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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 08:54 PM
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Journal Archives

Judge stymies Trump's border wall by invoking GOP law targeting Obama

Judge stymies Trump's border wall by invoking GOP law targeting Obama

What goes around, Republicans are learning, comes around.
12/14/2019 06:39 AM EST

President Donald Trump’s border wall is facing a surprising new legal hurdle down in Texas: an obscure legislative provision crafted by House Republicans in 2014 when the GOP was targeting then-President Barack Obama’s budget powers.

The amendment, carried forward into current law, has resurfaced with a vengeance in El Paso, Texas. U.S District Court Judge David Briones has been quoting back its words in a series of rulings against Trump’s decision to take $3.6 billion from military construction projects to expedite his wall.

As first adopted, the Republican language specifically prohibited Obama from taking any step to “eliminate or reduce funding for any program, project, or activity as proposed in the President’s budget request” until it's cleared with Congress.

The triggering event was a relatively narrow dispute in 2013 over funding for space exploration. But when they were enacted in Jan. 2014, the restrictions applied government-wide. And a year later, under full Republican control, Congress added the word “increase” alongside “eliminate or reduce” funding.

What goes around, in other words, comes around.

But what’s most remarkable is how much the legislative phrasing — aimed squarely at Obama — applies directly to the current fight involving Trump.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 14, 2019, 05:47 PM (12 replies)

Watch Trump Tell Same Story Four Times, Each Time Naming a Different Jewish Friend


Watch Trump Tell Same Story Four Times, Each Time Naming a Different Jewish Friend
By Daniel Politi
Dec 14, 20199:27 AM

President Donald Trump regularly references supposed conversations he has with friends and acquaintances to illustrate his points at rallies. Probably the most infamous example is his supposed friend Jim, who no longer visits Paris yearly like he once did because “Paris is no longer Paris.” Recently he started telling a story about a conversation with a Jewish friend, except the Jewish friend in question keeps changing. The Washington Post points out that in recent weeks Trump has told a nearly identical anecdote that serves to celebrate his termination of the Iran nuclear deal at least four times. And each time the person who he refers to is different, including one time when he told the same story twice on the same day.

The first time the story seems to have been told was in September, when Trump was much more general and referred to having a conversation with “people,” without naming anyone in particular. “I said to people, what is more important, the Golan Heights or the capital of Jerusalem by moving our embassy there,” Trump said. “He said, neither sir, what you’ve done in Iran is more important,” the president added, seemingly changing his “people” to a man in one breath.
Then the story reappeared on Dec. 7, and this time Trump claimed he had that conversation with Republican financier Sheldon Adelson. “I said to Sheldon, ‘What do you think was bigger? … Israel and the embassy going in, and it became Jerusalem, the capital of Israel? Or the Golan Heights?’ He said, ‘Neither.’ ”

A few days later, Dec. 11, the story got double billing as Trump told it at two White House Hanukkah receptions. First up was New Englands Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “I said, ‘Bob Kraft, which is bigger? Which is more important to the Jewish people?’ He said, ‘Neither.’ I said, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘What you did by terminating the Iran nuclear deal is bigger than both.’ I think that’s true,” Trump said. Four hours later, the commander in chief repeated the same story but this time starring real estate developer Charles Kushner. “I said, ‘Charlie, let me ask you, what’s bigger for the Jewish people: giving the embassy to Jerusalem, it becomes the capital of Israel. What’s bigger? That or the Golan Heights?’ He said, ‘Neither.’ I said, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘The biggest thing of all is what you did by ending the Iran nuclear catastrophe’,” Trump said. He got lots of applause.

Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:06 PM (12 replies)

Barr Is Trying to Erase the Truth


Barr Is Trying to Erase the Truth
He’s smearing the Russia investigation and covering up Trump’s guilt.
By William Saletan
Dec 13, 2019
7:25 PM


At first, Barr seemed to be an ordinary liar. But in recent months, he has displayed a fanatical streak that suggests he might sincerely believe his fictions. “People are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that,” Barr opined in May. The true threat, he argued, came from Americans “resisting a democratically elected president.” In October, Barr accused “so-called progressives” of a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.” Last month, he denounced these same “so-called progressives,” along with a “hyper-partisan media,” for waging “a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration.”

This week, Barr pounced on a Justice Department report about the Russia investigation. The report, issued on Monday by the department’s inspector general, faulted the FBI’s surveillance of a marginal Trump adviser, Carter Page, but found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” of investigators. A normal attorney general would have welcomed this vindication of his department. But Barr works for Trump, not for law enforcement. Instead of embracing the report, he’s disparaging it, smearing the FBI, and pretending that Trump has been exonerated.

On Tuesday, at a forum hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Barr called the Russia investigation “a travesty.” He asserted that “from day one,” it produced “nothing that substantiated any kind of collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign. In an interview with NBC News, Barr called the investigation “completely baseless” and claimed that there “never has been any evidence of collusion.”

