesman for Trump’s legal team (as well as Trump’s longtime lawyer from that team) shows that there are definitely HUGE rifts in the administration.
He wasn’t always a Trump fan:
He supporter Walker initially in 2016, but became a Trump supporter eventually.
Over and over, Otto Warmbier apologized and begged — at first calmly, then choking up and finally in tears — to be reunited with his family.
North Korean officials seated at long tables watched impassively, with cameras rolling and journalists taking notes, as the adventuresome, accomplished 21-year-old college student from suburban Cincinnati talked animatedly about the “severe crime” that had put him there: trying to take a propaganda banner for someone back home, supposedly in return for a used car and to impress a semi-secret society he wanted to join, and all under the supposed direction of the U.S. government.
“I have made the worst mistake of my life!” he exclaimed as his formally staged Feb. 29, 2016, “confession” to anti-state activities ended in Pyongang.
More than 15 months later, he has finally been reunited with his parents and two younger siblings.
Whether he is even aware of that is uncertain.
“His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness,” said Dr. Daniel Kanter, director of neurocritical care for the University of Cincinnati Health system. Doctors say he has suffered “severe neurological injury,” with extensive loss of brain tissue and “profound weakness and contraction” of his muscles, arms and legs. His eyes will open and blink, but without signs of understanding verbal commands or his surroundings.
Warmbier, now 22, remains hospitalized at the UC Medical Center immediately after his arrival late Tuesday aboard a medevac flight following North Korea’s decision to release him for what it called humanitarian reasons — and under strong pressure after the Trump administration learned of his condition in a special U.S. envoy’s June 6 meeting in New York with North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations.
His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, were told he had been in a coma since shortly after being sentenced March 16, 2016, to 15 years of prison with hard labor.
If life had gone to plan, he today would be in his first month as a new graduate of the University of Virginia.
So basically, the DPRK tortured and murdered a US Citizen for allegedly taking a propaganda poster off a wall. Will this become an international incident?
Last night, a van with three people drove into a crowd of worshipers in Finsbury Park, a district in North London. One person was killed, ten were injured.
It was a terrorist attack, but not a typical one that garnishes worldwide press attention. Because this time, the terrorists were white and the targets were Muslim.
Here’s what is known so far:
— The driver of the van, a 48-year-old white man, was wrestled to the ground by people at the scene and held until police arrived. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, according to police.
— Muslim Welfare House CEO Toufik Kacimi said the attacker shouted “I did my bit, you deserve it.”
— Imam Mohammed Mahmoud of the Muslim Welfare House stopped an angry crowd from turning on the van driver, telling the furious mob: “Do not touch him.” This will, and should, get much notice. The imam followed Islam and protected the man from the furious mob.
— Police have not named the man arrested, but the van bears the logo and phone number for Pontyclun Van Hire in south Wales.
— UK Security Minister Ben Wallace, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, said, “This individual, so far as we know at the moment, was not known to us.”
— All of the victims were from the Muslim community, police said.
— One man was found dead at the scene, according to police, but it’s not clear if he was killed during the attack. Police said he was already receiving first aid when the attack unfolded.
— Two people were treated at the scene, May said, and eight others have been taken to three hospitals. Two of them are seriously injured.
— Islington’s Seven Sisters Road, where the attack took place, is home to at least four mosques, and would have likely been filled with worshipers leaving late-night taraweeh prayers.
— The Islington borough of north London, of which Finsbury Park is a part, is home to a large Muslim community. Around 10% of the borough’s population is Muslim.
— It’s been nearly 24 hours and Trump and the White House have not talked about it.
The death of a Virginia teenager who police say was assaulted and then disappeared after leaving a mosque in the Sterling area isn’t being investigated as a hate crime, authorities said Monday.
On Sunday, police found the girl’s remains and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.
The mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, and relatives identified the girl as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.
Fairfax County police identified the man charged with murder in her death as Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling. On Monday, they did not release any explanation as to why they weren’t investigating the murder as a hate crime.
Relatives identified the slain teen as Nabra Hassanen, 17, right, of Reston, seen in a social media post with a filter. (All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center)
According to accounts from police and a mosque official, a group of four or five teens were walking back from breakfast at IHOP early Sunday when they were confronted by a motorist. All but one of the teens ran to the mosque, where the group reported that the girl had been left behind, according to Deputy Aleksandra Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
“Immediately thereafter, the ADAMS’ personnel notified both Loudoun County and Fairfax County authorities who immediately began an extensive search to locate the missing girl,” the mosque said in a statement.
Loudoun and Fairfax police jointly conducted an hours-long search around Dranesville Road and Woodson Drive in Herndon, which is in Fairfax. Remains thought to be the girl’s were found about 3 p.m. Sunday in a pond in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling. During the search, an officer spotted a motorist driving suspiciously in the area and arrested Torres, police said.
Police said they collected several articles of evidence but declined to provide further details.
The girl’s mother said detectives told her that Nabra was struck with a metal bat.
The ISIS-type terrorists want to start a holy war. It looks like some stupid whiteys are willing to play into that.
This was a car loaded with explosives which rammed into a police van on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The driver of the car was killed. No explosion. No other injuries, but it appears to be a botched terrorist attack.
A Minnesota jury has reached a verdict in the manslaughter trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year. Yanez is on trial for one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety because Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were also in the car.
UPDATE: NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS
I mean, Michael Slager shot Walter Scott IN THE BACK AS HE FLED ON VIDEO and wasn’t convicted.
Well, we already know in essence what Comey will testify about, since we have his written statement (which has been dissected to death). I don’t expect a lot of “news” but maybe so more fleshing out.
It will be in sharp contrast to yesterday, where two intelligence chiefs repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers declined to discuss the specifics of private conversations they had with Trump and whether they had been asked to push back against an FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Both hinted that they would share more information with senators privately.
The RNC has put out some rather odd talking points…
… which are rather contradictory (Comey vindicates Trump…. but he is a liar!)
Anyway…. as the day progresses, I will TRY to update with news and opinion, but again, I think we’ve hit 90-95% of the pay dirt here. One thing to be sure: Comey is smart and already has answers for the Republican critics who will try to trip him up.
Either way, we’ll definitely learn (we hope) the answers to these questions
How will Mr. Comey explain his silence on his interactions with Mr. Trump? (My guess: He thought he could “teach” Trump the proper parameters)
Will Comey be a ‘showboat’? (My guess: No.)
Will Republicans offer the president a lifeline? (My guess: Some will. Some will even bring up Hillary’s emails)
Will Democrats overplay their hand? (My guess: No)
Will Trump tweet? (My guess: No, but if he does, it is because he feels the heat)
Did the president violate guidelines that prevent interference in F.B.I. investigations? (My guess: Comey will punt on this)
AND WE’RE OFF….
The President will be in the West Wing watching Comey’s testimony with his legal team and senior advisors.
Let me just jump in here and say that I was wrong about one thing (at least). I thought Comey would leave his personal impressions (“I felt…” “I got the impression….”) out of it. I was clearly wrong. He’s giving his impressions.
Wyden: Why did you think Sessions would recuse?
Comey: We had facts I can’t discuss publicly that made his continued role “problematic.”
I have not seen much from this vaunted “rapid response team” of Trump. I THINK the Republican response, if Rubio is any indication, is that Comey didn’t do anything, and he should have. But I think Comey’s answer is perfectly reasonable.
Comey says he told Sessions, “It can’t happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks with me.”
Lankford (R) is up….
He asks Comey how a president would end an investigation. Comey says, by simply telling it to end, but says he’s not a legal scholar. That might be used by GOP, i.e., Trump did what he is empowered to do.
And now we’re back to Lynch-Clinton.
Comey: There’s a difference between POTUS’s tweets and him telling me “I hope you’ll let this go.”
I think McCain had a stroke. He appeared to be under the impression that the election was still ongoing, called Comey President, and then couldn’t understand why Clinton was not prosecuted for helping the Russians elect Trump.
McCain so theatrically doddering it almost seems a deliberate effort to undermine Trump defense.
A. Trump was asked on Fox News last month whether he ever asked Comey for his loyalty. Trump responded, “No, I didn’t.” We now have reason to believe this was a lie.
