Monday, September 2, 2019

Last Call For Orange T And The Women

House Democrats are returning to Washington this week, and one of the first orders of business will be a House Judiciary investigation into Donald Trump's role as a co-conspirator in efforts to cover up his hush money payments over his affairs.

House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major investigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign-finance charges.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for those counts and other crimes, testified under oath that Trump directed the payments that helped land him behind bars. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also described Trump’s alleged role in the scheme, referring to him in court papers as “Individual-1.” But they concluded their investigation this summer without bringing any additional charges.

The hush-money inquiry will open a new chapter in the House’s months-long consideration of whether to draft articles of impeachment against the president.

More than 130 House Democrats have called for an official impeachment inquiry to begin, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has cautioned that trying to remove Trump would be divisive and politically risky without public support.
The new congressional inquiry will reopen questions about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the episode — and whether he would have been charged if not for Justice Department opinions that a sitting president cannot be indicted

That's great, but the answer to this, hearings or no hearings, is that the Justice Department will never lift a finger.  Trump's guilty as hell, but no prosecution will be forthcoming.  If Pelosi believes this is the best route towards impeachment, that's wonderful, but if we're going to spend another two months on this, the results need to be articles of impeachment.  If they don't happen by the end of the year, they never will.

A Different Kind Of Labour Day

Apparently the future of the United Kingdom as a going concern, as they say, comes down to a classic conundrum: who is the bigger idiot, Boris Johnson, or Jeremy Corbyn?

Boris Johnson is considering seeking an early general election if MPs wanting to block a no-deal Brexit defeat the government this week.
The BBC understands "live discussions" are going on in No 10 about asking Parliament to approve a snap poll.

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it could happen as soon as Wednesday but no final decision had been taken.

Mr Johnson is due to make a statement in Downing Street at about 1800 BST setting out the choices facing MPs.

Tory ex-ministers are joining forces with Labour to stop the UK leaving the EU on 31 October without a deal.

Amid mounting speculation about an election, Mr Johnson is due to hold an unscheduled cabinet meeting at 17.00 BST and will also speak to the wider Conservative parliamentary party later.

The prime minister has said the UK must leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal, prompting a number of MPs to unite across party lines to try to prevent the UK leaving without an agreement.

They are expected to put forward legislation on Tuesday to stop no deal under "SO24" or Standing Order 24 - the rule allowing MPs to ask for a debate on a "specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration".

Sources have told the BBC the bill would force the prime minister to seek a three-month extension until 31 January if no withdrawal deal has been passed by 19 October - the day after the next EU leaders' summit.

Tory rebels - who include former ministers and prominent backbenchers - have been warned that those who support the legislation face being expelled from the party and deselected.

But leading figures, including ex-Justice Secretary David Gauke, have insisted that despite the threat, they will press ahead and - in their words - put the "national interest" ahead of their own.

Fellow rebel and former Chancellor Philip Hammond has written to Mr Johnson to ask for details about the state of negotiations with the EU and what alternatives to the Irish backstop - the major sticking point in the talks - his government has put forward.

A No 10 spokesman said it was treating this week's Brexit votes as an issue of confidence - those traditionally trigger a general election if the government loses.

Now, there's no way a snap election can happen before the Halloween deadline for Brexit, Johnson knows this, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn knows this, British voters know this.  But by making everything about Corbyn, arguably the only person in British politics more hated than Boris Johnson right now, Johnson figures everyone will fall in line, including his own party.

It's a pretty classic move, make everyone focus on the "real enemy" so you can consolidate power among your allies.  Johnson is betting everyone in his party will fall in line now. Thing is, this is Boris Johnson trying this, and he's not that bright to begin with.  The problem is if Johnson's threats to expel any Tories who oppose him actually manages to alienate even one or two of his party and they test that bluff, his entire government collapses.

Now, best case scenario, Johnson's arrogance backfires spectacularly and forms a coalition government called "Boris Johnson Is A Stupid Wanker And We're Putting A Stop To This Brexit Thing Until We Can Get This All Ironed Out" and the UK works out a real government without the Damocles effect of Brexit hanging over everyone, and we get on with things.

Ideally, this new coalition government would form around a Labour party leader who isn't raging anti-Semite asshole Jeremy Corbyn, either, and then everybody wins because the next PM isn't Johnson and isn't Corbyn, and there's no Brexit.

On the other hand, Johnson could actually try to call for snap elections before the Brexit deadline and the whole thing blows up.


Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency, Con't

Conspiring everything Donald Trump turns to flaming compost, last week he made the brilliant decision to yank all of FEMA's disaster funds to give to ICE as this week monstrous Category 5 Hurricane Dorian has arrived to wreck everyone's Labor Day, the strongest Atlantic Hurricane in 40 years.

If you think FEMA is going to be even close to ready, remember that our old friend Brock "The Asshole From My Hometown" Long was fired as FEMA head in February for taking trips on the company dime, and right now FEMA has an acting director because not even Republicans are willing to confirm Trump's latest disaster.

Hurricane Dorian is forecast to make landfall on the Atlantic coast without a Senate-confirmed FEMA administrator to oversee relief efforts — and President Donald Trump says he’s OK with that. 
“Acting gives you great flexibility that you don't have with permanent,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday before departing to Camp David, where he said he will be closely monitoring the storm. “When I like people, I make them permanent, but I can leave acting for a long period of time.” 
Deputy FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor is serving as acting administrator of the federal emergency agency after former head Brock Long resigned following a controversy over his personal use of government vehicles. Dorian would be the first hurricane Gaynor has overseen. 
Trump nominated Jeffrey Byard — who previously served in the Alabama Emergency Management Agency — to lead FEMA in February, but his nomination has stalled in the Senate. 
Gaynor is one of many acting officials in Trump’s administration. Other top posts without a Senate-confirmed head include U.N ambassador, Labor secretary and Homeland Security secretary, who also plays a major role in overseeing disaster relief efforts. 
The White House said Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Peter Brown will accompany the president on his trip to Camp David to provide regular updates on Dorian's path. 
Trump said he’ll be “coming back” to Washington on Sunday to monitor Dorian recovery efforts.

I mean Trump has to golf, after all.
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