Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Last Call For Deportation Nation, Con't

The Trump regime moves on to the next step of its mass deportation of US citizens plan, now saying that "certain US citizens" aren't actually citizens, and deporting them.

On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen.

His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.

But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.

As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.

In a statement, the State Department said that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” adding that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

But cases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies

This is being done on purpose of course, and soon this process will be extended to a whole lot more US citizens whose citizenship is "suddenly being questioned".  Invariably, the people caught up in this will be Hispanic at the beginning, but it will start being applied to other "undesirables" as well.

The people targeted by these sweeps won't have the resources to fight back.  The Trump regime will simply say "Your birth certificate isn't legitimate.  You aren't a US citizen.  Goodbye."

This is what fascist regimes do, folks.  It is happening here as we speak.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Three stories on the plate for today in Mueller investigation news, first up yes, Attorney General Jeff Sessions's days are indeed numbered, and no, congressional Republicans aren't going to do a thing about it as long as they get Kavanaugh confirmed first.

President Trump, who levied extraordinary public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks, has privately revived the idea of firing him in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

His attorneys concluded that they have persuaded him — for now — not to make such a move while the special-counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing, the people said.

But there is growing evidence that Senate Republicans, who have long cautioned Trump against firing Sessions, are now resigned to the prospect that he may do so after the November midterm elections — a sign that one of the last remaining walls of opposition to such a move is crumbling.

“We wish the best for him, but as any administration would show, Cabinet members seldom last the entire administration, and this is clearly not an exception,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in an interview Tuesday.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) told The Washington Post, describing the Trump-Sessions dynamic as “a toxic relationship.”

Added Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a longtime defender of the attorney general: “My sense is the fix is in.”

Getting rid of Sessions means the Saturday Night Massacre and end of the Mueller probe is now all but assured, the only question is when.  It would be a nightmare if it happened before the midterms, but after, well.  And that brings us to story #2, that White House Counsel Don McGahn is also on his way out.

Top White House officials and sources close to White House counsel Don McGahn tell Axios that McGahn will step down this fall — after Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, or after the midterms.

The big picture: That potentially puts a successor in charge of fielding a blizzard of requests or subpoenas for documents and testimony if Democrats win control of the House in the midterms. And if the White House winds up fighting special counsel Robert Mueller, an epic constitutional fight could lie ahead. 
  • We're told that Trump has not formalized a successor.
  • But McGahn has told a confidant he would like his successor to be Emmet Flood, a Clinton administration alumnus who joined the White House in May to deal with the Russia probe.
  • Flood also served for two years during George W. Bush’s second term as his top lawyer handling congressional investigators.
A source familiar with Flood's thinking said: “The reason he can represent both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump is because he thinks these investigators come and basically put a target on their backs, trying to overturn every aspect of their lives searching for a crime."

Note that McGahn was the main reason Mueller wasn't immediately fired in June 2017.  If McGahn's departure comes in September or October instead of after the midterms, Trump may make his move on Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller sooner rather than later.  The Mueller investigation would have ended after just a month.

And that brings us to Story #3, a massive new Justice Department money laundering investigation, but the fugitive suspect has a whole hell of a lot of familiar Republicans on his defense team.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether a fugitive Malaysian financier laundered tens of millions of dollars through two associates and used the funds to pay a U.S. legal team that includes former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and a lawyer who represents President Trump, according to people familiar with the matter

Jho Low, the Malaysian businessman, has been described in U.S. court filings as playing a central role in the alleged embezzlement of $4.5 billion from a Malaysian fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Malaysian authorities this week separately charged Mr. Low with money laundering in the case, which investigators suspect may be one of the biggest financial frauds in history. He has been moving around Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China in recent months, according to people with knowledge of his whereabouts.

Mr. Low was close to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rajak, who unexpectedly lost an election in May and was arrested last monthin Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Najib has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in connection with the 1MDB scandal.

The Justice Department, in July 2016 and last year, filed civil lawsuits in federal court in California seeking to recover assets from Mr. Low and others including mansions, artwork and a yacht allegedly bought with 1MDB funds. It is now pursuing a criminal investigation in which Mr. Low, who has U.S. assets, is a target, these people said.

