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report cites several instances in which mothers lost custody of their newborns because the mothers failed routine (but outdated) drug tests.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

Monday
Aug132018

The Commentariat -- August 14, 2018

Ella Nilsen, et al., of Vox: Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin & Minnesota hold primary elections today. The reporters highlight the big races.

*****

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "Lawyers for Paul Manafort say they'll rest their case without calling any witnesses in the former Trump campaign chairman's trial[.] The decision in the bank- and tax-fraud case comes after Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort as his lawyers argued the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial in Virginia. Such motions are routinely filed and almost never granted. After several hours of sealed discussions, open court began at about 11:45 a.m. with no explanation for the delay."

** Convergence. John Sipher of The Atlantic: "While many Americans are concerned that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, Trump's outright convergence of interests with Putin's Russia may well prove far more damaging for U.S. interests in the long run.... Both Putin and Trump seek to inject chaos into the U.S. political system. They support an assault on U.S. foreign-policy elites, encourage fringe and radical groups, and envision a United States untethered from traditional allies. They also share a willingness to utilize informal and semi-legal means to achieve their goals.... Trumpism shares a disturbing amount in common with Putinism, including promoting racist hatred of outsiders; the belief that the rich are above the law; the reflexive use of propaganda lies and denial; and the shredding of legal and political norms.... The greatest concern for Americans shouldn't be that Trump may have colluded with Russia; it’s that under his guidance, we may be converging." Read on. --safari ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I was thinking about this just last night. For instance, what country benefits most from the FBI's firing of Peter Strzok, the agency's top counterintelligence agent on Russia? Hint: Not the U.S.

Veronica Stracqualursi of CNN: "'When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!' Trump tweeted Tuesday.... Referring to an African-American woman as an animal is at best a sharp departure from the language typically employed by Presidents and at worst a reference that traffics in sexual and racial imagery." ...

... Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "... Donald Trump's campaign said Tuesday it has filed for arbitration, accusing Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former campaign aide and White House official, of breaching a 2016 nondisclosure agreement with the campaign. The move is the first legal action the Trump campaign has taken since Manigault Newman published a tell-all book about her time as a Trump campaign adviser and senior White House official."

Politico: "... Donald Trump wrote online Tuesday that Jeff Sessions is not a 'real' attorney general, heaping fresh blame onto him for the Russia investigation that has served as a drag on Trump's time in the White House.... On Tuesday morning, Trump quoted Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett and added a swipe at Sessions. '"They were all in on it, clear Hillary Clinton and FRAME Donald Trump for things he didn't do." Gregg Jarrett on @foxandfriends,' Trump wrote on Twitter. 'If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started! Looking at the wrong people.' Also, see Patrick's comment below. "The Great Hillary Conspiracy" seems to be a TrumpWorld theme.

Martin Chulov of the Guardian has an piece that explains, according to his source, how Trump exacerbated the Turkish economic crisis -- which could threaten the world economy -- when he tried to make a deal with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on a prisoner swap. There were only three people in a room -- the Presidents & a translator -- and Trump didn't understand the deal he had made. Oh, and later mike pence put in his two cents & made things worse. As punishment (for his own ignorance & sloppiness, if you come right down to it), Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel & aluminum, further deflating confidence in Turkey's economic outlook. Mrs. McC: Are you surprised?

Emily Stewart of Vox: "The federal government's top consumer watchdog has decided it no longer needs to proactively supervise banks, credit card companies, and other lenders who deal with members of the military and their families to make sure they're not committing fraud or abuse. Critics, baffled by the decision from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, say it will put service members in the claws of predatory lenders and put their careers and livelihoods -- and potentially US national security -- at risk.... Now the agency, under interim director Mick Mulvaney, is planning to end its use of these supervisory examinations of lenders...Instead, the bureau will only be able to take action against lenders if it receives a complaint." --safari

Amanda Michelle Gomez of ThinkProgress: "The federal health department's refugee office -- an office that&'s garnered attention for blocking an undocumented teen's abortion, failing to reunite migrant families the administration has separated, and contracting with detention facilities with grave abuses -- has removed its staff directory from its website.... Email addresses and phone numbers for 22 members of the Office of Refugee Resettlement;s (ORR) leadership were taken down and not replaced.... The removal appears to have been around the same time that [ORR director] Scott Lloyd tried to stop detained migrant teens from getting abortions. In mid-October, news broke that Lloyd personally intervened to try to persuade pregnant girls in ORR custody."

Infernal Environmentalists Cause Infernos. Elliot Hannon of Slate: "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a card-carrying member of climate change skeptic Trump administration, told a local TV station Sunday that climate change has nothing to do with the dozens of wildfires currently ravaging the west, and particularly the state of California, where blazes have churned through 1,000 square miles so far in what has already been the most destructive fire season on record. Instead, Zinke placed blame on 'extreme environmentalists' for the conditions that led to the state's historic fires this year. 'America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change,' Zinke said in an interview with KCRA. 'This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management.'"

Erik Ortiz of NBC News: "Attorneys for the family of the Florida father who died last month following an argument over a handicap parking space thanked state prosecutors Monday for filing a manslaughter charge against the gunman, Michael Drejka -- less than a month after the killing. 'We are very appreciative that the state moved fast in this case,' Kelly McCabe, an attorney for the family of Markeis McGlockton, said at a news conference in which they supported the charge -- a felony that carries up to 30 years in prison. But while attorneys for the family of McGlockton have also decried his fatal shooting as a 'cold-blooded murder,' Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe told NBC News that he went with manslaughter after investigators and lawyers interviewed witnesses and studied the surveillance footage from the deadly July 19 dispute. 'I went through it all and made the legal decision that that is the charge that we could prove,' McCabe added. Legal experts agree...."

*****

It's all a scam. Everything. -- Akhilleus, on the Trump presidency*

Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Monday signed a sprawling $716 billion defense bill named for John McCain at a ceremony [at Fort Drum, N.Y.], but he made no public mention of the ailing senator who has been among his harshest Republican critics.... Trump frequently disparages McCain in public, although usually not by name.... In a 25-minute address to troops, Trump praised the U.S. military as the world's most powerful war-fighting force and took credit for the legislation, which represents a $16 billion increase in authorized funding for the Pentagon over the current year.... Trump name-checked four members of Congress who joined him at the event, including Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who represents the district where the base is located.... McCain's friends and supporters reacted angrily to Trump's snub of the senator." ...

Last year, we secured a historic $700 billion to rebuild our military. And now the National Defense Authorization Act paves the way for 1,700 -- listen to this now. So we';ve been trying to get money. They never gave us money for the military for years and years. And it was depleted. We got $700 billion. And next year, already approved, we have $716 billion to give you the finest planes and ships and tanks and missiles anywhere on earth. -- Donald Trump, to soldiers at Fort Drum, yesterday

False. Mr. Trump's claim is wrong on two fronts: that the approved funding levels are 'historic' and that the military 'never' had money 'for years and years.' It's also not clear what he was referring to when he said the act 'paves the way for 1,700.'... That's not the largest military budget in recent history, let alone all of American history. Even if inflation is not taken into account, President Barack Obama signed a $726 billion National Defense Authorization Act for the 2011 fiscal year. Adjusted for inflation, Congress authorized more money for the Pentagon every fiscal year between 2007 and 2012, during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. -- Linda Qiu of the New York Times

Qiu goes on to debunk numerous other false statements Trump made yesterday.

... Later That Same Day. Shane Goldmacher & Tyler Pager of the New York Times: "President Trump returned to his home state of New York on Monday intent on settling old scores with leading Democratic politicians here, mocking Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as 'just a puppet' of Senator Chuck Schumer, and saying 'it' very sad to see what's happening with New York' under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.... The president's remarks came at a fund-raiser in Utica for Representative Claudia Tenney.... Outside the hotel, about 100 Trump supporters stood across the street from roughly 400 protesters, several of whom spoke out against the president's policies on immigrants and refugees because of Utica's large refugee population. The United Nations named Utica 'the town that loves refugees,' as it has resettled more than 16,000 refugees over the past three decades. Utica has a population of just over 60,000."

