The Wires

Public Service Announcement

August 8: About to give birth? About to get a new job? Beware the poppy-seed bagel. Seriously. Washington Post: "... poppy seeds really can make you fail a drug test, both peer-reviewed scientific studies and unofficial experiments conducted by journalists have found. Because they’re derived from opium poppies, they sometimes contain traces of morphine ― not enough to get you high, obviously, but potentially enough to register on a highly sensitive drug test." The report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.

July 13: Washington Post: "A salmonella outbreak linked to a popular Kellogg's cereal has infected 100 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The agency is urging consumers to avoid Honey Smacks, a sugary puffed wheat cereal which has been the subject of a recall by the company since mid-June. At least 30 of the 100 have been hospitalized, while no deaths have been reported, the CDC said. 'Do not eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any "best if used by" date,' it wrote."

PolitiFact should hire this guy:

Variety: "Showtime has ordered a three-part documentary series on the changing role of athletes in the current political environment that boasts LeBron James among its executive producers.... The series is titled 'Shut Up and Dribble,' taken from conservative pundit Laura Ingraham’s remarks to James in February when players from the Golden State Warriors declined an invitation to the White House after the 2018 NBA Finals. The controversy serves as a prologue to the series as it chronicles the modern history of the NBA...."

Guardian: Researchers at Rutgers U. are perfecting a technique they believe will detect painting forgeries. "... the new technique takes a hard look at the picture itself: Specifically, the thousands of tiny individual strokes that compose it.... The idea of fingerprinting artists via their strokes actually dates back to the 1950s.... The problem, though, was that there was too much data." But computer technology may be able to do the analysis that presented too much data for the human eye to detect.

Washington Post: "... some of the ancient human remains found at Stonehenge have unusually distant origins, according to a new archaeological study of cremated bones published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. The remains offer another line of evidence connecting Stonehenge to Wales, 140 miles away. A quarry in Wales is probably the source of Stonehenge's bluestones.... It is possible, the authors of the new study say, that people buried at the henge came from the same Welsh region.... 'Forty percent of the people who we analyzed could not have lived in Stonehenge for the last decade or so of their life,' [Christophe] Snoeck[, who led the investigation,] said."

Mrs. McC: "The Swedish Job" sounds like every modern heist movie I've seen. Slate: "Around midday Tuesday, the cathedral of the Swedish town of Strängnäs, not far from Stockholm, was hosting a event for the public in one of its side chapels.... Some of Sweden’s most priceless royal jewels were held [there].... According to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, during the lunchtime event, two thieves smashed the protective cases covering the jewels ... and fled with their loot toward the nearby but vast Lake Mälaren, which is dotted with hundreds of islands. There, a witness saw the men jump into a small motorboat and speed off. Quickly, police launched a manhunt, with helicopters and boats, but they found no trace of the two men." ...

Hollywood Reporter: Hillary Clinton "is teaming with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television to bring Elaine Weiss' critically acclaimed book The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote to the small screen. The drama will mark Clinton's debut as an exec producer."

Huffington Post: "When it was revealed last week that longtime Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle would be leaving the network..., [her] departure was initially billed as her decision. However, as HuffPost first reported last week, multiple sources said ... Guilfoyle was informed her time at Fox News was up following a human resources investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior including sexual misconduct, and that her lawyers had been involved since the spring. Sources also said that despite being told she would have to leave by July, Guilfoyle repeatedly attempted to delay her exit and tried to have her allies appeal to Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, to let her stay at the network.... Six sources said Guilfoyle’s behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: Such a lovely woman (allegedly). She's perfect for Donnie Junior.

New York Times: "For the first time, scientists have found a large, watery lake beneath an ice cap on Mars. Because water is essential to life, the discovery offers an exciting new place to search for life forms beyond Earth. Italian scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced on Wednesday that a 12-mile wide underground liquid pool — not just the momentary damp spots seen in the past — had been detected by radar measurements near the Martian south pole. 'Water is there,' Enrico Flamini, the former chief scientist of the Italian Space Agency who oversaw the research, said during a news conference."

Jonathan Vankin of Inquisitr: "Earlier in July ... a new BBC documentary [was aired] containing disturbing, never-before-heard allegations of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump. But the 30-minute program aired only in the United Kingdom, on the BBC’s Panorama series. But that’s about to change as the new documentary, Trump: Is the President a Sex Pest?, is set to make its North American premiere, airing in the United States and Canada on Saturday, with a repeat broadcast on Sunday, according to a new BBC press release posted on Twitter.... To find out how to watch or live stream the Trump Sex Pest documentary, see the information at the bottom of this article. Broadcast, and online streaming, is set for Saturday, July 21, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 7:30 a.m. Pacific. The encore broadcast is scheduled for Sunday, July 22, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, 1:30 Pacific." --safari

Yahshar Ali of the Huffington Post: "Three sources tell HuffPost that longtime Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle did not leave the cable news network voluntarily. Guilfoyle, who is currently in a relationship with ... Donald Trump Jr., has worked at the network since 2006.... A source close to Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle denies that she did not leave voluntarily. 'Fox News has parted ways with Kimberly Guilfoyle,' a Fox News spokesperson said in a terse statement released Friday afternoon." ...

... Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "Donald Trump’s coziness with Fox News has opened the network up to allegations that it’s state TV, a perception that was only amplified when The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle began dating Trump’s son Don Jr. But now, for complicated reasons, some of which are still murky, all is no longer well in the Trump-Fox family.... Fox News management is not in the least upset that Guilfoyle is leaving. For the past year, she’s been a management nightmare, sources said. Her entanglements, romantic and otherwise, with Trumpworld have been a part of this. Before Don Jr., Guilfoyle was publicly linked to former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and she was widely rumored to be in the running for a job in the West Wing communications shop. But more than the perceived complications her romantic life generated, Guilfoyle’s high-handedness rankled Fox executives.... But a source close to Guilfoyle [said] the reason is because she plans to join Don Jr. on the campaign trail."

