Nel's New Day

May 23, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – Wall to Wall Corruption

For black humor about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his fake cures, read Dana Milbank’s “If Trump Likes Hydroxychloroquine, He’ll Love Camel Urine.” And now to the real news which also read like black humor. 

What COVID-19 is covering up

Five agency watchdogs fired within less than two months to keep them investigating DDT’s corruption. (More about that later.)

A $1.3 billion federal contract for a small section of the southern wall with no bid to a firm that DDT found on Fox news when the owner begged for the contract. Note: the company’s earlier contract faced an inspector general audit over improper political influence—but firing the IG will take care of that.

One of the few medical experts, this one for vaccines, fired because he didn’t approve of DDT’s drug of choice, hydroxychloroquine.

Jared Kushner’s staffing of the PPE procurement team with young investment bankers who were told to prioritize DDT’s political allies and business cronies.

AG Bill Barr trying to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who pled guilty twice about his corrupt vole in the Russia investigation with DDT’s lawyers arguing that he is above the law and immune from investigation.

DDT’s possibly launching the first nuclear weapon test since 1992 to threaten China and Russia.

DDT withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, an almost 30-year pact to reduce accidental wars by permitting reconnaissance flights for the 34 countries in the agreement on short notice. DDT also doesn’t want to continue the START pact with Russia that limits nuclear platforms such as bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, George W. Bush’s senior intelligence officials, tweeted about DDT’s withdrawal, “This is insane.”

Possibility of White House commission, the FEC, and the FCC investigating online bias and censorship by social media companies to force them into allowing more far-right material.

DDT celebrating almost 99,000 deaths from COVID-19 by golfing on his resort in Virginia two days after a spike in the state provided the largest number of cases in one day.

Michigan suffering from massive flooding because private companies failed to care for dams while DDT threatens to pull funding from blue states, including Michigan, if they insist on allowing people to vote by mail.

The husband of Sen. Kelly Loefler (D-GA), worried about her reelection this fall after her appointment earlier this year, giving $1 million to DDT’s super PAC.

Republicans spending $20 million to recruit 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to “observe” (aka intimidate) voters on Election Day. Four confirmed cases of voter fraud in 2016 were three people caught trying to vote for DDT twice and an election worker caught trying to fill in a bubble on someone else’s ballot for mayor.

DDT’s campaign recruiting pro-DDT doctors for a coalition that supports his handling of a health crisis killing almost 100,000 people thus far to open up the country no matter what.  

DDT writing a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) so filled with lies that the fact-checker required 2280 words and it was called “factually incorrect” by the highly reputable British medical journal, Lancet.  The letter lies about the reasons that DDT is removing the U.S. from WHO.  

DDT concealing his addition of workers for foreign arms sales to “essential work” in mid-April, a classification of people needed “to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily.” Employees questioned why they weren’t such essential items as masks and ventilators. COVID-19 cases and deaths occurred at the plants, probably because of lack of care in protecting workers.

Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) attempt to abolish the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO) after 90 years of success, a move to damage U.S. businesses and give a victory to China. Hawley can only withdraw U.S. membership if he gets permission from Congress. Even USTR Robert Lighthizer finds the WTO important to the U.S.: global trade liberalization has increased U.S. economy by $1.2 billion between 1950 and 2016. Eliminating WTO and trade agreements would decrease $2.8 trillion in global GDP and put the U.S. at a serious financial and political disadvantage.

The VA refusing to remove Nazi symbols on markers in its national cemetery at For Sam Houston in San Antonio (TX) for two German POWs buried there in 1943. Swastikas cannot be legally displayed for the German display, and all known monuments that feature the Nazi symbol have been removed or replaced.

Eight weeks ago, DDT “dumped” Steve Linick, the fourth inspector general in a late Friday evening tweet. The news burgeoned throughout the week. First, the firing was attributed to an investigation into the way that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife used security agents as servants. The next investigation in the news was that DDT’s use of an emergency declaration last year to fast-track weapons sales to Saudi Arabia with no congressional permission at the request of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Congress passed three resolutions to block the sales and stop Saudi’s support for the war in Yemen, but DDT vetoed them. DDT catered to Saudi Arabia even after the Crown Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist in its embassy in Turkey. Lawmakers—even some GOP ones such as Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and John Thune (SD)— want a justification for Linick’s firing.

Pompeo refused to be interviewed by Linick about his pressure for the “emergency” arms sale. Heather Cox Richardson wonders if the arms sales are connected to the nuclear deal that DDT made with Saudi Arabia. Lawmaker opposed that deal also, concerned that the Saudis will use the nuclear materials to develop weapons, but “Energy Secretary Rick Perry secretly approve six authorizations by March 2019.”

Next DDT told the media that he fired Linick because Pompeo asked him to do so. Pompeo said that “Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.” Inspectors general are supposed to be independent, not follow the agencies’ directions.

By the middle of the week, the media released information about Linick investigating the highly expensive parties that Pompeo gave for possible donors for a political run, possibly senator from Kansas. The two dozen elite gatherings, known as “Madison Dinners” and regularly scheduled until the onset of the coronavirus, developed a master list of about 500 Republicans: 29 percent from the corporate world; 25 percent from media or entertainment; 30 percent from politics or government; and 14 percent diplomats or foreign officials. NBC has the list. No one has a record of any other secretary of State having these dinners that taxpayers funded. 

Pompeo’s diplomatic trips also included stops for campaigning, for example dropping off at a retirement area with GOP donors on his way to Latin America this year. In London, he also met with GP donors just after a trip to Kansas where he met with Charles Koch. The visits were not on his public schedule, and he didn’t tell reporters with him about the meeting.

