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Meet The Hard-Charging Lawyer Trump Tapped To Defend Him In Russia Probe

By ALICE OLLSTEIN Published MAY 30, 2017 6:00 AM

As the sprawling federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election intensifies, President Donald Trump is assembling a team of outside lawyers to defend him against the allegations. The first tapped to join the team is Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime private attorney who has for decades represented him on everything from his casino bankruptcies to the fraud allegations surrounding Trump University to his many standoffs with the media.

Though not a criminal lawyer and no background in the kind of high stakes national security work the Russia investigation will entail, he has been solidly in Donald Trump’s corner for decades, defending him doggedly if not always successfully.

Attorneys who have squared off against Kasowitz say not to underestimate him. New York Times deputy general counsel David McCraw, who handled multiple lawsuit threats from Kasowitz against the newspaper, told TPM that he is a “top-notch litigator” whose clients “are fortunate to have him.” Andrew Carboy, the opposing counsel to Kasowitz in a case concerning victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, called him an “absolute gentleman and a real attorney. Highly skilled and a quick study.”

Others who have worked with Kasowitz—whose new role as the President’s chief defender may give him a national profile—have described him as a “legal brawler” and “bare-knuckled litigator” whose firm is “not afraid to get their hands dirty.”


Franken: Reported Kushner Backchannel Is A 'Pretty Bad Breach'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By MATT SHUHAM Published MAY 30, 2017 11:15 AM

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said Tuesday that senior adviser to the President Jared Kushner had engaged in a “serious breach” of protocol when he reportedly sought to set up a communications backchannel with the Russian government using Russian facilities.

“Look, these guys, the administration, they’re not acting like people who have nothing to hide,” Franken said.

Franken’s remarks came in an appearance on CBS’ “This Morning.”

“He didn’t disclose a lot of his contacts with mainly, I guess, Russians,” Franken said, noting it was illegal not to list such meetings on a security clearance application. Kushner later amended his clearance application.


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/al-franken-pretty-bad-breach

Trump Tweets (Again) About Changing Senate Filibuster Rules

Source: Talking Points Memo

By MATT SHUHAM Published MAY 30, 2017 10:39 AM

The President on Tuesday urged Senate Republicans to change the chamber’s legislative filibuster rules in order to pass big-ticket agenda items with a simple majority.

Trump argued that “Dems would do it, no doubt!” In fact, Democrats never exercised that option the last time they were in the Senate majority, from 2007 to 2015.

While Democrats resorted to the so-called “nuclear option” in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for executive branch and judicial nominees — except those to the Supreme Court — they did not change the rules for legislative filibusters.

In April, Senate Republicans voted to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, confirming Justice Neil Gorsuch shortly thereafter.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-tweets-again-legislative-filibuster

McCain Says Trump's Actions Have Unsettled Allies and Americans

Source: Bloomberg

by Jason Koutsoukis
May 30, 2017, 6:01 AM EDT

President Donald Trump has unsettled allies, as well as Americans, Senator John McCain said during a speech in Sydney on the future of U.S. relations with Asia.

McCain -- the chairman of U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 -- said Tuesday that Australia wasn’t alone in questioning whether America was still committed to upholding peace and justice around the world.

“Other American allies have similar doubts these days and this is understandable,” McCain, 80, told a crowd at the University of Sydney’s U.S. Studies Centre. “I realize that some of President Trump’s actions and statements have unsettled America’s friends. They have unsettled many Americans as well.”

McCain’s remarks come on the heels of Trump’s first overseas trip, including the sometimes awkward gatherings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Group of Seven nations. Trump told NATO leaders they had fallen short of what they “owed” to the alliance by $119 billion and prodded them to pay more.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-30/mccain-says-trump-s-actions-have-unsettled-allies-and-americans

Stigma of Criminal Record Fades as U.S. Employers Get Desperate

Source: Bloomberg

by Steve Matthews

May 30, 2017, 12:00 AM EDT

Shea Rochester, who once spent a month in jail on an assault charge that was later dropped, is now wanted in a different way.

After a few months of job hunting, the 32-year-old recently got two offers in the same week. He accepted a $14.48-an-hour position at a Georgia factory that makes shortening and cooking oil.

As U.S. unemployment falls to the lowest level in a decade, driving it beneath what Federal Reserve officials consider is the lowest sustainable rate, people with blemishes on their resumes are getting second looks by employers trying to fill vacancies that currently stand at a near-record 5.7 million.

The stigma of criminal records, as well as erosion of job skills during incarceration, reduced employment of ex-offenders by as many as 1.9 million in 2014, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates. While the government doesn’t track jobs for those with arrest records, people are increasingly getting hired, according to economists, companies and government officials interviewed for this article.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-30/stigma-of-criminal-record-fades-as-u-s-employers-get-desperate

Rich People Don't Want Ivanka Trump's Fashion

Source: Bloomberg

The first daughter aimed her label at wealthy sophisticated women, but it didn’t take. So she moved downmarket.

by Kim Bhasin and Lindsey Rupp

May 30, 2017, 4:00 AM EDT May 30, 2017, 8:06 AM EDT

At a T.J. Maxx discount shop in the shadow of New York’s Queensboro bridge, there’s little sign of Ivanka Trump's fashion label. But she’s there. Dangling next to a bright red Fossil handbag is a single, blush-leather Ivanka Trump satchel. A flip of the tag reveals a $129 price, about the same as the other bags on the rack. Spread among the jumble are items by Guess? Inc., Nine West Group Inc., Steve Madden Ltd., and even a decidedly cheaper option from the Jessica Simpson Collection.

