Nel's New Day

May 17, 2020

Sunday of Week 173 – A Time for Good News

DOJ’s AG Bill Barr use of a request to drop charges against convicted Michael Flynn as a distraction from the failed leadership of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to have twists.  To smear Joe Biden, DDT’s new incompetent acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell made public (unmasked) the names of people in the Obama administration who asked for unmasking the people in intelligence reports related to Flynn. Biden was one of the names although his request was not illegal or inappropriate.

The “unmasking” could make Flynn’s situation worse because of “unmasking” his illegal activities, including his unauthorized conversations about President Obama’s sanctions on December 29—while Barack Obama was still president—with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Earlier in December, Flynn’s illegal negotiations involved NATO, Syria, Turkey, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. 

  • December 1, 2016: Flynn’s and Jared Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower, concealed for over three months, to arrange a back channel with Moscow and set up cooperation with Russia’s diplomatic facilities to cooperate militarily in Syria.
  • Mid-December 2016: Flynn’s acting as a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government, something he lied about, when Barack Obama was still president, and Flynn’s meeting with senior Turkish officials asking to be paid for secretly carrying out directives from Ankara.
  • December 22, 2016:  Flynn’s call to Kislyak at Kushner’s request to undermine U.S. policy by asking if Russia would delay or defeat an upcoming UN Security Council resolution vote condemning Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Grenell is proving charges against Flynn shouldn’t be dropped.

The DOJ did a bit of accidental unmasking.  After hiding the name of a suspected tie to the 9/11 plot for years, the DOJ inadvertently named Saudi official Musaed al-Jarrah in a court filing. Survivors and families of victims wanted the name for their suit against the Saudi government for complicity in the attacks, but Barr refused. Jarrah’s name and other information was redacted in a 2012 document indicating that Jarrah arranged for two other Saudis to help the first two Qaeda hijackers after they arrived in California in early 2000.

A Miami federal judge ordered ICE to release hundreds of detainees at three South Florida detention centers, citing “cruel and unusual punishment” and “deliberate indifference” to the detainees. She demanded a report within three days about a plan to cut the non-criminal and medically vulnerable populations by the hundreds, twice-weekly reports, and masks for all detainees, replaced weekly, within two days. She also wrote:

“Social distancing at Krome is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day. Further, ICE has failed to provide detainees in some detention centers with masks, soap and other cleaning supplies…. Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence in this record to determine that the present conditions at the three detention centers constitute a violation of the Petitioners’ Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.”

The Miami-Herald reported that ICE segregated up to 100 detainees exposed to COVID-19 with no masks, sanitizer, and possibility of social distancing. Only staff had PPE. A concern is that ICE will transfer detainees to other detention centers to avoid the judge’s orders as the agency started to do when the lawsuit was filed on April 13.

In late April, a federal judge ordered ICE to announce measures expediting the release of parents at family detention centers because facilities lack hygiene and social distancing standards. At that time, about 620 family members, including 285 children, were at three Texas and Pennsylvania facilities. ICE has until tomorrow to identify how many family members and staff tested positive for COVID-19 and why detainee haven’t been released or transferred. The judge also required descriptions of policies and practices to protect infected people from serious illness or death. Four days ago, 943 people out of 1,788 detainees tested for the virus—over half—have tested positive.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the White House to give her 20 emails this week directly relating to DDT’s decision to withhold congressionally appropriated military aid from Ukraine. Judge Amy Jackson will review the documents herself to decide whether the plaintiff will receive them.

The full 4th Circuit Court ruled 9-6 that an emoluments case against DDT, accusing him of accepting foreign government money through his Washington hotel, may continue. Only the Supreme Court can rescue DDT from the case proceeding. A judge in the majority accused dissenters of ignoring precedent and procedure with their opinion that they disagree with the case.

DDT’s campaign has paid over $16 million on legal and compliance services for DDT’s lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders, about ten percent of campaign spendings, between the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

A federal judge upheld his April 15 ruling that rejected permits vital for Keystone XL and other pipeline projects to cross streams and wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer cannot use a blanket water-crossing permit to approve new oil and gas pipelines without considering their impacts on endangered species.

Nine states are suing DDT’s administration for the EPA decision to suspend environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, called the “license to pollute” and violates federal pollution laws and the EPA’s duty to protect the environment. The new guidelines have no end date. The lawsuit states that the EPA lacks legal authority to waive laws and failed to demonstrate the need for its changes. The nine states are California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.

After two decades, the Ashaninka indigenous group won its case over illegal tree logging in Brazil. The community will receive $3 million in compensation and an official apology. The judgment may serve as a legal precedent for other indigenous and environmental lawsuits in Brazil.

A DDT-appointed judge ruled against a defamation lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) family against Esquire’s report that the Nunes farm had moved from his congressional district to Iowa. For campaign purposes, Nunes claimed that he is a dairy farmer, but his farm is halfway across the continent. Nunes’ suit wanted $77.5 million in damages, and the Nunes family wants $25 million. The judge determined that the suit did not explain inaccuracies and allowed for an amended complaint. Nunes, DDT’s pet who leaked information to him when chairing the House Intelligence Committee, has a large number of lawsuits, but no one knows who is paying for them.

Even a few Republicans are upset about DDT firing another inspector general, State Department’s Steve Linick, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) claims that it attacks democracy. That’s not as much a surprise as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying DDT’s reasoning for firing Linick is “simply is not sufficient.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who IG Linick is  investigating for sending his security detail on personal errands for himself and his wife, asked the White House to fire Linick. Grassley said the Congress requires written rationale for firing and “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that a conversation with DDT made him very comfortable about Linick’s firing but wouldn’t explain what was said. Maybe something about DDT protecting Johnson from charges of selling his stake in his family’s privately held company for millions after Johnson learned from classified briefings about the COVID-19 crisis. 

After calling DDT “evil” during his campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has done a complete 180-degree return to approve of everything that DDT does. One of his major donors disagrees with Graham. Richard Wilkerson, former chair and president of Michelin’s Greenville (SC) North America operations, is supporting Graham’s opponent, Democratic Jamie Harrison, in the 2020 election. Wilkerson commented on Graham’s support of DDT despite DDT’s attacks on former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won’t defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?”

Wilkerson also wrote about Graham’s endorsing divisiveness, supporting tax cuts for only the wealthiest, attacking public safety, and opposing expansion of unemployment benefits for people losing their jobs from GOP incompetence.

The USDA will spend $470 million to buy surplus foods—vegetables, dairy, seafood, and meat—for distribution to low-income people, keeping the products from being destroyed. The agency finally took action after weeks of complaints about the food being plowed under and thrown away in other ways. In April, the USDA gave $19 billion for the agricultural industry to help food producers–$16 billion of direct payments to farmers.  

Much to the delight of his Florida neighbors, DDT has withdrawn his request for adding a dock to his property because only residential owners can get docks in the interior south Florida waterways. He still has another problem: in 1993, he signed an agreement that Mar-a-Lago would not be his residence when he bought it for a club, and now he’s using the club as his voting address. It’s called voter fraud. To fix the problem, he has to close the club.

May 14, 2020

GOP Goal: Destroy Institutions Upholding the Rule of Law

Last Tuesday was a  busy day for the three branches of government: the Supreme Court heard arguments from Dictator Donald Trump’s  (DDT) lawyers that he is above the rule of law; a Senate committee heard testimony about the dangers of DDT’s reopening the nation despite the prevalence of COVID-19; and a federal judge responded to DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr about dropping a guilty plea for lying about his attempts to negotiate with Russia without government approval while Barack Obama was president—an illegal action. In all three cases, Republicans have tried to exonerate DDT as his actions break the rule of law.

Supreme Court: 

In an electronic session, SCOTUS justices heard almost four hours of arguments about whether DDT is above the law in his lawsuits against releasing subpoenaed information regarding his financial records. DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow asserted DDT is “a branch of the government” and therefore cannot be investigated for the IRS’ handling of his tax returns, allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election, and his falsification of assets for loans and taxes. 

Sekulow also argued that DDT is so busy he cannot take time to deal with the lawsuits because hey would distract from his presidential duties. DDT supposedly watches seven hours of cable TV each day, not going to the Oval Office until noon for his brief daily briefing instead of early in the morning as his predecessors did. In the afternoon he phones some governors and world leaders before his coronavirus press briefings (aka campaign rallies), but most of those briefings have disappeared. DDT rarely attendings the meetings of the coronavirus task force, ignoring the prepared remarks until immediately before he reads them. When DDT is allowed out of the White House, he plays golf and campaigns for his re-election. In responding to Sekulow’s argument that DDT is busy, Rachel Maddow described DDT’s complete schedule for last Monday.  

