The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, August 18, 2019.

AP: “The death toll from a late-night suicide bombing at a crowded wedding party in the Afghan capital rose to at least 63 on Sunday, including women and children, officials said. The local Islamic State (IS) group's affiliate claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year. Another 182 people were wounded in the Saturday night explosion, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said. Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll as families began to bury the dead. Some helped to dig graves with their bare hands. Kabul residents were outraged as there appears to be no end to violence even as the U.S. and the Taliban say they are nearing a deal to end their 18-year conflict, America's longest war.”

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":

 

Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

Tuesday
May212019

The Commentariat -- May 22, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Contributor RAS, with a little help from PD Pepe & Charles Pierce, finds the likely explanation for Mitch McConnell's refusal to bring up election security bills for votes. The original McConnell story, by Li Zhou of Vox, is linked below. And, yeah, it bears a close relationship to the WashPo story on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's refusal to limit Chinese companies from contracting with U.S. transportation companies. You might conclude the Republican leaders are a couple of shady characters who prioritize their own interests over national security concerns.

Trump Goes Nuts. Peter Baker & Katie Rogers of the New York Times: "President Trump abruptly blew up a scheduled meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday, lashing out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing him of a cover-up and declaring that he could not work with them until they stopped investigating him. He then marched out into the Rose Garden, where reporters had been gathered, and delivered a statement bristling with anger as he demanded that Democrats' get these phony investigations over with.' He said they could not legislate and investigate at the same time. 'We're going to go down one track at a time,' he said.... When [Pelosi] and Senator Chuck Schumer arrived at the White House, Mr. Trump was loaded for bear. He walked into the Cabinet Room, did not shake anyone's hand or sit in his seat, according to a Democrat informed about the meeting. He said he wanted to advance legislation on infrastructure, trade and other matters, but that 'Speaker Pelosi said something terrible today and accused me of a cover-up,' according to the Democrat. After just three minutes, he left the room before anyone else could speak, the Democrat said."

Mrs. McCrabbie: 11:40 am ET: It appears Trump has just blown off the infrastructure meeting with Congressional Democrats to hold a nearly-impromptu Rose Garden event so he can reiterate conspiracy theories, lies & misstatements related the Russia investigation. Reporters got no heads-up on what had happened with the meeting. Whine, whine, whine. "No collusion, no obstruction." Now he's said he walked into the room & told Pelosi & Schumer to "get these phony investigations over with," before going off on various other tangents. He's knocking the reporters sitting in front of him. He can't maintain a consistent thread. Apparently he's angry that House Democrats met this morning "about the 'i' word." It sounds as if he threw Pelosi & Schumer out of the White House, but he hasn't said so directly. The gist seems to be that he won't work with Democrats on anything, including infrastructure, until the House "finishes up" its investigations, but that's an inference, not a report on what Trump actually said. What a loon! There was a a printed "No Collusion, No Obstruction" poster exhibited on the podium, so apparently the "impromptu" speech was pre-planned. ...

     ... MSNBC is reporting that Pelosi & Schumer will offer a "rebuttal" of whatever that was. People who were in the meeting room said the president walked in, said he wanted to do infrastructure, trade, etc., but the meeting Pelosi had this morning was so inconsiderate, especially when she said Trump was engaged in a cover-up, that he wasn't going to deal with them till the investigations wrapped up "pouted a little more, then he walked out of the room. I'll post reports on this when they're available, but I'm leaving up my running "report" to give an idea of just how nuts & disjointed this presidential rant was. ...

     ... Pelosi began speaking a couple of minutes after noon & Schumer spoke after her. Of course they sounded, you know, sane. That's something.

Naomi Jagoda of the Hill: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said that the department is trying to find out who wrote a draft IRS memo that found that the agency has to provide tax returns to Congress unless executive privilege is invoked." Mrs. McC: Hmm, sounds like an actual witch hunt.

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The House Intelligence Committee has postponed a potential vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, citing efforts b the Justice Department to comply with their demand for access to special counsel Robert Mueller's files. 'The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step towards compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production,' committee chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement Wednesday. 'That initial production should be completed by the end of next week.'"

