Sunday, June 17, 2018

President Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort Sent To Jail To Await Trial

Lawrence: Who's Sleeping Better: Paul Manafort Or President Donald Trump?

Trump Is Fulfilling Russia’s Dream of Splitting the Western Alliance
"Relatedly, strongmen have the ability to deal with Trump in what is euphemistically described as “transactional” terms. China spent hundreds of millions of dollars enhancing the value of a Trump property, and in turn was quickly granted a reprieve for a telecommunications firm that had broken American law. “Those regimes take a transactional approach. Many American allies have relied on appeals to reason, data and shared values,” reports Politico, which also quotes a former Trump official helpfully explaining, “If you’re not a despot, you can’t really be transactional.” This clarifies the euphemism, because of course a democratic leader can be transactional. Democratic countries negotiate transactions all the time. What they can’t do is hand out bribes. No country has taken a more “transactional” approach toward Trump than Russia, and no country has seen its investment rewarded so richly."

Trump’s Briefing Book Includes ‘Screen Grabs of Cable-News Chyrons’
"The man we’ve authorized to preside over thousands of nuclear warheads gets his information about the world from printed screengrabs of cable-news chyrons."

Don Lemon on Trump: Today was 'Lyin' Friday'

Trump Wants to Ditch Preexisting Condition Protections. Here Are the Times He Promised Not To.
"The Trump administration declared Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions unconstitutional on Thursday"

Trump’s legal attack on the ACA isn’t about health care. It’s a war on the rule of law.
"The laws that Congress passes and that presidents sign are the laws of the land. They aren’t negotiable; they’re not up for further debate. If the Justice Department can just throw in the towel whenever a law is challenged in court, it can effectively pick and choose which laws should remain on the books. That’s a flagrant violation of the president’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed."

President Trump Keeps Praising North Korea's Murderous Dictator Kim Jong Un

Entire Trump Family Named In Massive Charity Fraud Lawsuit

Scott Pruitt is mired in scandals — but you wouldn’t know it from watching Fox News
"In this instance, Fox News isn’t trying to spin the Pruitt scandals in some positive manner. Instead, it’s just ignoring a story that makes the administration look bad, as it so often does. And as long as the Fox News machine builds an alternate reality where none of this happened, Pruitt might be able to sleep peacefully on his Trump hotel mattress."

Former Fox Analyst Col. Ralph Peters: 'I Think Putin Has A Hold On Trump'

Former Fox Analyst Col. Ralph Peters: 'I Think Putin Has A Hold On Trump':

"Saying he believes the country is already in a constitutional crisis, former Fox News national security analyst Col. Ralph Peters gave his first interview since leaving Fox to Anderson Cooper last night."

New York A.G. Files Fraud Lawsuit Against Donald Trump Family, Foundation

Trump Gets Reminded That Kim Jong-un Is A Murderer, Responds With “He’s A Tough Guy”

Billions in solar projects and thousands of jobs shelved after Trump tariff
"The U.S. solar industry employs more than 250,000 people – about three times more than the coal industry – with about 40 percent of those people in installation and 20 percent in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration."

Mick Mulvaney Just Axed the Entire 25-Person Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Watchdog He Oversees
"The move appeared to have been months in the making, as Mulvaney had already cancelled the group’s scheduled meeting in February, one of two in-person meetings the group is legally required to convene each year. Last week, he cancelled another scheduled meeting of the board. That prompted 11 board members to hold a press conference Monday criticizing Mulvaney’s leadership of the consumer protection bureau that was created in the wake of the financial crisis specifically to protect consumers as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law. Two days later, Mulvaney dispatched his deputy to axe the group altogether via conference call. The administration officials made a vague attempt to try to make the dismissal look like an effort to by thrifty with taxpayer dollars to the tune of “multi-hundred-thousand dollars a year.” Oh yeah? Mulvaney’s flouting of the Dodd-Frank rules may be increasingly brazen, perhaps because the cover provided by the outrageousness of transgressions elsewhere in the Trump administration, but his disdain for the methods and mission of the agency he was charged with running is longstanding. As a congressman, Mulvaney called the consumer protection bureau “a joke” and, as acting head, he’s effectively frozen its budget and undermine its authority at every possible turn. But the cherry on Mulvaney’s sundae of sabotage came last week when the leader of the agency empowered to protect consumers from unscrupulous financial actors, like payday lenders, sided with those very payday lenders when they sued the CFPB to block new regulations on the industry."

