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Member since: Sun Jan 3, 2010, 01:16 AM
Number of posts: 1,811

About Me

Was once a republican. long long ago, in a far, far away place. I apologize.

Journal Archives

How Trump's Defiance of Impeachment Probe Could Leave Federal Employees Criminally Liable

Source: GovExec.com

Federal employees being asked to disobey congressional mandates related to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump will have difficult decisions to make as they chart a path forward, legal experts say, but will have certain protections available to them.

The State Department on Tuesday refused to make U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland available for a scheduled deposition related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, and House Democrats now say they will issue a subpoena to demand his testimony. If the administration continues to block him and other employees from complying with Congress, it could put individuals in a precarious legal position. Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, sent a letter to House leaders Tuesday afternoon informing Congress the administration will not comply with any element of the probe.

"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," Cipollone wrote. "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

As Congress continues to widen its net for documents and testimony, employees subject to conflicting demands have two options, legal experts told Government Executive. The first is to violate orders from management and give Congress what it wants, assuming protections under whistleblower law. A second possibility is to exercise federal employees’ statutory “right to disobey” orders that violate laws, rules or regulations.

Read more: https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2019/10/how-trumps-defiance-impeachment-probe-could-leave-federal-employees-criminally-liable/160461/

As a federal employee, you have an obligation to comply with the subpenoa, and a legal obligation - and a legal right- to disobey an illegal order from the President.

It’s a Constitutional crisis. We are here.

What REALLY happened today-

This makes so much sense!
From Heather Cox Richardson -


Impeachment news today was overshadowed by Trump's surprise announcement that he is pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our Kurdish allies there to the mercy of advancing troops from Turkey. But my guess is that this and impeachment are actually the same story. This is really complicated, and some of it is outside my wheelhouse, so bear with me as I try to untangle it.

Pundits are spinning Trump's surprise withdrawal of troops as an attempt to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise to end foreign wars, and he certainly mentioned that promise in his declaration about the removal. But I'm shocked that no major American news outlets appear to be talking about oil.

Kurdistan is a region of people who share cultural, historical, and linguistic ties. It overlies the intersection of four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The Kurds have their own leaders and have different political relationships with each of the governments of the nations in which they live, but they have tended to work with the US, especially in our war against ISIS, for which they have done much of the fighting. The base of Kurdish wealth is oil. Their land has a lot of it.

The Russian oil and gas giant, Rosneft, has been trying to gain access to develop Kurdish oil for years. Rosneft is one of the largest companies in the world, worth around $70 billion. It is the tool of Putin and Russian oligarchs, and after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, President Obama put sanctions on Rosneft to freeze its assets in the United States. These are the sanctions Putin wants lifted. Russia bought the Kurdish oil pipelines that run through Turkey almost two years ago, and if it can control the Kurdish oil fields, it will become the dominant foreign power in the Middle East, replacing the United States.

So what does this have to do with impeachment? Ukraine is another developing region with petroleum resources. We recently learned that while Rudy Giuliani and Trump's other people were attacking Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, they were themselves trying to take control of Ukraine's huge natural gas company. They were working with the corrupt president, but the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, a reformer, brought them up short. They successfully torpedoed America's Ukraine Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who stood against them, and pushed for the investigation of Hunter Biden as well as the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that attacked the 2016 elections. Key to this scheme were two Soviet-born Florida real estate men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns.

I know, you need a scorecard. But here's the full circle: The House impeachment investigating committees asked Parnas and Furman to produce documents and to testify about the Ukraine scandal. Today their lawyer wrote an astounding letter denying Congress had the authority to make such demands and that it was simply trying to "harass, intimidate and embarrass" his clients. He wrote the letter in comic sans font, which seems to suggest he is laughing at the idea he and his clients have to answer to Congress.

And now full circle back to Trump....

