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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 29,890

Journal Archives

Sorry. Trump's Attacks Aren't Remotely Like Clinton and Starr

By JOSH MARSHALL Published JULY 21, 2017 11:25 AM

With the flurry of news over the last 24 hours over President Trump’s expanding war on Robert Mueller, we’ve heard a growing chorus of voices comparing this battle to that between the Clinton White House and Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigations. The comparison is quite simply lazy, baseless and stupid. It is fair to note that I am a bitter critic of President Trump and during the 1990s was a strong supporter of President Clinton. So my perspective is not disinterested. But I think the facts of the matter are so elementary that the case can be argued on the merits in a very convincing way.

Let’s go through some basic facts.

Then-Attorney General Janet Reno appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate ‘Whitewater’ in January 1994, roughly one year into the Clinton presidency. But it wasn’t Ken Starr. It was a man named Robert Fiske, a respected Republican lawyer and former US Attorney, albeit a generally apolitical one. Fiske investigated various aspects of the Whitewater scandal and other dubious controversies that rose up around it (like the death of Vince Foster) and found no wrongdoing by the Clintons. At no time was there any serious discussion or I think any discussion at all that President Clinton would fire Fiske, which legally he would have been in his powers to do. Fiske ended up finding no wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons and brought no charges against them. But of course as in any investigation there was no guarantee of that going in and it should be treated as a given that the Clintons did not welcome the probe.

Reno appointed Fiske because the Independent Counsel law of the post-Watergate era had lapsed. But Democrats, who were generally supporters of the law, reenacted it in 1994. When that happened, Reno recommended that Fiske be retained in that position by the federal judges who it now fell to to appoint an Independent Counsel. A highly partisan Republican Judge, David Sentelle, led a three judge panel which chose to replace Fiske with Ken Starr. Starr was a former Solicitor General and Federal Judge. There was a group around Clinton who from the start argued that whatever his veneer of judicial respectability, Starr was in fact a fairly dyed-in-the-wool partisan. The subsequent four years would do a lot to bear them out. It is unquestionably true that by 1998, when and especially after the Lewinsky scandal broke, the Clintonites were fiercely critical of Starr and his entire effort. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Starr decided to in essence toss out the results of Fiske’s probe and start from scratch. His probe (eventually taken over by someone else in late 1998) went on for another eight years. By the time the Lewinsky scandal broke out in 1998 (leading to Clinton’s impeachment and trial in the winter of 98/99) Starr’s probe had been going on for four years. The bad acts in question were to do with President Clinton’s interactions with Starr over events which took place years after Starr’s probe even began – Clinton’s sexual encounters with Lewinsky.

But let’s back up and observe some key differences. Fiske was a moderate, apolitical Republican investigating a Democratic President. Clinton had the legal power to fire Fiske but the idea never even came up. Starr was a highly partisan Republican investigating a Democratic President. Clinton did not have the power to fire Starr. But by the time his White House went really into battle with Starr it was four years into the investigation after which Starr’s probe had become deeply interwoven with various politicized legal efforts against the Clintons. Just as noteworthy, over the course of these probes Clinton had developed a highly frosty relationship with FBI Director Louis Freeh. During the Lewinsky phase of the scandal Freeh sent FBI agents to take the President’s blood for Starr’s investigation! The idea that Clinton might fire Freeh never even came up.


Former CBO Directors To Congressional Leaders: Back Off, We Have A Job To Do

Source: Talking Points Memo

By MATT SHUHAM Published JULY 21, 2017 11:18 AM

Every former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office wrote to congressional leadership Friday with a simple message: step off.

The office, a frequent punching bag for Republicans amid their repeated failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, came under additional scrutiny after a series of failures in the Senate to collect enough votes even to hold a vote on the repeal effort, at least for now.

“The undersigned represent every former Director of the Congressional Budget Office,” the former officials wrote. “We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process.”

Congressional Republicans have sent draft bill after draft bill to the CBO in recent weeks, though the resulting analyses have never shown Republicans’ desired results of expanded care and lower prices.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/former-cbo-directors-letter-congressional-leadership

Hannity melts down in humiliation after conservative group rescinds his 'Media Excellence' award

Sean Hannity melts down in humiliation after conservative group rescinds his ‘Media Excellence’ award

21 JUL 2017 AT 10:10 ET

Sean Hannity was set to receive the William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence this week from the right-wing Media Research Center — before, that is, William F. Buckley’s son personally intervened to stop it.

