Saturday, July 7, 2018

Last Call For That Poll-Asked Look

Generic ballot numbers in the last couple weeks have definitely favored the Democratic party, with Republicans wilting under the twin spotlights of Trump's trade war and Trump's immigration policy.  A new Quinnipiac University poll indicates that the divisions in America are stark, and women especially are abandoning the GOP in droves.

If the election for the U.S. House of Representatives were held today, 50 percent of American voters say they would vote for the Democratic candidate, as 41 percent say they would vote for the Republican candidate.

Independent voters back the Democratic candidate 49 - 35 percent.

There are wide gender and racial gaps: 
Men go Republican 50 - 42 percent as women go Democratic 58 - 33 percent; 
White voters are divided 46 - 46 percent.  Backing Democratic candidates are black voters 80 - 13 percent and Hispanic voters 60 - 35 percent. 
American voters disapprove 78 - 15 percent of the way Congress is handling its job.

Immigration is the most important issue in deciding how they will vote in November's election for the House of Representatives, 27 percent of voters say, with 23 percent citing the economy, 22 percent listing health care and 13 percent saying gun policy.

"Is it a signal of a blue wave? Four months until elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and 50 percent of American voters say they plan to vote for Democratic candidates," Malloy added.

Trump's trade policies are bad for the U.S. economy, voters say 50 - 39 percent and bad for their personal financial situation, voters say 46 - 35 percent.

Trump's trade policies will result in a trade war, voters say 52 - 38 percent and say 73 - 17 percent that a trade war would be bad for the U.S. economy

Democrats with a whopping 25-point lead among women though still may not be enough.  It's goog to see that white voters are at best tied between the parties, and that to me is a much better sign for the Dems overall, especially in states with smaller minority populations (like say, Kentucky.)

Still, if Dems are now running even with white voters, and up 25 points with women overall, the Republicans are going to get slaughtered.

We need to make sure that trend continues.  A lot can happen in four months still.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Another week, another recap of the Mueller investigation into Donald Trump's collusion and corruption, and while the Trump regime keeps claiming that the Mueller probe will be over any tie now and that the pressure is on the special counsel to wrap up "or else", in fact just the opposite is true.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand.

As Mueller pursues his probe, he’s making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents -- a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually, several current and former U.S. officials said.

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-than-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months, but there’s no political appetite at this time to increase the size of his staff, the officials said.

According to his most recent statement of expenditures, more money is being spent on work done by permanent Department of Justice units than on Mueller’s own dedicated operation. The DOJ units spent $9 million from the investigation’s start in May 2017 through March of this year, compared with $7.7 million spent by Mueller’s team.

Mueller’s probe has come under attack from President Donald Trump and his allies who say it’s going on too long, expanding too far and costing too much. But the special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trump or associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Investigators in New York; Alexandria, Virginia; Pittsburgh and elsewhere have been tapped to supplement the work of Mueller’s team, the officials said. Mueller has already handed off one major investigation -- into Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen -- to the Southern District of New York.

“Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart,” Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina told Rosenstein during a June 28 hearing. Rosenstein said Mueller knows he must move expeditiously.

A heavy investigative load for Mueller had been anticipated from the start, the officials said. The special counsel has already issued 20 indictments and secured guilty pleas from five individuals, and some of the defendants are mounting stiffer-than-expected battles in court.

So no, the Mueller investigation is not "wrapping up soon" and while it would make political sense to do so before the November elections, it looks very much like the Mueller team is setting up multiple parallel investigations in case Trump starts ordering firings, something that is becoming increasingly likely as we get closer to the midterm contests on November 6.

As such, the Trump regime is laying down a new strategy to "work the refs" on public opinion by throwing down the gauntlet before Mueller's feet.

President Trump’s lawyers set new conditions on Friday on an interview with the special counsel and said that the chances that the president would be voluntarily questioned were growing increasingly unlikely.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, needs to prove before Mr. Trump would agree to an interview that he has evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime and that his testimony is essential to completing the investigation, said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lead lawyer in the case.

His declaration was the latest sign that the president’s lawyers, who long cooperated quietly with the inquiry even as their client attacked it, have shifted to an openly combative stance.

Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that Mr. Mueller was unlikely to agree to the interview demands. Mr. Mueller could subpoena Mr. Trump to answer questions if he does not agree to voluntarily sit for an interview. Mr. Giuliani left open the possibility that the president, who has said in the past that he would be eager to sit down with the special counsel, would still agree to be interviewed.

Mr. Giuliani appeared to be in part trying to shift responsibility onto the special counsel for the lengthy negotiations over an interview — and was most likely prolonging them himself.

“If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it’s legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview. He urged the special counsel to wrap up his inquiry and write an investigative report. He said Mr. Trump’s lawyers planned to write their own summary of the case.

Can you imagine any other time where the subject of an investigation said "Show us all your evidence before we agree to cooperate" and wasn't laughed out of the halls of justice?  Me either, but this is where Trump, who clearly now believes that he not only is above the law, but is the law itself, thinks he is and thinks he has the power to use.

