Nel's New Day

October 24, 2019

Barr’s Criminal Inquiry: No Crime, Just Distraction

Six days ago, the State Department determined no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employers in emails sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server. The report, going back nine years and interviewing 130 people, was quietly made public on a Friday evening and reported in the back pages of major newspapers after several years of investigation by numerous agencies and Congress. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently called on his rallies to chant “lock her up” after Michael Flynn initiated the words at the 2016 RNC when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate. In a review of 33,000 emails, the report found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures, but no material had been marked classified until after they had been sent. The vast majority of people “did their best to implement [security policies].”

Despite common security lapses by DDT’s own administration, he continues to attack Democrats with Clinton’s emails and maintains that a server in Ukraine is hiding her emails. The impeachment inquiry into DDT shows that his officials and personal lawyer pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that politically benefit DDT used private phones and cell apps to communicate their efforts.

The completion of the report seemed to be a hiatus of meaningless investigations into Democrats—until tonight. In what appears to be an attempt to distract the media from evidence against DDT revealed within the impeachment inquiry, Bill Barr (left), attorney general and DDT’s fixer, opened a criminal inquiry into the DOJ Russia investigation. John Durham, Barr’s prosecutorial puppet supposedly leading the inquiry, may now subpoena for witness testimony and documents, impanel a grand jury, and file criminal charges. 

A criminal inquiry requires only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. The decision is not reviewed by a court. The DOJ does require “an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient.” Without the criminal description, Durham could only voluntarily interview people and examine government files. Some witnesses have refused voluntary interviews.

Barr has typically used his position as a place to protect DDT and fight his enemies since his appointment at the beginning of 2019, but the criminal inquiry is a new low. The situation is unusual as the DOJ conducts a criminal inquiry into the DOJ, using Durham because of the prosecutors’ respected reputation. The DOJ Inspector General typically conducts management reviews, but he cannot empower a grand jury, which may be Barr’s aim. 

In May, Barr claimed that conversations with intelligence and law enforcement led him to think that the FBI acted improperly, if not unlawfully. DDT gave Barr extraordinary powers to declassify intelligence secrets for his initial review, meaning that he can make public documents or information from the CIA and the FBI over their objections.

The FBI investigation into Russian interference began in July 2016 after the Australian government gave information to the FBI that a DDT campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Clinton’s campaign. At first, the agency didn’t use CIA information but moved forward in August 2016 when John O. Brennan, CIA director at that time, shared intelligence with then FBI director Comey. The CIA provided more evidence to the FBI in early 2017 that Russia tried to get DDT elected. During his investigation, Robert Mueller obtained convictions or guilty pleas from several DDT associates and indictments of over two dozen Russians because of their wide-ranging interference scheme.

According to DOJ guidelines, the FBI “has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Under “Investigations”:

“(1) A general crimes investigation may be initiated by the FBI when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The investigation may be conducted to prevent, solve, and prosecute such criminal activity.”

Barr’s micro-managing of Durham’s inquiry including trips to Italy to get help from its officials to support a conspiracy theory, that the Italian government helped set up the DDT campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said that his country’s intelligence services had no such role in the Russia investigation. Barr’s trip, circumventing protocols, followed DDT’s bidding in what should have been an independent inquiry, and Barr made a second trip to Italy with Durham. DDT also called Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, pressuring him to help Barr gather information that discredits the Robert Mueller investigation. 

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) caused diplomatic difficulties by sending letters to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.” With no evidence, Graham declared that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot to take down DDT. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, rejected Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer. DDT worsened the situation by accusing other countries of a wide foreign plot against him.

Durham’s investigation thus far includes interviews with over two dozen former and current FBI and intelligence officials about possible anti-DDT bias among officials working on the Russia investigation and a possible abuse of power in seeking the court order for a wiretap on DDT’s campaign official of interest. Another question is whether CIA officials tricked FBI into opening the Russia investigation. In rejection of the conspiracy theory that the Russian investigation was to block DDT’s election, a former official pointed out that the FBI openly investigated Clinton’s private email server but hid the counterintelligence investigation into DDT’s campaign.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tied Durham/Barr’s inquiry to Ukraine last week, and Durham admitted that he has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens. The DOJ did not give a reason. Most of the people involved in the opening of the Russia investigation have not been interviewed, possibly because Barr is waiting for a criminal inquiry. As this criminal inquiry opens, the DOJ inspector general is finishing his inquiry into the FBI’s conduct during the early time of the Russia investigation including the application for a warrant to wiretap the campaign official.

