Thursday, May 7, 2020

Last Call For Lowering The Barr, Con't

Attorney General Bill Barr wasn't just brought in to undermine the Mueller investigation, although he has done that on multiple occasions. No, he was brought in to nullify it, as he took a big step in that direction today by dropping all charges against Michael Flynn.

The Justice Department moved Thursday to drop charges against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition.

The unraveling of Flynn’s guilty plea marked a stunning reversal by the Justice Department in its case against the retired three-star Army general, who was convicted in the course of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information … the government has concluded that [Flynn’s interview by the FBI in January 2017] was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” and that it was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

It is highly unusual for the Justice Department to seek to undo a guilty plea, and comes just months after Attorney General William P. Barr pressed prosecutors in another of Mueller’s cases to soften their sentencing recommendation for the president’s friend and former political adviser Roger Stone.
Flynn was one of the first and highest-ranking Trump aides to cooperate and be convicted in Mueller’s investigation. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to making false statements about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump had taken office and as the FBI was attempting to ascertain whether anyone in Trump’s campaign had coordinated with Russia to influence the election’s outcome.

However, his case became one of the most bitterly contested after Mueller’s probe ended in March 2019. Flynn’s new defense lawyers began moving to void his conviction, alleging he was the victim of a partisan conspiracy by prosecutors, federal investigators and even his initial attorneys. His new defense team also alleged he was insufficiently represented by one of Washington’s most prominent law firms, Covington & Burling, when he entered his guilty plea.
Barr in January directed the U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen of St. Louis to review the case’s handling by the federal prosecutor’s office in Washington, which took over Mueller cases last year, and Jensen made the final recommendation.

“Through the course of my review of General Flynn’s case, I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case,” Jensen said in a statement. “I briefed Attorney General Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed.”

The retreat could be a political windfall for Trump, who last month announced on Twitter that he was “strongly considering a Full Pardon” for Flynn, whom Trump removed just weeks into the new administration. The Justice Department’s decision also means that the president won’t have to become personally involved in the Flynn case to get the outcome he desired.

To accept the DOJ's logic here, given the voluminous evidence against Flynn, given the confession, trial and conviction, given Judge Sullivan's statement in that trial after conviction that he believed Flynn "sold his country out", you have to suspend disbelief but also basic legal theory.

The DOJ said that Flynn never should have been interviewed. Try to wrap your head around that.

Barr dropped the charges because Trump told him to find a way to do it, so that Trump didn't have to pardon Flynn.

That's it.

That's the story.  Barr made it happen.  First the Stone sentencing mess, now this. This was a pardon without a pardon.

And even Trump was getting his marching orders.

President Donald Trump said he discussed the U.S. investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, calling the probe a “hoax.”

During a meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump told reporters that Putin had called him to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Trump said he offered American-made ventilators to combat Russia’s coronavirus outbreak.

Then he remarked that “the Russia hoax” had made it difficult for the U.S. and Russia to deal with each other, “and we discussed that.”

“I said, ‘You know, it’s a very appropriate time, because things are falling out now and coming in line showing what a hoax this whole investigation was, it was a total disgrace, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a lot of things happen over the next number of weeks,”’ Trump said. “This is just one piece of a very dishonest puzzle.” 

Understand now that the next step is bringing charges against those involved in the Mueller probe for "misconduct".

That's coming very soon. Rule of law is just about dead in America.

Plan 9 From Out This Place

So turns out the CDC helpfully worked up a plan to help local and state governments "reopen the economy" safely as they were instructed to do by the Trump regime. The regime took one look at the plan, set it on fire, threw it in the trash can, and set the trash can on fire, then shot the whole thing into the sun.

The Trump administration has shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak
The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. 
It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. 
The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it. 
The Trump administration has been closely controlling the release of guidance and information during the pandemic spurred by a new coronavirus that scientists are still trying to understand, with the president himself leading freewheeling daily briefings until last week. 
Traditionally, it’s been the CDC’s role to give the public and local officials guidance and science-based information during public health crises. During this one, however, the CDC has not had a regular, pandemic-related news briefing in nearly two months. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has been a member of the White House coronavirus task force, but largely absent from public appearances. 
The dearth of real-time, public information from the nation’s experts has struck many current and former government health officials as dangerous. 
“CDC has always been the public health agency Americans turn to in a time of crisis,” said Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor and former health official in the Obama administration during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. “The standard in a crisis is to turn to them for the latest data and latest guidance and the latest press briefing. That has not occurred, and everyone sees that.” 
The Trump administration has instead sought to put the onus on states to handle COVID-19 response. This approach to managing the pandemic has been reflected in President Donald Trump’s public statements, from the assertion that he isn’t responsible for the country’s lackluster early testing efforts, to his description last week of the federal government’s role as a “supplier of last resort” for states in need of testing aid.

