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  # 2219527 17-Apr-2019 07:47
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"I wasn't even in the room..."

When I watch a police reality show, I can appreciate a clever crime. I remember the story of a gang who needed to unload a boat with cigarettes in a public place, so his gang pretended they were shooting a movie.

But Trump is the equivalent of someone filming themselves committing a crime, and posting it on Facebook.

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  # 2219554 17-Apr-2019 08:16
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kingdragonfly: From Trump tweet this morning:


So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!



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  # 2219574 17-Apr-2019 08:47
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The Washington Post - Trump’s greatest fear: His underlings told Mueller the truth


April 16


As we await Attorney General William P. Barr’s redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on the investigation into the Russia scandal, some people in the White House are getting nervous.


Are they afraid their own wrongdoing will be revealed?


No. According to Carol E. Lee, Hallie Jackson and Kristen Welker of NBC News, they’re afraid that President Trump will find out that when they were questioned by investigators, they told the truth ...


First, it tells us that they revealed damaging information to Mueller.


If Trump’s version of events were true - nobody did anything wrong, there was no obstruction, there was no collusion, everything was completely appropriate - then Trump staffers would have no reason to fear their boss’s wrath. ...


Second, it tells us that Trump expected them to lie under oath.  ...


There’s plenty of precedent for them to look to.


If there’s one thing that’s clear by now, it’s that if you work for Trump, when people ask you about anything related to Russia, you’re supposed to lie.


A quick recap:


  • Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen lied to Congress about Trump’s efforts during the campaign to secure a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
  • Donald Trump Jr. lied about his meeting with a group of Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
  • Rudolph W. Giuliani lied about that meeting, too.
  • Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
  • George Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about his attempts to get Clinton dirt from Russia.
  • Paul Manafort lied about his relationship with a supposed Russian intelligence asset to whom he passed the campaign’s polling data.
  • Jeff Sessions had convenient memory lapses about his own contacts with Russians during the campaign.
  • Roger Stone allegedly lied about his contacts with WikiLeaks.
  • And, of course, President Trump himself told one lie after another about Russia


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  # 2219636 17-Apr-2019 09:24
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Trump will hate the sunlight...

The redacting will just fuel more conspiracies, and maintain the story longer.

I'm sure it'll be leaked within a day.

Barr picked a bad time to release.

It'll be a slow news day world wide for Easter, but 24 hour TV news will need something to fill the time. People will be bored, and watching more TV news than usual.

Also enthusiastic amateur Youtube posters will be at home, posting new videos.

With Trump creating so much tension, and enemies, there'll be no shortage of people working hard, analyzing every word ... and missing words.

Just can't wait to see his tax returns released also...

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  # 2219676 17-Apr-2019 10:00
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"No pee tape ... I wasn't in the room!"



Trump:  “There is no tape. There was no event. I was never even in that room for that period of time.


Trump is a very illogical (read: stupid) lair - if it didn't happen, then there was no relevant time for Trump not to be there ...   😕



Lock him up!
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  # 2219721 17-Apr-2019 10:14
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Without really knowing, I think Trump lives in a bubble. He demands flattery and agreement from those around him and he probably has a (very) distorted view of reality because of that. Since he doesn't read, or think very much, or obtain information from sources other than Fox and the like who reinforce his prejudices, and since he isn't especially bright, he actually thinks people will swallow the BS he spouts. He is probably genuinely surprised when they don't but he deals with that by turning to his yes-men and women for reassurance and ego massaging and then all is well again.



I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney

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  # 2220001 17-Apr-2019 16:04
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New York Times

Trump Vetoes Measure to Force End to U.S. Involvement in Yemen War

WASHINGTON — President Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution on Tuesday that would have forced an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen, rejecting an appeal by lawmakers to his own deeply rooted instincts to withdraw the United States from bloody foreign conflicts.

The veto, only the second time Mr. Trump has used his power to block legislation passed by both houses of Congress, strikes down a resolution that invoked the War Powers Act to distance the United States from a four-year conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and resulted in a widespread famine.

The measure was a rebuke of Mr. Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia even after the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It was opposed by several of the president’s top advisers, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, according to people who spoke with White House officials.

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Mr. Trump said in his veto message.

The veto came only a month after Mr. Trump similarly rejected a bipartisan measure that would have overturned his declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border. Congress failed to override that veto and appears similarly unlikely to muster the votes to override the Yemen veto.

Supporters of this resolution had higher hopes that Mr. Trump might sign it. Although it went against a key ally, Saudi Arabia, it played to his longstanding opposition to American involvement in foreign wars. This was the first time War Powers legislation passed Congress with bipartisan support and reached a president’s desk.