B. Trump was asked at a White House press conference last month, “Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?” Trump replied, “No. No. Next question.” We now have reason to believe this was a lie, too.
C. Trump was asked by NBC News’ Lester Holt about the private dinner he had with Comey, and the president said the FBI director “asked for the dinner.” We now have reason to believe this was also a lie.
(2) No clear defense strategy from GOP (but don’t expect impeachment)
(3) Comey and all of us want those tapes (if they exist)
(4) Senator McCain has gone ’round the bend.
Fox News focusing on what Comey said about Loretta Lynch right now. #ComeyTestimony
It looked for a moment like he was reconsidering this campaign promise to leave the Paris Accord on climate change, but no. In a few minutes, Trump will announce from the Rose Garden that the US is out.
The good news? Paris Accord entered into force on 11/4/16. So the earliest that Trump can complete exit from Paris Accord is 11/4/2020, i.e., the day after the 2020 election. Paris will be a campaign issue.
The reason why there's a band playing at the White House is to drown out the sound of the protestors https://t.co/wULws2M2mD
The comparisons to Watergate’s “Saturday Night Massacre” can’t be helped.
Let’s be clear about this: Trump has fired the head of the investigation into his campaign’s contacts with the Russians.
The reason? Because of the way Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Almost nobody is buying that rationale, or the timing.
Many Democrats, myself included, agree with the rationale. And if this had happened during the Obama-Trump transition, then it would make sense. But happening now? Nope.
Especially when Trump PROFUSELY PRAISED Comey during the campaign for his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email server.
Comey was delivering a speech in Los Angeles when he learned he had been fired. He thought it was a prank at first.
The D,C, backlash was immediate.
White House sources say off-the-record that the White House was taken aback by the surprise outrage. I find that almost as bizarre as the underlying story itself. How could they NOT KNOW this would be a bombshell?
But that’s only one of the mysteries surrounding this. Also on the list…
What did Trump mean in his second paragraph above that Comey had told him three times that he was not the subject of an investigation? (The inclusion of that statement in the letter is obviously self-serving, and one wonders what those conversations — if they took place at all — were actually about and what was actually said).Trump’s letter firing Comey claims Comey told him three times that he (Trump) isn’t under investigation. But, pressed by Politico, the White House can’t back this up:
In his letter dismissing Comey, Trump said the FBI director had given him three private assurances that he wasn’t under investigation. The White House declined to say when those conversations happened — or why Comey would volunteer such information.
Now that’s a real shocker, isn’t it?
Why was Jeff Sessions involved in this decision? He recused himself from the Russia investigation altogether. And then he weighs in on Comey’s firing?
Who will replace Comey? Will it be a pro-Trump person willing to slow down or end the Russia investigation?
The calls for a special independent prosecutor are deafening. Will this happen?
Over at the conservative RedState website, Jay Caruso speaks for most everyone:
Here are five reasons why it was an awful decision:
1. The timing – Of course this is bad. The FBI is currently investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election, and whether or not Trump campaign staff were colluding with Russian agents. The mere appearance of impropriety makes the decision come off as political.
2. The GOP can’t play ball – If Trump believes he is going to get the FBI Director of his choice, he’s got another thing coming. Republican Senators are not going to allow anybody to take over. Trump will have to appoint a person that could very well be more dogmatic when he/she takes over the investigations.
3. It gives Democrats secure use of the ‘C’ word – That word is corruption or corrupt. Many people think the GOP lost control of Congress in 2006 because of the Iraq War. The reality is Republicans lost because of the “culture of corruption” surrounding the GOP with scandals such as those involving Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay (who was later exonerated) and Mark Foley all contributing to a depressed GOP turnout. The same thing could happen again in 2018.
4. It’s a sign of weakness – Trumpers can blather about Trump “draining the swamp” all they want, but somebody in a position of strength doesn’t pull a move like this. Someone in a position of strength lets the chips fall where they may and deals with whatever consequences result. Trump’s termination of Comey makes him look afraid of what Comey was going to do.
5. The media onslaught is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time – Donald Trump will attempt to defend this action via Twitter. Bank on it. He’ll scream “Fake news!” at every opportunity because the media is not going to let up, nor should they. The fact this took place hours before the media reported the Justice Department issued subpoenas to private business associates of Michael Flynn stinks to high heaven.
From the left, Kevin Drum on what the Comey firing shows us about Donald Trump and his White House on Mother Jones.
The Comey firing had nothing to do with the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It was all because Trump was outraged over Comey’s public acknowledgement that the FBI was investigating his Russia ties. He wanted the investigation to disappear, and he began obsessing about firing Comey—presumably in hopes that this was all it would take to kill the case. And apparently Trump was shocked when Democrats didn’t line up behind him. They hate Comey too, don’t they?
Trump’s astronomical ignorance has finally caught up with him. He seems to have had no idea that firing Comey wouldn’t stop the investigation—nor that a new FBI director wouldn’t dare quash it. In fact, all the firing does is make the investigation untouchable. And Trump’s astronomical narcissism has caught up with him too. He has so little insight into other humans that he simply couldn’t conceive of anyone hating Comey but still defending his right to serve out his term. In Trump’s world, you reward your friends and punish your enemies and that’s that.
This is hardly unexpected from Trump, whose ignorance and narcissism are legendary. But does he really have nobody on his staff to warn him about this stuff? Reince Priebus surely knew how this would play out. Ditto for Mike Pence.
And one final thing: once again, we learn that many of Trump’s advisors are perfectly willing to portray him as an idiot.
The Politico story is based on conversations with insiders who were happy to confirm that the Comey firing was all about Russia. This directly contradicts the White House narrative that it was about the fact that everyone had lost confidence in Comey because of the way he mistreated poor Hillary Clinton. Who are these people who work for Trump (?) but are happy to undermine him to the press on a regular basis?
It’s true. The Politico story is all about Trump’s frustration with the Russia probe:
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Somehow, I don’t think this makes the story go away.
And finally, the NYT editorial board concludes with this:
This is a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history. The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the F.B.I.’s ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates. There is no guarantee that Mr. Comey’s replacement, who will be chosen by Mr. Trump, will continue that investigation; in fact, there are already hints to the contrary.
The obvious historical parallel to Mr. Trump’s action was the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in October 1973, when President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, prompting the principled resignations of the attorney general and his deputy. But now, there is no special prosecutor in place to determine whether the public trust has been violated, and whether the presidency was effectively stolen by a hostile foreign power. For that reason, the country has reached an even more perilous moment.
And this picture from this morning — Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (on the left) and Russian Ambassador Kisylak.
…. and THEN, as if the Nixonian optics aren’t bad enough, he meets with Kissenger!
As one friend quipped, “interesting times we’re living in”
UPDATE: Well, this explains a lot….
This is more than bad optics or bad judgment.
UPDATE #2 — Then again
DOJ spokeswoman denying Comey asked Rosenstein for more money for Russia investigation. Reporting to contrary is “100% false,” she says
Sarah just said two different things in the span of 30 seconds: (1) She’s not surprised that Democrats opposed the firing because that’s what Democrats do; (2) She’s surprised that Democrats opposed the firing because they called for him to be fired.
Matt Haikin, 44, from London, said he was in shock after seeing the aftermath of the crash on the bridge.
He said: “I just saw a car that had clearly driven off the road into the fence outside Parliament.
“As I went past I noticed there was a body next to it and quite a lot of blood and people standing around.
“Fairly shortly after I heard some shots, at which point it was clear it wasn’t just an accident, something else was going on.”
He then moved to look through the Palace of Westminster gates and saw “a lot of people, people in uniform, I think I saw a couple of bodies on the ground, I couldn’t tell you if they’d been asked to lie down or if they were injured”.
It is worth noting that this come at the one year anniversary of the Brussels attack. ISIS loves anniversaries.
Imma get a video up as soon as one is available, but I think you’re going to be hearing about “President Trump’s February 16 Press Conference” somewhere down the road, perhaps as a citation in a legal filing.