Barr dismissed the FBI’s portion of the inquiry, which lasted a year. “From the very first day of this investigation, which was July 31, 2016, all the way to its end in September 2017, there was not one incriminatory bit of evidence to come in. It was all exculpatory,” he told NBC. He also dismissed Mueller’s portion of the inquiry, which ran from May 2017 to April 2019, as well as media reports of secret dealings between Russia and the Trump campaign. “Our nation was turned on its head for three years, I think, based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press,” said Barr. He protested that “the entire case collapsed” in January 2017 but that Trump’s persecutors “kept on investigating the president.”

This account bears no resemblance to reality. The FBI had lots of evidence. The investigation began with a forensic analysis that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee in early 2016. A Trump adviser privately alluded to a Russian offer to help Trump by releasing dirt on Hillary Clinton. On July 27, Trump openly declared, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” In August, another Trump adviser predicted trouble ahead for Clinton’s campaign chairman, and WikiLeaks soon released the chairman’s hacked emails. The investigation would later confirm a two-way channel between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.


Barr’s propaganda is completely false. Mueller, the FBI, and the press found considerable evidence that Trump and his campaign sought to collaborate with Russia to win the election. They also found that Trump obstructed the investigation. The only reason Trump remains unindicted is that Barr declared the evidence insufficient. Now Barr is saying the evidence never existed. If he’s not delusional, he’s a liar.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:43 PM (15 replies)

Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn

Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn
By Alexander Bolton - 12/14/19 06:00 AM EST

President Trump’s race to rack up accomplishments heading into an election year is giving conservatives heartburn, with some worried he is striking deals that include giveaways to Democrats.

Several Senate Republicans this week vented their frustration with Trump’s trade deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during meetings with the administration’s top trade official, Robert Lighthizer.

There’s also grumbling among conservative lawmakers over an agreement to expand benefits for federal workers, in exchange for a costly Space Force military branch, and a spending deal that is projected to add nearly $2 trillion to the deficit.

The year-end deal-making isn’t necessarily over. Negotiators are circling around a tax deal that would include an extension of earned income tax credits for low-income families who don’t pay federal taxes, a benefit typically unpopular with conservatives.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 14, 2019, 07:16 AM (0 replies)

Mitch McConnell Doesn't Have The Votes For His Sham Trump Impeachment Trial


Posted on Fri, Dec 13th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Have The Votes For His Sham Trump Impeachment Trial

Mitch McConnell promised Sean Hannity that he was going to work with Trump to hold a sham impeachment trial, but he doesn’t have the votes yet to do it.

Here is McConnell laying out his plan for a sham trial:
There is only one problem. McConnell doesn’t have the 51 votes that he needs to implement his plan.

According to The Plum Line:

McConnell could of course refuse, and instead call a full Senate vote on a process that precludes witness testimony and the soliciting of documents — which McConnell reportedly favors, because he wants a quick trial with no circuslike calls for Hunter Biden’s head — and no damning new revelations. If that passed by simple majority, that would become the process.

Of course, McConnell might not have 51 votes for such a process — because a handful of vulnerable GOP senators might balk at voting for something so obviously rigged to protect Trump. Indeed, reporting indicates he doesn’t have those votes yet — which means he can’t yet do what he promised Hannity he’d do.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t have the votes to blow off Trump’s impeachment trial. There is still a chance that a few Republican Senators will come together and demand a full trial. If this happens, everything that Mitch McConnell promised relating to the structure of the trial will go up in smoke.

The sham trial is not a done deal yet, and if the American people push hard enough, it may never become a reality.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Dec 14, 2019, 07:08 AM (61 replies)

There's A Gay Guy Dressing Up As Mike Pence Collecting Money For Planned Parenthood

There's A Gay Guy Dressing Up As Mike Pence Collecting Money For Planned Parenthood
Kassy Cho BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on December 13, 2016, at 7:07 a.m. ET
Pix @ link~

Howard Sherman, an arts administrator who lives in Manhattan, was walking through Times Square earlier this month when he noticed a man bearing a striking resemblance to Vice President-elect Mike Pence dressed in short shorts.

Sherman, whose hobby is photographing the various characters in Times Square, told BuzzFeed News he then started taking photos of the man but did not engage with him in any way.

Sherman posted the photos to his Facebook page, where people soon helped him to identify the Pence lookalike as Glen Pannell, who Sherman then interviewed on his own website.

Pannell, a 51-year-old graphic designer and occasional actor, told BuzzFeed News that he decided to dress up as Pence and collect money for various causes because he was feeling very down after the election.

“The depression kept feeding on itself so I finally decided I had to do something, and it had to be bold and immediate, something I could point to at the end of the day and say, ‘Here’s what I did to make change,'" he said.