Missy Ryan & Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan has mandated new restrictions on the way the Pentagon shares information with Congress about military operations around the world, a move that is straining ties with key Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In a May 8 internal memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Shanahan lays out the criteria for when Pentagon officials may provide congressional offices or committees information they request about operational plans and orders. The memo comes as lawmakers from both parties complain that the Trump administration has withheld information that prevents them from executing their constitutionally mandated oversight role. Some lawmakers are also concerned about whether Shanahan has allowed the military to be drawn too deeply into President Trump's immigration agenda."

~~~~~~~~~~

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Jonathan Chait of New York: "In a pre-Trumpian world, this sequence of events [at yesterday's rallying cry of 'treason' and Trump goading his AG Bill Barr to 'lock up' his political enemies] would set off a political crisis. In the surreal landscape we inhabit, it barely registers. But it is worth noting that Trump continues to commit impeachable offenses at an unprecedented pace. Last night's threats to make good on his 'lock them up' promises are merely one more in another recent flurry. The space between Trump's long-standing authoritarian rhetoric and the deployment of his powers of office is slowly collapsing on several fronts.... What cynics had waved off as Trump's cartoonish musings is slowly seeping its way into sanctioned government policy. The question of whether or not to impeach Trump has attached itself to the discrete drama of the Mueller report, which contains a large cache of Trumpian misconduct. But the misconduct is also an ongoing process with no clear endpoint. The impeachable offenses just keep coming." --safari: Chait identifies 5 impeachable acts just this week.

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, defied a House subpoena on Tuesday under order of the White House, stoking outraged Democrats to contemplate anew punitive measures, including opening an impeachment inquiry, to try to enforce Congress's oversight powers. The House Judiciary Committee convened the hearing on President Trump's attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation anyway, though without the man Democrats had hoped could serve as a star eyewitness as they seek to build a case before the public. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the panel's chairman, opened the brief session with a stern warning both to Mr. McGahn and Mr. Trump. The House, he said, would move quickly to bring Mr. McGahn to court, citing him for contempt of Congress if he does not relent. 'This committee will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,' Mr. Nadler said, staring down at an empty chair for Mr. McGahn. He said the president's attempts to impede the Russia investigation, witnessed by Mr. McGahn and shared with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, 'constitutes a crime.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been updated. New Lede: "A bloc of liberal Democrats began pressing on Tuesday for an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, underscoring party divisions and the growing difficulties that Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces as she tries to chart a more methodical course." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: Nancy "Pelosi might be the biggest barrier between President Trump and an impeachment inquiry right now. Pelosi has made her personal opposition to impeaching Trump clear.... Until recently, most members of the Democratic caucus have been willing to go along with their leadership's position.... During a meeting on Monday... several Democrats told the speaker that it was time to launch an impeachment inquiry, including Representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Joe Neguse of Colorado. What's interesting about these members is they're all members of the Democratic leadership team." ...

... The blurb on Eric Levitz's New York post on the House Democrats' debate gives a hint of Levitz's view on the matter: "Pelosi shares her members' concerns about Trump's dino clones, but says impeachment would distract from their message on Gym Membership Tax Credits.

... Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: As House Democrats were conducting a closed-door meeting re: how to move forward in the face of Trump's stonewalling of subpoenas, "Trump was shouting to a rally crowd in Pennsylvania that the FBI and Democrats are guilty of 'treason,' vowing that Attorney General William P. Barr would investigate -- that is, investigate his political opponents for invented crimes.... One Democrat involved in the Monday debate was Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional law professor.... 'I think that overwhelming evidence has been presented to us in the Mueller report, and outside of it too, of high crimes and misdemeanors, and we should launch an impeachment inquiry. Remember, an inquiry doesn't prejudge the outcome. We're not talking about articles of impeachment,' [Raskin told Sargent]." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Actually, an excellent wrap-up of TrumpNews:

Jeremy Herb, et al., of CNN: "Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has expressed reluctance to him testifying publicly in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to sources familiar with the matter. The special counsel's team has conveyed the notion that Mueller does not want to appear political after staying behind the scenes for two years and not speaking as he conducted his investigation into ... Donald Trump. One option is to have him testify behind closed doors. But the notion that Mueller would only answer questions in private has become a sticking point, according to a source, as Democrats believe the public needs to hear directly from the special counsel. Rank-and-file Democrats made clear Tuesday they believe Mueller must testify publicly...." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie Note to Bob: It is not "political" to testify truthfully at a Congressional hearing. ...