Daniel Lippman of Politico: "Several times in the first year of his administration..., Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo.... Trump's aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on 'a constant basis,' but it wasn't easy.... Trump's desire to call world leaders at awkward hours is just one of many previously unreported diplomatic faux pas Trump has made since assuming the presidency, which go beyond telephone etiquette to include misconceptions, mispronunciations and awkward meetings." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jonathan Chait has a more amusing take on Lippman's reporting: "Running an effective foreign policy for a global hyperpower is always tricky when the president happens to be a personally corrupt authoritarian bigot who is concealing shady ties to a strategic adversary. The problem gets even harder when the president is unable to grasp some of the basic facts and principles of diplomacy.... It's like having Homer Simpson as president, but dumber:" (Also linked yesterday.)

Emoluments! Ben Weidner & Anita Kumar of McClatchy News: "At least 125 Republican campaigns and conservative political groups spent more than $3.5 million at ... Donald Trump's resorts, hotels and restaurants since January 2017, the month he was sworn in, according to an analysis by McClatchy.... By comparison, candidates and political groups spent less than $35,000 at Trump properties for the entire two-year 2014 election cycle, according to FEC records.... Since 2017, the biggest spenders have been Republican party committees -- including the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Senate Committee -- and Trump himself."

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump appeared to acknowledge on Monday ... that his White House had aides sign nondisclosure agreements. The president made the statement in a post on Twitter about Omarosa Manigault Newman.... 'Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!' Mr. Trump tweeted, using the type of moniker he often deploys against people who say disparaging things about him.... White House officials have not explained why Ms. Manigault Newman was hired, if there were such concerns about her or why she was offered a campaign contract after being fired.... For months, officials in the West Wing have refused to confirm reports by The New York Times and other news outlets that aides were ordered to sign nondisclosure agreements, which legal experts say are essentially unenforceable for government employees.... Former West Wing officials have said that while they were enacted, members of the White House counsel's office signaled that they could not be enforced, and that they were being executed to reassure Mr. Trump." Mrs. McC: Read on. Haberman's report may force Trump to act "not presidential" again (see next link). ...

     ... President* Paranoid Von Leakypants. Josh Dawsey & Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s bitter fight with a former top White House aide has highlighted his aggressive and unconventional use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent current and former government employees from revealing secrets or disparaging him or his family.... Copies of Trump NDAs ... lay out breathtakingly broad prohibitions on behavior and appear to be drawn heavily from similar contracts used in the past by the Trump Organization, the president's family firm. Under one agreement from the 2016 campaign, signers promised not to 'demean or disparage publicly' Trump, his company or any member of his family -- and also not to assist any other politician exploring a federal or state office. An agreement circulated in the White House last year barred signers from sharing any information they had learned in the building.... The rampant use of such nondisclosure agreements underscores a culture -- fostered by Trump himself -- of paranoia, leaks, audio recordings and infighting that has pervaded his dealings for decades and continues into his presidency, according to current and former aides."

... Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Omarosa Manigault Newman ... said Monday that she believes Trump was lying when he claimed in a phone call in December that he knew nothing about her dismissal by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.... Trump fired back at Manigault Newman with a Monday morning tweet in which he attacked his former aide as 'vicious, but not smart' and claimed that 'people in the White House hated her.' 'Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,' Trump said. 'She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok.' Trump said he would 'rarely see' Manigault Newman in the White House, a claim that contradicts reports that she enjoyed a close relationship with the president. In two follow-up tweets, Trump continued to disparage his former aide, saying he had 'heard really bad things' about her and claiming that she 'would constantly miss meetings & work.'... He added that while it was 'not presidential' to attack her, he was doing so because he believes the media will be trying to make her 'look as legitimate as possible.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Yeah, it's the media who force Trump to act "not presidential." ...

... "Welcome to the Resistance, Omarosa." Michelle Goldberg: "Omarosa Manigault Newman ... is an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump's orbit. What separates her from them is that she might be capable of a sliver of shame.... She chose to speak out against the man who made her a star, and repent for her complicity in electing him. She may be a manipulative narcissist, but she's behaving more honorably than any other former Trump appointee.... Perhaps the most interesting thing about 'Unhinged' is its insights into how Manigault Newman, a former Democrat who'd worked in Bill Clinton's White House, rationalized being part of Trump's white nationalist campaign.... No matter how little credibility Manigault Newman has, the man who gave her a top-ranking job in his administration has less."

Adam Goldman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. senior counterintelligence agent who disparaged President Trump in inflammatory text messages and helped oversee the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, has been fired for violating bureau policies, Mr. Strzok's lawyer said Monday. Mr. Trump and his allies seized on the text messages -- exchanged during the 2016 campaign with a former F.B.I. lawyer, Lisa Page -- in assailing the Russia investigation as an illegitimate 'witch hunt.' Mr. Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the F.B.I. to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry. Along with sending the text messages, Mr. Strzok was accused of sending a highly sensitive search warrant to his personal email account. It is not clear why Mr. Strzok, who was formally fired on Friday, was dismissed at this time.... Aitan Goelman, his lawyer, said that the deputy director of the F.B.I., David Bowdich, had overruled the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility, which said Mr. Strzok should be suspended for 60 days and demoted." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI - finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction - I just fight back! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet Monday morning

Yasha Mounk of Slate: "... there is considerable evidence that [Peter Strzok] at times fell short of the FBI's exacting professional standards.... However, there is also strong evidence that Strzok's personal views did not affect his professional conduct and even more compelling evidence that they did not sway the actions of the bureau as a whole.... 'Did he get fired because of his failings -- or did the FBI buckle under the enormous pressure exerted by Donald Trump?'... By caving to a massive campaign of vilification by the president, and publicly violating [FBI Director Christopher] Wray's promise that the investigation into Strzok would be done by the book, the bureau's leadership has undermined that trust in a much more public, deliberate, and grievous manner than the man they scapegoated ever did.... Strzok's firing is only the latest in a series of cases in which high-ranking civil servants have been personally attacked by the president and then been forced to leave office under highly unusual circumstances: At this point, Trump has managed to dispatch the FBI's director, its deputy director, its general counsel, and the head agent of its investigating agency."

     ... AND as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, Trump has managed to dispatch all but one -- David Bowdich -- of the direct or indirect witnesses to Trump's attempt to obstruct the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn. How conveeenient!

Greg Sargent: As part of a Washington Post piece on Donald Trump Jr.'s popularity among Trump voters, President Trump told the Post, "'Don has received notoriety for a brief meeting, that many politicians would have taken, but most importantly, and to the best of my knowledge, nothing happened after the [Trump Tower] meeting concluded.' [Emphasis Sargent's] 'This statement was clearly lawyered,' Bob Bauer, former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, told me.... What happened after this meeting? As one legal expert told Natasha Bertrand, the big unknown is whether it bore some kind of relation to Russia';s subsequent cybertheft of Democratic emails and other possible evidence of collusion..., making the meeting part of 'the same criminal conspiracy.'... Trump's claim that nothing untoward subsequently happened 'to the best of my knowledge' is revealing. 'He's trying to put as much of a cloak of ignorance around himself as he possibly can,' Bauer told me. 'What this does is abandon Trump&'s year-and-a-half explanation that there was absolutely "no collusion." After that meeting, there could have been ongoing coordination. And now he's not denying that could have happened. He's saying he doesn't know."... The bottom line on all this, Bauer concluded, is that Trump almost certainly knows more than he has 'publicly admitted to or acknowledged,' and Mueller probably 'already knows it.'... If so, Trump can't lie to [Robert] Mueller about it or tell the truth about it, either." ...

     ... Steve M. looks at the same WashPo story about Junior (it's here; I purposely didn't link it yesterday), and he found it less compelling than Sargent did. He calls the report "a GOP press release.... As we all know, Junior is an ignoramus[.]... But that doesn't matter in the GOP -- in fact, it's beneficial. Here we are in the Democratic Party, asking ourselves whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is really ready for prime time ... -- but Republicans don't care about any of that. Anyone who turns their voters into spittle-flecked rage monsters is declared to be a superstar.... Even if Junior does time, I think he has a bright future in Republican politics -- maybe especially if he does time. If he does, he'll be a Trump and a martyr. He hates liberals in the most simple-minded way. He likes guns and hunting. He has no self-doubt. Therefore, he's a natural. I think he's the Republican presidential frontrunner in 2024, especially if he's on parole." ...