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Tuesday
Aug212018

The Commentariat -- August 22, 2018

** William Rashbaum, et al., of the New York Times: "Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges. He made the extraordinary admission that he arranged payments to two women 'at the direction of the candidate,' referring to Mr. Trump, to secure their silence about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments were 'for the principal purpose of influencing the election' for president in 2016. Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, bringing to a close a monthslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Mr. Trump." (An earlier version of this story was linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Teevee lawyers are describing Trump as "an unindicted co-conspirator." ...

... Splinter has the court filing here. Update: The NYT has the filing here (pdf), and it's easier to read. They're both slow loaders. ...

... Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Manhattan courthouse to eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws, telling a federal judge that he worked to silence two women before the 2016 election at the direction of then-candidate Trump.... Cohen implicated the president directly. He told the court that he worked with Trump to pay off two women to keep their stories of alleged affairs with Trump from becoming public before Election Day.... Cohen told the court that 'in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,' he and the chief executive of a media company worked in the summer of 2016 to keep an individual from publicly disclosing information that could harm the candidate. And he said he worked 'in coordination' with the same candidate to make a payment to a second individual. The details he described matched payments made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Both have alleged that they had sexual encounters with Trump, which he has denied.... Cohen said Tuesday that Trump repaid him the money for the purpose of influencing the campaign." (An earlier version of this story was linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Josh Gerstein, et al., of Politico: "Cohen will be sentenced on Dec. 12. Until then, he is out on $500,000 bail, limited to only traveling within New York City, and to a few notable places, such as Washington, D.C." ...

     ... Michael Avenatti said he knew "for a fact" that Cohen has been cooperating with prosecutors. ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: It's worth noting that -- conspiracies with Russians aside -- the now-convicted felon Michael Cohen has accused Donald Trump of engaging in a criminal act wherein he directly tampering with the 2016 election. to be sure, I'd have to ask originalists Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh, but that sounds to me like "high crimes & misdemeanors."

... Matt Naham of Law & Crime: "This news is a big deal for Avenatti. Earlier Tuesday, Avenatti said that Tuesdays events will allow him to proceed in the civil case against Cohen in California. Daniels’ civil case against Trump and Cohen’s Essential Consultants, LLC was placed on hold by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero on April 27 following a series of joint FBI-SDNY raids on various Cohen residences and offices in New York City on April 9." ...

... Watch Rudy Spin! Benjamin Hart of New York: "... Rudy Giuliani said, 'There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that as the prosecutor noted Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.' [Rudy's false assertion notwithstand,] Michael Cohen said in district court on Tuesday that he had committed campaign-finance violations at the direction of President Trump, an enormously significant disclosure that could spell major legal trouble for the president.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie BTW: Cohen didn't just make up his plea; prosecutors had to agree to the wording. It seems likely to me they have some documentation to back up Cohen's assertions about Trump's "collusion" in the payments to Daniels & McDougal. Update: Some documentation is outlined in the filings (linked above). In the court proceeding, prosecutors outlined -- in general times -- extensive documentation they had to corroborate Cohen's testimony. The filing also implicates other, unnamed campaign officials in the hush-money schemes. ...

... Bob Van Voris, et al., of Bloomberg: "'Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter,' [Lanny] Davis[, one of Cohen's attorneys,] said in a statement. 'This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2 to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump. Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?'” ...

... Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "As Cohen appeared before a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters that the committee had recently 'reengaged' Cohen concerning questions about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign associates. 'We hope that today’s developments and Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement will not preclude his appearance before our Committee as needed for our ongoing investigation,' Burr said while reading from a prepared statement." ...

... Karen Yourish of the New York Times: "Mr. Cohen’s account contradicted his own earlier statements about the payment, as well as those made by the president and other advisers. Those explanations have ranged from outright denial of the president’s involvement to suggesting that Mr. Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen but had no earlier knowledge of the payment." Yourish reviews the previous statements.

** Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty after a three-week trial on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates. The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him. The jury said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those other charges. Manafort was convicted on five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of not filing a required IRS form, and two bank fraud counts.... President Trump reacted to the verdict by denouncing Mueller’s investigation. 'It doesn’t involve me ... it’s a very sad thing,' the president said after arriving in West Virginia for a political rally, adding that the Manafort case 'has nothing to do with' Russian interference in the 2016 election." (An earlier version of this story was linked yesterday afternoon.) Mrs. McC: Trump ignored shouted questions about Michael Cohen's guilty plea.. ...

... "All the President's Crooks." New York Times Editors: "From the start of the Russia investigation, President Trump has been working to discredit the work and the integrity of the special counsel, Robert Mueller; praising men who are blatant grifters, cons and crooks; insisting that he’s personally done nothing wrong; and reminding us that he hires only the best people. On Tuesday afternoon, the American public was treated to an astonishing split-screen moment involving two of those people.... Mr. Trump’s own lawyer has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony.... For a witch hunt, Mr. Mueller’s investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say."

