Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgement, Con't

Republicans are busy pretending that Trump has been exonerated already and that there was never any evidence at all of collusion, going so far as to compare the "liberal nutjob conspiracy" of Russian collusion to birtherism or 9/11 truther stuff, rather hysterically rich stuff considering Trump was a major proponent of pushing the Obama was born in Kenya story himself.

Millions of American believe the worst about their current president, claims every bit as toxic in their own way as “truther” smears against George Bush or “birther” smears against Barack Obama. The Trump collusion narrative has gotten a far wider and more respectable hearing than either of the two conspiracy theories that plagued the Bush and Obama administrations. Truth is truth, and it’s important for responsible people to not just understand and respond to actual evidence — no matter where it leads — but also acknowledge its absence. And so far the absence of evidence points to Trump’s innocence of some of the worst allegations ever leveled against an American president or his senior team.

The right is convinced that the collusion story is over and done and that "nobody cares about Russia anymore, there's no evidence."  The problem is that the Trump regime has done a pretty lousy job of hiding the fact they've gone to great lengths to stop the investigation to determine if there's collusion or not, and that leads us to the old Nixonian adage "The cover-up is worse than the crime".

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

So there's now three components to Mueller's investigation:  Possible Russian collusion with Trump to help throw the election, Trump's possible money laundering through Russian connections, and the possible obstruction of justice.  Republicans are trying to convince you that while the first has no solid evidence yet, that the money laundering and obstruction must be FAKE NEWS too.  Hence the pressure on Mueller to resign or to be fired by Trump.

That's not how this actually works, of course.

The NSA said in a statement that it will “fully cooperate with the special counsel” and declined to comment further. The office of the director of national intelligence and Ledgett declined to comment.

The White House now refers all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz.

“The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Kasowitz.

The officials said Coats, Rogers and Ledgett would appear voluntarily, though it remains unclear whether they will describe in full their conversations with Trump and other top officials or will be directed by the White House to invoke executive privilege. It is doubtful that the White House could ultimately use executive privilege to try to block them from speaking to Mueller’s investigators. Experts point out that the Supreme Court ruled during the Watergate scandal that officials cannot use privilege to withhold evidence in criminal prosecutions.

The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter. Mueller’s office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

Again, the Republicans are trying to do everything they can to shift the investigation away from Trump and towards the FBI, NSA, CIA and the free press.  It's a concerted effort, but judging from the opinion polls it's failing miserably.

The larger point is that obstruction of justice has been part of Mueller's investigation since the beginning. 

And Trump is terrified.

Water We Waiting For In Flint, Con't

The wheels of justice grind slowly when it comes to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but eventually they will crush the guilty.

The head of the Michigan health department was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter, the highest-ranking member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water. 
Nick Lyon is accused of misconduct in office for failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15. 
The manslaughter charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while the misconduct charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years. 
The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. The obstruction charge carries a prison term of up to two years. 
Lyon’s failure to act resulted in the death of at least one person, 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, special agent Jeff Seipenko told a judge. 
The charges were read in court by Seipenko, a member of the state attorney general’s team. Lyon and Wells were not in court. A message seeking comment was left for Lyon’s attorneys. Wells’ lawyer was not immediately known. 
Flint began using water from the Flint River in 2014 but didn’t treat it to reduce corrosion, resulting in lead leaching from old plumbing into the water system. When the state was made aware of elevated lead levels in the drinking water, the Snyder administration confirmed the result and switched Flint back to the Detroit area water system in October 2015. 
Some experts also have linked the water to Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. People can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems. 
Twelve people died and another 79 in the Flint area were sickened in 2014 and 2015.

Hopefully more charges are coming, but the person who needs to be prosecuted and put behind bars is Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.  Never forget that he's the man behind this mess in Flint and still hasn't fixed the problem.

More as always on Flint from our friends at Eclectablog.

A Capitol Crime Committed By A Coward

Reports this morning are that a gunman opened fire at a Virginia baseball field where several House GOP members were taking ball practice for the annual House baseball game.  Louisiana GOP Rep. Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and two Capitol Police officers were also shot and wounded.

Rep. Steve Scalise was shot Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, a House colleague told CNN, in what sources are calling an apparent "deliberate attack." 
The shooting took place at a practice for the GOP congressional baseball team. 
Scalise, a member of the House Republican leadership as the majority whip, appeared to have been shot in the hip and it appeared two Capitol Hill police agents were shot, according to Rep. Mo Brooks, who told CNN he was on deck when the shooting occurred.

According to both congressional and law enforcement sources, the shooting appears to be a "deliberate attack." 
Two law enforcement sources told CNN the shooter, who is in police custody, has been taken to a hospital. 
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was at the practice, told CNN "it would have been a massacre" had Capitol Police not been present. 
"Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police," Paul said on CNN. "It would have been a massacre without them." 
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake added that he saw a member of Scalise's security detail return fire on the gunman for what felt like 10 minutes, even though the police officer was wounded in the leg. 
"50 (shots) would be an understatement, I'm quite sure," Flake said when asked about the total amount of gunfire, including police returning fire. 
Flake said two members of Scalise's security detail were wounded, and another man was wounded in the chest. 
Once they were able, Flake said he and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who is a physician, went out to where Scalise was lying after dragging himself away from the shooting to apply pressure to the wound. Scalise was coherent the whole time, Flake said. 
The President is monitoring the situation, the White House said in a statement.

Don't care which side of the political fence you're on, opening fire on people, elected officials or otherwise, makes you a scumbag asshole.  It looks like the gunman was taken down and is in custody, and I hope there's a nice little concrete box waiting for him for the next 50 years.  

As far as I'm concerned, this is as awful as Rep. Gabby Gifford's attempted assassination in Arizona a few years back.  Capitol Police are there for a reason folks, and they did their job.  I don't politically agree with Scalise, but in no way in any universe is this anything other than a criminal act perpetrated by an absolute coward.  Rand Paul is right, it would have been a massacre without the Capitol Police there.

But somebody decided to take the bullet box over the ballot box route.  That is never, I repeat never, acceptable in any way.


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