To his credit, he took the hard question. And the big news, when all is said and done, is that Trump would have authorized Flynn to discusses sanctions. But then he gave a weak denial about election contacts with Russia. Okay, so two big moments. Okay, there were others.
One of favorites was how he asked a black female reporter if she knew that Congressional Black Caucus and then told her to set up a meeting, like she was in his secretarial pool.
He went to use lie about his “largest electoral college win since Reagan”. When a reporter told him he was wrong, and how can he be so inaccurate and yet complain about “fake news”, he just dismissed it — “well, somebody told me that”
Some of it was oddly self-serving and bizarre. Like saying that the White House was running like a “well-oiled machine” and that the roll out of his travel ban went smoothly (it was the 9th Circuit that was chaotic). Several times, he went back to Hillary Clinton, who really hasn’t been on anybody’s mind much (and certainly wasn’t asked about)
At other times it was outright scary, like when he mused about how he’d like to take out that Russian ship in international waters. That would be a clear cause for war, with us on the wrong side. At another point, he went on a long tangent about nuclear holocaust, as if he had just learned about its horrors.
Jake Tapper gets the win for the best immediate response:
Don’t normally quote from the conservative Redstate blog, and I rarely agree with Patterico (the author) on anything. But this analysis is so good — so spot on — that I am reprinting it in full:
As you have no doubt heard, the Ninth Circuit today issued an opinion upholding the District Court’s TRO halting much of Trump’s order on immigration. This post analyzes the decision, which can be read here. Throughout, I’ll grade my own previous predictionsabout the ruling.
My overall impression is that this is a sound legal ruling — and that Donald Trump is personally to blame for it. By allowing Steve Bannon & Co. to write the order in a sloppy and overbroad manner, and further allowing them to decide that it applied to green card holders, Trump issued an the order that was bound to fail.
Perusing Twitter tonight, I see that many people who support the policy behind the order (as I do), but who have not followed the legal arguments closely, are saying this is just another leftist Ninth Circuit decision. But the order is a unanimous “per curiam” (through the court) ruling. It was joined by a judge appointed by George W. Bush who, at oral argument, expressed skepticism towards the idea that the order was motivated by religious bias, and seemed receptive to the argument that these countries might pose a threat.
The Twitter lawyers point out that this was not a ruling on the merits — and that’s right . . . but the merits still factored into the decision. A subtle point — brought up in the oral argument but missed by many observers — is that once the District Court entered the injunction, the burden shifted to the Government to show on appeal that it was likely to win in the trial court. The Court held that the Government had failed to make that showing. This portion of the ruling, then, does relate to the merits. The Court also held that the Government failed to show irreparable injury, since the TRO put the U.S. back in the same state of affairs that had existed for years.
According to the opinion, the executive order’s principal potential flaw was that it may have deprived a substantial number of people of due process, in three ways (the following paragraph describes the states’ arguments, which the Government failed to rebut for purposes of this appeal):
First, section 3(c) denies re-entry to certain lawful permanent residents and non-immigrant visaholders without constitutionally sufficient notice and an opportunity to respond. Second, section 3(c) prohibits certain lawful permanent residents and non-immigrant visaholders from exercising their separate and independent constitutionally protected liberty interests in travelling abroad and thereafter re-entering the United States. Third, section 5 contravenes the procedures provided by federal statute for refugees seeking asylum and related relief in the United States.
The decision to interpret the order as applying to lawful permanent residents was reportedly made by Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. This was clearly the most troubling aspect of the order to the judges — as well as the aspect of the order that stood out to most objective observers as the dumbest part of the order. As I said in my analysis of the oral argument: “I think even Judge Clifton would be on board with staying the executive order to the extent it applies to LPRs [lawful permanent residents].” What I didn’t predict outright was that Judge Clifton would find this enough to join an opinion upholding the entire TRO; I had expected that he would file a concurring opinion agreeing that the TRO was appropriate as applied to LPRs, but only as to LPRs.
The Government argued that the issue of the application of the executive order to LPRs was moot, because the White House counsel had interpreted the order as not covering LPRs. But the court was not convinced, noting that the White House counsel is not the President — and, since the Administration had given so many contradictory statements on this point, nobody can be certain that they won’t apply it to green card holders again:
[I]n light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings
Basically, the court said the order is clearly illegal in denying re-entry to LPRs and non-immigrant visa holders, and they aren’t going to rewrite the order (or let the White House counsel rewrite it) to conform to the law. That’s the President’s job. The court said that the Government’s different proposals for limiting the scope of the TRO still resulted in potential due process violations.
The lack of due process for LPRs was the central aspect of the opinion, and it was completely avoidable. The fault lies with Donald Trump.
As to the argument that Trump was targeting Muslims, the Court’s language seemed carefully crafted to maintain the unanimous nature of the opinion. I predicted there were two votes for a finding of possible religious discrimination, based on Trump’s repeated statements during the campaign that he wanted a Muslim ban — but Judge Clifton was clearly skeptical of this claim. The Court dealt with this by saying: “The States’ claims raise serious allegations and present significant constitutional questions” (language clearly inserted by Judges Canby and Friedland) but refused to use this as a ground to uphold the TRO, instead reserving the issue for later, after further litigation in the District Court (an evident concession to Judge Clifton to get him on board with this opinion).
This means that Donald Trump’s mouthing off about a Muslim ban wasn’t the reason for today’s decision — but it could still have legal consequences down the line.
In other aspects more of interest to lawyers than others, the court (as predicted) found standing based on the states’ proprietary interests, and treated the injunction as an appealable preliminary injunction rather than a TRO proper, because of the length of the briefing schedule. (These are also aspects I predicted correctly based on the oral arguments.)
In summary, this is a solid legal opinion and I don’t see it being reversed by the Ninth Circuit en banc or by the U.S. Supreme Court. The judges did their jobs and they did them well. They won’t get a lot of credit for this from political partisans, but they’ll get it from me.
Redstate by the way is now a conservative blog in exile. In a world of Brietbarts and Infowars, it remains a bastion of logical reasoned conservatism. It is a credible opposition to the progressivism that I espouse — with emphasis on the word “credible”.
In a day that has already seen a diplomatic assassination, it looks like we might have a terrorist attack on our hands.
A truck ran into a Christmas market an hour or so ago in a major public square in Berlin. There are reports of several dead, 50 injured. The incident happened in Breitscheidplatz in western Berlin.
Because of the similarity between this and the Nice terrorist attack in July, many are making the assumption that this was intentional. Berlin media said police at the scene had said initial indications pointed to an attack, which is just a soft allegation at best.
According to one witness, the truck veered off Budapester Strasse across the pavement and stopped just before the Christmas tree on the square. The street has been cordoned off and a meeting point for relatives has been set up. The Christmas market has been cleared and a police spokesman said there are concerns the crash may have caused a gas leak.
The lame-duck North Carolina legislature’s is engaging in a last-minute effort to weaken the office of the governor before Democrat Roy Cooper.
Here’s one thing they are doing.
Back in 2013, this same legislature dramatically increased the number of what are technically called “exempt positions” under the governor, giving newly elected Republican Gov. Pat McCrory significant new patronage power. The number of political appointees authorized for McCrory exploded from about 500 to 1,500.
Now a new bill introduced in the surprise special session, called yesterday with about two hours notice, cuts the number of political appointees for Cooper from 1,500 down to 300, even fewer than McCrory originally started with.
House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis (Republican) was frank that some of the appointment and election board changes were prompted by Cooper’s election.
“Some of the stuff we’re doing, obviously if the election results were different, we might not be moving quite as fast on, but a lot of this stuff would have been done anyway and has been talked about for quite some time,” he said.
House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham said Republicans were trying to “nullify the vote of the people” in electing Cooper, who defeated McCrory last month.
With a scope never before seen in North Carolina politics – and with an all-too-familiar disrespect for democracy – Republicans in Raleigh are engaging in a stunning reach for power this week.
They want to change the ideological makeup of election boards. They want to make it more difficult for court challenges to get to a Democrat-friendly Supreme Court. They want to limit the number of appointees Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will be able to make. They want approval authority over some of those appointees.
It is an arrogant display of muscle-flexing, and Republicans weren’t shy about the goal. Legislators, said House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis, wanted “to establish that we are going to continue to be a relevant party in governing this state.”