Pannell, who came out in his twenties, has so far collected money for Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Trevor Project — a national suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth — and hopes to collect for the International Refugee Assistance Project.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 13, 2019, 07:32 PM (12 replies)

Arizona Republican in denial about core impeachment detail

Republican U.S. Congressional candidate Debbie Lesko, right, celebrates her win with former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer at her home, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in...
Matt York

Arizona Republican in denial about core impeachment detail
12/13/19 12:57 PM—Updated 12/13/19 02:05 PM
By Steve Benen

Since Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal first came to public light a few months ago, Republicans have confronted a question that’s simple but difficult to answer: should an American president press a foreign country to go after a domestic political rival?

A few too many GOP lawmakers – most notably Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Colorado’s Cory Gardner – struggled mightily with the question early on, refusing to say much of anything. Others soon realized this was unsustainable, conceded that presidents should not seek foreign campaign assistance, and looked for other ways to excuse Trump’s misdeeds.

This morning, however, CNN’s Manu Raju spoke to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) about this foundational element of the overall scandal, and according to what the Capitol Hill reporter posted to Twitter, the exchange didn’t go especially well.

Q: Why is it ever ok for an American president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival? Why do you think that’s ok?

Lesko: “He didn’t. He didn’t do that”

Manu: He did ask Zelensky

Lesko: “He did not do that.”

It’s really not a trick question. Either it’s acceptable for presidents to ask foreign governments to go after domestic political rivals or it’s not. In this case, Trump’s allies can try to argue that it is acceptable behavior; they can make the case that it doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense; or they can agree with impeachment proponents and vote for the pending articles.

What GOP members – especially those on the Judiciary Committee, on which Debbie Lesko currently serves – shouldn’t do is pretend up is down and reality has no meaning.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 13, 2019, 06:11 PM (3 replies)

White House Limits Officials on Trump Calls


White House Limits Officials on Trump Calls
December 13, 2019 at 2:08 pm EST By Taegan Goddard

“President Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President was revealed and became the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry,” CNN reports.

“Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a far smaller group of people inside the White House, those administration sources say, continuing an effort to limit the number of people with insight and information about the conversations.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 13, 2019, 05:19 PM (2 replies)

House Democrat starts what should be groundswell, demands McConnell recuse himself from impeachment


House Democrat starts what should be groundswell, demands McConnell recuse himself from impeachment
Joan McCarter
Daily Kos Staff
Friday December 13, 2019 · 2:56 PM EST

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Val Demings, a Florida Democrat, is demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recuse himself from the Senate's impeachment trial.

She accused McConnell of promising the White House to "sabotage" the trial. "No court in the country would allow a member of the jury to also serve as the accused’s defense attorney. The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath," she said in a statement. That's in response to McConnell's admission on Sean Hannity's Fox News show Thursday night that he would act on Trump's behalf. "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with White House counsel," he said. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this."

He would be in violation of his oath, as Demings pointed out, referencing Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution which delineates "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation." That oath, or affirmation, every senator will take says "that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [President Trump], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God."

Demings should not stand alone. Every Democrat—including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his team—should join her. And they should publicly shame any Republican senator still capable of feeling that emotion who is allowing McConnell to get away with this.

Sign the petition: Mitch McConnell must recuse himself from Trump impeachment trial.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 13, 2019, 04:51 PM (57 replies)

Appeals court divided on future of lawsuit over Trump hotel

Appeals court divided on future of lawsuit over Trump hotel
By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Updated 4:22 PM ET, Thu December 12, 2019

Richmond, Virginia (CNN)Fifteen appellate judges in Richmond on Thursday spent three hours showing how deeply divided they are on whether they can curtail the President's business interests.

In some of the bluntest public arguments yet in court about President Donald Trump's hotel empire, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals debated a major case challenging whether Trump can continue to accept emoluments, or profits, from his hotel in Washington while in office.

At times, judges took over from the arguing attorneys, the Justice Department, Trump's personal legal team and the DC and Maryland state attorneys general offices to argue for or against the President themselves.

"We are winging it. If this isn't off the rails, then I don't know what is," said Judge Harvie Wilkinson III, a Reagan appointee who's been on the federal appellate bench at least a half decade longer than any other judge in the wood-paneled room Thursday.

"There are, there are other suits involving congressional subpoenas and everything that presents closer questions, but this one's a lemon," he added. "It's the weakest of the cases that are springing up like jimsonweed against the presidency in this environment."

At this stage, a decision could control whether the case has months ahead of it still in court -- keeping the President's companies at risk as his opponents seek financial documents -- or whether it will be dismissed, a win for Trump. Either way, the issue is likely to eventually reach the Supreme Court.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Dec 13, 2019, 04:11 PM (0 replies)
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