October 8, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 PM


Inside the White House's effort to contain Ukraine call fallout (Pamela Brown, Jeremy Diamond, Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, October 8, 2019, CNN)

By the time President Donald Trump's line with Volodymyr Zelensky went quiet, the scramble began.

In the hours and days after the Ukrainian President signed-off -- "Thank you Mr. President, bye-bye" -- nervous word spread among national security aides about the contents of the July 25 call, an early show of worry that Trump's request for an investigation into Joe Biden was far from the "perfect" conversation he now insists transpired.

The scramble and fallout from the call, described by six people familiar with it, parallels and expands upon details described in the whistleblower complaint. The anxiety and internal concern reflect a phone conversation that deeply troubled national security professionals, even as Trump now insists there was nothing wrong with how he conducted himself. And it shows an ultimately unsuccessful effort to contain the tumult by the administration's lawyers.

At least one National Security Council official alerted the White House's national security lawyers about the concerns, three sources familiar with the matter said, a detail that had not been previously disclosed. Those same lawyers would later order the transcript of the call moved to a highly classified server typically reserved for code-word classified material.

Posted by orrinj at 7:11 PM


Michael Cohen expected to be brought to NY to meet with investigators (Mark Morales, October 8, 2019, CNN)

Prosecutors met with Cohen shortly after they opened their investigation into whether the Trump Organization violated a New York state law involving false business records. Investigators are exploring whether the real estate company falsified its records in describing the reimbursement to Cohen for the payments.

Cohen is one of several people with knowledge of the payments who would be of interest to investigators, but he has credibility issues for any potential case. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress.

Prosecutors are also pushing for Trump's tax records with the theory being that the documents will provide definitive proof of where money has been allocated, unveiling if there was any masking of payments that was a deliberate falsification, the official said. Cohen is not looking to trade information for a lighter sentence, the official said. He is coming forward with information and meeting with officials without any limitations, the official said.

Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM


Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like: Most registered voters are in favor of spending trillions on weatherized buildings and renewable-energy infrastructure. (ROBINSON MEYER, OCT 7, 2019, The Atlantic)

Here are the five climate policies with the most support:

1. A national recycling program for commodities

During World War II, the federal government encouraged Americans to save and pool commodities--including paper, steel, and rubber--so that they could be recycled and turned into new ships, planes, and guns. Sanders proposes launching a similar program today for clean energy. It would seek to reduce the cost and blunt the environmental impact of the huge build-out of wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries that he proposes.

The idea is overwhelmingly popular, with 64 percent of registered voters in support and only 16 percent opposed. Americans of every race, age, and religion overwhelmingly support the idea. So do six in 10 white men, and a majority of self-described born-again Christians.

2. $1.3 trillion to weatherize every home and office building in the United States

At least three different Democratic climate plans--proposed by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Jay Inslee (whose plan has been largely adopted by Warren), and Sanders--have promised to boost federal spending on weatherizing homes and buildings. Sanders's plan calls for more than $2 trillion in grants to help families improve their home's energy efficiency.

The idea is very popular. Six in 10 voters support spending more than $1 trillion "to weatherize homes and buildings to make them more energy-efficient and reduce energy bills." A smaller majority of voters older than 65 also support the proposal.

3. $1.5 trillion for a massive federal build-out of renewable energy

Sanders promises to build out enough wind, solar, and geothermal energy to power every home and business in the United States by 2030. Such a plan would cost $1.5 trillion, he says, and it would be possible to execute under the existing legal powers of the Energy Department.

While the poll didn't ask Americans if they would support that legal maneuver, a large majority of voters said they were ready to foot the bill for the plan. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would strongly or somewhat support $1.5 trillion in federal spending to build out renewables. Among white voters without a college degree--a group that normally breaks Republican--the idea found 52 percent in support.

4. A climate adjustment fee on environmentally destructive imports

Warren has proposed imposing a "border carbon adjustment" on imports that require high levels of carbon emissions. This policy could help American climate policy from "offshoring" carbon pollution into China and India, supporters say, and it would encourage American cement- and steelmakers to invest in greener ways to make their products.