In other words: We’re in control. We want more control. We’ll do what we want to get it.
You might recognize that sentiment. It was what Democrats expressed in 1977 after the Democrat-led General Assembly passed legislation that allowed new Gov. Jim Hunt to fire all employees hired in the previous five years by his Republican predecessor. Said Joe Pell, then special assistant to Hunt: “The game of politics, as far as I know, is still played on the basis of ‘to the victor belongs the spoils.’”
That 1977 power grab was much smaller than what Republicans have attempted this week. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now, not only because it weakens the other branches of state government, but because it subverts the will of voters who elected Cooper and a Democrat Supreme Court justice to be a check on the Republican legislature.
The 1977 statute also was unconstitutional, and judges struck it down. You can expect this week’s measures to also head straight to the courts, a place where N.C. Republicans have regularly been reminded of the limits of their power.
There’s someone else, however, who can do that first. Gov. Pat McCrory is a lame duck now, which means he has one more opportunity to stand up to the extremists in his party. He also has little to lose, which means he can be the governor many had hoped for all along – one who was willing to do what’s right for North Carolina, not just what’s good for Republicans.
We’ve seen more glimpses of that McCrory lately. His response to Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath was both strong and compassionate. He was the leader the state needed, including this week in following through on relief so many North Carolinians desperately need.
Now North Carolina needs McCrory to lead again. He knows that limiting the next governor’s power, as Republicans are attempting this week, is wrong. As governor, he fought the legislature’s attempt to steal his appointing authority to key N.C. commissions, eventually winning in the N.C. Supreme Court earlier this year. He should veto all new attempts to weaken the office he’s about to leave.
Will doing so change McCrory’s legacy? Probably not. And any veto he makes might fall in an override vote – a fear that’s caused McCrory to bow to Republicans in the past.
But North Carolina has learned plenty these last four years the damage that can be done when one party – any party – accumulates too much power. That’s been on display once again this week, perhaps more brazenly, and dangerously, than ever.
“Most people might think this is a partisan power grab, but it’s really more ominous,” Cooper said at a news conference.
House Bill 17, which was introduced Wednesday night and was moving through committees on Thursday, does the following:
It reduces the number of exempt positions under Cooper’s supervision from 1,500 to 300. Exempt positions are those that a governor can hire or fire at will, either because they are managers or because their job is somewhat political in nature. Although former Gov. Bev Perdue had roughly 500 such positions under her control, GOP lawmakers gave Gov. Pat McCrory 1,500 to work with.
It removes gubernatorial appointments to the various boards of trustees that run each campus in the University of North Carolina system. Those appointments would be would be transferred to the General Assembly.
It requires Senate confirmation for gubernatorial cabinet appointments. Although the state constitution allows this, the legislature hasn’t exercised this power in recent memory.
Cooper said the proposal “is really about hurting public education, working families, state employees, health care and clean air and water.”
Putting the legislative thumb on his appointments for the Revenue and Commerce departments would encourages more corporate tax cuts and loopholes, he said. Likewise, renewable energy efforts and rules for clean air and water would be hurt by requiring Senate approval of the environmental secretary, he said.
“We don’t look great to the people of North Carolina or to the rest of the country when laws are passed hastily with little discussion in the middle of the night,” he said.
He cited House Bill 2, the law limiting LGBT rights that lawmakers passed in a one-day emergency session in March, as an example of the damage created by last-minute legislating. Business expansions, concerts, athletic events and conventions have been moved out of North Carolina as a result of the law.
“I will use all of our tools … to lead this state in the right direction,” Cooper said, including possible litigation to overturn legislation.
“If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court – and they don’t have a very good track record there,” he said.
This last-minute legislation is a Republican tactic, one of many seen around the country, where the GOP tries to gain political control through means other than popular vote (gerrymandering being another). Forget about winning over people by the strength of your ideas with these guys.
Sitting governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) refused to concede the election for NC governor, which ended three weeks ago. By the end of election day, current NC attorney general and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper was ahead by a little over 6,000. But the results still had to be counted and certified, down to the last one.
If Cooper’s margin remained below 10,000 votes, McCrory could have called for a statewide recount, and with the possibility of other legal challenges and conceivably even legislative intervention to decide a contested result.
But today, as I am writing this, Roy Cooper’s margin of victory has now grown to over 10,000 reaching 10,329 in the latest count.
Governor McCrory’s election protests and allegations of voter fraud have been rejected by Republican-controlled board of elections, and Roy Cooper’s lead is now over 10,000 votes.
As of this writing (10/7/2016) at 11:45 a.m., Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 3, has shown a little mercy by veering slightly northernly and westernly than expected. Right now, the western eyewall is brushing the Florida coast — the hurricane is located 75 miles southeast of Jacksonville.
The winds along the Florida coast are rough, but it doesn’t seem to be getting the high forces that normally come at the backend of the hurricane wall.
It apparently is not going to hit land in Florida. It may just lightly touch land near Hilton Head, South Carolina or even Cape Hatteras further north.
And then what? It is thought it will loop around.
And hopefully die. Others have speculated it could revive as it gets back into warmer waters, but the projection now is “not so”.
Nobody is kidding themselves. Even if hurricane force winds stay offshore FL, tropical storm conditions can be impactful and dangerous. By this morning, it had knocked out electric power to more than 590,000 customers across Florida. Even a Category 2 with 120 mph gusts in Charleston could be devestating.
The hurricane is also being blamed for at least 478 deaths in Haiti. There is one known U.S. fatality at the moment – a woman in her late 50s in Port St. Lucie, Florida suffered from cardiac arrest while wind gusts were at 68 mph and the rescue teams could not get to her (I guess that counts).
More than 1.5 million Floridians were ordered to evacuate. Schools across most of the state were closed for the rest of the week as the governor deployed 3,500 National Guard troops to assist in storm preparations.
South Carolina is under a state of emergency as well as Matthew approaches. About 310,000 people have evacuated and about 1.1 million people were ordered to move from coastal areas.
North Carolina is also under a state of emergency for all of the state’s 100 counties, although here in mid-North Carolina, we expect only rain and some power outages.
NC voter ID law will NOT be enforced in fall election after the U.S. Supreme Court denies stay request (in a 4-4 split — obviously, had Scalia lived, it would have been a loss for voting rights advocates, but he didn’t so……)
The stay was a request by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and state officials to delay a permanent injunction blocking provisions in a 2013 voting law. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down several parts of the law last month, saying they were approved by legislators with intentional bias against black voters more likely to support Democrats.
The Supreme Court decision means voters won’t have to show one of several qualifying photo IDs when casting ballots in the presidential battleground state. Early voting also reverts to 17 days.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated North Carolina’s stringent new voting restrictions, holding that the law violates both the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina measure, the Fourth Circuit held, has a discriminatory impact on black voters, impermissibly burdening their voting rights under the VRA. More boldly, the court also held that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, designed by the Republican legislature to curb black voting rights in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This dual finding of discriminatory impact and intent makes the Fourth Circuit’s decision the boldest judicial rejection of voting restrictions in years.
As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the Supreme Court freed the state’s voting laws from federal “preclearance”—meaning that after nearly 50 years under supervision, the state was finally free to change voting laws without federal oversight. The legislature promptly “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.” And “upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected black voters.” The new law created draconian requirements for valid voter ID, eliminating those IDs most commonly used by black voters; cut back early voting and killed same-day registration; eliminated preregistration for teenagers; and eliminated out-of-precinct voting for voters who accidentally showed up at the wrong precinct in the correct county.
Every single one of these restrictions disproportionately burdened black voters; indeed, as the Fourth Circuit writes, SL 2013-381 seemed to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” (Meanwhile, there is essentially no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs in North Carolina.) The evidence that the legislature enacted SL 2013-381 for precisely this purpose—to hamper black voting rights—is almost overwhelming. Indeed, the state even acknowledged that it had eliminated one early voting day, a Sunday, because it was a traditional “souls to the polls” day, when black voters were provided transportation from church to the polls. “Counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic,” the legislature said—so, in response, it did away with one of two days of Sunday voting. This, the Fourth Circuit writes, is “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times”:
The State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race—specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise.
