Nel's New Day

March 3, 2019

GOP Values Reflected in People They Choose

Michael Cohen’s testimony this week uncovers the nature of the man who has been elected president of the United States, but it also clearly shows the nature and values of the people who support Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). During the hearing, Republicans constantly called Cohen a liar—sometimes a “pathological liar”—yet ignored the pathological liar who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. Republicans said almost nothing to refute what Cohen said but repeated, ad nauseam, that Cohen had admitted to lying to Congress and to committing multiple felonies.

Before the testimony, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is not a member of the Oversight Committee allowed to question Cohen, sent a threatening tweet that attempted to intimidate Cohen. DDT even called to praise Gaetz for his action, which raises the question of whether DDT fed Gaetz negative information about Cohen. Gaetz, Jim Jordan (R-OH), and other Republicans decided 18 months ago to actively undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation through reinvestigating Hillary Clinton and the origins of the FBI investigation of Flynn and other DDT associates as well as smearing the FBI.

Sean Hannity, Fox propagandist and DDT’s BFF, said that Cohen had told him that DDT had nothing to do with the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels for a secret affair. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) tweeted:

“Sean Hannity is now volunteering himself as a witness. I look forward to his testimony.”

National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss said, “Hannity just made himself a witness in a congressional inquiry and the SDNY [Southern District of New York] probe.”

The people who DDT selects to surround him and who are confirmed by the Republicans in the senate demonstrate their own values. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos continually tries to destroy public education, former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney wanted to destroy consumer protection, and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wanted to destroy public lands. Former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt took over from Zinke, and former pharmaceutical executive leads the Department of Health and Human Services. The replacement for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis is former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has been accused of protecting a sex trafficker who molested teenage girls.

Shannon Lee Goessling, DDT’s pick for director of the Office of Violence against Women at DOJ, is the most recent example of DDT’s desire to select appointees imminently unsuitable for every position. She has fought to keep Alabama’s driver’s license exams only in English, bringing concerns that she would provide domestic violence resources in any non-English languages as well as probability that she could not handle policies for survivors’ immigration statuses and eligibility for public support. Also questionable is her respect for cultural differences in domestic violence. Goessling has also opposed marriage equality and advocates greater gun ownership to prevent violence against women, perpetuating the myth that women with guns can prevent “a completed rape.” According to a study, firearms in the home are more likely to be used against a woman and/or her family than as defense against outside intruders. Victims are five times more likely to be killed if their abusers have access to firearms. Her history is obviously anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-racial justice, and anti-activists opposing sexual violence.

Andrew Wheeler, who became acting EPA director and is now confirmed for a permanent position, came from the coal industry, the largest water polluter responsible for 73 percent of toxic water contamination in the U.S. Last August, Wheeler planned to weaken automobile fuel economy standards before he destroyed a power plant regulation that, according to the EPA, will cause 1,400 more premature deaths each year. Scientists from 13 federal agencies, including the EPA, confirmed findings that U.S. temperatures will be nine degrees higher within less than a century, but Wheeler refused to recognize the study’s validity without reading it. In December, he recommended loosening carbon dioxide emissions reductions at coal-fired power plants and finished 2018 by announcing that he will promote the release of mercury and other dangerous pollutants from coal-fired plants. A recent Wheeler project is to slow down the elimination of toxic, cancer-causing “forever chemicals” contaminating drinking water across the country. Wheeler was confirmed by 52 to 47: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined all Democrats except Krysten Sinema (AZ) who did not vote. In 2017, Wheeler had held a fundraiser for John Barrasso (R-WY), who presided over the confirmation.

For the first time in history, the Senate confirmed a federal judge over the opposition of both senators from the appointee’s home state. Eric Miller’s lifetime appointment to the 9th Circuit Court was completed after a brief hearing during a congressional recess with only two GOP committee members present. Miller does not agree with the U.S. Constitution that all children born in the U.S., even those of undocumented immigrants, should have U.S. citizenship and made his name fighting the rights of Native Americans. Two prominent Native American organizations, the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, objected to Miller’s confirmation—only the third time that either group has opposed a federal judicial nominee. Miller, however, fits both DDT’s requirements: young and bigoted.The Senate was close to this historical first with the nomination of Oregon’s Ryan Bounds until the one black GOP senator, Tim Scott (SC), opposed Bounds because of his previous racist writings. Last November, McConnell said, “Confirmation is a political decision based on who controls the Senate.” To him, party is all and democracy is gone.