If Mueller is going to continue, then Trump will simply do what he does best: make up his own reality and tell the media to report it as such or lose access to the White House.  They've been playing along for 18 months now, and nothing makes me think anything will be different. Rudy's "summary of the case" will become the new narrative going forward, and tens of millions will believe Trump, confirming that the Mueller probe is "over".

It's far from over, as Trump will discover to his own detriment.

Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller intend to present evidence at the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that a banking executive allegedly helped Manafort obtain loans of approximately $16 million while the banker sought a role in the Trump campaign. 
Manafort faces trial on bank fraud and other financial charges in the Eastern District of Virginia beginning July 25. Until now, there had been no indication that his role in the Trump campaign would become part of the trial, and he had asked the judge to keep details about his ties to President Donald Trump out of the trial. Prosecutors say any alleged collusion with the Russian government won't come up at the trial. 
The allegation of a possible quid pro quo came amid several court filings Friday as both sides count down the remaining weeks until the trial. While prosecutors filled in the Trump campaign details, Manafort's team was busy filing requests with the judge to move his trial location and date, to look into possible leaks from the prosecutors and to keep Manafort out of the public eye. 
"The government intends to present evidence that although various Lender D employees identified serious issues with the defendant's loan application, the senior executive at Lender D interceded in the process and approved the loan," according to the filing from Mueller's team. 
The bank executive "expressed interest in working on the Trump campaign, told (Manafort) about his interest, and eventually secured a position advising the Trump campaign," the filing said. The unnamed man "expressed an interest in serving in the administration of President Trump, but did not secure such a position." 
While the senior executive is unnamed in this filing, in a previous court filing prosecutors identified Lender D as The Federal Savings Bank. 
"Here, it would be difficult for the jury to understand why the loans were approved without understanding that the lender approved the loans, in spite of the identified deficiencies, because the senior executive factored in his own personal ambition," prosecutors wrote in the filing.

Not all of the Trump money laundering scheme leads to Russia, but following the money will lead you a lot of places where Trump doesn't want to revisit, and Mueller knows it.  The Manafort trial gets underway in less than three weeks, and it's going to be nothing but daily bad news for Trump.  Both sides know it.

Stay Tuned.

The Jordan Rules, Ohio Version

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, leader of the House GOP Freedom Caucus, is now in the endgame of the "long-time enabler of sexual abuse finally facing justice" scenario that we've seen play out all too many times in the last year or so, especially with powerful Republicans.

New allegations in the Ohio State University sexual abuse scandal are threatening to intensify the political firestorm facing its onetime assistant wrestling coach, powerful GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.

A half-dozen ex-wrestlers told POLITICO they were regularly harassed in their training facility by sexually aggressive men who attended the university or worked there. The voyeurs would masturbate while watching the wrestlers shower or sit in the sauna, or engage in sexual acts in the areas where the athletes trained, the former wrestlers said.

Larkins Hall, the building that housed athletic teams, became such a well-known target that people who frequented it at the time have reminisced in anonymous postings online how easy it was to ogle naked members of the wrestling team.

The situation was so egregious that former wrestling head coach Russ Hellickson would at times have to physically drag the gawkers out of the building, several sources familiar with his actions at the time said. Hellickson also pleaded with the university multiple times to move their athletes to a private facility, the sources said. Jordan served as Hellickson’s No. 2, and the coach has been described as Jordan’s mentor.

The accusations could exacerbate Jordan’s troubles. He was the wrestling team’s assistant coach from 1986 to 1994 and has adamantly denied knowledge of any sexual abuse.

“I never knew about any type of abuse,” Jordan said in an interview this week. “If I did, I would have done something about it.”

The notion that Jordan had no idea this was going on for eight years is ludicrous to the point of insanity.  He looked the other way as it went on, something he continues to do today with his constant enabling of Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Though none of the wrestlers and coaches interviewed blamed Jordan for the inappropriate behavior they experienced in Larkins Hall, they said he would have had to know about it. One former wrestler told POLITICO he saw Jordan yell at male voyeurs to get out of the sauna, though Jordan’s office refuted this account. Even three wrestlers who defended Jordan said it would have been impossible for him not to notice the pervasive toxic atmosphere surrounding the team.

“Coaching my athletes in Larkins Hall was one of the most difficult things I ever did,” said a former wrestling coach who worked with Jordan but asked not to be named. “It was a cesspool of deviancy. And that’s a whole ’nother story that no one has addressed.”

“Was there some deviant behavior? … Was there behavior when guys were coming into the sauna and showers, was there sexual misconduct? No one is denying that,” said ex-OSU wrestler George Pardos of Larkins Hall in an interview. He defended Jordan as “one of the most honest men I’ve ever known.”

Multiple former wrestlers have accused Jordan, a National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, of being among the faculty members who turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior by the late Richard Strauss, the university’s former athletic doctor. Strauss allegedly preyed on male students during physicals, groping them to the point of making them ejaculate, according to one nurse who witnessed it and recounted the story in a video produced by alleged victims and obtained by POLITICO.