Lawrence: Trump Tries To ‘Steal The Grief’ Of Fallen Soldiers' Parents

Trump Defends "Tough" Kim Jong-Un

Donald Trump has been lying since day one
"Trump has been lying to us from day one. He told dozens of whoppers every time he stepped before an audience at campaign rallies in 2016. He ordered his press secretary to go before the press on the day he took office and lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He has kept lying, day after day, lie after lie. We weren’t listening closely enough on June 16, 2015 when he told one lie after another making his announcement for the presidency. We’ve been paying for it ever since."

Medicare, Social Security trustees: Trump and Republicans are jeopardizing the programs
"Undermining Medicare and Social Security was exactly what Republicans had in mind with these policies. And as for Trump's promises to protect the programs? top Trump economist Hassett refers to Trump pledge not to touch Social Security and Medicare as a "short-term" commitment to "prioritize" cutting taxes Go ahead, Republicans. Keep talking about how cutting Social Security and Medicare is one of your priorities. Make Trump break his promise. That’ll work out really well for you in November."

Trump Salutes North Korean General

Trump Makes A Complete Ass Of Himself At G7 Summit

Ex-Fox News Analyst Ralph Peters Unloads on Sean Hannity
"While President Donald Trump has claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller is leading a “witch hunt” against him, Peters argued on CNN that it is Fox News that is promoting a witch hunt against Mueller. “For years, I was glad to be associated with Fox. It was a legitimate conservative and libertarian outlet. And a necessary one,” Peters told Cooper. “But with the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine. And I don’t do propaganda for anyone"."

Mick Mulvaney fires entire board of consumer financial protection experts
"Mick Mulvaney continues to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just like Donald Trump put him in charge of the agency to do. The latest: Mulvaney has fired every single outside expert on the consumer advisory board, which is required by law to meet with the CFPB director twice a year. "Everyone on the board has been fired," said Judith Fox, a professor at Notre Dame Law School who sat on the board for three years. [...] The board will be reconstituted in the fall, Fox said. None of the current members of the board will be eligible to apply. Members of two other boards that also provide outside expertise would also be replaced. Basically, Mulvaney does not want to protect consumers, and as part of not protecting consumers he is getting rid of the outside experts who were supposed to help him help consumers. And in the fall, he’ll come up with a new board of Trump puppets. As of last fall, the CFPB had returned $11.8 billion to 29 million people harmed by financial institutions. “That’s an average of $407 returned to each affected consumer, affecting roughly 9% of the U.S. population (assuming no single consumer was a victim in more than one case).” Trump and Mulvaney are working hard to put a stop to that."

Republicans stop Democrats from helping EPA investigate Scott Pruitt’s ever-growing scandals
"House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon blocked an effort by Democrats to increase funding for the agency’s watchdog, which is tasked with investigating the many scandals surrounding agency administrator Scott Pruitt. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has in recent months seen an increased workload due to the more than a dozen investigations launched into Pruitt’s spending and management decisions during his first year as administrator."

Shocker: President Trump Lawyer Hints At Michael Cohen Mob Ties

Richard Nixon's Lawyer Flipped To Get Out Of Prison. How's Cohen Feeling?

President Trump poses great peril to our nation
"A dictator occupies the White House. That word should not be uttered lightly, but it defines with precision any head of state who, like Donald Trump, declares himself to be above the law. Trump and his lawyers have made it clear that he believes himself above the law — ANY law, not just obstruction of justice. On Twitter Monday, Trump even asserted the “absolute right to PARDON myself,” though he insisted yet again that he has done nothing wrong. Remember what they say about protesting too much. No other president uttered such staggering arrogance — not even Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than face certain impeachment for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal and begged a pardon from his successor to forestall a criminal indictment. Four days before he resigned, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote that “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.” That opinion still stands. “It would be a tremendous abuse of his authority if he were to do so, as well as remarkably unwise,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the few Republicans to speak up for the nation. “If I were president and somebody, some lawyer told me that I could do that, I’d hire a new lawyer,” said Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, chair of the Judiciary Committee. But to take Trump at his word, he thinks he could get away with it, and that is a clear and present peril to our democratic republic. Whatever his intent — whether to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, pardon anyone whom Mueller indicts as complicit in crimes, or simply to pardon himself if it comes to that — Trump is counting on continued indulgence from his claque of enablers in Congress, who have excused multiple scandals that would have brought down a Democratic president. These people are as faithless as Trump to their oaths of office. For some, it’s about Trump’s radical judicial appointments, the tax cuts and other destructive policies."