But the rebuke of Saudi Arabia and the perceived threat to Mr. Trump’s executive powers played a bigger role in his decision.


A President of the People or a President of His People?

WASHINGTON — In the last couple of weeks, President Trump repeatedly called his enemies “treasonous.” He threatened to punish Democrats by dumping migrants in their districts. He promoted a video tying a Muslim congresswoman to images of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

The message seems clear and so does the audience: more red meat for red-state Americans who have been the foundation of his political enterprise since his against-the-odds campaign for the White House. And it is a reminder that this president governs as none of his modern predecessors did.

The old-fashioned idea that a president, once reaching office, should at least pretend to be the leader of all the people these days seems so, well, old-fashioned. Mr. Trump does not bother with the pretense. He is speaking to his people, not the people. He has become, or so it often seems, the president of the United Base of America.

Mr. Trump travels nearly five times as often to states that were in his column in 2016 as to those that supported Hillary Clinton. He has given several times more interviews to Fox News than to all the other major networks combined. His social media advertising is aimed disproportionately at older Americans who were the superstructure of his victory in the Electoral College in 2016. His messaging is permeated with divisive language that galvanizes core supporters more than it persuades anyone on the fence, much less on the other side.

“Just from a pure governance standpoint, the ability to be president of a majority of the country, they don’t even to seem to consider that’s part of being president,” said Matthew Dowd, who was President George W. Bush’s re-election strategist and has been a vocal critic of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump is the only president in the history of Gallup polling never to earn the support of a majority of Americans even for a single day of his term. His approval rating in Gallup has stayed within a 10-point band of 35 percent to 45 percent throughout his presidency.

To some extent, that may reflect a time of polarization. Mr. Bush spent his entire second term under 50 percent approval, and President Barack Obama spent nearly three years of his second term with less than a majority.

But Mr. Trump seems to relish divide-and-conquer politics much more than either of them did and has made little effort to expand his coalition beyond the voters who propelled him to the White House in the first place. While other presidents sought to broaden their public support, Mr. Trump appears to be heading into his re-election campaign sticking with his own tribe.



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  # 2220006 17-Apr-2019 16:12
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Perhaps Michelle Obama could have phrased this better (I'm not divorced, or a dad)

Michelle Obama Makes Apparent Criticism Of President Donald Trump
NBC Nightly News

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  # 2220327 18-Apr-2019 08:47
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In anticipation of the release of the heavily redacted Mueller report tomorrow, this is a timely read.

Although you can guarantee Trump and his supporters will be spinning it as a win, no matter what the contents actually reveal. And with Barr in charge of the redactions, it is highly unlikely that any explosive findings will remain unscathed.

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  # 2220401 18-Apr-2019 09:34
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The report must have been - or will be - leaked.


But I'm guessing such a copy could always be denigrated by the Trump Gang.


Or might that situation get to the point where Mueller could be asked to verify the content?



TRexit - Vote him out, drag him out, take him out: either way, he's gotta go.

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  # 2220447 18-Apr-2019 10:06
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Putin Almost Done Redacting Mueller Report



MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report)—After putting in what one associate called a “hellish all-nighter,” the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is almost finished redacting Robert Mueller’s report in time for its release, on Thursday.


Earlier in the week, the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, submitted the approximately four-hundred-page document to Putin for his approval, but the Russian President was reportedly “in a state of disbelief” over how much Barr had failed to redact.


Quickly assembling a crisis team at the Kremlin to implement further redactions, Putin told his associates, “Put some coffee on, boys—it’s going to be a long night.”


Although Putin is said to be satisfied that his redactions have rendered the Mueller report meaningless, he resents that the important task of obliterating damning evidence fell to him. “I have to do everything for these people,” he reportedly said.

TRexit - Vote him out, drag him out, take him out: either way, he's gotta go.

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  # 2220473 18-Apr-2019 10:40
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The New York Times - White House and Justice Dept. Officials Discussed Mueller Report Before Release


April 17, 2019


WASHINGTON — Not all of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings will be news to President Trump when they are released Thursday morning.


Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.


The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.


A sense of paranoia is taking hold among some of Mr. Trump’s aides, some of whom fear his backlash more than the findings themselves, the people said.


The report might make clear which of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said and how much damage they did to the president — providing a kind of road map for retaliation. ...




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  # 2220476 18-Apr-2019 10:46
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The New York Times - White House and Justice Dept. Officials Discussed Mueller Report Before Release


AG Barr will be holding a press conference tomorrow morning to discuss the report, a few hours before it is actually released. 

Tomorrow will not bring any answers to the American public. But instead will be more Trump partisan spin. Seth Abramson has begun discussing this already in his thread where he intends to live-tweet events tomorrow.


I'm wondering at what point Mueller steps into the ring to clarify.