For now, at least, Americans love the idea. Sixty percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported the idea, while only 23 percent opposed it. (About one in five Americans still aren't sure what to think.)

But among working-class voters, the idea was one of the most popular proposed. Fifty-five percent of people without a college degree liked the idea, a level of support that did not change across white and nonwhite respondents. Voters from families making less than $60,000 a year also supported the idea at about that level.

5. "Economic Nationalism for Climate Change"

This summer, Warren announced her plan for "economic patriotism," a policy agenda that actively aims to boost American jobs and industry. Its first plank is a green-manufacturing scheme that pledges $2 trillion over the next 10 years. In short, Warren seeks to revive industrial policy.

This poll asked about "economic nationalism," which it described as a plan to "aggressively encourage large American manufacturing firms to specialize in solar panels, wind turbines, and other climate-friendly technologies."

The proposal commanded majority support, with 53 percent overall in support and 30 percent in opposition.

Conservative politicians and media figures can be forgiven for being nervous about how being anti-Donald puts them out of step with some portion of the GOP and on the same side as liberal Democrats.  It is an uncomfortable position.

But there is a fundamentally dishonest two-step that they engage in to try to stifle the dissonance.  As Matt Lewis talked about on The Bulwark Podcast Monday, you attack AOC and company to compensate for attacking Donald.  The other one, which host Charlie Sykes indulges in, is to talk about how much you'd love to support a Democrat against Donald, but the party is just becoming so extreme you can't.  You pair this with talk about how they're blowing their chance to win because they're so far out of the mainstream.  Of course, this is simply false.  On issues from gun control to health care to the Electoral College to immigration to the Green New Deal, the voters agree with the "radical Left" anywhere from 60-40 to 80-20.  There are legitimate reasons to oppose the prospect of a President Warren or Harris, but the notion that they are unelectably radical is nonsense.

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM


Dick's Sporting Goods destroys $7.4 million worth of guns ( LAURA M. HOLSON, 10/08/19, SBS)

Edward W. Stack, the chief executive of Dick's Sporting Goods, said in an interview this week that his company had destroyed more than $7.4 million in military-style, semiautomatic rifles and was reviewing whether it would continue to sell guns in its more than 720 stores.

Mr. Stack was speaking with CBS Sunday Morning while promoting his new book, It's How We Play the Game.

"So many people say to me, you know, 'If we do what you want to do, it's not going to stop these mass shootings,'" Mr. Stack told CBS. "And my response is: 'You're probably right. It won't. But if we do these things and it saves one life, don't you think it's worth it?'"

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 PM


DOJ: If Watergate Happened Today, We'd Block Evidence From Congress (JEREMY STAHL, OCT 08, 2019, Slate)

"It seems incredible that grand jury matters should lawfully be available to disbarment committees and police disciplinary investigations and yet be unavailable to the House of Representatives in a proceeding of so great import as an impeachment investigation," Sirica noted in his ruling. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at the time refused to block Sirica's ruling. Just this year, in a separate case called McKeever v. Barr, the D.C. Circuit Court upheld Haldeman v. Sirica, saying that it read the case "as fitting within the Rule 6 exception for 'judicial proceedings.' "

So the case law appears settled. But Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department is still seeking to prevent the release of that material to Congress, citing the 6(E) exception and newly arguing the old position of the Watergate criminals: that impeachment is not a judicial proceeding.

Ultimately, the DOJ's position would place the president essentially above the law: The DOJ has held that the president can't be indicted, and if Congress can't access evidence of presidential malfeasance as part of an impeachment inquiry, then there would virtually be no legal mechanism for holding him to account.

Howell wondered repeatedly why the government had taken this position in contradiction to its stance in every past judicial and presidential impeachment.

"I am curious about why I am here and why you all are here in front of me," Howell said.

The DOJ's position also implies that the Watergate impeachment should not have happened, or at the very least that Congress should not have had access to the critical grand jury evidence that provided it with the "road map" to conduct that impeachment.

