Monday, March 25, 2019

Last Call For Heck Of A Job, Trumpie, Con't

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico continues to suffer 18 months after Hurricane Maria and the Trump regime has all but abandoned the island and its people.

The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary.

Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.

And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities. 
Puerto Rico will again need the federal government’s help to stave off drastic cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor and disabled, as well as for the disbursement of billions in hurricane relief aid that has not yet been turned over to the island.

The island would not need Congress to step in to fund its food-stamp and Medicaid programs if it were a state. For states, the federal government has committed to funding those programs’ needs, whatever the cost and without needing to take a vote. But Puerto Rico instead funds its programs through a block grant from the federal government, which needs to be regularly renewed, and also gives food-stamp benefits about 40 percent smaller than those of states.

After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week.

But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the presidents’ private remarks.

The meeting — an afternoon session focused on Department of Housing and Urban Development grants — ended abruptly, and Trump has continued to ask aides how much money the island will get. Then, Trump said he wanted the money to only fortify the electric grid there.

Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island.

A senior administration official with direct knowledge of the meeting described Trump’s stance: “He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.

Trump doesn't consider Puerto Rico to be part of America.  He thinks it's a foreign country, along with tens of millions of his cult.  They continue to suffer in squalor and pain and the titular leader of the country wants them to all rot in hell.

After all, they can't vote for him.  So why should he care if they live or die?

If Trump could end federal dollars to California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Hawaii overnight, he's do it in a heartbeat.

Hell, he still might.

He Fought The Law, And The Law Won

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Monday charged lawyer Michael Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike. 
Avenatti was arrested Monday morning in Manhattan, law enforcement officials tell CNN. He will appear in court later Monday. 
According to the criminal complaint, Avenatti met in March 2019 with attorney for Nike and threatened to release damaging information about the company if Nike didn't make millions in payment to himself and an unnamed co-conspirator. Avenatti also allegedly demanded that Nike pay $1.5 million to an individual he claimed to represent. 
"I'll go take $10 billion dollars off your client's market cap...I'm not f***ing around," Avenatti said, according to the complaint. 
"And I'm not continuing to play games," he added. "You guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing." 
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles will also announce separate charges of wire fraud and bank fraud against Avenatti Monday afternoon. 
Until recently, Avenatti represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, a central figure in the hush-money scandal that resulted in Manhattan federal prosecutors charging President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty and is set to report to prison in May. 
Avenatti and Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 
Earlier Monday, he tweeted: "Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball." 
The Manhattan US Attorney's office said it would hold a press conference to discuss the charges on Monday afternoon. 

To be clear, Avenatti tweeted his press conference about Nike earlier today, threatening a major story on Nike in the middle of the NCAA basketball tournament.  About 15 minutes later, he was arrested for extortion.

You have never seen justice move so quickly.

Also, never trust a lawyer named Michael.

Meat The Press, Con't

As I've told you many times now, Donald Trump is driven by malignant narcissism and petty revenge, and now that he believes the worst is over on the Mueller report, he is now coming for those who he feels have wronged him.

For nearly two years, the Mueller probe had been a source of great anxiety and stress in the halls of the West Wing. Some staffers hired lawyers to help them navigate the investigation, and many were fearful of becoming ensnared based on what they might overhear or witness. They described Mueller’s findings as a best-case scenario that would buttress the president’s mood, solidify Republican support and allow Trump to present a better message for reelection.

“What they do is they clear the deck for there to be an evaluation based upon his record as president,” said former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R), a Trump ally, who called it a “very good day” for the president. “It lifts a cloud that was over the White House for the entire time he was there.”

Within an hour of learning the findings, Trump called for an investigation of his critics and cast himself as a victim. Aides say Trump plans to highlight the cost of the probe and call for organizations to fire members of the media and former government officials who he believes made false accusations about him, while aggressively mocking his critics and one of his favored enemies, the news media.
“Hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side,” Trump said, describing the Mueller investigation as “an illegal takedown that failed.”

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this,” Trump said. “To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.”

White House aides and Trump allies moved quickly to take advantage of the moment. Campaign officials released a lengthy video called “Collusion Hoax!” and White House officials issued a flurry of talking points that defended the president while attacking Democrats.

Republican National Committee officials issued a long set of “talking points” that delineated the cost of the probe — $50,230 per day for 675 days, in their calculation — and attacked the news media and Democrats for extensively focusing on the investigation.

Aides and Trump allies said they believe the findings will bolster the credibility of the president — who traffics in untruths and conspiracy theories — while also undermining Democrats, some of whom have predicted that Trump would be found guilty of conspiring with the Russians and obstructing Mueller’s investigation.

If you thought the attacks on our free press were bad before -- and let's not forget Trump's hatred drove people to shoot up newsrooms and attempt to mail bomb journalists -- now Trump is feeling fully in his rage wheelhouse.

The demands to fire his critics will not end, not in our burgeoning autocracy.


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