Nel's New Day

July 12, 2019

Acosta Gone, Barr Protects DDT

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta failed to survive the scandal surrounding the Acosta’s extremely light sentence for Jeffrey Epstein when he was a U.S. AG in Florida over a decade ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced Acosta’s “resignation” today, effective in a week. For DDT, it’s a win-win: he looks tough, and he can put in an acting secretary who will be far harder against labor than Acosta has been. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wanted Acosta gone to get rid of more regulations.

DDT, the man who promised to “drain the swamp,” has the most Cabinet secretaries lost to corruption and other ethics concerns during the first term of any presidency, showing his nepotism, self-dealing, lax oversight, and choice of lobbyists who oppose the policies of their agencies. Ronald Reagan had some struggles: his EPA director Anne Gorsuch, a Supreme Court justice’s mother, was found in contempt of Congress for refusal to release records about Superfund money misuse, and his interior secretary James Watt mocked diversity in a U.S. chamber of Commerce speech and lied about his influence-peddling as a lobbyist. Acosta makes the fifth “resigned” Cabinet secretary from ethics issues, joining Tom Price (HHS), Scott Pruitt (EPA), David Shulkin (VA), and Ryan Zinke (Interior). DDT’s replacements for the four are all former lobbyists or corporate executives for the industries they now oversee. Other appointments have been withdrawn because of more ethics problems: Andy Puzder (Labor) for labor violations and spousal abuse; and Ronny Jackson (VA) for misconduct and mismanagement. Another remaining three Cabinet members—Ben Carson (HUD), Elaine Chao (Transportation), and David Bernhardt (Interior)—face ethical problems.  

Acosta’s replacement, deputy secretary Patrick Pizzella who was former lobbyist for overseas sweatshops, will add to DDT’s stable of ethically-challenged lobbyists in his Cabinet. In the late 1990s, he worked with Jack Abranoff, whose 21 convictions led to reforms in lobbying laws, for a Russian front group, the government of the Marshall Islands, and a trade association opposing a minimum wage in a U.S. commonwealth. 

The DOJ is still protecting DDT in the case of his friend, hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, again arrested for sex trafficking after DDT’s Labor Secretary Alex Costa, then U.S. AG in Florida, let Epstein off in 2008. Or maybe DDT is protecting himself; in 2016, the BBC released a documentary accusing DDT of “predatory” behavior toward teenage girls, some underage, by model Barbara Pilling. In an earlier court filing, Epstein said, “I want to set up my modeling agency the same way Trump set up his modeling agency.” More support for Epstein has come from DDT’s DOJ. The involvement of AG Bill Barr to exonerate Epstein could indicate wrongdoing by DDT. More background on Epstein.

Barr’s recusal from the Epstein case didn’t last long. Originally recusing himself from the New York sex trafficking case because of his work at the law firm Kirkland and Ellis lawyer representing Epstein, Barr changed his mind and will only recuse himself from an investigation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s involvement in Epstein’s Florida plea deal. At least for now. He has said nothing about his family connection with Epstein. In 1973, Barr’s father hired Epstein, then 20 and without any college degree, to teach calculus and physics teacher at the prestigious Dalton School. Epstein went on to amass a fortune under the mentorship of a student’s father, Bear Stearns’ chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg, and Barr’s father, Donald Barr, resigned a year later under pressure from the school’s board of trustees after Headmaster Barr morphed a “humanistic, progressive” school into one with “discipline and authoritarian rule.” The headmaster was irritated by the board’s hiring an outside committee to evaluate the school and its operation.

Epstein is surrounded by many of the rich and famous: Prince Andrew; Woody Allen; Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the U.S. News and World Report who partnered with Epstein to develop the gossip publication Radar; Leslie Wexner, the chairman of Limited Brands which owns lingerie store Victoria’s Secret; Ken Starr, who led the impeachment of Bill Clinton and played a “significant part” in Epstein’s plea deal; and Larry Summers, former Harvard president and secretary of the treasury. Woody Allen’s play Manhattan, released a few years after Epstein left Dalton, is about an affair between a 17-year-old Dalton school student and an older man.

Questioning people wonder if DDT told Barr to unrecuse himself as he did with AG Jeff Sessions about the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton issues. Another reason for Barr to withdraw his recusal is DDT’s interest in using Bill Clinton’s ties to Epstein for campaign fodder, something that Barr can more easily do if he doesn’t recuse himself. DDT may have other involvements in the case against Epstein.

In Acosta’s secret arrangement with Epstein, victims were not notified about plea agreement, and an email from Jay Lefkowitz, Epstein, thanked Acosta for not telling them. In February 2019, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the government’s agreement violated federal law, specifically the “Crime Victims’ Rights Act,” which could nullify the 2008 settlement. The judge also asked that Acosta apologize; he has not publicly commented on the case, even during his resignation comments.  

As Labor Secretary, Acosta drastically cut funding from his agency to fight sexual exploitation of children from $68 million to $18.5 million. He also tried to cover his support for Epstein by asking women to come forward, and 14 women have accused Epstein of sexual assault and sex trafficking since he was arrested on July 6. Federal prosecutors revealed that he paid $350,000 to two people days after a published investigation in a Miami newspaper last November to buy off possible witnesses, one of them a co-conspirator in the deal that Epstein made. Defense lawyers are trying to get Epstein released on bail with the claim that he has been law-abiding for 14 years.

Earlier when  Epstein pled not guilty, his defense lawyer Reid Weingarten asked for bail because there was no rape: “no violence, no coercion, no intimidation, no deception.” Answering the judge about the girls being under 18, Weingarten said that would make it “statutory rape” before he claimed he was having a “senior moment,” that lack of penetration would not constitute rape at all. He also complained that it was only “prostitution,” not “sex trafficking,” although girls were transported from Florida to New York. Epstein is staying in jail without bail until July 15.

Acosta’s slap on Epstein’s wrist may be used against Epstein in his upcoming prosecution. Juries usually cannot hear about a defendant’s prior convictions, but one exception to this rule is criminal cases involving “child molestation.” As part of his Florida agreement, Epstein pled guilty to a state charge of solicitation of minors to engage in prostitution. Prosecutors may be able to use the legal trove of documentary evidence found in his Manhattan apartment—notes, call records between Epstein and his accomplices with victims, and “an extraordinary volume of photographs of nude and partially nude young women or girls.”

The New Yorker Magazine reported that Epstein’s “business” might be a blackmail scheme implicating many of his friends. A billionaire hedge-fund manager said that he knew no one who had investigated in Epstein’s so-called hedge funds.