After lengthy and critical questioning of both sides, Howell finally got down to the nub of the issue. She asked DOJ attorney Elizabeth Shapiro if the government believes Sirica's ruling to release the Watergate evidence was "wrongly decided."

"If that case came today a different result would be obtained," Shapiro responded. "If that same situation would be presented today, we would not be able to do the same thing."

"Wow, OK," Howell responded in apparent astonishment.

Posted by orrinj at 5:40 PM

60-40 NATION:

Majority of Americans Back Trump Impeachment Probe, WSJ/NBC Poll Finds (Aaron Zitner, Oct. 8, 2019, WSJ)

Some 55% of poll participants said Congress should take up the Ukraine matter, with 31% supporting the House impeachment inquiry that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched last month and an additional 24% saying enough evidence exists already for lawmakers to remove Mr. Trump from office.

By contrast, 39% said Congress shouldn't hold an impeachment inquiry and should allow Mr. Trump to finish his term as president.

GOP senators will vote to remove just to try and save their majority.

Posted by orrinj at 12:55 PM


Highlighting hypocrisy reduces anti-Muslim sentiment: Study finds a better way to play the blame game. (Mark Bruer, 10/07/19, Cosmos)

Researchers have found an effective weapon for fighting anti-Muslim sentiment: our innate dislike of hypocrisy.

It seems most of us detest being exposed as hypocrites even more than we loathe groups we blame for acts of violence.

A study of more than 600 people in Spain has shown that many who harboured hostility towards Muslims softened their views when they were shown to be hypocritical, and that this effect lasted for at least a year.

The findings support the researchers' proposal that "collective blame hypocrisy intervention" is a useful tool for reducing animosity and violence between groups of people who blame each other for the world's ills.

Posted by orrinj at 12:49 PM


Sondland, key witness in Ukraine probe, blocked from testimony in midnight call (Michael Isikoff, 10/08/19,Yahoo News)

The State Department waited until 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday to tell U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to show up for his scheduled deposition with three House committees later that morning, the ambassador's lawyer told Yahoo News. [...]

"It is hard to overstate the significance" of Sondland's testimony as well as that of other State Department officials, said Schiff in a hastily called meeting with reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

"The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the functioning of a coequal branch of government."

There are literally no facts in dispute in this process.
Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Brutal new poll shows 3 in 10 Republicans support Trump impeachment push (The Week, 10/08/19)

A 58 percent majority of Americans say House Democrats were right to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and a 49 percent plurality say the House should vote to remove him from office, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Tuesday morning. [...]

[2]8 percent of Republicans said they support the House impeachment investigation -- a 21-point jump from a Washington Post/ABC News poll in July -- and 18 percent of Republicans want the House to "vote to remove Trump from office."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


RealClear Media Has a Secret Facebook Page to Push Far-Right Memes (Kevin Poulsen & Maxwell Tani, 10.07.19, Daily Beast)

The company behind the non-partisan news site RealClearPolitics has been secretly running a Facebook page filled with far-right memes and Islamophobic smears, The Daily Beast has learned.

Called "Conservative Country," the Facebook page was founded in 2014 and now boasts nearly 800,000 followers for its mix of Donald Trump hagiography and ultra-conservative memes. One recent post showed a man training two assault rifles at a closed door with the caption "Just sitting here waiting on Beto." Others wink at right-wing conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's "ties to Islam" or the Clintons having their enemies killed, or portray Muslim members of Congress as terrorist infiltrators. The page is effusive with praise for Vladimir Putin, and one post portrays Russia as the last bastion of freedom in Europe.

Everyone knows how to appeal to the Trump supporters.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Polls begin to signal rising impeachment threat to Trump (John Harwood, 10/07/19, CNBC)

Last week's Monmouth University poll showed signs of movement within a broader portrait of stability. Buoyed by backing from 86% of Republicans, Trump's approval rating remained unchanged: 41% of Americans approved of his job performance, 53% disapproved. At the same time, the share of Republicans backing a House impeachment inquiry doubled to 16% from 8% in August.

