Friday, June 1, 2018

Last Call For Big Mouth Small Hands

This morning, the Tangerine Tyrant tweeted how good the jobs report was going to be well before its embargoed 8:30 AM eastern release.  That raises a number of moral and legal questions, explains Matt Yglesias.

The crux of the matter is that while the president and his senior aides always get an advance look at the jobs data, they never talk about it in public. And while, in theory, Trump didn’t say anything about the content of the briefing he got Thursday night, he was clearly teasing good news about the report. And if he’s willing to be this cavalier about the rules in public, one has to wonder what he would do with the information in secret during his various late-night phone calls

If you don't think Trump is using the information he gets to enrich himself, you haven't been paying attention to all the instances where he's used the Oval office to directly enrich himself, and his friends.  There's a reason why Trump continues to emulate Putin's oligarchy, it offers him unlimited power and the checks and balances put in place to rein him in don't exist because he's more than happy to spread the wealth that depends on him remaining in charge.  We live in that era in America now.

The larger reason for secrecy around government economic data is not fear that it will be released early to the public, but that it will be spread privately to individuals who will then be able to make a profit off trading on insider information
A normal president would have trouble getting away with this because his sources of income would be routinely disclosed to the public. Trump, however, does not disclose his income tax returns. And the information he does disclose about his financial assets is uninformative because it simply tells us he owns a lot of shell companies. 
Trump also routinely holds freewheeling evening discussions with friends from the worlds of business and conservative media. He has even been known to casually leak Israeli intelligence to the Russian foreign minister in what we are all supposed to believe was an accident. 
It’s obviously not possible for journalists to know for sure what non-Twitter use Trump is putting this information to in secret. As with many other Trump corruption issues, it would be relatively simple for Congress to use its oversight powers to find out. 
But from Inauguration Day until today, congressional Republicans have unanimously preferred not to know anything about how Trump is misusing his powers of office for personal financial gain, so we’re not likely to find out as long as they remain in the majority.

Republicans fleeing the House know they're in trouble with the voters, but they also know that right now the government gravy train is as loaded as it's ever been, and they're going to ride the rails as long as they can.

As I keep saying, Trump is merely the metastasized, malignant symptom of the cancer in the body politic.  Until we excise the GOP, the disease will continue to spread.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Team Trump is counting heavily on Jeff Sessions to take out all of the major players in the Mueller probe before they can reach Trump himself, and it's a race against the clock now to see who gets to the finish line first.  On one side, Sessions is under pressure to turn on his boss.

President Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reclaim control of the Russia investigation on at least four separate occasions, three times in person and once over the phone, according to sources familiar with the conversations.
Why it matters: The fact that there were multiple conversations shows that Trump's pressure on Sessions to stop recusing himself was heavier than previously known. The sustained pressure made several officials uncomfortable, because they viewed it as improper and worry that it could be politically and legally problematic.

What we're hearing: The New York Times this week reported on one of these conversations— which occurred at Mar-a-Lago in March 2017 — and said Robert Mueller is investigating it. But Trump’s other direct conversations with Sessions about the subject have not been previously reported.

A source with knowledge of the conversations said they occurred throughout last year, until fairly late in the year — not just in the short period after Sessions recused himself last March.

The details: Two sources familiar with the conversations told me the president never, to their knowledge, ordered Sessions to cancel his recusal from the Russia investigation. Instead, he asked Sessions whether he’d “thought about” un-recusing himself.

Trump told Sessions he’d be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and took back control over the Russia investigation, according to two sources with knowledge of their conversations.

Trump also told Sessions he’d be a hero if he investigated Hillary Clinton, according to one of the sources.

Trump also repeated the “hero” line separately to aides and privately mused about whether it would be possible to limit the scope of the Mueller investigation to avoid his business affairs.

The White House declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Sessions.

I've told you time and again that Donald Trump is motivated by petty revenge and wants Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton erased from history for daring to oppose him.  He wants them both in prison, he wants them both gone from the public eye, he wants them both eliminated from the field.  Sessions is the tool Trump promoted in order to make that happen.  Sessions isn't doing it directly, yet.  But the effort to dismantle the players in the Mueller probe is well underway.