It sure looks like Russia wanted Trump to be president so he could loosen US support for Ukraine and lift the US sanctions on Rosneft (this is actually pretty well established, so I won't argue it here). The Steele Dossier of information about Trump, compiled by a former British intelligence agent, suggested that Putin had offered Trump and his associate Carter Page brokerage fees on the sale of up to 19% of Rosneft stock. That has never been proven, but Rosneft's interests were almost certainly in the air in 2016. Once president, Trump did hold back US military aid to Ukraine, but while he has been able to delay some of the sanctions, and to lift a few selectively, he hasn't been terribly successful at removing them altogether.

So why is there suddenly this Syrian announcement, an announcement that goes against not only established US policy but against most Republican Senators, whom Trump needs very badly right now to protect him from conviction if he is impeached? A few days ago, Rosneft announced that it was switching its operations to euros rather than dollars, because it wanted to lessen its exposure to future US sanctions. That suggests to me Russian leaders have lost faith that Trump can end sanctions, and that they are going to figure on doing business without him.

I think they see the writing on the wall that Trump's presidency is crumbling. I think Trump does, too, so he's trying to help out his friends in the Russian oil industry as much as he can, while he still can, come hell or high water. In addition to pulling troops out of Syria, we learned this afternoon that Trump is considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which would likely bring the whole treaty crashing down. It enables countries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each others' territories. Without it, Ukraine will not be able to monitor the Russian troops on its border. America will have ceded its influence in the Middle East and Asia to Putin.

Ever since July 23, 2016, when I read the first story about Russian interference in the American election, it has seemed to me that it has always been about Russia. No matter how the story twists and turns, always Russia seems somewhere around. This Syria story floored me because... why are we abandoning our allies?!? and why now, when it looks like an end is in sight?!?... and then I read that after Trump began the troop drawdown, the Russian foreign minister met with the Kurdish Prime Minister first thing this morning.

Trump Officials Threatened With Fines, Jail Time Over Illegal Spending During Shutdown

Two federal agencies illegally spent money during the record-setting partial government shutdown earlier this year, an oversight body has ruled, warning that future violations could result in penalties including fines and jail time.

The Government Accountability Office’s review followed an unusual decision by the Trump administration instructing agencies to continue funding a variety of functions typically suspended during a lapse in appropriations. As the shutdown dragged on and agencies were increasingly strained by a lack of resources, the administration diverted funds from their normal purposes to mitigate its impact. Those decisions led congressional Democrats to ask GAO, the agency tasked with enforcing appropriations laws, to investigate if any of the spending was improper.

In one legal decision, GAO said the Interior Department violated the Anti-Deficiency Act when it used recreation fees collected by the National Park Service to keep parks open and continue services such as trash collection and restroom maintenance. In another, GAO faulted the Agriculture Department for disbursing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits early during the shutdown.

More: Govexec.com



You may recall last November, when a woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan received a letter from Spectrum Health Care's "Devos Heart Center" stating that she was not a candidate for a heart transplant, because she needed "a better financial plan for post operative care".

The hospital suggested she start a "go-fund-me" to raise money for her post-operative drug and care needs.

See https://wwmt.com/news/local/grand-rapids-woman-denied-heart-transplant-due-to-lack-of-money-for-post-operative-care

for more history.

Well, here is the GREAT NEWS today I have to share.

Hedda DID, in fact, establish a Go-fund-me site, and was successful in raising OVER $40,000 !

And the better news is- LAST WEEK, HEDDA GOT THE PHONE CALL AT 11:00 pm. July 23rd, that a Donor Heart was enroute to the hospital, and she was to immediately drop everything and go there. Less than 24 hours later, Hedda got her new heart.

I just spoke with her yesterday. She's doing wonderful! She's having a few issues with blood pressure stability, and had some problems at first with a collapsed lung, but she has made it through the first week now on her new heart, and is on the mend.

Yesterday she posted at update on HER GOFUNDME site, and wanted to express sincere thanks to everyone who pitched in to help her get a new heart. Hedda is a RADICAL progressive and looks forward to spreading the word that health care should not be limited by the ability to fund raise, but rather should be a right of every human being to receive top notch care to stay alive.

Congrats HEDDA MARTIN on your NEW HEART, successfully implanted on July 24th.

