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SunSeeker

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How a legal dispute between Mueller and Barr drove the end of the special counsel's probe

From the Washington Post:

The redacted Mueller report released Thursday makes clear that he and his prosecutors viewed the OLC opinion to mean they also could not come to a conclusion about whether the president had committed a crime because it would violate Justice Department standards of fairness to make such an accusation — even secretly — without giving the person a chance to fight the accusation. Barr disagreed. 

Mueller’s approach to the question of whether the president tried to obstruct justice has created tension inside the Justice Department, according to current and former officials. Privately, some senior officials at the Justice Department have been unhappy that Mueller did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump’s conduct rose to the level of a crime, said the officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing sensitivity surrounding the probe. 
... 
But Ray said he suspected another reason for Mueller’s punt: He did not want to put Barr in a position of having to overrule him. 

“I do think it’s a component of the special counsel’s thinking that if he had gone that direction, he was well aware of the fact that the Department of Justice’s view would be and the attorney general’s decision would be to overrule it, and that is not a desirable place for the country to be,” Ray said. “I’m sure the attorney general didn’t appreciate the fact that he was put in the position of having to resolve the matter either, but given those two choices, I think it was better to have left it unresolved and have the attorney general take it from there.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/how-a-legal-dispute-between-mueller-and-barr-drove-the-end-of-the-trump-probe/2019/04/19/1781807e-623e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html
___________________________________

So looks like Mueller punted to Congress on the obstruction question so that he would not be overruled by Barr. But Barr ended up overruling him anyway by concluding on his own there was no obstruction. 

Still, Mueller gave us a detailed roadmap to impeachment on obstruction, citing overwhelming evidence. The House must now move to impeach Trump. We must get everyone on record as stating that a President WHO WELCOMES A FOREIGN ADVERSARY'S ATTACK IN ORDER TO WIN ELECTION, THEN FLAGRANTLY OBSTRUCTS THE INVESTIGATION INTO THAT ATTACK must not sit in the White House. 

This isn't a political game. This is about our country. 

If we let this stand, it means future presidential candidates can collude with foreign adversaries to win election, and can obstruct justice WITH IMPUNITY. The right has demonstrated they will not punish their candidates for such conduct. We cannot follow the example of the deplorables. We must stand for the rule of law.

The 2020 election is only 18 months away. There is no time for months-long tedious investigations or fighting the administration in court for more documents. Mueller knew this, which is why he abruptly ended his investigation and handed obstruction charges off to Congress. Mueller has given us everything we need to impeach, and just barely the time to do it. We must start impeachment hearings now. This is what the House members swept in by the Blue Wave were elected to do.

If House Democrats fail to do their job, it will depress the Democratic turnout in 2020 and Trump will get reelected, and we will lose our democracy.

On impeachment, Warren just stole the show from her dodging Democratic rivals

While most fellow 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls ducked and dived to find safe ground — and party elders solemnly warned against over-reach — Sen. Elizabeth Warren stepped boldly out into the open late Friday and called on the House to begin an impeachment process against President Donald Trump based on special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender slammed Trump for having "welcomed" the help of a "hostile" foreign government and having obstructed the probe into an attack on an American election.

"To ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country," Warren tweeted. "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."

It was a rare moment in a crowded and unsettled primary: A seized opportunity for a candidate to cut through the campaign trail cacophony and define the terms of a debate that will rage throughout the contest.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/impeachment-warren-just-stole-show-her-dodging-democratic-rivals-n996636

How a legal dispute between Mueller and Barr drove the end of the special counsel's probe

Source: Washington Post

The redacted Mueller report released Thursday makes clear that he and his prosecutors viewed the OLC opinion to mean they also could not come to a conclusion about whether the president had committed a crime because it would violate Justice Department standards of fairness to make such an accusation — even secretly — without giving the person a chance to fight the accusation. Barr disagreed.

