Thursday, July 20, 2017

Last Call For Interview With A Ham Pyre

Somehow, Donald Trump went over to the "failing" NY Times and gave them an exclusive interview, and his army of lawyers were somehow not present in order to consider using a device that would instantly encase him in rubber cement in order to keep him from talking.  This allowed the Times to put Trump's words both on paper and to record the audio when asked questions, and frankly if anyone had any doubts left as to what Trump was planning to do as far as making Nixon look like a candidate for sainthood by comparison, those doubts were splattered all over the windshield of Trump's limo.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said. 
In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election. 
Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office. 
Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

While the interview touched on an array of issues, including health care, foreign affairs and politics, the investigation dominated the conversation. He said that as far as he knew, he was not under investigation himself, despite reports that Mr. Mueller is looking at whether the president obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey. 
“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.” 
Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.” But Mr. Trump did say that they talked “about adoption.” Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.

I don't even know where to begin on this.  He never would have appointed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions if he knew Sessions wouldn't kill the Russia investigation, he left the door wide open as to firing Mueller, he thinks Comey is part of a huge conspiracy against him and he believes his son did nothing wrong meeting secretly with Russian money launderers peddling Clinton campaign dirt.

Also he's innocent, he says. Innocent!

This is bonkers stuff and should really fill us all with dread.  It will not be long now until Mueller is fired along with probably Sessions.

Then things get really ugly.

It's About Suppression, Con't.

Former Obama DoJ civil rights division head Vanita Gupta sounds the alarm over VP Mike Pence and Kansas GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Trump regime's "election-integrity commission" and calls it what it is: massive federal voter suppression of Democrats.

The Trump administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans. It hasn’t gotten off to the strongest start: Its astonishing request last month that each state hand over voters’ personal data was met with bipartisan condemnation. Yet it is joined in its efforts to disenfranchise citizens by the immensely more powerful Justice Department. 
Lost amid the uproar over the commission’s request was a letter sent at the same time by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. It forced 44 states to provide extensive information on how they keep their voter rolls up-to-date. It cited the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the Motor-Voter law, which mandates that states help voters register through motor vehicle departments. 
The letter doesn’t ask whether states are complying with the parts of the law that expand opportunities to register. Instead it focuses on the sections related to maintaining the lists. That’s a prelude to voter purging
Usually the Justice Department would ask only a single state for data if it had evidence the state wasn’t complying with Motor-Voter. But a blanket request to every state covered under that law is virtually unprecedented. And unlike the commission, the Justice Department has federal statutory authority to investigate whether states are complying with the law. 
These parallel efforts show us exactly how the Trump administration will undertake its enormous voter suppression campaign: through voter purges. The voter rolls are the key. Registration is one of the main gateways to political participation. It is the difference between a small base of voters pursuing a narrow agenda and an electorate that looks like America.

Here’s how the government will use voters’ data. It will create a national database to try to find things like double-voters. But the commission won’t be able to tell two people with the same name and birthday apart. Such errors will hit communities of color the hardest. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of the 100 most common last names. 
Purging voters is part of a larger malicious pattern that states have employed across the country. Georgia and Ohio are being sued for carrying out early versions of what we can expect from the Trump administration.

I can't stress this enough, guys. Tens of millions of people will lose the right to vote before 2020 and most likely before 2018 if the Trump regime's little project comes to fruition here.  Whether or not they can get that right to vote back, well the Trump DoJ will make that as difficult as humanly possible.  The GOP will be able to count on winning elections for decades.  It doesn't take much, either.

We have to fight this with everything we have, or we are lost.

It's that simple.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Three stories today on the developments in the Trump/Russia investigation, both involving Trump's inner circle.  First, it turns out that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort owed a bit of money to some folks, and while that's not suspicious in itself, the people Manafort owned money to are A) foreign interests and B) pro-Russian.

Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.

The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions. The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees.

The records, which include details for numerous loans, were certified as accurate by an accounting firm as of December 2015, several months before Mr. Manafort joined the Trump campaign, and were filed with Cyprus government authorities in 2016. The notion of indebtedness on the part of Mr. Manafort also aligns with assertions made in a court complaint filed in Virginia in 2015 by the Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, who claimed Mr. Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million related to a failed investment in a Ukrainian cable television business.

After The Times shared some of the documents with representatives of Mr. Manafort, a spokesman, Jason Maloni, did not address whether the debts might have existed at one time. But he maintained that the Cyprus records were “stale and do not purport to reflect any current financial arrangements.”

A campaign manager in hock for at least $17 million can probably be convinced to have his campaign and candidate to do all kinds of things, I would think.  Certainly that's the kind of thing the FBI and CIA would want to know about, especially if he accrued said debts working for the political interests of a foreign government as an agent of that government, and then failed to disclose that arrangement.

And that brings us to story number two today, Trump's son-in-law and current White House adviser Jared "How Does This Asshole Still Have A Security Clearance" Kushner will have some very pointed questions to answer under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling on Monday, July 24, ABC News has learned. The closed-door session sets up what could be one of the most highly anticipated interviews for lawmakers to date.
Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell confirmed the meeting to ABC News. “As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress," Lowell said. "Working with and being responsive to the schedules of the committees, we have arranged Mr. Kushner's interview with the senate for July 24. He will continue to cooperate and appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has said since March that Kushner is one of many within the Trump administration it planned to question as part of it's Russia investigation.

The appearance by Kushner, who has kept a low public profile since joining the administration, marks a new phase in the investigation as one of the president's closest confidantes is called to answer questions.

Congressional investigators are expected to focus on Kushner's contacts with Russians during and immediately after the campaign. All contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials have come under intensified scrutiny following repeated denials from the Trump administration that there were no undisclosed meetings with Russians -- statements that have since been proven false.

Additionally, investigators are likely to ask about Kushner's failure to disclose some of those encounters on his security clearance application, as required by law. Another attorney for Kushner, Jamie Gorelick, has previously stated that Kushner's security clearance form, known as an SF-86, was "prematurely submitted" and that "among other errors, [it] did not list any contacts with foreign government officials." Kushner has since updated that form with all relevant meetings, including "over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries," Gorelick told ABC News.

And while it may be a closed-door session, it's that second part about glaring omissions on his SF-86 security clearance form that Kushner himself faces the most trouble for. Lying on one of those is a federal crime and Kushner damn well knows it.

But Kushner won't be alone in Senate testimony next week.  Both Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. will get to chat with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as we come to the third leg of our trip this morning.

Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have been scheduled to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on July 26, the panel announced Wednesday. 
President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is also expected to appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Monday. A source told CNN Kushner's testimony would be behind closed doors. 
The interest in Trump Jr. and Manafort builds on already intensive congressional investigations. In June 2016, the President's eldest son agreed to meet with someone described as a "Russian government attorney" after receiving an email offering him "very high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate" Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to emails Trump Jr. publicly released last week. Manafort and Kushner attended that June 16 meeting. 
A spokesperson for Manafort told CNN that he'd received the invitation to testify and wouldn't comment further. 
Earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, said that Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller had signed off on the committee's request to interview Manafort and Trump Jr. in public.

The Senate Judiciary committee hasn't been too involved up until this point, because it's been run by Iowa Sen. Chuck "Assume Justice Dead" Grassley.  But apparently the Donald Trump Jr. story has pissed Grassley off enough that he's bringing the committee to bear, and that means critics on both sides of the aisle will get some tough questions in, including ranking member Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Patrick Leahy, and Dick Durbin, on the Democratic side as well as Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham on the GOP side.

It should be a very entertaining session next week.  Stay turned.


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