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Exotica

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Member since: Thu Feb 15, 2018, 12:16 PM
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Here's What Would Happen Right After Trump Fired Mueller

A legal historian and constitutional expert offers a step-by-step breakdown of possible scenarios and explains the "exploding mechanism" Robert Mueller might have in his back pocket.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3kj74j/heres-what-would-happen-right-after-trump-fired-mueller

The idea that Donald Trump might fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and in so doing spark some kind of constitutional crisis has been gaining traction for months now. Political junkies, especially on the liberal side of the spectrum, have breathlessly discussed the scenario in neighborhood bars and on approximately 1,000 different podcasts. Protests against the firing have been preemptively organized by progressive advocacy groups. Even though Trump's 2016 campaign was marked by a contempt for the rule of law and bursts of actual violence, and even though he abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey last year (prompting Mueller's appointment), sacking Mueller would be different. Not only would it get rid of the man investigating Trump's disgraced cronies and their myriad ties to shady Russians, it might signal that the president is going to start flat-out ignoring the law from here on out.

This week, those fears took on a new urgency. On Monday, FBI agents raided the home, hotel, and office of Trump's longtime attorney-slash-consigliere, Michael Cohen. According to the New York Times, they sought evidence related to payments made to women Trump allegedly had affairs with in 2006. (They may also be interested in some of Cohen's other extracurricular business activities.) Even though the investigation of the lawyer does not appear to be a direct part of Mueller's probe—federal prosecutors local to New York have been leading the charge, acting on a referral from Mueller—the president was, by all accounts, deeply shaken by news of the raid, and promptly lashed out at the larger investigation that has haunted his presidency for well over a year now.

When reporters asked Trump Monday if he would fire the special counsel, he responded ominously, “We’ll see what happens.”

It's not the first time this president has put out a trial balloon about firing the man charged with investigating him. Recognizing the growing threat to Mueller's job security, a group of four senators (two Democrats and two Republicans) have merged bills to protect the special counsel from presidential retaliation, though It's unclear how likely such a bill is to become law. And, as they have before, some Republicans are publicly warning the president that firing Mueller would amount, as Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley put it, to "suicide" for Trump.

For some context on just how bad things are at this moment compared to October 1973—when an embattled Richard Nixon went on his own firing spree in hopes of scuttling the Watergate probe—I called up my favorite legal scholar, Noah Feldman. The historian and Harvard Law professor is usually pretty measured in assessing Trump's presidency, but he said some things that genuinely frightened me.

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I dream fervid dreams of a perp walk to come

New filings by Mueller suggest Manafort had ties to Russian military intelligence in 2016.

https://www.thenation.com/article/is-paul-manafort-the-colluder-in-chief/

Here’s something we can be fairly certain Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at: In the spring of 2016, pretty much out of the blue, Paul Manafort approached Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, offering to be the candidate’s “fixer” during the last stages of the primary and into the GOP convention that summer. Now, we know that Manafort—a political wheeler-dealer with a decades-long track record of pushing ethical boundaries, helping dictators polish their images, and consorting with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, as The Nation reported way back in 2008—at that time had an ongoing, years-long connection with a former (or, who knows, perhaps current) operative for Moscow’s military-intelligence agency, the GRU. That is, when Manafort pitched his services to Trump two years ago, he was in regular contact with that ex-GRU official, whose name is Konstantin Kilimnik.

The questions for Mueller are: How witting was Manafort? How witting was Trump? What was the role of Rick Gates, Manafort’s partner, who along with Manafort has been indicted by Mueller on multiple charges of bank fraud and money laundering and is now cooperating with the special counsel’s office? What, exactly, was the role of Kilimnik, who met repeatedly with Manafort and Gates during 2016? And, finally, is the Manafort-Kilimnik relationship the Rosetta Stone that could explain the core of potential Trump-Russia collusion?

Don’t forget, by the early part of 2016, hackers backed by the Russian state had already stolen a vast storehouse of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, though they hadn’t yet been released. By this time, too, George Papadopoulos, an earnest young Trump aide, had already been told by a Russian-linked operative that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” And St. Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency, controlled by an oligarch so close to President Vladimir Putin that he’s been called “Putin’s chef,” had already begun to churn out social-media posts designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. According to US intelligence agencies, the Russian hackers were under the command of the GRU, the agency out of which Kilimnik emerged.

How can we be so sure Mueller is putting these pieces together? Because it’s in recent court documents filed by Mueller & Co. It’s been known for a while that Manafort—who may yet turn state’s evidence and cooperate with Mueller in order to avoid a lengthy prison term—may be the weakest link in the Trump-Russia collusion story. (For an earlier, fairly complete account of his role, at least as far as it was known at the time, see my Nation post last August.) Now, thanks to Mueller’s methodical work, we know a lot more.