Immigration Officials Use Secretive Gang Databases to Deny Migrant Asylum Claims

Source: GovExec.com

With scant public notice, federal immigration officials are relying on databases run by foreign police and militaries to check whether migrants crossing the United States border have gang affiliations, which would allow officials to detain and eventually deport them.

The information is being provided through a new “fusion” intelligence-gathering center in El Salvador that is funded by the State Department and works in tandem with the Homeland Security Department.

But legal experts and human rights advocates say the government has kept the use of databases at the border largely secret, subverting potential challenges to the reliability of the information in them. An attorney in Texas recently discovered that her Salvadoran client had been falsely accused of being in the MS-13 gang based on intelligence from the center. The man was jailed in a maximum-security facility for violent criminals for six months, and his two children were taken away.

Government attorneys, pressed repeatedly in court to provide evidence, eventually dropped the allegation of gang membership against him without explanation.

Read more: https://www.govexec.com/defense/2019/07/immigration-officials-use-secretive-gang-databases-deny-migrant-asylum-claims/158269/

Now they are asking the police and military of those countries to name names in an attempt to deport everybody back.

Michigan Republican lawmaker Larry Inman charged with trying to sell vote to labor union

Source: Fox 2 Detroit News

A federal grand jury has indicted state Rep. Larry Inman on charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI.

Inman is a Republican from the Traverse City area who is serving his third term in the House after decades as a local official in northern Michigan.

Inman is accused of pledging to vote against an effort to repeal Michigan's prevailing wage law if he could get campaign contributions from a carpenters union.

According to the indictment, Inman suggested a $5,000 campaign contribution wasn't enough and he wanted more money before the house vote.

Prosecutors say the union didn't respond as requested, and Inman voted to repeal the law - which was passed 56 to 53.

The indictment states that the communicationg was done via text and included one message that said "we never had this discussion."

Read more: http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/michigan-republican-lawmaker-larry-inman-charged-with-trying-to-sell-vote-to-labor-union

Son of a bitch Republican Michigan lawmaker- trying to steal the food out of the mouths of the working man, then lying to the F.B.I. about it.

I hope I get on his jury. And I hope he is convicted and spends years behind bars.

Trump Administration Cancels Contract That Failed to Bring on More Border Agents

$43 MILLION already spent. Just 36 Agents recruited.

by Eric Katz, http://govexec.com

The Trump administration on Thursday canceled a key contract it issued to fulfill an early promise by the president to add thousands of new border security personnel to the federal ranks over the vendor’s inability to deliver new hires.

The announcement followed Customs and Border Protection issuing a partial stop work order on the contract last year, which itself followed reporting by Government Executive and a subsequent inspector general investigation that found Accenture Federal Services was not delivering new hires. The contract was worth up to $297 million for Accenture to hire up to 7,500 Border Patrol agents and other officers on CBP’s behalf.

As of December, the company had only helped the agency bring on 36 employees.

CBP awarded the contract after President Trump required the agency to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents through an executive order he signed shortly after taking office. Accenture was tasked with onboarding those 5,000, plus an additional 2,000 customs officers and 500 air and marine officers. Accenture largely was paid on a per-hire basis, most of which was awarded when CBP sent an offer letter to a candidate, with the remaining amount paid when the employee actually started working.

Prior to the partial stop work order in December, CBP has obligated $43 million to the contract. That included $19 million in start-up costs and nearly $24 million for potential hires. The contract’s cancellation was first reported by Axios.



Pentagon Watchdog Launches Probe of Acting Defense Chief's Boeing Ties

Source: GovExec.com

The Defense Department’s inspector general confirmed on Wednesday that it has launched an investigation of acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on whether he has made decisions overly favorable to his former employer, airline industry giant Boeing.

A spokeswoman for acting IG Glenn Fine released a statement saying the watchdog “has decided to investigate complaints that we recently received that Acting Secretary Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules. In his recent Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, Acting Secretary Shanahan stated that he supported an investigation into these allegations. We have informed him that we have opened this investigation.”

Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan—who is among several candidates to be permanent Defense chief—promised full cooperation. “Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the [Defense Department],” Buccino said in a Wednesday statement. “This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue with Boeing.”

