Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Last Call For Stone Cold Criminal, Con't

The prosecution in convicted Trump lackey Roger Stone's case filed sentencing recommendations last night for Stone for witness tampering in his role in the WikiLeaks DNC hack, and asked for seven to nine years in prison.  The Trump regime in the last 24 hours has gone completely insane with rage over the recommendation.

The Justice Department plans to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, after top officials professed to be blindsided by the seven-to-nine-year penalty prosecutors urged a judge to impose, a senior Justice Department official said Tuesday.

In a stunning rebuke of career prosecutors that immediately raised questions about political interference in the case, a senior Justice Department official said the department “was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the Roger Stone case last night.”

“That recommendation is not what had been briefed to the department,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive case. “The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses. The department will clarify its position later today.”

The statement came hours after Trump tweeted about the sentence prosecutors recommended, saying: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” The senior Justice Department official, though, said the decision to revise prosecutors’ recommendation came before Trump’s tweet.

Stone was convicted by a jury in November of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. His was the last conviction secured by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Stone has been a friend and adviser to Trump since the 1980s and was a key figure in his 2016 campaign, working to discover damaging information on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

All four prosecutors who signed the sentencing memo have now left the Stone case over the DoJ overriding the recommendations, one has resigned from the DoJ completely in protest.

Four federal prosecutors dramatically quit the criminal case against Republican operative Roger Stone as the Department of Justice reduced their recommendation that a judge sentence the longtime ally of President Donald Trump to up to nine years in prison. 
In a revised sentencing memo filed Tuesday, Timothy Shea, U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., said Stone deserves to be sentenced to “far less” time in prison than what the four prosecutors, who worked under Shea, proposed Monday.

Jonathan Kravis, who delivered the closing argument at Stone’s trial last fall, resigned as an assistant U.S. Attorney, according to a court filing in Washington federal court. 
Kravis, who did not give a reason in the filing, will no longer work as a prosecutor for the federal government. 
The other three prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, also withdrew from Stone’s case, according to their own separate filings, which did not explain their decision. 
But those three all will continue working for the federal government.

Marcy Wheeler believes this is being done to keep Stone from talking to the press.  It's not just helping a loyal lackey, it's self-preservation.  Trump doesn't just want to commute Stone's sentence or pardon Stone (or both!) but that he has to.
The trial itself provided ample evidence of what Mark Meadows considers “collusion” involving Donald Trump personally. It showed the campaign — and probably Trump personally — were working through Stone to optimize the WikiLeaks releases from the very day they came out on June 14, 2016. It showed that Stone was informing Trump personally about his efforts to optimize the releases. After some arm-twisting to adhere to his grand jury testimony, Steve Bannon testified he knew of all this, contrary to some of what he had said in earlier testimony that Trump would learn about. Erik Prince was in the loop. Gates testified that Stone was strategizing with Jared Kushner on all this. And it appears that Paul Manafort was in the loop, too.

But all that really damning evidence came out in a trial that only had to prove that Stone had lied to cover up the actions he took to optimize the release of the WikiLeaks emails. The trial did not need to explain what Stone’s actual back channel was, what he had to do to obtain it, and how involved Trump was in that process. And the trial did not explain it.

Indeed, there’s evidence I’ll lay out at more length in a follow-up that the government chose not to lay out all it knew. That is, it appears the government came to trial prepared to present evidence about the underlying “collusion,” but ultimately decided to hold it back for now.

At multiple times during the trial, however, the prosecution pointed to suspiciously timed phone calls, right before or after Stone discussed WikiLeaks with Gates, Manafort, or Jerome Corsi. Only Stone or Trump can tell us what happened between the two men, what Trump’s actual role in maximizing the degree to which his campaign benefitted from Russia’s theft of his opponent’s email.

Immediately after the trial, Stone made an intense effort to get Trump to pardon him, with his wife Nydia appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show to ask directly and a man with a vuvuzela inside the White House calling for a pardon gates.

Since that time, Stone was silent, until the time that the Probation Office provided the sentencing range for the crimes that was built in to the way that Mueller charged this just over a year ago. That is, by charging Stone with witness tampering, Mueller built in the possibility that Stone would be facing the steep sentence recommended yesterday. And that steep sentence may have been envisioned not as the sum of what Stone’s actual actions entailed — certainly every single warrant save the last four showed probable cause that Stone had done far more, but rather as leverage to get Stone to tell what he knows about Trump’s involvement in all this.