A Memo to Manafort and Trump: Mueller Already Knows the Truth
"At some point the hustle ends, even for men like Manafort and Trump, and what's left are only tough questions and a prosecutor who seems to have all the answers."

President Trump Military Exercise Giveaway To N. Korea Suits Putin's Goals

Report: President Donald Trump ‘Very Worried’ About Mueller Probe

Trump, Fox News, and Twitter have created a dangerous conspiracy theory loop
"Since the president watches Fox, this risks generating a profoundly vicious cycle. Fox picks up on some random internet rumor, the president picks it up from Fox, and then Fox and other right-wing outlets leap to defend what the president tweeted, which only reinforces Trump’s sense that he’s right."

Fox News Functionally Subsidizing White House Communications

Fox News Functionally Subsidizing White House Communications:

"Fox continues to advance pro-Trump propaganda—like that fake-news story about the Eagles."

Trump says EPA is doing ‘really, really well’ as scandals continue to mount around Scott Pruitt
"Only a few days earlier, on Saturday, the New York Times reported that Pruitt attended a December University of Kentucky basketball game as a guest of coal baron Joseph W. Craft III. A day prior, emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Sierra Club revealed that the EPA administrator had spent $3,230 at a Washington, D.C.-based jewelry store using agency funds. Of that, $1,560 was spent on 12 fountain pens — approximately $130 per pen. Pruitt also appointed Steven D. Cook, a former chemical industry lawyer linked to at least 36 Superfund pollution sites, as head of the EPA’s Superfund Task Force last week. That announcement came shortly before the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) voted to review a number of regulatory rollbacks instigated under Pruitt, including efforts to gut tailpipe emission restrictions. The official is also under ongoing criticism for barring reporters from EPA meetings, while favoring right-wing media like the Daily Caller and Sinclair Broadcast Group stations. The EPA administrator is already under fire for a number of prior decisions, including a sweetheart condo deal arranged with the wife of an energy lobbyist. The lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, had official business before the EPA during the time of the deal and attempted to recommend potential candidates for positions with the SAB during that same timeframe. Pruitt has also faced criticism for staggering 24-hour security costs and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, which a federal investigation has already deemed a violation of the law. The EPA head overhauled the agency’s advisory boards last fall, sparking legal action from environmental advocates. Pruitt has moreover relied on industry connections and lobbyists to help arrange expensive travel to destinations both domestic and international."

Robert Mueller Warns Russia Could Still Be Meddling In Elections

President Donald Trump Surprises Staff, Wants Russia At G7

Internal emails reveal that the FCC lied and made up DDOS 'attack' as propaganda against John Oliver
"This past May, as Ajit Pai and the Republican-led FCC promised to roll back any and all consumer protections afforded to Americans via net neutrality, Oliver told his audience once again to flood the FCC website with their support for our protections. The site crashed but this time the FCC began to say that no, the overwhelming amount of online support for keeping net neutrality protections in place was not the cause, a massive DDOS attack on their servers was the reason. A malicious attack from some cyber-liberal bad actor! Of course, those claims were backed up by no evidence and a refusal to provide evidence or even investigate their own claims.  Gizmodo has been through a batch of new internal emails released as a result of their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Guess what? About those claims FCC officials made? Yes, exactly."

Katy Tur Blows Up Trump’s 4 Point Strategy For Surviving The Russia Investigation
"Trump is trying to confuse enough people, or create just enough doubt to keep himself in office. It is a strategy that would have had zero chance of success in another era, but Trump has Fox News on his side, and they are endlessly pumping out propaganda to 2-3 million diehard Trump supporters. The Trump strategy is about creating distraction, confusion, and doubt."

People Who Obstruct Justice Usually Have Something To Hide

Bob Mueller Indicts Russian Known As 'Paul Manafort's Manafort'

An Admission of Obstruction
"The letter’s admission to obstruction isn’t the first publicly documented evidence of obstruction. First, President Trump told both Russian officials and Lester Holt on NBC that he fired Comey because of Russia. Second, Comey testified that Trump asked him to “let go” of Flynn; later, a Trump tweet indicated he knew at that time that Flynn had committed crimes. Now we may have learned about a third admission this weekend: That the president tampered with witnesses in violation of obstruction statutes. With this letter’s admission added to the public evidence, we’re approaching a Watergate-level smoking gun on obstruction. Remember that there was never proof Nixon ordered the break-in. There was only proof of obstruction and interference with the investigation."

