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Mueller's many loose ends

What's posted is just the tip of the iceberg...

Mueller’s many loose ends
What comes next now that the probe is finished.
By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Mar 27, 2019, 8:00am EDT


On the topic of obstruction of justice, Mueller’s report specifically says it “does not conclude that the President committed a crime,” but that it “also does not exonerate him,” according to Barr. (Barr then proceeded to exonerate Trump himself.)

That, of course, raises the questions of what exactly Mueller found on obstruction. Here, the special counsel is known to have investigated:

The circumstances around Trump’s firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
Trump’s conversations with FBI Director James Comey and his eventual firing of Comey
Trump’s pressures on Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Russia investigation
Trump’s treatment of and contacts with various other Justice Department and intelligence officials, with regards to investigations implicating him or his associates
Whether Trump or his associates may have hinted at or offered pardons to witnesses in exchange for not incriminating him
False testimony from Trump associates to congressional committees investigating Russian interference
Trump’s involvement in crafting a false public story about Donald Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer

Barr’s letter also says that “most” of the presidential actions Mueller analyzed in the obstruction report have “been the subject of public reporting.” But most is not all, so there appear to be some potentially obstructive Trump actions we don’t yet know about. So what are they?


Barr writes that Mueller did not find that any Trump associates conspired or coordinated with the Russian government on the Kremlin’s two main efforts to interfere with the election: the Internet Research Agency’s social media propaganda operation, and the hacking and leaking of Democrats’ emails.

Yet Barr’s summary mentions nothing about ... well, many, many other topics related to the Trump team and Russia that we know Mueller has investigated. These include:

The Trump Organization’s business dealings related to Russia
The Trump Tower Moscow talks
Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower
Russian efforts to influence US policy on sanctions and Ukraine, both during the election and afterward
Paul Manafort’s handing over Trump polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik
Manafort’s efforts to reach out to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska
Connections between the NRA
Potential efforts to coordinate with WikiLeaks over the stolen emails
An offer from Gulf princes to the Trump team for election help on social media
Russia and other foreign-tied donations to Trump’s inauguration
Efforts by Jared Kushner to set up back-channel communications with Russia after the election

Barr’s summary tells us nothing of what became of Mueller’s inquiries into all these matters. But there are a few possibilities.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 08:32 AM (0 replies)

So Trump Didn't Collude -- He's Still the Most Dangerous President in U.S. History


So Trump Didn’t Collude -- He’s Still the Most Dangerous President in U.S. History
Harold Meyerson
March 26, 2019
With or without Russia, the president poses a grave threat to our republic.

This article originally appeared at The Los Angeles Times. Subscribe here.


Trump’s most glaring misdeeds never involved, or required, collusion. He didn’t need Putin’s help to slander Clinton—or to become the most dangerous president in our history.

When great nations topple, it’s usually because they’re rotting from within, with one set of their residents pitted against another.Trump’s chief contribution has been to accelerate America’s rot by demonizing a large portion of the nation’s citizenry. His deep-seated racism has resonated with many anxious, provincial whites and set the stage for the rise we’ve seen in hate crimes. His fragile narcissism—deeming anyone, dead (John McCain) or alive, who fails to extol him to be an enemy worthy of destruction—has poisoned an already vituperative public discourse.

To be sure, Trump doesn’t pry apart our republic all by himself. He has plenty of help from the echo chamber of Fox News and talk radio, and from complaisant and cowed Republican elected officials who fear that their party’s voters will oust them in primaries unless they support Trump’s broadsides or at least mute their criticism of him.

For that matter, Republicans have been playing the race card and waging culture wars ever since Richard Nixon realized that the votes of many Southern (and some Northern) whites were his for the taking by demonizing the same minority activists, antiwar protestors and intellectuals whom Alabama Governor George Wallace, in his failed bids for the presidency, had flayed. But Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and their Republican successors had to appeal to more moderate voters as well; their attacks came in dog whistles and more genteel prose. They didn’t divide us quite so starkly, or encourage Klansmen to take their hoods out of mothballs.


Trump’s affinity for blood and soil nationalism and the violence that frequently accompanies it is evident in what passes for his foreign policy, which mixes his manifest indifference to our democratic allies with his admiration for thugs of all nations, no matter their ostensible ideology: Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and, yes, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

But Trump didn’t need help from that rogues’ gallery to incite the worst in us. Decades of economic stagnation and the prompting of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News rabble-rousers, combined with nearly half a millennium of racism, paved the way for him. In accepting the Republicans’ nomination in 2016, he claimed, “I alone can fix” what ails America. And, with no assist from Putin, he—if not alone, then with no foreign assistance—has betrayed our promise and imperiled our land.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 08:20 AM (3 replies)

Pete Buttigieg Crushes Trump's Laughable Claim That The GOP Is The Party Of Health Care

Posted on Tue, Mar 26th, 2019 by Sean Colarossi
Pete Buttigieg Crushes Trump’s Laughable Claim That The GOP Is The Party Of Health Care

Rising Democratic candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, said on Tuesday that he is “mystified” by Donald Trump’s decision to try – once again – to take health care away from millions of Americans.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Buttigieg laughed off the president’s prediction that the GOP will soon become the “party of healthcare.”

“I’m mystified that the president thinks this will help them become the party of health care,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how you can become the party of health care when you’re now making it abundantly clear that your position on health care is to take it away from millions of Americans.”


Buttigieg said:

As a matter of policy, I’m not surprised because this seems to be the position they hold deep down. Just take this health care coverage away from millions of Americans. As a matter of political strategy, I’m a little bit surprised because most Americans want this and so at this moment when they were going to take a victory lap around what was happening in Washington, suddenly they’re reminding us why so many of us are Democrats. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the amazing shift between 2010, when I was a young nominee for state treasurer and watching as a Democrat on the ticket how we were getting absolutely beat up. I mean health care and the ACA was a toxic issue for the Democrats. And then by 2018, it was the winning issue for Democrats. What happened in those years? Well, it’s very simple. The bill was actually implemented and people liked it. Back in 2010, they were talking about all these theoretical things that might be like death panels. By 2018, in the town halls that happened then, you had regular Americans getting in the faces of members of Congress saying this is what this bill has done to make my life better. And it turns out it’s just harder to lie to somebody about their everyday life. So the idea that they would want to do this is a little strange to me politically. But again, this is their policy. They call themselves — I’m mystified that the president thinks this will help them become the party of health care. I don’t know how you can become the party of health care when you’re now making it abundantly clear that your position on health care is to take it away from millions of Americans.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 06:53 AM (17 replies)

2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg makes gains in crowds, TV spots and campaign cash

2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg makes gains in crowds, TV spots and campaign cash
Politics Mar 26, 2019 3:08 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is riding in the back of a rented minivan to his last event of the day in South Carolina, munching on cold french fries and critiquing his stage performance so far.

The enthusiastic crowds of hundreds who’ve packed his first two stops have been much larger than the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and his team expected. It’s “wonderful,” he says, but the cheering and prolonged applause are messing with his delivery. Sometimes he neglects to pause, and his next words are drowned out. Other times people start clapping when he doesn’t expect it.

“I need to relearn the timing of my stump speech,” Buttigieg says. “I’ve been used to a format where I go in, there’s 50 people, I do my little spiel and then we have some Q&A and hopefully they walk away impressed. Now every one of these things we put on the calendar as a meet and greet is turning out to be a rally.”

Buttigieg, a veteran and Rhodes scholar, was the longest of long shots when he announced a presidential exploratory committee in January. No mayor has ever been elected president, much less one from a community of roughly 100,000 people in the middle of America, and Buttigieg is barely old enough to be eligible for the job.

But his underdog bid is gaining momentum, and the clean-cut guy known to most people as “Mayor Pete” can feel it. Now he has to figure out how to turn one of the first surprises of the nascent race for the Democratic nomination into a full-fledged presidential campaign — and one that isn’t remembered as a mere quirk.

“The buzz helps,” Buttigieg says. “But you want to make sure that you have enough substance and enough organization that any kind of flavor-of-the-month period is something you can outlive.”


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 06:26 PM (3 replies)

Pete Buttigieg wants to broker 'peace deal' with Chick-fil-A: I like their chicken, not their polit


Pete Buttigieg wants to broker 'peace deal' with Chick-fil-A: I like their chicken, not their politics
By Justin Wise - 03/26/19 02:07 PM EDT

South Bend., Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) said Tuesday that he could one day be in a position to broker a "peace deal" between the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain and the LGBTQ community.

"I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken," Buttigieg quipped, drawing laughter on "The Breakfast Club," the hip-hop morning show on New York's Power 105.1.


"We've got to find a way to use our identities to reach other people," Buttigieg said. "What can we talk about that brings us together? Because I have no clue what it's like to walk in the shoes of so many other people. But I can talk about some of the pieces of what I carry with me and see if it rhymes with their life experience."

"Good art has that. Good music has that. Good literature has that," he continued.

"Good chicken sandwiches," Charlamagne Tha God chimed in, before Buttigieg noted that good politics "ought to have that quality too."

Chick-fil-A has come under fire in recent years for its alleged donations to anti-LGBTQ causes. The fast-food chain also drew criticism when CEO Dan Cathy said in 2012 that the company supports "the biblical definition of the family unit."

Universities and airports have moved to ban the popular fast-food chain from their premises following the company's alleged support of anti-LGBTQ causes. The San Antonio City Council last week voted to bar Chick-fil-A from opening a new location at the city's airport.

Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 05:39 PM (11 replies)

WH will get the Mueller report before the public does in case it wants to make redactions, Barr says

Terrific. What could possibly go wrong. Please, someone, tell me this is illegal?
EDIT to add: msnbc is saying this is a lie, per DOJ official

The White House will get the Mueller report before the public does in case it wants to make redactions, Barr says
Sonam Sheth

Attorney General William Barr will send the special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation to the White House before the public sees it, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday.

Graham said Barr told him he would send the report to the White House first in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts.

Mueller's full report is likely to contain crucial details about the motivations behind the myriad contacts and meetings President Donald Trump's associates had with Russians, as well as Trump's repeated deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump's defense lawyers have previously said they want a chance to review and "correct" the Mueller report before it's made public.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr told him he would send the special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on the Russia investigation to the White House before the public sees it, in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said Barr told him it would most likely take "weeks, not months," to make a version of Mueller's final report public.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 04:06 PM (19 replies)

Alex Jones offers to execute 'scum' Rachel Maddow for treason over Mueller reporting

I wish she'd consider suing, getting this deranged animal somewhere where he can do no harm.


Alex Jones offers to execute ‘scum’ Rachel Maddow for treason over Mueller reporting
By Bil Browning ·
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

InfoWars’ Alex Jones made incredibly disturbing comments about MSNBC broadcaster Rachel Maddow during a piece on the Mueller report. Maddow covered the story repeatedly – as did the rest of mainstream media.

During the segment, Jones called reporters “scum” and “traitors” and specifically focused on Maddow, saying he would gladly execute them for covering the special counsel’s investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

“If you’re found guilty of treason, and they want me to kick the switch to open that trapdoor and drop your neck down and snap that son of a bitch, I swear to God I’ll pull those levers all day,” he said as footage of Maddow appeared on screen behind him.


Jones has been banned from most social media platforms for his nonstop conspiracy theories and harmful rhetoric. He is currently being sued by family members of the Sandy Hook mass school shooting for repeatedly claiming the tragedy was a hoax and the victims were actors.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 12:08 PM (37 replies)

The Republican Crime Syndicate Is Real

3/26/19 5:00am
Read time: 4 minutes
The Republican Crime Syndicate Is Real
The problem isn't Trump -- it's the entire Republican Party. The rot is just too deep.
By Steve M.
The Republican Crime Syndicate Is Real Image from: DonkeyHotey

Jennifer Rubin writes:

... let’s say for the sake of argument that the [Mueller] report shows: 1.) Trump hired multiple campaign officials who had, collectively, more than 100 contacts with Russians and solicited a hostile foreign power’s help in winning the presidency; 2.) Trump lied repeatedly about his pursuit of a business deal with a hostile foreign power while running for president; and 3.) Trump took a slew of actions (from misleading the public to seeking leniency for Michael Flynn to intimidating witnesses in plain sight) that, if committed by anyone other than the president, would be grounds for indictment. Do the Republicans plan on running in 2020 under the banner: Leave the Russian patsy in power — or What’s a little obstruction between friends?


Seriously, that's the Republican message: There was no collusion, and it's no big deal if there was because Russia hates gays, loves fossil fuels, and despises Europe -- just like us. So we should be Russia's friends.

If so, they will have to defend not simply Trump’s criminal innocence but also his fitness to serve after committing all of the above. They’ll have to explain why none of that rises to the level of “high Crimes and Misdemeanor,” and why the country should allow him to continue as the chief executive charged with enforcement of the nation’s laws and the Constitution. Even in the best-case scenario for Trump, the facts we know about already are damning; in a world without a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists, they would be disqualifying for office.

But the GOP is not "a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists" -- it's "a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists" plus people with such intense negative partisanship that they'd vote for a Charles Manson/John Wayne Gacy ticket if the ticket promised to lock up Hillary Clinton.

That’s not all. Maybe before the 2020 election we’ll learn the results of the Southern District of New York investigation(s) on allegations of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, defraud banks and cheat on taxes, and other possible crimes. Are Republicans going to back a president who’s found responsible for any or all or those, or, if the investigation is not complete, back a president who, in his second term, could be found to have committed multiple financial crimes?


What’s the defense? Hey, everyone pays off mistresses and files false campaign finance statements!

Yes. The public already thinks all politicians are crooks, and all wealthy men are cheating horndogs. A large subset of the GOP voter base is supposed to care about character and traditional morality, but these people are Trump's most unswerving loyalists, because, to them, character and traditional morality mean hating Muslims and Mexicans and wanting Hillary Clinton locked up.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 08:49 AM (0 replies)

Robert Reich: The Real Scandal of Donald Trump


The Real Scandal of Donald Trump
Robert Reich
March 26, 2019
Trump's threat to our democracy goes far beyond Russia.


A president’s most fundamental responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Trump has weakened that system.

When, as a presidential nominee, he said a particular federal judge shouldn’t be hearing a case against him because the judge’s parents were Mexican, Trump did more than insult a member of the judiciary. He attacked the impartiality of America’s legal system.

When Trump threatened to “loosen” federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him and, later, to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him, he wasn’t just bullying the media. He was threatening the freedom and integrity of the press.

When, as president, he equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, by blaming “both sides” for the violence, he wasn’t being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining equal rights.

When he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa county, Arizona, for a criminal contempt conviction, he wasn’t just signaling it’s OK for the police to engage in brutal violations of civil rights. He was also subverting the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.

When he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, he wasn’t really asking that they demonstrate their patriotism. He was disrespecting their—and, indirectly, everyone’s—freedom of speech.

In all these ways, Trump undermined core values of our democracy.

This is the essence of Trump’s failure—not that he has chosen one set of policies over another, or has divided rather than united Americans, or even that he has behaved in childish and vindictive ways unbecoming a president.

It is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy to achieve his goals.

By saying and doing whatever it takes to win, he has abused the trust we place in a president to preserve and protect the nation’s capacity for self-government.

Controversy over the Mueller report must not obscure this basic reality.

Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 07:20 AM (5 replies)

Whether Trump obstructed justice isn't the attorney general's call to make. It's Congress' decision.


Whether Trump obstructed justice isn't the attorney general's call to make. It's Congress' decision.
The Mueller report didn't draw a conclusion about any obstruction of justice. Barr needs to show the evidence on which he based his decision.
March 25, 2019, 11:36 AM EDT
By Michael Conway, Former counsel, U.S. House Judiciary Committee

Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of the “principal conclusions” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’ still-secret report, released on Sunday, engages in sleight-of-hand when finding that President Donald Trump did not engage in criminal obstruction of justice.

Mueller made no such conclusion.
Rather, Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr, in consultation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, decided that the evidence found by Mueller was insufficient to convict Trump beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial.

Mueller apparently adhered to the principle of seeking “just the facts.” And facts matter: Neither Congress nor the public know the facts found by Mueller regarding obstruction of justice. A White House that famously promulgated a theory of “alternative facts” will find that the actual facts found by Mueller’s investigation matter.


Taking this cue, the 2019 House of Representatives would be well served to direct the Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry. The special constitutional obligation of Congress to conduct impeachment provides the strongest argument for the courts to order the release of the full Mueller report, if Barr balks at doing so.

Importantly, the Founders believed that the impeachment power of Congress should be readily available if the president engages in acts — even if they are not criminal acts — that undermine the separation of powers or constitute a presidential abuse of power.

Even leaving aside the investigations of federal and state prosecutors in New York and elsewhere, President Trump is premature in claiming his exoneration by Barr’s letter. Congress, the public and history are entitled to decide if Mueller’s recitation of facts warrants the indictment or impeachment of President Trump for obstruction of justice.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 05:53 AM (13 replies)
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