To protect another Cabinet member, DDT fired the Transportation Department inspector general last week. Mitch Behm was investigating Secretary Elaine Chao for political favoritism for her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Chao can fire the new acting IG, Howard “Skip” Elliott, a former railroad executive who also oversees the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, if she wishes. And it’s not the only conflict of interest that Chao has. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, stated Chao’s office “actually seems to be trying to defend the idea that someone can serve both as a political appointee reporting directly to the Secretary and as an independent Inspector General charged with overseeing the Secretary’s actions.” DDT’s new appointee, Eric Soskin, is a DOJ trial lawyer “involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases.”

“With the firings [of internal government oversight officials], [Trump] is demolishing the ideal that inspectors general can operate independently without fear of retribution as they attempt to uncover waste, fraud and abuse that does not serve the interests of the American people,” CNN’s Maeve Reston writes in an analysis of the consequences of Trump’s “oversight purge.” 

In his pursuit of collecting loyalists, DDT got John Ratcliffe confirmed by the GOP Senate, 49-44, for director of 17 intelligence agencies. Ratcliffe has a history of lying to make himself look better and protected a company a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower to get donations. He also nominated a new U.S. attorney, Justin Herdman, to head up the Washington office to oversee cases that prosecute DDT’s friends. Timothy Shea, Herdman’s acting predecessor and AG Bill Barr’s friend whose time had run out, had protected Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And then there’s DDT’s threats against any blue states that allow mail-in voting—but that’s for another day.

May 23 COVID-19: 1,666,828 cases; 98,683 deaths.

March 16, 2020

Congress, Russia, Saudi, Corruption

Last Friday night, the House passed a covid-19 bill by a large bipartisan majority. Unfortunately, it needed a “technical fix,” which requires a unanimous vote if the House isn’t called back into session. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) delayed the vote because he didn’t want a “rushed process,” according to Bloomberg reporter Laura Litvan. He also said that he didn’t know if it can be solved soon. The fix addressed virus-related sick leave for small firms. Gohmert finally withdrew his opposition after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave DDT’s stamp of approval. Because of virus concerns, the House has postponed a return to Washington for an indefinite time.

The Senate recessed for the weekend and is stalling before considering the emergency bill until after it considers the surveillance bill that the House passed last week. (That one’s a doozy: it includes the provision that AG Bill Barr must approve in writing any investigation of an elected official and/or a candidate.) Even after the Senate addresses the covid-19 bill, there will be vitriolic discussions. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox & Friends that the bill may not pass the Senate because senators don’t want sick leave for people home with the virus. He wants tax rebates which could take far more time to be reimbursed than paid sick leave.

The Senate couldn’t meet over the weekend because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to go home with Justice Brett Kavanaugh to celebrate the new 37-year-old federal judge, considered the most unqualified judge that McConnell has ever pushed through confirmation. It’s called campaigning for the fall election.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [right] also complained about the paid sick leave because it might hurt businesses although the bill covers the cost with a tax credit. Without sick leave, most of these people with covid-19 will go to work and spread the disease. Johnson said it might be better for the Senate to “pass nothing at all.”

Last week, Johnson pulled a vote on a subpoena from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he hoped would find damaging information about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, in Ukraine. A bipartisan group persuaded him about the Ukrainian’s unreliability as a source for the committee’s investigation. The vote, however, is only postponed. Johnson said he will issue a subpoena to a lobbying firm for the Ukrainian energy company paying Hunter Biden as a board member. Committee staff members have worked on investigations helping DDT in his reelection campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that Andrii Telizhenko, Johnson’s source, has spread disinformation about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election to minimize actual Russian interference. Telizhenko, a friend of Rudy Giuliani, has appeared on the ultra-conservative One America News Network.

While DDT struggles with rapidly increasing numbers of covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his path to keep power in his country. He detained four senior princes, possible heirs to the throne, in Riyadh, including MBS’s uncle Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. They were charged with treason which carries the death penalty. MBS had replaced Nayef as crown prince in 2017 and has run the kingdom since then. Prince Ahmed returned to Saudi from Britain after assurances that he would be safe. MBS consolidated his power in 2017 by arresting hundreds of princes, government ministers, and business people and detaining them in Riyadh.

Saudi is struggling with dropping oil prices and MBS’ decision to block pilgrims from Mecca because of the virus outbreak. Aramco’s profits dropped 21 percent last year to $88.2 billion, and it is lowering capital spending for 2020. The world has also not forgotten MBS’ murder of U.S. resident and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. MBS is now repeating his 2017 actions by arresting hundreds more government officials, including military and security officers, for bribery and exploiting public office. The purge also added 16 more princes, two members of the council which decides the throne’s succession, and two judges.

In late February, MSP Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Parliament asked his colleagues to investigate DDT’s deals in which he acquired his Scotland properties, including the two multi-million dollar golf courses. Harvie said that DDT or people he’s tied with could be connected to serious crime and is seeking an “unexplained wealth order” from a Scottish court. The order is for “suspected foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.” If the subject “cannot show a legitimate source for their riches,” the government can seize properties.

History will remember that Utah’s Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator who voted to impeach DDT. Payoffs for other GOP senators who claimed they voted against impeachment because DDT had “learned his lesson”:

  • Lamar Alexander (TN) – $9 million for high-speed broadband infrastructure projects;
  • Susan Collins (ME) – $9.5 million for affordable housing units;
  • Cory Gardner (CO) – $20 million for airport upgrades;
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK) – $20 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant for Phase One costs at the Port of Alaska.

