September 4, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 3:35 PM

HIS LIPS WERE MOVING (profanity alert):

Bob Woodward: Trump's aides stole his papers 'to protect the country' (Jeremy Herb, Jamie Gangel and Dan Merica, 9/04/18, CNN)

In one revelatory anecdote, Woodward describes a scene in the White House residence. Trump's lawyer, convinced the President would perjure himself, put Trump through a test -- a practice interview for the one he might have with Mueller. Trump failed, according to Dowd, but the President still insisted he should testify.

Woodward writes that Dowd saw the "full nightmare" of a potential Mueller interview, and felt Trump acted like an "aggrieved Shakespearean king."

But Trump seemed surprised at Dowd's reaction, Woodward writes. "You think I was struggling?" Trump asked.

Then, in an even more remarkable move, Dowd and Trump's current personal attorney Jay Sekulow went to Mueller's office and re-enacted the mock interview. Their goal: to argue that Trump couldn't possibly testify because he was incapable of telling the truth.

"He just made something up. That's his nature," Dowd said to Mueller.

The passage is an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of Mueller's secretive operation -- for the first time, Mueller's conversations with Trump's lawyers are captured.

"I need the president's testimony," Mueller said. "What was his intent on Comey? ... I want to see if there was corrupt intent."

Despite Dowd's efforts, Trump continued to insist he could testify. "I think the President of the United States cannot be seen taking the fifth," Trump said.

Dowd's argument was stark: "There's no way you can get through these. ... Don't testify. It's either that or an orange jump suit."

What he couldn't say to Trump, according to Woodward, was what Dowd believed to be true: "You're a [***]ing liar."

Posted by orrinj at 3:30 PM


Israeli-Arab singer's conversion to Judaism rejected by Rabbinate (Times of Israel, 9/04/18)

Popular Israeli-Arab singer Nasreen Qadri has been told that her conversion to Judaism will not be recognized by the Chief Rabbinate or the Interior Ministry because it was carried out by a rabbi independent of the authorities. [...]

The Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate has the monopoly on state-recognized conversions to Judaism, a subject that deeply divides Jews from the Conservative and Reform movements.

Posted by orrinj at 3:19 PM

PITY THE POOR TRUMPBOTS (profanity alert):

Bob Woodward's new book reveals a 'nervous breakdown' of Trump's presidency (Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, September 4, 2018, The Washington Post)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was "unhinged," Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: "He's an idiot. It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had." [...]

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a "traitor" for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions's accent, Trump added, "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb Southerner. ... He couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama."

At a dinner with Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, Trump lashed out at a vocal critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He falsely suggested that the former Navy pilot had been a coward for taking early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam because of his father's military rank and leaving others behind.

Mattis swiftly corrected his boss: "No, Mr. President, I think you've got it reversed." [...]

Cohn came to regard the president as "a professional liar" and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump's handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that "both sides" were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, "That was the biggest [****]ing mistake I've made" and the "worst speech I've ever given," according to Woodward's account.

When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, "This is treason," and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on. Kelly then confided to Cohn that he shared Cohn's horror at Trump's handling of the tragedy -- and shared Cohn's fury with Trump.

"I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his [***] six different times," Kelly told Cohn, according to Woodward. Kelly himself has threatened to quit several times, but has not done so.

Posted by orrinj at 4:12 AM


Democrats could see better days according to poll, leaving Trump and Republicans on defense (RICK KLEIN & MARYALICE PARKS, Sep 4, 2018, ABC News)

A 14-point gap in the generic ballot - a 52-38 edge for Democrats over Republicans in House races - highlights the ABC News/Washington Post poll out Tuesday morning. Sixty percent of registered voters say they'd prefer that Congress be controlled by Democrats, to act as a check on the president and his 36 percent approval rating.

The numbers reflect weakness in the GOP brand, as redefined by Trump, [rather] than any particular strength for Democrats. 

A party that lets itself be defined by Donald does not deserve power in a republic.

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Democrats, Eyeing a Majority, Prepare an Investigative Onslaught (Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 3, 2018, NY Times)

"If this is a referendum on Trump, the way I would want to frame it is not 'remove or retain' but 'contain or enable,'" said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who has already introduced an article of impeachment against the president. "There are more votes for 'contain' than there are for 'remove.'"

But with Mr. Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, implicating the president directly in the payoffs to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, the conviction of Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman in federal court and a rash of indictments and other alleged wrongdoings swirling around House Republicans themselves, the Democrats are increasingly selling themselves as a much-needed antidote to a "culture of corruption" in the capital.

Democrats believe the Republicans abused the power of the majority to hobble the Obama administration, deeply damage Hillary Clinton and protect Mr. Trump. That frustration, coupled with what most lawmakers expect to be a wave of Democratic anti-Trump outrage fueling midterm victories, could overwhelm the instincts of more moderate members of the party to chart a different, more bipartisan course than Republicans have.

Democrats on the Oversight Committee, typically the House's most muscular investigative body, have more than 50 subpoena requests that have been denied by committee Republicans since Mr. Trump took office, from the administration of security clearances at the White House to chartered jet travel by cabinet officials to Justice Department documents related to its decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court.

"It's not like we have to go dig them up. They are right there sitting on the desk," Mr. Cummings said.

In the Intelligence Committee, home to the House's only investigation of Russian election interference, Democrats have shown interest in reopening what they viewed as an anemic inquiry that was prematurely closed by Republicans. They have outlined an ambitious list of witnesses worthy of potential subpoena, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee's top Democrat, says that unsubstantiated suggestions that Russia could have laundered money through the Trump administration are of "great concern."

Party leaders could also choose to impanel a special committee to focus on the Russia matter, freeing the Intelligence Committee to more traditional oversight of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.

But many of the most sensitive investigations directly touching Mr. Trump are likely to fall to the Judiciary Committee, one of Congress's most partisan bodies, where impeachment proceedings must begin. Led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, committee Democrats have repeatedly pressed for an investigation of whether Mr. Trump's business profits violate anticorruption clauses of the Constitution. They titled a 56-page report on requests mothballed by Republicans "A Record of Abuse, Corruption, and Inaction."

Perhaps more consequentially, Mr. Nadler and his colleagues have pushed for the committee's own Russia investigation, as well as inquiries into the firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director last year and Mr. Trump's attacks on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. While not formal impeachment inquiries, studying those topics would allow the committee to begin to quietly set a foundation for a potential report from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, or the presentation of new facts by prosecutors in the Cohen case.

"We have to see more," Mr. Nadler said of impeachment. "We need more evidence. We need to see what Mueller comes up with. We may get there."

Led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, House Judiciary Committee Democrats have repeatedly pressed for an investigation of whether Mr. Trump's business profits violate anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times
In the wake of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea last month, Mr. Nadler requested an emergency meeting of the committee to demand insight from the Justice Department into its continuing investigation of potential campaign finance violations, as well as a public hearing on presidential pardons. The committee's Republican chairman, Representative Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, did not reply.

Less marquee committees -- including the Financial Services, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees -- would probably carry out their own policy-oriented probes, digging out private communications behind divisive administration decisions and personnel, or even take a run at obtaining Mr. Trump's long-sought tax returns.

A president essentially has two years to enact his agenda.  No one was interested in passing Donald's.