If Trump tries to pardon his way out of trouble, it will make things worse for him

There's a rumor that Trump will pardon Paul Manafort tonight at one of his sweaty rallies. If he does, it could come back to haunt him. Vox interviewed 10 legal experts who are largely in agreement that pardoning Manafort would actually help prosecutors nail him to the wall that much faster.

A few highlights from the article:

"If the president issues a pardon in order to influence a witness and impede the investigation, that would also be a further act of obstruction." -- Lisa Kern Griffin, law professor, Duke University

“If the president pardons anyone involved in the Russian investigation, it may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done.” —Julie O’Sullivan, Georgetown University

“The threat of state prosecution is enough to force Kushner, Flynn, Manafort, etc. to become cooperating witnesses, regardless of whether Trump secretly promises to pardon them.” —Jed Shugerman, Fordham University

If President Trump pardons subjects of Mueller's investigation, they will be unable to claim their Fifth Amendment rights if they are asked to testify under oath. -- Asha Rangappa, associate dean, Yale Law School

With each abnormal, unbecoming, or dishonorable act, President Trump makes it harder for his appointees to defend him, harder for traditional Republicans to maintain their uneasy power alliance with him, and easier for Democrats to take the moral high ground and secure political advantage. President Trump is in danger of snuffing out his candle in the first year of his presidency. -- Andy Wright, law professor, Savannah Law School

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"Wah wah" -- Corey Lewandowski mocks ten-year-old girl with Down Syndrome being taken from her mother

Ah, so this is were we are now: Trump's campaign manager can finally let his psychopath flag fly without fear of universal and permanent censure. Read the rest

Fox news host says kids are being held in enclosures built from chain-link fences, not cages

The children that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump are locking up in enclosures are not actually cages, said a host on Fox and Friends Fox & Friends. They simply "built walls out of chain-link fences."

[via Daily Kos] Read the rest

Scott Pruitt had his security detail drive him to hotels in search of his favorite lotion

Most politicians are smart enough to stick their snouts in the trough when no one is looking. EPA head Scott Pruitt is one of the dumb ones. His pea-sized brain would rattle in his skull if it wasn't cushioned by an enormous ego, one that causes him to think he's a famous and important person who needs to be protected from all the little people out to get him. Hence the first class and chartered flights, the luxury hotels, the soundproof offices, and the 24/7 security detail. It's gross overreach for a man whose only job is to hand over the department he runs to companies that want the freedom to eject pollutants into the air and water.

I barely had time to get over being squicked out by the news that Pruitt ordered a staffer to procure for him a used mattress from one of Trump's hotels, when I learned that Pruitt used his expensive security detail to drive him to different hotels in a desperate search for a certain kind of special moisturizer he is fond of and is available at Ritz-Carltons.

I'll bet the manufacturer of the lotion is terrified over being outed. Sales would tank. It might even spell the death of the company.

From CNN:

The Daily Beast reported on Thursday that Pruitt has also tasked subordinates during work hours with getting snacks for him, including Greek yogurt and cookies, citing four sources familiar with the work environment at EPA.

One individual told the Daily Beast, "I can't tell you how many times I was sent out to get protein bars" at Pruitt's request.

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Pruitt tried to illegally get a Chick-fil-A restaurant for his wife because "it is a franchise of faith"

The video below makes it clear that EPA head Scott Pruitt has learned from his boss how to defend himself when people call him out for breaking laws and wasting extravagant sums of taxpayer money -- make no apology, make no sense, attack the accusers, and hide behind religion and patriotism.

Here's Pruitt's response after reporter Jessica Smith asked him about the revelation that he ordered one of his staffers to set up a meeting with the head of Chick-fil-A with the intention of securing a franchise for his wife:

“With great change comes, you know, I think, opposition. I mean, there’s significant change that’s happening across — not only at the EPA but across this administration, and it’s needed. Look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love — Chick-fil-A is a franchise of faith, and it’s one of the best in the country, and so that’s something we were very excited about. So — we need more of them in Tulsa, and we need more of them across the country.”

No matter what Pruitt is saying here, his actions were in violation of at least two federal laws:

Federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. A Cabinet-level official using his perch to contact a company CEO about a job for his wife “raises the specter of misuse of public office,” said Don Fox, who was head of the federal Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration.

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Giuliani says even if Trump murdered Comey he can't be indicted

Donald Trump can't be indicted for anything, including murder, says his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The former federal prosecutor told Huffington Post that, "In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don't know how you can indict while he's in office. No matter what it is," adding, "If he shot James Comey, he'd be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him."

But would Congress really impeach Trump for murdering someone? McConnell and Ryan would simply say, "The last thing we need to do is get bogged down with impeachment proceedings. Let's not let this unfortunate incident get in the way of making America great again."

From Huffington Post:

Norm Eisen, the White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the silliness of Giuliani’s claim illustrates how mistaken Trump’s lawyers are about presidential power.