Collins, up for a difficult reelection this year, voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite his anti-abortion stand and for the tax cut benefiting the wealthy and big business even if she said she didn’t like it. She’s at the bottom of the Senate popularity contest and may lower her rating with the latest find. In 2009, she refused to include pandemic flu funding in an economic stimulus bill during the Great Recession. Democrats warned that the $870 million from the $787 billion would keep them from fighting an infectious disease outbreak, but she promised to withdraw her vote for the bill if that money was included. She said the funds “do not boost our economy” and persuaded two other Republicans to follow her example.

Eric Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother and heir to $1 billion, advises DDT and almost persuaded him to let Prince set up a private military service for the U.S.. Congress accused Prince of lying under oath and referred criminal charges to the DOJ, a useless action since Bill Barr became AG. In the past, Prince moved to the UAE to keep from federal prosecution and claims that he is untouchable. Now the FBI is investigating Prince for trying to modify two U.S. crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft, a violation of arms trafficking regulations. He used the planes as part of the private services he suggested selling or using in Africa and Azerbaijan. The FBI investigation includes his lying to Congress and an armed aviation proposal to the UAE along with heightened scrutiny of Barr.

Prince has recruited U.S. and British spies to work with the right-wing group Project Veritas, known for doctored videos in false stings, to infiltrate at least one Democratic congressional campaign for Abigail Spanberger and organizations “considered hostile” to DDT. Ex MI6 officer Richard Seddon ran a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in an office of the teachers’ union AFT. In late 2015 or early 2016, Prince arranged for James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas to receive training in intelligence and elicitation techniques from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr. Rubio soon quit, saying that the Veritas group couldn’t learn.

DDT’s defense against Russian interference to elect him is to repeat that he’s tough on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Here are some of DDT’s favors for Russia:

  • DDT appointed his own loyalists to head up the intelligence agencies who ordered employees not to release information and who say that there’s no evidence of Russian interference.
  • DDT sent anti-tank missiles to Ukraine under conditions that make them useless against Russia.
  • DDT spread a disinformation campaign that Ukraine was responsible for the election interference, not Russia.
  • DDT protected Russia by withholding aid to Ukraine until publicity made him uncomfortable.
  • DDT still refuses to invite Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House to help Zelensky negotiate with Putin.
  • DDT’s sanctions on Iran helps Russia by boosting the price of oil.
  • DDT strengthened Russia’s longtime ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ended support for moderate Syrian rebels which Russia wants.
  • DDT removed U.S. forces out of northern Syria, abandoned the Kurdish U.S. allies, and allowed Russians to move into abandoned U.S. bases.
  • DDT helped Russia in Libya by giving Khalifa Hifter information for overthrowing a UN-backed government in Tripoli.
  • Sanctions on Russia were done over DDT’ objections, and DDT persuaded the GOP Senate to lift them on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
  • DDT weakened NATO through incessant criticism and portrayal of the members as deadbeats.
  • DDT always believes Putin and never criticizes him.
  • DDT’s biggest help for Russia is his spreading chaos in the U.S. and its government through polarization of the U.S. people and denigrating U.S. intelligence officers and diplomats.

As the commentator on a popular Russian TV show said:

“I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health — and another term.’ This is a great situation for Russia.”

And the Republican Party blindly backs DDT and pro-Russia policies against U.S. benefits.

February 20, 2020

Barr, DDT: ‘Because I Can’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:05 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

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 9, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – ‘Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Lord.’

On Thursday, self-appointed “lord,“ Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began his retaliation for government officials who were not willing to lie for him. His frequently-used words “vicious” and “horrible” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came in his vicious and horrible speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and his attacks on the religious beliefs of Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). DDT accused Romney of using “religion as a crutch” and called Pelosi a liar for saying that she prays. His GOP sycophants fed his ego for his ramblings that made the annual religious event into a partisan campaign meeting. DDT’s hateful comments followed Arthur Brooks’ keynote speech about loving one’s enemies and taking contempt out of one’s heart, just like Jesus. DDT disagrees with Jesus.

Later that day, he spread more vitriol from the White House and topped off his comments by threatening revenge. DDT repeated false conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s non-existent corrupt dealings in Ukraine and then held up his own family, who are making a fortune off DDT’s position in the Oval Office, as perfection. “I’m really not a bad person,” DDT said defensively.

The GOP senators who said that he’s “learned his lesson” tried to protect Gordon Sondland, a big GOP donor. Running for reelection in 2020, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC) asked DDT to let Sondland resign because they want his money this year; Ron Johnson (WI) echoed them to get donations for 2022. About the firing of Vindman, Tillis said that DDT “gets to set foreign policy.” Collins excused DDT for his purging of witnesses because that wasn’t part of her definition of “lesson.”

AG Bill Barr and GOP senators already announced their plans to investigate the Bidens. DDT’s Treasury Department, which is protecting his income tax returns, has turned over information to Senate Republicans on Hunter Biden with no subpoenas and “producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Treasury Department has violated the law by refusing to turn over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. A whistleblower has also claimed that officials protected DDT’s taxes from an audit. In the next big cover up, Barr announced all investigations of 2020 candidates require his clearance

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Face the Nation, DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is also looking for “dirt” on the Bidens that he is submitting directly to Barr. Graham’s interviewer, Margaret Brennan said that the channel between Giuliani and Barr sounds like a “taxpayer-funded research operation against Joe Biden” which was the basis of the impeachment probe.

In the Atlantic, McKay Coppins explains how DDT is spending $1 billion to spread disinformation and destroy faith in the media. Part of the disinformation will probably be DDT’s latest lie about his investigation into the Bidens. “I had to do it,” he claimed, because of a treaty between Ukraine and the U.S. that states nothing about “corruption” in Ukraine. DDT ignored 330,000 companies in Ukraine to focus on a political opponent.