Why the Bombshell Trump Letter Could Be a Big Problem for Donald Trump Jr.
"The letter is a brazen declaration of executive power, and legal experts immediately challenged its premises and assertions. The missive also raised a possible problem for Donald Trump Jr.: it suggested he had not told Congress the whole truth—and might have even misled the body—regarding the cover story he put out when it was revealed that during the campaign he, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had met with a Russian emissary after being told she would share with them dirt on Hillary Clinton, as part of a Kremlin operation to help Trump."

Light Of Russia Investigation Sends President Trump Affiliates Scattering

New Cambridge Analytica Revelations Connect President Trump Russia Dots

Trump Lawyers Reveal He ‘Dictated’ Misleading Statement On Son’s Russian Meeting
"The president’s letter on the meeting could cause him problems if it’s seen as an attempt to obstruct Mueller’s investigation into possible Russia collusion with his campaign. It could also cause problems for Trump’s son, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last September that he didn’t have a clear idea who was responsible for the misleading statement about the meeting being focused on the adoption issue. Trump’s authorship of the problematic response — confirmed for the first time by his own attorneys — was an intriguing aside in the letter in which the key point was that he is essentially legally untouchable because he is the president."

Malcolm Nance Cuts Through The Noise: Trump ‘Does Not Believe’ In U.S. Democracy
"Trump is trying to build an autocracy"

President Trump has made 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days
"In the 497 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,251 false or misleading claims"

United Nations: U.S. Is Violating Human Rights

EPA Imploding Under Weight Of Scott Pruitt Scandals

Trump Is Probing the Constitution for Weaknesses, and Finding Them
"Trump has imposed tariffs on America’s allies, not its enemies. Indeed, Canada, one of the tariff targets, is part of the Department of Defense’s industrial base. Meanwhile, Trump has unilaterally relaxed trade sanctions on ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications firm that poses a wide array of serious national security risks. Why is Trump bailing out a dangerous Chinese firm that has violated American law? Well, he made his strange decision shortly after China announced a $500 investment in a theme park right next to a Trump-owned property in Indonesia, which will put money directly in Trump’s pocket."

Amid Signs of 'Cronyism, Nepotism, and Conflicts of Interest,' Watchdog Demands Probe of Trump-ZTE Dealings
"Highlighting the appearance of "cronyism, nepotism, abuses of power, and conflicts of interest" in U.S. President Donald Trump's recent negotiations to rescue the failing Chinese telecom giant ZTE after Beijing dumped $500 million into a major Trump development project in Indonesia, the watchdog group Common Cause sent a letter (pdf) to two key congressional committees on Thursday calling for a probe into whether Trump is "abusing his office to enrich his family"."

Pork, Iron, Steel, Dairy And Other Industries Facing Consequences

President Trump, GOP Keep Scott Pruitt On Despite Flagrant Abuse Of Office

White House official joins the conservative, pro-Trump company taking over local news
"Sinclair’s work as a propaganda arm for Trumpism is more sinister than anything the old “Trump TV” network predictions envisioned. Sinclair’s content arrives swaddled in the credibility of familiar faces and brands. The company has bought up local news operations around the country for years. Four of every 10 Americans lives in a place served by a Sinclair-owned TV news outfit. That share would jump to seven in 10 if the Federal Communications Commission signs off on Sinclair’s attempted purchase of the Tribune Company"

GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy Contradicts Trump On ‘Informant’ Claim
"Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI acted appropriately when it used an informant to gather information about Donald Trump campaign advisers who allegedly had suspicious contacts linked to Russia prior to the 2016 election."

Mueller Puts President Trump In Desperate Position; Pardon Spree A Bad Idea

Melber On Trump’s Self-Pardon Claim: Pardons Are For Criminals

The Trump Crime Family's Grifts are Right in Front of Our Noses @alternet

The Trump Crime Family's Grifts are Right in Front of Our Noses @alternet:

"This is happening right in front of our noses, but Trump knows that he enjoys immunity by Congressional majority and can get away with anything as long as Republicans control the other branches of government."