Mueller’s approach to the question of whether the president tried to obstruct justice has created tension inside the Justice Department, according to current and former officials. Privately, some senior officials at the Justice Department have been unhappy that Mueller did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump’s conduct rose to the level of a crime, said the officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing sensitivity surrounding the probe.
...
But Ray said he suspected another reason for Mueller’s punt: He did not want to put Barr in a position of having to overrule him.

“I do think it’s a component of the special counsel’s thinking that if he had gone that direction, he was well aware of the fact that the Department of Justice’s view would be and the attorney general’s decision would be to overrule it, and that is not a desirable place for the country to be,” Ray said. “I’m sure the attorney general didn’t appreciate the fact that he was put in the position of having to resolve the matter either, but given those two choices, I think it was better to have left it unresolved and have the attorney general take it from there.”


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/how-a-legal-dispute-between-mueller-and-barr-drove-the-end-of-the-trump-probe/2019/04/19/1781807e-623e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html



So looks like Mueller punted to Congress on the obstruction question so that he would not be overruled by Barr. But Barr ended up overruling him anyway by concluding on his own there was no obstruction.

The question to ask Mueller when he comes before Congress: If you were a member of Congress, would you vote to impeach on obstruction?

New Zealand PM vows to toughen gun control laws after Christchurch attack

New Zealand’s gun control laws will be strengthened following the massacre of 49 people in Christchurch mosques, the country’s prime minister has said.

Jacinda Ardern said she would consider banning semi-automatic firearms altogether after the alleged gunman behind the shootings obtained five guns legally.

“I can tell you one thing right now: our gun laws will change,” said Ardern. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change.”

Ardern said the alleged shooter was found to have used five guns that he appeared to legally own under a “category A” licence obtained in November 2017. He appeared to have begun buying guns the following month, she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/15/new-zealand-prime-minister-gun-control-jacinda-ardern

Michael Cohen sues the Trump Organization, says he is owed $1.9M

Source: AP

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming the Trump Organization broke a promise to pay his legal bills and owes at least $1.9 million to cover the cost of his defense.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York state court, claims the Trump Organization stopped paying Cohen's mounting legal fees after he began cooperating with federal prosecutors in their investigations related to Trump's business dealings in Russia and attempts to silence women with embarrassing stories about his personal life. It alleges breach of contract and seeks damages on Cohen's behalf. 

The lawsuit says the company stopped paying for his legal defense about two months after the FBI raided Cohen's home and office.

The lawsuit said that as part of his work for Trump, the company agreed to indemnify him for his company-related work. It said the Trump Organization initially lived up to that promise, footing the bill for more than $1.7 million in Cohen's legal fees.

Read more: https://www.kgw.com/mobile/article/news/nation-world/michael-cohen-sues-the-trump-organization-says-he-is-owed-19m/507-8b3cc49c-5829-4bf3-b330-ce0e3d7905bb?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5c81ed7a00bd47000112b06e&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5c81ed7a00bd47000112b06e&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter



The depo transcripts in this should be a hoot!


Federal deficit up 77 percent so far this budget year

Source: NBC News/AP

The government collected lower taxes from individuals and corporations, reflecting the impact of Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut.

The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the deficit for the first four months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, totaled $310.3 billion. That's up from a deficit of $175.7 billion in the same period a year ago. The surplus in January was $8.7 billion.

The higher deficit reflected greater spending in areas such as Social Security, defense and interest payments on the national debt. Meanwhile, the government collected lower taxes from individuals and corporations, reflecting the impact of the $1.5 trillion tax cut President Donald Trump pushed through Congress in 2017.

Individual income taxes withheld from paychecks total $818 billion for the October-January period, down 3 percent from the same period last year. Corporate income taxes total $73 billion over the four-month period, down 23 percent.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/federal-deficit-77-percent-so-far-budget-year-n979631



So much for Republicans being "fiscal conservatives."