In another effort to protect DDT, Barr plans to investigate the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Barr presented this political question, throwing it out like red meat to DDT supporters:

“How did the bogus narrative begin that Trump was essentially in cahoots with Russia to interfere with the U.S. election?”

The FBI had credible evidence that led to suspicions and questions—no “bogus” and no “narrative.” From the Washington Post:

“This is a guy who sounds like he developed strong feelings long ago—before, even he has admitted, he was privy to all the information—that the collusion investigation was unfounded and launched for suspicious purposes. And his commentary to this day is consistently uncharitable to the law enforcement personnel who serve beneath him. We didn’t need another reason to question Bill Barr and the integrity of his work, but he’s given us one anyway.”

Afraid of special investigator Robert Mueller testifying before the House, Barr is smearing the process and encouraging special investigator Mueller to back out of his appearance on July 17. Barr has failed: Mueller postponed his appearance before the House committee for a week in order to allow more time for questioning.

DOJ investigators interviewed Christopher Steele, the former British spy who prepared the dossier that DDT’s supporters falsely claimed instigated the Robert Mueller probe, for 16 hours last month and found his testimony credible and surprising. Steele’s hiring by Fusion GPS developed out of a attempt, initially contracted by conservative political website The Washington Free Beacon, to obtain opposition research on DDT and other Republican presidential candidates to benefit candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to DOJ investigators—who were looking for dirt on Dems—Steele provided new and important information that fails to support Barr’s desire to smear the FBI.

DDT may further protect himself by getting rid of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the few ethical official left in the administration, “sooner rather than later.” Although DDT can’t get rid of the office, he wants to “downsize” it. A possible replacement is Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to John Bolton. A rabid Islamophobe, Fleitz is president and CEO for the far-right, anti-Muslim “think tank,” the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. Fleitz believes that mosques are responsible for over 80 percent of U.S. violence and subversion.

July 4, 2019

Will the Judicial Branch Protect Democracy?

July 4—the date that people in the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. For the past 243 years, some people have tried to protect the nation from the erosion of democracy, a far more difficult task in the past two years as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroyed U.S. relationships with all countries except those run by autocrats and dictators. Setting himself up as the supreme ruler with no checks, DDT is enabled by congressional Republicans. Although the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has tried to protect democracy, DDT is loading lifetime judgeships with mostly young white men who follow his authoritarianism.

DDT’s latest move outside the law came from his determination to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. A week ago, the Supreme Court decision gave DDT two options: print the census without the question or go back to court to with a better reason and fewer lies to include the question. Over the weekend, DDT’s administration looked for ways to stall—with DDT even suggesting that the constitutionally mandated census might be delayed.

Four days later, the DOJ said it would not return to court, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (bottom left) announced that the census forms were sent to the printers without the question. Yet DDT tweeted that the question would be on the 2020 census, catching the attention of a judge. Yesterday, the judge convened a telephone conference with government and Maryland immigrant-rights groups lawyers to address DDT’s declaration that the government was “absolutely moving forward” with its citizenship question plan for the 2020 census, defying a Supreme Court ruling and contradicting the DOJ and Commerce Department statements. Josh Gardner, DOJ’s civil division lawyer, said he knew nothing about DDT’s position until he read the tweet. Assistant AG Jody Hunt told the judge that DOJ lawyers “have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision” to include the question. The DOJ also warned the New York court ruling opposing the question that it might again appeal the case to the now-recessed Supreme Court. 

Lawyers from the rights groups requested a court order requiring the government to agree that “there will be no further effort to inquire about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census.” They also asked the judge to compel the administration to “publicly counter any such misinformation that comes from government officials.”

The judge said that he might not be able to “enjoin the President of the United States from tweeting things” but ordered the DOJ to explain by tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST whether the government would still try to add the question to the 2020 census forms. DOJ lawyers asked if they could have until Monday. The judge said, “No.” Lawyers for the rights groups reminded the judge that DOJ lawyers previously insisted the printing process for census forms begin by last Monday. The Census Bureau already botched a contracting process when the Government Publishing Office awarded its single largest printing contract to a bankrupt company. 

On Independence Day, DDT’s latest ploy is to overturn the Supreme Court decision by ordering the citizenship question through an executive order.

Judges across the country are opposing DDT’s positions. A federal judge in Seattle blocked AG Bill Barr’s order [Barr: right of Ross] to keep thousands of migrants indefinitely detained while waiting for asylum case decisions. Denying migrants a bail hearing is unconstitutional, according to the judge; a bond hearing must be granted within seven days or migrants will be released. DHS has raised fees for asylum seekers, slowed the processing and forced over 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for movement on their legal cases. Barr’s order is one reason for the seriously overcrowded facilities.

DDT claims that living conditions in his detention camps are “better than where they came from,” but a report from his own DHS Inspector General tells of horrific conditions with filth and overcrowding at the migrant detention centers. People lie in cages on bare cement floors with nothing to do, and men are held for weeks in a room with standing room only—88 of them in a room designed for 40. Children have no access to showers, clothing changes, laundry facilities, and hot meals. 

A federal judge ordered lawyers representing detained migrants and US Customs and Border Protection to rapidly resolve allowing health experts to examine children and inspect detention facilities inside a Florida migrant facility. The order covers all CBP’s El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. Children lack access to soap, clean water, toilets, toothbrushes, medical care, and adequate nutrition and sleep. With infants and pregnant women, they “are dirty, cold, hungry and sleep-deprived,” according to the court filing. Children are required to care for infants and toddlers, some of whom show signs of illness. John Kelly, former DHS director and DDT’s chief of staff, is on the board of the company owning the Florida facility.

A federal judge expanded a previous ruling to block DDT from taking billions of dollars in military funds for his southern border wall in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. DDT claimed “national emergency”; the judge said that there was no new evidence for changing an earlier decision. He also stated that the wall would cause “irreparable harm” because it “will harm [the plaintiffs’] ability to recreate in and otherwise enjoy public land along the border.” A 2-1 vote in a 9th Circuit Court panel denied DDT’s request to halt the order blocking military funds for a border wall.

The 9th Circuit Court sent a decision against DDT’s transgender ban in the military back to federal judge, Marsha Pechman, ruling that she should have given the military’s judgment more deference. The Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions blocking the ban from going into effect although it didn’t address the ban’s legality. Pechman was one of four federal judges ruling against the ban on the basis of the constitution’s equal protection guarantee. DDT’s used inaccurate figures in a claim of “tremendous medical costs”; no one in the military has cited DDT’s claim of “disruption” regarding transgender military members.

The 9th Circuit Court also vacated a unanimous three-judge panel decision allowing DDT’s gag rule on facilities serving low-income women seeking abortions. DDT’s orders prevented clinics receiving federal funds from making abortion referrals and sharing space with abortion providers. Injunctions against DDT’s declaration will continue in Oregon, Washington, and California as the issue works its way throughout the courts.