President Bill Clinton also argued for the Paula Jones’ 1998 lawsuit to be deferred, but the Supreme Court unanimously agreed Jones could pursue her lawsuit. The only dispensation for Clinton concerned when and where he should respond to demands for dispositions and other information. Justice Neil Gorsuch asked for the difference between the two cases. Sekulow replied that allowing the New York investigation would open the floodgates to up to 2,300 local prosecutors instituting probes.

Sekulow alleged that a “criminal process targeting the president” violates the Constitution. Both Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito seemed to side with Sekulow: Kavanaugh compared financial records to medical ones that probably wouldn’t be given to Congress, and Alito wanted a “limit” on the House’s subpoena power to keep from harassment of a president. DDT’s lawyers frequently used the term “harassment,” ignoring the House’s legitimate purpose to determine DDT’s conflicts of interest for the purpose of strengthening laws.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with DOJ’s principal deputy solicitor general Jeffrey Wall when he questioned the motives of the Congress and argued that Congress needs to explain what laws it might write in order to substantiate a subpoena. She told Wall:

“To impugn Congress’s motive, even the policeman on the beat, if he stops a car and gives the reason that the car went through a stop sign, we don’t allow an investigation into what the subjective motive really was. So, here, you’re—you’re distrusting Congress more than the cop on the beat.”

Since DDT was inaugurated, he has rejected all subpoenas from the House and told all officials that they should not testify at hearings, the most recently everyone on the coronavirus task force. Justice Elena Kagan said that DDT would “essentially make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight and carry out its functions where the presidency is concerned.” As DDT uses political motivation for all his actions, he accuses others of the same.

DDT has consistently claimed he is above the law because of Article II in the U.S. Constitution, yet the constitution has no language establishing executive immunity. The framers of the document specifically prohibited secret bribes, a directive which requires oversight over the president. In discussing the powers of the presidency, James Madison argued that it be “confined” and warned against the “Evils of Elective Monarchies.” The first Congress in “the decision of 1789” empowered lawmakers as whistleblowers to block an executive’s corruption establishing a “throne on the ruins of your visionary republic” and “secure his election perpetual.” The Judiciary Act of 1789 held executive officials accountable instead of above the law.

Much as I am reluctant to be optimistic about anything connected to DDT, top-notch legal minds think that DDT may lose his crown—and his tax returns. Even conservative justice Clarence Thomas, who spoke during the second case in several years, asked Sekulow if the authors of the Constitution explicitly endorsed total criminal immunity for a president. Sekulow tried the spin that the idea had been “discussed” but finally said “no.” A major theory is that the New York case will be successful but that the House’s subpoenas may fail. The Supreme Court decision is final; DDT will have no higher court for an appeal.

Senate:

At exactly the same time the Supreme Court heard the three cases about DDT’s financial records, the Senate conducted a hearing about COVID-19 with four health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci made the biggest splash when he testified that the true death toll from the virus is likely higher than reports and that attempts to a return to normal will cause major spikes in infections. Later he contradicted DDT’s assertion of virus being “well contained” by saying, “If you think we have it completely under control, we don’t.” Others testifying were CDC Director Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attacked Fauci for saying that “the consequences could be really serious” if local economies open too quickly. Paul said, “Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all.” Fauci answered by saying he “never made myself out to be the end-all,” that he’s “a scientist, a physician, and a public health official.” The senator wants all children to go back to school in the fall and accused Fauci of keeping them out of school. Before the hearing, Fauci had said nothing about schools’ reopening, but he answered Paul with a concern about the symptoms of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome now appearing in children and thought to be linked to COVID-19. DDT said that Fauci’s cautionary approach are “not an acceptable answer.”

Justice Department/Federal Judges:

The third major event on Tuesday occurred when a federal judge blocked AG Bill Barr from dropping the case against Michael Flynn who had confessed to lying to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan put the DOJ request on hold until people and organizations can argue about Flynn’s exoneration. Earlier, Flynn repeated that he was guilty of lying, no one had coerced him to plead guilty, and he wouldn’t be taking back his guilty plea. Then he did. Almost 2,000 former DOJ employees representing both political parties who have called for Barr’s resignation may now be involved in the court case, and the proceedings will be public, complete with witnesses and evidence. And just before the November election.

Sullivan also asked John Gleeson, a retired federal judge, to investigate the possibility of Flynn’s perjury. Part of Gleeson’s record is putting John Gotti, a late mob boss, behind bars. Barr, supposedly a prosecutor, will be acting like a defense attorney by claiming that Flynn shouldn’t have been interviewed in an investigation; thousands of former DOJ employees accuse Barr of politicizing the department for DDT’s wishes. Last Monday, Gleeson co-authored a commentary article that states:

“The law provides that the court—not the executive branch—decides whether an indictment may be dismissed. The responsible exercise of that authority is particularly important here, where a defendant’s plea of guilty has already been accepted. Government motions to dismiss at this stage are virtually unheard of.”

The DOJ is part of the Executive branch of government. Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason said the DOJ “cannot have it both ways.” By saying Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI, it’s saying that he lied to the judge. Perjury is a reason for a new indictment.

Mary McCord, acting assistant AG for national security at the DOJ from 2016 to 2017, wrote a piece for the New York Times titled, “Bill Barr Twisted My Words in Dropping the Flynn Case. Here’s the Truth.” She asserted:

“The F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was constitutional, lawful, and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose.”

The commentary clearly refutes Barr’s spin for his request to drop the Flynn case. She quotes Georgetown law professors Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer’s warning that Barr’s dismissal “embeds into official U.S. policy an extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people.” McCord points out Barr’s dismissal was far more than protecting Flynn. Instead, DDT “is discrediting the fundamental institutions that establish the rule of law.”

All that in just one day.

World confirmed COVID-19 cases are over 4.5 million and deaths are over 300,000. In the U.S., deaths are 86,912 on May 14, 2020, out of 1,457,593 confirmed cases. Testing is up to 32,000 per one million people in the U.S., an average of under 100,000 tests per day since he CDC developed its test. DDT prefers less testing. 
 
 

May 10, 2020

DDT: Week 172 – GOP Protection

The debate over whether Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will pardon traitor Michael Flynn is most likely over: DDT’s AG Bill Barr is dropping the case against him. 

In late 2017, Flynn, DDT’s first national security adviser who lasted 24 days, twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI, but now U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea claims that Flynn’s lies were not “material” to any investigation. Barr put his close friend Shea into that position after moving Jessie Liu out of the department. The AG had also hired an outside prosecutor to review Flynn’s case files, hired another outside prosecutor to investigate he Russia investigators in addition to scrutiny provided by his independent inspector general, and gave the defense FBI internal deliberations about questioning Flynn. The argument must yet be accepted by U.S. District Court Emmet Sullivan who told Flynn in an earlier hearing, “You sold your country out.” Flynn’s lead prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, withdrew from the case.

Flynn became famous in 2014 when he was forced out as head of Defense Intelligence Agency because of complaints about his management and erratic behavior. In November 2016, Flynn secretly lobbied for Turkey while advising DDT and later lied to the FBI by claiming in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing that he didn’t know he was lobbying for Turkey. Then Flynn was caught secretly conferring about U.S. sanctions on Russia with its ambassador Sergey Kislyak while Barack Obama was still president. In January 2017, he denied these conversations but later admitted he lied about his efforts to influence foreign diplomats about a December 2016 UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. Flynn became the first DDT aide to flip on his boss. When Flynn hired a Fox pundit for attorney in June 2019, he agreed to speak at a QAnon conference until Mother Jones publicized his involvement with the conspiracy group.

Criminal law experts said that Barr’s decision to drop the case against Flynn, his most recent effort to destroy Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, was unique. Barr’s pattern of protecting DDT and his friends began immediately after his appointment. Earlier this year, Barr forced prosecutors to lower a sentence recommendation for DDT’s adviser Roger Stone. The prosecutors withdrew from the case. Barr also requested more comfortable prison accommodations for convicted Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign chair, and dropped charges without justification against two Russian shell companies close to trial for financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election using social media.

David Ignatius wrote, “If Michael Flynn did nothing wrong, why didn’t he tell the truth?” Flynn tried to hide—and then lied about—his discussion about President Obama’s sanctions on Russia with its government before DDT moved into the Oval Office. If he thought there was no wrongdoing, he would have been open about his actions. Added onto that question is another one: why did DDT work so hard to protect Russia?

In an interview, Barr claimed that “history is written by the winners” when asked how historians would view his dropping charges against Flynn. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was dismayed that “the rule of law,” supposedly upheld by Barr, wasn’t “predicated on the outcome of elections NOT mattering.” Other responses to Barr’s statements were “there is no good or bad except what the strongest want. The definition of autocracy.” And from poli-sci professor Robert Kelly in South Korea: “The U.S. equivalent of the justice minister is embracing might-makes-right historiography.” Barr responds with what the Daily Beast calls “a sly smile.” 