... He Was Right the First Time. This Is Now: Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it! -- Donald Trump, August 5, 2018. ...

     ... That Was Then, Public Statement: My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency. -- Donald Trump, in a statement July 11, 2017

     ... That Was Then, Private Remark: He is such a f[uc]kup. He screwed up again, but this time, he's screwing us all, big-time! -- Donald Trump, ca. July 11, 2017, according to Omarosa Manigault Newman

Josh Gerstein, et al., of Politico: "Special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors rested their case against Paul Manafort on Monday afternoon after calling more than two dozen witnesses in their tax- and bank-fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman. The final round of testimony from Treasury Department senior special agent Paula Liss lasted only five questions. It essentially boiled down to Liss stating that she had not found any evidence that Manafort's international political consulting firms had filed reports with the U.S. government acknowledging they had foreign bank accounts.... A Chicago bank CEO who was seeking a top job in the Trump administration overrode the objections of the bank's president in order to green light a $9.5 million loan for Paul Manafort in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, a bank executive testified Monday.... The CEO of the Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank, Stephen Calk, interceded after the president of the bank, Javier Ubarri, decided it was too risky to allow Manafort to draw the $9.5 million in funds out of equity in his Bridgehampton, N.Y. home, bank vice president James Brennan said." ...

... Rachel Weiner, et al., of the Washington Post on today's developments in the Manafort trial: "Paul Manafort or his agents neglected to mention mortgages on two New York properties when he sought $16 million in loans... A vice president of Federal Savings Bank said he wouldn't have approved the $16 million loans, but the bank CEO pushed them through... The prosecution rested its case in chief, and the defense will argue its motion to acquit on Tuesday[.]" ...

... David Voreacos & Neil Weinberg of Bloomberg: "Paul Manafort turned to Jared Kushner for help in an attempt to secure a Trump administration job for a Chicago banker at the center of Manafort's fraud trial.... 'On it!' Kushner replied on Nov. 30, 2016, according to an email submitted by prosecutors into evidence Monday at Manafort's trial on bank and tax-fraud charges. The email shows how, months after Manafort was deposed as campaign manager, he reached into Trump's inner circle for help, without success. It also provides a window into how a disorganized, inexperienced campaign team was inundated with requests from supporters seeking coveted posts in the new administration. The banker who sought the job in Trump's administration was Stephen Calk, chief executive officer of the Federal Savings Bank, which loaned $16 million to Manafort. Prosecutors say those loans, made after the election, were part of a corrupt scheme to help Manafort pull cash out of his properties." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Not sure what a Trump administration roll is, but I'm thinking along the lines of a white-bread Wonder Bread bun. Definitely white-bread.

... Cristian Farias of New York: "... for all the flashy testimony to come out of the [Manafort] trial..., jurors have already seen reams of documentary evidence -- emails, invoices, and business records that paint a picture of the scheme Manafort is accused of orchestrating. In significant ways, the oral testimony simply corroborates or adds to the foundation prosecutors have already laid with the documents entered into evidence. As for [Judge T.S.] Ellis, whose ornery treatment of prosecutors has gotten him undue attention for all the wrong reasons, it's best to not read too much into it.... Because the defense is likely to catch fire from him too but also because benchslapping is something that trial lawyers have to live with -- and it's not a good barometer of how jurors will ultimately decide a case.... Ellis, more than just about anyone else in America, knows a wealth of extremely sensitive details about the Russia investigation, and his apparent drive to cut no slack for the prosecution also indicates that he wants their side to have a solid trial record in the event of an appeal." (Also linked yesterday.)

Morgan Chalfont of the Hill: "A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has rejected an effort by a Russian company to get charges brought by special counsel >Robert Mueller dismissed. U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by President Trump, on Monday denied a motion by Concord Management and Consulting LLC to dismiss an indictment on the grounds that Mueller was appointed unlawfully by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation. The company -- which allegedly has ties to Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Russian businessman better known as 'Putin's chef' because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin -- is accused of funding a Russian troll farm that used social media to sow discord among the American public in a broader plot to interfere in the election. Emphasis added." ...

     ... "Disloyal! Sad!" digby: "Trump should have gotten that loyalty oath up front.... They are looking for a judge in one of these cases to rule that the Mueller investigation is illegal so they can get it into the appellate pipeline. So far, no dice."

Dan Friedman of Mother Jones: "As special counsel Robert Mueller zeroes in on Roger Stone, prosecutors are looking into seemingly threatening emails the longtime Trump adviser sent to a former radio host, sources say. The existence of some of those emails was first reported by Mother Jones in May. A lawyer for Randy Credico, the radio host, confirmed Friday that he received a subpoena from Mueller's office requesting that Credico testify before a grand jury in Washington on September 7.... According to two people familiar with the matter, investigators ... want to question Credico about a series of emails Stone sent him earlier this year, after Credico publicly disputed Stone’s claims about their interactions.... The investigators are interested in the extent to which Credico perceived Stone's statements as threats.... 'I am so ready. Let's get it on. Prepare to die cock sucker,' Stone emailed Credico on April 9 in response to Credico indicating he would publicly challenge Stone's description of their 2016 contacts."


JeffBo Is All-in with Voter Suppression. Michael Wines
of the New York Times: "During the Obama administration, the Justice Department would often go to court to stop states from [imposing voter-suppression laws]. But 18 months into President Trump's term, there are signs of change: The department has launched no new efforts to roll back state restrictions on the ability to vote, and instead often sides with them. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the department has filed legal briefs in support of states that are resisting court orders to rein in voter ID requirements, stop aggressive purges of voter rolls and redraw political boundaries that have unfairly diluted minority voting power -- all practices that were opposed under President Obama's attorneys general. The Sessions department's most prominent voting-rights lawsuit so far forced Kentucky state officials last month to step up the culling from registration rolls of voters who have moved."

When Henry Met Jared. Caleb Melby, et al., of Bloomberg: Jared Kushner introduced himself to Henry Kissinger at a National Interest luncheon in March 2016, where Kissinger was the guest speaker. At the luncheon, Kushner "also met Dimitri Simes, the Russian-born president of the center.... Questions have recently been raised about the center for its ties to Russia, including its interactions with Maria Butina, a woman accused of conspiring to set up a back channel by infiltrating the National Rifle Organization and the National Prayer Breakfast.... In the weeks following [the luncheon, Kushner & Simes arranged] ... an event hosted by the center to give Trump a chance to lay out a cohesive foreign policy speech.... In his speech at the Mayflower, Trump called for easing tensions with Russia.... It was at [Trump's] Mayflower [event] that Kushner first met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, an encounter he left off disclosure forms when he initially joined the government." Via safari (Also linked yesterday.)

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The National Archives is doubling down on its refusal to respond to Democratic' requests for documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's White House tenure. Archivist David Ferriero wrote in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the agency's policy to only respond to requests from a committee chairman, who are all Republicans." Mrs. McC: Sounds to me like an unamerican, um, "rigged" policy. (Also linked yesterday.) Also, see safari's comment on this in yesterday's thread.

Congressional Races

WGRZ-TV: "Carl Paladino announced Saturday that he was putting his name in the mix for the 27th Congressional District. This comes after the incumbent, Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, was arrested on federal charges Wednesday and halted his re-election campaign Saturday morning.... In 2017, Paladino was removed from the Buffalo school board, which accused him of willfully sharing confidential information about negotiations with the city's teachers union and a pending lawsuit that was discussed during a closed-door meeting. He had faced a barrage of criticism during his time on the board for racist and controversial remarks." The story lists other people who have expressed interest in running. Thanks to PD Pepe for the heads-up.

