Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Last Call For Water You Waiting For, Con't

Democrats were elected to power in Michigan, and finally, finally, it looks like the hammer is going to fall on former GOP Gov. Rick Snyder as the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis is picking up serious steam.

Authorities investigating Flint’s water crisis have used search warrants to seize from storage the state-owned mobile devices of former Gov. Rick Snyder and 65 other current or former officials, The Associated Press has learned.

The warrants were sought two weeks ago by the attorney general’s office and signed by a Flint judge, according to documents the AP obtained through public records requests.

Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is helping with the probe, confirmed they executed a series of search warrants related to the criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in 2014-15 and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

The water crisis in Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. Untreated water leached lead from pipes and into Flint’s homes and businesses while cost-cutting financial managers — appointed by Snyder — were running the city.

The investigation has led to charges against 15 current or former government officials, including two who served in the Cabinet of Snyder, a Republican who left office in December. But no one is behind bars, and some Flint residents believe key players who could have prevented the lead debacle are getting off easy.

“As stated in recent motions, the prosecution is aware of substantial potential evidence that was not provided to the original prosecution team from the onset of the investigation,” Hammoud said in a statement Monday following the AP’s reporting. “The team is currently in the process of obtaining this evidence through a variety of means, including search warrants. The team is also conducting a thorough review of existing and newly received evidence pertaining to the Flint water crisis.”

One warrant, signed May 19, lists all content from Snyder’s state-issued cellphone, iPad and computer hard drive
. Similar information was sought from the devices of 33 employees who worked in his office, 11 in the Department of Environmental Quality and 22 in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The evidence was apparently initially obtained by former special prosecutor Todd Flood with investigative subpoenas. Because it has been kept in a division of the attorney general’s office, Hammoud took the unusual step of securing a warrant to search another part of the office. She has been managing the probe since January.

“We’re doing everything we can to comply,” said Dan Olsen, a spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is not involved in the criminal investigation and is instead handling lawsuits against the state by Flint residents. After succeeding former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette this year, she appointed Hammoud to lead the probe.

This is what happens when you rid the government of Republicans, you get a responsive government that actually works to put things right.  And the right thing here is for Rick Snyder to go to prison for the rest of his life for what he did to the people of Flint.

Republicans sat on evidence that would have put people in jail.  The new government of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to correct that injustice.

Checking The Tech Wreck Spec, Con't

The U.S. government is gearing up to investigate whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google misuse their massive market power, sources told Reuters on Monday, setting up what could be an unprecedented, wide-ranging probe of some of the world’s largest companies.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, which enforce antitrust laws in the United States, have divided oversight over the four companies, two sources said, with Amazon and Facebook under the watch of the FTC, and Apple and Google under the Justice Department.

With jurisdiction established, the next step is for the two federal agencies to decide if they want to open formal investigations. Results are not likely to be quick. A previous FTC probe of Google took more than two years.

Technology companies face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among competitors, lawmakers and consumer groups that the firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

House Democrats will also be holding hearings on the tech giants and their misuse of power.

The House Judiciary Committee is launching an antitrust investigation into major tech companies like Google and Amazon
, moving Congress closer to legislative action against the tech giants.

“This is really about ‘how do we get competition back in this space?’” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will lead the investigation as head of the antitrust subcommittee, told reporters on Monday.

The antitrust investigation represents a new headache for the tech giants, which have faced increased congressional pressure over the past two years. The investigation will include depositions, public hearings, and document requests, according to Cicilline. The investigation will also likely feature hearing with the CEOs of the major tech companies, while offering private interviews for witnesses worried that the tech giants would go after them.

“There can be economic retaliation and real costs for people that will come forward,” Cicicilline said.

The committee will likely produce a report and recommendations, according to Cicilline, who hopes to get some kind of legislative action finished before the congressional session ends in January 2021.

“People seem to have forgotten that there’s a reason that we have the antitrust statute,” Cicilline said.

We'll see what happens, but if both the Trump regime and House Dems are going after Big Tech, then it's win-win as far as I'm concerned. 

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Last night I recounted how House Democratic Majority Whip Jim Clyburn reversed himself as the House Democratic leadership continues to be for and against impeachment at the same time. This morning, it seems House Democratic committee chairs are finally moving forward with making the very loud, very public case for impeachment.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to call Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify on the Mueller report, an effort to draw public attention to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings amid heated debate over the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump.

Dean will be featured on a June 10 panel that also includes former U.S. attorneys and legal experts to discuss Mueller's evidence that Trump repeatedly attempted to obstruct or constrain his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to the committee.

The hearings are part of a broader strategy shift for the committee, reported last month by POLITICO, that comes with Democrats concerned that they've been mired in arcane procedural battles with the White House ever since Mueller finalized his report in March.

“These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies," said committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

All I have to say is:

About damn time! 

The day after the Dean hearing, the House Democratic leadership will finally hold Attorney General William Barr and former WH lawyer Don McGahn in contempt for skipping out on their subpoenas.

The House will vote next week to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas, according to multiple Democratic sources.

The resolution would clear the way for the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr and McGahn to court to enforce their subpoenas and are a crucial step for Democrats seeking to accelerate their obstruction of justice investigation against President Donald Trump.

"This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

Barr has failed to comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller's fully unredacted report and underlying evidence; McGahn balked at a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

The vote, which will take place on June 11, will also include broad authority for congressional committees to take legal action against the Trump administration in future subpoena fights, the Democratic sources say.

The vote, supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer and other top members of House leadership, will authorize the House to hold the two men in civil contempt. Democrats will forgo an effort to hold them in criminal contempt, which Democratic sources described as an empty gesture because Barr in particular would never face charges from his own Justice Department.

Now we're finally going to get somewhere, but beware the Trump regime's counterattack.  They know they have to get the Dean hearings and the contempt votes off the evening news.   There's only a couple of things that would do that, and Trump is capable of any of them.

Well, except for resignation.


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