Read more: https://m.govexec.com/defense/2019/03/pentagon-watchdog-launches-probe-acting-defense-chiefs-boeing-ties/155729/

Here comes the IG- and the Ethics problems keep on coming!

Orlando TSA Officer Airport Suicide, Delay Reports Flood Twitter

Source: Heavy.com

Orlando police and airport officials say that an on-duty and uniformed TSA officer jumped to his death from the Hyatt Regency Hotel into the atrium area of Orlando International Airport just above a security checkpoint, causing delays and crowds at security and leading some people to be stuck on planes.

"We are working an incident at the Orlando International Airport @MCO where a person jumped from the Hyatt Regency Hotel into the atrium area of the airport. This is an active and on-going investigation. More information to follow..." Orlando police confirmed. You can see some videos from the scene later in this article. The man's name was not released.

"This is an isolated incident within the atrium area of the airport. Any reports of suspicious vehicles related to this incident are FALSE. The person that jumped has been pronounced deceased..." police wrote. The man, who was in his 40s, "was found in critical condition and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased," police wrote. "Preliminary information suggests an apparent suicide. We can confirm the deceased individual involved in this incident is an employee of the @TSA. Our hearts are with the @TSA family during this very difficult time."

Read more: https://heavy.com/news/2019/02/orlando-airport-suicide-security-delay/

Another casualty of the Trump shutdown. Many Federal employees are psychologically adversely affected by being used by Trump as hostages and slaves.

I'm sure this is not the first, nor the last to have the Trump shutdown push them over the edge. I have no idea what else was going on in his life- but whatever it was, whether the forced labor without pay for 35+ days ( we still haven’t been totally compensated- some people still haven’t been paid) or whether something else was just too much for him- we all need to watch out for our fellow federal workers.

If you too are a victim, ask for help.

Amanda O'Brien of Jet Blue (Crew member) posted this:

"I'm hearing that a TSA agent in Orlando ended their life this morning/early afternoon at the Orlando airport. Please remember that even though the government shutdown has ended some people felt the effects of the shutdown very strongly. The financial burden, especially, the shutdown caused our TSA agents and many others will be felt for a long time. Airline employees, especially know and see the stress these workers endure on a normal basis, and with the addition of the stress of the shutdown.... Please take a moment to think before you speak to people, do not take your travel stresses out on others...

And this same thought should be applied to every situation, just be kind to one another and think before you speak.

For those of you who might need someone to talk to, please consider reaching out to a friend or family or a professional. I'm always here to chat!

Check on your friends.

Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255

Vaporizing Another Norm, Trump Goes Partisan Inside the Pentagon

Source: GovExec.com

The generals tried hard to keep politics out of the Pentagon, but even they don’t have the firepower to stop Donald Trump.

The president went to the Pentagon on Thursday to deliver what was supposed to be a speech announcing the findings of the Defense Department’s missile defense review. Instead, the president used senior uniformed and civilian DOD leaders as a backdrop for a partisan political speech. This time, Trump bashed Democrats and previous unnamed presidents while proclaiming his own greatness on everything from missiles to the budget, the Iran deal, and the military’s overall strength.

It was unprecedented, even for a commander in chief who has used troops as backdrops since his 2016 campaign. Trump started his presidency by crossing unwritten lines — and perhaps Constitutional boundaries — by giving a politically charged speech inside CIA headquarters at Langley, Va. and, one month later, disparaging the American press before troops at the Tampa, Fla., headquarters of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Both drew sharp criticism, for politicizing America’s strictly apolitical intelligence professionals and troops who swear oaths to serve the Constitution and are expected to do theirs sometimes life-threatening jobs without regard to the party of the president.

More recently, when Trump visited troops in Iraq and in Germany, he was again criticized for the political nature of his rallies and message, especially after troops were permitted to bring red “Make America Great Again” hats for him to sign.

Paying the critics no mind, Trump made no attempt to keep his Thursday appearance politically neutral.

Read more: https://www.govexec.com/defense/2019/01/vaporizing-another-norm-trump-goes-partisan-inside-pentagon/154261/?oref=river

He is damaging the Armed Forces of the United States.
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