Friday, DDT full-throatedly began his vengeance with the “Friday Night Massacre.” He fired:

  • National Security Council aid Alexander Vindman and had him walked off the White House grounds after Vindman testified under subpoena at a House Intelligence Committee hearing;
  • Vindman’s twin brother, also on the National Security Council, for—nothing;
  • Gordon Sondland, who also testified after subpoenas, after he paid $1 million to be appointed ambassador to the European Union.

At least one expert called the firing of both Vindmans and Sondland a “criminal action,” but GOP senators told DDT he can do anything he wants.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Firing is in the Washington air: VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fired his deputy secretary James Byrne. An independent investigation found that Wilkie personally looked for damaging information about a congressional aide because she said she was sexually assaulted in a VA hospital in an effort to discredit her. Wilkie is DDT’s fourth VA secretary.

DDT cheered after a federal appeals court rejected an emoluments lawsuit from over 200 Congressional Democrats. He’s not yet off the hook because the ruling didn’t address whether DDT’s business dealings are illegal. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Democrats lacked legal standing, but they might proceed if a congressional chamber formally authorized the lawsuit.

A WaPo reporter has found more evidence of DDT’s profit-making off federal money by charging the Secret Service up to $650 per night lodging at his clubs, charges paid by taxpayers. At Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 per month for a three-bedroom on DDT’s property even when DDT wasn’t there. Average rental rate for comparable properties in the area is $3,400, and the highest noted is $8,500. Secret Service agents are exempt from per diem requirements. The $471,000 taxpayer payments to DDT’s companies come from only a fraction of DDT’s travel. While campaigning, DDT said he would have no time to travel if he were elected, but he has spent one-third of his time at his private cubs and hotels, always accompanied by the Secret Service. Past presidents—George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—did not charge for the Secret Service staying with them. Payments to DDT are not listed in public databases of federal spending, and the Secret Service is paying a great deal at DDT’s D.C. hotel although DDT has not stayed there since his inauguration.

Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government, has a chart of DDT’s conflicts of interest. Shaub warned that “this is just the start.”

DDT plans to destroy tribal cultural areas, rare rock art, 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils, and natural landscapes by permitting mining, drilling, grazing, logging, road development, and off-road-vehicle use in Utah’s national monuments. Although cases are in the courts, the Interior Department plans to continue before the legal process is settled because I moves too slowly.

On January 31, DDT designated the entire Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency a “Security Agency” with the same secrecy as high intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service and the ability to hide records from the public. The new classification exempts “all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.” CBP now has spying powers of the recognized 18 intelligence agencies. Earlier the Office of Intelligence and Analysis had received the ability to reject any FOIA requests.

Last month, an active-duty U.S. soldier who was born in Iran and traveling as part of U.S. official duty was detained and harassed by border agents after having their telephone confiscated. The telephone still hasn’t been returned to the soldier. The action was taken as part of a CBP strategy to block U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage from returning to their homes after attending a concert in Vancouver, BC. Officials claimed they had no directive to detain Iranian Americans, but a leaked document from the Seattle Field Office ordered targeting Iranian Americans for secondary screening based on their country of origin.

A second court case has exonerated humanitarian aid volunteers who provide water and food in the southern Arizona desert. A U.S. District judge reverse the conviction of four people and permitted their religious freedom to prevail. Four months ago, Scott Warren was successful in his religious freedom defense after providing food, water, and clothing to men in the desert. The judge in the second case described the government defense of “deterrence by death” as “gruesome” and “unsupported by evidence” because it’s dependent on killing people as a deterrence.

The man elected as U.S. president has time to rage about photos of him, this one showing the line at the edge of his face because of the bronze goo he slathers on his skin. No, it’s not from Photoshopping as he claims, but he did think his hair looked “good.” 

December 19, 2019

Conservative, Evangelical Support for Impeachment

Bret Stephens may be one of the most conservative columnists in the mainstream press, but he defended impeachment. His recent column started with a discussion about Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general “Laurence Silberman, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a man widely admired by conservatives for his wisdom and rectitude,” talking about “the secret files of F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover.

“’Accompanied by only one F.B.I. official, I read virtually all these files in three weekends … Silberman, who was then President Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general, recalled in a speech to a judicial conference. It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service…’

“’As bad as the dirt collection business was, perhaps even worse was the evidence that [Hoover] had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes. I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends.’”

Stephens then wrote about the impeachment of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“According to the public transcript of Donald Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Trump said: ‘The server, they say Ukraine has it …. I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.’

“Trump also said: ‘There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.’

“Here is a textbook case of Judge Silberman’s ‘most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage.’ The president is unambiguously proposing to employ his chief law-enforcement officer to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump hopes will burnish his political legitimacy. And he also proposes to use the attorney general in an attempt to investigate a political opponent for undeniably political ends.

“That Trump didn’t get away with it is a relief, not an exoneration. That he continues to insist the call was ‘perfect,’ as he did Tuesday in his letter to Nancy Pelosi, means that he is likely to do it again. That he attempted to subvert the will of Congress by impounding congressional funds for his political ends threatens the separation of powers in ways that will haunt a future Republican Congress. That he was prepared to endanger an ally and benefit an enemy is not treason, as the Constitution defines treason, but it is a travesty, as any American ought to understand travesty. That Republican leaders are cheering him only serves to define deviancy down and debase our political norms. That conservative pundits claim to be outraged at the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Trump campaign — or the smearing of Carter Page — while being indifferent to Trump’s attempt to investigate Joe Biden — and the smearing of Hunter Biden — marks a fresh low in rhetorical sophistry.

“There are people who believe that law, morality, traditions and institutions are at least as important to the preservation of freedom as the will of the people. Such people are called conservative. What Republicans are now doing with their lock step opposition to impeachment — and with their indifference to the behavior that brought impeachment about — is not conservative. It is the abdication of principle to power.

