Monday, December 10, 2018

Last Call For A Baltimore Hate Thing

Donald Trump has bailed on his planned Wednesday visit to a black church in Baltimore because the white supremacists in his base weren't too happy about it.

planned visit by President Donald Trump to Baltimore on Wednesday has been called off, and a discussion of the administration’s urban revitalization policies will take place at the White House instead. 
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Monday that the change was for scheduling reasons and that the event would still include people from Baltimore. 
Deere said the president would make remarks “highlighting the administration’s agenda to expand the economic boom to all Americans, especially those in distressed communities — both rural and urban.” 
At the invitation of a Baltimore pastor, Trump had been planning to come to the city to discuss opportunity zones, poor neighborhoods singled out for special tax breaks under Republicans’ rewrite of the federal tax code. 
The Rev. Donte Hickman, the pastor who extended the invitation, said White House officials told him early Monday that changes underway at the White House due to the recently announced departure of Chief of Staff John Kelly meant the visit would no longer be possible for scheduling reasons. 
But, Hickman said, the White House told him that officials want to reschedule a visit to Baltimore in the new year. 
The visit would have brought Trump to one of the most struggling city neighborhoods. The blocks surrounding Hickman’s Southern Baptist Church in Broadway East are home to dozens of vacant houses, though Hickman’s North Chester Street church has sponsored new housing in the neighborhood. That includes an apartment building and community center that was under construction when it was destroyed in a suspected arson during the rioting of April 2015, after the death of Freddie Gray. But the church managed to rebuild the Mary Harvin Senior Center within the next year. 
Hickman said Monday he was disappointed that the president would not be visiting.
“I think this was a major opportunity for the president and for Baltimore,” he said.

Again, the Baltimore visit is exactly what Trump says he wants to highlight for black voters, Christian outreach, community leadership, and rebuilding after the Obama administration.  Weird then that Trump can't bring himself to actually go there.

Why, it's almost like Trump's outreach to black voters is complete bullshit, considering he can't get enough signaling to white supremacists on a constant basis.

Who knew, right?

It's Mueller Time, Con't

The endgame continues as Mueller has now rolled up a major prize: arrested Russian spy Maria Butina appears to be copping a plea deal, and that means she can supply Mueller with Trump's connections to Russia and the NRA.

Maria Butina, an accused Russian spy who nuzzled up to the National Rifle Association before the 2016 election, appears to have reached a plea deal with the Justice Department, according to a new court filing in her criminal case. 
Her attorneys and prosecutors filed a two-page request on Monday for a "change of plea" hearing before a federal judge as soon as Tuesday. "The parties have resolved this matter," the filing in DC federal court said Monday morning. Butina's case was brought by federal prosecutors in DC and not by Robert Mueller's team in the special counsel's office. 
A plea hearing has not yet been set. The notice Monday comes after several weeks of hints that Butina might negotiate an end to her case -- and after bumps in the case where federal prosecutors, at the height of attention on Russia's influence in American politics, accused the former graduate student of infiltrating Republican organizations in order to advance Russian interests. 
Until now, Butina, 30, maintained her innocence and insisted she was simply a foreign student interested in bettering relations between the US and Russia. Butina previously pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and a second count of acting as an agent of a foreign government when she was arrested in July
Her case first became public amid a furor of US-Russia developments. She was arrested two days after the Justice Department separately indicted Russian military intelligence for hacking the Democratic Party, and her case became public the same day President Donald Trump met with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, and declined to endorse US intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Butina's not stupid.  She knows that if she ever beat the rap, Putin might snuff her out anyway.  A deal including protection is her only chance, and has been ever since she was picked up.  Vlad doesn't like loose ends.

Still, it means she has something Mueller wants, and it almost certainly has to involve the NRA laundering Russian money to funnel to Trump.

Her lawyers had said her interactions with the NRA and others were typical of an ambitious student anxious to network and eager to build better relations between the United States and her country. They had at one point argued her outreach should be covered by constitutional protections for free speech and noted that she was not accused of attempting to steal U.S. secrets or working with Russian intelligence.

But prosecutors said her goal was to advance the foreign policy aims of the Kremlin and that she was acting at the direction of a Russian government official, Alexander Torshin, a former senator who now serves as deputy director of the Russian central bank.

Butina has been jailed for nearly five months since her July arrest. In that time, her case had been embraced by the Russian government, which had vigorously protested that she was an innocent student whose incarceration was unjust. With the plea deal, Butina could be released in coming months and deported to Russia.

Butina was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, rather than special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — an indication that Mueller may have determined that her activities did not directly connect to his investigation, which involves scrutinizing any links between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.

Still, Butina intersected with Trump’s campaign several times before the 2016 election. In June 2015, she wrote a column for an American magazine in which she argued that only the election of a Republican president would result in better ties between the United States and Russia. A month later, at a public town hall event in Las Vegas, she was able to ask a question directly to Trump, inquiring about how he viewed sanctions imposed on Russia after its 2014 invasion of Crimea.

“We get along with Putin,” he told Butina, referring to the Russian president. “I don’t think you’d need the sanctions.”

Butina was then involved with an unsuccessful effort to organize a meeting between Torshin and Trump at an NRA convention in May 2016. Instead, she and Torshin briefly interacted with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, at the event, according to documents turned over to Congress.

Yes, it's true that maybe Putin wants her back, but Butina knows how this game works.  A blown agent who makes plea deals and gets her face plastered all over international newspapers isn't exactly an asset anymore.

The bigger news is that Butina is the link between Russia and the NRA, and Trump: international money laundering on the scale of millions, paid to Trump to benefit both Moscow and the gun lobby.  It's going to get a lot worse for Trump and the NRA from here on out, and everyone knows it.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Trump Lies

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has finally gotten so fed up with Donald Trump's ridiculous lies that he's literally invented a whole new category of liar just for him in the annals of the paper's fact checking columns.

It was President Trump’s signature campaign promise: he would build a wall along the nation’s southern border and it would be paid for by Mexico.

Shortly after becoming president, Trump dropped the Mexico part, turning to Congress for the funds instead. When that too failed — Congress earlier this year appropriated money for border security that could not be spent on a concrete wall — Trump nevertheless declared victory: “We’ve started building our wall,” he said in a speech on March 29. “I’m so proud of it.”

Despite the facts, which have been cited numerous times by fact checkers, Trump repeated his false assertion on an imaginary wall 86 times in the seven months before the midterm elections, according to a database of false and misleading claims maintained by The Post.

Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category – the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.

The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high: the claims must have received three or four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware his or her facts are wrong. The list of Bottomless Pinocchios will be maintained on its own landing page.

The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump. In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list. 

Among Trump's Bottomless Pinocchio claims so far: building the wall will stop drugs when the DEA has repeatedly said it won't help (tunnels, subs and planes bring in nearly all drugs, not cars and trucks) that US Steel is building new American plants when it has made no such announcement, and my favorite, that ICE and the Border Patrol have apprehended and deported more MS-13 gang members than actually exist.

I'm not surprised that it took two years for Kessler to finally stop arguing whether or not Trump is lying and lying on purpose, he is, and it looks like finally our media is starting to get it.

Sadly, it's years too late.  The damage to America has already been wrought, and there's far more to come.


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