Stephanie Murray of Politico: "A high-ranking Republican lawmaker's son donated the 'maximum amount' to a Democrat running to replace his father. Bobby Goodlatte, son of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), made the surprise announcement on Twitter Sunday night. Goodlatte is retiring after 13 terms in Congress. 'I just gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a democrat running for my father's congressional seat. I've also gotten 5 other folks to commit to donate the max. 2018 is the year to flip districts -- let's do this!' Bobby Goodlatte wrote on Twitter.... Donald Trump carried the central Virginia district with nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2016, and Mitt Romney did the same in the 2012 presidential election. Goodlatte received two-thirds of the vote that year." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: Jennifer Hansler of CNN: "The son of a prominent House Republican blasted his father's role in the saga leading up to FBI agent Peter Strzok's ouster, less than a day after he announced that he was supporting the Democratic candidate to succeed his father. 'I'm deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok's career was ruined by my father's political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress,' Bobby Goodlatte, the son of House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, tweeted Monday. 'Thank you for your service sir. You are a patriot.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Campbell Robertson of the New York Times: "The West Virginia House of Delegates voted late Monday night to impeach all of the justices on the Supreme Court, a decision prompted initially by reports of extravagant spending on office renovations. In a series of votes that frequently fell along rough party lines, lawmakers approved 11 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices, sending the process on to the State Senate. Most of the articles involved the chief justice, Allen Loughry, a Republican, who has been suspended since June and is facing a 23-count federal indictment on charges of fraud and false statements. He is accused of using state property for personal use and of deceiving lawmakers, in addition to the charge of 'unnecessary and lavish spending,' most emblematically on a $32,000 office sofa.... Democrats have described the whole process as a partisan power grab; the Legislature and the governor's office are in Republican control, while a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court of Appeals, as the state's highest court is officially known, were elected as Democrats." ...

... Here's a November 2017 WCHS report on the lovely furnishings & renovations:

News Ledes

New York Times: "A bridge in the heart of Genoa collapsed on Tuesday killing 26 people as dozens of vehicles and tons of concrete and steel plunged onto city streets below in a disaster that prompted an emergency review of Italy's aging infrastructure."

Guardian: "A man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after a car crashed into a number of cyclists and pedestrians before hitting security barriers outside the Houses of Parliament in London, police have said. Armed police swooped on the scene in marked cars moments after the silver Ford Fiesta collided with the barriers at about 7.40am on Tuesday, pointing their weapons at the vehicle before a driver emerged and was placed in handcuffs. The man, in his late 20s, was arrested at the scene and taken to a police station in south London where he remains in police custody. He was the only person in the vehicle, which remains at the scene and is being searched. No weapons were recovered, according to police."

Sunday
Aug122018

The Commentariat -- August 13, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

It's all a scam. Everything. -- Akhilleus, on the Trump presidency*

Adam Goldman & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. senior counterintelligence agent who disparaged President Trump in inflammatory text messages and helped oversee the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, has been fired for violating bureau policies, Mr. Strzok's lawyer said Monday. Mr. Trump and his allies seized on the text messages -- exchanged during the 2016 campaign with a former F.B.I. lawyer, Lisa Page -- in assailing the Russia investigation as an illegitimate 'witch hunt.' Mr. Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the F.B.I. to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry. Along with sending the text messages, Mr. Strzok was accused of sending a highly sensitive search warrant to his personal email account. It is not clear why Mr. Strzok, who was formally fired on Friday, was dismissed at this time.... Aitan Goelman, his lawyer, said that the deputy director of the F.B.I., David Bowdich, had overruled the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility, which said Mr. Strzok should be suspended for 60 days and demoted." ...

Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI - finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction - I just fight back! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet this morning

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Omarosa Manigault Newman ... said Monday that she believes Trump was lying when he claimed in a phone call in December that he knew nothing about her dismissal by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.... Trump fired back at Manigault Newman with a Monday morning tweet in which he attacked his former aide as 'vicious, but not smart' and claimed that 'people in the White House hated her.' 'Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,' Trump said. 'She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok.' Trump said he would 'rarely see' Manigault Newman in the White House, a claim that contradicts reports that she enjoyed a close relationship with the president. In two follow-up tweets, Trump continued to disparage his former aide, saying he had 'heard really bad things' about her and claiming that she 'would constantly miss meetings & work.'... He added that while it was 'not presidential' to attack her, he was doing so because he believes the media will be trying to make her 'look as legitimate as possible.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yeah, it's the media who force Trump to act "not presidential."

Cristian Farias of New York: "... for all the flashy testimony to come out of the [Manafort] trial..., jurors have already seen reams of documentary evidence -- emails, invoices, and business records that paint a picture of the scheme Manafort is accused of orchestrating. In significant ways, the oral testimony simply corroborates or adds to the foundation prosecutors have already laid with the documents entered into evidence. As for [Judge T.S.] Ellis, whose ornery treatment of prosecutors has gotten him undue attention for all the wrong reasons, it's best to not read too much into it.... Because the defense is likely to catch fire from him too, but also because benchslapping is something that trial lawyers have to live with -- and it's not a good barometer of how jurors will ultimately decide a case.... Ellis, more than just about anyone else in America, knows a wealth of extremely sensitive details about the Russia investigation, and his apparent drive to cut no slack for the prosecution also indicates that he wants their side to have a solid trial record in the event of an appeal."

Daniel Lippman of Politico: "Several times in the first year of his administration..., Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But ... midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo.... Trump's aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on 'a constant basis,' but it wasn't easy.... Trump's desire to call world leaders at awkward hours is just one of many previously unreported diplomatic faux pas Trump has made since assuming the presidency, which go beyond telephone etiquette to include misconceptions, mispronunciations and awkward meetings." ...

... Jonathan Chait has a more amusing take on Lippman's reporting: "Running an effective foreign policy for a global hyperpower is always tricky when the president happens to be a personally corrupt authoritarian bigot who is concealing shady ties to a strategic adversary. The problem gets even harder when the president is unable to grasp some of the basic facts and principles of diplomacy.... It's like having Homer Simpson as president, but dumber:"

When Henry Met Jared. Caleb Melby, et al., of Bloomberg: Jared Kushner introduced himself to Henry Kissinger at a National Interest luncheon in March 2016, where Kissinger was the guest speaker. At the luncheon, Kushner "also met Dimitri Simes, the Russian-born president of the center.... Questions have recently been raised about the center for its ties to Russia, including its interactions with Maria Butina, a woman accused of conspiring to set up a back channel by infiltrating the National Rifle Organization and the National Prayer Breakfast.... In the weeks following [the luncheon, Kushner & Simes arranged] ... an event hosted by the center to give Trump a chance to lay out a cohesive foreign policy speech.... In his speech at the Mayflower, Trump called for easing tensions with Russia.... It was at [Trump's] Mayflower [event] that Kushner first met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, an encounter he left off disclosure forms when he initially joined the government." Via safari

Stephanie Murray of Politico: "A high-ranking Republican lawmaker's son donated the 'maximum amount' to a Democrat running to replace his father. Bobby Goodlatte, son of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), made the surprise announcement on Twitter Sunday night. Goodlatte is retiring after 13 terms in Congress. 'I just gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a democrat running for my father's congressional seat. I've also gotten 5 other folks to commit to donate the max. 2018 is the year to flip districts -- let's do this!' Bobby Goodlatte wrote on Twitter.... Donald Trump carried the central Virginia district with nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2016, and Mitt Romney did the same in the 2012 presidential election. Goodlatte received two-thirds of the vote that year."

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The National Archives is doubling down on its refusal to respond to Democratic' requests for documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's White House tenure. Archivist David Ferriero wrote in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the agency's policy to only respond to requests from a committee chairman, who are all Republicans." Mrs. McC: Sounds to me like an unamerican, um, "rigged" policy.