The 9th Circuit Court denied an appeal from three University of Oregon basketball players who were expelled from the school for rape allegations. They had originally sued in 2015 on the basis of gender discrimination; a federal court threw out their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act applying severe criminal penalties for violent acts motivated by race, religion, and other protected classifications applies to workplace assaults. A defendant lost his claim that the law didn’t apply to his punching a gay co-worker in the face.

A Montana district court blocked Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. from exploring for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Scott Warren, an Arizona activist on trial for saving the lives of migrants in the desert, was acquitted by a hung jury. Federal prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for Warren, hoping to put him in prison for several years for giving food, water, clean clothes, and beds to migrants in the desert. 

A last-minute change in testimony exonerated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher in the 2017 murder of a 15-year-old captive in Iraq. Given immunity, medic Corey Scott changed his previous statements and claimed he killed the boy after several Navy Seals testified they saw Gallagher stab the boy to death. Gallagher had texted a photo of himself posing with the body and the message, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” DDT had previously arranged for Gallagher’s release from confinement and suggested he would pardon him.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that going on someone else’s land without their permission is trespassing. Two people sued a giant corporation for building roads and drilling a well without permission to get gas from adjacent lands.

For almost a decade, Republicans worked to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Some are now getting nervous about their re-elections of they succeed in the goal. With two conservative judges on a panel who might strike down the ACA, the GOP state AGS asked the 5th Circuit Court to delay oral arguments, but the court gave them one business day until July 9. The court will begin by deciding whether states and the House of Representatives have standing to defend the ACA.

House Democrats, led by the Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA), are suing the IRS and Treasury Department to gain access to DDT’s tax returns. Both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig consistently refused to obey the 1924 law requiring them to release DDT’s tax returns. One reason given for obtaining the tax returns is DDT’s incessant complaining about how unfair the audit process is. House members need to see his returns to evaluate his complaints.

This year, the Supreme Court couldn’t decide Carpenter v. Murphy; it is “restored to the calendar for reargument.” The question is whether Oklahoma can prosecute major crimes committed by Native Americans on reservation land for the Five Civilized Tribes, covering the eastern half of the state including Tulsa. Deciding for the defendant, Patrick Murphy, would threaten the validity of past convictions—something that didn’t bother conservative justices in other decisions this year—or replace past law regarding the dissolution of Native American reservations. States have something to look forward to next year because Oklahoma may not be alone in backlash to the decision.

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

June 5, 2019

Court Decisions a Crap Shoot

Although the courts have ruled against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) 93 percent of the time for his orders, DDT’s percentage may improve if his appointed judges start hearing more of his cases. For example, a judge has ruled against a lawsuit from the House about DDT using funds to build his wall, ruling that courts are not the place to settle this dispute. The House had argued that the spending violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution and usurp congressional authority while the DOJ opposed the House with the argument that the case concerned whether the administration failed to appropriately execute a statute. Appointed by DDT, U.S. District Trevor N. McFadden wrote that courts take no part in political fights between other branches.

McFadden’s decision was opposite to the 2016 ruling that the GOP-led House could sue the Obama administration for allegedly spending on an Affordable Care Act program that Congress had not approved. Rosemarie Collyer, a George W Bush appointee, wrote, “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.” Republicans had praised the outcome as a necessary check on the White House’s authority in “protecting Congress’ power of the purse [for] the separation of powers.” That case was settled before an appeal was concluded. During a hearing last month, McFadden had already said that he doubted whether the House had legal standing as a single chamber to sue the president, despite DDT illegally shifting money from other programs to pay for his wall.

Previously McFadden refused to recuse himself from a legal case regarding BuzzFeed’s publication of the Steele dossier from Fusion GPS despite McFadden’s representation a firm owned by a Russian businessman claiming he was libeled by the dossier. McFadden was also top lawyer at the DOJ Criminal Division when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked for an investigation into Fusion and earlier served as a “vetter” on DDT’s transition team where he consistently heard negative arguments about the dossier’s accuracy. One of three DDT-appointed judges on Washington, D.C.’s district court, McFadden donated to DDT’s campaign.

Domestic terrorists won in court by using the U.S. Constitution’s free speech amendment. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, appointed by George W. Bush, threw out criminal charges against three members of a neo-Nazi organization Rise above Movement (RAM) who conspired through social media to assault their ideological opponents. The three men “publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit” other white men to join RAM. The U.S. has no laws against domestic terrorism as it does against international terrorist groups. Only gun and drug charges were brought against a domestic terrorist planning to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” and the first judge hearing the case gave the man bail. Convictions for heinous acts bring light sentences, sometimes only for time served. The judge ruled that the federal statute used to prosecute the three men was unconstitutional.

A federal judge conceded to the DOJ in not requiring the release transcripts of conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, when he was Russian ambassador to the U.S. A federal judge had ordered the transcripts made public, but the DOJ refused. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations while Barack Obama was president. Barr had redacted all this information in the Mueller report.

DDT did lose his request for the Supreme Court to fast track a request a case about DDT’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, postponing any response from the high court until next fall. Two different appeals courts have ruled against DDT’s ending the DACA program. Earlier justices refused DDT’s challenge to a ruling temporarily blocking officials from closing down the program. The House is considering a vote as soon as this week on the Dream Act which would include legal status to hundreds of thousands of past DACA recipients.

With seven Republicans, all the House Democrats passed a new bill, 237-187, that expands the decade-old Dream Act. The “Dream and Promise Act” would protect young migrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and give them a path to citizenship. Other migrants here temporarily from countries devastated by natural disasters and/or wars would also be shielded. Nine years ago, 36 conservative Dems voted the Dream Act with eight Republicans supporting it. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will almost surely not bring the bill to the floor so that Republicans can join DDT in complaining that Democrats are not passing any bills and instead focusing on investigations. Less than halfway through their first year, the House has passed half of its top priorities: democracy-reform, Equality At, Dream and Promise Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, and a bill addressing the climate crisis. Other passed bills lower prescription drug costs and expand the Violence against Women Act along with other healthcare bills. McConnell has ignored all of them and allowed only the passage of a disaster relief bill which House Republicans blocked for weeks. At least 153 bills passed in the House languish in the Senate. The other 15 bills are minor name changes, extensions, or expansions with one of them being payment to employees furloughed by their shutdown. DDT vetoed two bills.  

A judge kept Missouri from being the only state without a clinic performing abortions for the past 46 years—at least temporarily. Yesterday the court ruled that doctors who no longer work at the clinic are not required to comply with subpoenas about safety questions at the clinic. It already complies with gratuitous requirements such as transfer agreements with hospitals, inspections, and two pelvic exams for every woman wanting a surgical abortion. The court will continue to review state allegations about “failed abortions” and legal violations.

