Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Democratic Representative Ted Lieu asked if the reason Mueller did not indict Trump was the Justice Department’s long-standing policy against charging a sitting president. Mueller replied: “That is correct,” but in his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee later, he corrected himself.

“We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” he said.

Asked whether the report exonerated Trump on the question of obstruction of justice, Mueller said: “That is not what the report said. “The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.”

Asked if Trump wanted Mueller fired for investigating possible obstruction of justice: “That’s what it says in the report, yes.”
Asked if the president could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice after he leaves office, Mueller said: “True.”

Democratic Representative Val Demings mentioned people who were charged with lying to Mueller’s investigators and asked if there were lying witnesses who had not been indicted.

“I think there’s probably a spectrum of witnesses in terms of those who are not telling the full truth and those who are outright liars,” he said.

When she asked if lies by Trump campaign and administration officials had hindered his work, Mueller said: “I would generally agree with that.” 
Asked about Trump’s comments on WikiLeaks, including “I love WikiLeaks,” after it released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, Mueller said: “‘Problematic’ is an understatement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some ... hope or some boost to what is or should be illegal activity.”

As for communication between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks, Mueller said, “Disturbing and also subject to investigation.”

After the Mueller testimony, Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders held a press conference covering what Mueller said and their plan, or lack thereof.

Following former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional hearings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Wednesday that she still isn’t ready to begin impeachment proceeding against President Donald Trump.
“My position has always been whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts,” Pelosi said at a press conference alongside Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MA). “It’s about the Congress, the Constitution and the courts. And we are fighting the President in the courts.”

When reporters pressed her on impeachment a few minutes later, Pelosi said Democrats have “several considerations,” likely referring to Democrats’ lawsuits on obtaining Trump’s financial information.

It’s about what information is there,” Pelosi said. “And this isn’t endless. This isn’t endless.”

Thus, we have CNN boiling the day down to a five word headline:

And that's that.

Hungry Hungry Hypocrites

The Trump regime's new SNAP program rules will kick over three million Americans off the program, mostly in blue states.  Surprise!

The proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture comes after Congress initially failed to come to an agreement on the issue in the 2018 farm bill, and looks to limit access to SNAP benefits by not automatically enrolling individuals who are also receiving minimal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF.

On call with reporters, Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said the proposed rule would result in saving an average of $2.5 billion per year.

The department in a press release on Tuesday said the move closes a “loophole,” and said that the program should provide benefits “with consistency and integrity to those most in need.”

“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in the news release.
(MORE: Trump's new budget resurrects controversial 'harvest box' proposal for food stamps as part of broader welfare reform )

“The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it,” he said.

The top Democrat on Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, called the move "yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis."

"This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance," the Michigan Democrat said in a statement. "The Administration should stop undermining the intent of Congress and instead focus on implementing the bipartisan Farm Bill that the President signed into law.”

And which states automatically enroll families who are receiving TANF benefits in SNAP?  40 states, plus DC do, but the largest numbers in that category are in California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, plus DC.

Even worse, the kids who get kicked off of SNAP over this -- and there will be millions of kids, mind you -- will lose their free or reduced price school lunch benefit.  There was no appetite, even among Republicans in Congress, to make these kinds of arbitrary and draconian cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill last year.

So Trump is doing it anyway.

The cruelty is the point.

An In Defensible Position

Yesterday the GOP-led Senate quietly confirmed Raytheon VP and lobbyist Mark Esper as Defense Secretary, with nary a whimper from Senate Elizabeth Warren.

Mark Esper has received enough bipartisan Senate support to be confirmed as the next secretary of defense — the first to permanently serve in that role for seven months.

Esper was President Donald Trump’s second choice after the first, Patrick Shanahan, decided not to seek confirmation due to a sensitive family matter. That opened the door for Esper, previously the Army’s civilian chief and later acting defense secretary, to get the official job.

Esper’s background concerns some people. Although he served as an Army infantryman — giving him a good understanding of everyday soldiering — he later worked as a Raytheon lobbyist for seven years before joining the Pentagon in 2017. That’s potentially problematic as the defense secretary has immense sway over which weapons the Pentagon buys. He may have to recuse himself from any decision related to Raytheon — a major defense firm — vying for contracts.

What’s more, the Trump administration is in the middle of a massive diplomatic spat with Turkey over its decision to buy and use Russian-made missiles instead of Raytheon-made ones.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a top Democratic candidate for president, grilled Esper on his Raytheon past during last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing last week — providing the only truly uncomfortable moment in an otherwise uneventful appearance. Warren wanted Esper to recuse himself from all Raytheon-related matters, but Esper said he didn’t need to after conferring with ethics officials.

And he sailed through 90-8.  Ninety.  To Eight.  If there's one small bonus to all this, it's that Esper has a hard-on for dealing with China and not Iran.

None of that concerned the administration, it seemed, and there may be a few reasons why.

First, Esper was a former classmate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s at West Point, class of 1986, and Pompeo and Esper reportedly have a friendly relationship. That gives the secretary a likely ally in deliberations on foreign policy against National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Second, Esper has long pushed for the US to take a hardline stance against China. “We may be a little bit late — we are late — coming to the recognition that we are in a strategic competition with China,” he told Reuters in April.

“The issue of China, competition with China, China’s capabilities, is not a new one to me,” said the former combat veteran who served in the first Gulf War. “That is both the foundation and the shaping of my views on these various issues, because I’ve watched this evolution for 20 years now.”

That means Trump now has a like-minded person in the Pentagon when it comes to confronting China, although the president has not shown any appetite for a military fight with that country.

Maybe Esper will stop John Bolton's mustache from taking us to war with Iran, but if newly-minted UK PM Boris Johnson has his way, we'll be joining the Brits very soon in a very stupid war.  Or maybe two if Esper decides China is a threat and convinces Trump as such.


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