     ... digby: "I hope this is a strategic move by the Mueller team in order to assure the public that they are reluctant participants in the partisan wars in order to preserve their credibility.... But it's also true thatBarr and Mueller grew out of the same political petrie dish. Maybe when push comes to shove, Mueller just can't separate himself from his homies." ...

... Maybe the Reluctance to Testify Publicly Isn't Mueller's. Katherine Faulders, et al., of ABC News: "Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are pushing back on terms offered by Justice Department officials for ... Robert Mueller's testimony, objecting to a proposal for him to give a public opening statement before answering questions behind closed doors, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.... A Justice Department official said Mueller's team is 'directly negotiating with the Hill.' While House Democrats aren't ruling out having closed-door testimony for portions of the report, they want to have Mueller answer at least some questions in a public setting. The committee has been in discussions with Mueller's team within the Justice Department over the past month. Sources have said that Mueller is seeking guidance from DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel ahead of any planned testimony to advise on what he can and cannot say." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If Mueller is seeking Barr's & the OLC's "advice," he is not being an honest actor. He reads newspapers. He knows what-all Barr & the OLC are doing to help Trump stonewall. AND, if the ABC report is accurate, then -- you may be shocked, shocked to learn -- Bill Barr has been lying when he's said, "It's Bob's call whether he wants to testify."

Jeremy Herb & Manu Raju of CNN: "The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday issued subpoenas to former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson for documents and testimony, setting the stage for another clash with the White House over former officials appearing before Congress."

** Jeff Stein & Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post: "A confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless the president takes the rare step of asserting executive privilege, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Washington Post. The memo contradicts the Trump administration's justification for denying lawmakers' request for President Trump's tax returns.... Trump has refused to turn over his tax returns but has not invoked executive privilege. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has instead denied the returns by arguing there is no legislative purpose for demanding them. But according to the IRS memo..., the disclosure of tax returns to the committee 'is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs.' The 10-page document says the law 'does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met' and directly rejects the reason Mnuchin has cited for withholding the information. '[T]he Secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee ... to state a reason for the request,' it says.... The memo is stamped 'DRAFT,' it is not signed, and it does not reference Trump.... The agency says IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig [Mrs. McC: who wrote an op-ed saying Trump should not have to release his tax returns before Trump nominated him] and current chief counsel Michael Desmond [Mrs. McC: whom Trump pushed the Senate to confirm quickly], who was confirmed by the Senate in February, were not familiar with it until a Post inquiry this week.... Mnuchin and other senior staff members never reviewed the IRS memo, according to a Treasury spokesman." ...

... Sophie Weiner of Splinter: The memo "also notes that if Trump does invoke executive privilege, he might be asked to justify it. That justification would have to be something other than a desire to avoid a subpoena. This is a pretty iron-clad opinion stating that the tax returns must be given to Congress." ...

... Josh Marshall: "... the memo says the only option the White House has is to invoke executive privilege, an option even the memo writer didn't seem to think had much merit.... The doctrine of executive privilege has virtually always been held to apply to the internal policy-making, advice-giving, deliberative process within the executive branch. The Supreme Court has made clear it's not absolute privilege. But that's the general logic. There's really no way the President's personal finances or the administration of his personal taxes can come under that penumbra. It';s definitional. His taxes are tied to the individual person, not the President." ...

... Elliot Hannon of Slate: "The legal reasoning, prepared before the current head of the IRS and chief counsel took over, gives some perspective on just how far the Trump administration is twisting the law to cover for the president." ...

... Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "How much of [Trump's] craziest, most paranoid and norm-violating behavior is motivated by a desire to keep his financial arrangements secret? It began with Trump's bizarre refusal to release his tax returns, in defiance of both a nearly half-century practice and Trump's own promise that he'd do so. Then there was his refusal to divest from his sprawling multinational empire, or even put it into a blind trust -- either of which would have forced at least some information disclosure to a third party. There were also the interviews and tweetstorms calling journalists who report on his finances 'enemies of the people,' and suggestions that federal officials who audit him are anti-Christian. As well as his implicit threat in 2017 that he would fire ... Robert S. Mueller III if he crossed a 'red line' by examining Trump's personal financial dealings.... All of which raises the question: Why exactly is Trump (and the rest of his administration) expending so much energy and political capital to keep these documents hidden?... We don't know what Trump is working so hard to hide, but we have a lot of hints. They're all troubling. Which is precisely why it's so important that Congress ... conduct a forensic audit of Trump's worldwide financial dealings."