Thus far, Barr has not clarified what crime Durham is investigating or when the criminal inquiry began. DDT has accused the FBI officials who opened the case of treason, defined as “only in levying War against [the U.S.], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

The New York City Bar Association has asked Attorney General William Barr to immediately recuse himself from any matters pertaining to DDT’s Ukraine scandal because of Barr’s conflict of interest as head of the DOJ. The tipping point of the concern came from Barr’s refusal to recuse himself in the DOJ’s review, also improper, of the whistleblower complaint regarding DDT’s “July 25, 2019 telephone call to request the Republic of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and former Vice President Biden and his son.”

Barr got his job as AG by writing an unsolicited memo stating that Mueller’s investigation was “fatally misconceived” and criticized the lack of partisan “balance” on his team. The memo also praised DDT’s firing of Comey and, during his confirmation hearings, refused to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite these opinions. Getting the AG job, Barr followed through with his commitment to protect DDT from Mueller’s investigation with an erroneous—one could say biased—synopsis of Mueller’s report followed by dragging his heels until he released a heavily redacted version of the report because of criticism from the usually taciturn Mueller.

The report showed DDT’s wrongdoing, but by then Barr’s “no collusion” repetition had taken root with people who ignored the actual report. Not until DDT’s flagrant quid pro quo with Ukraine extorting the president for the congressionally-approved military aid. In May, Barr testified “I don’t know” to Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether anyone at the White House had “hinted” that he should open an investigation, the one that is now a criminal inquiry.

In other support for DDT, Barr argued for the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census to undercount immigrants and deny communities of federal resources for the next ten years. Barr also has the same obsession to discriminate against individuals and groups with the unconstitutional excuse of “religious liberty.” His focus is to illegally expand DDT’s power through politicizing his own office, to shield DDT’s friends, and to prosecute his enemies. Instead of an independent agency of justice, the DOJ has become a reign of terror guided by the authoritarian leader of the United States.  

November 5, 2017

DDT’s Attempts to Cripple the Nation

More shoes are dropping off the centipede of Robert Mueller’s special investigation into Russian connections with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia. One is the formerly undisclosed business ties between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Putin-connected oil company located in Bermuda. Ross is currently with DDT in Tokyo to work on trade deals. Also referenced in the new documents are Gary D. Cohn, the chief economic adviser, and  Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. In addition, Mueller has sufficient evidence to charge Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, and his son Michael J. Flynn Jr.

The United States went into Korea in 1950 after North Korea invaded South Korea. Although an armistice was signed, there was no peace treaty, meaning that the war may be ongoing. The U.S. may return: top Pentagon official Rear Adm. Michael J. Dumont has stated that the only way to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons program would be through a ground invasion.

As dire as circumstances are after the summer’s hurricanes, advance knowledge saved lives despite the fact that many people ignored the information. They may start paying attention to how a warmer, wetter atmosphere threatens lives and property with more supercharged storms, intense droughts, massive wildfires, and widespread flooding. Yet DDT is cutting the budget to drastically cut back satellite programs and other forecasting tools along with forecasters. The 18 jobs lost at National Center for Atmospheric Research are some of the only scientists in the U.S. who can prepare a system for predicting disasters. The climate deniers leading to “weather deniers” are causing deaths and costing billions of dollars.

Rep. Al Green (D-LA) not only exposed the excessive ignorance of DDT’s pick for HUD director, Ben Carson, HUD director, but also explained objections to the inexcusably drastic cuts Carson supports for people in poverty:

“Mr. Carson, there seems to be a belief of among the ranks of those who have opportunities to help others, who have been blessed themselves. They seem to think that the rich need more, that the poor can do more with less, but the rich will have to have more to do more. Mr. Carson, if poor people could do more with less, there would be no poor people.”

Over 300,000 immigrants from Central America and Haiti legally living in the U.S. for almost two decades may be thrown out of the U.S. because Rex Tillerson claims that the reasons for allowing this arrangement are gone. They are here under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Congress to protect foreign nationals from being returned to their countries because of instability and precarious conditions caused by natural disasters or armed conflict.