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "Since news broke of [White House counsel Don] McGahn’s extensive cooperation with Mueller, Trump has been lashing out on Twitter.... Privately, Trump blames his precarious position on the people who work for him. Trump’s fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already raging, has been stoked thanks to Sessions’s refusal to resign after months of public abuse. 'You can’t talk to Trump without him bringing up Sessions,' one adviser said. Trump’s frustration with Sessions has even caused him to turn on Giuliani. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Giuliani for the entire Russia probe. According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to [Giuliani]: 'It’s your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you none of this would be happening.'... Another theory for what’s motivating Trump’s increasingly unhinged tweets is that Mueller may be closing in on his son Don Jr.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: "The explanation [Trump & his team] are offering [as to why Trump won't sit for a special counsel interview] — that such an interview would be a 'perjury trap' — is simultaneously ridiculous and all but an admission that the president of the United States is guilty of something. But most of all it’s disingenuous, because perjury charges are not what they’re really afraid of.... A 'perjury trap' occurs when investigators ask a question knowing that the person being interviewed will respond with a lie. When it happens, it’s usually because the suspect doesn’t realize that the investigators know something critical.... [Trump's] lawyers have certainly seen what has happened when Trump has been deposed before.... In one case, he was forced 30 separate times to admit lies he had told.... Mueller won’t indict Trump, but he’ll likely lay out whatever evidence he finds of Trump’s wrongdoing (and that of everyone else he has investigated) in some kind of final report.... The real danger ... Trump faces [is] not legal danger, but political danger. An interview with Mueller might not make impeachment and removal from office more likely (he has a firewall of Republican support in Congress to prevent that), but it will almost certainly make a defeat in 2020 more likely."

She [Natalia Veselnitskaya] didn’t represent the Russian government. She’s a private citizen. I don’t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name. … They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government. -- Rudolph W. Giuliani, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Aug. 19

... Veselnitskaya ... has insisted that she was not representing the Russian government in the meeting, but what’s important is what Trump Jr. was told – that she was working on behalf of the Russian government. Moreover, it later emerged that she worked closely with a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general, to block a Justice Department fraud case against a Russian company.... There’s no way to spin the fact that Trump Jr. was told repeatedly that he was meeting with a representative of the Russian government. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post 

Luke Harding of the Guardian: "The former MI6 officer Christopher Steele has won a legal battle in the United States against three Russian oligarchs who sued him over allegations made in his dossier about the Trump campaign and its links with Moscow. The oligarchs – Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan – claimed that Steele and his intelligence firm, Orbis, defamed them in the dossier, which was leaked and published in early 2017. The Russians own stakes in Moscow-based Alfa Bank. All are billionaires. On Monday, a judge in the District of Columbia, Anthony C Epstein, upheld a motion by Steele to have the oligarchs’ case thrown out. Epstein did not determine whether the dossier – which Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed as 'fake' – was 'accurate or not accurate'. But the judge concluded that it was covered by the US first amendment, which protects free speech. He ruled that the oligarchs had failed to prove a key part of their case: that Steele knew that some information in the dossier was inaccurate, and had acted 'with reckless disregard as to its falsity'.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie Note: Perhaps not coincidentally, Khan is the father-in-law of  Alex van der Zwaan, "who pleaded guilty ... to lying to investigators [about his communications with Manafort partner Rick Gates] in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe."


Jonathan Chait: "Trump
’s Craziest Climate Speech Ever Explains His New Dirty Energy Policy." Mrs. McC: You just have to read it. Here are the parts where Chait cites Trump's actual remarks: "Coal, Trump told his audience, is 'a tremendous form of energy in the sense that in a military way — think of it — coal is indestructible,' he declared....

You can blow up a pipeline, you can blow up the windmills. You know, the wind wheels, [mimics windmill noise, mimes shooting gun] “Bing!” That’s the end of that one. If the birds don’t kill it first. The birds could kill it first. They kill so many birds. You look underneath some of those windmills, it’s like a killing field, the birds. But uh, you know, that’s what they were going to, they were going to windmills. And you know, don’t worry about wind, when the wind doesn’t blow, I said, “What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?” Well, then we have a problem. Okay good. They were putting him in areas where they didn’t have much wind, too. And it’s a subsidary [sic] — you need subsidy for windmills. You need subsidy. Who wants to have energy where you need subsidy? So, uh, the coal is doing great. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... Trump Admin Plans to Kill 1,400 Americans a Year. Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Tuesday made public the details of its new pollution rules governing coal-burning power plants, and the fine print includes an acknowledgment that the plan would increase carbon emissions and lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually. The proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was an aggressive effort to speed up the closures of coal-burning plants, one of the main producers of greenhouse gases, by setting national targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and encouraging utilities to use cleaner energy sources like wind and solar." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

All the President's White Men. Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "The publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism was a guest last weekend at the home of President Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow. Peter Brimelow attended the gathering, a birthday bash for Kudlow, one day after a White House speechwriter was dismissed in the wake of revelations that he had spoken alongside Brimelow on a 2016 panel. Brimelow, 70, was once a well-connected figure in mainstream conservative circles, writing for Dow Jones and National Review. But over the past two decades, he has become a zealous promoter of white-identity politics on Vdare.com, the anti-immigration website that he founded in 1999.... Kudlow expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s promotion of white nationalists on Vdare.com.... Kudlow said that Brimelow’s views on immigration and race are 'a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I totally, utterly disagree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civil rights Republican.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I guess we have to assume Kudlow does not stand around the White House watercooler sharing gossip. The White House fired the speechwriter Darren Beattie last week because of his association with Brimelow. One might think his dismissal was a subject of interest & comment among White House staff, even in a White House where turnover is remarkable.