First, in response to Manafort’s legal challenge to his indictment—which claimed that Mueller didn’t have the proper legal authority to prosecute in his role as special counsel—Mueller made public a previously unreleased and heavily redacted August 2, 2017, memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In that memo, Rosenstein specifically authorized Mueller to examine allegations that Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.” That doesn’t prove collusion, of course, and Mueller may have a lot more pieces of the puzzle to assemble before he can do that. But it does prove that both Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s office, and Mueller believe it could be a significant and fruitful line of inquiry.

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President Trump On Michael Cohen Raid & Firing Robert Mueller 4/9/18 (video)



He is coming unhinged, lol.

America is fawning over Saudi Arabias repressive dictator

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/6/17202562/mohammed-bin-salman-america-visit

This week, the crown prince of an absolute monarchy — a country where dissent and homosexuality alike are punishable by death — came to visit the United States. But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was received less like a human rights abuser and more like a visionary civil rights hero, or a celebrity cross between Abraham Lincoln and Elon Musk.

60 Minutes hailed him as a “revolutionary” who is “emancipating women” in Saudi Arabia. CNBC ran a piece with the headline “Mohammed bin Salman is bringing Silicon Valley-style disruption to Saudi Arabia.” On Wednesday, the prince had dinner with Morgan Freeman, director James Cameron, and The Rock, who wrote an Instagram post lavishing praise on the autocrat.

“A pleasure to have a private dinner with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman,” The Rock wrote. “Fascinating experience to hear his deep rooted, yet modern views on the world and certainly the positive growth he desires for his country.”

It’s true that MBS, as he’s commonly called, is, by Saudi standards, relatively progressive on certain issues. He’s allowed women to attend soccer matches, for example. But calling this “emancipation” is more than a little absurd: Saudi women are still not allowed to get married or travel internationally, among other things, without the permission of a male guardian. And Saudi Arabia is still the seventh most gender-unequal country in the world, according to one World Bank metric.

Focusing on these modest reforms ignores the fact that MBS is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, where Saudi forces have bombed hospitals and deliberately restricted the flow of vital goods (like food and medicine) into territory held by Houthi rebels.

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CNN contributor Bakari Sellers: Bernie 2020 died 4/4/18

https://www.rawstory.com/2018/04/cnn-contributor-bakari-sellers-bernie-2020-died-4-4-18/

Democratic political strategist and CNN contributor Bakari Sellers stuck a fork in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential ambitions.

The Vermont independent dismissed former President Barack Obama as a charismatic lightweight during a speech in Jackson, Mississippi, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

“The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,” Sanders said. “People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy.”

Sanders blamed Obama for the Democratic Party’s record number of legislative losses, and Sellers said that attack on the first black U.S. president on that historically significant date should doom Sanders in Democratic primaries.

Sanders, who eventually lost his Democratic primary race against Hillary Clinton, was criticized during his presidential campaign for a failure to connect with black voters.

https://twitter.com/Bakari_Sellers/status/981879036291973120

https://twitter.com/rubycramer/status/981706802990546945

Bernie Sanders: National Democratic Party Has Been A "Failure" For The Last 15 Years

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=tTFE9wWf5jc

CRAZY VIDEO- How Sinclair Has Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media



https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/how-americas-largest-local-tv-owner-turned-its-news-anc-1824233490

Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts.

You might remember Sinclair from its " target="_blank">having been featured on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight last year, or from its requiring in 2004 of affiliates to air anti-John Kerry propaganda, or perhaps because it’s your own local affiliate running inflammatory “Terrorism Alerts” or required editorials from former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, he of the famed Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention Jewish people. (Sinclair also owns Ring of Honor wrestling, Tennis magazine, and the Tennis Channel.)

The net result of the company’s current mandate is dozens upon dozens of local news anchors looking like hostages in proof-of-life videos, trying their hardest to spit out words attacking the industry they’d chosen as a life vocation.

Not that any of it matters to Sinclair, which, with the help of a friendly federal government, is about to swallow up another 40 television stations—increasing its reach and its lead over competitors like Hearst and Scripps. The script, as transcribed by ThinkProgress based on the KOMO (Seattle) version, reads:

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States are starting to recognize a third gender. Heres what that means for nonbinary youth.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/3/28/17100252/trans-nonbinary-third-gender-youth-legal-recognition

When Davi, a 17-year-old in Oakland, California, found out that their true gender identity — nonbinary, meaning neither male or female — was finally recognized by the state, they felt a sense of relief.

“I will feel like I don’t have to explain myself all of the time,” Davi said. “I will be so grateful, and less tired.”

Nonbinary gender identity is not recognized by most states. Last June, Oregon became the first to recognize a nonbinary gender option on driver’s licenses. Since the bill passed, Washington, DC, and three more states followed suit: Washington, New York, and California, which became the first state to allow nonbinary residents to change their gender on all relevant legal documents, including birth certificates, to a gender-neutral option.

For nonbinary youth like Davi, that means nothing less than a shift from nonexistence to existence in the eyes of the law. “Most people have the privilege of feeling that,” said Davi. “[They] probably do not even think about that concept.”