*****

Trump and his crew of misfits & miscreants are such clowns, I feel as if I should begin every page with an apology for the news that follows. It's so humiliating to be an American right now. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Liar-in-Chief. Hope Yen & Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "... President Donald Trump is pulling numbers out of thin air when it comes to the economy, jobs and the deficit. He refers to a current record-breaking gross domestic product for the U.S. where none exists and predicts a blockbuster 5 percent annual growth rate in the current quarter that hardly any economist sees. Hailing his trade policies in spite of fears of damage from the escalating trade disputes he's provoked, Trump also falsely declares that his tariffs on foreign goods will help erase $21 trillion in national debt. The numbers don't even come close." (Also linked yesterday.)

Julian Borger of the Guardian: "Donald Trump's anti-press rhetoric is 'very close to incitement to violence' that would lead to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked, the outgoing UN human rights commissioner has said. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, is stepping down this month as UN high commissioner for human rights ... in the face of a waning commitment among world powers to fighting abuses. Zeid said the Trump administration's lack of concern about human rights marked a distinct break with previous administrations, and that Trump's own rhetoric aimed at minorities and at the press was redolent of two of the worst eras of the 20th century, the run-up to the two world wars."

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "When President Trump took to Twitter to complain about two women with connections to the Russia investigation, he affixed special descriptions to both. 'Beautiful,' he said of Nellie Ohr, the wife of a Justice Department official who worked for Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned a dossier that made salacious claims about Mr. Trump. In a separate tweet, Mr. Trump used the word 'lovely' to describe Lisa Page, the former F.B.I. lawyer who worked on both the Clinton email and Russia investigations and whose text exchanges with another bureau official, Peter Strzok, included repeated criticism of Mr. Trump during his candidacy. The descriptors Mr. Trump used for the two women reflected his intense interest in physical appearances and his clear disdain for both.... His commentary on their looks was in keeping with a long-running tendency by Mr. Trump."

Victoria Guida of Politico: "Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said ... Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey never discussed former national security adviser Mike Flynn, backtracking from July comments in which he indicated otherwise. 'There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,' Trump's personal attorney said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'That is what he will testify to if he's asked that question.' He also told CNN's Jake Tapper that he never said the president had asked Comey to give Flynn a break. 'I said that is what Comey is saying,' Giuliani said."(Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Comey wrote in his opening statement before a Congressional hearing in June 2017 that "Trump said: "'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.'" In oral testimony, under oath, Comey said "that he understood the President to be requesting that he drop the investigation into Flynn." It isn't foolish to question Comey's veracity, but it is hard to believe he made up out of whole cloth Trump's remarks about Flynn. Making up stuff is Trump's modus operandi. See AP report above. BTW, I heard the old clip Sunday; Giuliani did say that Trump asked Comey to give Flynn a break. Matt Shuham of TPM found the transcript: "What he [Trump] said to him [Comey] was 'Can you give him [Flynn] a break?'" This is yet another instance where Giuliani has changed the substance of his claims about Trump's obstruction attempts. ...

... Defining Obstruction Down. If the President Doesn't, Say, Pull a Gun, It's Not Obstruction. Megan Keller of the Hill: "President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday that it would take some sort of extreme action for the president to obstruct justice.... Giuliani said it would take some sort of extreme action for Trump to obstruct justice such as, if 'say the president put a gun to a person's head' in an investigation." Mrs. McC: But Rudy. Wouldn't putting a gun to Comey's head just be Trump's exercising his Second Amendment rights?

"The Rise & Fall of Paul Manafort." Sharon LaFraniere, et al., of the New York Times: "The whole trajectory of [Paul] Manafort's life -- from the son of a blue-collar, small-town mayor to a jet-setting international political consultant to Trump campaign chairman and now to prisoner in an Alexandria, Va., jail awaiting a jury verdict -- is a tale of greed, deception and ego. His trial on 18 charges of bank and tax fraud has ripped away the elaborate facade of a man who, the story went, had moved the swimming pool at one of his eight homes a few feet to catch the perfect combination of sun and shade, and who worked for the Trump campaign at no charge to intimate that for a man of his fabulous wealth, a salary was trivial [even though he was broke].... A subplot of the saga is the betrayal of Mr. Manafort by his longtime deputy Rick Gates.... Mr. Gates has testified that he helped execute Mr. Manafort's fraudulent schemes while simultaneously stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from him, apparently because he felt that Mr. Manafort was not dividing the riches from Ukraine fairly."


Stephanie McCrummen
of the Washington Post: "Omarosa Manigault Newman, the fired White House aide seeking publicity for her new memoir about her time in the Trump administration, said in an interview Sunday that the way Chief of Staff John F. Kelly dismissed her involved a 'threat' and played an audio recording of Kelly that she said she made in the Situation Room. The recording was played on NBC News's 'Meet the Press,' where Manigault Newman was interviewed by Chuck Todd. In the purported recording, which would constitute a serious breach of White House security, Kelly is heard complaining about her 'significant integrity issues' and saying that he wants to make her departure 'friendly and without 'any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's the recording:

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If this conversation was recorded in the Situation Room, as Manigault Newman claims, why was that? The Situation Room is a secure site "to monitor and deal with crises at home and abroad and to conduct secure communications with outside (often overseas) persons." Why a "secure conversation" with Omarosa? This is just weird. ...

     ... Update: Patrick explained in yesterday's Comments why holding a termination interview in the Situation Room isn't so "weird": '... the conference room is an internal space in the WH intell center.... The whole thing is called the Situation Room, but it contains more than one room. So I imagine that Kelly just found that conference room to be the most convenient empty conference room at the time." Later, Patrick wrote, in response to another comment, "... individuals who enter [the SitRoom must] hav[e] the required clearance level. Which means that they have been briefed (when they got that clearance) not to bring any electronic devices into that area. And there are BIG signs at the entrances reminding people of the prohibitions.... They have little lockers outside for your cellphones, laptops, bluetooth devices, etc.... What OM did is a jailable offense. I'm not sure how the Secret Service can avoid charging her." ...

     ... Update 2: Sarah Sanders seems to confirm that General Kelly did it in the Situation Room. This is like Clue, White House Edition. Wrong answers: President Trump did it in the Oval Office with a gun. Mizz Sanders did it in the Briefing Room with a homemade pumpkin pie. Mister Pruitt did it in the White House Mess with a used Trump Hotel mattress.

... Javiar David of CNBC: "The fact that Manigault Newman recorded a conversation in a classified area could create considerable legal problems that add to her existing credibility issues. On social media, political watchers from the left and right ripped into Manigault Newman for having made the recordings in the first place." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: It appears Manigault Newman was truthful about that $15K/month "bribe" The White House offered her to keep her mouth shut. The Washington Post has reproduced a consulting agreement (between the Trump campaign & her) & a companion nondisclosure & nondisparagement agreement. The deal -- purportedly produced by Team Trump -- runs only till the end of this year, though. Kelly fired Omarosa in December, with an effective termination date of January 20, 2018. So that would make the "consulting" deal worth about $170K. Unless Omarosa mocked these up while she still had access to the White House watermark, like the GOP candidate in Florida who made her very own diploma (see yesterday's Beyond the Beltway), then these agreements were Omarosa's severance package. I expect she turned down the deal because it was so paltry. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The $15,000-per-month retainer has been confirmed by the Washington Post, which reviewed a copy of the offer. This lends veracity to her other charges; after all, nobody is going to pay her $15,000 a month to keep quiet unless they know she possesses some damaging information.... The recordings might be damning, or they might not. In the meantime, she seems to have maneuvered her former colleagues into a highly uncomfortable spot." Mrs. McC: As the linked Post story (Aug. 10) notes, "Throughout his career as a businessman and politician, Trump has repeatedly used nondisclosure agreements to quiet critics and accusers, including adult-film star Stormy Daniels." Apparently Trump calculated that Omarosa had slightly more damaging info on him than Daniels -- who was paid $135K -- did. Or inflation. ...

Meridith McGraw & Tara Palmeri of ABC News: "Omarosa Manigault Newman's former White House colleagues are looking into legal options to stop her from releasing more tapes and to punish her for secretly recording her conversation with Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, White House officials tell ABC News." ...