More Bad News for the "Trump Caucus." Laura Jarrett & Maeve Reston of CNN: "Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on charges related to the misuse of $250,000 worth of campaign funds for personal expenses and the filing of false campaign finance records. The charges of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy were the culmination of a Department of Justice investigation that has stretched for more than a year, during which the Republican congressman from California has maintained his innocence....California's 50th District is a staunchly Republican district with many current and former military families....Hunter's Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Department of Labor aide in the Obama administration, has repeatedly outraised him.... Hunter was a founding member of the 'Trump Caucus' in the House during the 2016 campaign, and alongside Rep. Chris Collins, was the first of two sitting congressmen to endorse Trump for President back in February 2016. Collins was indicted earlier this month on insider trader charges." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Hardly a coincidence that Trump's first two Congressional backers are also alleged criminals.

"Child's Play." River O'Connor in Politico Magazine: "It took me around 10 minutes to crash the upcoming midterm elections. Once I accessed the shockingly simple and vulnerable set of tables that make up the state election board’s database, I was able to shut down the website that would tally the votes, bringing the election to a screeching halt. The data were lost completely. And just like that, tens of thousands of votes vanished into thin air, throwing an entire election, and potentially control of the House or Senate — not to mention our already shaky confidence in the democratic process itself — into even more confusion, doubt, and finger-pointing. I’m 17. And I’m not even a very good hacker." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Monday
Aug202018

Another Home Run

By Akhilleus

This weekend I chatted with an old friend who got into a bit of "Remember when?" He and I have been friends for many years and at one time we played together in a very competitive amateur baseball league. The "remember when" bit coincides with a thought about the Trump Bed Making Medal [discussed in yesterday's Comments] and also his many claims to be the smartest man around and having graduated first in his class from Wharton (a claim he now says he never made, but, as usual with Trump, a quick internet search makes a liar out of him once again).

He's the best at everything. In fact, according to the little dictator, he was the best sportsman he's ever seen. He could have been a superb major league baseball player if he had decided to go that route. Likewise, even today, if he decided to go out on the PGA tour, he'd be among the best golfers in the world. I'm not sure they allow cheating on the PGA circuit though, which could be a problem for Trump, a well known cheater at golf.

So, lo those many years ago, I was pitching in a game and up to bat comes a guy we all had heard about. He had had a cup of coffee in the pros, the Pittsburgh Pirates, if I remember correctly. So I decided to go right at him. I was no Sandy Koufax, by any stretch, but I had thrown a couple of no hitters and the year before won a championship game with a one hitter. The guy hit my best pitch so hard the right fielder didn't even bother to move. He just looked over his shoulder as the ball rocketed into the ether. We still laugh about that today.

Around about the same time, my brother was playing in a ferociously competitive city basketball league. The guys in this league were crazy good, most were gym rats who ate, drank, and slept basketball. One night another team showed up with a ringer, a guy who had been a backup center for an NBA team for a few years. He wasn't much in the pros but he swatted these guys around like mosquitoes. He wiped the court with the biggest hot shots in that league.

The point here is that the best people you've ever played with, no matter how good, are light years beneath mediocre players at the pro level. The worst guy in major league baseball is so much better than anyone playing amateur ball, it isn't even funny.

Which brings me to the smartest, best, most competent man on the planet, by his own reckoning. When Trump goes up against guys like Putin and Kim, it's not even funny. These guys are pros. Trump throws them his best pitch and they clobber it. But here's the thing. It's one thing to have your opponent crush your best pitch, it's another thing to later claim that you struck the guy out, or at worst, battled him to a draw. Especially when everyone on the field and sitting in the stands watched that ball disappear over the fence. But Trump does this time and again.

And to extend the analogy a bit further, here's another difference. My brother and I and our teammates were all deeply entrenched in our sports. We were serious about it and we knew all the ins and outs. We knew what we had to do and how to do it, so when we got beat badly by someone of a much higher caliber, it wasn't because we were bumbling jamokes. We were just outclassed. And that's the thing. Trump IS a bumbling jamoke. He doesn't even come up to beginner level and yet he puts himself in a class with experienced, canny characters who eat and drink this stuff. On one hand it's funny and ridiculous, but it's also dangerous.

We have a guy who claims he was first in his class at Wharton, or at least, among the smartest there. But no one remembers him. My college didn't have a valedictorian, but I knew half a dozen people who graduated Summa and if you mentioned a few more I'm sure I would probably at least recognize the names. But Trump? At a relatively small class like the Wharton School, it seems highly unlikely that no one would recognize him as among the best or THE best.

But it's a waste of time to play that game. He's a bully, a liar, and a braggart. Which was fine as long as he was pretending to be a big shot on a reality TV show produced to make him look good. Who cares what he says? But when that bully and braggart is the president of the United States, it's much different.

So here we are, the US team, going up against other nations and our pitcher is a guy who doesn't even know the basics of the game, and doesn't care. And worse? He thinks he's the best player on the field.

Oh look, there goes another ball over the fence. Good hit, Bob!

Monday
Aug202018

The Commentariat -- August 21, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

** Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty after a three-week trial on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates. The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him. The jury said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those other charges. Manafort was convicted on five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of not filing a required IRS form, and two bank fraud counts." ...

... Earlier: MSNBC is reporting that the Manafort jury has sent a note to Judge Ellis asking how that should proceed if they can't come to consensus on one count. No link. Update: There's a possibility there is more than one count on which the jury can't agree. After getting the note from the jury, the judge gave them an "Allen charge," essentially instructing them to try again. ...

... Josh Gerstein, et al., of Politico: "Jurors on Tuesday indicated that they are struggling to reach a unanimous verdict on at least one count against Paul Manafort in his bank- and tax-fraud trial. They asked U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III for help on what to do in this situation. He replied he would urge them to redouble their efforts. The jurors’ note inquired about what the group should do if it can't come to a consensus on a single count and asked how they should fill out the verdict form. They also asked what their struggles would mean for the entire verdict. Addressing the court without the jury in the room, Ellis said the request was not unusual in a jury trial. The judge added that he could ask the jury where it was overall on the deliberations, but said he was not inclined to take that step now." ...