Investigators from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office recently interviewed former FBI director James B. Comey as part of a probe into whether his deputy, Andrew McCabe, broke the law by lying to federal agents — an indication the office is seriously considering whether McCabe should be charged with a crime, a person familiar with the matter said.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz accused McCabe in April of misleading investigators and Comey four times — three of them under oath — about authorizing a disclosure to the media. Horowitz referred the findings to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Lying to federal investigators can carry a five-year prison sentence, though McCabe disputes that he intentionally misled anyone. Comey’s interview, while significant, does not indicate prosecutors have reached any conclusions, and people familiar with the process said it is not surprising given the allegations McCabe faces. A referral from the inspector general does not guarantee charges will be filed.

Michael R. Bromwich, McCabe’s lawyer, said in a statement: “A little more than a month ago, we confirmed that we had been advised that a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney’s Office had been made regarding Mr. McCabe. We said at that time that we were confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office would conclude that it should decline to prosecute. Our view has not changed.”

He added that “leaks concerning specific investigative steps the US Attorney’s Office has allegedly taken are extremely disturbing.”

McCabe is the first to be hug out to dry for the Mueller probe.  The plan is to undermine the FBI and the Justice Department through the DoJ's Inspector General, the next installment of the IG office's report on the Clinton probe is due Monday. "Investigating the Investigators while the investigation is ongoing" isn't a new tactic, but it is a dangerous one.  Comey appears to be the next target for an IG criminal referral, and eventually the trail will lead to Rod Rosenstein and Mueller.

The question is can they get there before Mueller gets to Trump.  The race is on, and the country hangs in the balance.

Trump Trading Blows

So the Trump regime has basically declared TRADE WAR™ on everybody, Canada, Mexico, the EU, China, probably Lesotho and Uruguay while we're at it, and our (once) closest allies are now happy to follow suit.

President Trump Thursday imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, triggering immediate retaliation from U.S. allies against American businesses and farmers. 
The tariffs — 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum — take effect at midnight Thursday, marking a major escalation of the trade war between the U.S. and its top trading partners. 
“It’s more than highly unusual. It’s unprecedented to have gone after so many U.S. allies and trading partners, alienating them, and forcing them to retaliate,” said economist Douglas Irwin, author of a history of U.S. trade policy since 1763. “It’s hard to see how the U.S. is going to come out well from this whole exercise.” 
In response, the E.U. said it would impose duties “on a number of imports from the United States,” referring to a 10-page list of targets for retaliation it published in March, which included Kentucky bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. European leaders also vowed to proceed with a complaint to the World Trade Organization. 
“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

The Mexican government said it would levy import taxes on U.S. exports of pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, certain cheeses, and various types of steel. And Canada levied a surtax on $16.6 billion of American steel, aluminum and other products, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pronounced Trump’s claim to be protecting national security an “affront” to Canadians who fought alongside American GIs from World War II to Afghanistan.

So US manufacturers are now scrambling on supply chain issues, because suddenly aluminum and steel just got considerably more expensive, and every cent of those costs are going to be passed along to US consumers.  The real issue though will be the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs lost as a direct result of this.

Donald Trump’s long-standing promise to use import tariffs to try to revive the US steel and aluminum industry was opposed by US economists, labor experts, and even the industries themselves—but the White House did it anyway. As a result, over 146,000 Americans will lose their jobs, economists estimate. 
Tariffs might protect some jobs in the US steel industry, but far fewer than the number of jobs that will be lost. That’s because steel manufacturers in the US employ far fewer people than industries that make things out of imported steel, like automakers. Just over 400,000 people in the US work in metal-producing jobs, economist Jed Kolko wrote in March. Four and a half million work in jobs that depend on metal. 
Employers in the other industries are going to have to pay more for materials, making their products costlier and less competitive. This will force them to cut jobs, economists and industry officials say. Hurting US manufacturers even further, the countries hit by the tariffs will also tax imported US products. 
Republicans in Congress called the tariffs “dumb” and “damaging” after the White House announcement, and a US retail industry trade group said they “will raise the cost of doing business for thousands of American companies, including retailers, and will stifle efforts to expand and create jobs.” 
The Trade Partnership, a economic consulting group, estimated in March that five US jobs will be lost for every one saved by the proposed tariffs, or about 146,000 jobs in total. That estimate assumed the US’s partners in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, Mexico and Canada, would be exempted from the tariffs.

146,000 jobs lost will be bad enough, but since our largest steel and aluminum importing partner is, you know, Canada, expect those job losses to be much, much higher.

It's going to be bad, folks.  And Trump's petty transactional mindset is going to harm millions of Americans.  You're not going to want to be a red state Republican in about five months, guys.


Related Posts with Thumbnails