Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

So here's what we know about Paul Manafort and his lawyers right now: First, Manafort should immediately fire his legal team because they accidentally (or on purpose maybe at this point, who knows) forgot to make the redactions stick in his latest court filing with the Mueller team, and second, because of those missing redactions, we know get to see that  Robert Mueller believes Paul Manafort has been a very, very bad boy.

Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former employee whom the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing.

The apparently inadvertent revelation indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data.

The former Trump campaign chairman on Tuesday denied in a filing from his defense team that he broke his plea deal by lying repeatedly to prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about that and other issues.

In his rebuttal to the special counsel’s claims of dishonesty, Manafort exposed details of the dispute, much of which centers on his relationship with Kilimnik. The Russian citizen, who began working for Manafort’s consulting firm starting in 2005, has been charged with helping his former boss to obstruct Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. He is believed to be in Moscow.

The special counsel alleged Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the unredacted filing, and discussed Ukrainian politics with Kilimnik during that time.

“Manafort ‘conceded’ that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion,” his attorneys quote the special counsel as saying, and “’acknowledged’ that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid.”

In his filing, Manafort’s lawyers said any inconsistencies in those interviews were unintentional.

“Issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed,” they wrote. 
Mueller also said Manafort lied about contacting Trump administration officials after Trump took office. Manafort had told investigators he had no direct or indirect contact with White House officials since Trump’s inauguration, but Manafort had been in touch with officials as recently as the spring, according to the filing.

Manafort told a colleague in February — four months after he was indicted — that he was in contact with a senior administration official through that time, prosecutors said. And in a text message, he authorized another person to speak with a White House official on May 26, they alleged.

In Tuesday’s filing, Manafort’s attorneys said that person was “asking permission to use Mr. Manafort’s name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President,” which “does not constitute outreach by Mr. Manafort to the President.”

Sorry Don.  Your campaign chairman gave internal campaign data to a foreign power in exchange for help.  That's collusion, period.  At this point, Marcy Wheeler figures, Manafort is going to keep letting redactions slip until Trump pardons him.

I have no idea whether this non-redaction was a colossal mistake or whether this was a cute way to disclose what evidence Mueller has shared with Manafort (remember: these five lies were not the only ones that Manafort told; just the only ones that Mueller wanted to describe).

But even ignoring the redaction fail, the filing feels very contemptuous, as if they’re still playing for a pardon.

Effectively, they’re admitting their client maybe lied or just conveniently forgot to minimize his ongoing conspiracy with someone even Rick Gates has said has ties to Russian intelligence — the same Russian intelligence agency that hacked Democrats. But they don’t think that’s a big deal. They’re just going to double down on obtaining more information on the evidence Mueller has while they wait for the pardon.

Seems about right.

The Cruelty Is The Point, Con't

Trump voters elected Donald Trump because he would not only use the power of the federal government to "Make America Great Again" but to specifically crush Obama coalition voters, so that never again would those people be allowed to elect a black president...or a woman.  They voted specifically for a government to help the "good, Christian people" of rural America and let urban America burn to the ground.

That's the implicit covenant Trump made., to roll back rights, to remove political and economic power, to put us in our place. Trump voters voted for payback, they voted for  punishment, they voted for, as Adam Serwer says to make cruelty the point. And under the tariffs and market plunges and now the government shutdown, in the Florida panhandle where Hurricane Michael ripped through not three months ago,  Trump voters are openly starting to question whether Trump is holding up his end.

Though Mr. Trump said on Twitter over the weekend that “most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats,” that is far from true in places like Jackson County, Fla., where Marianna is the county seat. It is a Republican bastion so deeply conservative that it was illegal to sell liquor by the drink until November 2017. The president and his plan for a wall along the border are popular here, as they are across much of the state, which might explain why Florida Republicans in Congress have done little to pressure party leaders in the Senate to put an end to the shutdown.