Bill Barr was brought in as AG to bury abundant evidence that Trump was personally involved in efforts to maximize the Russian operation, to deny all the ways that Trump did cheat to win. From his initial misleading claims in the wake of the report’s release, he was always suppressing the centrality of Roger Stone in all this.

So it’s fairly safe to conclude that DOJ’s reversal today is not just an effort to prevent a rich white man, Roger Stone, from facing the full consequences of his actions, but to prevent voters from learning what another rich white man did to cheat to get elected.

Yes, ultimately Trump will commute what is left of Roger Stone’s sentence, probably on November 4, just like he fired Jeff Sessions the day after the 2018 election. But I suspect that Roger Stone, rightly, isn’t going to leave anything to chance. And so neither can Bill Barr.

And some in Trumpland are saying that Dear Leader will pardon Stone even earlier, as soon as he is sentenced.

Democrats were quick to respond:

We'll see.  The one thing that isn't in doubt is the obvious interference in Stone's case by the Trump regime, but that no longer matters in America, does it?

Retribution Execution, Con't

If the Trump regime can fabricate a scandal for Joe Biden to sink his 2020 chances and to threaten him with investigations and worse and get away with it, they can do the same to the one Republican who stood up and said no to these thugs, Mitt Romney.

And they are doing exactly that as we speak.

The MAGA machine is attempting to turn President Donald Trump’s latest nemesis — Sen. Mitt Romney — into the next Hunter Biden.

Trump in recent days took a new turn in his attacks on the Utah senator, veering from assailing his character and loyalty and tossing him into the wilds of Ukraine.

Trump over the weekend retweeted several conservative personalities and stories attempting to connect the Republican senator to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma and its former board member Hunter Biden, two parties at the center of Trump’s attempted quid pro quo. The allegation was featured in several far-right blog posts: A senior advisor from Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign was on Burisma’s board of directors, and that by voting to impeach Trump last week, Romney was covering for his fellow swamp crony. 
While Trump’s campaign had highlighted the allegation earlier, the post-impeachment flurry of tweets was the first time that Trump himself acknowledged the theory. At one point, the president retweeted a random follower’s newfound suspicion: “Romney is covering up his part in corruption in Ukraine. This has nothing to do with truth or God. He is a desperate man. The truth will come out.”

Prior to Sunday, Trump and the GOP’s first anti-Mitt salvo centered on a familiar set of name-calling: Romney is a “failed presidential candidate” jealous that Trump won the presidency; Romney craves the attention of the liberal media; Romney, a sanctimonious do-gooder, is a coward who wears mom jeans.

The Burisma attack signaled a new front in Trump world’s attempts to punish Romney, as well as keep the Burisma narrative alive. After all, Trump’s attempted quid pro quo centered around his obsession with launching an investigation into whether Joe Biden, his ostensible rival in the 2020 election, illegally leaned on the Ukrainian government to protect his son’s board seat — a storyline Trump adamantly clung onto during his impeachment trial. Should Romney look complicit, then so much the better for explaining his vote.

“It’s a fact. Why shouldn’t they know?” Matt Wolking, the Trump campaign’s deputy communications director, said when asked why the official account retweeted a story about Romney’s adviser. He did not respond when asked whether this fact provided adequate context for Romney’s vote.

Romney is also facing trouble back home in Utah, where the state Republican party is looking to make an example of him.

Some conservative leaders of the Utah GOP have readied a resolution censuring Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to remove President Donald Trump from office and urging him to “vigorously support” Trump’s agenda or vacate his seat.

The draft resolution submitted Friday is expected to come up for discussion and a possible vote during the Feb. 29 Republican Party state central committee meeting.

Orem Republican Brandon Beckham, who submitted the resolution, said he “thought it was pretty obvious” that Trump was innocent of the charges leveled against him in the impeachment trial. Rather than sticking up for the president, Beckham argues, Romney sided with the Democrats.

"A lot of us feel that it's sort of an embarrassment to our party," Beckham said.

The resolution, co-sponsored by nine other state central committee members, notes that Trump endorsed Romney in his 2018 Senate race. It also notes that Romney used a covert Twitter account — under the alias “Pierre Delecto” — to like critical tweets about the president and alleges that this activity displayed a “pre-impeachment bias.”

Furthermore, Beckham contends, Romney’s decisions were at odds with the position of the Utah GOP, which in December passed a resolution that expressed full support of the president and called on congressional Republicans to stand by him.