     ... Update: According to MSNBC, the jury has reached a verdict on only eight counts. Judge will declare a mistrial on 10 counts. The verdict on the eight counts is to be announced today. No link.

     ... Update: Manafort found guilty of five felony tax fraud charges. Also, two counts of bank fraud. Not sure the nature of the eighth charge on which the jury found Manafort guilty. Mrs. McC: I'll put up links to news stories as they become available.

** Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Manhattan courthouse to eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws in a federal investigation that scrutinized his business dealings and efforts to silence women with negative stories about Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a bank and two campaign finance violations: making an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution.... His guilty plea follow a months-long grand-jury investigation into Cohen’s activities, including his taxi business, as well as a hush-money payment that Cohen arranged to an adult-film actress, Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a tryst with Trump years ago.... Cable television played Cohen’s plea in an extraordinary legal split screen, as a Virginia jury convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts in his bank and tax fraud trial.... Special-counsel investigators have indicated to federal law enforcement officials that the office does not require Cohen’s cooperation for its probe, according to two people familiar with their work."

William Rashbaum, et al., of the New York Times: "Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance and other charges, making the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress during the 2016 presidential campaign to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud, bringing to a close a monthslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, dressed in a dark suit and a yellow tie, entered the courtroom in United States District Court in Manhattan at about 4 p.m., nodded his head at reporters and smiled. The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign." ...

     ... Michael Avenatti said he knew "for a fact" that Cohen has been cooperating with prosecutors. ...

     Update: Cohen has pled guilty to eight counts, two having to do with payments made for Donald Trump.

... Sarah Fitzpatrick, et al., of NBC News: "Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, is discussing a possible guilty plea with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in connection with tax fraud and banking-related matters, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News. Those sources stress no deal has been reached but do say the potential deal could be reached as early as today."

     ... ** Update: MSNBC is reporting Michael Cohen (a/k/a "John Doe") will appear for a federal court hearing today at 4 pm ET for the purpose of entering a plea agreement.

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "Since news broke of [White House counsel Don] McGahn’s extensive cooperation with Mueller, Trump has been lashing out on Twitter.... Privately, Trump blames his precarious position on the people who work for him. Trump’s fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already raging, has been stoked thanks to Sessions’s refusal to resign after months of public abuse. 'You can’t talk to Trump without him bringing up Sessions,' one adviser said. Trump’s frustration with Sessions has even caused him to turn on Giuliani. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Giuliani for the entire Russia probe. According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to [Giuliani]: 'It’s your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you none of this would be happening.'... Another theory for what’s motivating Trump’s increasingly unhinged tweets is that Mueller may be closing in on his son Don Jr.

Jonathan Chait: "Trump’s Craziest Climate Speech Ever Explains His New Dirty Energy Policy." Mrs. McC: You just have to read it. Here are the parts where Chait cites Trump's actual remarks: "Coal, Trump told his audience, is 'a tremendous form of energy in the sense that in a military way — think of it — coal is indestructible,' he declared....

You can blow up a pipeline, you can blow up the windmills. You know, the wind wheels, [mimics windmill noise, mimes shooting gun] “Bing!” That’s the end of that one. If the birds don’t kill it first. The birds could kill it first. They kill so many birds. You look underneath some of those windmills, it’s like a killing field, the birds. But uh, you know, that’s what they were going to, they were going to windmills. And you know, don’t worry about wind, when the wind doesn’t blow, I said, “What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?” Well, then we have a problem. Okay good. They were putting him in areas where they didn’t have much wind, too. And it’s a subsidary [sic] — you need subsidy for windmills. You need subsidy. Who wants to have energy where you need subsidy? So, uh, the coal is doing great.

... Trump Admin Plans to Kill 1,400 Americans a Year. Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Tuesday made public the details of its new pollution rules governing coal-burning power plants, and the fine print includes an acknowledgment that the plan would increase carbon emissions and lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually. The proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was an aggressive effort to speed up the closures of coal-burning plants, one of the main producers of greenhouse gases, by setting national targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and encouraging utilities to use cleaner energy sources like wind and solar."

"Child's Play." River O'Connor in Politico Magazine: "It took me around 10 minutes to crash the upcoming midterm elections. Once I accessed the shockingly simple and vulnerable set of tables that make up the state election board’s database, I was able to shut down the website that would tally the votes, bringing the election to a screeching halt. The data were lost completely. And just like that, tens of thousands of votes vanished into thin air, throwing an entire election, and potentially control of the House or Senate — not to mention our already shaky confidence in the democratic process itself — into even more confusion, doubt, and finger-pointing. I’m 17. And I’m not even a very good hacker."

She [Natalia Veselnitskaya] didn’t represent the Russian government. She’s a private citizen. I don’t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name. … They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government. -- Rudolph W. Giuliani, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Aug. 19

... Veselnitskaya ... has insisted that she was not representing the Russian government in the meeting, but what’s important is what Trump Jr. was told – that she was working on behalf of the Russian government. Moreover, it later emerged that she worked closely with a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general, to block a Justice Department fraud case against a Russian company.... There’s no way to spin the fact that Trump Jr. was told repeatedly that he was meeting with a representative of the Russian government. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post 

*****

Generalissimo Trumpo Suggests He Could Replace Mueller -- with Himself. Both MSNBC & CNN are reporting that Trump, in an interview with Reuters reporters, said "I could run the Russia investigation if I wanted to." At 6:30 pm ET Monday, the story is not online. ...