From here on out, all white-collar crimes committed by conservatives are exonerated; DDT’s loyalists, like DDT himself, are above the law.

DDT’s appointed FBI director Christopher Wray may be the patsy for the Flynn scandal: DDT blames him for “skirting” the debate about the Russia investigation. Now DDT also pushes responsibility for Wray’s appointment to former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Known for frequently firing people, DDT said he learned a good lesson from studying Richard Nixon:

Don’t fire people… I should’ve in one way, but I’m glad I didn’t, because look at the way it turned out. They’re all a bunch of crooks and they got caught.” 

Chief Justice Roberts is also protecting DDT. Despite a request from the D.C. Circuit Court, the Supreme Court will not direct a federal court to conduct an ethics inquiry into the suspicious retirement of a judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been pressuring judges to step down so that he can confirm far-right, ultra-incompetent, extremely-young judges for lifetime appointments. For the resignation of Thomas Griffith, he found 37-year-old Justin Walker. Chief Justice of the D.C. Circuit Court asked Roberts to direct another court to conduct the inquiry, but Roberts claimed no “probable cause.” McConnell refuses to answer questions about conversations with Griffith.

The Supreme Court also permitted DDT to temporarily shield redacted grand jury materials in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe from the U.S. House despite a judge’s order to the contrary. Last week, SCOTUS also cleared the convictions of the two New Jersey officials who blocked the George Washington Bridge to create havoc for a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Chris Christie for the state’s governor in 2013. The two officials were following Christie’s orders.

In another victory for DDT, the Senate Republicans failed to override a veto to block DDT’s declaring war on Iran. For the second time in two years, Senate Republicans accepted DDT’s right to start a war although the Constitution gives that power only to Congress. In the last year, the U.S. has sent 14,000 additional service members to the Persian Gulf religion, including 3,500 to Saudi Arabia. Also sent were “early-warning aircraft, maritime patrol planes, Patriot air and missile defense batteries, B-52 bombers, a carrier strike group, armed Reaper drones, and other engineering and support personnel,” according to NYT reporter Catie Edmondson.

For the second time, the U.S. blocked a UN ceasefire resolution amid the global pandemic. With no evidence, DDT used the excuse that the World Health Organization withheld information from world governments about COVID-19. He also withheld the funding for WHO, indicating that he would give the $400 million to Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s anti-LGBTQ religious group.

Ninety-two percent of a Barrons poll report that they want to bail out the post office. Meanwhile, DDT has appointed a donor buddy to head up the USPS. Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman, in charge of fundraising for the RNC in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general with three Republicans and one Democrat on the five-member commission. The Democratic vice chairman, David Williams, resigned last week because of the Treasury Department’s meddling in a supposedly apolitical agency.

DDT, terrified of losing his attempt at re-election this fall, can’t call off the election. Part of his bag of tricks to win is destroying the USPS and stop any vote by mail. During his April 18 press briefing (aka campaign rally), he said, “Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they are cheaters.” That was a month after he voted by mail in the Florida primary, possibly illegally. And before he declared that California’s votes won’t be eligible in the general election if California Gov. Gavin Newsom carries through with vote by mail.

The retirement for 5.9 million federal employees and military members may be in trouble. DDT is trying to seize control of the board for the $557 billion retirement program to prevent the independent agency from investing in an index fund including Chinese companies. Doing this could wall off investments available in other 401(k)-type plans, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned DDT against his plan that could hurt financial markets and threaten DDT’s China deal. Peter Navarro, DDT’s trusted trade adviser who Jared Kushner found on amazon.com, wants to take action against China.

DDT promised that Mar-a-Lago would never be both a club and a single-family residence, but then he moved there from New York. He’s insisting on building a dock, and attorneys for his new neighbors found documents making it illegal for him to use the club as his official domicile and register to vote from there as long as it’s a club. Mar-a-Lago is taxed as a private club, and DDT promised local officials that he would not live there. He would only maintain “private quarters” with a “use” agreement. DDT’s also trying to get out of the agreement that no one will permanently live on the premises unless the club fails and that half the club members be Palm Beach residents or business owners. Even now he’s violating the agreement that no one live there more than longer than seven days at a time over three times a year. Florida may be looking into whether DDT voted illegally from the club in the state primary.

While people are dying for the same of DDT’s economy, he tweeted this ad, including a photo of lush links: 

Game on! We are thrilled to announce the reopening of  @trumpgolfla beginning  Saturday May 9th! We look forward to welcoming you back 🏌🏽‍♂️Book your tee time now!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Although some states falsify the rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths to keep them lower, the number of cases is still 1,367,638 and deaths, 80,787 as of May 10.

 

 

April 11, 2020

A Week of New ‘Loyalists’ for DDT’s Coterie

Wisconsin’s Tuesday election keeps getting worse and worse. Thousands of requested absentee ballots in a hotly-contested Wisconsin election were never delivered or too late for the U.S. Supreme Court deadline to return, in a scenario probably leading to court cases on the event’s validity. The margin in the state’s 2019 Supreme Court race was about 6,000 votes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the post office may not have placed a postmark on ballots when they were mailed in or not put dates on the postmark. Ballots sent by metered mail on April 7 may have postmarks indicating that the ballots were mailed with no specific date, just “APR 2020.”  The U.S. Supreme Court demanded that all mail-in ballots be postmarked by 4:00 pm on April 7. The court ruling may disenfranchise thousands and thousands of additional eligible voters who followed the rules. The state’s election commission agreed to count ballots with that postmark if the USPS states that this postmark was used only on April 7.

The Wisconsin requirement was that the ballot be received by April 13, but the U.S. Supreme Court changed that requirement the day before the election, violating the reason for their ruling—that changes to election rules not be made immediately before the date of the election. Another question is whether to count ballots arriving on Wednesday, April 8, because they had to be mailed by Tuesday, April 7, at the latest to arrive the next day. Ballots with no postmark on Thursday may not be counted although they could have been mailed at the appropriate time. The Supreme Court decision, a “stay pending appeal,” blocked a lower court order from taking effect while a full appeal follows a tortured path through the appellate process. No one knows if counting ballots will have further federal litigation. The high court disregarded its ordinary procedures in a ruling for Republicans in the Wisconsin election case just as it has for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the past.

As Rick Hasen wrote: 

“The biggest problem with the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Wisconsin voting case was not the result (which was still wrong), but the Court’s sloppiness and nonchalance about voting rights and what that means for November.”

Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. Madison has also received absentee ballots with two postmarks, one before the deadline and one after. About 50 ballots also lacked witness signatures. Thus far, an organization has recorded over 2,100 cases of voters who requested but did not receive absentee ballots. Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. 

Eliminating voter rights wasn’t the only corruption from last week.

Last week, DDT continued his purging the U.S. intelligence agencies when he fired Michael Atkinson, the community’s inspector general in retribution for Atkinson’s legal action. One reason was DDT’s act of revenge for Atkinson’s telling Congress about a whistleblower’s complaint that revealed DDT’s extortion of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Three days later, DDT attacked Christi A. Grimm, the acting HHS IG who released a report on hospitals’ struggles to cope with COVID-19 patients. The report included 323 hospitals in 46 states that contradicted DDT’s claims that everything in the hospitals was just fine. Grimm found a “severe” and “widespread” shortage of testing supplies and protective gear at hospitals dealing with the pandemic.

Tuesday, Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, designated to oversee the $2.2 trillion for the coronavirus disaster, hit DDT’s chopping block by moving him to a deputy IG. Picked by the head of a council of IGs, Fine would have led the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to conduct and coordinate audits, but his position as deputy disqualifies him from leading the committee. Investigators are to search for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money in the disbursement of loans, loan guarantees, and financial payments to households and businesses. As a deputy IG, Fine is disqualified to lead the committee.

DDT replaced Fine with the unqualified Jason Abend to the new Defense Department IG, responsible for overseeing audits and criminal investigations of nearly $700 billion in annual spending. Abend is a Customs and Border Protection policy adviser who had previously been special agent at the Federal Finance Housing Agency and HUD. Until Abend is confirmed by the GOP senators who will confirm a ham sandwich, however, Sean Donnell, IG at the EPA will do double duty by also being acting Defense Department IG. Being IG is an easy job under DDT because he doesn’t want any investigations.

Grimm could also be removed from the pandemic committee if she is no longer IG, and DDT has nominated a new Education IG to disqualify the current IG on the panel by moving him to deputy IG. Senate would have to confirm DDT’s appointment before that would happen.