DDT is facing more problems about his Panama tower as Ithaca Capital Partners claims that he failed to pay Panamanian taxes equivalent failed to 12.5 percent of the management fees he took from the hotel. That failure plus other financial irregularities amount to “millions of dollars.” DDT’s projects in Canada, Mexico, India, Azerbaijan, Uruguay, and elsewhere are elsewhere in trouble. Although DDT claimed others developed real estate projects, information shows serious family involvement in projects, often with deceptive practices. With the failure of projects, DDT and his family lie about their lack of involvement and walk away with the money that they have already collected.

In a surprising move, Brett Kavanaugh voted with the four progressive Supreme Court justices to expand plaintiff’s fights to class-action lawsuits against big corporations. Consumers may move forward with a suit against Apple, accusing the company of acting as a monopoly. At this time, iPhone and iPad users may download apps, even those developed by third parties, only from the Apple portal while the corporation takes a cut of sales. The ruling concerns other tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

In another case, Kavanaugh went with conservatives in a decision that overturns a 40-year-old ruling and puts four decades of legal decisions into question. About a decision that “states retain their sovereign immunity from private suits brought in courts of other states,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote:

“To overrule a sound decision like [Nevada v. Hall] is to encourage litigants to seek to overrule other cases; it is to make it more difficult for lawyers to refrain from challenging settled law; and it is to cause the public to become increasingly uncertain about which cases the Court will overrule and which cases are here to stay.” 

Clarence Thomas prides himself on being a constitutionalist who follows the words of the document, but his opinion in this case refers only to the “history and structure” of the U.S. Constitution and fail to not support interstate sovereign immunity. Instead Thomas claims that the Constitution bestows “equal dignity and sovereignty” to states. To Thomas, that means that states are immune from private lawsuits brought in other states’ courts. Brett Kavanaugh declared the importance of precedent in his confirmation hearings, and John Roberts had claimed during his hearings that he would not be overturning settled law through the Supreme Court.

Earlier this spring,  Justice Neil Gorsuch maintained that using the death penalty to torture a person to death doesn’t violate the constitution’s Eighth Amendment opposition to “cruel and unusual punishment” as long as people don’t want to inflict pain. His majority opinion for Bucklew v. Precythe allowing the killing of Russell Bucklew in Missouri also asks death penalty defense attorneys to determine methods of killing their clients. Kavanaugh wrote a separate opinion suggesting that firing squads be used for execution because Bucklew could choke from vascular tumors with lethal doses of pentobarbital. Conservatives have already approved drugs for execution that gave inmates “the feeling of being burned alive.” Gorsuch’s opinion of the 5-4 majority in Bucklew destroys over a half-century of precedents and returns to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

With DDT in charge of forming the judicial system for generations to come, court decisions are a crap shoot.

May 1, 2019

U.S. AG Barr Defends Cover-up of DDT

Special investigator Robert Mueller joins people disturbed about AG Bill Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s final report. A timeline of the report from its release to Barr’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his protection of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

March 22: Robert Mueller delivered his 448-page report to the DOJ.

March 24: Bill Barr released his personal four-page interpretation of Mueller’s report that attempted to exonerate DDT of all blame by announcing that Mueller found no collusion between the DDT campaign and Russia and that Mueller had absolved DDT of obstruction of justice.

March 25: Mueller sent first letter to Barr, expressing “concern” about Barr’s misrepresentation of his findings with an introduction and executive summary to Barr that day.

March 27: Mueller sent a second letter to Barr and the DOJ leadership about Barr’s summary:

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Muller requested the release of the report’s introduction and executive summaries. DOJ officials said that they believed Mueller agreed with them about the process of releasing the report until they saw the letter. The complete letter is here.

March 28: Mueller told Barr on the phone that Barr’s summary was misleading about the report and said that Barr did not reveal how DDT’s campaign interacted inappropriately with Russians. Examples: Campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates regularly provided polling to a Russian national believed by Gates to be a “spy”; Mueller outlined 10 “episodes” in which DDT may have obstructed justice. In addition, Barr didn’t mention that DDT’s mostly unsuccessful “to incluence the investigation” were “largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

March 29: Barr wrote Congress claiming that his March 24 communication was intended as Mueller’s principal conclusions, not a summary. He volunteered to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.

April 10: Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath. Asked if Mueller supported “your conclusion,” Barr answered:

I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.”

The questioner, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), called Barr “the chief propagandist” for DDT and that Barr lied to the people after learning about Mueller’s prior communication with Barr.

April 18: Barr gave a press release before he made public a heavily redacted Mueller report and repeated “no collusion” as his boss DDT has. Asked if it was improper for him to spin the unreleased report, Barr walked off the stage.

April 30: The Washington Post released information about Mueller’s criticism to Barr about the Barr’s misrepresentation and publicity prior to Barr’s congressional testimony.  Both Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) demanded Mueller’s letter to Barr. Nadler also asked that Mueller testify before his committee, but the DOJ, where Mueller is employed, can’t find a time when Mueller would be available. Barr threatened to not appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on May 2 because he might be questioned by staff counsel instead of House members. Members of Congress called for Barr’s resignation.