None of this screams luxury, yet that’s the brand image Trump, 35, originally envisioned: An icon of extravagance similar to what her father spent decades trying to build. When she began selling her brand as a fine jewelry label, she looked to Tiffany & Co.’s robin egg-blue box and Christian Louboutin Ltd.’s red-soled pumps for inspiration. She placed Trump wares in the same realm as such storied couture names as Harry Winston Inc. and Van Cleef & Arpels. She even opened an opulent boutique on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue.

Somewhere along the way, though, Ivanka Trump went downmarket. Her label now represents a much more modest image, perhaps recognizing exactly where on the retail continuum her products truly reside. At its heart, Ivanka Trump is a celebrity brand, not a designer fashion house, industry analysts say. It’s the messy discount rack, not the gleaming glass jewelry case. Her company’s moves over the past few years reflect that. And as it turns out, targeting the masses has worked.

“Celebrities, as a branding tool, appeal more to the mass than luxury,” said Allen Adamson, the New York-based founder of consulting firm BrandSimple. “The further downmarket she goes, the more horsepower her brand potentially has.”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-30/rich-people-don-t-want-ivanka-trump-s-fashion

Donald Trump thinks there's a "deep state" conspiracy against him

TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2017 09:53 AM EDT

Trump is becoming obsessed with Russia. Not the country, but the investigations about his dealings with Russia


Back in January, only weeks before Donald Trump became President of the United States, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Trump may regret his habit of taking potshots at the intelligence community’s competence due to its conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this,” Schumer observed.

Trump and his White House will probably never publicly admit it, but it seems like they’re starting to see Schumer’s point.

Both Trump and many of his top aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, believe that the leaks being directed against Trump and his administration are part of a deep state conspiracy against the Trump presidency, according to a report by Politico. One outside adviser to the president told the site that “the more people talk to him about it, the more he obsesses about it.” Meanwhile, a White House official pointed out how the cascade of negative stories is causing Trump to lose control of his own presidency, observing that “we are letting others dictate entirely how we are perceived. The calendar changes every day. There is no rhyme or reason to a lot of it.”

One possible casualty of Trump’s increasing uncertainty is chief of staff Reince Priebus, who has often been criticized by White House senior aides who talk about Trump’s woes to reporters.


Internet gadfly Kim Dotcom admits FBI document on Seth Rich is bogus - but he won't delete it

Source: RawStory

30 MAY 2017 AT 08:47 ET

An internet entrepreneur admits he posted a fake FBI file online to promote conspiracy theories about a slain Democratic National Committee staffer — but he’s not going to delete it.

Kim Dotcom has played a central role in reviving claims that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered after revealing or threatening to disclose damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Dotcom told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had evidence that Rich had sent documents to WikiLeaks, which conservatives then cited to dismiss claims about Russian election interference — but the Megaupload website founder now admits the document he helped spread online is a fake.

“After doing some forensic analysis of the document I came to believe it is not authentic. And I have retweeted Wikileaks which came to the same conclusion,” Dotcom told Gizmodo. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to delete it.

“There is no need to delete those tweets because I have been very cautious and warned within an hour of the release of that document that it could be a fake,” he said.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/internet-gadfly-kim-dotcom-admits-fbi-document-on-seth-rich-is-bogus-but-he-wont-delete-it/

Kellyanne Conway Pushes Back on Russia Investigation: 'This Entire Thing is Just a Rush to Judgment'

by Ken Meyer | 8:18 am, May 30th, 2017

Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox & Friends on Tuesday, where she pushed back against the reports that Jared Kushner wanted to set up a secret backchannel between the White House and the Russian government.

Conway said that communication backchannels are not unusual in the White House, and that Kushner has volunteered to give testimony over his connections with Russia. Conway also cited President Trump‘s recent statement about how he has confidence in his son-in-law despite the new waves of scrutiny he faces.

Brian Kilmeade asked Conway about a new Fox News report that suggests it was the Russians who proposed a temporary comms channel with the Trump Administration. Previous articles from other outlets have reported that the opposite was true, and that one of the Russian officials Kushner recently spoke with has been blacklisted by U.S. intelligence.

“I cannot comment on any of that because there is no reason to, frankly,” said Conway. “This entire thing is just a rush to judgment. We have been talking about this for about 8 months and yet…it’s a lot easier to scream Russia, Russia, Russia every day.”


WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS. Donald Trump Deals Away America's Prestige, and His Own Position

In terms of both domestic politics and international affairs, our president is painting himself into a terribly tight corner.

05.30.17 1:00 AM ET

So this week, he warns us, the president is going to announce his decision on whether the United States will remain a party to the Paris climate accord. I guess the delay is meant to dupe us into believing that he’s been studying the substance of the issue.

I think we all expect that he’ll pull the United States out of the agreement, signed by 195 nations (and unsigned by just Nicaragua and Syria, if you want an idea of the company Donald Trump would be putting us in). Indeed Axios reported Monday that Trump has already told several associates that he’s giving it the heave-ho. The thin reed of hope here is that a slew of major U.S. corporations—including the CEO of Exxon!—have told him to stay in Paris.

So maybe there’s the slimmest of chances that he might pleasantly surprise us. But come on. He knows he’d have a mutiny on his hands if he doesn’t reject the accord. The three key elements of the Republican Party these days are the hardest-right members of Congress (look, for example, at how the House Republicans rewrote the health bill to placate the Freedom Caucus); Rush Limbaugh and the other media propagandists, and the rabid pro-Trump base. Each of these overlapping groups would be enraged if Trump stuck with Paris.

As a matter of politics, he’s already lost more or less the entire country except for these people. If he starts losing them—by doing things like coming around to Barack Obama’s position on climate change—they’ll start thinking the words “President Pence” sound just fine. And they, unlike the rest of us, have the power to make it happen.

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