Donald Trump — The Art Of The Racketeer
"Donald Trump is basically a racketeer, specializing in the crimes of extortion, bribery, money laundering, and now obstruction of justice. The people who knew this best, far more than the American people and press, were the corrupt foreign governments and oligarchs with whom Trump had engaged in his racket over the last few decades, whether through extortion, bribery, or money laundering. And these foreign entities knew better than anyone how to deal with Trump. The most advantageous position to be in with Trump is to have enough leverage over him so he can not extort you, because that is his default option. Conversely, the least advantageous position is where Trump has all the leverage and can extort you. Bribery can strengthen or weaken your position depending on the situation, but, even then, bribery will only get you so far without leverage as bribery brings no loyalty from Trump. If you are not the law, the best way to fight back against a racketeer is to become a racketeer yourself. It seems clear, based on Trump’s refusal to ever criticize Putin, that the Russians had plenty of leverage over Trump and were determined to use it. In addition, the Russians had been laundering money with Trump for over a decade. And they knew he could be bought. That leverage, combined with the Russian campaign to discredit Hillary, was designed to get the sanctions lifted in return for Trump becoming President. The Russians also knew that they could enhance their position with Trump with additional bribery, holding out the possibility of that chimerical Trump Tower in Moscow. The Russians were actually in prime position with Trump, apparently having enormous leverage over him and being able to bribe him with something he desperately wanted. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were in a somewhat similar position to the Russians but probably did not have the same level of leverage over Trump that the Russians did. They did have years of history dealing with Trump and knew he could be influenced by their money."

Russia’s Campaign to Help Trump Win Was Just the Start
"Former FBI special agent Clint Watts was tracking ISIS terrorists and their propaganda on Twitter in 2014 when he first encountered a different kind of troll. These accounts weren’t trying to recruit fighters for jihad. They were promoting an “Alaska Back to Russia” petition on WhiteHouse. gov, pushing pro-Kremlin foreign policy views, and drumming up support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Watching this troll army inundate social media into 2015 and 2016—including rising attacks on Hillary Clinton and promotion of Donald Trump for president—Watts realized a new information war was underway. As he tracked false news stories from Russian state media that were repeated by the Trump campaign, he was surprised to see that Kremlin-linked disinformation was sometimes even driving the campaign’s own narrative. Two days before Election Day, Watts and his fellow cybersecurity analysts JM Berger and Andrew Weisburd warned that the Kremlin wasn’t just backing Trump but was seeking “to produce a divided electorate and a president with no clear mandate to govern. The ultimate objective is to diminish and tarnish American democracy.”  In the aftermath, as lawmakers struggled to contend with Russia’s role, the Senate Intelligence Committee relied on Watts’ expertise to help it understand the attack across social media networks."

Lawrence On Obstruction And “The Michael Cohen Tapes"

President Donald Trump Sends Signal With Pardons, Could Face Rude Awakening

Exclusive: U.S. Government Can’t Get Controversial Kaspersky Lab Software Off Its Networks
"The law says American agencies must eliminate the use of Kaspersky Lab software by October. U.S. officials say that’s impossible—it’s embedded too deep in our infrastructure."

Trump appointee who oversees election security is surprised to learn that Russia meddled for Trump
"Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen revealed on Tuesday she’s unfamiliar with the intelligence community’s consensus finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of President Trump — a finding that was made public in an assessment released 16 months ago."

How A President Trump Pardon In Collusion Case Could Be A Crime

Trump Is Running Out Of Allies And Time In Mueller Probe

Real Corruption: Mick “Pay and We’ll Talk” Mulvaney
"It’s not just that Mick Mulvaney has no scruples; he has no shame. It has become commonplace to see Trump administration officials, up to and including the president, abuse public resources for personal gain and comfort. But private planes, $31,000 dining room sets, and other lavish expenditures at public expense are the petty rewards of narcissists. The corruption that matters most is the kind that hurts millions of Americans to enrich the tiny class of billionaires that is this regime’s true constituency. When it comes to this kind of deep corruption, which perverts government’s role for the benefit of the privileged few, Mick Mulvaney is a master of the art. In fact, he’s made it his ideology. Mulvaney is Trump’s Budget Director. He is also doing double-duty as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency created under President Obama to protectconsumers from being ripped off by predatory and criminally-inclined banks. As a member of Congress, Mulvaney once called the agency he now leads “sick, sad,” and a “joke.” Even if Mulvaney uses his position at the CFPB to serve banks, it’ll still cost them. He pretty much said so, in a speech he recently gave to the American Bankers Association. “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney told an audience of 1,300 bankers and loan company executives. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” That’s a vision of play-for-play government, and it’s a vision Mulvaney shares with Trump, his party, and other members of his administration."

Trump opens himself up to hacking because using a secure phone is 'too inconvenient'
"since none of his supporters actually care about the disconnect between his campaign words and his actions in office any more than Trump cares about being truthful or consistent, there won’t be any political consequences until hacked information is used against him by a foreign government. Which he’ll blame on the FBI and Democrats, anyway."