May 1: Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Barr testified he had not reviewed the underlying evidence in Mueller’s report although he wrote in his first summary that the evidence failed to establish that DDT committed obstruction of justice.
  • Barr said he doesn’t know anything about the internal polling data that Manafort and Gates regularly sent to Russian national Kilimnik to share with others in Ukraine and with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The Mueller report described over 200 connections between DDT’s campaign and a foreign adversary.
  • Barr sat in silence for six seconds when asked if campaigns should contact the FBI if foreign governments offer them damaging information on their political opponents. When prompted, he specified a narrow yes, “if a foreign intelligence service.” Barr did suggest it would be possible for an employee of a foreign adversary to work for a U.S. campaign if that person were not paid.
  • Asked about lies from DDT and other people in Mueller’s report, Barr said that he’s “not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people.” [Internet response was not positive.]
  • Barr falsely claimed that he “didn’t exonerate” DDT and that he wasn’t hiding Mueller’s information. [Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a color-coded chart for 14 claims connected with DDT’s obstruction of justice, showing that Mueller found substantial evidence regarding this obstruction of “crime, intent, interference with an ongoing investigation, and the obstructive act.”]
  • Barr called Mueller’s letter to him “snitty” and refused to share notes from their telephone call. Also, Barr accused Mueller of not writing the letter to him although Mueller signed the letter.
  • Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that he will “work with you to enhance the security of our election.” Asked if he would help get the Secure Elections Act passed, he said he would “take a look” at it. [Klobuchar had far more questions.]
  • Barr said that DDT “fully cooperated” with the investigation although the Mueller report shows differently.
  • Barr asserted that Mueller didn’t intend his report for Congress although Mueller stated that intent in his report.
  • Barr admitted under oath that a case for obstruction of justice can be pursued without an underlying crime if people concerned about crimes “take an inherently malignant act, such as destroying documents.” The statement was to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT’s cheerleader, who was sure that his original question would keep DDT from being accused of obstruction. [Asked earlier this week about DDT’s obstruction of justice, Graham said, “I don’t care.”]
  • Barr said that DDT was “falsely accused” of coordinating with Russia.
  • Barr declared that he is in charge of summaries, redactions, and times of releases because a special investigator works.
  • The worst: Barr said that the president had the right to fire any independent special counsel if he disagreed with the investigation.
  • Barr refused to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow. Members may subpoena him, landing the situation in court If Barr continues his refusal. Barr could be sued for civil contempt, leaving the decision to a judge. This solution was used in 2007 when George W. Bush’s counsel Harriet Miers refused to testify about her removal of several U.S. attorneys; a court ruled that Miers had to comply with the subpoena, and the case was appealed. The case was dropped when the 110th Congress was over. An unlikely option not used for 100 years is to hold Barr in contempt, meaning the House’s security force could arrest and detain him. In 1973, Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) threatened to jail people who failed to appear for the Watergate hearings after then President Nixon tried to prevent key aides from testifying.  Permitting Barr his own way sets a precedent for the DOJ’s total control of Congress—a separate branch of government.

When “Poppy” Bush, George W.’s father, named Barr attorney general in the early 1990s, NYT writer William Safire, a staunch Republican, used the nickname “Coverup-General” because of Barr’s concealing evidence about George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.” Christmas 1992 headlines told of Barr’s Christmas gift to Bush and Ronald Reagan—hiding their crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, named six years earlier to investigate Reagan’s Iran-Contra activities, found the documents of Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s former defense secretary, who had been in on the deal, and Bush’s diary that would corroborate Walsh’s findings. Elliott Abrams was already convicted of withholding evidence from Congress and might have more information. Abrams was silent, hoping for a pardon.

In April 2001—almost ten years later—Barr said in an interview for oral presidential histories:

“There were some people arguing just for [a pardon for] Weinberger, and I said, ‘No, in for a penny, in for a pound.’ I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others.”

Bush followed Barr’s advice, destroying years of investigation. Walsh had already gotten one conviction and three guilty pleas with two other people lined up for prosecution. Bush was in Walsh’s sights. The pardons closed down the investigation and protected himself as well as the others involved in the crimes. After the pardons, Walsh stated that the diary and notes for Weinberger’s public trial were “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.” Officials includes Reagan, Bush, and Barr. Coverup-General Barr is the go-to guy, and Republican senators confirmed him. Only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against his party, but Barr got three Democratic senators: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Even Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano, who DDT once considered for a personal lawyer, claims that Mueller’s report shows DDT’s pattern of obstruction that was “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.” He made his opinion well-known through both an op-ed and a video.

A must-read about Barr is a NYT op-ed from former FBI director James Comey who tells Barr that “[DDT] has eaten your soul.”

And a must-watch about Barr comes from Rachel Maddow’s interview with Hillary Clinton immediately before Minute 17. Clinton’s best one-liner about DDT’s inviting foreign countries to support her 2016 election:

“China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns? I’m sure the media would richly reward you.”

According to Barr, this approach would not be illegal because it’s done out in the open.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

January 17, 2019

Shutdown ‘Crushed’ DDT; Barr Follows GOP Line

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Day 17 of the government shutdown: “We are getting crushed,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. He wasn’t talking about the shutdown; he was complaining about the polls. A majority of people in the United States continues to blame DDT for the shutdown. In December, DDT said he would take credit for the shutdown, and now people agree. Nate Silver, usually the cheeriest of analysts about DDT’s polls, presents polls demonstrating how the shutdown is dragging down DDT’s approval.

DDT loves polls that favor him so much that he had former fixer Michael Cohen arrange to “rig online polls in his boss’s favor” before the 2016 elections. John Gauger, CIO of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and owner of Redfinch Solutions, failed to get DDT into the top 100 business leaders in a CNBC online poll in 2014 but moved DDT into the top five potential GOP candidates in 2015 on the Drudge Report. Gauger claims that he wasn’t paid the promised $50,000 although Cohen gave him a Walmart bag with $12,000 to $13,000 in cash plus a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter. Cohen claims that his poll rigging was done “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” DDT. When DDT claims that polls are rigged, he has proof.

In a 222-195 vote, House Republicans failed to pass a bill proposed a bill to pay furloughed workers—for doing nothing—but keep the government shutdown. Yesterday, the House passed its sixth bill for a continuing resolution to reopen the government. Congress did pass a bill into law to pay federal employees, both those working without pay and those furloughed, after the shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to address opening the government by claiming that to the Senate floor because he won’t present any bills that cannot pass. Today, however, McConnell presented an anti-abortion bill that has zero chance of passing Congress at this time. The measure makes the Hyde Amendment permanent, prohibits abortion in federal health facilities including veterans’ hospitals, and bans subsidized health plans from providing abortion coverage.

Pandering to parts of his base, DDT brought back furloughed workers—with no pay—to process IRS refunds, inspect foods, and expedite farm loans. He is also staffing refuges for hunters, paying more State Department employees, and helping a friend by providing paid workers to process forms for mortgages. Acting AG Matt Whitaker also gave a political speech to the Heritage Foundation in conflict with shutdown guidelines.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked DDT to postpone his State of the Union address scheduled for January 29, citing security concerns for protecting the Congress, members of the executive branch, and U.S. Supreme Court justices gathered in one place. DDT cannot deliver his speech to the large audience without Pelosi’s invitation. She suggested that he give the speech in the Oval Office or submit it to Congress in writing. DDT needs Pelosi’s invitation to come to the House. cannot deliver his speech to the House without Pelosi’s invitation. DDT is now asking McConnell if he can go to the Senate.

In retaliation, DDT announced that he postponed Pelosi’s seven-day classified trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan by denying military transport because of the shutdown lack of security. A small contingent of House members were on the way to the airport when DDT told Pelosi could use commercial flights for the highly secret journey that he called a “public relations event.” Melania Trump left on military transport for a vacation at Mar-a-Lago soon after Pelosi’s business trip was canceled. The trip was for six days, and Pelosi was not planning to go to Egypt. Her stop in Brussels was to reassure top NATO commanders about the U.S. staying with the alliance. In Afghanistan, Pelosi planned to visit with members of the military as DDT and GOP House members did after the shutdown as well as to get national security and intelligence briefings. Pelosi is third in line for the presidency.