“On February 5, 2020, despite zero evidence of a federal crime committed or any wrongdoing that rises to the level of removal of office, Senator Romney voted with Democrats to remove President Trump from office and as a direct result received praise and applause from Democrats on nationally televised interviews and the Democrat presidential debate,” Beckham’s resolution states.
While nine of the 187 central committee members have co-sponsored the resolution, Beckham said he expects most to vote in favor of the measure, given the president’s popularity.

Romney will have a lot more than just censure in his future.  Dear Leader Trump has to crush him utterly or he risks others defying his rule.  There are things Romney can do, but if he ends up persona non grata then he's just a ghost.

On the other hand, "Mitt Romney (UT-I)" could be...amusing.

The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

There's a non-zero chance that raging Islamophobic bigot Laura Loomer ends up a Republican Congresswoman from (where else) Florida in January, because the party of Trump isn't ever going to back down from being the party of white supremacist inchoate hatred.  Dean Obeidallah explains:

Donald Trump wants to be president forever. He made that clear again with his tweet on Wednesday that featured campaign signs of Trump for President extending from 2020 to 2048. But that scenario is not going to happen, barring Trump being able to somehow suspend the 22nd Amendment of our Constitution.

It’s clear though that regardless of how long Trump remains in the White House, he and many in his base want Trumpism—a celebration of cruelty, bigotry, and sexism—to continue long after he’s gone. That helps explain Trump’s support for anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 21st District—and, incredibly, is increasingly the likely GOP nominee. After all, anti-Muslim bigotry is one of the cornerstones of Trumpism.

Before we talk how Trump, Rep. Jim Jordan, GOP Florida officials, and even a Trump Fox News ally are promoting Loomer, let me give you a Loomer primer. First, she’s not the least bit bashful about her efforts to stoke hate against Muslims.

In 2017, she bragged on Twitter about being a “#ProudIslamophobe,” as she called Muslims “savages,” calling for a ban on allowing Muslims into America “EVER AGAIN.” She has called Islam a “cancer,” and worse, she wrote that there’s “no such thing as a moderate Muslim. They’re ALL the same.” Loomer dangerously wants you to believe that a Muslim American like myself is no different than a person in ISIS.

Loomer, who once worked for the right-wing group Project Veritas, seems to especially despise immigrant Muslims, tweeting in 2017, “Someone needs to create a non-Islamic version of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.” That resulted in her being banned from Uber and Lyft for violating its community standards, which prompted Loomer to tweet, “Uber will literally hire an Islamic terrorist, but they will ban a conservative journalist for addressing legitimate safety concerns.”

In 2019, Loomer took to Instagram, where she made a video attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in vile terms, blaming all Muslims including Omar for 9/11, and adding, “Muslims should not even be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country.”

Beyond social media, in October 2018 Loomer praised and appeared with self-professed Canadian white nationalist Faith Goldy, who has claimed in the past that homosexuality facilitated the Holocaust and openly recited and defended the “14 word” mantra used by white supremacists. Loomer also trespassed on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s property in January 2019 along with her colleague, Charlottesville Unite the Right marcher Antonio Foreman, to denounce her refusal to support Trump’s wall. While on Pelosi’s property, Loomer reportedly made racist comments about Latinos.

Loomer’s history of spewing hate online resulted in her being banned in the past year from just about every social media platform out there. In November 2018 Twitter banned Loomer for violating its rules against hateful conduct. In May 2019 Loomer was banned by both Facebook and Instagram, along with others who had used these platforms to promote haters, such as Louis Farrakhan for repeated anti-Semitic statements, and Paul Nehlen, the Wisconsin businessman who ran for Congress and continually spewed white supremacist garbage.

I think you get the idea. Loomer is someone who, in the times before Trump, would’ve been marginalized to the fringes of society along with other bigots and racists. But these aren’t normal times. This is the time of Trump, and Loomer is Trumpism personified. She fits perfectly in today’s party of Trump which is why in August 2019 she announced her run for Congress as a Republican to take on Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in the Palm Beach-area district. Loomer describes Frankel as “a staunch obstructionist and critic of President Donald J. Trump.”

Now, the good news is Lois Frankel has a solidly Democratic district (D+9 on the Cook PVI) and multiple signs point to Loomer being so toxic that she loses.  But let's remember that Illinois Republicans ran Actual Nazi Art Jones in 2018, and ran raging Islamophobic bigot Duncan Hunter who actually won (before being indicted and taking a plea deal for his corruption).


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