     ... Update. Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner: "'I've decided to stay out,' Trump said, per Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason. 'Now, I don't have to stay out, as you know. I can go in and I could... do whatever. I could run it if I want.'" ...

... James Oliphant, et al., of Reuters: "In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a 'perjury trap.'... Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller.... Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance....” ...

... Katie Rogers of the New York Times: "Under the banner of her 'Be Best' campaign, Melania Trump ... told a group of cyberbullying prevention experts on Monday that social media 'can be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.' Just after she spoke, President Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets in which he called the former director of the C.I.A. a 'hack' and mocked the effectiveness of the Justice Department, among other digital insults on a day of dissonant messaging from the Trump White House.... The president’s tweets were not discussed during the summit the first lady attended.... Another running theme at the cyberbullying summit was the importance of adults understanding how bad behavior on social media could affect children, and how adults can be good digital role models.... Mrs. Trump and her aides have repeatedly acknowledged the conflict between her messages and those of her husband.” ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Monday dared former CIA Director John Brennan to sue him over his decision to revoke his security clearance. In a tweet, Trump [wrote,] 'I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump tweeted Monday to ask why his attorney general had not fired a Justice Department official with ties to the firm behind a dossier alleging connections between Trump and Russia. 'Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions "Justice" Department? A total joke!' Trump wrote.  It was the closest Trump had come to calling directly for Ohr, whose wife was a contractor for Fusion GPS, to lose his job. Ohr, who was demoted earlier this year, has come under fire from conservatives and now Trump over his connection to Fusion GPS." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday referred to lawyers working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as 'thugs' and accused them of trying to affect this year’s elections, further ramping up his rhetoric against prosecutors probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In morning tweets, Trump called Mueller 'disgraced and discredited' and said his team of prosecutors is 'a National Disgrace!' The tweets were the latest in a spate of complaints in recent days from the president about a probe into whether his campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election and whether Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation. In Monday’s outburst, Trump continued to attack a New York Times report over the weekend that White House lawyer Donald McGahn had participated in at least three interviews with Mueller’s team that spanned 30 hours.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One would think that a president* who had been on vacation for a couple of weeks would find some work to do when he showed up at the Oval on Monday. Apparently not. ...

He was impatient, overly aggressive, overly dramatic. He acted on impulse. He tended to sensationalize the evidence he had -- in order to draw attention to the rock-bottom seriousness of the situation. He would neglect to do important homework and consequently would, on occasion, make challengeable statements... He knew that he could never hope to convince anybody by delivering a dry, general-accounting-office type of presentation. In consequence, he stepped up circumstances a notch or two. -- Roy Cohn on Donald Trump Joe McCarthy ...

... John Avlon of CNN: "'Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!'... Donald Trump tweeted from the final days of his golfing vacation at Bedminster, New Jersey. 'Rigged Witch Hunt!'... McCarthy and Trump shared an infamous aide, a widely reviled but nonetheless influential lawyer named Roy Cohn.... Cohn ... [saw McCarthy] as essentially a salesman, for whom accuracy was an obstacle to attention." Read on. The parallels Avlon draws between McCarthy & Trump are striking. The difference is that McCarthy failed largely because some Republicans (& the press) showed some backbone in opposing McCarthy & his destructive tactics.

... Kaitlan Collins, et al., of CNN: "White House counsel Don McGahn's 30 hours of conversations with special counsel Robert Mueller's team have unnerved ... Donald Trump, who didn't know the full extent of McGahn's discussions, two people familiar with his thinking said.... Trump did not know the conversations stretched for 30 hours or that his legal team didn't conduct a full debriefing with McGahn after the fact. Trump remained agitated for the rest of the weekend, the people said, believing the revelation made him look weak.... His declaration of a 'great relationship' [between McGahn & him] aside, Trump and McGahn have carried out a tortured partnership for more than a year, people familiar with the dynamic say. According to officials, Trump has at times seemed unclear on McGahn's role -- which is not as his personal lawyer, but as a lawyer for the White House and the presidency.... Trump and McGahn went weeks without speaking at the beginning of this year, and months without meeting one-on-one, people familiar with the matter said. During this period, along with telling people McGahn was 'a leaker,' Trump complained about McGahn's good relationship with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation." ...

... Wherein McGahn Leaks to Keep His Job. Carol Leonnig, et al., of the Washington Post: "White House counsel Donald McGahn does not believe that he implicated President Trump in any legal wrongdoing in extensive interviews he has given the special counsel, McGahn’s attorney told Trump’s legal team in recent days.... [Attorney Bill] Burck has assured Trump’s lawyers that McGahn did not witness Trump engaged in any crime and would have resigned from his White House post if he had, according to people familiar with the conversations."

of the Washington Post: "On Aug. 15, President Trump revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance.... A bipartisan group of more than a dozen former intelligence directors, plus retired Adm. William H. McRaven, spoke out against the president’s move. On Aug. 17, they were joined by another 60 officials, and over 170 added their names on Aug. 20. Here’s an non-exhaustive list of major figures who have voiced their support for Brennan."

Jonathan Chait: "While [the media] have dug up an extraordinary amount of incriminating facts about Trump, reporters have also repeatedly leaned into the most exculpatory interpretations of those same facts.... It is striking that, for all the incriminating facts the news media have amassed about Trump, they have repeatedly given him the benefit of the doubt as to what those facts add up to." Chait offers numerous examples. As he points out, sometimes these innocent explanations for incriminating evidence come from "White House officials," but often they appear in the reporter's "voice."