DDT’s 12+ day trip to Asia has almost no backup help from the State Department because he sees no need to fill vacancies. In a recent interview he announced, “I’m the only one that matters.” He blamed the Democrats for obstructing his nominees immediately before he said, “We don’t need all of the people.” The nation is missing about three-fourths of personnel to fill 600 positions requiring Senate confirmation. Half the State Department positions are empty. The U.S. has no ambassadors to Australia, Austria, Ireland, South Africa, and Sweden in addition to Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, or Venezuela. Also empty are positions for combatting trafficking, war crimes, global women’s issues, and even the chief financial officer.

Saying “I’m the only one that matters” makes a leader sound like a dictator—or maybe just a despot.

A recent Time cover shows DDT as a wrecking ball with an article title, “How Trump’s cabinet is dismantling government as we know it.” DDT responded with the retort that describes his own appointments:

“The federal government is a broken, lobbyist-infested cesspool of corruption that abuses its power, cooks deals for crooked politicians, and despises hardworking Americans.”

Likely pick of Penny Young Nance, president and CEO of the Christian organization Concern Women for America, for ambassador-at-large for women’s issues reflects DDT’s negative feelings about women. She opposes abortion and LGBTQ rights and condemned the Disney animated movie Frozen for undermining masculinity. Concerned Women’s mission includes “protecting and supporting the Biblical design of marriage,” “protecting the sanctity of human life,” “ending sexual exploitation by fighting all forms of pornography, obscenity, prostitution, and sex trafficking,” and “defending religious liberty.” Nance opposes reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, told Hollywood to feature more strong male leads, and joined the DOJ in their imprisonment of a teenage girl to keep her from getting an abortion. The position considered for Nance oversees the State Department program to end gender-based violence and empower women and girls in the world.

Eric Dreiband, awaiting confirmation for the top DOJ civil rights job, specializes in defending companies accused of discrimination. One spectacular case was from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that rescinded a job offer to a Muslim woman on the basis of her religion. Dreiband won with the argument that “Congress had failed to specifically mention that the commission would be subject to congressional rules, it was free from the civil rights laws that govern entities in the legislative branch.” That oversight has been corrected, and the case was later settled in favor of the woman by making the change retroactive.

Stephen Akard, an associate of Vice President Mike Pence, has been appointed to director general of the foreign service to keep it from political issues. The job typically goes to experts in diplomacy instead of someone with little diplomatic experience who instead served as an executive for an economic development company.

Some appointments, including the above, can be done away with, but DDT’s judicial appointments are forever. The Republican Senate is rapidly confirming and/or considering far-right judges after ignoring President Obama’s nominees:

  • Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the 7th Court of Appeals. With no judicial experience, she strongly opposes reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
  • Joan Larsen was confirmed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was one of 21 people suggested by far-right Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation for the Supreme Court seat that Neil Gorsuch has. Larson once refused an appeal from a lesbian mother for parental visitation rights from an ex-spouse and objected to Lawrence v. Texas that stuck down sodomy laws and de-criminalized consensual same-sex relations.
  • Steve Grasz gave testimony to be on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The American Bar Association unanimously rated him “not qualified” to serve as federal judges, only the third such rating since 1989, because of his bias to push his conservative social agenda. Board member of the anti-LGBTQ Nebraska Family Alliance, Grasz claimed that marriage equality is a “threat” to society, advocates conversion therapy, and opposes legal protections for LGBTQ people.
  • Mark Norris also provided testimony for a federal judgeship in Tennessee. His beliefs are similar to those of Grasz, and he voted for his state’s law permitting mental health providers to refuse service to LGBTQ clients. He advocates strict voter ID laws, opposes the removal of Confederate monuments, and supports bills that increase difficulty for workers to pursue compensation claims in Tennessee. His history includes discrimination against Muslims and people of color.

DDT is replacing Janet Yellen with Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair. Concerned about rising interest rates, the bond market flattened its yields between 2-year and 10-year yields, the same as in 2007 and a possible precursor to recession.

The sentence for former Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held prisoner for five years after he left his post in Afghanistan has traumatized DDT. Bergdahl was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, fine of $10,000, and reduction of rank to private. DDT called him a “traitor” at least 45 times and called for his execution, saying that he should be “thrown out of an airplane without a parachute.” The judge considered DDT’s comments a mitigating factor in Bergdahl’s receiving a fair trial. DDT is now spreading the same inflammatory language by calling for the execution of the man who recently killed eight people in New York by deliberately driving a truck into a bicycle lane.