But really, the North Carolina legislature littered its voting law with almost comically obvious smoking guns. Black voters, the court explains, are also more likely to utilize same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct voting. The legislature knew this when it enacted SL 2013-381; it had “requested a racial breakdown” of different voting methods, and, as the Fourth Circuit notes, discovered:
The legislature’s racial data demonstrated that, as the district court found, “it is indisputable that African American voters disproportionately used [same-day registration] when it was available.” … [I]n-person assistance likely would disproportionately benefit African Americans. SL 2013-381 eliminated same-day registration.
And on and on it goes—each restriction, the court persuasively explains, was crafted to crack down on voting methods favored by black voters. These “seemingly irrational restrictions unrelated to the goal of combating fraud,” the Fourth Circuit writes, can only be explained by discriminatory intent. And the legislature’s highly suspect behavior in enacting SL 2013-381—rushing it through, on party lines, as soon as it was freed of federal oversight—raises serious constitutional red flags. “Indeed,” the court writes, “neither this legislature—nor, as far as we can tell, any other legislature in the Country—has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise.”
As a result of the law’s discriminatory intent and impact, the Fourth Circuit concludes, each of its central provisions must be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause and the VRA.
It is a very hard rebuke to the lower court. Now, I know Judge Schroeder, the lower court judge who found that there was no discrimination intended when North Carolina passed its new voter laws. He is a thorough and competent judge, and certainly no racist. But not being a Southerner, he just doesn’t see certain things which the older Southern gentlemen of the Fourth Circuit did see. As the Fourth Circuit wrote, “the [lower] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees. This failure of perspective lef the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”
This is a HUGE win for North Carolina (the people, not the current government) with national repercussions.
It will no doubt go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, with a 4-4 split, it will probably be upheld.
Lahouaiej Bouhlel was a 31-year-old French-Tunisian delivery driver known to police who is reported to have driven a 19-tonne white Renault lorry into crowds gathered for Bastille Day celebrations in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people. His identity as the driver has not been confirmed by the French police.
The perpetrator of Nice’s worst ever terror attack was reportedly a married father of three who neighbours described as a “loner” with a George Clooney haircut.
According to several French reports, Bouhel was born in Tunisia in 1985 and had a French residency permit. Police raided his flat, where he reportedly lived alone, in the Abattoirs area of the city on Friday morning.
According to Tunisian security sources, Lahouaiej Bouhlel hailed from the Tunisian town of Msaken, which is close to the seaside city of Sousse, where 38 people, including 30 Britons, were gunned down by terrorists in June 2015.
French television station BFM TV reported that he was a divorced father of three who had become depressed following the breakdown of his marriage.
Neighbours told the channel he was not particularly interested in religion, adding that he preferred girls and salsa.
They said that he had been unhappy since he divorce, and that he suffered from financial problems.
Neighbors described him as “depressed and unstable, even aggressive” of late. They put this down to his “marital and financial problems”.
One told BFM TV he was “more into women than religion”.
“He (didn’t) pray and like(d) girls and Salsa,” according to BFM’s crime correspondent.
Jasmine, 40 said: “He was rude and bit weird.
“We would hold the door open for him and he would just blank him. He kept himself to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had martial problems and would tell people in the local cafe. He scared my children though.”
She added: “He was very smart with the same haircut as George Clooney.”
Sébastien, a neighbour, said he “didn’t have the apparence of a religious person and was often in shorts, sometimes wearing ‘security’ shoes”. Another neighbour, Anan, said that she found him shifty and described him as “a good-looking man who eyed up my two girls too much”.
One resident told the Telegraph: “He was quiet and moody. I did not know whether he was a Muslim. I think he had a motorbike.”
A woman living in the same block said: “I hardly knew him, but from what I could see he seemed very weird. He lived alone. He said very little to anyone and wasn’t very polite. He wouldn’t hold the door open for you.”
He was known to the police for assault with a weapon, domestic violence, threats and robbery but had no previous convictions for terrorism.
Investigating sources said his last appearance in a criminal court was as recently as March and had previous convictions for armed theft, conjugal violence and threatening behaviour. Despite this, he had no known links with terrorism and was not under surveillance.
According to BFMTV he had also recently caused an accident after falling asleep at the wheel while working as a delivery driver, and was taken into custody following the incident.
The operative phrase: “more into women than religion”. Like the Orlando shooter, this guy seems to have latched on to committing a terrorist act, not because of some ideology, but because his life was falling apart. And some psychological problems.
And note — not a refugee.
Enter Donald Trump. Without knowing details about the attack, Trump wants to declare war. On whom, he doesn’t say. On what basis, he doesn’t know. A NATO country has been attacked, sure (by a lone individual as far as we know now). But Trump thinks NATO is obsolete and the U.S. pays too much for it. Others should pay. So with that for background, when Bill O’Reilly asked Trump if he would send in air and ground forces (somewhere) Trump said:
“I would, I would” when asked if he would seek a formal declaration of military action from the US Congress. “This is war,” Trump continued. “If you look at it, this is war. Coming from all different parts. And frankly it’s war, and we’re dealing with people without uniforms. In the old days, we would have uniforms. You would know who you’re fighting.”
But since Trump doesn’t know who that is and can’t force whoever it is to wear uniforms, what this situation absolutely requires is a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part. And Trump is just the guy to do it. Count on him to try to make somebody else pay for it. In the end, that someone would be us.
Trump is, of course, stoking fear. Just like a terrorist would.
He probably needs to be reminded that ISIS has lost at least 50 percent of the territory occupied since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of their “caliphate” in 2013. They’ve been run from places like Haditha, Fallujah, and in due course Mosul.
Not that Trump would dare give Obama credit.
Gingrich added to the stupidity, saying:
Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door. But we need to be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are.
Aside from being unconstitutional, it is unclear if that tactic would have stopped this guy (had he been an American) or the Orlando shooter. Neither was particularly religious.
Also — not for nothing, Newt — but since we’re going to deport people for their dangerous beliefs, I know plenty of Christians who hold incompatible values.
CNN affiliate KTVT in Dallas is reporting that two police officers have been shot after a peaceful protest deaths of two black men. Chaotic live footage from the scene shows police and SWAT teams in a tense combat
Police in tactical gear carrying riots shields descended after about 20 shots in boomed loudly in quick succession, audio that was captured by eyewitness video and posted to Twitter.
MSNBC reporting that the suspect is cornered, three officers have been shot.
UPDATE: 4 officers shot, 1 had died. Negotiators are talking to shooter who is holed up somewhere.
All this happened about a block from another famous shooting in Dallas.
UPDATE #2: Holy shit. Two snipers, ten officers shot, three of them dead
UPDATE #3: Four dead now. One suspect is in custody after a shootout. The news outlets have been showing a photo of a “person of interest” – a black man with a long rifle before the shooting (totally legal in Dallas). Social media was able to find that guy in a video AS the shooting was happened, so he’s been cleared by social media even though CNN.and MSNBC are behind on that. Anyway, that person of interest has turned himself in and hopefully he will be let go soon.
Big manhunt for the second suspect.
UPDATE – NEXT MORNING: 12 officers shot, 2 civilians shot, 5 of those officers are dead.
Sniper killed when SWAT team detonated explosive device near him. He has been identified as Micah X. Johnson, an Army veteran. During standoff, Johnson told police he was “upset by.Black Lives Matter” and “wanted to kill as many white people as possible, especially white cops”. He also claimed to be acting alone.
Others have been taken into custody, but police are not saying anything about their involvement. They are not acting like other gunmen are at large.
Ironically, Dallas PD had been reactive to BLM movement with increased training, racially diverse policing, etc. This seems more directed at cops on in general, not Dallas PD in particular.
This morning, the Supreme Court struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40.
The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. It applied a skeptical and exacting version of that decision’s “undue burden” standard to find that the restrictions in Texas went too far.
The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.
The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.