“I might think differently about impeachment if Trump had shown any sense of contrition. Or if Republicans had shown any inclination to censure him. But Trump hasn’t, and they haven’t. Whatever the political ramifications of impeachment now, history will judge members of this Congress harshly if they fail to state their revulsion at the president’s behavior in the strongest terms they can. Impeach and convict.”

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded by televangelist Billy Graham, called for impeachment and described DDT’s actions “immoral.” [DDT’s photo for the article.] Editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote:

“In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment….

“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

“Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

“This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:

“The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.

“And this:

“Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.

“Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president….

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?…

“To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.”

Galli erroneously wrote that DDT was not allowed to give his side in the impeachment inquiry. He was invited to send witnesses and lawyers but refused. But his other information is right on target.

DDT’s base sometimes seems deeply entrenched in its cult-like behavior, but a few votes can make a different. He won the Electoral College by under 80,000 votes, a small number in the approximately 138 votes cast for the 2016 presidential election.

December 18, 2019

Day 1063: Impeachment

Eleven years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “impressive,” defended Bill Clinton, and expressed surprise that Pelosi didn’t aim for George W. Bush’s impeachment after he misled people about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. This week he ridiculed Pelosi’s teeth and sent her a six-page letter filled with lies and vile accusations of “declaring open war on American democracy.” That accusation and others were identical to his own actions: abuse of power, violation of the Constitution, and violations of oaths of office. The six pages were a synthesis of his tweets and speeches for the past few months—lies about Pelosi’s statements, attacks on Joe Biden, whining about no due process, calling the impeachment a “coup,” and extolling his excellent economy which may be headed downhill.  

Today, on the 1063rd day of DDT’s first term and one day short of the 21st anniversary of Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach DDT for abusing his power and obstructing congressional investigations. The vote labeled him a threat to national security and recommended his removal from office. Article I, Abuse of Power, was adopted 230-197, with one member voting present and three not voting. Article II, Obstruction of Congress, was adopted 229-198, with one member voting present and three not voting. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a Democratic presidential candidate, was the only representative to vote “present.” According to the U.S. Constitution, the Senate is now required to have a trial, in which a two-thirds vote would remove DDT from office.

The Senate cannot begin its process until it receives the articles of impeachment. When that will be is not known because the House has not made that determination. McConnell said that he will speak on the Senate floor tomorrow at 9:30 am (EST).

The Judiciary Committee began the week with a report describing DDT’s “multiple federal crimes” including bribery and wire fraud for attempting to leverage military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with its president. In exchange, DDT demanded a Ukrainian investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden and another one into DDT’s unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The House Rules Committee then met on the resolution to impeach DDT to determine the parameters–six hours floor time evenly divided between the two parties and led by the House Judiciary Committee leaders followed by another hour of debate before a vote on the two articles of impeachment.

Both the debates in the Rules Committee and on the floor were consumed by GOP common complaints of “shame,” “sham,” “flawed,” etc. Republicans presented no defence of DDT or his actions, instead angrily smearing Democrats with lies. With no evidence for DDT’s innocence, Republicans use these and many more defenses:

  • You can’t impeach a president when the economy is good. (Not that it is!)
  • Impeachment will tear the country apart. (Not that the country is together.)
  • Impeachment is just like foreign election “interference.
  • People elected DDT president so he must stay. (No matter how much he violates the Constitution and his oath of office.)
  • An election is coming soon. (But the U.S. is in international danger.)
  • An impeachment should be nonpartisan. (Yet the GOP impeached Clinton on a partisan basis.)
  • DDT is too incompetent to shake down Ukraine.
  • DDT is only investigating “corruption.” (He said he wanted the Bidens investigated after Joe Biden appeared to be a viable political candidate, and DDT has never investigated any other “corruption.”)

A real investigation into corruption would be into his fake university, fraudulent charity, shady business affairs, prejudiced renting practices, undocumented immigrants’ employment, money laundering through real estate sales, lawsuits with no justification, violation of campaign financing, fraudulent tax evasion, concealment of legal documents, constant lying (including working with mobsters), etc. Many of those, however, are already in court. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spent the week refusing to call “fact witnesses” from the White House, a category they were so desperate to use in the inquiry. He repeated that, as the jury foreman, he was working closely with the defendant, DDT, to guarantee that he won’t be convicted. Along with other senators, he proclaimed that he would violate his legal oath to “do impartial justice” in order to exonerate DDT in the impeachment trial.

The big question now is how Republicans will vote in the (probably abbreviated) trial. Although the assumption that they will all protect DDT, nothing is ever sure. In addition, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has been personally involved in the Ukrainian scandal which should legally force him to recuse himself from any legal trial.

The Constitution requires the Supreme Court Chief Justice to “preside” over an impeachment trial. McConnell, who announced that DDT will be exonerated, might want to check with John Roberts about whether he wants his legacy to be that he would “preside” over a sham trial. McConnell, a juror for the trial, declared, “I’m not impartial about this at all.” He made that statement although the Constitution requires that he swear under oath that to “do impartial justice.”

McConnell thinks that all Republicans support his blind loyalty to DDT despite his crimes. GOP State Sen. John McCollister’s tweet disagrees:

“There are Republicans ALL OVER the country who want you impeached. We don’t fall for some cult of personality. We’ve read the constitution. #RepublicansForImpeachment.” 

DDT may now know how bad the impeachment poll numbers are for him after Brian Kilmeade talked about them on Fox & Friends:

“The Fox poll came out — and I was stunned by this. This says 50 percent of the country want the president impeached. I was stunned to see that that’s the number, because I thought that things were trending away.”