Ohio State has launched an investigation into Strauss’ behavior. Strauss worked at the university from 1978 to 1998. He killed himself in 2005.

This scandal is an important reminder that systemic sexual abuse happens because the powerful enable it, and that men can be victims of sexual abuse as well as women.  It's about power and manipulation of the powerless.

Jordan is of course blaming the "Obama Deep State", because the "party of personal responsibility" takes none for itself.

Mr. Jordan, a 54-year-old congressman in his sixth term, was defiant Friday night on Fox News, in his first extended response to the emerging charges. He disparaged some of the former college wrestlers who have come forward to say he knew of allegations that the team doctor, Richard H. Strauss, had fondled them. He said he could not explain why other more friendly wrestlers had leveled similar charges.

“I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any kind of abuse,” said Mr. Jordan, whose in-your-face brand of politics has made him the choice for speaker of the House by an array of conservative groups. “If I did I would have dealt with it. A good coach puts the interests of his student-athletes first.”

When the show’s host, Bret Baier, read a quotation by a former Ohio State wrestler and Ultimate Fighting Championship star, Mark Coleman, that Mr. Jordan would have to have dementia to have forgotten what happened, the congressman offered little explanation.

“I feel sorry for him,” he said of Mr. Coleman. “It’s just not accurate.”

Instead, Mr. Jordan continued to fan conspiracy theories connecting the emergence of the charges to his aggressive questioning last month of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the man many Trump supporters hold responsible for the Russia investigation.

“I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the speaker’s race,” he said.

FOX News has been ruthlessly attacking the victims for days now, just as they did with the women who came forward to speak out against Donald Trump.

Fox News on Friday suggested one of the wrestlers accusing Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) of ignoring sexual abuse claims at Ohio State had a “credibility problem” because he was recently released from jail.

Guest host Leland Vittert, filling in for America’s Newsroom anchor Bill Hemmer, was speaking with a panel of media guests during a segment of the show’s second hour about recent allegations against Jordan by former Ohio State wrestlers who claim he was dismissive of sex abuse claims involving former team doctor Richard Strauss in the 1990s. Jordan, an assistant coach there at the time, has denied the allegations, saying he was unaware of the sex abuse claims.

Strauss died in 2005.

“…You have the accusations going back more than a decade against Jim Jordan. How do you prove whether any of this is true?” Vittert asked the panel Friday. “You certainly think the timing is coincidental.”

James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal responded, suggesting Jordan may have made “a lot of enemies in Washington, often for good reason [because] he has been quite persistent demanding accountability out of federal agencies,” and adding that the case against him was likely shaky at best.

Vittert agreed, saying the issue was “interesting.”

“The one wrestler who claims that he directly reported this to Jim Jordan also reportedly had just gotten out of 18 months in jail for bilking investors out of about $2 million. Credibility problem […]?” he said.

The answer to "Why didn't the victims come forward until now?" is always "because they will be attacked by assholes like this."

Jordan's opponent in OH-4 is Democrat Janet Garrett, by the way.  She lost rather big in 2016.

I think it will be a lot closer this November.

Will Louisville Become The New Charlottesville?

Things could quickly turn ugly in Louisville today as armed white nationalists from our old friends, the Three Percenters, plan to show up Saturday to confront the ongoing Occupy ICE protest.

Louisville police are bracing for a clash outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building downtown as a militia group confirmed it is planning to counter an ongoing demonstration on Saturday.

Occupy ICE Louisville has been posted outside the federal agency's downtown office for almost a week in opposition to President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown. The group's Facebook page says they are "aware of the intention of counterprotesters to make themselves known" at 9 a.m.

Gary Foreman, a spokesman for the Kentucky chapter of the Three Percenters, said on Friday the group would be stationed at 7th and York streets Saturday morning to "ensure everyone expresses their thoughts in a peaceful environment."

Foreman said the group applied for and received a permit for the protest from Louisville Metro Police. He expects somewhere near 100 people to attend, he said, including members of state chapters in Tennessee and Indiana.

Jesus Ibañez, a member of Occupy ICE, told the Courier Journal his group learned of the counterprotest through their attorneys and a review of social media.

"We're just going to get people up early and have brunch and rally," Ibañez said.

Metro Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, who represents the downtown area, told the Courier Journal she spoke with Police Chief Steve Conrad on Thursday about this weekend’s protests. She said they didn’t talk about specific organizations, but that the police chief emphasized the importance of public safety.

"I do think folks should exercise caution and I do that based upon my own research," Sexton Smith said. "The chief wouldn’t have called me to inform me about their plans had he not thought this had risen to a level where we need to exercise caution."

And yes, the Three Percenters were among those at the Charlottesville white nationalism rally that turned deadly last year.  They happily provide "security" for neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other white supremacist rally groups.

Now they are coming to Louisville, weapons in hand.

It's going to be a long, hot summer here in Kentucky.
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