DDT is also appointing his White House lawyer Brian Miller as a special IG at the Treasury Department to oversee distribution of $500 billion to distressed industries. His work is supposed to be coordinated with the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Miller helped put together DDT’s defense for the Senate impeachment trial and will easily manage gifts to DDT’s political allies and donors. During negotiations for the $2.2 trillion bill, DDT said, “I’ll be the oversight.” Now he figured out a way to do it. DDT’s pick will need to deal with a five-member oversight commission: one of them jointly picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the other four each picked by one of the four congressional leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has selected Bharat Ramamurti, a former top aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

DDT also threatened to fire seven more IGs. Before DDT, Republicans thought that government oversight was important. Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), House Oversight Committee Chair, called the Obama administration “the most corrupt government in history” and said about funding during that time, much less than DDT’s new slush fund:

“This money, at the American people’s expense, going through the hands of political leaders, is in fact corrupting the process.”

Some Republicans who exonerated DDT for impeachment because they thought he had “learned his lesson” are getting nervous, especially about DDT’s firing Atkinson. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), endorsed by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Democrat senators, asked DDT for an explanation.

Progressives are pressing congressional members to stop the firing of IGs except for highly limited circumstances, like an amendment the House passed in 2008 for the Inspectors General Act. The Senate axed that provision, but similar legislation has again been introduced.

DDT managed another slush fund in the $2.2 trillion bill through a last-minute provision allowing the Federal Reserve to set up a $450 billion bailout plan with minimal oversight. These funds are exempt from the federal open meetings law without requirements for announcing meetings and keeping records about discussions. The record of votes will be secret until after the health crisis ends. Charles Glasser, media attorney, said:

“We may never know what terms are being given to banks, what collateral is being offered, what repayment methods and duties banks and other financial institutions may have, and those are important questions.”

AG Bill Barr went on Fox’s Laura Ingraham show to support DDT’s firing of Fine, known as a bulldog investigator. Part of Barr’s defense is the ongoing criminal investigation into the FBI’s Russia investigation for possible abuse or improprieties headed by Barr’s guy. Barr described the investigation as a “sprawling case” that “takes some time” to fully investigate. He also accused media criticism of DDT’s pushing an unproved drug, hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19 of being a “jihad.” Barr may not realize that jihad means “striving for the benefit of the community” or a fight against Satan.

Another empty seat in the administration is that of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly who spent $243,000 to fly to Guam to speak to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he fired its captain for saving the crew from possible death and more illness from COVID-19. In his address to the crew who had cheered the captain, Modley called the captain stupid, later apologized, and “voluntarily resigned” his position after talking with Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper.

DDT has become the wrecking ball of the federal administration.

Today’s world deaths (108,834) from 1,780,440 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 210 countries and territories. On April 11, the U.S. has 20,577 deaths in 532,879 confirmed cases. 

March 18, 2020

Barr Fixit Guy for Authoritarian DDT

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) named Bill Barr the U.S. Attorney General, he found a kindred spirit in authoritarianism. Barr hid information in the Mueller report, appointed someone to investigate the FBI for investigating DDT’s campaign, intervened in Roger J. Stone Jr’s sentencing to lower it, and picked an outside prosecutor to view the case against Michael Flynn. Barr also created a back door for DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to deliver him “dirt” on Joe Biden and tried to bury the whistleblower complaint that initiated the impeachment inquiry. DDT was disappointed in former AG Jeff Sessions because, although a lying racist, the AG had a small core of ethical behavior. Sessions’ recusing himself from all things Russian crushed DDT, but he kept Sessions until he found the perfect fixit, his own Ray Cohn, for the former Department of Justice. The situations below are only the tip of the iceberg: with Barr as AG, justice is gone.  

Gabe Ortiz wrote the DOJ “doles out mercy and second chances to the undeserving, the rich, and the powerful, but none for the most vulnerable and for whom a decision quite literally means life or death.” In early March, Barr changed the definition of torture for asylum seekers using it as a basis for staying in the U.S. Because immigration courts are under the rule of DOJ, Barr can override decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has used that right so many times immigration lawyers and judges call it abuse and a check on his judges if decisions don’t match DDT’s immigration agenda of destroying due process. Barr’s decision makes the definition of torture so narrow that every applicant is guaranteed failure. New immigration judges are hired to follow DDT’s anti-immigrant position. Their training is to follow DDT’s enforcement. Dana Leigh Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said, “What’s happening now is that all the norms are breaking. All the wheels are coming off the car.” Barr could decide to use his personal definition of “justice” on far more people than immigrants.

Part of Barr’s job is to protect DDT, and he’s done it by dropping federal charges against two Russian shell companies as defendants in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian troll farm case. Two of the original 16 defendants accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election are no longer involved in the trial. The case exposes a big part of Russian influence operation in the U.S., using social media to spread disinformation and exploit social divisions. Barr’s excuse to drop charges was that the companies were using the case to access information from prosecutors about the government’s sources and investigation methods.

DDT declared a commitment to “safeguarding the American consumer” days before a study shows that DOJ prosecutions of white-collar criminals fell to an all time low in January. The 359 white-collar criminals prosecuted in January represented a drop of 25 percent from five years ago. At this rate, the number of prosecutions will be half those during the Obama administration. The study was reported in early March when DDT promised to prosecute “bad actors seeking to harm and exploit honest and hardworking people through deception and other nefarious tactics.” Last month, DDT pardoned high-profile white-collar criminals such as “junk bond king” Michael Milken and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Last September, a court filing revealed that Barr is still covering up for the Saudi government part in the 9/11 terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 people. He said that the “state secrets” privilege allows him to block the release of an FBI report about the relationships between some of the 19 hijackers and Saudi government officials. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi citizens. Eight days after the attack, at least 13 relatives of Osama bin Laden, one of them a #1 on Washington’s “most wanted” list and linked to a terrorist organization, left the U.S. on a chartered flight with bodyguards and associates.  Saudi, the world’s biggest purchaser of U.S. weapons, is central to the wars for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

Like many people, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, first nominated by Ronald Reagan, ruled that Barr’s handling of Robert Mueller’s report indicates that the DOJ cannot be trusted to redact the document. In early March, Walton determined that his court will review the redactions to guarantee that the blacked-out portions don’t improperly hide information from the public. He criticized the Barr’s letter supposedly summarizing Mueller’s conclusions before Barr made portions of the report available to Congress. Walton suggested that Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided view of the report that differed from the report itself.

“[A] review of the redacted version of the Mueller Report by the Court results in the Court’s concurrence with Special Counsel Mueller’s assessment that Attorney General Barr distorted the findings in the Mueller Report.”

Walton declared two major representations of the report by Barr. He said Mueller did not establish DDT’s involvement in the 2016 Russian election interference although Mueller found several “links” between the campaign and Russia which he said were not a criminal conspiracy. And second, Barr omitted Mueller’s determination not to make a prosecutorial decision about whether DDT obstructed justice but listed extensive analysis and evidence about DDT’s commission of the crime of obstruction. Mueller had said that Congress or a prosecutor could perhaps try for his conduct.

Walton wrote that because of discrepancies between Barr’s public representation and Mueller’s findings, Barr may have “made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

Walton also wrote:

“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility. These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility.”

Last October, Walton told U.S. prosecutors to either charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe or drop their long-running investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a media disclosure. Walton said that such a long wait undermined the DOJ’s credibility with impression that the DOJ was hounding one of DDT’s enemies. In a February hearing, Walton stated that DDT’s repeated attacks on McCabe raised concerns about the investigation’s motives:

“I just think it’s a banana republic when we go down that road and we have those type of statements being made that are conceivably, even if not, influencing the ultimate decision. I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear….

“I think as a government and as a society we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.”

McCabe wasn’t charged.

In an Atlantic article, journalist/attorney Peter M. Shane claimed that DDT is trying to put federal administrative adjudicators under his personal control. These thousands of federal employees don’t direct courtrooms but preside over trial-like disputes. Shane wrote:

“[They] preside over trial-like disputes, hear evidence and testimony, and make decisions that can deeply shape people’s lives, such as the granting of asylum and veterans benefits. These executive branch employees are administrative adjudicators.”

If DDT succeeds in dictating their rules governing how disputes with agencies are resolved, all of them must follow DDT’s whims, removing the descriptor “independent” from these agencies.

Barr is finally the subject of an ethics complaint to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) because of his allegedly prejudicial “inflammatory and disparaging” comments about the DOJ’s active probe into the FBI investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. An earlier ethics complaint cites a pattern of bias by Barr to protect DDT at expense of carrying out DOJ mission to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice.” Barr’s “failure to recuse resulted in” DOJ “mishandling” the whistleblower was the subject of another complaint last week.