As Shanahan comes to the government from Boeing, DDT’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley goes to Boeing’s board of directors. She joins 19 former high-level military officers hired by Boeing after their retirement. Lockheed Martin, builder of the notoriously dangerous F-35, tries the same strategy: in just 2018, the contractor hired 55 former senior government officials as executives, directors, or lobbyists. Former employees for Lockheed include Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and John Rood, undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who lied about the reasons for and methods of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, violated his ethics agreement when he inaccurately reported stock holdings on his 2018 financial disclosure form. He reported selling stock that he kept. The refusal to certify Ross’ report has never happened before, but the Ethics Office had earlier warned Ross about his “failure to comply with his ethics compliance agreements.” In 2018, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, asked then-AG Jeff Sessions to review Ross’s disclosures for “potential criminal violations.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson plans 17 EnVision Centers, as a one-stop place for low-income residents needing social services such as job-placement programs and education. Unfortunately, he didn’t designate any funding for his plan.

Ryan Zinke, who resigned from his Secretary of Interior gig at the end of last year in the hopes of not being investigated, may face a grand jury for lying to federal investigators about not granting commercial casino petitions by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The Connecticut tribes’ lawsuit claims that Zinke caved to GOP Nevada legislators, Rep. Mark Amodei and then Sen. Dean Heller who has received large contributions from MGM Resorts International. The government is not commenting on Zinke’s other scandals, including at least 17 ethics probes.

As if one Bill Barr in the administration isn’t bad enough, his son-in-law, Tyler McGaughey, will leave the DOJ to join the White House council where he will “advise” DDT on legal issues—presumably the Russia investigation. The jobs seem to “intersect” (aka provide a conflict of interest). Barr’s oldest daughter, Mary Daly, will leave the DOJ for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to give Dad more heads-up about Russia.

After the military concluded—several years ago—that climate is a serious national security threat, DDT appointed William Happer to lead his Committee on Climate Security to refute his own agencies’ research. Happer claimed that carbon pollution benefits people and compares scientific evidence that carbon dioxide causes global warming to Nazi “propaganda” like “demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” He calls science a “cult.” An article from the New York Times lists disasters from climate change in the near future.

DDT found a replacement for Heather Nauert, who resigned as acting ambassador to the UN for illegally hiring a nanny after Nikki Haley resigned. Kelly Knight Craft, Ambassador to Canada and another science denier, has no qualifications to recommend her, but she and her husband donated millions of dollars to DDT’s presidential campaigns. They are also from Kentucky, and Craft has been “highly recommended” by other Kentuckians Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, who is also Transportation Secretary.

In selecting the most unqualified ambassadors in modern history, DDT chooses those who donated almost as much money to his campaign as the ambassadors picked by Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama in their nine presidential terms.

The only people worse than DDT in his appointments are the Republicans—and a few Democrats—who confirm them for lifetime positions. Their values go from simple reward of incompetence to sinking deep into corruption and fraud.

February 27, 2019

U.S. House Keeps Busy Despite Jim Jordan’s Complaints

For people who have been watching the situation with former fixer Michael Cohen for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his testimony today before the House Oversight Committee held few surprises. Points from today:

  • Republican committee members did not try to refute anything he said; they just tried to smear him.
  • The GOP smears against Cohen—that he’s a “pathological liar”—can also be said about DDT, the man who Republicans were defending.
  • Cohen said that he had tried to cover for DDT during the past ten years in the same way that Republicans are doing now.
  • With this comment about protection, he added, “The more people that suffer Donald Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I did.”
  • Reporters following DDT in Vietnam for his meeting with North Korea president Kim Jong-Un were banned from his presence after asking questions about the Cohen testimony.

