Re: Trump Committed Obstruction of Justice While in Office
This could get interesting.
Mueller's office, which seldom says anything about anything, put out a statement denying the BuzzFeed report that President Trump directed his attorney Cohen to lie to congress about Trump Tower - Moscow.
quote:“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller.
On the other hand, Buzzfeed is unyielding:
quote:Ben Smith, said, “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
I note that the Mueller statement DOES NOT SAY the BuzzFeed report is outright bogus but that its characterization of the documents and testimony are not accurate. That leaves open a wide swath of potential documentation and testimony that may somewhat support the BuzzFeed report if not in specifics.
Re: Trump Committed Obstruction of Justice While in Office
I'm going to have to walk this back. Late yesterday the special counsel's office issued a statement denying the BuzzFeed report:
quote:BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.
BuzzFeed says they stand by their report and has expressed uncertainty about which portions this denial refers to, but it seems pretty clear to me that the special counsel's office is saying that they do not have conclusive evidence that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The article was written by two respected journalists, one a Pulitzer Prize winner. Hopefully we'll hear more about this, but for now it looks like there's still no smoking gun.
If memory serves I've been reading George Will since the 1970's. I don't recall his opinion pieces from the Nixon era, so today's in the Washington Post (The shabbiest U.S. president ever is an inexpressibly sad specimen) is the most harsh I ever recall him writing. It's worth reading the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
quote:Half or a quarter of the way through this interesting experiment with an incessantly splenetic presidency, much of the nation has become accustomed to daily mortifications. Or has lost its capacity for embarrassment, which is even worse. ... Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made. His childlike ignorance â€” preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion â€” concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people, he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.
George may also have provided the so-far-unfound appropriate Trump sobriquet: Dotty Donald
He could also pull an LBJ and refuse to run for a 2nd term, or lose in the Republican primary.
As George Bush Sr. said (on The Simpsons), "I accomplished everything I wanted in my first term, so there was no need for a second." Trump is already the greatest President in history. I'm sure he could point at the wall today and his supporters would see it.
This is the way kidnappers work. Take away a loved one, then offer to give them back in return for something of value. Giving in to kidnappers' demands is the wrong approach. It only encourages them to do it again.
Trump doesn't yet understand that it's not his wall causing the stalemate but his approach. It is highly inadvisable to capitulate to blackmailers, extortionists and hostage takers, which is what Trump is. It only invites more of the same. If he wants to negotiate about a wall then he should reopen the government, which is one thing, and only then begin negotiations about the wall, which is another completely separate thing. He shouldn't hold the government hostage for his wall.
Once the government is reopened and open and honest negotiations have begun, it's important to note that it's unlikely that Democrats will agree to just a wall. They will agree to a variety of border security measures that could include some wall and that must include permanent DACA status.
Great negotiator - hah! No wonder 20 years of trying never resulted in a Trump Tower in Moscow. He can't even carry out successful negotiations with people trying to make him president.
Re: Trump Holds Salaries and DACA Hostage for Ransom
Let us also note that Trump has a reputation for not holding up his end of a deal, if he can get away with it.
He’s already reneged on promises to sign legislation - so giving in may only encourage him to refuse the deal and demand more.
Worse, once he has what he wants - funding for the wall - he is liable to go back on any promises he made to get agreement.
If Trump were a great - or even competent - negotiator he’d understand that making a deal isn’t about screwing over the other parties. Reputation is important. Screwing people over in one deal will make it harder to get future deals.
The Trump Border Patrol's inadequate and ultimately fatal efforts handling the humanitarian crisis on our southern border motivated members of No More Deaths to leave water and food in Cabeza Prieta, a protected 860,000-acre (equal to a 36-mile square area) refuge that cannot be entered without permits. They have just been convicted of federal crimes.
The four women testified that as a matter of conscience they could not ignore the significant loss of life in the desert and had to do something. They could be sentenced to as much as six months in federal prison.
While the pundits have been describing what Trump is doing in plain language, Democrats in Congress have been remarkably muted and circumspect in thier comments, but Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) finally spoke plainly:
quote:The principle at stake here is we cannot allow Donald Trump to use the harm of a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic. We cannot allow any party or any person to take our government as a hostage and extract a ransom.
And, of course, capitulating to Trump's ransom demands would only encourage him to use the tactic again and again.
Trump finally agreed to reopening the government for three weeks while talks continue on his demand for money for his border wall. The bill passed the Senate by voice vote, was approved by the House, and was sent to Trump for his signature. So as long as Ann Coulter doesn't get to Trump first, the government will be open by end-of-day.
However, not everybody will get back pay. Certainly, all government employees will get their back pay, but contractors and their workers won't (depending on the terms of their contracts. Nor will the businesses that have lost money because their regular customers couldn't buy anything. Furthermore, the federal workers' spending habits will undoubtedly change to only buy essentials while hoarding all the money they can into a reserve that they can draw from during the next shutdown, like in three weeks -- once bitten, twice shy.
That got me thinking and a question came up. Prison correctional officers have been having to work without pay, but what about the for-profit prisons? The payments to those contractors must be tied to the funding of actual federal prisons, so they shouldn't have been getting paid either, which would mean that the private correctional officers also weren't getting paid. Now with the return of funding, will those contractors get back pay? Will those private guards get pack pay? This is one case where what happens depends on the actual terms of their contracts.
But that leads us down another path. Some commentators (eg, Thom Hartman, I think) notice a right-wing agenda to privatize as many government functions as possible and attribute many of the Republican drives to destroy government to being for the purpose of bringing about their privatization agenda. There are some public services where awarding contracts to private companies makes sense (eg, sanitation, sewage and water treatment), but they need to be regulated properly such as through the terms of their contracts. Of course, the right-wing agendae also push for the elimination of government regulations, which would make privatization much more problematic.
In a world where government functions have been mostly privatized, what will happen to their employees during a future shutdown? If this most recent shutdown is any indication, they'll be screwed.