DDT has support from another fixit guy—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). After ignoring the 400+ House bills to rapidly push through judges and other confirmations, McConnell is personally asking older judges to retire so that he can put in highly conservative and young unqualified judges, just like the others. He said they would have to retire by early fall, a couple of months before the election, to be replaced. This from the man who blocked President Obama’s nomination for a Supreme Court justice for almost ten months.

February 20, 2020

Barr, DDT: ‘Because I Can’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:05 PM
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Today, the story about the attempt of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), with the help of his fixer AG Bill Barr, to interfere in the sentencing for Roger Stone, convicted of seven felonies including his participation in WikiLeaks release of emails favoring DDT, came to a head with Stone’s sentencing. After a federal judge lambasted Barr’s interference, she sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison, two years’ probation, $20,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service.  Suspension of these punishments until a ruling on Stone’s request for a new trial delays Stone’s serving his sentence. The judge claimed that “the truth still matters,” but Stone left court with a smirk on his face.

Barr had dropped the original request of seven to nine years sentence for Stone to one to two years, but the new prosecutor, John Crabb, said that Stone should have “a substantial period of incarceration.” Federal sentencing guidelines, followed before Stone, recommend a minimum term of almost six years. The situation became so heated that the judge held a broadcasted 12-minute telephone conference with all parties two days before the sentencing.

Facing accusations that Barr followed DDT’s orders instead of running the DOJ, Barr first said that he could not do his job because of DDT’s tweets and then leaked that he might resign. [Don’t believe it!]  Fewer than nine months before the presidential election, Barr’s call for pity resulted in accolades about his “integrity,” “dedication,” service to the “rule of law,” “transparency … without bending to political winds,” etc. from GOP senator.

Over 2,000 former DOJ officials, however, disagreed with the GOP senators, calling on Barr to resign, that he “flouted” the fundamental principle that “political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.” They also claimed that Barr’s doing DDT’s directions caused damage to the DOJ.

The independent Federal Judges Association, a national association of over 1,000 federal judges, called an emergency meeting about DDT’s and the DOJ’s intervention in politically sensitive cases, claiming that the crisis could not wait until the group’s spring conference. The meeting was postponed with no reason given after the rumor that Barr might resign.

One of Barr’s former bosses, Donald Ayer, deputy AG under George H.W. Bush and a former U.S. Attorney, wrote in an Atlantic op-ed that Barr needed to resign:

“In chilling terms, Barr’s own words make clear his long-held belief in the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances. Indeed, given our national faith and trust in a rule of law no one can subvert, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American. And now, from his perch as attorney general, he is in the midst of a root-and-branch attack on the core principles that have guided our justice system, and especially our Department of Justice, since the 1970s.”

Barr’s actions in addition to intervening in the cases of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn:

  • “Public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report.”
  • Accusing the FBI of “spying” on the Trump campaign.
  • Working with DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the Ukraine scandal.
  • Initiating a “second, largely redundant investigation of the FBI Russia probe.”
  • Criticizing the separation of church and state doctrine to make all U.S. institutions be Judeo-Christian.
  • Persecuting Hillary Clinton.
  • Trying to hide the Ukrainian whistleblower report in violation of the law.
  • Ordering the DOJ to block New York prosecutors using state law to demand DDT’s tax returns.
  • Concealing a 2018 federal report about white supremacists being responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism events in that year.
  • Protecting George H.W. Bush by enabling him to pardon all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal.
  • Arguing that the president is above the law, including the use of military force without congressional authorization.

Over 30 years ago, Barr deposed Panama’s leader Manuel Noreiga and kidnapped him for trial in the U.S. He claimed a DOJ legal opinion permitted his actions, obfuscated the information to satisfy members of Congress, and then convinced the House subcommittee that the material was “confidential.”

Barr also followed DDT’s bidding by trying to block an indictment of a Turkish bank, Halkbank, after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked DDT for help. DDT told Erdogan that Barr and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would take care of the bank’s problems, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). DDT, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Mnuchin met with Turkey’s finance minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law last April. Barr told Halkbank officials how to make a deal, but they didn’t follow through. In October, New York’s U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman charged the bank with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses. Last year, former national security adviser John Bolton complained to Barr that DDT was doing personal favors for the “autocratic” leaders of Turkey and China.

After Fox commentator Andrew Napolitano said that Roger Stone should get a new trial, DDT tweeted that he might sue the “Mueller” prosecutors in Stone’s first trial. Defense lawyers demanded a new trial after DDT accused Tomeka Hart, the jury forewoman in Stone’s trial, of having “significant bias.” DDT claimed:

“If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL.”

Hart’s Facebook post stated that she spoke out about the case because “[i]t pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors.” In her post, Hart quoted another juror who write in an op-ed:

“We did not convict Stone based on his political beliefs or his expression of those beliefs. We did not convict him of being intemperate or acting boorishly. We convicted him of obstructing a congressional investigation, of lying in five specific ways during his sworn congressional testimony and of tampering with a witness in that investigation.”

Despite knowledge about Hart’s FB posts and her Democratic bid for Congress, Stone’s lawyers didn’t challenge her for the jury. A DOJ official anonymously reported that prosecutors, supported by Barr, opposed Stone’s request for a new trial.

DDT has now falsely declared himself the “chief law enforcement officer of the country” despite the fact that the Attorney General of the Department of Justice has that role. Perhaps, however, there’s no difference since the current AG does everything that DDT wants. If DDT could speak French, he might say, like Louis XIV, “L’état, c’est moi (The state, it is I: I myself am the nation).”

After DDT complained about the corruption in Ukraine, he pardoned or commuted the sentence of these corrupt criminals in the U.S., white men who could help him or whose supporters could help him. Recommendations came from the Fox network, celebrities, members of conservative media, wealthy donors, and political figures such as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and DDT’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

*Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and withheld state funding from children with cancer until the hospital CEO gave him campaign donations. DDT knew Blagojevich when he was a contestant on The Apprentice. Blagojevich describes himself as a “Trumpocrat” (aka summitting to DDT’s rule). [Sentence commuted.]

*Junk bond king Michael Milken, a wealthy financier with connections to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), political donors Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), pleaded guilty to six felony counts, including securities fraud, mail fraud, and aiding in the filing of a false tax return.

*Bernard Kerik, former New York police commissioner, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials. Kerik is a frequent visitor to DDT’s Mar-a-Lago.

*Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. pleaded guilty in bribing former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards for a riverboat casino license.

*David Safavian, a senior official in George W. Bush’s administration, obstructed a federal investigation as part of the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

*Technology executive Ariel Friedler conspired to hack into the computer systems of two competitors to improve his company’s software development and sales strategy.

*Construction company executive Paul Pogue failed to pay almost $500,000 in taxes, but his brother donated over $200,000 to the Trump Victory Committee beginning in August 2019.

Julian Assange’s lawyer claimed under oath that DDT offered Assange a pardon if he would cover-up Russia’s role in the DNC hack.

As usual, DDT’s pardons bypass the traditional DOJ process. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Florida AG Pam Bondi, who illegally took campaign donations from DDT’s charitable foundation in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against DDT’s Trump University, are now in charge of the pardoning process. Last year the head of the DOJ pardon office quit because of DDT’s dependence on his personal connections or those of his political base for his decisions.

DDT gives pardons and commutations only to those who can personally and politically help him. People ponder if DDT is softening voters for pardons of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and even Rudy Giuliani as New York prosecutors edge closer to Giuliani’s relationship with two men indicted in Ukraine’s extortion. Probably not Michael Cohen, but one never knows.

February 15, 2020

DDT: Week 160 – What Corruption Looks Like

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is taking advantage of his removal from constitutional mandates with his usual MO—first deny he did something before saying he did it. DDT now says that he sent his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to look for damaging information on political opponent Joe Biden after earlier claiming that he didn’t do it. DDT’s legal team even lied for him under oath during the impeachment trial in the Senate. Thus far, Giuliani hasn’t found any “dirt,” but he’s still trying. AG Bill Barr has announced that the DOJ is taking any information from Giuliani while a U.S. attorney in New York is investigating Giuliani’s alleged illegal and corrupt activities in Ukraine, including driving out the U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

DDT is also playing his Ukraine games with states, extorting them to do what he wants. His Wednesday tweet about meeting with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, threatened that the state:

“I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo [DDT’s nickname for the governor’s brother Chris Cuomo, a CNN news host]!”

DDT is now behaving as the Democratic prosecution for the impeachment trial predicted if he were acquitted.