The 50 percent was for people who wanted to see DDT removed from office after impeachment; another four percent wanted him impeached but not removed. In case DDT missed the information on his favorite TV show, Joe Biden tweeted it to him.

DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is still searching for “dirt” on the Bidens, one of the actions listed in the article describing DDT’s abuse of power. Giuliani said to The New Yorker:

“I believed that I needed [U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie] Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”

On Monday night, Giuliani told Laura Ingraham, “I forced her out because she’s corrupt.” Since then, he told CNN that DDT is “very supportive” of his continued efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine. “We’re on the same page,” Giuliani said about DDT.

Giuliani had to get rid of Yovanovitch because she told Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev to resist natural gas projects like the corruption before Ukraine cleaned house of corrupt officials. U.S. businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman worked with Giuliani and then-prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko to negotiate licensing rights for oil and gas blocks, import LNG from the U.S., and build a gas pipeline from Poland. Yovanovitch, Kobolyev, and the Naftogaz supervisory board blocked the sole-source contract that Parnas and Fruman wanted for supplying LNG to Ukraine. Giuliani’s clients Parnas and Fruman not only lobbied not only DDT but also then-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in May 2018 by promising him campaign donations from illegal foreign money. Sessions lost his 2018 election and is denying any connection with foreign campaign funds. Now Parnas and Fruman have been indicted, Giuliani is being investigated, DDT has been impeached, and Sessions’ name is throughout the scandal.

A judge let Parnas walk out of court today and back to home detention despite the discovery that Parnas’ concealed $1 million transferred into his account from a Russian bank account belonging to Dmytro Firtash and another $200,000 of “payment” for work. Firtash is fighting extradition to the U.S. in a bribery case. Prosecutors had argued that Parnas is a flight risk. When he was picked up, he had a one-way plane ticket to Vienna, but the judge said that Parnas probably forgot about the $1 million. Earlier, Parnas pled for a lower bond bail of $200,000, saying that he and his wife had only $450,000 in assets. He has been charged with violating campaign finance laws and additional charges from helping Giuliani find damaging information on Joe and Hunter Biden.

DDT now plans to be even more secretive about his dealings with foreign leaders—fewer people listening and fewer people having access to transcripts of the calls. One official called the change “The Vindman Rule.”

Although conservatives blame Democrats’ “hatred” of DDT for the impeachment, DDT held an even more virulent hate-fest in Michigan tonight, complete with “lock her up” chants about Hillary Clinton and Pelosi, references to the “electric chair” when falsely talking about Hunter Biden, and hitting a new low by saying that Michigan’s former representative John Dingell, a World War II veteran, is in hell because her widow, elected to her husband’s seat, voted for impeachment. DDT won Michigan in 2016 by about 10,000 votes.

December 13, 2019

Impeachment Heads to House Floor

The House Judiciary Committee approved the two articles of impeachment in a partisan vote of 23-17, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) unleashed more fury, and the vote goes to the full House next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will swear “under God” that he will be impartial in the impeachment trial, said that there is “no chance” his chamber will vote to remove Trump from office. He’s undoubtedly right because this action would require 67 votes in a Senate with 52 Republicans, but deciding the outcome before the process shows an illegal public rigging of the system.

In his position as jury foreman, McConnell said, “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.” At the same time, McConnell bragged and laughed about blocking confirmation of judges for two years until DDT was elected. The White House director of legislative affairs, Eric Ueland, said that he and the White House counsel, theoretically working for the people of the U.S., “are having a lot of good conversations with Senate Republicans.” The White House has been meeting frequently with the GOP senators, who will also be complicit in not following their sworn oaths when they become a jury for the proceedings. This approach to the trial may mean acquittal for DDT but not exoneration.

House Republicans stalled yesterday for over 15 hours of shouting and lying on television during the Judiciary Committee hearing after agreeing with Democrats to hold the hearing to five hours. GOP committee members cared nothing for the U.S. Constitution. For example, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) justified opposition to impeachment by saying that  Republican lawmakers were “sent here to obstruct this Congress.”

At the hearing’s 12th hour, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) called on GOP representatives to quit, saying, “I have not heard a new point or an original thought from either side in the last three hours.”  He described the hearing as an “institutional embarrassment.” At almost midnight last night, Committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) gaveled the session in adjournment and infuriated ranking member Doug Colling (R-GA) by announcing the vote on the next day. Stunned by not immediately voting, Collins bellowed about how wanted to leave Washington, but Nadler said that he wanted the vote during the light of day.

DDT showed his disregard for protecting the constitution by entertaining Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov while the impeachment articles were published. Although DDT claimed he told Lavrov not to interfere in U.S. elections and resolve Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, Lavrov said they didn’t talk about any interference. Lavrov did deny any Russian interference in the 2016 election when he talked with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. DDT tweeted a photograph of him and Lavrov in the Oval Office.  

Today, DDT met with his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the White House in their plotting to “prove” the false conspiracies about Ukraine instead of Russia interfered in the 2016 election and the Bidens’ corruption. Fresh from his trip to Ukraine, Giuliani supposedly said that he found “more than you can imagine,” a meaningless statement like the ones DDT made when he claimed to have proof that President Obama was not born in the United States. DDT continues to use a foreign government to get “dirt” on a political opponent while he may be impeached for the same reason. He also asked Giuliani to tell lawmakers and AG Bill Barr when he found in Ukraine. Leaving DDT in the White House also allows him to continue his illegal approach to smear his political opponents for the 2020 election.