... Oops, Too Late. Adam Edelman of NBC News: "Omarosa Manigault Newman ... has provided an audio recording that she says is from 2017 and on which ... Donald Trump expresses surprise that she'd been fired from his administration. The tape, which was played exclusively Monday on 'Today,' appears to show Trump having no idea that Newman had been dismissed by his Chief of Staff John Kelly. 'Omarosa? Omarosa what's going on? I just saw on the news that you're thinking about leaving? What happened?' Trump is heard saying on the tape, which Newman said was made one day after her termination in December 2017 when Trump called her. Newman responds, 'General Kelly -- General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.' 'No...I, I, Nobody even told me about it,' Trump replies. Newman then says, 'Wow'... 'You know they run a big operation, but I didn't know it,' Trump is heard saying on the tape. 'I didn't know that. Goddamn it. I don't love you leaving at all.'" Includes video & audio.


Liz Robbins
of the New York Times: "... a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use [government programs for low-income residents] to obtain green cards. New York City officials estimated that at least a million people here could be hurt by this plan, warning that the children of immigrants seeking green cards would be most vulnerable." Mrs. McC: This is one of the anti-immigrant plans Stephen Miller has pushed. ...

... David Glosser, who is an uncle of Stephen Miller, in a Politico op-ed, recounts how their shared ancestors, who were the victims of violent Russian pogroms, immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s with no money &, in some cases, via "chain migration." "I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family's life in this country." Thanks to unwashed for the link. Mrs. McC: Glosser is a neuropsychologist. He should know that a logical appeal can have no effect on his nephew. Glosser might know whether Miller's problems are the result of self-loathing (Hitler had Jewish & African roots), extreme selfishnish (I got mine), or simply bad wiring that bypasses normal empathy impulses & an ability to relate to others (see Trump). Whatever the cause, it has produced an evil person on whom appeals to reason are useless. In slightly different circumstances, Miller would be the "troubled loner" who took an AK-15 to Santa Monica Place & mowed down dozens of shoppers. ...

... Masha Gessen of the New Yorker: "The new rules appear to use the broadest possible definition of public assistance -- one that includes Obamacare and children's health insurance -- meaning that most potential new citizens will be ineligible for naturalization.... The key difference between a legal permanent resident and a citizen lies in the realm of political rights: the non-citizen doesn't have them. She can't vote. She can't run for office. She can't engage in civil disobedience -- any legal violation may make her deportable -- and, in effect, she can't protest. The new rules will mean that this category of disenfranchised immigrants will grow by millions in the next few years.... The new naturalization rules provide perhaps the clearest example yet that Trump's war on immigrants is a war on democracy." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Congress, of course, could quash Stephen Miller's new rule by passing a veto-proof bill. But it won't. Republicans see every new citizen as a potential new Democratic voter. Most Republican legislators consistently place their own interests over those of expanding (or in this case, maintaining) democratic ideals. ...

... Today's American History Lesson. Diane Bernard of the Washington Post: "... at the height of the Great Depression..., President Herbert Hoover's [announced] a national program of 'American jobs for real Americans' -- code words for '"getting rid of Mexicans," who weren't considered "real" Americans,' said [Joseph] Dunn, whose staff spent three years delving into federal, state and local records ... to document this little-known tragedy of the Latino experience in the United States. The program, implemented by Hoover's secretary of labor, William Doak, included passing local laws forbidding government employment of anyone of Mexican descent, even legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens. Major companies, including Ford, U.S. Steel and the Southern Pacific Railroad, colluded with the government ... laying off thousands.... Hoover's approach is echoed in the Trump administration's immigration policies.'"

Sarah Ellison & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "The revolving door between Fox News and Republican political figures has turned steadily for years, with failed GOP candidates finding a home at the network. But since Donald Trump was elected president, the door has provided a number of former Fox personnel with entree into a government now infused with the cable channel's fiery sensibility. And with Bill Shine's appointment this summer to a top job in the White House, the door may finally come to rest. The two worlds have merged into one universe: the Fox News White House. If Donald Trump is running his own touch-and-go reality show from Pennsylvania Avenue, he has finally found in Shine his executive producer.... 'Bill Shine has made an entire career of subordinating himself to a big personality...,' a Shine confidante said. 'So when they're in the East Room, he wants the lighting to look the best it possibly can so that Trump can look the best he possibly can.'"

Chris Cillizza of CNN: "As a candidate, Donald Trump would famously boast that if elected, he'd 'surround myself only with the best and most serious people' -- adding: 'We want top-of-the-line professionals.' The first 18 months of his presidency have repeatedly revealed the fallacy of that pledge, as myriad members of Trump's Cabinet and senior staff have departed -- often under suspicious circumstances -- even as the President himself has railed against the ineptitude of people who still work for him.... The result, like so much of Trump's wildly unpredictable management style, is disorder, disarray and disorganization.... And because of Trump's tendency to openly discuss and deride both those who have left his side and those who continue to work within his administration, he launches a series of storylines that not only highlight the pandemonium within his ranks but also crowd out other, more positive stories for his White House." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump's mismanagement style was obvious before November 8, 2016. Trump fired his first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski & his second campaign manager Paul Manafort. His third campaign manager, Steve Bannon, had no professional experience running a political campaign. The so-called "foreign policy advisors" he named mystified actual foreign policy pros, who -- for good reasons -- had never heard of them.

Noah Weiland & Andy Parsons of the New York Times: "A year after the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va., a small group of white nationalists marched through downtown Washington on Sunday on their way to a rally in front of the White House. It was over almost as soon as it began. The white supremacists were met along their march route and at the rally site by thousands of counterdemonstrators denouncing racism and white supremacy. The white nationalists, who numbered about two dozen, stayed in Lafayette Square, a park just north of the White House, for a short time and left before 6 p.m.... Counterprotesters who had been shouting 'Go home, Nazis, go home!' suddenly started booing when the white nationalists did just that. A new song then broke out, 'Na na na na, na na na na! Hey, hey, goodbye!' With the white nationalists gone, the mood among the counterprotestors grew mildly celebratory, although rain led many to leave. Before they made their exit, the white nationalists were separated from the counterprotesters by metal fences and dozens of law enforcement officers guarding against any outbreaks of violence." ...

... Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post reports on the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia: "There were more than 100 mostly young protesters, some who had come from other states, calling for an end to white supremacist groups. There was an overwhelming police presence that some demonstrators called symptomatic of an over-policing of minority communities in America.... There was less a feeling of reconciliation than anger, as protesters screamed at police officers, whom some demonstrators had all weekend tried to associate with racism and fascism." ...

... AP: "Officers kept the peace at this weekend's protests and counter-protests a year after a deadly far-right rally. Authorities made several arrests in Charlottesville and in northern Virginia, where a small group of right-wing demonstrators took the Metro to their rally outside the White House. Authorities said a man heading to the 'Unite the Right 2' rally in Washington was arrested Sunday for assaulting two Virginia police officers ... outside the Vienna/Fairfax/George Mason University Metro station.... Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, police made several arrests as hundreds marched Saturday in a demonstration against the far-right "Unite the Right" rally that left one dead and others injured a year ago. That march was overwhelmingly peaceful as well, but Charlottesville Police say they're investigating an alleged assault of an officer who approached a man whose face was covered. Police say the officer and the man fell to the ground. Others pulled them apart, enabling the masked man to get away. No one was injured, and the march continued."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Cathy O'Neil in Bloomberg: "Jack Dorsey from Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, all those Google nerds: They're monumentally screwed, because they have no idea how to tame the monsters they have created. The way I see it, these guys -- and they are mostly guys -- were arbitrarily chosen. They started with some good ideas, some luck, great timing, got lots of people to believe in their rosy vision, and they won the unicorn lottery. Little did they know or care what problems they were creating. And now, they're being asked to solve -- or acknowledge, or something --- some really big issues, such as what to do about people who use their platforms to meddle in elections or spread lies, paranoia, bigotry and straight-up hate. The world expects great things of them, because they're supposed to be geniuses. Problem is, they're not.... They're manufacturing baloney explanations about how they'll use more technology, or maybe more people, to handle the civic duties they had hoped to avoid.... I'd like to offer some advice.... Ask someone smarter and more educated, thoughtful, and civic-minded to decide on the future of your companies."

