Thursday, November 29, 2018

Last Call For A Bridge Too Farr

It turns out that yes, there are federal judges that won't get rubber-stamped by the Senate GOP.  You actually can be too much of a racist asshole to get a lifetime federal judgeship, and former Jesse Helms campaign lawyer and NC judge Robert Farr was too much for South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott and outgoing Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

Sen. Tim Scott said Thursday he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, assuring the controversial pick will not be confirmed.

The South Carolina Republican was the deciding vote in determining whether Farr, accused of efforts to disenfranchise black voters, would become a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The seat has been open since Jan. 1, 2006.

Scott’s decision comes after four days of intense drama and speculation about what the Senate’s only black Republican would do.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, made it clear earlier in the day he, too, would oppose Farr’s nomination. Senate Republicans could only afford to lose one vote and still confirm Farr. Senate Republicans control 51 seats, and all 49 Democratic caucus members announced they would oppose Farr.

In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina.

Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer.

Helms’ 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls. The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.

“I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge,” Scott said in his statement. “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”

The 1991 memo said that “Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day.”

Farr is an old school master of caging, a guy so racist that Poppy Bush's DoJ called him out on it. It's not going to make up for the decades of awfulness that will be caused by the Trump judges Scott and Flake have already rubber-stamped, but it's one slightly human thing to happen.

Farr should never have been considered, but at least one racist lost this week.  From a person who grew up in NC apologizing to people for the monster that Jesse Helms was as a Senator for years, it's something that is personally meaningful.

It's a victory we have to take.

Meat The Press, Con't

CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill is no longer a contributor, after absolutely stepping in it this time over Israel.

CNN severed ties with contributor Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday, following comments the university professor made in a speech at the United Nations.

“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a CNN spokesperson told Mediaite.

Hill urged countries to boycott Israel in a speech on Wednesday, calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” His comments sparked an immediate backlash, with many noting “from the river to the sea” is a phrase used by Hamas and other anti-Israel terror groups. Critics argue the phrase implies the replacement of Israel by a Palestine stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea — though Hill disputes this characterization of his comments.

“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill said in his speech.

Israel is not above criticism. lord knows I've laid into Netanyahu's Trump-level corruption and Israel's multiple war crimes of collective punishment.  But Hill should have damn well known better to say something his critics would twist into him "wanting to eliminate Israel" in a world where the right wants any excuse to turn anti-Semitic charges and full-fledged neo-Nazi dealings back on the left.

Besides, the whole point of being a pundit is choosing your words carefully to make your argument (or at least on any non-FOX station).  Hill failed at that both miserably and spectacularly, and it's far from the fist time he's completely screwed up.

He makes bad choices often, especially when it comes to Israel.

It's Mueller (On German) Time

The headquarters of Germany's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, was raided today by scores of German police in connection with a massive international money laundering scheme.

One hundred seventy officers searched the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and five other sites in the area early Thursday as part of a money-laundering investigation involving hundreds of millions of euros, prosecutors in Frankfurt said.

Two employees, who were not publicly identified but whose ages were given as 50 and 46, and other “unidentified people in positions of authority” are suspected of failing to report possible money laundering for transactions worth 311 million euros, or more than $350 million.

The money flowed to organizations in the British Virgin Islands before spring 2016, prosecutors said in an emailed statement.

The German bank confirmed in a statement that the police were investigating several of its offices in Germany and said the investigation related to the Panama Papers, a trove of files that put a spotlight on global money laundering. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities,” Deutsche said in the statement.

In April 2016, news organizations in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Panama Papers, which revealed how some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, including more than 900 customers of Deutsche Bank, dodged taxes in their home countries by transferring money to offshore accounts.

Prosecutors said the documents indicated “that Deutsche Bank helped customers found offshore organizations in tax havens by transferring illegally acquired money without alerting authorities to suspected money laundering.”

Paper and electronic documents were gathered during Thursday’s raid, they said.

The prosecutor’s office said two bank employees were suspected of helping Deutsche Bank clients set up offshore accounts and the bank had failed to report the suspected money laundering

A lot of people are going to jail over this one, but my guess is that the client list of laundered cash may involve one or more members of the Trump Organization.   Remember, Donald Trump and his kids have a long-standing relationship with the bank including a $285 million loan for Jared Kushner that happened just before Election Day 2016 and Trump still owes them $175 million or so.

You'd better believe that this raid and Mueller shifting to the endgame are related.  Mueller has documents from the bank and that trail leads to the Russian mob.  And if you think Trump is having a bad just got infinitely worse for him.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has reached a tentative deal with Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and long-time fixer for President Donald Trump, sources told ABC News.

Cohen is scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday where he is expected to enter a guilty plea for misstatements to Congress in closed-door testimony last year about his contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign.

Once among the president’s most loyal and zealous defenders in business and politics, Cohen has now promised to “put family and country first” by cooperating with prosecutors, becoming perhaps the most pivotal public witness against his former boss.

Cohen’s earlier plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York implicated President Trump in campaign finance felonies. Since then, Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller's team. The questioning has focused on contacts with Russians by Trump associates during the campaign, Trump’s business ties to Russia, obstruction of justice and talk of possible pardons, sources familiar with the discussions have told ABC News.

“The potential significance of Cohen’s cooperation is immense,” said Kendall Coffey, a former United States Attorney in Florida.

Cohen now giving testimony to Mueller on Trump's failed Moscow Trump Tower scheme and this bank raid on Trump's largest loan partner for money laundering are, as they say, a hell of a coincidence.

Things are moving very quickly now on the Mueller front as Trump jets to Argentina for the G20 summit and of course a meeting with his boss, Putin.  Stay tuned.


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