As DOJ prosecutors won’t protect DDT allies from their crimes, AG Bill Barr uses outside prosecutors in attempts to exonerate Michael Flynn and other politically sensitive national-security cases (aka whatever DDT wants). For two weeks—since Barr hired his friend Tim Shea to replace an honest prosecutor—these outside prosecutors are interrogating DOJ prosecutors about investigative steps, prosecutorial actions, and their reasons in both public and not-public cases, about either DDT’s friends and allies or DDT’s critics and adversaries. Barr said that DDT’s tweets made it impossible for him to do his job; it’s obvious that DDT’s bragging is blocking Barr for swinging court decisions for DDT’s side.

Claiming to have “integrity,” Barr lost some credibility after former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was told that he won’t face criminal charges hanging over his head for 18 months because the DOJ couldn’t find any evidence against him. Barr’s problem is not so much that the case was dropped but that the federal judge’s statements were made public. He called McCabe’s case a “banana republic” prosecution. The judge explained:

“I don’t think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted ….  I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear. It’s very disturbing that we’re in the mess that we’re in in that regard. Because I think having been a part of the prosecution for a long time and respecting the role that prosecutors play in the system. I just think the integrity of the process is being unduly undermined by inappropriate comments and actions on the part of people at the top of our government. I think it’s very unfortunate. And I think as a government and as a society, we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.”

Last August, McCabe sued the DOJ for being fired because of “Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him.”

The Army isn’t in DDT’s pocket—yet. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman would not be “investigated.” He could, however, be denied a promotion. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Vindman’s former employer at the NSC, said that the Purple-Heart winner was marched out of the White House because DDT is “entitled to a staff that he has confidence in and that he believes will execute his policy.”

O’Brien claimed that the removal of the Vindman brothers wasn’t retaliation, but DDT called Alexander Vindman a “never-Trumper” and “very insubordinate” for legally responding to a congressional subpoena. He also said that Vindman “reported a false call” without any explanation and that Vindman had been sent “to a much different location” where “the military can handle him any way they want.”

DDT’s former chief of staff John Kelly may be on the chopping block after Kelly defended Vindman’s testimony about DDT’s phone call with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, criticized DDT’s pardoning Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher for his war crimes, and supported immigrants wanting to come to the U.S. Kelly also had a few choice words about the Fox network, DDT’s almost exclusive source of information:

“If you only watch Fox News because it’s reinforcing what you believe, you are not an informed citizen.”

In another form of retaliation, DDT is sending 100 CBP members, mostly from the SWAT-like Border Patrol Tactical Unit, to nine “sanctuary” cities during the next five months to search out undocumented immigrants instead the troops doing their job, finding drug traffickers on the southern border. These troops have training in sniper certification and advanced weapons. The targeted cities have no greater rates of violent crime, rape, and property crime, but militarization will make them more dangerous. In another study, the almost 2,500 counties that follow federal law but don’t detain unauthorized immigrants for ICE have lower crime rates than the other ones, an average of 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000, because of better crime reporting and cooperation with law enforcement.

DDT’s cruel “public charge” order has returned, forcing legal immigrants who use public benefits or 12 months within a 36-month period from their paths to citizenship and out of the United States. A judge had declared an injunction against the order until it was heard on appeal because it had no rational basis and “has never been the rule.” The judge wrote that “the rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification. It is repugnant to the American dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.” DDT’s order would immediately cause “significant hardship” to “hundreds of thousands of individuals who were previously eligible for admission and permanent residence in the United States.” The 2nd Circuit Court put the appeal on a fast tract, but that wasn’t good enough for our “cruelty-in-chief” leader. He went to his conservative lackeys on the Supreme Court who lifted the injunction until the case might appealed to a future Supreme Court, an indeterminate time in the future. 

Reagan-appointee Judge David Sentelle, considered one of the most conservative judges in the nation and protégé of Sen. Jesse Helm (R-NC), agreed with two other judges on a panel that DDT’s stripping health coverage from Arkansas’ Medicaid beneficiaries is illegal. The ruling was against Arkansas’ new work requirement that lost Medicaid coverage for over 18,000 people in five months and changed congressional objectives for Medicaid. According to the ruling, the law does not allow DDT to use their own opinions on how to improve the health of low-income people, the excuse used for the work requirement. Sentelle wrote that “the principal objective of Medicaid is providing health care coverage,” not to make people find jobs. The unanimous ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court affirms a lower court decision, in which a judge found HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s approval of Arkansas’ work requirements “arbitrary and capricious.” The case may go to the Supreme Court; SCOTUS Justice Neil Gorsuch clerked for Sentelle and considered him a mentor. 

During a Senate hearing, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell rejected an idea suggested by Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-LA) that “the richness of our social programs” makes people less inclined to look for work because they can get a government check for not working. Agreeing with most economists, DDT’s GOP appointee testified that the ability of getting benefits has “actually declined, during this period of declining labor force participation” with mandates of having jobs to receive them since the 1990s. According to Powell, the “declining labor force participation” in the U.S., compared to other industrialized nations, come from lower levels of educational attainment. Powell also warned that $1 trillion budget deficits, as recommended by DDT’s newest budget, are unsustainable.   

In another lie at DDT’s SOTU speech, Tony Rankins didn’t see his life as a homeless, drug-addicted Army veteran turned around because of DDT’s “Opportunity Zone” tax breaks supposedly targeting poor neighborhoods. Rankins did get a job, but he started four months before the publication of the list in a site that wasn’t included. DDT also praised Rankins’ employer, R Investments, but the company has only a storage warehouse in one of the zones. No employees. The “Opportunity Zone” program was supposedly to help struggling neighborhoods, but the ones with the tax breaks had already moved toward gentrification and away from support for poor, black communities.

DDT also used his SOTU speech to demonstrate that the CIA, as well as the DOJ works for him. Director Gina Haspel, who had no reason to attend the speech, especially in a seat of honor, and certainly no right to stand, clapping, when DDT called on Congress to sue sanctuary cities for offenses committed by undocumented immigrants. A former CIA officer pointed out that Joint Chiefs don’t applaud. The Supreme Court justices don’t applaud. The CIA director shouldn’t, either.”

But DDT is the new normal—the time of corruption.

February 13, 2020

Barr, DDT Destroy the ‘Rule of Law’

Tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, is the one-year anniversary of AG Bill Barr’s confirmation, and he’s used his first year to exhibit an amazingly high level of corruption. Chris Smith wrote:

“Attorney General William Barr is on a trajectory to surpass [John] Mitchell, the previous AG corruption champion [for Nixon], who was convicted of conspiracy, perjury, and obstruction of justice, and went to prison for 19 months.”

Barr was immediately charging ahead with his falsehoods and then concealment of Robert Mueller’s investigation about Russian election interference and the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) last spring. He’s still saying “no collusion” to obfuscate Mueller’s position that collusion was not addressed in the investigation because it’s not a legal term. Barr’s comments were so egregious that the normally reticent Robert Mueller refuted them.

Now Barr is working on a cover-up for his obedience to DDT’s needs by claiming that “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.” He also complained that DDT’s statements and tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” Barr is welcome to quit his job if it’s “impossible.”

Barr’s subservience to DDT came to a head when Barr changed the prison sentence recommendation for DDT’s friend Roger Stone after DDT called the seven to nine years for seven felonies “horrible and very unfair.” Four career prosecutors quit the case, one of them resigning from DOJ, at DOJ’s new filing of three to four years. DDT then praised Barr for “taking charge” of the case. Three of the charges against Stone were obstructing Congress, witness intimidation, and lying—actions common to DDT. During the trial, Stone also posted an image an image of the judge’s name, her face, and the crosshairs of a gun sight near her head. Stone said he thought the gun sight was a “Celtic symbol.”  

On the same day that the DOJ filled a more lenient sentence request, Barr accused “progressive DAs” of having “fashioned for themselves a new role of judge-legislator-prosecutor,” that “these self-styled ‘social justice” reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law.” According to Barr, “these policies actually lead to greater criminality.” 

DDT also claims that he has absolute power to tell the DOJ who and how it prosecutes and called the sentencing a “horrible abberition (sic).” Not satisfied with attacking the prosecutors and the trial process, he also struck out against the judge in Stone’s case, implying she was biased:

“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”

Actually, it is not “the Judge” because another judge put Manafort into a VIP suite to protect him. Manafort was also found to be tampering with witnesses in his trial.  A lawsuit against Hillary Clinton connected to the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya) was dismissed after 11 hearings from the GOP-controlled House, one of them in which Clinton answered questions for almost 12 hours, could find no wrongdoing on her part. 

Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Chief Justice John Roberts to clarify that DDT’s attacks on a judge “are unacceptable.”