“Everybody I talk to wants the wall,” James Grover, 72, a car salesman from nearby Blountstown, said over breakfast on Saturday at the Waffle Iron, a diner on Route 90 that opens six days a week even though its facade, destroyed by the hurricane, is temporarily made up of plastic sheeting and plywood.

Few prison guards interviewed leveled any criticism at the president or his border policy, instead blaming the impasse on both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have failed to reach any agreement.

“You can point fingers at both sides,” said Jason Griffin, 44. “I point fingers at everyone. If they want to get something done, they can.”

Mr. Vinzant, the union president, said he believed a wall was necessary because he trusted fellow public employees who work for the Border Patrol. “Those guys will sit there and say, ‘We need help,’” he said. “So I have to agree with it. We don’t have a choice.”

But that solidarity does not make the prison officers’ situation any easier, especially since they face an added stress: The Bureau of Prisons as a general condition of employment requires that its workers pay their debts in a timely fashion. Failure to do so can result in discipline.

“I hate the shutdown,” said Joseph Sims, 37, a corrections officer of six years. “Sometimes you’ve got to do stuff to get stuff done,” he said of Mr. Trump’s stance, “but now it’s starting to take a toll on everybody at work.”

On Saturday, Mr. Sims stood in his living room as his wife, Melissa Sims, a prison nurse, prepared to hug their 3-year-old twins before embarking on the nearly seven-hour drive to work for two weeks in Mississippi.

“Mommy’s got to go bye-bye,” she told her son, Eli, who shrieked: “No! You can’t!”

“Oh my gosh, don’t make me cry,” said Ms. Sims, 39.

The day after she is scheduled to return, her husband will have to leave for Yazoo City himself, so they will hardly see each other. And the shutdown seems likely to delay repairs at the Marianna prison, which workers fear will remain effectively closed for at least a year.

“We can handle a month or two, but if it gets much longer than that, I’m going to look for another job — a job in the private sector,” Ms. Sims said of working without pay.

She blamed Mr. Trump for the shutdown, a point on which she disagreed with her husband and most of her colleagues. “This definitely is making me more political than I have been in the past,” Ms. Sims said. She has been researching how Congress passes budget bills.

“My stance is that if there’s a wall, they’re going to find a way to get past it — legal or not,” Ms. Sims said.

“I believe there should be a barrier,” her husband countered.

A few miles away, another prison employee, Crystal Minton, accompanied her fiancĂ© to a friend’s house to help clear the remnants of a metal roof mangled by the hurricane. Ms. Minton, a 38-year-old secretary, said she had obtained permission from the warden to put off her Mississippi duty until early February because she is a single mother caring for disabled parents. Her fiancĂ© plans to take vacation days to look after Ms. Minton’s 7-year-old twins once she has to go to work.

The shutdown on top of the hurricane has caused Ms. Minton to rethink a lot of things.

“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” she said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.

That's why they voted for him, you know.  This isn't a retired boomer in her 70's saying this, the typical example of "dying racism" in America.  This is somebody my age, my generation, saying this.  This is somebody born in 1981, a older Millennial.  Somebody who works in a prison as a secretary in the state with the highest incarcerated black population in America.  She knows exactly what she means when she says "the people he needs to be hurting" about Donald Trump.

The cruelty is the point.  I will keep saying this until people get this. Not just of Trump's cruelty, but the cruel power fantasies of Trump voters.  They voted for cruelty against people they feel aren't representative of their America.  They voted to get rid of us, to make us a permanent underclass in their America, so it is "great again".  They voted because their parents grew up in a time where black folk and brown folk had no rights, weren't their co-workers, definitely not their bosses, absolutely not their president.  They want that back because they are miserable under Trump, and they voted for making us miserable, not themselves.

Trump's getting close to blowing it.  That's why he needs the wall.  Everyone knows it.

The cruelty is the point.

Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

Donald Trump has already lost the government shutdown fight that he stupidly picked, and only now are Republicans in Congress beginning to realize just how much of a disaster this is going to be for them.

Several dozen House Republicans may cross the aisle this week to vote for Democratic bills to reopen shuttered parts of the federal government, spurring the White House into a dramatic effort to stem potential GOP defections.