One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
“We conclude,” Justice Breyer wrote, “that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”
I’m not surprised by the outcome, nor am I surprised by swing justice Kennedy joining the “liberals” on the court. Frankly, the Texas restrictions were NOT intended to support women’s health. If you saw who proposed those restrictions (longtime Texas anti-abortion legislators) and listened to their rhetoric, “health of women” was a sham rationale. Their real objective was to make abortion clinics so regulated that they could not afford to make the required changes, and eventually close down. In fact, to date, twenty abortion clinics have closed down under those regulations.
So, yes, a victory, and it would have been a victory even if Scalia was alive and on the court. But it does underscore the importance of the election and who gets to pick the next justices.
Dozens of House Democrats are staging a “sit-in” on the House floor until they are allowed a vote on a so-called “no fly, no buy” gun control bill. It is the most dramatic action by House Democrats on gun control since the Orlando shooting on June 12 that left 49 dead and 53 wounded.
Two weeks ago, in the Senate, there was a talking filibuster by Senator Murphy of Connecticut. That ended when Senate Republicans agreed to allow a vote on various gun control proposals. None of those proposals passed.
UPDATE: You won’t see this on TV…
chanting on the House floor, the chair finds the House not in order. Republicans gavel the house into recess and cut the @cspan cameras
About an hour and a half ago (around 11:30 am), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) started embarking on a talking filibuster in order to push the Senate to address gun control in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) alternated speaking about gun control on the Senate floor, according to Fox 61 in Connecticut.
Democrats are signing up to speak — some as late as 10:30 pm.
A heavily armed assailant opened fire in a packed Orlando nightclub early Sunday in a bloody massacre that left about 20 people dead and prompted a terrorism investigation, authorities said.
Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged in a gun battle with a suspect outside Pulse Orlando, a gay club just south of downtown. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.
Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP
Police officers direct family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
“Our biggest concern was further loss of life,” Mina said. “We exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and he was dead at the scene.”
Mina said 42 people were transferred to local hospitals, and one officer was wounded. He estimated the death toll at 20, and said at least 30 people were rescued.
“Tonight our community witnessed a horrific crime… that will have a lasting effect on our community,” a solemn Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
FBI Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the case was being investigated as a possible act of terrorism, either domestic or international. It was not clear if the shooter acted alone, he said. He said authorities were trying to determine if there was a connection with radical Islam.
“We do have suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” Hopper said.
A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY the suspect has been identified as Omar Mateen and said investigators were reviewing the attacker’s possible utterances that may provide more specific information about a terror ideology or affiliation. The official, who was not authorized to comment, characterized the attack as “certainly’’ terrorism. It was not immediately clear whether investigators were aware of the attacker prior to the assault.
Mina said the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, a handgun and some sort of unidentified device. Officers from multiple agencies and dozens of emergency vehicles responded to the scene. Orange County Fire and Rescue called for gurneys to move victims from the club.
Many of the casualties were rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, which was placed on lockdown.
“We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation. Support from local/state/federal agencies,” Orlando police tweeted about four hours after events began to unfold. Then, a short time later: “Pulse Shooting: The shooter inside the club is dead.”
The White House said President Obama was briefed by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
Mina said there was no indication that there was more than one shooter. A bomb squad was at the scene, and police reported conducting a “controlled explosion.”
Hours after the shooting, police were still trying to piece together what happened.
“Anyone who was at Pulse nightclub and was a witness Please come to the Orlando Police HQ,” the department tweeted. “Any information you have could aid investigators in this case”
FBI Director James Comey has said in recent months that authorities had about 1,000 open investigations into home grown violent extremists. The overwhelming number of those cases, authorities said, were suspects with alleged ties to the Islamic State.
Orlando recently wrapped up its annual weeklong Gay Days festival on June 6 in which up to 150,000 in the LGBT community attend area theme parks, gay nightclubs and special events. It was the 25th anniversary of Gay Days. It remains one of the largest gay pride events in the world.
Saturday night and into Sunday, the club was celebrating Latin Night. Club patron Christopher Hansen told CNN he heard what could have been 20 or 30 shots, setting off a panic as people scrambled for cover or raced for the exits. He said he helped a couple people who were wounded.
“It’s just shocking,” said Hansen, who crawled to safety. “I just saw bodies going down.”
As the tragedy was unfolding, Pulse Orlando posted to its Facebook page: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
Rosie Feba, a witness, told the Orlando Sentinel she and her girlfriend were in the club near closing time when, “she told me someone was shooting. Everyone was getting on the floor. I told her I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.”
Feba told the Sentinel she her girlfriend ran out of the club and helped a man who had been shot get outside.
The Orlando Fire Department called for its bomb squad and hazardous material team to the scene after 3 a.m. ET. Police K-9 dogs searched the area around nearby Orlando Regional Medical Center with an armed deputy in head-to-toe military gear.
A loud bang was heard before 5 a.m., but Orlando Police tweeted that it was the controlled explosion by law enforcement.
Ali Kurnaz, 25, told USA TODAY he was working in his living room about a block from the nightclub when he heard gunfire.
“I could hear multiple rounds of gunfire to the point where it scared my cats,” Kurnaz said. “They came running from a different room.”
Kurnaz said he heard sirens as multiple police cars headed to the crime scene and helicopters flying over his neighborhood.
In some tweets appearing to come from inside Pulse nightclub short after the assault, people said they were hiding. Twitter users also said they heard multiple gunshots.
The shooting spree came just
one day after The Voice star Christina Grimmie was shot and killed after a concert Friday night at the Plaza Live Theater in Orlando. That gunman, identified as Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Fla., fatally shot himself after the attack.
UPDATE ON SHOOTER:
Both of Mateen’s parents are originally from Afghanistan, according to CBS News.
Mateen was born in New York, NBC News reports.
He was married in 2009, public records show. It is not clear if he was still married at the time of the attack.
Mateen is a registered Democrat who has also lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, according to online records.
He was also a notary public in Florida, but his license, issued in 2008, expired in 2012, records show.
UPDATE: Orlando mayor now says 50 dead, 53 injured
UPDATE: Shooter’s father tells NBC that religion not a factor, but did hear his son speak out against gays as recently as two weeks ago.
Interestingly, he reiterates much of what he says before, although he blames the media for “misconstruing” his earlier comments. It is hard to tell what exactly he is saying was “misconstrued.” But more importantly, I believe, is the last paragraph, where he says he will no longer answer questions or talk about the Trump U case.
Hmmmmm. We’ll see. The statement itself is so vague that it demands follow-ups from the media.
Here is the statement in full:
It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.
Over the past few weeks, I have watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University. There are several important facts the public should know and that the media has failed to report.
Throughout the litigation my attorneys have continually demonstrated that students who participated in Trump University were provided a substantive, valuable education based upon a curriculum developed by professors from Northwestern University, Columbia Business School, Stanford University and other respected institutions. And, the response from students was overwhelming. Over a five year period, more than 10,000 paying students filled out surveys giving the courses high marks and expressing their overwhelming satisfaction with Trump University’s programs. For example:
Former student Tarla Makaeff, the original plaintiff in the litigation, not only completed multiple surveys rating Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in every category, but also praised Trump University’s mentorship program in a glowing 5 plus minute video testimonial. When asked “how could Trump University help to meet [her] goals”, she simply stated “[c]ontinue to offer great classes.” Once the plaintiffs’ lawyers realized how disastrous a witness she was, they asked to have her removed from the case. Over my lawyers’ objections, the judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion, but allowed the case to continue.Art Cohen, a lead plaintiffs in the litigation, completed a survey in which he not only rated Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in virtually every category, but went so far as to indicate that he would “attend another Trump University seminar” and even “recommend Trump University seminars to a friend.” When asked how Trump University could improve the seminar, Mr. Cohen’s only suggestion was to “[h]ave lunch sandwiches brought in” and make the lunch break 45 minutes.
Former student Bob Giullo, who has been critical of Trump University in numerous interviews and negative advertisements from my political opponents, also expressed his satisfaction, rating Trump University’s programs “excellent” in every category. When asked how Trump University could improve its programs, Mr. Giullo simply asked that students be provided “more comfortable chairs.”
Indeed, these are just a few of literally thousands of positive surveys, all of which can be viewed online at www.98percentapproval.com.