After DDT froze aid to Ukraine, and the OMB scrambled to find a justification. Then they said that it was legal to freeze aid on a “temporary” basis—eight times in August and September to look legal. Now a new memo claims the aid was frozen to study whether the spending complied with U.S. policy. Congress passed the aid, and DDT signed it. No one made a “study” until DDT withheld the aid for his personal benefit. The memo cited times that Congress had withheld aid, but not the executive branch. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to defend DDT by saying that the money was released to Ukraine which takes away any problems, but at least $20 million legally owed Ukraine is still sitting in the United States. The biggest irony of Thursday’s “debate” was the desire of GOP House swamp creatures calling for draining the swamp. Where will GOP members of Congress go without a swamp?

DDT claims not to be watching the impeachment hearings, but his 123 tweets yesterday say differently. That number tops his former record of 105 last Sunday.

U.S. prosecutors may investigate corruption in Ukraine by focusing on associates of DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and their relationship to Ukrainian state-owned Naftogaz natural gas company that may have violated a law prohibiting paying bribes to foreign officials. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman offered to make a senior official at Naftogaz the CEO to get business for their own liquified natural gas operation. The two men used ties to Giuliani to try to get U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired because she might oppose their plans. The scheme fits a foreign bribery charge that doesn’t require consummation to be a violation. Parnas and Fruman have already been indicted for funneling foreign money into U.S. elections and hiding the source of other donations. Prosecutors are pursuing Giuliani’s involvement, and Ukrainians complained about his trying to change the Naftogaz board while seeking investigations of the Bidens.   

In the midst of impeachment publicity, DDT seems to be trying to put on his best face for his being in the midst of a maelstrom. He claims that he “wouldn’t mind the long process” and that yesterday’s approval of the articles of impeachment has politically benefited him. Before the Senate trial, however, the House must finish its business.

Tomorrow, the House holds a brief pro-forma session; on Sunday, the House Judiciary Committee releases its report to the Rules Committee. Jim McGovern (D-MA), chair of the House Rules Committee, said that the panel would meet Tuesday to debate the rules for the floor debate such as the length of the debate and the number of amendments. The process might be shorter than other committee debates because it has only 13 members, nine Democrats and four Republicans. A hot topic could be no Judiciary Committee hearing with GOP-chosen witnesses. Listeners can expect more repetition of the word “unfair.” Although the House rules require such a hearing, it could be held after the Judiciary Committee votes.

Another decision from the Rules Committee is whether to vote on GOP amendments to the articles of impeachment. Democrats could block them, but Republicans presented five amendments in the Judiciary Committee, including attempts to remove the articles. DDT and House Republicans are still protesting the allegation that DDT withheld a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid until Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter along with admission of a false debunked allegation Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Republicans say that DDT met with Zelensky and released the aid without the announcement; Democrats say DDT released the aid only because his threats became public. About $20 million has also not been released yet.

The second article, obstruction of justice, is based on DDT’s direction for aides and agencies to not comply with congressional subpoenas. Republicans claim that the articles detailed no specific crimes and still maintain, falsely, that impeachment cannot exist without crimes.

Democrats comprise 233 members in the House to the 197 Republicans and independent Justin Amash, who demanded impeachment when he shifted from his earlier GOP registration. Four seats are vacant—two Democratic and two Republican. Several “blue dog” Republicans who earlier said they preferred censure and might not vote for impeachment are moving toward votes for impeachment. If the House approves impeachment, it will pick lawmakers, called managers, to present the case against DDT for the Senate trial.  

The House is expected to impeach DDT on Wednesday, December 18, just one day shy of the 21st anniversary of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the trial, and DDT’s legal team could respond to the House managers. Unless the Senate votes on the articles of impeachment immediately after the opening arguments, according to McConnell’s suggestion. He would avoid the trial if the law did not require him to at least vote—after all the senators swear “under God” that they will render “impartial justice.”

Former Florida AG Pam Bondi, who received a questionable donation from DDT’s now-defunct charitable foundation in exchange for quashing an investigation into DDT’s university, is senior legal adviser for DDT’s Senate trial defense. To get this job, she had to quit her job for Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm connected to both DDT and part of the investigation into Giuliani’s associates including Lev Parnas. The company paid Parnas, who referred a client, the Turkish government, to Ballard Partners which is cooperating with New York prosecutors. Bondi, Parnas, DDT, conspiracy theories about Ukraine, extorted investigations into the Bidens, frozen military aid to Ukraine, impeachment, the Senate trial—they’re all tied together, even the Turkish government.

The winner of the DDT’s polarization of U.S. politics? Russia.

December 8, 2019

Clean Up U.S. Administration

Rudy Giuliani says he’s in Ukraine to ferret out corruption. He should start with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his Cabinet. Recent examples:

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo violated international law and reversed 50 years of U.S. policy by accepting Israeli settlements in the West Bank that encroach on the Palestinians. He set the pattern for Russia taking over Ukraine with impunity. DDT wants to support Benjamin Netanyahu in his struggle to be prime minister after he failed to get a majority in two successive elections. Without a majority of legislators by December 11, the day before Britain’s election for a prime minister, another election will be called. Netanyahu has been indicted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust and promotes the conspiracy theory about a plot to unseat him. If Netanyahu gets a majority, the attorney general must decide if an indicted criminal can run the country. Netanyahu has made Pompeo a pawn in his campaign. His win could make him an autocrat, investigating and prosecuting enemies with immunity and doing away with the constitution and the Supreme Court’s review of executive decisions. His loss could help restate a democracy in Israel. Popularity in Israel gives DDT votes from evangelical Christians.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos claims she made a mistake when she forced almost 46,000 scammed students to repay student loans. A court order had blocked her from collecting the payments from defrauded borrowers in schools owned by Corinthian Colleges, educational programs that even DeVos declared “worthless,” but she drastically under-counted the number of former students suffering from her initial illegal decision. DOE has been ordered to pay $100,000 in civil contempt fines and may have more sanctions against the department and DeVos. Afraid that the next president may try to cancel student debt, DeVos wants to put the federal government’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio in a “stand-alone government corporation.”

EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist who promotes pollution and use of toxic pesticides, has reinstated the use of M-44s, “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes, in five states. In 2017, these bombs killed a variety of 13,232 animals, including family dogs, but government data shows that few livestock are killed by predators, under one percent for cattle and four percent for sheep in the U.S. He also has a new plan limiting research that will allow him complete autonomy. The public is permitted to respond, but the EPA may ignore comments the same way that the FCC did about net neutrality. 

The Department of Homeland Security intended to separate over 26,000 children from their parents with no way of ever reuniting them. The agency succeeded in separating approximately 3,014 children before it was stopped. The faulty DHS technology also lacked an efficient process for determining family relations. DDT wants to join Fiji, Australia, and Iran in charging fees to asylum-seekers in addition to many more destructive policies for humanity.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma (under the Department for Health and Human Services) spent $744,000 on outside consultants—at least eight former White House, presidential transition, and campaign officials—who charged $380 an hour to make Verma look good and provide “strategic communications” support, duties usually carried out by the dozens of career civil servants in CMS’s communications department. A beneficiary, Verma ally Marcus Barlow, was allowed to bill $425,000 for a year of work, a much higher salary than staff who received $140,000 a year and top political appointees, and screens Verma’s hires.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has faced ethics charges for using her position to benefit herself and her family after allegations of ethics violation. One charge was helping her father and sisters’ shipping company gain “influence and status” with the Chinese government that gave the firm millions in loans. Chao also used her position to greatly favor Kentuckians over any other state in the union.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has mandated fake meteorological reports from NOAA and lied about the rationale for a citizenship question on the census. Despite his promises, he failed to sell between $1 million and $5 million of shares investing in international shipping for 30 months after he was appointed. Earlier this year, he misrepresented his stock holdings before selling short after learning about a negative story about his dealings with the shipping firm.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismantled the BLM in Washington to move it into a Chevron building near his Grand Junction (CO) home. He had no congressional approval for the move but said that he did. A former lobbyist, Bernhardt continues to favor his past clients, for example one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district. If the contract is closed in January 2020, enough federal water for two million households will be diverted to wealthy farmers who employed Bernhardt. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin created “opportunity zones” supposedly to help low-income people but instead gives billions of U.S. revenue to billionaires. He’s also shielding DDT’s tax returns from House investigators.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former lobbyist for contractor Raytheon doing billions of dollars of business with the defense department, insists on dealing with affairs that benefit Raytheon.

HUD Director Ben Carson withholds aid from Puerto Rico, discriminates against some communities in low-income housing, favors his son in federal affairs, indulges himself in purchasing—the list seems endless.

AG Bill Barr instantly hit the top of the barrel with his corruption; he defends only DDT legal violations to the disastrous detriment of the U.S. people.

VP Mike Pence directed USAID money targeted for the Middle East to be focused on Christian minorities in the area during the past two years. Career service employees who displease Pence are fired or “penced,”as they call it, and political appointees make the decisions.  USAID is prohibited from favoring one religion over any other.

VP Mike Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), spent $22,064 at DDT’s Washington hotel since December for “fund-raising” but listed $7,600 as “lodging.” Congressional members cannot spend campaign funds for rent, mortgage, or other expenses connected to personal residence, even first-year lawmakers like Pence. His spokesman said he changed the report to fundraising “to avoid confusion … from hostile reporters.”

Donald Trump Jr. has slimed Joe Biden’s son Hunter for benefiting from his father’s position and said “we literally stopped [making money from international business].” When DDT was elected, he said he would not sign new deals in foreign countries while he was in the Oval Office and he would hand over “all profits from governments’ patronage of his hotels and similar businesses” to the U.S. Treasury. Eric Trump complained about the “double standard” but said “we got out of all international business.” The Trumps, however, keep using DDT’s position in the Oval Office to make money around the world:

DDT didn’t divest from his significant holdings—including at least a dozen hotels and 20 golf courses worldwide—as he promised.

DDT’s annual financial disclosure forms show he holds over $130 million in assets in 30 countries and made at least $100 million from these assets in 2017 and 2018.

DDT’s sons sold a 5,400-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion for $13.5 million to a company linked to Indonesian billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo, DDT’s partner in two Indonesian development projects. The Indonesian government is helping to build a new highway for access to Trump Residences Lido, a golf course, hotel, and 280-home residential community.

The Trump Organization got permission last October to build 550 houses and a second golf course in Balmedie on the northeastern Scottish coast. The deal became more lucrative when the Aberdeenshire Council dropped a requirement that the Trump Organization make other investments in the Balmedie resort before building the project.

The Pentagon spent almost $200,000 at Scotland’s Trump Turnberry golf resort since 2017 for overnight stays and other expenses during refueling stops in nearby Glasgow.

In October, a local council in southwestern Ireland “approved a Trump Organization plan to build 53 houses and a new ballroom at its seaside golf course.”

DDT and his family also have businesses in countries such as India and Uruguay. In October, Trump Jr. lavishly hosted about 100 people purchasing homes in Trump-branded luxury towers near New Delhi.

The family seems to be working on a new business deal in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana area with DDT as developer.

Ivanka Trump’s international fashion line operated for eighteen months after she became a White House adviser who deals with foreign leaders and international figures. She received three preliminary trademarks from China on the day that she dined with the Chinese president.

Mr. DDT and Mr. Giuliani, clean up the DDT’s swamp before you worry about Ukraine.

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: