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Frank Rich: In Bill Barr, Trump Has Finally Found His New Fixer


the national circus 12:55 P.M.
In Bill Barr, Trump Has Finally Found His New Fixer
By Frank Rich

Bill Barr’s assertion that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign has brought condemnations of impropriety from congressional Democrats and career intelligence officials, and raised suspicion that the attorney general is covering for Trump. Has Trump, at long last, finally found his Roy Cohn?

When you invoke Roy Cohn, you have to specify which Roy Cohn. There’s the New York Cohn of the 1970s and ’80s, the Mob-connected fixer who enabled Trump’s rise, of course. But there’s also the earlier, Washington Cohn: the smear artist who abetted Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt to expose supposed Commies in the United States Army during the 1950s. The brilliantly perverse achievement of Barr is that he combines both Roy Cohns in a single package. He’s a fixer for Trump, as evidenced by his unsupported conclusion that the Mueller report lets the president off the legal hook for his manifold efforts to obstruct justice. But Barr is also the McCarthy-era Cohn, sliming a “group of leaders there at the upper echelon” of government agencies for spying without offering any specifics or evidence.

That said, Barr is more insidious than either Roy Cohn.
The Cohn of the McCarthy era was the chief counsel to a Senate committee; the New York Cohn was a lawyer in private practice. William Barr is the attorney general — the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States. And he is just getting started in his career in nonenforcement. He is poised to bowdlerize the Mueller report with redactions whose legitimacy cannot be verified and is stonewalling congressional efforts to read the report in full. He is in position to assist Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, as he buries documents whose exposure Trump may fear more than Mueller’s evidence — his tax returns. And, as the GOP operative turned Never Trumper Rick Wilson has pointed out, Barr’s accusations of “spying” are designed not only to feed right-wing conspiracy theories about a “deep state” plotting to subvert Trump but also to sully “the future public, private, and legal testimony of members of the DOJ, FBI, and intelligence community who have seen the damning data on Trump and his claque.” The goal? “To intimidate anyone who would investigate Trump’s vast portfolio of corruption and obstruction of justice, both before and after he took office.”

Barr, let’s recall, was more highly-thought-of only a few weeks ago. As the successor to Matthew Whitaker, a low-rent scam artist with not even minimal qualifications to serve as acting attorney general, he didn’t have a tough act to follow. He was routinely praised as an “institutionalist” who would protect the Justice Department — though his advocates never explained why any true institutionalist would enlist in an administration that above all is devoted to the destruction of governmental institutions and defiance of the rule of law. In this sense, Barr was initially welcomed as another iteration of those previous “adults in the room” who would protect America from their boss’s worst instincts: John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, H. R. McMaster, and Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser who sold his soul for a tax cut rather than publicly break with a president who gave a pass to neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville.

In the end, no Trump Cabinet member ever rises above the common denominator of his or her peers, a perpetual rogue’s gallery that, from Mnuchin to Wilbur Ross to Betsy DeVos to (RIP) Kirstjen Nielsen, makes the bar in Star Wars look like King Arthur’s court.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 12, 2019, 05:35 PM (1 replies)

Trump Wants to Bus Migrants to Sanctuary Cities. The Mayors There Are Fine With It.


Trump Wants to Bus Migrants to Sanctuary Cities. The Mayors There Are Fine With It.
An elaborate attempt to troll liberal politicians seems to have hit a snag.
Scott Bixby,
Sam Brodey
04.12.19 4:46 PM ET

President Donald Trump may have assumed that his proposal to release undocumented immigrants into so-called “sanctuary cities” would back Democrats into a corner on the issue of immigration. But the local officials in those cities he’s targeting don’t seem to actually find the prospect all that foreboding.

Instead, when asked about the plan—which would entail bussing migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border to be released in cities that do not cooperate with federal law enforcement to arrest undocumented immigrants—mayors of major cities, regional capitals and medium-sized towns told The Daily Beast said that they would welcome those currently being detained.

“The city would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told The Daily Beast in a statement. “This White House plan demonstrates the utter contempt that the Trump administration has for basic human dignity and the core values on which this nation was founded.”

“As a welcoming city, we would welcome these migrants with open arms, just as we welcomed Syrian refugees, just as we welcomed Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria and just as we welcome Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

“I am proud that Cambridge is a sanctuary city,” Mayor Marc McGovern of Cambridge, Massachusetts, told The Daily Beast. “Trump is a schoolyard bully who tries to intimidate and threaten people. I’m not intimidated and if asylum seekers find their way to Cambridge, we’ll welcome them.”


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 12, 2019, 05:14 PM (8 replies)

'He's Just Being a Freak'


‘He’s Just Being a Freak’
April 12, 2019 at 2:52 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Recode that the way President Trump uses Twitter has “cheapened the presidency.”

Said Pelosi: “He’s just being a freak, I mean, he’s just terrible. There’s more of a responsibility for a president to communicate his point of view, which we should respect, he’s the president of the United States, whether you agree with him or not, he has a point of view. But to use the office of the president as an attack vehicle … for his market, it seems to have worked.”

She also criticized the sometimes-obsessive coverage of Trump’s Twitter outbursts: “All they want to talk about is, how on Earth did he do 50 tweets in 48 hours? I think the press is an enabler of him… He makes assaults on them and they strengthen him by just talking about that and that’s what an authoritarian wants you to be talking about him.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 12, 2019, 03:53 PM (29 replies)

Roger Stone's woes: He's broke. Donald Trump doesn't call. And his wife broke her ankle.

Roger Stone's woes: He's broke. Donald Trump doesn't call. And his wife broke her ankle.
In a wide ranging interview with SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton & Sam Roberts” Roger Stone said his living situation has plummeted, his savings are gone and his car was impounded.

Things are not going well for Roger Stone.

In a wide ranging interview with SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton & Sam Roberts” on Thursday he said his living situation has plummeted, his savings are gone and his car was impounded.

When money problems forced Stone and his wife to move from a Fort Lauderdale mansion to a one-room apartment the truck slipped out of gear and broke his wife’s ankle.

And he’s no longer talking to his old friend, President Donald Trump.

Stone is being prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. He was arrested on Jan. 25 and charged with witness tampering, obstruction and false statements about his interactions related to the release of stolen Democratic Party emails by WikiLeaks.

He’s under a gag order from the federal judge in the case, prohibiting him from talking about it, something Stone said has made his financial situation more difficult.

“The worst part of this is being broke,” he said on the SiriusXM program that airs weekdays on the Faction Talk channel 103.

“I’ve lost my home, my insurance, what little savings I had, my ability to make a living because people pay me to write and talk, and of course the things they want me to write and talk about are the very things I’m not allowed to talk and write about. In the blink of an eye you can lose everything.

“I have to pay everything I have to lawyers. And I could no longer pay the rent in the property that I was in. I moved from a nine-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment. Had to do the move myself with my wife renting a truck. On the last day of the move in kind of a freak accident the truck slips out of gear and rolls over my wife’s ankle, breaking it.”


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 12, 2019, 03:25 PM (46 replies)

Rosenstein Says Barr Isn't Trying to Mislead

Rosenstein baffles me.


Rosenstein Says Barr Isn’t Trying to Mislead
April 11, 2019 at 7:47 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the Justice Department’s handling of the special counsel’s still-secret report, telling the Wall Street Journal that Attorney General William Barr is “being as forthcoming as he can” about his process for redacting and releasing the roughly 400-page document.

“Mr. Rosenstein beat back suggestions that Mr. Barr is trying to mislead the public by releasing only a four-page summary of Robert Mueller’s investigation.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 08:54 PM (34 replies)

New ICE Chief Said Detention Was 'Like a Summer Camp'


New ICE Chief Said Detention Was ‘Like a Summer Camp’
April 11, 2019 at 7:50 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

“The Trump administration has tapped Matthew Albence to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of the sudden resignation of its former leader,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Albence became better known after his appearance on Capitol Hill on July 31 during which he said that family detention centers were best described as ‘more like a summer camp,’ to the shock of some advocates and politicians.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 08:01 PM (6 replies)

A President Falsely Charging 'Treason' Is What the Founders Feared


A President Falsely Charging ‘Treason’ Is What the Founders Feared
Trump’s accusations violate his oath of office.
12:00 PM ET
Conor Friedersdorf

Donald Trump swore to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution declares, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

On Wednesday, President Trump wrote, “I think what the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS. Their Open Border mindset is putting our Country at risk. Will not let this happen!” As having an “open border mindset” is not levying war against America nor giving aid and comfort to its enemies, Trump is guilty of levying a false accusation of unsurpassed gravity and additionally guilty of violating his oath to protect and defend Article III, which defines treason as “only” those offenses.

That same day, the oath-breaker wrote, “So, it has now been determined, by 18 people that truly hate President Trump, that there was No Collusion with Russia. In fact, it was an illegal investigation that should never have been allowed to start. I fought back hard against this Phony & Treasonous Hoax!”

The people who started Robert Mueller’s investigation did not levy war against the United States, adhere to its enemies, or give them aid and comfort. As such, Trump is guilty of levying another false accusation and additionally guilty of violating his oath to protect and defend Article III.


The Framers were guarding against the possibility that Americans would one day elect a man so morally weak and corrupt that he would falsely accuse political enemies of treason. In 2016, Americans narrowly elected a man who is that degraded. Congress and the judiciary have a constitutional duty to check his abuses of power, and the public has a patriotic duty to oust him from office. But as yet, most Republicans show no inclination to mount a 2020 primary challenge, as if they are content to continue supporting a man of low character.

Their failure, while disconcerting, is not treason, as it is neither levying war against the United States nor adhering to its enemies nor giving them aid and comfort.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 03:26 PM (38 replies)

Pete Buttigieg Isn't Just Winning Over People on the Internet

Pete Buttigieg Isn’t Just Winning Over People on the Internet
“We belong in this conversation,” says the South Bend mayor, insisting that he’s not a 2020 long shot anymore.
Edward-Isaac Dovere
6:00 AM ET


This can all seem like flavor-of-the-month political coverage. But his event on Friday night in Manchester got so many RSVPs that it had to move from a bar to an art museum down the road. And even then there were more people chanting outside than most of the candidates are getting.

The next morning, here at a bookstore on the main stretch of the state capital, Buttigieg had to have security clear a path as he made his way through a crowd with Representative Ann Kuster at his side, visibly surprised by the turnout.

Yes, many of the people at both events told me, they can actually see this 37-year-old who probably couldn’t win his local House seat being the president. Of the United States. Like, giving the State of the Union and Oval Office addresses. Picking a Cabinet, responding to foreign terrorist attacks, negotiating with foreign leaders, introducing a budget. Or as Lucas Harrington, a 22-year-old student who got the mayor to sign his autobiography, put it to me, “I would imagine President Pete, because his name is going to be just as hard to pronounce if he wins.”


By the time Buttigieg arrived at the bookstore, he’d spent close to an hour shaking hands and taking photos. At least 100 of the people who’d come hadn’t been able to see him around the obstacle of the bookshelves, but they’d stayed for the whole stump speech nonetheless. At one point on the street in Concord, what was supposed to be a quick photo to go with yet another profile became an almost paparazzi-level crush of cameras. He and his staff are just as surprised that his campaign has taken off like this, and that he got booked for Ellen before he finished hiring Iowa or New Hampshire directors. The plan was to build slowly, get articles written about him as an intriguing curiosity, hope for a breakout line in the first primary debate at the end of June, and then try to get a turn in the spotlight like this maybe at the end of the summer.

Instead, he’s spent the past few weeks already fielding questions about whether he is gay enough, whether he stands by the opioid-related consulting that McKinsey did while he worked in a completely different part of the business, and whether he should be made to answer for some of the things his late father, Joseph A. Buttigieg, an English professor at Notre Dame, wrote about Marxism.

“All of the little potshots are evidence that people are taking us seriously,” Buttigieg told me. “It’s a good sign.”