White House officials and Republican congressional leaders worry that GOP support for the shutdown is eroding
, weakening President Donald Trump’s hand as he seeks billions of dollars for a border wall that Democrats have vowed to oppose, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.

Hoping to sway skeptics in his party and the broader public, Trump will make an Oval Office address Tuesday night to discuss what he called the “Humanitarian and National Security Crisis on our Southern Border," he announced on Twitter. That will be followed by a Trump trip to the border region on Thursday.

Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will address House Republicans on Tuesday evening. The House on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on a Democratic bill designed to fund the IRS and several other agencies, the first of four bills Democrats hope to use to peel off Trump's GOP support in the House.

Without more money, the IRS could have a problem processing tax refunds. Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, reversed course on Monday and said refunds will be paid out, another move by the White House to ameliorate the impact of the shutdown.

It's very possible that Trump's primetime address tonight isn't to sell the Democrats on the wall, or even to declare a national emergency.  Maybe it's to sell his base on losing the wall fight.  If that's the case, tonight ought to be a lot of fun for the Democrats.

On the other hand, the kinds of things Trump can do right now under existing national emergency scenarios is outright frightening.

The premise underlying emergency powers is simple: The government’s ordinary powers might be insufficient in a crisis, and amending the law to provide greater ones might be too slow and cumbersome. Emergency powers are meant to give the government a temporary boost until the emergency passes or there is time to change the law through normal legislative processes.

Unlike the modern constitutions of many other countries, which specify when and how a state of emergency may be declared and which rights may be suspended, the U.S. Constitution itself includes no comprehensive separate regime for emergencies. Those few powers it does contain for dealing with certain urgent threats, it assigns to Congress, not the president. For instance, it lets Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus—that is, allow government officials to imprison people without judicial review—“when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” and “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

Nonetheless, some legal scholars believe that the Constitution gives the president inherent emergency powers by making him commander in chief of the armed forces, or by vesting in him a broad, undefined “executive Power.” At key points in American history, presidents have cited inherent constitutional powers when taking drastic actions that were not authorized—or, in some cases, were explicitly prohibited—by Congress. Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush’s programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.

The Supreme Court has often upheld such actions or found ways to avoid reviewing them, at least while the crisis was in progress. Rulings such as Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer, in which the Court invalidated President Harry Truman’s bid to take over steel mills during the Korean War, have been the exception. And while those exceptions have outlined important limiting principles, the outer boundary of the president’s constitutional authority during emergencies remains poorly defined.

Presidents can also rely on a cornucopia of powers provided by Congress, which has historically been the principal source of emergency authority for the executive branch. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, Congress passed laws to give the president additional leeway during military, economic, and labor crises. A more formalized approach evolved in the early 20th century, when Congress legislated powers that would lie dormant until the president activated them by declaring a national emergency. These statutory authorities began to pile up—and because presidents had little incentive to terminate states of emergency once declared, these piled up too. By the 1970s, hundreds of statutory emergency powers, and four clearly obsolete states of emergency, were in effect. For instance, the national emergency that Truman declared in 1950, during the Korean War, remained in place and was being used to help prosecute the war in Vietnam.

Aiming to rein in this proliferation, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration—but he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use, issue public updates if he decides to invoke additional powers, and report to Congress on the government’s emergency-related expenditures every six months. The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it, and the Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect “to consider a vote” on termination.

By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed. Most have been renewed for years on end. And during the 40 years the law has been in place, Congress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of matters, from military composition to agricultural exports to public contracts. For the most part, the president is free to use any of them; the National Emergencies Act doesn’t require that the powers invoked relate to the nature of the emergency. Even if the crisis at hand is, say, a nationwide crop blight, the president may activate the law that allows the secretary of transportation to requisition any privately owned vessel at sea. Many other laws permit the executive branch to take extraordinary action under specified conditions, such as war and domestic upheaval, regardless of whether a national emergency has been declared.

So yeah, if Trump wanted to, he could do a lot.  He hasn't.



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