Again, the official position of the Trump regime is that the pandemic is over and that tens of millions of Americans can safely go back to work, how they actually do that is up to the states. Giving federal guidelines would of course only put the responsibility on the regime, and they refuse to take responsibility for any of it while taking full credit for the "success" of "reopening the economy".

If that sounds not only bizarre but absolutely delusional, that's because it's both.  The "experts" are no longer needed, you see.  The choices have been made, the economy is back on track, and everything is fine.

Also another 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total to 33 million and the unemployment rate to about 20%, but everything's fine.

Mission accomplished, right?

On Tuesday, as the number of reported deaths from Covid-19 in the United States topped 70,000, the Trump administration declared “mission accomplished” for Phase 1 of its fight against the coronavirus.

Specifically, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced that the coronavirus task force, which Mr. Pence oversees, had been so successful in getting the pandemic under control that the group would most likely disband within the month, to be replaced by a new panel focused on getting America back to work.

“We will have something in a different form,” Mr. Trump explained during his tour of a mask manufacturing plant in Phoenix, at which he did not wear a mask despite signs requesting that one be worn “at all times.” He said that America had moved on to “the next stage of the battle” and that “now we are reopening our country.”

“It really is all a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country,” Mr. Pence told reporters at the White House.

By Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump had changed the contours, though not the essence, of his plan. In a tweet thread, he said the coronavirus task force would, in fact, “continue on indefinitely” but shift its efforts — and most likely some of its members — to “focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.” He closed with, “The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!”

Whether dissolved or repurposed, the White House Task Force focused on coordinating the administration’s public-health response to the pandemic is soon to be no more. To which we can only say: No big loss.

In theory, bringing together a collection of experts to oversee a coordinated federal response to a national emergency makes perfect sense. In practice, the first phase of Mr. Trump’s coronavirus task force was its own form of disaster.

So yeah, we're still very, very screwed and it's only going to get much, much worse.

We're going to be fondly looking back on early May when only 75,000 Americans were dead.

The GOP Goes Viral, Con't

We've now reached the point where red states are openly lying about COVID-19 fatalities in order to help the GOP.

Acting under intense pressure from a coalition of Florida news organizations and open-government advocates, the state Wednesday evening released a list of every Florida fatality documented by a medical examiner resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The information was so riddled with holes, however, that it sparked as many questions as answers.

Missing from the data set were the names of those who have perished from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus infections, the probable cause of death (there can be multiple factors) and the circumstances of the person’s demise.
Several news organizations, including the Miami Herald, had for weeks sought access to the list, which is compiled by individual medical examiners and maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Earlier the state had been providing it.

The head of the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission, which governs the state’s 21 medical examiners, has insisted the information — including the names — is subject to disclosure under the state’s public records law. The administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, which oversees state health regulators, has warned the examiners to keep the information secret.

“The Department of Health is telling the medical examiners it cannot release this information that the medical examiners have been releasing on a regular basis,” said Barbara Petersen, president emeritus of the First Amendment Foundation, an open-government watchdog in Tallahassee.
“For whatever reason, our governor is trying to hide information — first about nursing homes, and now from medical examiners. They are trying to paint a rosy picture by refusing to provide us accurate information that allows us to make informed decisions about the health and safety of our families,” Petersen said.

“It’s a disservice to the citizens of the state of Florida.”

The data, while incomplete, provide a glimpse into the lives of the 1,300 to 1,400 people who died from coronavirus in Florida since the pandemic swept the state.

A similar situation is playing out in Arizona.

In an email Monday night, the Arizona Department of Health Services disbanded its team of modelers, which was predicting the spread of the coronavirus and advising state leaders on the impacts of reopening the state.

The modeling team consisted of at least 23 researchers from Arizona State University and University of Arizona. They produced at least two reports for ADHS, which were publicly released after repeated requests from ABC15 and other news agencies.

Steven "Rob" Bailey, an ADHS bureau chief, sent the email to the modeling team Monday evening, just hours after Governor Doug Ducey announced his intentions to open restaurants and beauty salons in the coming days.

A copy of Bailey's email, obtained by ABC15, said, "We've been asked by Department leadership to 'pause' all current work on projections modeling."

Bailey added that he wanted the team to know as soon as possible so they "won't expend further time or effort needlessly." He mentioned the possibility that the team may be called upon again in late summer or early fall.

The email said ADHS would also "pull back the special data sets which have been shared" with the researchers who are no longer assisting the department. The letter thanked the modeling team members, but it gave no reason for discontinuing their work.

Tuesday afternoon, an ADHS spokesman sent ABC15 an email explaining the decision.

It said, "The reason that ADHS is pausing the internal modeling is, as we have said before, we are looking at several national models and have determined that FEMA is the most accurate to help us develop and implement public health interventions to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak."

Again, we have the two states with the largest number of retirees per capita, the age group most vulnerable to COVID-19, reopening the state's businesses and taking overt steps to hide data from the people.

This is not an accident.

This is the GOP trying to keep seniors in the dark.

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