'My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic "he said,she said" puzzle. Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn't,' tweeted Giuliani...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Josh Gerstein & Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "Late Monday, the jury [deliberating criminal charges against Paul Manafort] signaled that it still hadn’t reached a verdict, after saying that it would discuss the case until at least 6:15 p.m. That is the latest that jurors have deliberated since they began Thursday."

Chuck Todd, et al., of NBC News list the various lies Team Trump has told about the Trump Tower meeting. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

"I Miss Richard Nixon." Philip Allen Lacovara, a former president of the D.C. Bar, who served as counsel to the Watergate special prosecutor, in a Washington Post op-ed, contrasts Donald Trump and Richard Nixon, noting the ways in which Nixon was by far the better president.

David Sanger & Sheera Frenkel of the New York Times: "The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights. In a report scheduled for release on Tuesday, Microsoft Corporation said that it detected and seized websites that were created in recent weeks by hackers linked to the Russian unit formerly known as the G.R.U. The sites appeared meant to trick people into thinking they were clicking through links managed by the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, but were secretly redirected to web pages created by the hackers to steal passwords and other credentials. Microsoft also found websites imitating the United States Senate, but not specific Senate offices or political campaigns. The shift to attacking conservative think tanks underscores the Russian intelligence agency’s goals: to disrupt any institutions challenging Moscow and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: That last sentence, as seems obvious, should read, "... any institutions challenging President Trump, Moscow and President Vladimir V. Putin...." I'm not being snide here. And do I think it possible that Trump & Putin "colluded" on this latest hacking plan? Yes. Helsinki was not for nuthin.

Paul Krugman: "Truth isn’t truth. Rudy Giuliani’s latest bon mot is a reminder, if anyone needed it, that calling the Trump administration Orwellian isn’t hyperbole, it’s just a statement of fact. Like the ruling party in '1984,' Donald Trump operates on the principle that truth — whether it involves inauguration crowd sizes, immigrant crime or economic performance — is what he says it is. And that truth can change at a moment’s notice.... The Orwellification of the G.O.P. didn’t start with Trump. On the contrary, the party has been moving in that direction for years.... Where have we seen something like that before? In Republican attacks on the evidence for climate change. Fifteen years have passed since Senator James Inhofe suggested that global warming is 'the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.' This was ... not far short of Pizzagate or QAnon territory.... Yet this paranoid fantasy has in effect become the official position of the G.O.P.... For Republicans, ignorance has been strength for a long time."


Jim Tankersley & Maggie Haberman
of the New York Times: "President Trump complained to wealthy donors at a fund-raiser in the Hamptons last week that the man he chose as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, has disappointed him by raising interest rates, according to people who attended the event.  In the midst of a long riff on the economy, Mr. Trump said that he had expected Mr. Powell to adhere to an easy-money monetary policy, by keeping interest rates low, when he nominated Mr. Powell in November to succeed Janet L. Yellen. Instead, Mr. Powell has continued Ms. Yellen’s pace of gradual return to historically normal rates, by raising rates twice this year." ...

... Trump said the same thing to Reuters reporters Jeff Mason & Steve Holland: “'I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I’m not thrilled,' Trump said in the interview, referring to Powell.... American presidents have rarely criticized the Fed in recent decades because the independence of the Fed is seen as important for economic stability. U.S. stocks dipped after Trump’s comments to Reuters and the dollar .DXY edged down against a basket of currencies."

Benjamin Hart of New York: "During a demagoguery-heavy White House event on Monday titled the 'Salute to the Heroes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection' President Trump invited a Latino CBP officer to the podium and told the assembled crowd that he 'speaks perfect English.'... Trump’s apparent surprise that a nonwhite officer could possibly master this skill was the most cringeworthy moment of the proceedings, but it wasn’t the only extremely weird one.... The president also repeatedly referred to Customs and Border Protection as 'the CBC' — which is the common abbreviation for the Congressional Black Caucus, a group with whom he does not have the world’s greatest working relationship. Trump’s repeated error came despite the fact that the teleprompter he was reading off clearly read 'CBP..'... The rest of the event ... featured the standard fearmongering Trump rhetoric.” ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: It would be an even biglier surprise if Trump spoke perfect English, which apparently he can't do even with the (mostly-perfect) English all typed out in big letters scrolling on a teleprompter.

Steve Holland & Jeff Mason: "... Donald Trump said on Monday that it is 'very dangerous' for social media companies like Twitter Inc ... and Facebook Inc ... to silence voices on their services.... 'I won’t mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow,' said Trump.... Trump previously criticized the social media industry on Aug. 18, claiming without evidence in a series of tweets that unnamed companies were 'totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.'... Those tweets followed actions taken by Apple Inc..., Alphabet Inc’s ... YouTube and Facebook to remove some content posted by Infowars, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones’ own Twitter account was temporarily suspended on Aug. 15."

Maybe Melanie Really Has Joined the Resistance. Darlene Superville of the AP: "Melania Trump is planning her first big solo international swing with a trip through several African countries in October. The first lady told The Associated Press in a written statement Monday that she’s looking forward to learning about the issues that children living on the continent face, as well as appreciating Africa’s history and culture. She recently launched a U.S.-based effort focused on the well-being of children. Mrs. Trump plans to travel without ... Donald Trump, who was roundly criticized earlier this year after his private comment about 'shithole countries' in Africa was leaked to journalists.... Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady chose Africa ... after she learned about some of the development programs that are underway in many of its countries."