Now free to do whatever he wishes after his impeachment acquittal, DDT went on a diatribe from the Oval Office:

“Where’s [James] Comey? What’s happening to [Andrew] McCabe? What’s happening to Lisa and — to Pete Strzok and Lisa Page? What’s happening with them? It was a whole setup, it was a disgrace for our country, and everyone knows it, too, everyone.”

Asked what lesson he learned from impeachment, DDT said, “That the Democrats are crooked — they’ve got a lot of crooked things going—that they’re vicious, that they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.” He also withdrew Jessie Liu’s nomination for undersecretary of the Treasury Department for terrorism and financial crimes because she oversaw cases involving DDT’s friends Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, and Stone. Once nominated, she lost her job as U.S. attorney for D.C., a top position overseeing economic sanctions. Liu had expected to stay in that position until confirmation, but Barr replaced her last week with his close adviser Timothy Shea, who then overruled the prosecutors in the Stone case by requesting a more lenient sentence.

Barr has a close associate in the office handling cases about Mueller’s investigation, Russian election interference, and Flynn and Stone who are yet to be sentenced. The same office has now filed a request recommending probation for Flynn instead of up to six months in prison. The DOJ’s new filing, effusively describing Flynn’s government service, reads as if it were written by the defense instead of the prosecution. Flynn may have violated the Logan Act against private citizens’ negotiating with foreign governments without proper authority to influence their actions when he met with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak after DDT’s election while President Obama was still in office to discuss sanctions against Russia. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison. Documents show that DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner also directed Flynn to contact foreign government officials and ask them to delay or vote against a UN resolution about Israel settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, in opposition to support from then President Obama and his administration favoring the resolution.

Some GOP senators who said DDT had “learned his lesson” now say that he should not speak out about pending sentences. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), one of the “lesson” senators, described the “chain of events”: “proceeding, a sentencing, a recommended sentence, the president weighs in and all of the sudden Justice comes back, says ‘change the deal.’” She said that “most people … would say ‘hmm, that just doesn’t look right.’ And I think they’re right.” Another “lesson” senator, Susan Collins (ME) said DDT “should not have gotten involved.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) agreed with the two women. All three senators voted against DDT’s impeachment conviction.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, a colleague of the attacked judge on the court in Washington, warned about the consequences of DDT’s attacks. In a speech, Friedman said that DDT “seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.” 

Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney in the Obama administration, said:

“If a president can meddle in a criminal case to help a friend, then there’s nothing that keeps him from meddling to harm someone he thinks is his enemy. That means that a president is fully above the law in the most dangerous kind of way. This is how democracies die.”

Vance doesn’t need to wait. Barr has already assigned the DOJ to “investigate” President Obama’s intelligence officials to accuse them of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis regarding Russia’s election interference in 2016. The team started with the premise that CIA director John O. Brennan was operating under a preconceived belief about Russia and tried to keep other agencies from information because they might discover he was wrong. 

Out of concern for the DOJ’s decision-making process, the New York City bar has requested “immediate investigations” in a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and chairs and ranking minority-party members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-GA), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The reason for investigations comes from “serious questions about whether the Department of Justice is making prosecutorial decisions based not on neutral principles but in order to protect President Trump’s supporters and friends.” The letter alleges “improper influence” because the DOJ’s change in this appears “from all external circumstances to be an instance of President Trump and Attorney General [William P.] Barr acting in concert to protect Stone from punishment.”

In an op-ed, Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and current professor of constitutional law, wrote:

 “I have never experienced or even heard of a situation in which a career prosecutor had been ordered to withdraw a sentencing memorandum within the guidelines’ range. The original filing in the Stone case came from two career federal prosecutors and two special assistant U.S. attorneys.”

The DOJ said that changing sentencing requests is common for them, yet it couldn’t come up with an example. In an interview, Barr claimed that he told the prosecutors he was going to override the seven to nine years but they ignored him when they made the filing. It all smells: Barr says he’s overriding his own rule to follow the federal sentencing guidelines at the highest level, prosecutors don’t override the AG, and DDT doesn’t quietly sit back and let someone criticize him. It’s a cover up as protection for DDT’s friends.

DDT’s impeachment acquittal by GOP senators shredded the Constitution; now Barr and DDT are destroying the rule of law in the United States.

February 2, 2020

DDT: Week 158 – Beyond Impeachment

For 18 years, the U.S. has been bombing Afghanistan. The increase to 15,000 in the past two years came after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis changed the rules of engagement so that coalition forces could open fire on the enemy without close contact. The bombings have also spiked the number of civilian deaths—more in the first half of 2019 than insurgents.

More civilians will be killed because of DDT’s decision this past week to allow landmines anywhere and rescind President Obama’s 2014 order to limit these weapons to the Korean Peninsula, a policy closer to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Over 160 nations ratified this treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. is one of 32 UN member states not ratifying the treaty. The majority of 130,000 people killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018 were civilians. Once again, DDT ignored Congress in making this decision. The U.S. has not used landmines since the first Gulf War in 1991. Experts, including U.S. defense officials, say that anti-personnel landmines are not helpful in war.

DDT can also kill more people with his new “low-yield” nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on a submarine patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. With a yield of five kilotons, the warhead has one-third the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945 that instantly killed 80,000 people and tens of thousands of people after that from radiation.

Six more countries have been added to the seven already on the travel ban with the reason that conditions, especially terrorism, should keep citizens from moving to the U.S. The U.S. government, however, sells weapons to five of the six countries, everything from handguns and automatic weapons to light attack aircraft. Nigeria is one country buying millions of dollars in weapons since DDT moved into the Oval Office—weapons frequently lost to Boko Haram. The Arms Sales Risk Index of 0-to-100 has gone from 41 during George W. Bush’s terms to 69 under DDT. In his travel bans, DDT focuses on countries with sizeable Muslim populations, not on those with terrorism. The bans for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria are only for permanent residency, not for visitors. 

DDT’s win in the Supreme Court this week is a loss for the U.S. economy when conservative justices approved DDT’s proceeding with his public charge rule. His order to deny immigration if an official predicts a person might use specific benefits for 12 months with a future 36-month period reduces legal immigration to the U.S. by hundreds of thousands and drastically reduces the labor force. Economists predict that the U.S. would not have the majority of economic growth between 2011 and 2016 following the recession without the contributions of immigrants. Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma said, “In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States.” The law already prevents immigrants from receiving major federal public benefits during their first five years in the country, but the rule satisfies Stephen Miller’s obsession to block ethnic minorities from the United States. The public charge rule stays in effect while lawsuits work through lower courts.

The State Department has issued new rules to stop “birth tourism” in which wealthy women, many from China and Russia, visit the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens who can then sponsor their family members for U.S. visas. As they grow up, these babies can have other advantages such as advantages in scholarships. The scale of births, 33,000 annually, is small and block pregnant women who have legitimate reasons to study or work in the U.S. or come with their spouses. Restrictions would also block pregnant women from visiting families and needed medical treatment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russians-flock-to-trump-properties-to-give-birth-to-us-citizens  Ironically, DDT has made money off “birth tourism” because pregnant women have rented his Florida condos at huge costs to Russians and paid to go to his nearby International Beach Resort.

Agricultural Department secretary Sonny Perdue, DDT’s appointment, says that farm workers are overpaid because a law requires their wages match the prevailing rate in the farm areas to keep from undermining wages of nearby workers. Perdue’s goals are to increase temporary immigration with no path to citizenship and cut their wages. Although wages for farm workers have slightly increased, they are still less than 40 percent below those of other non-supervisory U.S. workers–$24,620 annual average wage in 2018. A federal survey reported that “farm workers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999.” Perdue is also championing the removal of 700,000 people from any food assistance by reducing food stamps and pushed the rollback of healthier public school lunches. Over 20 million children need the National School Lunch Program for almost half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake.

DDT also has a plan to segregate public housing by using esoteric changes in low-income housing. The change is so clever that 1968 Fair Housing Act violations would be hard to prove. The complex explanation is here

When he signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, DDT hoped that his trade deals would overcome the bad publicity from his impeachment trial. Despite signing “phase one” of his China deal, he failed. Since his 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, the imports of these products have declined while products made from these metals “significantly increased.” His solution is to expand tariffs on products made of steel and aluminum on February 8 with the hopes that the flailing manufacturing in the U.S. will recover. Every time his tariffs fail, he raises them somewhere else.

Emails show that DDT’s appointees are making money for big business logging in forests through claims that climate pollution comes from California wildfires instead of fossil fuels. James Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, wrote scientists, asking them to “gin up” emissions figures and give him ones for a “decent sound bite” and make “a good story.” Scientists said that at the best, Reilly cherry picked data and at worst exploited a disaster by manipulating data. Numbers from the interior department significantly overestimate greenhouse gases from the fires, and logging wouldn’t prevent or lessen wildfires. Instead logging could stop the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.  