For those students who decided that Trump University’s programs were not for them, the company had a generous refund policy, offering a full refund to any student who asked for their money back within 3 days of signing up for a program or by the end of the first day of any multi-day program, whichever came later.
Normally, legal issues in a civil case would be heard in a neutral environment. However, given my unique circumstances as nominee of the Republican Party and the core issues of my campaign that focus on illegal immigration, jobs and unfair trade, I have concerns as to my ability to receive a fair trial.
I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States. Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico. Drugs and illegal immigrants are also pouring across our border. This is bad for all Americans, regardless of their heritage.
Due to what I believe are unfair and mistaken rulings in this case and the Judge’s reported associations with certain professional organizations, questions were raised regarding the Obama appointed Judge’s impartiality. It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case.
While this lawsuit should have been dismissed, it is now scheduled for trial in November. I do not intend to comment on this matter any further. With all of the thousands of people who have given the courses such high marks and accolades, we will win this case!
Donald J. Trump
Oh where to start? He denies it is an attack on people of Mexican heritage, just an attack on THIS JUDGE… because of his Mexican heritage.
Ah. That’s so much better.
By the way, go read that first paragraph again. CLEARLY, Trump did not write this.
Robert Guillo gave a glowing evaluation to his instructor at Trump University because, he said, the teacher pleaded for the best possible score, warning that without it, “Mr. Trump might not invite me back to teach again.”
Jeffrey Tufenkian offered excellent ratings because his Trump University-assigned mentor refused to leave the room until he did so, standing “right in front of me” as he filled out the evaluation form, he said.
John Brown tried to give his Trump University teacher a poor review — but said he was talked out of it by employees of the program, who called him three times, hounding him to raise his original scores.
“Tired of the continuing phone calls,” he later testified, “I finally gave in.” His dismal marks changed to top scores, Brown said.
Interviews and documents show that employees of Trump University at times applied pressure on students to offer favorable reviews, instructed them to fill out the forms in order to obtain their graduation certificates, and ignored standard practices used to ensure that the surveys were filled out objectively.
At the same time, students and their lawyers have raised doubts about Trump’s claim of 98 percent satisfaction. A website set up to defend Trump University, 98percentapproval.com, has published 10,000 student evaluations, but not all of them were from paying students. They include some from the more than 3,000 free guests that paying participants were encouraged to bring to the classes. More than 2,000 other students never made it to the end of their courses — they sought and received refunds before the end of their classes, as company policy allowed, according to court records.
Right. It’s easier to get positive evaluations for free services. Those aren’t the people suing Trump. It’s the ones who coughed up $35,000 and didn’t get their money’s worth.
And by the way, 98% approval is ridiculous. That’s lilke when a dictator wins 98% of the vote. That’s a rigged number.
And finally, note how this guy Robert (Bob) Guillo appears in the Trump press release, and in the excerpted Globe article above. It seems there are different accounts of why he rated what he rated. That’s called a “factual dispute” in legal practice. And it appears to be a relevant one. Guess what? Judges don’t grant summary judgment when there are relevant factual disputes. And I am sure there are many many many more relevant factual disputes. That’s why summary judgment is denied; that’s why it goes to trial. It has nothing to do with the ethnicity of the judge. And Trump knows that. If he doesn’t, he’s too dump to be President.
As I write this, we don’t know much about what happened to MS804, which disappeared off radar last night (our time). The wreckage has not even been found yet.
But if I may be allowed to speculate (and it’s my blog, so why not), I think we can conclude that the loss was due to an explosive device.
Why do I say this? Process of elimination.
We know that MS804 was flying in clear weather. So that possibility is out.
We know that it was flying at a steady altitude of 37,000 feet, and did not change direction or altitude in the minutes before it “disappeared” from the radar. This would suggest that whatever happened, it happened quickly. If, say, a cargo door had blown off and the cabin depressurized, the aircraft would have stayed aloft for many minutes, as the pilots struggled to keep control. That didn’t happen. Nor was any radio or distress signal sent. From all this, we can rule out some sort of mechanical error with the craft or its maintenance. It is highly unlikely that a mechanical error would result in a sudden disappearance (and plummet) of an aircraft.
That leaves explosion.
There are a couple ways an aircraft could explode. It could have been hit by another aircraft. But this would have been known by now (if another aircraft was downed or missing). It could have been hit by a missile (ground-to-air), as in an act of terrorism. This is unlikely because the airplane was so high (37,000 feet) and 100 nautical miles out to sea. It could have been an explosion due to some dangerous explosive cargo, but we know it was carrying none.
What we are left with then…. is an explosive device.
If true…. that is disturbing, since it clearly indicates a breakdown in security, either at the Paris airport (deGaulle) or one of the previous airports.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Trump’s picks include Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.
Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.
Trump said in March he planned to release the list to ease concerns about his conservative credentials in the Republican primary.
Today is the deadline the U.S. Department of Justice has given the state of North Carolina to cease and desist its enforcement of the HB2 transgender discrimination law.
Gov. Pat McCrory had asked federal officials for an extension of today’s deadline to declare that North Carolina will not comply with its newly enacted law restricting anti-discrimination protections. McCrory said the U.S. Department of Justice declined his request unless he was willing to admit that House Bill 2 was discriminatory.
Which he wouldn’t do.
State Rep. Paul Stam, one of the bill’s sponsors, told NPR yesterday he hoped that the governor would stand firm against the federal government enforcing an “Obama-type” bathroom policy.
After a Twitter debate with N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager about North Carolina’s HB2 transgender discrimination bill and whether the NBA All-Star Game would take place in Charlotte, former TV talk show host Montel Williams last week sent Hager a cake festooned with “#lovewins” and “#repealHB2” written in icing. Williams, a conservative who campaigned for Republican candidate John Kasich, opposes the law.
I’m not sure how one’s “bodily privacy” is affected by the presence of transexuals in the same restroom. That is, unless you hold the belief that transsexuals are “checking you out”. Which would be an interesting allegation to prove.
In a press conference, McCrory said he did not seek out the issue but was responding to policies being made at the local level in the city of Charlotte.
Which matters…. how?
The governor also said that after DOJ sent a letter last week informing him the legislation violates civil rights law, the state was given just five days to reply.
So…. five times as longer than it took the NCGS to write, “debate”, vote on, and then have the governor sign the law.
He added that DOJ refused his request for an extension unless he publicly said he agreed with the agency’s interpretation of federal law.
“That is why this morning, I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is,” McCrory said. “I anticipate our own legislature, other private sector entities from throughout the United States and possibly other states to join us in seeking this clarification because this is not just a North Carolina issue, this is a national issue.”
Yeah. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for other states to chime in. Mississippi, maybe.
UPDATE #4 – 4 pm —
US Justice Dept. files suit against North Carolina over law restricting use of restrooms by transgender people – AP https://t.co/3oMvAyR2gg
US Atty General Loretta Lynch (from North Carolina, coincidentally) says the DOJ retains the right to withhold federal funds from NC. The lawsuit is against the state as well as the university system for violations of Titles VII and IX.
Her speech was actually very human and touching. She reassured transgender people that the federal government has their back. Nice.
Prince was 57. Police are investigating the death at his estate in Carver County, Minnesota.
Earlier this month, he said he wasn’t feeling well, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and canceled at least one concert in the city. Some days later, he took the stage in Atlanta to perform. After that concert, the singer’s plane made an emergency landing, the singer’s spokesperson Yvette Noel-Schure told CNN. At the time she said, “He is fine and at home.”
Prince Rogers Nelson owned the year 1984 — in fact most of the mid-80s — in many ways more so than Michael Jackson. During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince’s film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film’s soundtrack was the best-selling album and “When Doves Cry” was holding the top spot for singles.
He also wrote songs for other people: “Manic Monday” for the Bangles, “I Feel For You” for Chaka Khan, and “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinéad O’Connor.