As CNN’s Jake Tapper reports, author Christopher Buckley “expressed great dismay” that Hannity would be receiving an award named after his father, and he successfully lobbied the Media Research Center to pull it.

Even more embarrassing for Hannity is the revelation in Tapper’s report that the MRC tried to work out a way for Hannity to save face by claiming that a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending this year’s awards ceremony.

Upon seeing the story pop up on CNN, Hannity took to Twitter to unleash an angry tirade against Tapper for reporting this humiliating turn of events.


Hannity then went on to proclaim that “‘awards’ are BS” and that “the only ‘Award’ I care about is serving my audience, the support of my audience, and saving the USA.”




The Closer Mueller Probe Gets To Trump, The More He Cracks

By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published JULY 21, 2017 6:00 AM

President Donald Trump is careening towards a face-off with special counsel Robert Mueller.

The President and his legal team are going on the offensive after reports this week indicated that Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is digging into the President’s business transactions with Russian associates. Trump told the New York Times that he would see any review of his and his family’s finances unrelated to Russia as a “violation” of the probe’s parameters.

In just the past 24 hours, the Times and Washington Post have reported that Trump is taking extraordinary steps to discredit Mueller’s investigation, including digging through his teams’ campaign donations and past clients. The President has also asked about his power to pardon his aides, family, and himself, according to the Post, as if to preempt whatever Mueller’s team may find.

Jay Sekulow, who has assumed a larger role in the President’s reshuffled outside legal team, told the Post that reports that Mueller is investigating a number of Russia-related transactions Trump carried out in the last decade or so date too far back, and are thus “far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

Unfortunately for the President, legal experts and former DOJ officials say, this is just how large-scale government investigations work.


"The Alt-Right Side of History Will Prevail"

So says the wealthy fringe Republican bankrolling white nationalist Richard Spencer.


Long before Donald Trump’s election ushered in an era of resurgent white nationalism, a disaffected Republican named William H. Regnery II was brooding about the demographic plight of white people and plotting their rescue. Like Trump more than 20 years later, Regnery, the wealthy scion of a famous GOP family, had an increasingly dark view of a changing America: As he wrote, the United States had become a crime-ridden society with bad schools, high taxes, an intrusive government, and a penchant for political correctness that was “morphing into an intellectual tyranny.”

Worse, “a flood of immigrants were changing the look of America from a palette (sic) of prime colors to a third-world monochrome,” he wrote in a rant that would be at home on the bookshelf of Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon. “Instead of a lingua franca, the country clanged with many foreign tongues.”

By 1999, Regnery had come to believe that the only future for white people in North America was a reconfigured continent with a white-only homeland carved out of the former United States. He began consorting with Ku Klux Klan apologists, Holocaust deniers, eugenics boosters, and immigration foes. He set up two white nationalist nonprofits and steered money into them. He published fringe-right journals and books. Through his family’s famed conservative publishing house, Regnery had been on a first-name basis with the cream of the Republican establishment. But by 2006, his public views on race left him ostracized from the GOP.

Now, he’s back. Working behind the scenes, the retired Chicago business executive has played an important role in making his ultra-right views a part of America’s political conversation in the era of Trump. In what he has described as his crowning political achievement, Regnery discovered Richard Spencer, the mediagenic agitator who invented the term “alt-right.” In 2011, Regnery made him the frontman for his white nationalist think tank, the National Policy Institute, providing Spencer the platform to launch the alt-right movement.

Fast-forward to 2016. As the Trump campaign gained momentum, Spencer, with Regnery’s support, emerged as the omnipresent face of the American far right: a glib talking head whose views on issues of immigration and race at times seemed only slightly more extreme than what you could read on Breitbart News—or hear from Trump himself.


NYT rejects Manafort's retraction request

Source: Politico

By HADAS GOLD 07/20/2017 09:48 PM EDT

The New York Times has rejected a retraction request from former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Manafort demanded The New York Times retract an article published Wednesday, which reported he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Trump's presidential campaign in March 2016.

In the article, Mike McIntire reports based off of audited financial statements filed with government authorities in Cyprus, that the money was owed by shell companies connected to Manafort’s consulting business with a pro-Russia Party of Regions in the Ukraine.