DDT announced that he plans more and higher tariffs on European products after while people already complain about increases in wine from earlier tariffs. At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) DDT insisted on talking to leaders about his trade “deals” although the conference was about climate change and cooperation. Gone is the 70-year connection between the United States and Europe to promote democracy and capitalism; DDT is now creating conflicts about climate change, trade, taxation, privacy, Iran, and defense funding as he threatens European leaders with tariffs. He’s using the same shakedown tactics with Europe that he does with China.

The UN determined that an internet account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman collected a huge amount of data from the cell phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after he was sent an infected video. The 2018 hack occurred before MBS’ torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Kamal Khashoggi but after Bezos’ newspaper ran an article critical about MBS’ regime and its “new ways of repression.” The video sent to Bezos, purported to be a promo on Saudi’s economic success, contained malicious code.

The release of information about the hacking came just before the showing of The Dissident, a Sundance documentary about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Khashoggi. The movie ends with a critique of U.S. companies still working with Saudi Arabia, empowering Khashoggi murderer. 

AG Bill Barr has sworn in the 18 members of DDT’s commission on policing to study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.” Like DDT’s “voter suppression” commission almost three years ago, the commission skews toward highly conservative goals, this time expanding police forces, modernizing training, and countering criticism and “reform.” Seventeen of the 18 members belong to law enforcement or are prosecutors and judges. The 18th one has a background in police enforcement. Almost all the members are white males. From largely small and southern departments, they represent philosophies of criminalizing small crimes, using tasers, attacking protesters, opposing marijuana legislation, using false forensic science, fighting voting rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies, battling police oversight boards, and covering up killings by police officers—in short, Barr’s ideology of authoritarianism. These “social ills” will be the commission’s focus. Barr said:

“The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Facebook came closer to merging with the Fox network when it hired Jennifer Williams, former developer of DDT’s favorite program Fox & Friends, to build the FB “news video component.” Williams has pushed such conspiracy theories as President Obama being educated at a “madrassa,” Ebola concerns, and the familiar—and non-existent—war on Christmas. Before he hired Williams, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news would be curated by humans instead of algorithms. He has enabled right-wing propaganda and filled key positions with GOP operatives. Perhaps a new name for FB such as “FakeBook.”

 

 

January 24, 2020

A Potpourri of Impeachment Quotations

Filed under: impeachment,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:11 PM
Tags: , ,

“Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”—Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) reportedly at a private dinner about then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in a conversation with Lev Parnas (who DDT said he didn’t know) and Igor Fruman. [A president has the power to “fire” anyone in an open, civilized manner without sounding like a mob leader.]

“It was all about 2020, to make sure [Trump] had another four years.”—Lev Parnas describing the Ukrainian scandal which he observed from the inside.

“One good thing about surrounding yourself with tawdry gangsters and grifters is that if they flip on you, you can claim they have no credibility because they’re criminals.”—Michelle Goldberg, writing about Lev Parnas’ statements about DDT. She also cited Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Hyde who texted about surveilling Marie Yovanovitch when she was U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

“Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”—a warning for Republican Senators during the impeachment trial.

“All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind.”—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chair of the Judiciary Committee, about DDT’s actions.

“How has the president largely avoided the consequences of his corruption? By employing the methods of his mentor Roy Cohn. Admit nothing. Stonewall investigators. Defy subpoenas. Viciously attack opponents. Flood the zone with exculpatory lies. Feel no shame. Show no mercy. Claim anything short of prison to be complete exoneration.”—Michael Gerson.

“So far what [head impeachment manager Adam Schiff] has said we’ve heard before.”—Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) after he voted multiple time for no new information.

“With me, there’s no lying.”—DDT, before he gave 14 more falsehoods.

“That’s not a crime…. We felt that in that episode the government would not be able to establish obstruction… To be obstruction of justice the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding.”—AG Bill Barr about DDT telling former White House counsel Don McGahn to lie to investigators about Trump instructing him to remove Mueller.

“The Constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not leave us stuck with presidents who abuse their power in unforeseen ways that threaten our security and democracy.”—Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). [In 1803, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us.”]

“Impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a president who mistakes himself as a king.”–Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

“Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.”—Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) in his closing statements at the end of the impeachment trial’s Day Three

“President Trump’s arguments in the impeachment trial contradict DOJ’s assertion in this case that the Committee may not seek to enforce its subpoenas in court.”— House Counsel Douglas Letter to an appeals court regarding Jay Sekulow’s argument that the House should have gotten witnesses before the trial. [Despite a court order to the contrary, the DOJ blocked the testimony of former White House counsel McGahn, arguing that federal judges should stay out of disputes between Congress and the executive branch.]

“There was all this discussion about why the President was suspicious of some of his intelligence information, some of the leaders he was dealing with within his own government. Well, the No. 3 at the Department of Justice, his wife was working for a firm that was working on a dossier against the sitting President of the United States … we’re concerned about it.”—Jay Sekulow, showing that DDT’s defense will be procedural rather than based on any evidence that DDT is innocent of the charges. [The DOJ inspector general said reported that “No. 3” had nothing to do with the FBI opening an investigation into the connection between DDT’s campaign and Russia.]

“You seem fixated on this storyline about this inquiry.”—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when questioned about his lack of support for State Department employee Yovanovitch

The United States has had 15 full impeachment trials in the Senate, two of them for presidents. All of them had witnesses. The Senate heard from seven witnesses at Walter Nixon’s trial who had not testified before the House; three at Clinton’s trial who also had not testified before the House; and 17 at Porteous’s trial who had not testified before the House.

People have protested the Electoral College because a minority of people in the United States, 63 million, put DDT in the Oval Office over the wishes of the majority, 66 million people. The same situation exists in the Senate. The 53 senators who defeated amendments to have witnesses, subpoena first-hand witnesses, and present new information represent only 153 million people while the outvoted 47 senators represent 168 million people. These 53 senators oppose the majority of people in the U.S. who want witnesses to testify in the Senate’s impeachment trial. In 2018, Democratic Senate candidates won the popular vote by eight points, 54 to 46 percent, but Republicans picked up two additional seats in the Senate. The reason for this imbalance of power comes from the Founding Father who protected slave-owner states when they wrote the Constitution. The 34 senators who can block DDT’s removal from the Oval Office can represent only seven percent of the nation’s population. Seven percent of the U.S. population can keep a corrupt president who believes that he has the right to seek foreign aid to be elected.

DDT’s legal team is scheduled to begin its 24 hours of presentation on Saturday after the 24-hour allotment for House managers. Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) surmised that DDT’s lawyers will wait until Monday because Fox viewers watch less on the weekend. She was almost right: DDT’s defense plans about two hours on Saturday and wait until Monday for a longer presentation. DDT called Saturday, “Death Valley in T.V.” After the defense team closes, senators have 16 hours for questions before a vote on additional witnesses and evidence. McConnell will undoubtedly keep his caucus to his personal schedule, acquitting DDT before his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, February 4.

Schiff said that if DDT were not stopped, he would continue his corruption and extortion. Schiff was right, for example DDT’s threat to withhold federal funding from California unless the state drops its requirement that private insurers cover abortions. This is money allocated to the state that was sent to the federal government in taxes. Five other states have the same requirement as California for insurers.

Opinion favoring impeachment of DDT, his removal from office, and need for witnesses in a trial have slowly crept higher, but polarization has remained between the two sides. A study from Pew Research purports that opinions come from media that people watch. Research used 30 news sources running the gamut from Rush Limbaugh to the New York Times. The few news outlets that Republican trust were on the list of those that Democrats distrust, including Fox network and radio programs from Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. In the November 2019 survey, at least one-third of Republicans received political or election news from only Fox network, but one-third of Democrats got the same news from five different sources—CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC.

Almost two-thirds of Republicans and leaner trust Fox as a source, and 60 percent found political or election news from that source in the previous week. Among Democrats and leaners, 67 percent trust CNN, and 53 percent got news from that source. The difference in news outlet trust is even higher among conservative Republican and liberal Democrats, and the partisan divides grew in the past five years although the Democrats’ levels of trust and distrust has changed much less that those of Republicans. The report has a wealth of information.

Fox promised gavel-to-gavel video of the impeachment trial, but last night, it ran the trial in a small box at the corner without audio while Tucker Carlson smeared Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a U.S. patriot who testified to what he heard on DDT’s so-called “perfect” telephone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 when he extorted Zelensky for an investigation into DDT’s political rival, Joe Biden. Sean Hannity played a few clips of Schiff which he called “mindless rambling.” To Fox, gavel-to-gavel means about 22 seconds during prime time. And that’s all that most Republicans know about the impeachment trial.

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