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The Russia Probe Wasn't the Only Time Trump Interfered With the Justice Department

The Russia Probe Wasn’t the Only Time Trump Interfered With the Justice Department
After pressure from the president, DOJ set its sights on Hillary Clinton.
Dan Friedman

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, due for release on Thursday, is expected to detail President Donald Trump’s efforts to interfere with FBI investigations into contacts between his 2016 campaign and Russia. In particular, the report may discuss Trump’s attempt to convince former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to undo his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia matter.

Sessions rebuffed Trump’s demand that he take control of the probe—a choice that ultimately paved the way for Mueller’s appointment and helped create a major rift between the president and his first attorney general. But as a lawsuit quietly winding its way through the courts makes clear, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Sessions’ initial recusal announcement was broad: He promised to avoid involvement in investigations into any matters relating to the 2016 presidential campaign. But as Mother Jones has reported, he repeatedly violated that pledge during his time in office. Indeed, after months of public badgering by Trump, Sessions complied with his boss’s demand that the Justice Department investigate Hillary Clinton. In November 2017, Sessions instructed the US attorney for Utah, John Huber, to look into several issues related to Trump’s 2016 opponent.

While it has been overshadowed by Trump’s fury at the Mueller probe, critics say Sessions’ instructions to Huber were an alarming example of Trump successfully pressuring the nation’s top law enforcement officer into launching an investigation of a political opponent.

“It looks a lot like an attorney general trying to curry favor with an out-of-control boss,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, a liberal government watchdog group, told Mother Jones. “The Department of Justice opened an undefined investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the political demands of Congress and the president, not the existence of new evidence.”


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 05:17 PM (1 replies)

Eric Trump Thinks It'd Be Very Uncool of Deutsche Bank to Narc on His Dad

womp womp!


Eric Trump Thinks It’d Be Very Uncool of Deutsche Bank to Narc on His Dad
Two House committees have subpoenaed the lender for all the information it has on the president and the bank appears poised to turn it over.
by Bess Levin
April 16, 2019 12:27 pm

One of the great mysteries of the business world is why Deutsche Bank lent financial parasite Donald Trump more than $2 billion over two decades when other firms treated him like the bubonic plague. It’s a riddle Democrats regularly attempted to solve during Trump’s first two years in office, but were unsuccessful in their pursuit because 1) the bank wasn’t talking, and 2) Republicans who’d effectively pledged to take a bullet for the president were controlling Congress and refused to help their colleagues subpoena the information they were seeking. Thanks to the results of the midterm elections, though, times have changed!

On Monday, the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank demanding information about the German lender’s famous client, as well as documents related to “possible money-laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.” In a statement, Financial Services chairwoman Maxine Waters said that “the potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,“ and that her panel is “exploring these matters, including as they may involve the president and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority.” According to The New York Times, the subpoena had been in the works for several months, with congressional investigators working with the bank’s lawyers on specific demands. Deutsche reportedly argued that the scope should be narrowed to make it “easier and faster” for the bank to turn over the documents, a turn of events that is unlikely to please anyone in the Oval Office.

Trumpworld has responded predictably. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization‘s lawyer, said the family business was weighing its options for how to block the bank from complying with the request, while Eric Trump got extremely snippy about the whole thing, calling the subpoena “an unprecedented abuse of power and simply the latest attempt by House Democrats to attack the president and our family for political gain,” adding that is “set[s] a horrible precedent for all taxpayers.” A spokeswoman for Deutsche said the company was “engaged in a productive dialogue” with the committees and “remain[s] committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations in a manner consistent with our legal obligations.”

Last month, a lengthy story by reporter David Enrich shed some light on the relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank, which for many years had a “ravenous appetite for risk” that resulted in its executives ignoring repeated, glaring red flags from the ex-real-estate developer and going along with his cornucopia of financial lies, including his habit of inflating his assets. By the time Trump was elected, the powers that be at the bank, having apparently been asleep for the past two decades, reportedly uttered a collective Dear God, what have we done as they realized they had somehow “become the biggest lender to the president-elect.” Who, by the by, currently owes the bank a cool $340 million, making Deutsche Trump’s biggest creditor.

