Thursday, April 19, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post finds that House Republicans are now actively interfering with the Mueller probe in hope of slowing it down until after the midterms, if not giving Donald Trump cover for outright termination of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his boss, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

One of the big political questions of the moment is this: Will GOP congressional leaders act to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation against President Trump’s threats to hamstring or kill it? 
But in a way, this question, while important, doesn’t really get at the full story here, because its premise is that Republicans are mostly behaving passively toward the Mueller probe, clearing the way for Trump to act if he wishes. In reality, Republicans are, under cover of fake oversight, actively working to interfere in the investigation, on Trump’s behalf. 
Here’s the latest on this front: The Post reports that House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte is planning to issue a subpoena for release of the memos that former FBI director James B. Comey has made of his private conversations with Trump, which have been turned over to Mueller
Those conversations include the ones in which Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty and pressed him to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, but there is a lot more in those memos we haven’t heard about. They are probably important evidence in Mueller’s efforts to establish whether Trump obstructed justice.

Surprise!  And you thought Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz were assholes.

The Justice Department is already signaling reluctance to release these memos. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, has already told congressional Republicans that he wants more time to evaluate “the consequences” of giving them to Congress and worries about “publicizing them.” 
Does anyone really believe Republicans are motivated by nothing but pure oversight impulses here? There are two other reasons they might want these memos. The first is to deliberately provoke Rosenstein into declining to provide them all — which could create a pretext to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even for Trump to fire him
“The Deputy Attorney General should be aware that no matter what he gives to these members of Congress, it will never be enough,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told me this morning. “The point is to create a conflict with the Justice Department that would give the president grounds to get rid of Mueller or Rosenstein. They don’t care what damage they do to our institutions to protect the president.” Separately, Schiff is pushing a new bill that would create disincentives for Trump to pardon people involved in the investigation.

The second reason for getting these memos — and let’s not pretend this isn’t perfectly plausible — would be to selectively leak from them, to mislead the public by, say, creating phony impressions of misconduct on Comey’s part that could provide more fodder for Trump and his allies to delegitimize the investigation, possibly manufacturing further pretext to hamstring or kill it. Let me remind you that Republicans already tried a similar caper with the bad-faith-saturated Nunes memo.

One of both of these will happen as a result of these subpoenas, count on it.  Not only did this happen with the Nunes memo, it happened with the texts of FBI agent Peter Strzok, who the Republicans have been flogging for months as proof of bias in the FBI.  It has worked, too: fewer than 20% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Robert Mueller and 55% believe Mueller's investigation is "unfair" to Donald Trump.

And indeed, earlier today, Rosenstein caved on these memos and produced them for the subpoena. He's buying time and playing along, but of course now Goodlatte knows he can subpoena anything and everything that Mueller's team may have.

This will happen again, and soon.  And eventually Goodlatte will find something he can use.

The ground is being laid to fire Rosenstein and Mueller ahead of midterm elections.  We need to be paying attention...and more importantly, we need to be voting.

Trump Cards, Con't

Again, anyone at this point expecting Republicans to see reason and abandon Trump are people still somehow unaware that the real issue hasn't been Trump for the last two years, but the Republican party that enabled, nominated, and elected him.  Congressional Republicans, especially House Republicans, are now fully on-board with authoritarian lists of enemies to be prosecuted.

Eleven House Republicans — Ron DeSantis, Andy Biggs, Dave Brat, Jeff Duncan, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Todd Rokita, Claudia Tenney, and Ted Yoho — have signed a joint letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton and a variety of other Obama administration appointees, career FBI officials, and even Trump appointee Dana Boente, who is currently the FBI’s general counsel. 
The lead of the letter states that the authors are “especially mindful of the dissimilar degrees of zealousness that has marked the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, respectively.” 
Clinton was, of course, extensively investigated by multiple committees of the US Congress as well as the FBI. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to concede at one point that the only actual purpose of the Clinton investigations was to hurt her poll numbers, and though the FBI’s investigations exonerated Clinton, then-FBI Director James Comey offered, against DOJ guidelines, multiple instances of public commentary on her conduct that ultimately hurt her campaign. 
Nonetheless, House Republicans suggest that she should be prosecuted on the theory that because the Steele dossier was paid for in part by a lawyer who worked for the Clinton campaign, the campaign was “disguising payments to Fusion GPS” in a way that violated federal campaign finance law. 
But the issue here, to be clear, is not a particular zeal for campaign finance law. It’s a broad request that the full force of the US government be brought to bear against Trump’s political enemies.

Clinton, Comey, Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe, and several others are named in the six-page letter.  Trump has been shouting on Twitter for months, hell he held "Lock her up!" rallies across the country attacking Clinton both before and after the election.

But this is an official and formal criminal referral to the DoJ from eleven House Republicans.  This is something far more sinister that a tweet or a campaign rally chant.  This is the GOP starting the gears of the US government to declare the losing presidential campaign and the people investigating the president as enemies of the state.

Nobody who has been paying attention should be surprised by this, and I fully expect the number of House Republicans signing onto this abomination to grow.  You also shouldn't be surprised if the DoJ follows through on such prosecution.

And in fact on Andrew McCabe, it looks like they are considering doing just that.

The Justice Department inspector general has asked prosecutors in Washington, D.C., to examine whether former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should face criminal charges. 
Inspector General Michael Horowitz has referred McCabe to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Washington, D.C., according to a source familiar with the matter. The source asked not to be identified discussing the sensitive ongoing case. 
Such referrals are not uncommon when the Justice Department IG has completed its work, but they don't automatically trigger any action. Prosecutors could try to prove that McCabe broke the law, or they could do nothing. 
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment. The Justice Department and its inspector general's office both declined to comment. Attorneys for McCabe made no comment.

Expect more such referrals.

A Republic, if you can keep it.

Meanwhile in Bevinstan...

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is as awful at apologies as he is at everything else (being governor, being a empathetic human being, etc) after attacking protesting teachers and blaming them for causing child abuse and neglect by striking last week.

Bevin said of the protesters: “Children were harmed — some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time — because they were vulnerable and left alone.” 
On Sunday, Bevin said “I’m sorry,” but buffered the apology with about four minutes of wordy passive voice. 
“I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said. It was not my intent whatsoever,” the governor said. 
“It’s my responsibility to represent you — not only when I’m speaking to you, but when I’m speaking on your behalf — in ways that are clear, that are understood, that don’t hurt people and don’t confuse people,” he added, addressing public employees. “And so to the extent that I do that well, great, and to the times when I don’t do it well, that’s on me.” 
“I do again— I’m sorry for those of you, every single of one of you, that has been hurt by things that I have said.”

This is still a half-assed apology, the "If I hurt you" qualifier is a classic GOP copout.  "I'm sorry because I said things that were hurtful and wrong" is the correct answer, much less apologizing for suggesting that kids were physically abused because teachers were protesting and that it was the teachers' fault.

Also, Bevin didn't bother to apologize until after his accusations gained national attention over the weekend and after Kentucky's GOP-controlled House censured Bevin not once, but twice in the session where his vetoes were overridden, only adding to his massive embarrassment.

I really hope this is the straw the breaks Bevin's political back.  We'll see what the climate is like in 2019 when he's up for a second term, but at this point if he does go down in flames, this is looking like the point where Kentucky voters changed their minds about him.


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