Kerry Eleveld of Daily Kos: "Top Democrats are requesting information from the White House on the security clearance of Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who crossed paths with an indicted Russian spy while serving on the National Rifle Association’s international affairs subcommittee. The ranking members of the House Oversight and Subcommittee on National Security, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch, wrote to White House chief of staff John Kelly Monday: 'We are writing regarding recent reports that National Security Advisor John Bolton, in his former capacity as a top official with the National Rifle Association (NRA), worked directly with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by federal prosecutors with infiltrating that organization and spying against the United States for years.... We request that you produce documents relating to whether Mr. Bolton reported his previous work with this alleged Russian spy on his security clearance forms or other White House vetting materials prior to President Trump appointing him to his current position'... The Russian citizen referenced in the letter is Maria Butina, who was arrested for acting as a Russian agent in July."

You're No Scott Pruitt If -- you've never made a $43,000 phone call to a place down the street. Juliet Eilperin & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "The $43,000 phone booth that then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt installed in his office may not have been worth all the headaches it caused him. He placed only one phone call to the White House, newly released records from the agency show. It lasted five minutes.... He made the five-minute call on Jan. 29, according to Verizon phone logs released in response to litigation filed by the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group.... The Government Accountability Office concluded that Pruitt violated federal spending laws when he built the phone booth, because he spent more than $5,000 without providing advance notice to Congress." The logs don't show whether or not Pruitt received incoming calls on the super-secret lines.

Michael Sisak, et al., of the AP: "The last Nazi war crimes suspect facing deportation from the U.S. was taken from his New York City home and spirited early Tuesday morning to Germany, following years of efforts to remove him from the United States. The deportation of the 95-year-old former Nazi camp guard, Jakiw Palij, came 25 years after investigators first confronted him about his World War II past and he admitted lying to get into the U.S., claiming he spent the war as a farmer and factory worker.... Because Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and other countries refused to take him, he continued living in limbo in the two-story, red brick home in Queens he shared with his wife, Maria, now 86.... The deportation came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations.... German prosecutors have previously said it does not appear that there’s enough evidence to charge Palij with wartime crimes. Now that he is in Germany, Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he hoped prosecutors would revisit the case."

Henry Mance & Jim Brunsden of the Financial Times: Britain's Foreign Secretary "Jeremy Hunt has called for EU sanctions on Russia over the Salisbury nerve agent attack, a move likely to be met with resistance from Brussels. [Hunt] said the EU should 'ensure its sanctions against Russia are comprehensive' and should stand 'shoulder to shoulder with the US', which imposed sweeping sanctions in response to the attack that killed one British woman and put four other people in hospital. The US sanctions, which could limit Russia’s access to some technologies, come into force on Wednesday.... Mr Hunt’s call for joint EU action is juxtaposed with an attempt to press the European Commission to give ground in Brexit negotiations."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, urged prosecutors investigating President Bill Clinton to question him in graphic detail about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, according to a memorandum released on Monday by the National Archives. Mr. Kavanaugh spent more than three years working for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated a series of scandals during Mr. Clinton’s presidency, and he worked on the report that led the House of Representatives to impeach Mr. Clinton.... The release of the two-page memo, dated August 15, 1998, adds details to earlier reports.... The memo confirms that Mr. Kavanaugh took a hard line that seemed driven by disgust with Mr. Clinton’s behavior and the animosity that had developed between the White House and Mr. Starr’s team." ...

     ... Here's the memo. Worth a read. "... it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear -- piece by painful piece...." Kavanaugh wrote. Evidently, he's less touchy about Donald Trump's revolting behavior. ...

Christamighty, it's a good thing he's a Really Nice Guy, or else I'd think he was a bed-sniffing hypocrite and a sanctimonious yahoo who's spent his entire career as a Republican hack. -- Charles Pierce 

Lauren Clason of Roll Call: "Top Republican lawmakers have no plans to examine the alleged influence that a trio of ... Donald Trump’s friends have at the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as Democrats call for an investigation.... On Monday, a handful of Senate Democrats on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, petitioned Chairman Johnny Isakson of Georgia to hold a hearing on the matter.... House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tim Walz is also seeking details of correspondence from the department. But Republican leaders of both the House and Senate veterans committees don’t agree the issue warrants congressional intervention.... The controversy peaked in recent weeks after reports that Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and D.C. lawyer Marc Sherman hold undue sway with VA leadership, including senior adviser Peter O’Rourke, who formerly served as acting secretary....  Isakson said the problem was largely solved after [Robert] Wilkie was sworn in [as VA Secretary] last month.... Liberal veterans group VoteVets filed a lawsuit against the administration last week, claiming the VA is violating federal protocol related to private influence in matters of federal policy."

Wisconsin Gubernatorial Race. Scott Bauer of the AP: "A second former top official with Gov. Scott Walker's administration has endorsed his Democratic opponent and cut a video criticizing the Republican incumbent. The latest online ad, released Monday, features former Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten blasting Walker as only caring about pleasing donors and calling for administration officials to dodge the open records law. The spot comes after former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall also recorded a video backing Democrat Tony Evers and wrote a tell-all book making numerous allegations of mismanagement against Walker's administration and others. Evers and Walker face off in the Nov. 6 election."

Beyond the Beltway

Jane Stancill of the Raleigh News & Observer: "Protesters toppled the Silent Sam Confederate statue on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday night. The monument was ripped down after 9:15 p.m. Earlier in the evening, protesters covered the statue with tall, gray banners, erecting 'an alternative monument' that said, in part, 'For a world without white supremacy.' Protesters were apparently working behind the covering with ropes to bring the statue down, which happened more than two hours into a rally. It fell with a loud clanging sound, and the crowd erupted in cheers.... [The statue] had been erected in 1913 with donations from the United Daughters of the Confederacy.... UNC had installed surveillance cameras and spent $390,000 on security around the statue last year.”


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