Here are Prince’s 40 biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits:
Rank, Title, Hot 100 Peak Year, Position (Weeks Spent at No. 1) 1, “When Doves Cry,” 1984, No. 1 (5)*
2, “Kiss,” 1986, No. 1 (2)*
3, “Let’s Go Crazy,” 1984, No. 1 (2)
4, “Cream,” 1991, No. 1 (2)**
5, “Batdance,” 1989, No. 1 (1)
6, “Raspberry Beret,” 1985, No. 2*
7, “U Got the Look,” 1987, No. 2
8, “Purple Rain,” 1984, No. 2*
9, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” 1994, No. 3
10, “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” 1987, No. 3
11, “Little Red Corvette,” 1983, No. 6
12, “Diamonds and Pearls,” 1992, No. 3**
13, “Thieves in the Temple,” 1990, No. 6
14, “Pop Life,” 1985, No. 7*
15, “Delirious,” 1983, No. 8
16, “I Would Die 4 U,” 1985, No. 8*
17, “7,” 1993, No. 7**
18, “Alphabet St.,” 1988, No. 8
19, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” 1988, No. 10
20, “1999,” 1983, No. 12
21, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” 1980, No. 11
22, “Partyman,” 1989, No. 18
23, “Gett Off,” 1991, No. 21**
24, “Mountains,” 1986, No. 23*
25, “Take Me With You,” 1985, No. 25***
26, “The Arms of Orion,” 1989, No. 36****
27, “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” 1992, No. 23**
28, “I Hate U,” 1995, No. 12
29, “LetItGo,” 1994, No. 31
30, “America,” 1985, No. 46*
31. “The Morning Papers,” 1993, No. 44
32. “Anotherloverholenyohead,” 1986, No. 63*
33. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married/Irresistible Bitch,” 1984, No. 52*
34. “My Name Is Prince,” 1992, No. 36**
35. “Hot Thing,” 1988, No. 63
36. “Pink Cashmere,” 1993, No. 50
37. “Controversy,” 1981, No. 70
38. “Call My Name,” 2004, No. 75
39. “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold,” 2000, No. 63
40. “New Power Generation,” 1990, No. 64
Forget the eccentricity and vanity. Fantastic guitarist and writer and showman. Like the late David Bowie, he was another gender-bender and barrier breaker.
Prince sold 100+ million records, won 7 Grammys and destroyed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 2004 at a tribute to George Harrison. Some call this the greatest live guitar solo performance of all time (it starts around 3:25)
For my money, his best song was Raspberry Beret, and the video was awesome. The long version. Which hard to find. But here is the link. The part where he coughs up a furrball within this shiny production number gives me pure joy.
My heart is broken. There are no words.
I love you!
Prince’s unreleased catalog is nearly as expansive as his official discography. Because of his protectiveness, plus ongoing copyright and distributor disputes, there’s not a lot of Prince stuff out there. But here’s a rarity — a Prince cover of Honky Tonk Woman:
UPDATE: Poor Wolf Blitzer on CNN. I guess he’s thinking Hendrix died (again). Keeps referring to “Purple Haze” instead of “Purple Rain”.
The Winston-Salem City Council approved Monday night a resolution highly critical of much of the new House Bill 2 legislation that has set off controversy in the state and beyond over transgender restroom use and LGBT rights.
On a 6-1 vote, the council approved a resolution drawn up by Council Member Dan Besse calling on the city’s representatives in Raleigh to work toward undoing “inadequately considered and damaging legislative changes” that opponents see in the law.
The Besse resolution doesn’t mention the Charlotte restroom ordinance that provoked the General Assembly into action, one that would have given transgender people the right to use the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender identification. In fact, Besse said all along he wouldn’t ask council members to take a stand on that issue.
But Besse’s resolution does fault HB2 for taking away the ability of local governments to enact local ordinances concerning discrimination. As well, the resolution criticizes the law for preventing local governments from influencing private employer worker benefits by making the benefits a condition for getting a city contract.
The resolution carries no legal weight, but adds Winston-Salem to the growing list of N.C. cities voicing opposition to the new law.
The one Republican who voted against even has some problems with HB2:
Council Member Robert Clark, the board’s only Republican, was also the sole member to vote against the resolution. But Clark voiced concerns about some aspects of HB2 that he believes should be reconsidered, although he said he shares the concerns voiced by lawmakers about “male genitalia in female locker rooms” that were voiced when the bill was passed.
“At the same time, I recognize the difficulty a transgender person would have navigating a very private dilemma,” Clark said, adding that a third restroom might be a solution but isn’t one that has been proposed.
“We must, as a state, develop policies that protect civil rights of all persons while equally protecting the privacy rights of all as well,” Clark said.
And our AG made this point:
Besse’s resolution and Clark both took issue with the provision of HB2 that prevents someone from suing in state court for any kind of discrimination.
And one of Clark’s objections isn’t mentioned in Besse’s resolution but was pointed out as a problem with the legislation by Angela Carmon, the city attorney.
Carmon recently said the state law’s anti-discrimination measures — which do not mention sexual orientation or gender identity — could, if applied to the city’s own employment practices, put the city at odds with federal civil rights regulations that are increasingly being interpreted as covering sexual orientation and gender identity.
RALEIGH, N.C. – Governor McCrory signed an executive order Tuesday that clarifies existing state law and provides new protection for North Carolina residents.
According to the Governor’s Office, Executive Order 93 does the following:
Maintains the common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools.
Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.
Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination
According to a statement released by McCrory’s office, North Carolina is now one of 24 states that have protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for its employees.
“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
Governor McCrory released the following statement in a video with the announcement of the executive order:
North Carolina proudly welcomes all people to live, work and visit our great state.
We didn’t become the ninth most populous state in the nation by accident. We have long held traditions of both ensuring equality for all of our citizens and our visitors, while also respecting the privacy of everyone.
We are also a state that strives to allow our people and businesses to be as independent as possible without overreaching government regulations.
These North Carolina values of privacy and equality came into conflict recently when the Charlotte City Council passed a new mandate that forced on businesses a city-wide ordinance of bathroom and locker room regulations, something frankly we had never seen or had before in that great city or in North Carolina.
Simply put, this government overreach was a solution in search of a problem.
In fact, the Charlotte City Council rejected this proposal less than a year ago.
In a letter prior to the most recent vote, I notified the Charlotte City Council that this unnecessary and intrusive mandate conflicts with basic expectations of privacy in the most private of settings.
Therefore, as I expected, the state took action on what was seen as government overreach.
You know, after listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina.
But based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.
To that end, today I have signed an executive order with the goal of achieving that fine balance.
This executive order accomplishes the following:
First, it maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and in our schools, and when possible, encourages reasonable accommodations for families and those who have unique or special circumstances.
Second, the private sector can make its own policy with regard to restrooms, locker rooms and/or shower facilities. This is not a government decision. This is your decision in the private sector.
Third, I have affirmed the private sector and local government’s right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies.
And fourth, as governor, I have expanded our state equal employment opportunity policy to clarify that sexual orientation and gender identity are included.
And fifth, I will immediately seek legislation in the upcoming short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts.
Simply put, I have listened to the people of North Carolina, and the people of North Carolina are entitled to both privacy and equality. We can and we must achieve both of these goals.
Now I know these actions will not totally satisfy everyone, but the vast majority of our citizens want common sense solutions to complex issues.
This is the North Carolina way.
Thank you very much, and may God continue to bless the great state of North Carolina.
The Charlotte Chamber President and CEO, Bob Morgan, released the following statement:
“Today’s action by Governor Pat McCrory sends a positive message to businesses across North Carolina and to our economic development clients throughout the country and world that North Carolina and Charlotte understand the need to attract and retain diverse talent in our workforce.”
I guess the takeaway from this is that he is feeling the pressure to do something, but he’s not willing to admit he fucked up.
Part of this is the continued bad publicity coming from HB2. Springsteen, for example, cancelled his concert in Greensboro. And here’s the latest from the leading convention and visitors bureau in Wake County, the second most populous county in the state:
A report released by Wake County’s leading tourism agency on Mondaysays that the county has lost more than $700,000 in response to the controversial House Bill 2 – and could lose millions more.
The visitors bureau reported that 16 other groups, the names of which it didn’t disclose, also are reconsidering plans to hold events in Wake County. The groups would bring a combined 73,500 people to the area and infuse an estimated $24 million into thelocal economy, the report says.