“A president could not be prosecuted for murder? Really?” he said. “It is one of many absurd positions that follow from their argument. It is self-evidently wrong.”

Eisen and other legal scholars have concluded that the constitution offers no blanket protection for a president from criminal prosecution. “The foundation of America is that no person is above the law,” he said. “A president can under extreme circumstances be indicted, but we’re facing extreme circumstances.”

Read the rest

Audiotapes of Michael Cohen threatening journalist released

In July 2015, cartoonish thug lawyer Michael Cohen threatened Daily Beast journalist, Tim Mak, for working on a story about Donald Trump allegedly raping one of his wives.

From NPR:

"I’m going to mess your life up, for the rest, for as long as you’re on this friggin’ planet,” Cohen screamed at Mak over the phone. Yesterday, Mak released the recording of Cohen's unhinged hissy fit, which lasted seven minutes.

"Mark my words for it, I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don't have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know," Cohen said. "Do not even think about going where I know you're planning on going. And that's my warning for the day."

"Michael, besides the warning, do you have a substantive comment that I can include in the piece that reflects your views on this?" I responded.

"I have no views because there's no story," Cohen said.

The legal threats continued.

"So I'm warning you, tread very f***ing lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting. Do you understand me? Don't think you can hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen," Cohen said. "I'm more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherf***** you're going to need it."

He also talked about past lawsuits, like one against Univision.

Read the rest

The Onion wishes to speak to Michael Cohen about the angry email he sent them in 2013

In January 2013, The Onion ran a satire piece "written" by "Donald Trump," titled, "When You're Feeling Low, Just Remember I'll Be Dead In About 15 Or 20 Years." (Excerpt: "In the not-very-distant future I will die and then be gone from the world for all eternity. You may even get to watch me in a casket on national television being lowered into the ground, never to be seen again. I bet you’re smiling just thinking about that... Indeed, you can always take solace in the fact that the monstrous, unimaginable piece of shit that is me will stop existing fairly soon, and that I will continue to not exist for the remainder of your lifetime.")

A couple of weeks later, Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, sent The Onion an unintentionally funny email, asking The Onion to contact him "immediately to discuss," saying "the article is an absolutely disgusting piece that lacks any place in journalism; even in your Onion." He adds, "This commentary goes way beyond defamation and, if not immediately removed, I will take all actions necessary to ensure your actions do not go without consequence. Guide yourself accordingly."

The editors of The Onion say they would love to speak with Cohen now.

Unfortunately, this email must have been improperly sorted by one of the Malaysian children who work in our mailroom, and was only discovered crumpled up under a pile of journalism awards in a remote corner of our offices last week. We read the email, and given Mr.

Read the rest

How Michelle Wolf blasted open the fictions of journalism in the age of Trump

Many Republicans and Democrats were offended by comedian Michelle Wolf's performance at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Professional liar Sean Spicer said it was a "disgrace." New York Times writer Maggie Haberman falsely accused Wolf of "intense criticism" of Sarah Huckabee Sanders' physical appearance.

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker has a different take. "Through her obscene humor," she writes, "Wolf exposed the obscenity of the fictions—and the fundamental unfunniness of it all."

Political satire in less troubled times exaggerates existing facts, pointing out the absurdities inherent in all ideologies, or playing up smaller disagreements and failures for bigger laughs. But Trump is hard to exaggerate—it is enough, it seems, merely to mirror him. But why does faithful portrayal of fact-based reality elicit laughter in a country that has a free press and a healthy public sphere in which, it seems, reality is robustly represented? What do late-night comedians reclaim from the Times?

Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner suggests an answer. She called the President a racist, a truth as self-evident as it has proved difficult for mainstream journalists to state. Her humor was obscene: she joked about the President’s affair with a porn star; about his “pulling out,” as promised (of the Paris agreement); and about the G.O.P.’s former deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 million payoff to a former mistress. She also made mincemeat of White House staff, House and Senate Republican leaders, the Democrats, and journalists on the right and left, in their presence or in that of their colleagues.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “At some points Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president.”

Trump's press secretary went on Fox News and used the old logically flawed rhetorical trick, "If only my enemy loved X more than it hated Y then everything would be swell," to complain about congressional reluctance to confirm CIA director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state. Her exact words were "At some points Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president."

Pompeo, a former tea party congressman from Kansas, would make a lousy secretary of state. He wants to bomb Iran, wants nothing to do with the Paris climate accord, says American Muslim leaders were “potentially complicit” in the Boston Marathon bombing, says politics is “a never-ending struggle … until the rapture,” and once cited, verbatim, a sermon delivered by Rev. Joe Wright to the Kansas State Legislature: “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.”

It's no surprise that the Fox News hosts happily fell for Sanders' idiotic either-or trick, but most people are smart enough to know that it's possible to intensely dislike Trump and love their country at the same time. Here's a tweet from one such person:

Read the rest

Senate confirms a homophobic climate change denier with no scientific credentials to lead NASA

Homophobic climate change denier Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) "has made a career out of ignoring scientific expertise" says Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Naturally, Bridenstine was approved 50-49, along party lines, to be our next NASA administrator. Read the rest

Giuliani to join Trump's legal team

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the once moderate former New York mayor who morphed into an angry spittle-flecked screamer, says he is joining Trump's legal team with the goal of getting Special Counsel Robert Mueller to cease his investigation. Good luck with that.

From The Washington Post:

“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani said in an interview.

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow said Thursday in a statement that Giuliani is joining the team along with two former federal prosecutors, Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, a couple who jointly run a Florida-based law firm.

“Rudy is great,” Trump said in the statement issued by Sekulow. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”

What are Giuliani and Trump so afraid Mueller will find?

Below, highlights of Giuliani's unusual behavior, conspiracy theory spreading, lies, and general kookiness.

Read the rest

ACLU supports the FBI raid of Michael Cohen's office

The ACLU said the FBI search of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's office was not a violation of attorney–client privilege. In fact, it said in a statement written by ACLU Legal Director David Cole, "all indications thus far are that the search was conducted pursuant to the rule of law, and with sign-offs from Trump appointees."

We don’t say this lightly. The ACLU is the nation’s premier defender of privacy, and we’ve long maintained that the right of every American to speak freely to his or her attorney is essential to the legal system. These rights are protected by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and we are second to none in defending them — often for people with whom we fundamentally disagree.

But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no one — not even the president, let alone his lawyer — is above the law. And no one, not even the president, can exploit the attorney-client privilege to engage in crime or fraud.

Image by IowaPolitics.com/FLickr. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Charges dropped against Turkey's presidential thugs who were filmed brutally beating protesters in Washington

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington DC last year, he brought along his gang of goons who beat protesters so brutally that nine were hospitalized. US prosecutors dropped charges against against 11 of the 15 men accused of the bloody assault. In the video above you can see the suited thugs kicking people on the ground as police officers try to stop them. Read the rest

Ben Carson is super surprised about that $31k dining set he ordered

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson now says he is shocked, just shocked, that the new dining set ordered for his office cost $31,000, which was $26,000 more than legally allowed. "I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered," he said in a statement. "I have requested that the order be canceled. We will find another solution for the furniture replacement."

A former former senior HUD official, Helen Foster, said she he was harassed and demoted for questioning orders to buy the furniture and was so distressed that she would vomit on her way home from work every day.

That wasn't the only thing to get sick over. From CNN's descriptions of the dining set, it's clear that Carson's taste in decor is vomitous, too:

The $31,000 dining set includes a table, sideboard, breakfront -- all in mahogany -- and 10 mahogany chairs with a blue velvet finish, according to the company that sold the furniture to the agency and purchase documents obtained by CNN.


From Salon:

On the eve of Trump's inauguration [Foster] alleged she was told by acting HUD director Craig Clemmensen to help Carson's wife, Candy, obtain funds that would be used to redecorate the former presidential candidate's office. However, when she pointed out that there was only a statutory limit of $5,000, she was allegedly told, "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair."

By Feb. 10, Foster maintained her position that $5,000 was the limit, but she was told repeatedly "to 'find money' for Mrs Carson," the complaint said, according to The Guardian.

Read the rest

Parody commercial for Trump's lawyer who paid porn star $130,000 for no reason

Donald Trump says he never had sex with porn star Stormy Daniels, but for some reason Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted that he paid Daniels $130,000 of his own money to keep quiet. Huh? To clear up the confusion, Jimmy Kimmel made this parody commercial.

From Wikipedia:

In January 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported Cohen used Essential Consultants LLC, and pseudonyms to pay, in October 2016 prior to the election, porn star Stormy Daniels regarding an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen told The New York Times in February 2018 that this money was paid from his own pocket, that it was not a campaign contribution, and that he was not reimbursed for making it by either the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign. The Washington Post later noted that, by stating that he used his own money to "facilitate" the payment, Cohen was not ruling out the possibility that Trump, as an individual, reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

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Here are the 200,000 Russian troll tweets deleted by Twitter

NBC news has compiled a database of 200,000 tweets that Twitter identified as "malicious activity" from Russian trolls in the run up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

These accounts, working in concert as part of large networks, pushed hundreds of thousands of inflammatory tweets, from fictitious tales of Democrats practicing witchcraft to hardline posts from users masquerading as Black Lives Matter activists. Investigators have traced the accounts to a Kremlin-linked propaganda outfit founded in 2013 known as the Internet Research Association (IRA). The organization has been assessed by the U.S. Intelligence Community to be part of a Russian state-run effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential race. And they're not done.

"There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

Image: Bradley Davis/Twitter, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) Read the rest

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