Laura Jarrett of CNN: "The Justice Department is trying to stave off an 'enforcement action' against Attorney General William Barr this week, making a rare offer to have the House Intelligence Committee review materials from special counsel Robert Mueller's report if House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff agrees to back down. Last week Schiff said that he would hold a business meeting Wednesday to take an unspecified action against the Justice Department for not providing the committee documents related to Volume I of Mueller's report on links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The Justice Department had previously offered to show all committee members a less redacted version of the Mueller report, but now says it's continuing to review the initial tranche of 12 categories of documents Schiff wants, and will make them available 'in relatively short order,' according to a letter obtained by CNN."

Allan Smith of NBC News: "New York state lawmakers passed a measure Tuesday that would allow prosecutors to pursue state charges against certain individuals even if they have received a presidential pardon, a move seen as a direct shot at ... Donald Trump. New York's state Assembly passed the measure -- which creates a narrow exception in the state's double-jeopardy law -- by a 90-52 vote. New York law currently prohibits the state from prosecuting a person who has already been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The bill would make it easier for prosecutors in certain circumstances to pursue a case against someone who has received a presidential pardon for the federal conviction.... The change was backed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating Trump and his family members, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has indicated he will sign the bill.... Since the bill already passed the state Senate earlier this month, it is now headed to Cuomo's desk for his approval."

Erin Banco of the Daily Beast: "Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson spoke with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday in a lengthy session that, an aide said, touched on his time working in the Trump administration, the frictions he had with the president's son-in-law, and efforts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election. Tillerson's appearance, first reported by The Daily Beast, took place as virtually every other Trumpworld luminary has been stonewalling congressional oversight efforts. At the same time the former secretary of state was speaking before lawmakers, former White House counsel Don McGahn was ignoring a subpoena to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Tillerson's arrival at the Capitol was handled with extreme secrecy.... Tillerson reached out to the committee and expressed a willingness to meet, a committee aide said. In a more than six-hour meeting, he told members and staffers that the Trump administration actively avoided confronting Russia about allegations of interference in the election in an effort to develop a solid relationship with the Kremlin, a committee aide told The Daily Beast."

Anthony Cormier & Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News:"Newly released transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee appear to support earlier reporting by BuzzFeed News, which revealed in January that [Michael] Cohen had told prosecutors the president directed him to lie, and that a group of lawyers crafted his false testimony to Congress. Shortly after that story was published, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller issued a rare public statement that said unspecified elements were 'not accurate.'... These new transcripts, from testimony that Cohen gave behind closed doors this past February and March..., contain startling accounts of the Trump family and their attorneys shaping Cohen's lies" and suggest "Trump crafted ... Cohen's lies more closely than qas previously known." The reporters offer examples. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As several pundits have pointed out, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow has issued a non-denial denial of the newly-released testimony. If Cohen was telling the truth about the first incident Cormier & Leopold describe, then Sekulow knows Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. Even though testimony suggests only Trump & his lawyers Cohen & Sekulow were in the room, it seems to me attorney-client privilege should be revoked by the crime-fraud exception; i.e., Sekulow could be forced to testify against Trump in this matter. I'm not an attorney, but I do have my quasi-ignorant opinions.

Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the release of search warrants relating to ... Michael Cohen that had been sought by ... Robert Mueller. Beryl Howell, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., wrote in her order Tuesday that the documents can be unsealed after the government makes any necessary redactions. A group of media outlets -- including The New York Times, Politico and The Washington Post -- had requested that the search warrants issued by the D.C. court be released after they were referenced in previously unsealed search warrant materials in the Southern District of New York. The released documents are expected to reveal further details on Mueller's own attempts to investigate Cohen before the special counsel referred the case to federal prosecutors in New York."