If Whitewater was fair game, then Trump's old finances are certainly fair game.

At CPAC yesterday, Trump claimed Democrats investigating his "deals" before he assumed office was "sick." Yet Republicans spent years investigating the Clintons' involvement in the failed 1979 Whitewater real estate deal, once Bill Clinton assumed office in 1992, making it one of the biggest political controversies of the 1990s.

It began with an investigation into the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal, in the Whitewater Development Corporation. While Special Counsel Kenneth Starr failed to find criminality by the Clintons in that deal, he did eventually dig up other dirt in the course of that investigation, namely Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky that he denied in a deposition, which Republicans used to impeach Clinton.

The Whitewater failed business venture was incorporated in 1979 with the purpose of developing vacation properties on land along the White River near Flippin, Arkansas. The Clintons lost between $37,000 and $69,000 on their Whitewater investment. Trump, on the other hand, has made hundreds of millions of dollars in shady deals with Russians, our biggest geopolitical adversary.

Any time Republicans claim investigation of Trump's old finances is off limits, we need to remind them of what they did with Whitewater.

On Edit: On AM Joy today, Seema Iyer, former prosecutor and defense attorney, noted that n 2017, the NY Times published a a secret memo by Kenneth Starr's attorneys finding that sitting presidents CAN be indicted for crimes committed before taking office. Something else to throw back in Republicans' face!

Russian hackers 8 times faster than Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, says report

CrowdStrike measured what it calls "breakout time" — the speed at which a hacking group can break into a network and start stealing data. That speed is important because intrusions are being detected and stopped faster than ever before. The faster the hackers can smash and grab, the more data they can steal.

"It is quite remarkable to see that Russia-based threat actors are almost eight times as fast as their speediest competitor — North Korea-based adversaries, who themselves are almost twice as fast as intrusion groups from China," CrowdStrike says in the threat report.

Overall, hackers targeting the West upped their game in 2018, CrowdStrike found.

"In diplomatic channels and the media, several nation-states gave lip-service to curbing their clandestine cyber activities, but behind the scenes, they doubled down on their cyber espionage operations — combining those efforts with further forays into destructive attacks and financially motivated fraud," the report said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russian-hackers-8-times-faster-chinese-iranians-north-koreans-says-n972926

The Note: Trump show upstaged by Beto O'Rourke and congressional realities

President Donald Trump marched into El Paso Monday night, ready to go to battle on the border wall and against an emerging foe.

But just moments before Trump took the stage, congressional negotiators cut a dealthat cut him out. And the foe whose hometown he was in was leading El Paso as it marched back at an outdoor rally just down the road.

“We stand for America, and we stand against walls,” said Beto O’Rourke, who was until six weeks ago a congressman from El Paso.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/note-trump-show-upstaged-beto-orourke-congressional-realities/story?id=60997073

WaPo Flowchart of what could happen next in Virginia

A week ago, the future of Virginia’s governor’s mansion seemed fairly obvious: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) would resign in the wake of the emergence of a racist photo from his medical school yearbook, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) would take over.

But it’s been a long week. Now it seems more likely that Fairfax will resign, following multiple allegations of sexual assault against him. Northam seems to be prepared to dig in, perhaps frustrating no one more than Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who, as second in line to the governor’s seat, would have seemed to be well positioned if both Northam and Fairfax stumbled. Of course, his own history of appearing in blackface also put Herring on the rocks, leaving third-in-line Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R) in a suddenly advantageous position.

With so much up in the air in the state, we decided to put together a flowchart showing how the dominoes might fall — if any do. We’re grateful to A.E. Dick Howard, Warner-Booker distinguished professor of international law at the University of Virginia and executive director of Virginia’s Commission on Constitutional Revision, for his patience with multiple, out-of-the-blue emailed questions as things got ever murkier.

Let’s begin.



https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/02/09/what-could-happen-next-virginia-flowchart/?utm_term=.4605988980b7
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