The House panels are not the only entities exploring the curious case of Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank. Last month, New York attorney general Letitia James, who has vowed to make Trump’s life a living hell, issued a subpoena to the German lender seeking information about loans it made to the president, before he became president.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 04:03 PM (19 replies)

More affluent neighborhoods are creating their own school districts

More affluent neighborhoods are creating their own school districts
The legally sanctioned fencing-out of low-income students of color.
By Alvin Chang@alv9nalvin@vox.com Apr 17, 2019, 11:50am EDT

In the past two decades, 128 communities have had a simple idea: to make their own school district.

For many of them, the underlying purpose was to draw a legal fence between their community and a poorer one. Because a large chunk of public education is funded using local property taxes, making your own district with your affluent neighbors means that you’re able to hoard resources — and not share tax dollars with poorer communities of color.

In 2017, I wrote about how a surprising number of these efforts have succeeded.

Since then, 11 more communities have seceded from their districts, according to a report from EdBuild. Another 16 communities are currently in the process of trying to secede. And two states — Indiana and North Carolina — have made it easier for these communities to form their own districts.

“It’s a disturbing trend. We’re seeing legislators making this overtly permissible,” said EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 03:34 PM (9 replies)

Warren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100

Warren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100
By Justin Wise - 04/17/19 04:15 PM EDT

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday praised freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), saying millions of people are now taking cues from the former bartender.

"A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar," Warren writes in an essay on Ocasio-Cortez for Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list. "Today, millions are taking cues from her. She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people.

"And she’s just getting started," Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, added.

In the essay, Warren celebrated Ocasio-Cortez's journey to becoming a congresswoman, noting that "her commitment to putting power in the hands of the people is forged in fire."

"Coming from a family in crisis and graduating from school with a mountain of debt, she fought back against a rigged system and emerged as a fearless leader in a movement committed to demonstrating what an economy, a planet and a government that works for everyone should look like," she said.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 03:31 PM (4 replies)

Ivanka Trump: I Passed on World Bank Job

Oh, brother.


1. SERIOUSLY???an hour ago
Ivanka Trump: I Passed on World Bank Job
Riccardo Savi/Getty for Concordia Summit

Ivanka Trump told the Associated Press Wednesday that President Trump had asked her if she was interested in heading the 189-country World Bank—but that she declined, because she’s “happy with the work” she’s doing now. She said the idea had been raised as “a question,” not a concrete job offer. She spoke warmly of the eventual pick, David Malpass, telling a reporter on her trip to Africa that he’ll do an “incredible job.” When asked if Trump had offered her other high-profile positions, Ivanka demurred that she’d rather “keep that between” them. Trump said last week that he’d considered his daughter for the position because she’s “good with numbers.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 03:12 PM (17 replies)

If the Mueller report exonerates Trump, why write a 'counter-report'?


If the Mueller report exonerates Trump, why write a ‘counter-report’?
04/17/19 08:00 AM
By Steve Benen

If all goes according to plan, Attorney General Bill Barr’s office will release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings tomorrow morning, which should shed some additional light on the Russia scandal and Donald Trump’s relation to it.

Soon after, however, we may also see a separate report from the president’s defense attorneys. The Wall Street Journal reported a few days ago:

Lawyers for Mr. Trump have for months been preparing a counter-report. It is now 140 pages long, but lawyers want to whittle it down to about 50, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in an interview.

Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Trump’s lawyers expect the bulk of their report to focus on the topic of obstruction of justice and plan to scrap most of the material on collusion.

How attorneys could spend months writing a response to a report they have not seen – and up until recently, did not exist – is not at all clear.


But as amusing as it’s been to watch Giuliani dissemble over the course of several months, there’s an overarching question that Team Trump hasn’t yet addressed: if the Mueller report exonerates the president, why in the world would his lawyers feel the need to release a counter-report at all?

Just three weeks ago, Trump told reporters, in reference to a document he had not read, “The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better.”

A day earlier, the Republican published a tweet in which he said the Mueller report had led to his “total EXONERATION.”

It’s against this backdrop that the president’s legal team is preparing its own document, intended to “counter” Mueller’s findings?
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 07:55 AM (3 replies)

Conservatives Upset 'The Good Fight' Wants You To Punch Nazis

Conservatives Upset ‘The Good Fight’ Wants You To Punch Nazis
A monologue on the TV drama has conservatives claiming CBS was “inciting violence” against Nazis.
By Andy Campbell

CBS’ “The Good Fight,” a fictional television program, said on its show last week that it’s OK to punch a Nazi from time to time ― but for conservative media types and white supremacists alike, the message constituted incitement against people with legitimate “political opinions.”

On April 10, the show aired an episode called “The One Where a Nazi Gets Punched,” during which character Jay DiPersia (played by Nyambi Nyambi) turns to the camera and delivers a monologue about punching Nazis. At points, the infamous clip of white nationalist Richard Spencer getting punched during a TV interview flashes on screen.

“Is it all right to hit a Nazi unprovoked?” Jay asks the audience. “I was always taught never to throw the first punch, never to instigate. Defend, but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview. I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered — like it should be considered part of the conversation ... It’s time to punch a few Nazis.”

Vulture called the monologue a “deep breath of fresh mountain air.” It could also have been described as a near-tired play on an old meme ― “punch Nazis” has been a pop culture sensation since at least “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Instead, the monologue was characterized by conservatives as network TV “inciting violence” against a “political” group.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 07:32 AM (18 replies)

Notre Dame fundraising efforts inspire people to donate to rebuild Louisiana churches


Notre Dame fundraising efforts inspire people to donate to rebuild Louisiana churches
By Amanda Jackson, CNN
Updated 8:02 PM ET, Tue April 16, 2019

(CNN)As millions of dollars roll in to help rebuild the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, people have been inspired to donate to rebuild three churches in Louisiana that were intentionally burned down.

The intentionally set fires burned three historically black churches in rural St. Landry Parish -- about 30 miles north of Lafayette -- St. Mary Baptist Church on March 26, Greater Union Baptist Church on April 2 and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on April 4.

Fundraising efforts for the churches that started last week had reached more than $150,000 of the $1.8 million needed when on Tuesday the GoFundMe campaign skyrocketed to nearly $620,000 and counting. The push for the donations was inspired by social media users spreading awareness of the campaign.

"It's a blessing," the Rev. Gerald Toussaint, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, said of the money raised. "It's going to help our community. What the devil meant for bad, God's going to turn it into something good."

The donations came on the heels of an announcement Tuesday that Notre Dame has three of France's wealthiest families spearheading fundraising for the historic site, the total has already topped $700 million, millions more than the Louisiana churches need.

The GoFundMe started by the Seventh District Baptist Association is working with government officials and local leaders to make sure all money raised is given to the three churches, according to the event page.
The man accused in the Louisiana church fires, Holden Matthews, 21, pleaded not guilty to three hate crime counts, two counts of simple arson of a religious building and one count of aggravated arson of a religious building.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 17, 2019, 07:27 AM (3 replies)

Elizabeth Warren builds largest U.S. presidential campaign staff

Posted on Tue, Apr 16th, 2019 by Reuters
Elizabeth Warren builds largest U.S. presidential campaign staff
By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has hired the largest campaign staff in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, quickly building a payroll that far exceeds her Democratic rivals, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Warren spent more than $1 million on payroll in the first quarter of 2019, more than double that of rivals such as U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, the two who raised the most money in the first quarter.

The total does not include other payroll-related expenses. She spent about $566,000 on payroll taxes and $114,000 on health insurance.

Warren has said she intends to build a “grassroots” campaign. She has sworn off expensive fundraisers and is relying almost entirely on online donations to fund her campaign.

Building a large campaign staff can create challenges. If a campaign begins to run short on cash, it is often more difficult to cut back on staff compared to trimming other expenses, such as advertising.

Warren had 161 employees already on her staff by the end of the first quarter, according to the disclosures she filed. About half of the staff, her campaign said, are positioned in early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

By comparison, Sanders’ campaign had 86 people on its payroll by the end of the quarter, during which he spent $417,209 on salaries. Harris spent $477,108 on salaries on the 44 people she had on her payroll in the first quarter.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Apr 16, 2019, 04:08 PM (2 replies)

Some Thoughts on Buttigieg Taking Off and Warren Seeming to be Grounded


Some Thoughts on Buttigieg Taking Off and Warren Seeming to be Grounded
By John Judis
April 15, 2019 4:29 pm


What accounts for his popularity? I’ll list five factors. First, he is the smartest person in class. New York Magazine’s profile of him is titled, “Pete Buttigieg is a gay Harvard alum, fluent in Gramsci, Joyce, and Norwegian.” Being thought of as brilliant is a plus in elections. It helped John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Barack Obama in 2008. It contributed to the rise of Emmanuel Macron in France and is probably a factor in the popularity of super-reactionary Thierry Baudet in Holland who touts himself “the most important intellectual in the Netherlands.”

Second, Buttigieg’s being gay is probably a plus in the Democratic primary, and not just among gay voters. As my friend and Buttigieg watcher Paul Starobin pointed out to me, Democrats and other voters liked the idea of voting for a black guy for president in 2008; and they may feel similarly about voting for a gay man in 2020. Third, he is running as the candidate of the millennials, as my daughter Hilary Judis, a millennial herself and enthusiastic supporter, informed me weeks ago. He is a generational candidate, as John Kennedy was in 1960. He put it cleverly in his announcement speech. The election, he said, is “not just about the next four years—it’s about preparing our country for a better life in 2030, in 2040, and in the year 2054, when, God willing, I will come to be the same age as our current President.”

Fourth, he is running as the mayor who brought a rust belt city back to life and implicitly as someone who can appeal to erstwhile Trump voters in the deindustrialized Midwest. Unlike Trump, he eschews promises to bring back older jobs. “There is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities … that we can stop the clock and turn it back,” Buttigieg said, as he spoke in an old Studebaker auto plant that is being converted to a high-tech hub. His appeal echoes that of Bill Clinton in 1996 who promised to “make change our friend.” (It may not actually work with Midwestern voters in a general election. He eschews, for one thing, any talk of China and trade or of job competition from immigrants.)

Fifth, he promises to reclaim patriotism and religion for the Democrats. He summed up his appeal with a line reminiscent of Obama’s 2004 convention speech, recounting that when he was driving soldiers in Afghanistan “the men and women who got in my vehicle, they didn’t care if I was a Democrat or a Republican. They cared about whether I had selected the route with the fewest IED threats, not whether my father was documented or undocumented when he immigrated here. They cared about whether my M-4 was locked and loaded, not whether I was going home to a girlfriend or a boyfriend.”

Buttigieg also understands that successful political campaigns are based on themes and not on policies. His announcement speech was lacking in bullet points and numbers. Instead of taking a specific stand on “Medicare for All,” he talked about how because of Medicare, when his parents got sick, “all we had to think about was what was medically right for Mom and Dad both. Not whether our family would go bankrupt.” “I want every American to have that same benefit,” he concluded. But unlike Beto O’Rourke, whose campaign seems based on his theatrical prowess, Buttigieg can, if questioned, get into the bullet points and numbers.

I’m not sure why Warren’s campaign seems not to have taken off. She certainly could challenge Buttigieg for being the smartest person in class. And she has real accomplishments in Washington to boast of. It may be that her own themes – her attack against a “rigged system” – have gotten lost in the details of her policy proposals. She is not a thematic politician the way Buttigieg or Sanders is. Or it may be that the controversy over her Native American ancestry has nullified the impact of her impressive up-from-the-bootstraps biography. Or, finally, it may be, as I’ve heard from other Democrats, that she sounds too “professorial.” She’ll probably get her chance to shine in the debates. But for the moment, she is getting outshone by the mayor from South Bend.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Apr 16, 2019, 10:33 AM (62 replies)
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