Spencer Hsu & Ann Marimow of the Washington Post: "A federal appeals court Tuesday refused to block a grand jury subpoena for testimony by Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller in an investigation launched by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, clearing the way for a final appeal to the Supreme Court in the long-running legal dispute. Miller was subpoenaed in June 2018 in Mueller's probe for information about longtime Trump friend and GOP operative Stone, as well as key figures in the 2016 hacking and public release of Democratic Party emails, including by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, led by Julian Assange.... The three-judge panel gave Miller seven days to persuade the Supreme Court to take the case. If he fails, or the high court rules against him, Miller faces an August contempt finding by U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington for refusing to testify, an order that would leave him facing jail if he continues to decline to appear." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Miller must (1) have access to lots of money to throw at lawyers; or (2) have some really damaging information on Stone and/or Trump; or (3) be a terribly, terribly "principled" young man. I doubt if he has lots of money; according to this August 2018 CNN story, he's a Missouri house painter who worked off & on as an aide to Stone.

See also Li Zhou's post on Mitch McConnell's refusal to bring up votes on election security bills, linked below.


Trump Threatens Democrats on Eve of Infrastructure Meeting. Tanya Snyder & Nancy Cook
of Politico: "On the eve of a highly anticipated meeting with Democrats at which ... Donald Trump was expected to unveil a way to fund a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, Trump instead put Congress on notice that it will have to take a backseat to a trade deal. 'Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,' Trump wrote in a letter to ... Nancy Pelosi and ... Chuck Schumer Tuesday evening." The reporters cite a number of other issues where Trump & Democrats appear to disagree. Mrs. McC: Gee, maybe Congress won't pass an humungous infrastructure bill, after all.

Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times: "President Xi Jinping of China called for the Chinese people to 'start again' and begin a modern 'long march,' invoking a turning point in Communist Party history as the country braces for a protracted trade war with the United States.... While Mr. Xi did not mention the trade war in his comments, they are the strongest signal yet that Beijing has abandoned hopes of a deal with the United States on the issue in the near term." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I assume that, for once, Trump wasn't lying when he assured the world that "trade wars are good, and easy to win." Of all of the fundamentals of international trade that Trump doesn't understand, this is the most basic. A lie is a knowing thing; Trump believed he could "win easily." He is probably mad as hops at his trade negotiators because they were too incompetent to "win" the trade war Trump initiated with China. Funny how Trump didn't step into the negotiations and "win" the war for them.

Maggie Haberman & >Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times: "President Trump is expected to name Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former attorney general of Virginia and an immigration hard-liner, as his choice to coordinate the administration's immigration policies, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday. The specifics of the role -- including the title and the scope of duties -- are still being hashed out, according to the official. But Mr. Cuccinelli is expected to be based in the Department of Homeland Security, not in the White House." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Li Zhou of Vox: "Although several Republican-controlled Senate committees are still trying to address potential meddling by foreign adversaries -- the Judiciary Committee approved two election security bills last week -- the Senate majority leader [Mitch McConnell] now says he won't even bring election security bills up for a vote. It's a position McConnell took last year, and one he's standing by as pressure has ramped up to consider reinforcing US defenses ahead of 2020.... Republican leadership appears content to sit idly by despite numerous warnings about the need for more resources to prevent potential breaches." --s

Congresswomen Stump Ole Doc Ben. Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: Housing Secretary Ben "Carson appeared before the House Financial Services Committee for more than three hours [Tuesday], fielding questions on housing policies. Several times he stumbled as Democrats, especially the women on the committee, tried to poke holes in his knowledge of the agency he runs." Itkowitz gives some examples, the best of which is this one:

     ... Katie Porter (D-Calif) told CNN later, "He actually sent a family-size box of Double Stuff Oreos to our office. And while I was pleased to receive correspondence from him, what I'm really looking for is answers." Mrs. McC: Ole Doc might have been a more effective witness at the hearing if he had some interest in his job. Porter later told Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC that Ole Doc invited her to come to his office & explain stuff -- like his job. Good thing that the Congresswomen didn't ask Carson to ID any other obscure acronyms, like FHA & HUD. Update: Colbert has another great cut from the hearing; video embedded above.

Damian Paletta & Erica Werner of the Washington Post: "House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blocked a bipartisan attempt to limit Chinese companies from contracting with U.S. transit systems, a move that benefited a Chinese government-backed manufacturer with a plant in his district, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. His behind-the-scenes intervention came as Congress was trying this year to craft a spending compromise to avert another government shutdown.... BYD Motors is a division of BYD Co., a giant Chinese manufacturer.... Stella Li, BYD Motors president, is a campaign contributor to McCarthy, and the lawmaker spoke at a ribbon-cutting for BYD's California plant in 2017.... McCarthy's intervention was striking because the close ally of President Trump sought to protect Chinese interests at a time when Trump and many lawmakers on Capitol Hill are attempting to curb Beijing's access to U.S. markets, particularly in industries deemed vital to national security. Just last week, Trump put Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a trade 'blacklist' that severely restricts its access to U.S. technology."