Barr confirmation:

While DDT sits and fumes, his nomination for DOJ AG, Bill Barr faced two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are some of his responses:

Barr said that he would like to pursue an investigation into the conservative conspiracy theory that a Russian energy nuclear agency donated to the Clinton Foundation to get Hillary Clinton’s approval for is purchase of a uranium mining company. The situation has been thoroughly investigated and debunked.

Asked if he has concerns about how DDT undermines society’s institutions, Barr defended DDT’s repeated use of the term “witch hunt” about Robert Mueller’s investigation and said, “We have to remember that the president is the one who has denied that there’s any collusion and has been steadfast in that. Presumably he knows facts [we don’t]. . . .”

DDT has the power to pardon a family member, according to Barr.

Barr sees “no reason” to change policy not to indict a sitting president.

About birthright citizenship, Bar said that he couldn’t give an answer about whether the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. The amendment states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” DDT has promised to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

When asked about what the DOJ should know about senior officials who have business relationships with foreign interests and governments, specifically DDT, Barr talked about how members of Congress didn’t need background checks and concluded that “business [relationships] with a foreign interest is not ordinarily a counter-intelligence concern.”

At the end of detailed and specific questioning about whether he would go against ethics officials’ recusal advice, Barr said he would ignore the advice if he disagreed because of a “different judgment of the facts.” He criticized former AG Jeff Sessions because he “locked himself into” following recusal advice from ethics officials at the Justice Department.

Barr said that Mueller’s report didn’t need to be public, but he would issue his own summary of its findings—through his own filter.

According to Barr, there should be a federal law that “prohibits marijuana everywhere.” He also defended his past push for “more incarceration.”

Asked if the DOJ will jail reporters for “doing their jobs,” Barr said he can “conceive of situations” in which a journalist could be held in contempt if a news organization “knows they are putting out stuff that will hurt the country.”

Barr wants a “barrier system” on the border and connected it to the drugs that actually come through the ports of entry. In declaring that, he used the dehumanizing language of “illegal aliens.” He claimed that so-called “sanctuary cities” encourage criminals to come to the U.S., wants to process asylum seekers without letting them into the country, and supports DDT’s “wall or nothing” shutdown. While AG for George H.W. Bush, Barr’s aggressive “law and order” agenda on both immigration and street crime surprised even Republicans. DDT’s immigration actions are patterned after those of Barr in the early 1990s. Barr has a history of supporting the violation of human rights: discriminatory profiling; secret military trials; unchecked security power; bans on asylum seekers; and separation of parents from children.

DDT’s Muslim ban was about national security, according to Barr; therefore, he supports using non-Christian religious beliefs for discrimination.

Barr was “shocked” by the text messages of former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, private conversation that criticized DDT but did not conspire against him or use their positions against DDT. With no indication that Bruce Ohr orchestrated the Christopher Steele dossier, Barr said he was bothered by Ohr’s “connection,” an echo of DDT’s comments.

Asked about DDT rescinding guidelines protecting transgender students from school discrimination, Barr said he didn’t understand the question. Barr also believes that the law doesn’t ban discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In perhaps his most gobsmacking response, Barr said, “I can’t tell you what the Emoluments Clause means.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of Amy kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

It means that DDT can’t legally take money from foreign officials—as he’s been doing because they pay him to stay in his hotel. The governments of DC and Maryland have standing to sue DDT for violating the clause with proof because a manager of DDT’s New York hotel claims that it had a turnaround from the Saudi Arabia’s government business. The shutdown has put court cases on hold. Maybe Barr will learn about the Emoluments Clause by the end of the shutdown.

Bill Barr was the DOJ AG who pardoned all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal, getting President George H.W. Bush out of legal problems, opposes Mueller’s investigation, and believes that the president is above the law. Barr thinks that the president can use military force without congressional authorization. He opposes Roe v Wade and net neutrality. Senate Republicans will confirm him in a heartbeat.

October 17, 2018

DDT, Kavanaugh – Liars Running the U.S.

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:06 PM
Tags: , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), known for his lies, has concentrated on trying to exonerate Saudi Arabia in its killing of the U.S. reporter Jamal Khashoggi.  First DDT appeared to think that the “problem” would blow over if he just ignored the entire event. Backlash caused him to call the Saudi king about the killing and report that the king doesn’t know anything about it. (DDT has a tendency to support world dictators by appearing to believe their denials, just as he did with Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.)

In the face of escalating anger from the people of the United States and members of Congress, including Republicans, DDT used the same excuse for exonerating his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Khashoggi may have been murdered, but the Saudi royalty isn’t to blame. Somebody else did it. “These could have been rogue killers,” DDT said. He ignored the group of 15 Saudis, one of them a specialist in autopsies and bringing a bone saw, who arrived in Turkey on a private jet about 3:00 in the morning before the murder. Someone tried to maintain that they were “tourists,” but they left the same day—after Khashoggi disappeared into the embassy—as diplomatic pouches left the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Two planes returned the murder squad to Saudi Arabia. When Turkey gained access to the embassy for an investigation, a cleaning crew had preceded them, and some places in the embassy had been freshly painted.

Saudi’s dictator oversaw 48 beheadings in 2018’s first four months; he would have found a single dismembering to be simple. If Saudi Arabia decides to take DDT’s lead in blaming someone not connected with the government, whoever they finger will be killed. DDT can then claim the murdering as proof of “rogue killers.”

DDT maintains that he has “no financial interests” in Saudi Arabia, but he loves Saudis because they give him money. Even Fox network reported on his fiscal involvement. Saudis launder their money by purchasing his apartments in inflated prices, they may give him permits to build his desired hotel in Jeddah if he behaves, a Saudi royal billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal bailed out DDT in the 1990s by buying his yacht and a stake in New York’s Plaza Hotel, and they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stay at his hotel in Washington.

In an attempt to smooth over the problem, DDT sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell the Saudi Crown Prince how much DDT loves the prince. Pompeo said that “we need to make sure we are mindful” of the important US-Saudi ties to conclude what happened to Khaghoggi. Every time that reporters ask DDT about Khashoggi, DDT brags about the giant–and possibly non-existent–arms deal with Saudi Arabia. He cannot make the deal on his own, however; Congress must approve the sale of weapons that Saudi Arabia uses to kill civilians in the Middle East. DDT says he’s awaiting the “investigation,” probably as effective as the one into Brett Kavanaugh, and Jared Kushner, the Saudi prince’s BFF is hiding from the situation.