A CBS News poll found 23% of Republicans backing an impeachment probe. In a USA Today survey, 30% of Republicans called it "an abuse of power" for Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Even if they haven't broken with their party's president, those Republicans pose a particular danger to Trump, who once bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York without losing support.

"The willingness to hear this out is a sign that you're not a Fifth Avenue Republican," says GOP strategist Liam Donovan.

Others susceptible to change include the roughly 15% of voters who already disapprove of Trump but don't yet back impeachment. This group consists largely of political independents, with some Democrats and a smaller number of Republicans as well.

College-educated whites -- who disdain Trump but so far feel less strongly about impeaching him -- represent a special vulnerability. If House Democratic investigators can persuade wavering Republicans that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in return for a Biden investigation, observes GOP pollster Whit Ayres, "then it's a different ballgame."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Rep. Adam Schiff, Trump's Nemesis, Is 2-0 So Far on Impeachment (Fred Lucas, October 07, 2019, Daily Signal)

The California Democrat is 2-0 on the impeachment battlefield so far, after leading a panel that secured House impeachments of two federal judges in 2009 and 2010, respectively. One judge's ouster was completed over a month's time, while the process for the other took two years to wrap up. 

Schiff also led the prosecution team in the Senate trials, which saw one judge removed from office and the other resign before the trial got far. 

Only 15 federal judges in U.S. history have been impeached, and Schiff played a key role in two of those cases. 

Now, the congressman whose 28th Congressional District includes West Hollywood, Burbank, and parts of Pasadena is among the leading figures in what could be the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history: President Donald Trump for his interaction with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Evangelical Christian leaders are 'absolutely appalled' Trump would 'betray' Syria's Kurds (The Week, 10/07/19)

Pat Robertson, the 89-year-old host of 700 Club and an evangelical ally of Trump's, had maybe the most biting response. "I am absolutely appalled that the United States is going to betray those democratic in northern Syria, that we possibly are gonna allow the Turkish to come in against the Kurds," he said Monday.

Robertson called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "a thug" and criticized Saudi Arabia's leaders as well, but his focus was Trump. "The president who allowed [Jamal] Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks," he said. "And I believe -- and I want to say this with great solemnity -- the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen"

Fittingly, the mandate of heaven is Chinese, not Christian.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Book: Trump raged against refugees from Somalia in private meeting (Priscilla Alvarez, 10/07/19, CNN)

In the first few months of his administration, President Donald Trump asked then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke why he could not ban refugees from "f*****g Somalia" in a bout of rage at his Bedminster golf club.

The episode, detailed in the new book titled "Border Wars," reveals the President's belief that people from Somalia posed a danger to the US. Months earlier, Trump targeted foreign nationals coming to the US from eight countries, including Somalia, in his "travel ban" executive order.

"Both he and [Stephen] Miller seemed to have a particular dislike for Somalia, often citing it or its nationals when they spoke of the potential dangers of refugees and other immigrants," the book states.

They're black and Muslim.  Add female and you have the Right's pathological reaction to Ilhan Omar.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Jerry Falwell Jr. settles Miami court case over South Beach 'pool boy' venture (DOUGLAS HANKS, OCTOBER 07, 2019, Miami Herald)

In a federal court filing, Falwell and the young lawyer who sued him, Gordon Bello, said they have settled the case for an undisclosed "monetary sum" that Falwell, the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, will pay Bello, a legislative aide for the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Bello sued in 2017, claiming he was promised a stake in the South Beach hostel that a Falwell family entity purchased in 2013 for $4.7 million. Bello, 28, claims he and his father, Miami builder Jett Bello, pitched Falwell on the hostel idea after being introduced by Giancarlo Granda, a high school friend of the younger Bello's.

Granda had met Jerry and Rebecca Falwell while they were vacationing at the Fontainebleau and he was working as what the Bello lawsuit later described dismissively as a "pool boy."

Granda befriended the Falwells, flew with them on corporate jets and, in 2012, traveled to Liberty to meet a famous keynote speaker there: future president Donald Trump.