E. A. Crunden of ThinkProgress: "A Tuesday Senate hearing reviewing the impact of climate change on agriculture featured a strong defense of industry, at a time when the role of the sector in contributing to global warming is under growing scrutiny.... The four-speaker panel, however, was dominated by industry ties, with an emphasis on livestock. No climate scientists spoke on the panel. Experts say a significant amount of research and data has established the relationship between agriculture and global warming. Around 8% of U.S. emissions come from farming, with some 42% of those emissions generated by animal agriculture." --s

Congressional Election 2019. Max Greenwood of the Hill: "Fred Keller, a Republican state representative, beat Democrat Marc Friedenberg in the race to represent Pennsylvania's 12th District on Tuesday. Keller’s victory means that the north-central Pennsylvania district will remain in Republican hands after former Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) stepped down in January, less than one month into his fifth term in office. The 12th District still tilts heavily in the GOP's favor, unlike several districts in Pennsylvania that became more competitive for Democrats after the state Supreme Court ordered the state's congressional lines to be redrawn. President Trump would have carried the district by 36 points in 2016 had the state's current congressional boundaries been in place that year, and Keller outspent Friedenberg by more than $140,000, according to federal filings. Keller also got a last-minute boost on Monday when Trump held a rally in Montoursville, inside the 12th district, to campaign with the GOP hopeful. Speaking to supporters there, Trump declared that the special election was tantamount to a 'referendum' on his presidency."

Carol Rosenberg of the New York Times: "He was the 'American Taliban' captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. Pictures showed him as a gaunt, filthy, 20-year-old held in the aftermath of a prison uprising that claimed the first United States casualty of the war, a 32-year-old C.I.A. officer named Johnny Micheal Spann. On Thursday, that captive, John Walker Lindh, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., released on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence for providing support to the Taliban."

Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "The politically powerful Koch network is looking to change its image. In the face of rising support for progressive policies, the well-funded network wants to rebrand from greedy capitalists to benevolent philanthropists. Until the Kochs and their fellow donors stop supporting policies that increase income inequality and all forms of pollution however, any effort to create a new image will be nothing more than greenwashing.... 'The Seminar Network' ... is changing its impersonal-sounding name to the more benevolent 'Stand Together Foundation.'... [Ten] months ago, the AP reported that the Kochs 'have quietly launched a rebranding effort' aimed at replacing the term 'Koch brothers' with 'Koch network.'... All of this rebranding is reportedly occurring because Charles Koch says he is not as interested in national politics as his brother David, who stepped down from active involvement in the network for health reasons last year." --s

Daniel Arkin & Alex Johnson of NBC News: "Abortion rights activists took to the streets across the country on Tuesday to protest the recent wave of restrictive state laws.... In Washington, D.C., hundreds of abortion rights advocates -- including some Democrats running for the presidential nomination -- massed in front of the Supreme Court. 'We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,' pledged Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator and 2020 hopeful, from a lectern near the high court. Three more Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also attended the Washington rally."

Beyond the Beltway

Kentucky. Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier Journal: "Incumbent Matt Bevin survived an unexpectedly tough primary challenge Tuesday to win the Republican Party nomination and seek a second term as governor. But the relatively narrow margin indicated that Bevin's support among Republicans is strained, particularly in Eastern Kentucky. The Associated Press called Bevin's victory at about 8 p.m. ove second-place finisher Robert Goforth, a state representative from East Bernstadt. Two other Republican candidates —Ike Lawrence of Lexington and William E. Woods of Corinth -- finished well behind Goforth. With more than half the vote counted, Bevin and running mate Ralph Alvarado had about 51 percent of the vote compared with 40 percent for Goforth and his running mate, Michael Hogan, according to unofficial results." ...