How Dollar General Creates New "Food Deserts." Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Chris McGreal of the Guardian: "Dollar General is opening stores at the rate of three a day across the US. It moves into places not even Walmart will go, targeting rural towns and damaged inner-city neighbourhoods with basic goods at basic prices.... The chain now has more outlets across the country than McDonald's has restaurants, and its profits have surged past some of the grand old names of American retail. The company estimates that three-quarters of the population lives within five miles of one of its stores, which stock everything from groceries and household cleaners to clothes and tools.... But there is a cost. Dollar General's aggressive pricing drives locally-owned grocery stores out of business, replacing shelves stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat with the kinds of processed foods underpinning the country's obesity and diabetes crisis."

Beyond the Beltway

Minnesota Attorney General Race. Briana Bierschbach of Minnesota Public Radio: "Keith Ellison, one of the leading candidates to be Minnesota's next attorney general, confronted allegations Sunday of domestic abuse of a former girlfriend that surfaced days before the election that will decide the party's nominee. The allegation that the physical abuse was caught on video was posted to Facebook late Saturday night by the woman's son, four days before Minnesota's primary election, where Ellison is facing off against four other Democrats for the open attorney general's seat. Ellison is a six-term 5th District congressman and the perceived front-runner in the race. In a written statement Sunday, Ellison denied the incident.... State Rep. Debra Hilstrom, who also is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, recirculated the Facebook post and called on Ellison to answer the allegation.... Hilstrom was later joined by Democratic candidates Matt Pelikan Tom Foley, who separately called for Ellison to address the allegation." ...

... Kyle Potter of the AP: "Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison on Sunday denied an allegation from an ex-girlfriend that he had once dragged her off a bed while screaming obscenities at her -- an allegation that came just days before a Tuesday primary in which the congressman is among several Democrats running for state attorney general.... Karen Monahan['s] ... son alleged in a Facebook post that he had seen hundreds of angry text messages from Ellison, some threatening his mother. He also wrote he had viewed a video in which Ellison dragged Monahan off the bed by her feet. Monahan, a Minneapolis political organizer, said via Twitter that what her son posted was 'true.'... Monahan had sent Twitter messages for several months referencing an unidentified, powerful man who had abused her."

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Bierschbach said she reviewed "more than 100 text and Twitter messages between Ellison and Karen Monahan," which Monahan had given her. "There is no evidence in the messages reviewed by MPR News of the alleged physical abuse." Ellison is also deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Saturday
Aug112018

The Commentariat -- August 12, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Liar-in-Chief. Hope Yen & Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "... President Donald Trump is pulling numbers out of thin air when it comes to the economy, jobs and the deficit. He refers to a current record-breaking gross domestic product for the U.S. where none exists and predicts a blockbuster 5 percent annual growth rate in the current quarter that hardly any economist sees. Hailing his trade policies in spite of fears of damage from the escalating trade disputes he's provoked, Trump also falsely declares that his tariffs on foreign goods will help erase $21 trillion in national debt. The numbers don't even come close."

Victoria Guida of Politico: "Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said ... Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey never discussed former national security adviser Mike Flynn, backtracking from July comments in which he indicated otherwise. 'There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,' Trump's personal attorney said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'That is what he will testify to if he's asked that question.' He also told CNN's Jake Tapper that he never said the president had asked Comey to give Flynn a break. 'I said that is what Comey is saying,' Giuliani said." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Comey wrote in his opening statement before a Congressional hearing in June 2017 that "Trump said: "'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.'" In oral testimony, under oath, Comey said "that he understood the President to be requesting that he drop the investigation into Flynn." It isn't foolish to question Comey's veracity, but it is hard to believe he made up out of whole cloth Trump's remarks about Flynn. Making up stuff is Trump's modus operandi. See AP report above.

Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post: "Omarosa Manigault Newman, the fired White House aide seeking publicity for her new memoir about her time in the Trump administration, said in an interview Sunday that the way Chief of Staff John F. Kelly dismissed her involved a 'threat' and played an audio recording of Kelly that she said she made in the Situation Room. The recording was played on NBC News's 'Meet the Press,' where Manigault Newman was interviewed by Chuck Todd. In the purported recording, which would constitute a serious breach of White House security, Kelly is heard complaining about her 'significant integrity issues' and saying that he wants to make her departure 'friendly and without 'any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.'" ...

... Here's the recording:

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If this conversation was recorded in the Situation Room, as Manigault Newman claims, why was that? The Situation Room is a secure site "to monitor and deal with crises at home and abroad and to conduct secure communications with outside (often overseas) persons." Why a "secure conversation" with Omarosa? This is just weird. ...

     ... Update: See Patrick's response in today's Comments. He explains why holding a termination interview in the Situation Room isn't so "weird."

... Javiar David of CNBC: "The fact that Manigault Newman recorded a conversation in a classified area could create considerable legal problems that add to her existing credibility issues. On social media, political watchers from the left and right ripped into Manigault Newman for having made the recordings in the first place."

*****

Election 2018

The New York Times posts Hawaii's primary election results, only half-tallied at 4:20 am ET. ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, survived a primary challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, as voters favored incumbents for the November midterms in one of the country's bluest states. Down the ballot, former congressman Ed Case, a centrist Democrat who supported the Iraq War, took a big step closer to returning to the House with a primary victory in the state's 1st Congressional District. In the 2nd Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard won renomination by a wide margin. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, meanwhile, was unopposed. The Democrats are widely favored to win all three congressional races and the contest for governor in the midterms."

Nothing to Worry About, Folks. Kevin Collier of BuzzFeed News: "This weekend saw the 26th annual DEFCON gathering. It was the second time the convention had featured a Voting Village, where organizers set up decommissioned election equipment and watch hackers find creative and alarming ways to break in.... In a room set aside for kid hackers, an 11-year-old girl hacked a replica of the Florida secretary of state's website within 10 minutes -- and changed the results." Emphasis added.


More Twitter Massages for a Rainy Afternoon. Deirdre Shesgreen
of USA Today: "... Donald Trump blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Saturday.... Trump's sideswipe at his own chief law enforcement officer came in a pair of afternoon tweets that seemed to allege unspecified malfeasance the Department of Justice in its handling of the Russia investigation. Trump has criticized Sessions before but Saturday's missive was particularly pointed. 'Our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action. It is all starting to be revealed - not pretty. IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!,' the president tweeted from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey." The story puts the remark in the context of a broader attack." Mrs. McC BTW: Trump's description of Nelly Ohr as "beautiful" is a potshot. She's a perfectly ordinary-looking woman, so the Misogynist-in-Chief naturally uses her appearance to demean her. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "I' have never seen anything so Rigged in my life,' Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to reports about meetings between a Justice Department official and a former British spy who helped compile a dossier that contained unverified but potentially damaging allegations about Mr. Trump.... The reports, featured mostly in conservative news outlets, suggest that even after the Justice Department stopped using the former spy, Christopher Steele, as an informant, he continued to meet with a top official at the agency, Bruce Ohr. For months, Republicans have attacked Mr. Ohr because his wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for FusionGPS, the opposition research firm that hired Mr. Steele. The two men had known each other before Mr. Steele began working for Fusion. But Mr. Ohr worked on counternarcotics at the Justice Department, not counterintelligence, and he is not known to have played any role in the Russia investigation."

Noah Weiland of the New York Times: "As white nationalists planned to gather in front of the White House on Sunday to mark the anniversary of last year’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., President Trump denounced 'all types of racism,' but did not specifically condemn the supremacists.... Mr. Trump's general call for unity, as Washington braced for the possibility of violence between the white nationalists and counterdemonstrators, echoed his reluctance a year ago after the deadly Charlottesville rally to single out the supremacists for condemnation. In what is seen as a defining mark of his presidency, he blamed 'both sides' for the violence, eliciting widespread criticism for what was seen as drawing a moral equivalence between hate groups -- some of whom supported his candidacy -- and those who protested them." ...