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  # 2220903 19-Apr-2019 07:43
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Great quote in the Mueller report. When Trump was informed that Mueller was hired:

I'm f__ked. This is the end of my presidency.

Barr this morning "spun" the release of the Mueller report, painting Trump as the traumatized victim, fives times.

We learned the reason a number of high ranking officials didn't get thrown in jail is they ignored Trump's orders to obstruct justice. They are free men because they quit.

Unsurprisingly Sarah Sanders admitted to completing fabricating, lying, about the firing of FBI director Comey, by saying various FBI officials said they told Trump they had lost confidence in Comey.

Mueller says he didn't interview Trump:
  • Trump's history would used all delaying actions possible

  • Mueller already had information was so conclusive, so that anything Trump said would be moot
While Trump was campaigning, before he was elected, a russian businessman told them he had comprising tapes from the Miss Teen pageant in Russia. The Russian businessman had them destroyed.

This strongly implies the Russian prostitute pee tape existed. From previous Miss Teen contests, Trump invited contestants to his hotel room for tit-for-tat considerations, so could have been that also.

Anyhow all this in just the first few hours after the release.

If you want more information, CNN seems to be releasing videos very quickly on Youtube.

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  # 2220917 19-Apr-2019 08:19
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What Attorney General Barr buried, misrepresented or ignored in clearing Trump
Washington Post
By Philip Bump

Attorney General William P. Barr has twice ensured that he had the first word on the conclusions drawn by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III after Mueller’s almost-two-year probe into President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in that election.

In March, shortly after Mueller’s team completed its work, Barr offered the country a four-page overview of what Mueller found, one that necessarily elided a lot of detail from Mueller’s work.

On Thursday, Barr held a news conference an hour before the Justice Department released a redacted version of Mueller’s full report to make pointed comments about what the report contained. Barr repeatedly declared that Trump had been cleared of collusion, for example, words that were music to Trump’s ears.

But Mueller didn’t look at collusion, as such, and in his report, he explained why.

“[C]ollusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law,” the Mueller report reads. “For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.”

Barr offered a colloquial use of “collusion” that Mueller specifically rejected — clearly in part to accord with Trump’s repeated insistences about collusion between his campaign and Russian actors.

Earlier this week, the site Just Security detailed a 1989 incident in which Barr, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, offered a summary of an OLC opinion that was later revealed to have skipped over significant details. A review of what Barr said about Mueller’s report Thursday, compared with what Mueller writes, similarly shows a number of significant differences. Barr’s news conference repeatedly (but not universally) mischaracterized what the report itself presents, as below.

What Barr said about Russian coordination

“Thanks to the Special Counsel’s thorough investigation,” Barr said at the news conference, “we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign — or the knowing assistance of any other Americans, for that matter.”

The “schemes” were twofold: the hack of the Democratic Party network and Clinton’s campaign staff emails; and the effort to sow discord on social media and at events by the Internet Research Agency or IRA. Barr specifically cleared the campaign and Trump on any collaboration with each of those efforts, saying, at one point, that “the Special Counsel found no evidence that any Americans — including anyone associated with the Trump campaign — conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA in carrying out this illegal scheme.” Later, Barr added that Mueller “did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations.”

There’s also the question of the distribution of that hacked material, which was largely conducted through WikiLeaks. Barr’s description was more nuanced.

“Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy,” Barr said. “Here, too, the Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.”

In other words, unless someone helped hack the material in the first place, no violation of the law occurred, and no one associated with the campaign violated the law. Which, essentially, is just a repeat of his assertion that no one from the campaign aided in the hack.

Mueller, however, considered a different view of the distribution of the hacked material.

His team “also considered, but ruled out, charges on the theory that the post-hacking sharing and dissemination of emails could constitute trafficking in or receipt of stolen property,” the report states. Because the law centers on tangible items, they determined that the law wouldn’t apply in this case. Much of the discussion about the dissemination of the stolen material is redacted.

On the central question of the campaign’s interactions with the Internet Research Agency or the hacking, Barr’s language mirrors Mueller to a large degree, save for his use of “collusion.” At times, though, he skips over some pertinent details.

“Although members of the IRA had contact with individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign, the indictment does not charge any Trump Campaign official or any other U.S., person with participating in the conspiracy,” Mueller writes. “That is because the investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. person who coordinated or communicated with the IRA knew that he or she was speaking with Russian national engaged in the criminal conspiracy.”

Members of Trump’s team had interactions with Internet Research Agency employees but unwittingly. (This has been known since the indictment against the agency was published last year.)

It’s important to underscore that the report notes the limitations of Mueller’s investigation.

“Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination and were not, in the Office’s judgment, appropriate candidates for grants of immunity,” Mueller writes. He notes several legal limits and then adds that “[e]ven when individuals testified or agreed to be interviewed, they sometimes provided information that was false or incomplete, leading to . . . false-statements charges.”

What Barr said about links to Russian actors

Barr addressed a question that, in the eyes of many Americans, constitutes “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“[T]he Special Counsel investigated a number of ‘links’ or ‘contacts’ between Trump Campaign officials and individuals connected with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Barr said. “After reviewing those contacts, the Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign.”

That “conspiracy to violate U.S. law” is important and mirrors what Mueller said.

“[W]hile the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges,” Mueller said, noting that the statutes under consideration included being an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Notice the difference, though: Mueller says there was insufficient evidence. Barr said there was no conspiracy found to violate the law.

What Barr said about obstruction

Barr noted at the outset that the assessment made by him and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein took issue with how Mueller approached the question of obstruction of justice.

He and Rosenstein “concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr said. He added that they “disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law but that they instead “evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion.”

As Mueller makes clear, that presentation of evidence was his goal. Since there exists an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel that prevents the Justice Department from indicting a sitting president, Mueller’s team “conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.” Their investigation specifically aimed “not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes.” If, however, “we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

In other words, they aimed to collect evidence and were open to exonerating him on charges of obstruction, though not to trying to prove a criminal case.

“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however,” Mueller continues, “we are unable to reach that judgment” — that is, that Trump clearly didn’t commit obstruction. At several points, in fact, the Mueller report aims at Congress as a potential arbiter of the obstruction question.

In an effort to bolster his own decision to exonerate Trump, Barr tries to contextualize Trump’s behavior. It’s important to quote this at length. We’ve added boldface for emphasis.

“In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context,” Barr said. " . . . As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion” — at least using the definition Barr offered, which was limited to the interactions described above.

“[T]here is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,” Barr said. “Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.

“Apart from whether the acts were obstructive,” Barr continued, “this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”

The two boldface segments above are directly at odds with what Mueller writes.

First, the White House didn’t fully cooperate: Trump himself refused to sit for an interview with Mueller. The report addresses that, with Mueller explaining why they decided against pursuing a subpoena.

“Recognizing that the President would not be interviewed voluntarily, we considered whether to issue a subpoena for his testimony. We viewed the written answers to be inadequate,” the report states. “But at that point, our investigation had made significant progress and had produced substantial evidence for our report.” Ultimately, given the progress that had been made and the evidence elsewhere, they decided against what would have been a lengthy and nasty subpoena fight.

Second, there’s a reason that Trump didn’t take other actions obstructing the special counsel: The people who he directed to take those actions decided against it.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” Mueller writes, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

That’s not how Barr presents the issue.

What’s more, Mueller’s report suggests strongly that Trump’s frustration and anger was not something his team saw as working in Trump’s favor. The report notes two phases of Trump’s frustration, divided by the point at which Trump learned that there was an obstruction of justice inquiry. In that second phase, the report describes more urgent and direct actions taken by Trump. That increase is directly linked to concern about an obstruction inquiry.

After his prepared remarks, Barr took questions from reporters. One asked whether Mueller’s decision on obstruction was solely a function of the OLC opinion about indictments of presidents.

“We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion,” Barr said. “And he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. He — he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime; he made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.”

Again, though, the OLC opinion did affect how Mueller approached the obstruction question, as outlined above. Mueller didn’t make a determination about a crime because of how he decided to approach the obstruction question which was itself a function, in part, of what the OLC wrote.

What Barr didn’t talk about

Barr didn’t mention at all an incident that occupies a lengthy portion of the Mueller report: the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.

As we reported last year, federal campaign finance laws could be interpreted to conclude that the meeting in which Donald Trump Jr. was offered material incriminating Hillary Clinton amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. Mueller ultimately decided it didn’t.

“There are reasonable arguments that the offered information would constitute a ‘thing of value’” under the law, the report states, “but [we] determined that the government would not be likely to obtain and sustain a conviction.”

“[T]he government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful,” it reads at another point. “The investigation has not developed evidence that the participants in the meeting were familiar with the foreign-contribution ban or the application of federal law to the relevant factual context. The government does not have strong evidence of surreptitious behavior or efforts at concealment at the time of the June 9 meeting” — though there was evidence of an attempt to hide it later.

This is really the theme of the Mueller report, by its nature. Mueller explains where and how members of the Trump campaign or his broader circle brushed against the boundaries of the law, often not crossing it so clearly that Mueller felt a case could be proved in court. As instructed by the regulations establishing the special counsel position, Mueller is offering his legal analysis about what happened.

Barr, in his news conference, took those descriptions and transformed them into political exoneration.

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