... Philip Bailey of the Louisville Courier Journal: "Andy Beshear rode his record as attorney general and his family name to win the closely watched Democratic primary for Kentucky governor, which sets up what could be a deeply personal contest against Republican incumbent Matt Bevin this fall. The Associated Press called the race for Beshear at 8:40 p.m. With nearly all of the votes counted later Tuesday, Beshear had 38% of the vote. Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, of Sandy Hook, came in second by cleaning up in the eastern half of the state. He trailed Beshear with 33% of the vote.... Beshear, 41, the state attorney general and son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, was able to stiff-arm a surge from [former state auditor Adam] Edelen, a former chief of staff in his dad's administration, who along with a super PAC unleashed some stinging attacks in the primary's final weeks."

Way Beyond

Emma Graham-Harrison of the Guardian: "A web of far-right Facebook accounts spreading fake news and hate speech to millions of people across Europe has been uncovered by the campaign group Avaaz. Facebook, which is struggling to clean up the platform and salvage its reputation, has already taken down accounts with about 6 million followers before voting in the European elections begins on Thursday. In total, the group reported more than 500 suspect groups and Facebook pages operating across France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland and Spain. Most were either spreading fake news or using false pages and profiles to artificially boost the content of parties or sites they supported, in violation of Facebook's rules.... The networks were far more popular than the official pages of far-right and anti-EU populist groups in those countries. The pages taken down by Facebook so far had been viewed half a billion times, Avaaz estimated."

Reader Comments (11)

The president* may be threatening the infrastructure funding bill,
but here at North Latitude 42.66, West Longitude 86.2 we have
state funding of $16million. It won't help with all those pot holes we
have or crumbling bridges though.
Seems Betsy can't get the 10 bedroom, 10 bathroom yacht into our
harbor so the state is having the channel dredged to help all of us
who have similar yachts (ha!).
Rumor has it that she's buying up waterfront property on our harbor
but it's difficult to find out who really is the buyer. Rich people seem
to have a way to hide so much from the public.
It's interesting that they would even want to come here since our
community is 99% liberal. Of 6 houses on my block, 3 are gay
owned. She and her family are very, very homophobic as everyone
knows. Time will tell.

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

When Bork was "borked" a young Mitch McConnell gave a long speech about how "we" (the Republican Party) can never let this happen again. At that time "The Federalist Society" was a nascent group but has now become not only huge but highly influential. The Republican (and mostly Mitch's) dream team envisioned on the Supreme Court would be to seat as many conservative judges as possible and TFS helps make that possible. They picked Thomas for Bush to nominate and it would have gone swimmingly except for Anita Hill climbing up that other hill and spoiling the party. But Thomas got his seat anyway––so afraid were all those white guys of being accused of "a high tech lynching.' Mitch then had to put up with Clinton and Obama's picks but prevented Obama's last––Garland–-from being nominated. The fact that Mitch was able to accomplish that still confuses me except I now understand the enormous power this man has yielded over the years. All of Trump's S.C. picks were from McConnell's best buds from TFS but with Kavanough they hit a roadblock–-"It's outrageous!" Mitch, usually in monotone, yelled out on the senate floor. And he got his way and Kavanaugh got his despite once again allegations of sexual abuse.

So now Mitch has aligned himself with a power player in order to remain a power player but there was something I heard last night––it has to do with him getting his side of the senate to vote against sanctions on Dare-a-posca (forgive spelling) –-the Russian owner of an oil company because this Russian promised to install another one of his companies in Mitch's state which would help him in his re-election in 2020. I'm fuzzy on the details on this story–-perhaps others have more info on this. Bottom line––POWER–-that thing that tends to corrupt ––and we are living through the corruption of it at this time in our lives in a way we have never before.

A word about Ben Carson: Pitiful!!!!! Katie Porter has to instruct this Bozo on how to do his job? Scratch that––Katie was instructing him in UNDERSTANDING what the hell his job was in the first place.

Well––as Humpty Dumpty always says: "We've kept more promises that we never made."

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I've still yet to hear any convincing argument that states that moving to "impeachment proceedings" will actually speed up doc collection or obliging people to actually respect a lawful subpoena. I'm guessing Man Baby will just dig in his heels, scream "NO DO OVERS!!" #MAGGOT and stonewall evermore.