On November 1, DDT declared November National Native American Heritage Month; on November 3, DDT again referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas.” DDT’s tweet was one of ten enraged statements after DDT’s Twitter account was shut down for 11 minutes by a departing company employee.

Two pieces from Week Forty:

Scott Pruitt, EPA director, may be getting ready for nuclear bombing: he has a new “guideline” stating that excessive exposure, up to ten times the current level, to radiation is safe. A result of this document could be weakening radiation safety levels, perhaps even unravelling them.

DDT continued alienating the UK by falsely claiming that “radical Islamic terror” was causing a crime wave in that nation. He ignored the reasons: increase in gun- and knife crime, a 29-percent rise in hate crimes, and the loss of 20,000 police officers from conservative fiscal cuts.

In a new poll, 65 percent, up from 56 percent at his 100-day mark, described DDT’s accomplishments between “little or nothing” to “not much.” The 65 percent is the same range as DDT’s inability “to serve effectively as president,” call him dishonest and untrustworthy, and think that he “doesn’t understand their problems.”

[Note: Much has been said from all sides of the Hillary Clinton about the hacked emails, most of it negative. They need to consider that those emails were changed in content before they were released.]

October 30, 2017

Russia, Puerto Rico, Budget

Luckily for the Republicans, Dictator Donald Trump is leaving the country Friday. His Asia trip removes him from tweeting about what he will give away in the tax reform legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that it’s an advantage that DDT is a half world away and then tried to explain his comment away by saying that he was joking. At home, however, the problems continue.

The first charges from Robert Mueller’s investigations led today’s media. Twelve counts against DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort include conspiracy against the United States, tax evasion, and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. His longtime deputy, Rick Gates, is also charged. DDT responded with anger to charges against Manafort but said nothing about a greater danger to him, his campaign advisor George Papadopoulos’s confession to colluding with Russia and agreeing to provide more information about the situation. Roger Stone’s tweets were so far over the top that Twitter suspended his account. A detailed timeline of the DDT/Russia affair.

DDT is now lying about having any connection with Cambridge Analytica, a shady British data firm providing data for his campaign, that asked WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for help in “finding” Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. The desired distraction is the Uranium One deal during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State by accusing her of allowing Russia to buy a Canadian company. The agreement, which was not controlled by Clinton, does not allow removal of U.S. uranium from either Canada or U.S. without U.S. permission. False allegations about bribery connections come from Breitbart author Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash.

Another attempted distraction is an attempt to blame a dossier about DDT’s lewd and illegal behavior on Hillary Clinton for a dossier on him. Facts about the 35-page research document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele:

  • The conservative Washington Free Beacon funded the project before DDT became the GOP candidate when Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, through Democratic lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, took over. (Mother Jones reported this information a year ago, but DDT pretends it’s new.)
  • Former FBI director briefed DDT about the contents of the dossier after his election.
  • Unverified ones are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies stated that the dossier was not their source and confirmed additional information, including Russian interference in U.S. elections through email hacking and disinformation campaigns.

GOP Republicans want to save money by stopping Mueller’s investigation despite their expensive three-year investigation into Clinton’s Benghazi and emails, bringing the cost of “getting” Clinton over $100 million. Earlier, Kenneth Starr’s investigation into “Whitewater” cost $70 million, and Bill Clinton’s impeachment cost about $60 million. Only the DOJ can block these funds for Mueller’s investigation, however, unless Congress passes a separate law.

Fox and Friends concentrated on where the lettuce should go in a cheeseburger, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about reporters going out for beers and having to pay taxes.

DDT bragged about his “success” in Puerto Rico, calling it a “10,” but 39 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, 77 percent of Puerto Rico is still without electricity. Without energy to power wastewater disposal and clean water delivery systems, their pumps won’t work, and sewage builds up while residents can’t get clean drinking water. People suffer from dehydration and become infected from low-quality water sources. Without electricity, people can’t know where to get supplies.

No one knows how to use the gigantic government hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, and only 33 of its 250 beds were being used a week ago. Many of those who know about the facility can’t get to the port because of impassable roads or fuel. A donation from Tesla has provided a solar power system for a children’s hospital in San Juan, but doctors in other facilities have only the light from cellphones to perform surgery.