For my project “Transcending Self,” I photograph and interview trans youth from around the world; what follows are excerpts from interviews with young people who specifically identify as nonbinary (or, occasionally, “gender-expansive”). I focused on the question of what it meant for them to have their gender legally affirmed by the government. The conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Should Ivanka Be Indicted? Amy Wilentz on the case against the first daughter.

https://www.thenation.com/article/should-ivanka-be-indicted/

Jon Wiener: Ivanka is connected pretty directly to events at the center of the Russiagate investigations. Where do you think the strongest case could be made that she committed a crime?

Amy Wilentz: Possibly it’s the cover-up from the meeting on Air Force One after that fabled meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer. On Air Force One, the Trump team, including the president and Jared Kushner and Ivanka, crafted a message to the media saying that the Trump Tower meeting was largely about Russian adoptions and had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. Of course, we subsequently learned it was all about a promise of dirt on Hillary from the Russians. Ivanka was present at that meeting. She did tell Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury, that she participated in that meeting only briefly and took a pill to go to sleep. That strikes me as too much honesty. When do you find a person in high office admitting that they took a pill to go to sleep? Only when they want to suggest they left a meeting very quickly, one that’s under investigation, because they needed their beauty sleep…

JW: There was another meeting where she did not take a pill to go to sleep: the one where they discussed firing FBI Director James Comey.

AW: Yes, and she was very supportive of that idea. Reportedly, she was worried, as was her husband, about Comey’s taking a look at various Kushner Company projects, as well as Trump Organization deals. They were frightened about that and she wanted to get rid of him.

JW: That seems very much like being part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice—if we believe that Comey was fired to stop him from investigating the president’s crimes—

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IVANKA TRUMP BACKED FLYNN AND MANAFORT. SHE DISCUSSED FIRING COMEY. HOW HAS SHE EVADED MUELLER’S INVESTIGATION?

https://theintercept.com/2018/03/10/ivanka-trump-organization-russia-investigation/

IVANKA TRUMP IS the ghost of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation: She is connected, either directly or tangentially, to events at the heart of the probe, yet all but invisible to the public.

But as Mueller’s investigation broadens, the so-called first daughter is becoming a long overdue part of the bigger story of alleged corruption at the Trump Organization. Last week, we learned that the FBI is looking into the financing and negotiations surrounding her involvement with Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, which is home to an Ivanka Trump-branded spa. That inquiry may be unrelated to the Russia probe, but it should draw scrutiny to Ivanka’s business dealings and how they relate to her father’s political rise.

The mainstream press frequently describes Ivanka — who recently denied any collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians — as the head of a fashion company. Yet she was also a top executive at the Trump Organization and a hard-charging, and often quite effective, dealmaker for the real estate development company. Despite her entrenched role in the West Wing and status as one of her father’s most trusted advisers and emissaries on matters as wide-ranging as G-20 and the Winter Olympics, her identity — carefully curated on social media and through her press operation — hinges on issues such as female entrepreneurship, maternal leave, and being a mother to highly Instagrammable kids. It’s a persona that renders the media establishment and broader public largely incapable of considering that she might be a key player in the Trump-Russia narrative.

The first daughter has not merely developed some of her father’s Teflon quality; sexism and gender stereotypes have also worked in her favor. After all, who would suspect an ex-model, mother of three, and public champion of working women to be pulling the levers of power, calling the shots, and working alongside people like Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman with reputed mob ties who served jail time for stabbing a man in a bar fight?

Mueller’s probe is scrutinizing Trump’s business transactions. Although we don’t know the full scope of the investigation, Ivanka was reportedly among just a handful of people with a role in foreign projects at the Trump Organization.

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Millennials Really Hate the Republicans

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018/03/23/millennials-really-hate-the-republicans/

Obviously, I am not in an optimistic mood today, but there are still at least theoretical hopes for the future, if there is a future. For example, there are the young people.

Women are more Democratic than men, and younger voters are more Democratic than older ones. The former has been true for decades, and the latter is a trend that’s at least 10 or 15 years old. But a new Pew survey using a huge sample to allow for insight into demographic details shows that the intersection of these two trends is staggeringly large.

Among millennials, which Pew identifies as people born between 1981 and 1996, men lean toward Democrats by 8 percentage points — far and away a bigger tilt toward Democrats than older cohorts of men. But millennial women favor Democrats by a staggeringly large 70-23 margin.

Fewer than one in four women born after 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected president, prefer the Republicans to the Democrats. And even the men show a significant preference for the Democrats. Now, it’s often said with some justification that people grow more conservative with age. Simple tax aversion would tend to move people in that direction. Studies that show fear is a common component in conservative views probably explain the rest of the drift. People in their teens and twenties often feel invulnerable, especially when compared to people suffering the ravages of middle and old age.

But, on the other hand, there are studies that show that most people never abandon the political views of their youth, especially if we’re not talking about political views they’ve simply inherited from their parents. There will no doubt be plenty of churn in how individual millennials view the world, but it looks locked in now that this will be a generation that strongly rejects conservative views on a host of issues.

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