"The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees,” McIntire wrote.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2017/07/20/nyt-rejects-manaforts-retraction-request-240782

Trump weighs dumping Garrett as Ex-Im nominee

Source: Politico

By JOSH DAWSEY and ZACHARY WARMBRODT 07/20/2017 10:12 PM EDT Updated 07/21/2017 08:41 AM EDT

President Donald Trump is reconsidering his nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett to lead the Export-Import Bank and may drop him amid growing resistance from industry, according to West Wing aides and Trump advisers.

Garrett has become a political headache for the White House and its economic agenda thanks to intensifying lobbying against the nomination by companies that rely on the agency to guarantee loans for foreign buyers of U.S. exports. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also been pressing for the president to dump him, according to White House officials.

Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who lost his House seat last year, opposed the existence of the bank while in Congress and has not convinced stakeholders that his views have changed. In 2015, he said the agency “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

"You need to have a chairman who supports the bank returning to full functionality," said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David Melcher, one of the executives calling on Trump to withdraw the nomination.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/20/trump-weighs-dumping-garrett-as-ex-im-nominee-240784

Schiff, Warner launch preemptive strike on Trump pardons

Source: Politico

By AUSTIN WRIGHT 07/21/2017 08:58 AM EDT

The top Democrats on the congressional panels investigating Russia’s election meddling are warning President Donald Trump not to attempt to pardon his campaign aides whose alleged ties to Moscow are now under investigation.

The statements by Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Mark Warner of Virginia follow reports, including in The Washington Post, that Trump’s legal team is exploring the possibility of pardons. Schiff called the reports “disturbing” and said it was something the president “should rule out categorically.” Warner said pardoning individuals “at this early stage in these ongoing investigations” would be “crossing a fundamental line.”


Schiff, in his statement, defended special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s investigation into the issue. In an interview with The New York Times earlier this week, Trump indicated it would be a breach of Mueller's mandate to investigate the Trump family's finances. A day later, Bloomberg reported Mueller was expanding his probe to do just that.

"There is no doubt that Mueller has the authority to investigate anything that arises from his investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, including financial links,” Schiff said Friday. “Indeed, this is a very important part of Mueller's responsibility given that any financial impropriety between Russia and the Trump organization, such as money laundering, could represent just the kind of 'kompromat' that Russia could utilize to influence administration policy.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/21/trump-pardons-robert-muller-probe-adam-schiff-mark-warner-240795

Steve Bannon's disappearing act

Once dubbed 'The Great Manipulator,' Trump’s senior adviser steps back in bid to save his job.


Steve Bannon has largely disappeared from the White House’s most sensitive policy debates — a dramatic about-face for an operative once characterized as the most powerful man in Washington.

Bannon, chastened by internal rivalries and by President Donald Trump’s growing suspicion that he is looking out for his own interests, is in a self-imposed exile, having chosen to step back from Trump’s inner circle for the sake of self-preservation, according to several White House advisers who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering a colleague.

He was absent from Trump’s recent trips to Europe for the G-20 summit and from his visit with French president Emmanuel Macron. Bannon’s non-attendance is all the more noteworthy given his interest in European history and politics, particularly his antipathy to the European Union.

And while Trump’s rousing call in Warsaw for the defense of Western civilization echoed the populist ideology Bannon promoted as chief of the right-wing website Breitbart News, two senior White House aides said that Bannon had no hand in crafting Trump’s populist address. He did not participate in administration conference calls planning the remarks, they say, which were largely written by chief speechwriter Stephen Miller, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and NSC communications aide Michael Anton.

“His name wasn’t even mentioned,” said a senior White House aide involved in the speechwriting process.


Kellyanne Conway Suggests Robert Mueller Team of Lawyers Are Hilary Clinton Partisans

by Colby Hall | 8:34 am, July 21st, 2017

President Donald Trump and his team of White House advisors appear to have very real concerns about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian-led interference into the 2016 General Election, the possibility of obstruction of justice and a broader charge of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It was in this context that Kellyanne Conway appeared on the friendly confines of Fox & Friends this morning where the conversation turned to undermining the credibility and authority and Mueller’s team of lawyers over apparent conflicts of interest.

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Conway how the president planned to defend himself against Mueller’s team, in which five of six lawyers “have given money to the Democratic Party or to President Obama or president Clinton years ago,” adding “it’s upwards of thousands of dollars that they have given.”

Conway seemed delighted — perhaps even prepared — to receive such a question, before making the case that “these significant donations” from people who “clearly wanted the other person to win,” ostensibly referencing Trump’s opponent in last year’s election, Hillary Clinton. “People should know what folks paths and motivations and political motivations are,” Conway added.

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