... Likely a Ghostwritten Trump Tweet. Brent Griffiths: "... Donald Trump on Saturday called for the nation to 'come together' ahead of the one-year anniversary of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 'The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division,' Trump [Mrs. McC: or somebody] wrote on Twitter. 'We must come together as a nation.'... On Saturday, Trump [Mrs. McC: or somebody] wrote that he condemns 'all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!'... The president ... earlier Saturday returned to his criticism of current and former FBI officials, echoing calls from his congressional allies that the Justice Department had not turned over documents related to officials like former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe in a timely manner. 'Why isn't the FBI giving Andrew McCabe text messages* to Judicial Watch or appropriate governmental authorities,' the president wrote. 'FBI said they won't give up even one (I may have to get involved, DO NOT DESTROY). What are they hiding?'" Mrs. McC: Okay, he wrote the earlier tweets. He was probably on the golf course by the time a staffer tweeted the unity stuff. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     * Update: What Trump or his ghosttweeter actually typed was "text massages." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker on the conveniently-timed tease of Omarosa Manigault's memoir thing in which she discovers that Donald Trump is a racist, after all. "The issue of whether Trump used the word in question is almost completely inconsequential, yet the fact that it does not matter is itself of great consequence. The elastic tolerance of the otherwise intolerable is the looming context in which Robert Mueller will deliver his expected reports on whether Trump obstructed justice as President or colluded with Russia in 2016. In matters of race, as well as competence, decency, character, and fitness, the public either already knows what it needs to know or intractably believes what it wishes to believe. Omarosa Manigault’s book is unlikely to change the balance of either." Mrs. McC: This the sort of book review worthy of its subject: Cobb doesn't pretend to have read the book. And why would he?

Kristine Phillips of the Washington Post: "First lady Melania Trump's immigration attorney is criticizing the president's hostility toward 'chain migration' -- a process by which U.S. citizens or permanent residents can sponsor family members to come to the country -- and said the attacks are 'unconscionable.' 'This is a tradition that happens in all rank and all files of life, whether you're president of the United States -- and this is the first naturalized first lady that we have -- or people who eventually navigate through the waters into America,' Michael Wildes told CNN on Friday. Wildes, a high-profile attorney who has worked for numerous celebrities on immigration cases, represented the first lady's parents, who became naturalized citizens Thursday.... Responding to the president's comments, clips of which were played in succession during the [CNN] interview, Wildes denounced claims that chain migration allows people to simply bring in any relative to the United States."

David Von Drehle of the Washington Post reminds us, "Trump's résumé is rife with mob connections." Von Drehle names a few. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sad! Kyle Cheney & Jimmy Vielkind of Politico: "Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who was charged this week as part of an insider trading scheme, is suspending his re-election campaign and will attempt to remove his name from the ballot. The third-term congressman announced the decision Saturday morning on Twitter, just days after he vowed to clear his name and remain on the ballot. Collins is facing multiple counts of securities fraud, as well as charges of wire fraud and lying to investigators. His son and another associate were charged in the scheme as well.... Under New York law, Collins' name can be supplanted on the ballot at this stage of the cycle only if he dies, moves out of state or is nominated for another office.... According to Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, the exact mechanisms are still being worked out, but he noted Collins owns houses in Florida and Washington, D.C." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Katie Thomas & Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times: Sen. Christopher Collins' (R-NY) "stock scandal has rippled through Congress, where his favorite stock tip had enticed at least seven former or current House Republicans into investing along with him, his two grown children and other friends. I provided new ammunition for Democrats seeking to take back the House, and forced Mr. Collins to announce on Saturday that he would not seek re-election to a fourth term. While the other congressmen who invested in Innate were not implicated in the indictment, the allegations against Mr. Collins have revived calls for stricter rules about financial investments or corporate board seats held by members of Congress while they are sitting on committees with oversight into those businesses.... One-third of its members [of the House Energy & Commerce Committee] also bought and sold biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device stocks.... Beyond Innate Immunotherapeutics, Mr. Collins, among the wealthiest members of Congress, has held leadership roles in other biotech companies that were little known or mentioned on Capitol Hill.... Mr. Collins did not disclose these ties in committee hearings when topics overlapped with his business interests...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Collins is a bad joke. Between the incredible amount of work he had to devote to his business interests & the ridiculous amount of time members of Congress spend fundraising, this guy did not have a minute left to "represent the people," a notion he probably considers downright quaint. Why are we not surprised he was the first MoC to endorse the Scammer-in-Chief?

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. The Fourth Estate Fights Back. Cleve Wootsen of the Washington Post: "Trump labeled the news media 'the enemy of the American people' a month after taking the oath of office. In the year that followed, a CNN analysis concluded, he used the word 'fake' -- as in 'fake news,' 'fake stories,' 'fake media' or 'fake polls' -- more than 400 times. He once fumed, the New York Times reported, because a TV on Air Force One was tuned to CNN. And last week, at a political rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told his audience that the media was 'fake, fake disgusting news.'... He pointed to a group of journalists covering the event. 'They don't report it. They only make up stories.' Now, the editorial board of the Boston Globe is proposing that ... opinion writers that staff newspaper editorial boards ... produce independent opinion pieces about Trump's attacks on the media [to be published August 16]. So far, according to the Associated Press, 70 news organizations have agreed -- from large metropolitan daily newspapers such as the Miami Herald and Denver Post to small weekly newspapers with four-digit circulation numbers." ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "As of Saturday, 'we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days,' Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe's deputy editorial page editor, told CNN. The American Society of News Editors, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and other groups have helped her spread the word. 'The response has been overwhelming,' Pritchard said. 'We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump's assault on journalism.'"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Karen Attiah of the Washington Post: "Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Charlottesville, NPR decided to give an on-air lesson on the proper care and feeding of white nationalists and neo-Nazi ideology. On Friday's Morning Edition, NPR's Noel King interviewed Jason Kessler, the organizer of Sunday's Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington." Attiah goes on to demolish NPR for this & for the interview that followed: "Black Lives Matter of Greater New York official Hawk Newsome, who was asked why he declined an invitation to Kessler's rally. This was a poor choice to contextualize the interview. For starters, it is extremely tone-deaf to put the onus on a person of color to defend why they would want no part in participating in a rally with white nationalists. More insidiously, such framing effectively positions Black Lives Matter as the ideological counterpart to white supremacists." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Aaron Rupar made a number of the same points as does Attiah, in a post linked here yesterday, but it never hurts to pile on to this type of "journalism," especially when exercised by a news outlet of such broad appeal.

Beyond the Beltway

Totally Trumpish. Tim Swift of WPLG Miami: "A Republican candidate for the Florida House lied about having a college degree and posed with a fake diploma after a news outlet questioned her credentials. Melissa Howard, who is running in Florida's 73rd House District near Sarasota, had claimed she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Miami University in Ohio.... FLA News Online, a political news website, citing the National Student Clearinghouse, reported Howard did not graduate from the Ohio college. Howard said the story was false and posted a picture of her and her mother on Facebook with a framed diploma. The news site apologized to Howard and briefly retracted the story. However, a closer look at the diploma found several inconsistencies.... Miami University General Counsel Robin Parker later confirmed to FLA News that Howard attended the university, but did not graduate from the school.... 'Melissa is focused on her family -- not fake news this morning,' Anthony Pedicini, a campaign consultant, told FloridaPolitics.com."

Way Beyond

Brexit Regrets. Michael Savage of the Guardian: "More than 100 Westminster constituencies that voted to leave the EU have now switched their support to Remain, according to a stark new analysis seen by the Observer. In findings that could have a significant impact on the parliamentary battle of Brexit later this year, the study concludes that most seats in Britain now contain a majority of voters who want to stay in the EU. The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave." Emphasis added.

News Lede

Space.com: "NASA's Parker Solar Probe lifted off this morning (Aug. 12) at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT) from a pad here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, its powerful United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carving an arc of orange flame into the predawn sky. If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will end up traveling faster than any craft ever has, and getting unprecedentedly close to the sun; indeed, it will fly through our star's outer atmosphere, known as the corona. And the measurements the probe makes there will reveal key insights about our star's inner workings that have eluded scientists for decades."

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