Chris Christie, former US Attorney, defending the biggest money laundering case in US history, huh.

The team of lawyers and consultants working for Mr. Low includes Mr. Christie, who briefly headed Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team; Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz ; Bobby Burchfield, a lawyer who has served as the Trump Organization’s outside ethics adviser; and Ed Rogers, a Washington lobbyist with close ties to the Republican Party.

Mr. Christie is representing Mr. Low in the asset-forfeiture cases in California, a spokesman for the former governor said. “There has been no communication by Governor Christie with any other area of government on Mr. Low’s behalf,” the spokesman said, adding there has been “no inquiry made to him by the Department of Justice with regard to any other investigation regarding funding or otherwise."

A spokesman for Kasowitz Benson Torres, Mr. Kasowitz’s New York law firm, confirmed the firm represents Mr. Low in Justice Department matters. “Here, as with all of our clients, our job as attorneys is to represent and vindicate our clients’ interests; and here, as with all of our non-pro-bono clients, we are paid for the legal services we provide,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Nothing to do with Trump's money laundering, except for all the Republicans making sure the guy goes free.

Now that's interesting.  Put this all together and I see Trump, once Kavanaugh becomes the fifth vote he needs on SCOTUS, doing whatever he likes and going straight to authoritarianism.

Stay tuned.

Trump Cards, Con't

The NY Times got a hold of audio of the meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders (note I didn't say evangelical Christian leaders, because the Christianity espoused by them isn't actually Christianity that is recognizable by the tenets of Christ) and as usual, he lied to them while offering some hefty quid pro quo.

President Trump warned evangelical leaders Monday night that Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently” if Republicans lose control of Congress in the midterm elections.

Speaking to the group in the State Dining Room of the White House, Mr. Trump painted a stark picture of what losing the majority would mean for the administration’s conservative agenda, according to an audiotape of his remarks provided to The New York Times by someone who attended the event.

“They will end everything immediately,” Mr. Trump said. “When you look at antifa,” he added, a term that describes militant leftist groups, “and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.”

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, declined to elaborate on what the president meant.

The blunt warning — delivered to about 100 of the president’s most ardent supporters in the evangelical community — was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s attempts to use the specter of violence at the hands of his political opponents and to fan the flames of cultural divisions in the country.

In the wake of racial violence last year in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Trump said there was “blame on both sides” and equated liberal, anti-fascist protesters with Nazis and white supremacists. In spring 2016, the president warned of violence by his own supporters if he did not get the Republican presidential nomination, saying “I think you’d have riots.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged to the evangelical leadership that his conservative base may not turn out at the polls in big numbers for Republican congressional candidates because he is not on the ballot in November.

The racism and division aside (that part of evangelical is definitely recognizable) Trump's plan was basically "If you don't vote for us, Democrats will destroy your megachurch empires, so you'd better start telling your flock to vote GOP in those Sunday sermons.  And don't worry about the IRS and the Johnson Amendment, I've taken care of it."

Eliminating the provision in the law would require Congress to act. Instead, Mr. Trump signed an executive order in May 2017 directing the Internal Revenue Service not to aggressively pursue cases in which a church endorses a candidate or makes political donations.

Legal experts have said the I.R.S. has very rarely pursued such cases against churches, and religious leaders have often been outspoken about politics even if they have had to stop short of officially endorsing a candidate.

Mr. Trump ignored that reality Monday night. He urged religious leaders to use what he described as their newfound freedom of speech to campaign from the pulpit on behalf of Republican candidates.

“You have people that preach to almost 200 million people — 150 to, close, depending on which Sunday we are talking about, and beyond Sunday, 100, 150 million people,” he said.

Mr. Trump bantered with the religious leaders at the dinner, noting at one point that Robert Jeffress, a Dallas evangelical pastor who once said Jewish people were going to hell, had observed that Mr. Trump “may not be the perfect human being, but he’s the greatest leader for Christianity.”

“Hopefully, I’ve proven that to be a fact,” Mr. Trump said, prompting applause, before adding, “In terms of the second part, not the first part.”

Mostly the first part.


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