In another continuing lie, DDT constantly makes a big and offensive deal about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her comment that she has Native American heritage, going so far as to say that he would donate $1 million to her selection of a charity if she took a DNA test proving her claim. After his usual slur of calling her “Pocahantas,” he said at a rally, “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian [sic],” he announced. She did, but he now says, “I didn’t say that.” Maybe he doesn’t have the money.

DDT tried to convince Lesley Stahl during an interview on 60 Minutes that he “didn’t really make fun” of Kavanaugh’s victim, Christine Blasey Ford. After Stahl pointed out that he did mock her, and he defended himself by saying that without his ridicule “we would not have won.” DDT continued by stating that he is “bringing people together” in the country instead of the polarization under President Obama immediately before he complained how “horribly” Democrat senators behaved during Kavanaugh’s hearings. Questioned about the “unity” of this action, DDT said he bashed Democrats because they “don’t wanna be healed.” He also dodged questions about why he refuses to accept that Russia meddled in the election and why he has never said anything negative about Putin. DDT did acknowledge that Putin might be involved in assassinations, but that wasn’t criticism about him because assassinations in another country don’t trouble DDT.

DDT and the White House lied about Democrats leaking information about the name of the person who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. When the media obtained the information, only Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the FBI, and the White House had a copy of the letter. DDT’s theory was that Kavanaugh’s “poor treatment” would help Republicans in the midterm election.

Kavanaugh’s penchant for lying parallels that of DDT. The only difference between the lies by these two men is that Kavanaugh incessantly lied under oath. Here’s a sample, much of it from his last angry testimony when he treated Democrats with great rudeness and showed that he lacks the demeanor to be any judge, let alone a life-time term for the U.S. Supreme Court:

  • Kavanaugh’s grandfather was a Yale graduate, negating his claim that he had no family connections with the school and got in by hard work.
  •  Kavanaugh was not of legal age to drink in high school; he lied about when the law for the drinking age was changed to 18. He also wasn’t of legal drinking age during at Yale during his first couple of years.
  • Witnesses did not “refute Ford’s testimony, a common law from both Kavanaugh and other Republicans: his friends said that they didn’t “remember.”
  • Kavanaugh’s claim that he did not drink to excess was refuted by a large number of classmates who saw him belligerent and stumbling drunk.
  • ”Boofed” refers to anal sex, not flatulence.
  • ”Devil’s Triangle” is a sexual act among two men and one woman, not a “drinking game.” (By now it also describes a disaster!)
  • Kavanaugh’s social group associated with Ford, as indicated by multiple members of his class at Georgetown Prep.
  • Kavanaugh lied about his ignorance of a sexual assault claim against him before a NYT story was released; text messages show that he and his team knew it earlier.
  • Kavanaugh said that he didn’t know if he was “Bart,” but he wrote a letter that he signed Bart.
  • Kavanaugh did not rule in favor of environmental controls “many times,” as he claimed: almost 90 percent of his rulings opposed any attempt to control climate change, and DDT praised him for overruling federal regulators “75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues.”
  • Kavanaugh lied about violating secrecy laws governing grand juries during Bill Clinton’s Ken Starr investigation when he claimed that a Chris Ruddy, peddler of conspiracy theories, gave him information “off the record,” something that doesn’t apply to grand jury secrecy, and then lied to the Senate under oath about having committed this crime.
  • In 2004, Kavanaugh lied about his handling of the controversial nomination of federal Judge William Pryor as emails now show.
  • Kavanaugh lied about his involvement to steal Democratic staff emails connected to judicial confirmations.
  • In 2006, Kavanaugh lied about his involvement in the controversial nomination of federal Judge Charles Pickering and his role in nominating William Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel involved in creating the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

All the above were lies that Kavanaugh told under oath; he frequently perjured himself. He also lied when he assured Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that  Roe v. Wade is “settled law”: within the last year he tried to prevent an immigrant girl from getting an abortion by imprisoning her in an ICE facility.

Juries are always directed to follow this instruction:

“If a witness is shown knowingly to have testified falsely about any material matter, you have a right to distrust such witness’ other testimony and you may reject all the testimony of that witness.”

Thus neither DDT nor Kavanaugh can be believed in anything that they say, and they control two of the three branches of government.

October 1, 2018

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

[A blog post from two women who have been friends for seven decades.]

A blogger wrote in 2017: “There is a certain wisdom that comes with age and Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmechtman show that they still got it. Helen and Margaret have been friends for more than 60 years and aren’t afraid to tell you their views on anything.” References go back ten years in such sources as Forbes and Atlantic.

[From Helen]: Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours.   Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone.  And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend.  Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty.  And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe.  It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search.   When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth.  And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women.  Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this.  For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have.  If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk.  Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.  And one of those women simply served for one day.  Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat.  Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another.  It’s the same damn thing over and over again.”  Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again.  This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it. Really.

Notes:

Note from Margaret – I think your humor missed the mark when you called Lindsey a girl.

Note from Helen – I called him Trump’s girlfriend which is very different.

Note from Margaret – Well.

Note from Helen – look up satire in your dictionary.

Note from Margaret – under H you might find hypocrisy.

Note from Helen – exactly my point. I’m sending pie.

Note from Margaret – second to the last paragraph, dear.

Note from Helen – I stand corrected and edited. I’m sending two pies. Howard’s favorite.

September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh: Anita Hill Redux

Twenty-seven years after Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual misconduct, was confirmed for the Supreme Court, the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee held another anti-woman Supreme Court nominee hearing, this one featuring Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The day began with Ford’s statement, followed by questions from Democratic judicial committee members and Rachel Mitchell, sex crimes prosecutor for Maricopa County (AZ), the “female”—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) words—hired to ask questions from 11 white male senators on the committee. For the first time in history, these GOP senators hired someone to ask their questions for a better photo-op.

Ford began the ten-hour day with her opening statements specifically describing what Kavanaugh had done to her. She explained the attack in clear language despite a quavering voice. Asking questions for the GOP senators, Rachel Mitchell tried to poke holes in her testimony in the five-minute increments allotted her instead of to GOP senators, asking about drinking or drugs at the event (Ford had neither), mistaken identity (Ford said she was “100 percent” sure that it was Kavanaugh), Ford’s appearance, the timing when she first raised her story and who she told, any donors to her efforts such as paying for the polygraph and lawyer fees.

Fox network’s Chris Wallace pronounced the hearings a “disaster” for Republicans after the first half hour, and NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported that sources close to DDT said “it was a mistake” to have a sex crimes prosecutor ask questions of Ford instead of GOP lawmakers or another outside counsel. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) raged that Ford “seems credible.”

Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) repeatedly defended his committee’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation and criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, for not telling Republicans immediately of Ford’s letter to her making allegations against the nominee. Feinstein has explained that she promised Ford privacy, that she made the letter public after a media leak and Ford’s permission.

During the recess between her testimony and Kavanaugh’s part of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raged “that Democrats are never subjected to accusations of sexual misconduct, and warned them that if Kavanaugh fails, Republicans will gin up false accusations against future Democratic nominees to even the score. Wow.”

In his 2015 autobiography Graham wrote about his prosecutions of rape cases in his 2015 autobiography:

“I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailants.”

By 2018 Graham has reversed any sense of decency as demonstrated in his attacks against Ford and the Democrats. When a woman came up to him during a recess at the hearings and said she had been raped, he said, “I’m so sorry…you needed to go to the cops.”

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Kavanaugh’s 45-minute rambling, self-aggrandizing opening was directed with fury at Democrats and the “left,” possibly in an effort to please DDT. Instead of neutrality that he had early bragged about, he disparaged the process and expressed anger at the Democrats, claiming that their attacks came from anger at DDT and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss, calling it “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”  Conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote that “the angry thing is suggesting that he can get out of control. Not a good connection. His roommate said he got ‘aggressive and belligerent.’ YIKES.”

Kavanaugh almost cried throughout the remainder of his opening, behavior that would have been described as “hysterical” if he were a woman. He refused to answer Sen. Diane Weinstein’s (D-CA) question about why he didn’t ask the FBI to look into the allegations, beginning a repeated answer to questions from other Democrat senators. Kavanaugh continually emphasized how he drank beer and how much he likes beer, excusing his behavior because everyone did it. He couldn’t say how much he drank but said that it was legal because the drinking age was 18. According to Maryland law, the age for legal drinking changed to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17.

To questions about Mark Judge from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kavanaugh hedged before he talked about his wonderful personal characteristics, taking up most of Leahy’s five minutes despite attempts to question him. Leahy pointed out that GOP committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) allowed Kavanaugh to filibuster. Earlier, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had said that Judge was “credible” because he had testified under oath and that he didn’t need to testify before the committee because of that testimony.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Kavanaugh that he could save his family name and immediately ask for an FBI investigation, leading to Grassley’s temper tantrum about process before Kavanaugh declared that the FBI “don’t reach conclusions.” Kavanaugh clearly does not want an FBI investigation.

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Graham’s screaming fit after Durbin’s questioning, likely to please DDT, removed any possibility of his becoming a statesman. He lied about Democrats getting an FBI investigation by going to the Republicans and continued to attack Democrats, telling Kavanaugh that he would not get a fair process—and much more. His fury gave the rest of the GOP senators to speak for themselves as they delivered speeches about how horrible the accusations were and how wonderful Kavanaugh is and Rachel Mitchell never spoke again.

Continuing to lose any Supreme Court justice presence, Kavanaugh asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) if she had ever blacked out while drinking—twice—after she asked him that question. He never answered her question, but he did half-way apologize when he came back from break. Earlier he has asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), “Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?”

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) voice broke in anger during his speech before he asked a few questions. Kavanaugh’s answers were brief, with none of the filibustering done to avoid questions from Democrats, although his folded arms demonstrated a defensive posture. When Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) followed with questions about forgetting or becoming combative while drinking, Kavanaugh reverted to becoming defensive. His filibustering when Coons asked about descriptions of Kavanaugh’s drinking by Dr. Elizabeth Swisher and Kavanaugh’s freshman Yale roommate James Roche. Again Kavanaugh refused any investigation.

When Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Kavanaugh about descriptions of him as a “sloppy drunk,” Kavanaugh continued filibustering. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was better at moving Kavanaugh along when Booker asked about Kavanaugh’s political animus and got him to say that he didn’t think that this problem extended to Ford. Booker also got in the statement that Ford’s friend, who didn’t remember the party, still believes Ford’s accusations.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Kavanaugh if he had taken a polygraph test; he said no but that they weren’t admissible in federal court. She also pinned him down on whether he would ask the White House for an FBI investigation. In response to his filibustering, she said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ and move on.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) finished by asking Kavanaugh if he believes in God and then asked him if any of the allegations were true. Kavanaugh believes in God and denies any of the accusations. His innuendo smeared Ramirez.

A recurring lie from Grassley was that no Democrat had asked for an FBI investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) finally corrected him, pointing out that Grassley had refused the request from the Democratic senators, Ford, and others to investigate the allegations. For the first time, the judiciary committee, under GOP control, has refused to have any investigation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated blame for Feinstein in not telling the others about Ford’s accusation, and Feinstein explained the confidentiality of the situation. In response, Cornyn accused Feinstein of leaking the information to the press.

Republican Jon Meacham called today’s hearing “the triumph of mindless tribalism over the truth.” Kavanaugh, already a sitting judge on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, completely failed to display the temperament of a judge with a lifetime position. Even if he fails to get the Supreme Court plum, he’ll stay on the other court, able to impose his hysterical, raging behavior on anyone who appeals to that court and wielding his power against Democrats and other progressives.

Charlie Baker (MA), Larry Hogan (MD) and John Kasich (OH) have called on the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh nomination and investigate the three allegations, but Grassley plans to vote on confirmation in committee tomorrow.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show about accusers refusing to testify before the judicial committee. Every named accuser has offered to testify under oath but, except for Ford, were refused or ignored. Both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick could not get responses from any GOP committee members.

DDT claims to be delighted about Kavanaugh’s testimony, but the GOP is already losing the support of women.

Women’s support for Kavanaugh is also weakening, down to 27 percent. And that was before today’s hearing.

Yesterday’s lesson to 1,202 public school students at Soddy-Daisy High School from its athletic director/assistant principal Jared Henley in his morning “Helping of Helsley” public announcement about the “no athletics shorts” policy on the day before the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing:

“If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin … well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That’s really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it’ll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.”

Today was a sad day for everyone in the United States—except for those who want a Supreme Court justice who thinks that DDT is above the law. Hensley “lesson” was actually for women–and anyone else who wants justice if the GOP puts Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court: “Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the [GOP] rules.”

September 25, 2018

The GOP Strategy on Sexual Assault

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that his Supreme Court nominee is “fantastic, fantastic.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s response to DDT’s “grabbing women by the pussy”: http://goprapeadvisorychart.com/

AG Jeff Sessions’ response:

Former RNC chair and DDT’s press secretary Sean Spicer:

State Rep. Lawrence Lockman (ME) weighs in:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate:

Former Texas state Rep. Myra Crownover agrees:

[Florida law:

Another perspective about attacks:

Plan ahead for attacks:

And so many more.

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