DDT prided himself on the low death rate in Puerto Rico, but over 900 bodies have been scheduled for cremation on the island since Hurricane Maria hit. Officials will not know whether they are directly connected to the disaster. These deaths were marked as being from “natural causes,” but many of them died from failing dialysis and oxygen machines after the island had no electricity. Bodies must be sent to the Institute of Forensic Sciences in San Juan for an autopsy to be included in the official death count.

The scandal of Whitefish Energy rebuilding the island’s power grid continues after Gov. Ricardo Rossello finally pulled the plug on a $300 million contract awarded by the island’s power. The board ignored mutual aid from larger experienced power companies which provided workers from U.S. public utility companies after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year and instead chose the two-person, two-year-old non-utility Whitefish Energy, located in the small Montana hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He claims that he had nothing to do with the choice, but his son had worked for the company.

Whitefish’s previous experience was to replace 4.8 miles of transmission line in Arizona for $1.3 million; Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of critically important transmission lines and tens of thousands of miles of distribution lines across the island. The company relies on subcontractors; they have paid $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319 for a lineman. Each person is daily paid $332.41 for accommodations and $79.82 for food.

According to the contract, Puerto Rico was not allowed to “audit or review the cost and profit elements,” and the government was prohibited from making “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work.” The “contractor will not be subject to compliance with any performance specification during the duration of this reconstruction work.” Although the Whitefish contract states that FEMA approved the deal, the disaster agency said it was not involved in the selection of the company and has “significant concerns” about the decision. The fishy agreement may have been worse than the fraud during the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

Financing for Whitefish comes from the Texas-based private-equity firm HBC Investments, founded by Joe Colonnetta. He and his wife, Kimberly, donated over $80,000 to DDT and RNC campaigns and have associations with Ben Carson, DDT’s secretary of housing and urban development, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to photos on her Facebook page.

Last week, Congress passed a disastrous budget with a House vote of 216-212 (20 GOP representatives voting no) and a Senate vote of 51-49 (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky only GOP saying no) for the next decade:

  • A $1.5 trillion deficit to finance tax cuts with almost 80 percent of them going to the top 1 percent.
  • Cuts to all non-Medicare health programs of $1.3 trillion, almost 30 percent.
  • Cuts of $473 billion to Medicare.
  • Cuts of $653 (13 percent) to mandatory programs in the “income security” spending category including food stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI, an anti-poverty program that gives cash to seniors and disabled people); the earned income tax credit (EITC) for people too poor to pay taxes; and unemployment insurance; both military and civilian federal employee pensions.
  • “Mystery” cuts of $800 billion from “non-defense discretionary spending”—funding for the FBI, the National Institutes of Health and other biomedical research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency and Treasury Department, etc. More specific cuts include slashing medical research and gutting State and the EPA especially.
  • GOP’s plan to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes adversely affecting one-third of households. (Without that change the deficit would be $2.4 trillion. A proposed tax credit for property taxes would increase the deficit by $700 billion.)
  • Cuts of 93 percent for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual and domestic violence from $460 million to $30 million, the equivalent of a few weekends for DDT at Mar-a-Lago.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said that House Republicans were “asked to vote for a budget that nobody believes in so that we have the chance to vote for a tax bill that nobody’s read.”

Republicans are willing to fund tax cuts for the wealthy with a deficit but demand an offset to pay for healthcare for nine million children in poverty. CHIP ended on October 1, but Republicans won’t renew it until Democrats agree to cut the Affordable Care public health fund, reduce the grace period for enrollees who fail to make the premium payments, repeal the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, and make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The same people are working to cut off abortions at six weeks because they “love children.”

DDT is demanding the tax cuts (for wealthy) bill on his desk by Thanksgiving—about a dozen work days for the House—but keeps killing ideas on making money for the wealthy. This week he promised to allow people to continue deducting $18,000 for their 401(k) retirement accounts instead of $2,400 but withdrew the statement after the House included the change in the bill. The government will get the taxes no matter what, but the GOP wants it this year, costing $2 trillion in the next decade. The bill will supposedly be released in two days.

Republicans further voted against DDT’s base by forbidding class action consumer lawsuits against banks or credit card companies. VP Mike Pence broke the tie in the Senate. More advantage for the wealthy!

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