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 03:18 PM (3 replies)

Right Wingers Are Scared Of Pete Buttigieg

4/11/19 4:27am
Read time: 3 minutes
Right Wingers Are Scared Of Pete Buttigieg
The right-wing thought leaders can't quite dismiss Mayor Pete out of hand, and that's making them churlish and mean.
By Steve M.
Right Wingers Are Scared Of Pete Buttigieg Image from: Screen shot

The notion that Pete Buttigieg, the under-40 gay mayor of a midsize city in Indiana, could become president of the United States seems far-fetched, but apparently it's plausible enough that "Trump whisperer" Salena Zito is hedging her bets, or at least trying to use Buttigieg as a cudgel to beat other Democrats:

How Pete Buttigieg Could Hurt Trump in the Rust Belt

... Mayor Pete, as he likes to be called, strikes a tone that is kinder and less combative than the insult-driven politics of Trump and the Democratic Party's far-left members. His boyish good looks, intelligence and military background are undoubtedly appealing, as is his faith.

"Scripture tells us to look after the least among us, that it also counsels humility and teaches us about what's bigger than ourselves," said Buttigieg, a devout Episcopalian. "It points the way toward an inclusive and unselfish politics that I strive to practice, whether I'm talking about my faith on the stump or not."

Mayor Pete's politics are already gaining traction. Since launching his exploratory committee to run for president on Jan. 23, he has already raised $7 million for his campaign....

The fact that he was born and bred in the American Rust Belt is possibly his biggest asset....

You won't find Buttigieg ridiculing fellow Midwestern voters or taking them for granted, the way Hillary Clinton's campaign did in 2015. After the University of Notre Dame, based in South Bend, invited her to attend their prestigious St. Patrick's Day event, her campaign declined, telling organizers that "white Catholics were not the audience she needed to spend time reaching out to," as The New York Times wrote.

... Jeff Rea, a former Republican mayor from another Indiana town and current president of the South Bend chamber of commerce, said nobody should count out Mayor Pete. He and Buttigieg have been on opposite sides on a number of projects but have "always found a way to come together for a solution."

... No mayor in history has ever run and won his or her party's nomination for president, nor has anyone under the age of 43. Then again, no businessman had ever done it until Trump came along.

Zito sneers at Buttigieg for supporting abortion rights, renewable energy, and some tax increases to pay for social programs, but the self-appointed bard of the heartlanders isn't 100% sure that that's going to be a dealbreaker for Middle America, and it's causing her a bit of cognitive dissonance. I'm sure she'll experience more of a freakout if Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders wins, but for now she's trying to tell us (and herself) that a Buttigieg victory after Trump's win in 2016 would be continuity, not change. (I don't think so.)

But the right-winger who's really freaking as he watches Buttigieg's apparent ascent is Erick Erickson, who's become fixated on the mayor's claims of religious faith. Erickson lost control on Twitter earlier this week:


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 09:57 AM (3 replies)

Trump laments that US troops can't get "rough" with migrants at the border

Trump laments that US troops can’t get “rough” with migrants at the border
And it seems like he’d ask them to do it, too — if it weren’t for those pesky laws.
By Alex Ward@AlexWardVoxalex.ward@vox.com Apr 10, 2019, 5:50pm EDT

President Donald Trump has mused about closing down the US-Mexico border entirely. He’s reportedly talked about restarting the family separation policy (which he denies). And now, Trump has added another line to his stop-immigration-at-all-costs rhetoric.

The president is saddened by the fact that the military can’t be more “rough” with migrants coming to America.

After telling reporters in Texas on Wednesday that he wants more troops at the US-Mexico border, the president added, “our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act. Because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy.”

The reason? “They have all these horrible laws that the Democrats won’t change [and] they will not change them,” the president said, without explaining what laws he means, or how his political opponents thwarted him.

It’s easy to dismiss this as another off-the-cuff, tough-guy Trump comment. But one can’t lose sight that this is the commander in chief — the head of all American forces — saying he kind of wishes the military could have more freedom to hurt men, women, and children.

That, to put it mildly, is horrifying.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 11, 2019, 09:00 AM (14 replies)
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