Pieces of Cohen’s testimony that many people already assumed:

  • DDT is a “racist,” “conman,” and “cheat.”
  • Cohen quoted DDT as saying that black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and during a drive through a poor section of Chicago said that “only black people could live that way.” Cohen added, “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ “In private, he is even worse.”
  • Cohen has checks (which he produced), evidence “as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud,” directed by his son and the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, to quiet a former adult film actor.
  • DDT told Cohen to lie about his affair with the actor to his wife, Melania.
  • Cohen said he presided over “several” “catch-and-kill” arrangements between David Pecker and DDT for the National Enquirer to purchase exclusive rights for stories damaging to DDT and then suppress the stories.
  • DDT inflated his wealth to appear on lists of rich people rich lists and falsely reduce it to avoid paying taxes.
  • To a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cohen said that DDT’s tax returns would be helpful in showing how DDT sharply reduced his tax costs by undervaluing his parents’ real estate holdings.
  • Cohen believes that DDT’s tax returns were not being audited in 2016 although that’s what DDT claimed.
  • DDT told Cohen that he didn’t release his tax returns because he might get audited and face big taxes and penalties.
  • Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks for the release of hacked Democratic party emails during the 2016 presidential election.
  • DDT knew about the June 2017 Trump Tower meeting among members of his campaign with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT used his charity’s money to pay for portrait of himself after driving up the price to impress people.

Cohen finished his testimony by saying:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen’s described DDT as a mobster-like president, who told Cohen to shortchange suppliers, keep schools from releasing his student grades by threatening them, and deal with negative media about DDT’s Vietnam War draft dodging. Cohen said he had probably threatened a person because of DDT’s instructions at least 500 times. “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not make his country great,” said Cohen. “He ran to market himself and build his wealth and power.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under investigation by the Florida Bar because of a tweet that appears to be an attempt to intimidate DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen the day before he started his open testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Gaetz’s tweet:

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a former DA and federal prosecutor, asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet because it “clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation.” Her request that could lead to an official investigation and possibly a reprimand, censure or fine. An expulsion would require a two-thirds majority of the House. Asked about why he wrote the tweet, Gaeta said, “The tweet speaks for itself.” Later he deleted the tweet and apologized for sending it.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during the hearing, falsely accusing him of using his first hearing to start removing DDT from office. Cummings ended the session by talking about the committee’s earlier hearings. The first hearing was on January 29, 2019 concerned the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs; Cummings noted that a young man had died because of these escalating costs. He also told Jordan that they had a hearing on H.R. 1, which was about voter suppression and executive branch ethics. That one was on February 6, 2019. “We can do more than one thing,” Cummings said. “And we have got to get back to normal.” The GOP House was notable for not having hearings before votes.

Credibly accused of ignoring sexual abuse of athletes while he was assistant coach at Ohio State University, Jordan’s accusations of Cohen’s lying and lack of remorse rang hollow to many watchers. Jordan claimed that Cummings had “stacked the deck against the truth” and ranted about Hillary Clinton conspiracies, calling Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis a “Clinton operative.” Then he raged about Democrats doing what Tom Steyer tells them and that Steyer had organized a town hall in Cummings’ Maryland district.

Asked if he believed Cohen, Cummings referenced his history with the law when he said he found him “credible” and that it “appears” that DDT committed a crime. Cummings added, “I think that there are still a number of shoes to drop.”

The House has been far busier than Republicans might like. This week, representatives passed a resolution to overturn DDT’s emergency declaration that takes money for various sources to build his wall without congressional approval. Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats in the 245-182 vote. According to law, the Senate will be required to vote on the House resolution within 18 days, a March 18 deadline. Three GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC)— have indicated they will vote for the House bill, and others are questioning the sensibility of the national emergency, especially if a future president is a Democrat. Two more GOP votes are needed for a simple majority if all Democrats and independents vote in favor of it. A veto from DDT for any bill passed requires two-thirds support in each congressional chamber.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), ranking member of the Committee on Rules, read a complaint about the lack of time for representatives to review the 70-word bill although Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion, 1,097-page tax bill a few hours after it was completed.

The House also passed a bipartisan bill requiring all gun sellers to conduct background checks on firearm sales by a 240-190. With five GOP co-sponsors, the bill received eight GOP votes and lost two Democrat votes. It expands background checks on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet, and through classified ads. The bill is the first significant gun control vote since the Senate failed to pass similar bipartisan legislation in 2013. Another bill is due for a vote that would extend the review period on gun sales.

Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services for documents about the separation of families at the southern border. Cummings said that the documents submitted to the committee were not sufficient and failed to answer committee questions. Two Republicans, Justin Amash (MI) and Chip Roy (TX), voted with Democrats for the subpoenas. Again Jordan attacked Cummings, saying: “You just wanted to be first.” Cummings pointed out that the request was the same as the bipartisan request from eight months ago.

Other House actions:

The House is doing a lot to make Jim Jordan angry.

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