We have to come to the realization that the empty chair circus is going to continue until late fall or early winter, maybe even the beginning of next year, while all of this norm-breaking behavior slugs its way through the arcane court process. We need a way to highlight his administration's rank corruption and impotence that "executive monarchy" can't block. As the Chait article mentions above, Dotard Donny will commit atrocities on his own under pressure. We need to find a way to turn up the heat and push him into a minefield.

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: The argument, convincing or not, to begin impeachment proceedings for the purpose of getting "cooperation" from the administration is the belief that courts will more favorably view requests for testimony & documents if these apply to an impeachment proceeding, which the Constitution explicitly describes as a Congressional prerogative, as opposed to an oversight inquiry, on which the Constitution is silent.

Update: As Chuck Rosenberg said on MSNBC, an impeachment inquiry also open up the "judiciary evidentiary door" to access grand jury testimony, which is otherwise secret.

May 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

PD, here is a link about Mitch (and Rand) making sure Kentucky gets paid off for helping the Russians.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a27259438/oleg-deripaska-kentucky-aluminum-mitch-mcconnell-rand-paul/

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

"Registered Republican Robert Mueller seeks to protect Donald Trump from the damaging findings of his own report by not testifying publicly" (I know it's a little long for a headline). He's either with the rule of law or against it. No more dragging his feet, no more sitting on the sidelines. Mueller needs to step up or he is aiding Trump's undermining of our country.

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

“Trump was shouting to a rally crowd in Pennsylvania that the FBI and Democrats are guilty of 'treason,' vowing that Attorney General William P. Barr would investigate — that is, investigate his political opponents for invented crimes..." Invented? Sargent must have forgotten the time all the Democrats refused to Clap for our Dear Leader at his speech. The whiney baby called out the Democrats at the time, but Jeff Sessions did not open the inquiry. Now Bill Barr can have a look at the evidence and punish the evil doers.

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

@RAS: I expect Mueller is having a hard time dismounting a high horse.

May 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Occam's Razor strikes again.

There is no structure of any kind, infra, ultra or super, that guides the Pretender's apparent lurching from one thing to the next other than his ego structure. It may seem random, but when one views his behavior as wholly ego-driven and considers how damaged that ego is, it all makes sense. It is nuts because it's all about Donnie's nutty feelings.

Too bad he's dragging an entire country along with him as he acts his fantasies out.

Shouldn't nuts be an impeachable offense all by itself?

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Re: the three minute White House meeting this morning, blown up by a 275 lb baby.

Wait, you mean it's NOT infrastructure week now?

Crap. And I was so looking forward to hearing what the big baby considers infrastructure.

Likely candidates: his wall, painted high gloss black to inflict third degree burns on brown people who touch it, also exploding handholds and rocket launchers mounted at the top, sweetheart deals for his donors, the roadways leading to his golf courses (got to have them paved in gold to impress shady foreign investors), the pool at Marred a Lago (mosaic presidential seal needs to be installed at the bottom of the pool), the street in front of the Russian embassy in DC has to be torn up and rubber mats installed to help keep down traffic noise. Wouldn't want the hackers helping him in 2020 to be disturbed.

Guess we'll have to wait until...when did he say? Until investigations into his corrupt and criminal activities are finished? How 'bout 2025?

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

More racism and misogyny from Trump.

Remember back before the world was turned upside down, there was a decision made to put Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill? Prez KKK whined that it was nothing but political correctness at the time. If he could tell me more two things about Harriet Tubman, beyond the fact that she was a woman and that she was black, I'd fall over dead.

So he has his Munchkin announce that Tubman will not be on the twenty any time soon. Certainly not in 2020, the original date for her appearance. And of course, not while a pussy-grabbing white supremacist is in office. I mean, what would his pals in the pointy hoods say about that?

The new timetable is sometime around 2028. Why? Oh, well, sez Munchkin, there are other things to do. Suddenly we have to work on the fifty and the ten first, and something, something, something about counterfeiting.

Sure.

Tubman's appearance on the twenty was timed (originally) to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and Trump will be goddamned if he helps commemorate that date with the picture of a black woman taking the place of Old Hickory, a good 'ol racist white man, on the front of the bill. Trump can't put her back in chains but he can make sure she doesn't mar his beautiful white supremacy administration.

The smallness of these people will soon be visible only in the quantum realm as they shrink from the sight of decent people.

May 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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