ON THE RECORD. . .
We have gone from Mexico paying for a wall that will never happen to American consumers paying up to 25 percent more for cars and avocados until Mexico solves a problem that nobody in the history of humanity has ever solved. -- Blake News@blakehounshell
If Acting Sec Def did not know ....then he is allowing political operatives in the White House to give orders to our military forces. This is a very dangerous event for our democracy. — Barry R McCaffrey@mccaffreyr3 about the White House wanting the U.S. Navy to move “out of sight” the warship USS John S. McCain ahead of President Trump’s visit to Japan,
“I think that the standards have slipped dramatically and there’s no earthly way President Obama could have gotten away with any of this. Not just the words and the content, but just the policy reversals and what we’re doing to the fabric of our country.” — Former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett saying that Barack Obama would have been impeached in “a nanosecond” if he behaved like President Trump.
“I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on February 12, 1999.
“Look at what we are trying to do. This is actually a brilliant move by the president to get Mexico’s attention, to get them to help us, because so far they have just been standing by.” — Peter Navarro, a White House economic advisor, told CNBC earlier Friday that Trump’s threat of new tariffs came in response to Mexico’s “export” of “illegal aliens.”
“I’m, frankly, exhausted by the private misgivings. People need to speak out. I think what we knew, implicitly, was that courage is contagious. But what we didn’t realize is that cowardice is also contagious. I think there’s been an epidemic of cowardice in the GOP. This president doesn’t stand for anything that the Republican Party said it stood for.” — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)
“Hypocrisy is McTurtle’s middle name. And his first and last name too. What a flagrant dickhead!” — Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe hitting out at Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Twitter after the GOP Senate Majority Leader revealed he would seek to fill any Supreme Court vacancy in 2020.
The president claiming the FBI’s investigation was “TREASON“ reminds me that a Russian once said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” That shouldn’t happen in America. Who will stand up?-- James Comey@Comey
“I was an artillery officer, and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians. Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So, do I get judged too?” — Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
“We have to recognize the reality that one party, the Republican Party, has turned itself into a cult of the president’s personality and is not likely to act consistent with its constitutional obligations. — House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)
“President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years. — Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.
“The fact some 23- or 24-year-old person went to that site and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s the John McCain, we all know how the president feels about the former senator, that’s not the best backdrop, can somebody look into moving it? That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.” — Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
“A country comprised of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees — that’s our story, and we lose that story at our peril. It has allowed us to become the greatest country in the world today, and we will lose that place of pride if we lose our way and our ability to continue to be this land of immigrants.” — Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke
“Sadiq Khan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me…….Kahn [sic] reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height.” — Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump, making friends wherever he goes.
“We live in a society where homosexuals lecture us on morals, transvestites lecture us on human biology, baby killers lecture us on human rights and socialists lecture us on economics! The only way to change it would be to kill the problem out. I know it’s bad to say but without killing them out there’s no way to fix it.” — Mayor Mark Chamber (R), mayor of Carbon Hill, a small Alabama town.
“Trump sounded delusional when he said there were thousands welcoming him in London. I didn't see them. And that small crowds of protestors were put out for political reasons. These not are some frog marched, bussed in protesters.” — Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, tweet
"Trump said that Britain is the United States' biggest trade partner, a fact he then claimed that many people do not know. (China was actually the United States' largest trading partner in 2018. Britain was No. 7.)” — CNN’s Brian Stelter
Trump calls for a boycott of CNN’s parent company, after trying to block their merger.
He wanted to raise postal rates on Amazon because Bezos owns the Post
It's one thing to complain about the press.
Using state power to censor them is another. In fact, it’s unconstitutional. — Adam Schiff@AdamSchiff
“Make no mistake, we know exactly what path we’re on. We know exactly what actions we need to take.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to those who criticize her reluctance to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
“I heard there were protests. I said, ‘Where are the protests?’ I don’t see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came — very small. So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say.” -- Trump, instead of recognizing the British public’s expressions of anger, which included a 20-foot-tall, diaper-clad ‘Trump baby’ blimp flying above Parliament Square, the 45th president has adopted a different tactic — denial.
"If the totally Corrupt Media was less corrupt, I would be up by 15 points in the polls based on our tremendous success with the economy, maybe Best Ever! If the Corrupt Media was actually fair, I would be up by 25 points. Nevertheless, despite the Fake News, we’re doing great!” — Trump, already planting the seeds to blame the media if he loses in 2020.
“Here’s the thing, I’m not even sure it happened — first of all, I didn’t know anything about it. But I’m not even sure it happened. Somebody said they’re painting the ship and they have the tarpaulins and they’re painting the ship. And they have tarpaulins all over the place. I have no idea if it happened, or not. I hear it’s fake news. But maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.” — President Trump said he’s “not even sure” his advance team requested that the USS John McCain be kept out of sight during his recent visit to Japan — a request the military has confirmed it received from the White House.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Satire by Andy Borowitz: Queen Elizabeth Says Bone Spurs Will Prevent Her from Meeting Trump
Queen Elizabeth II has cancelled a scheduled Friday meeting with Donald J. Trump after complaining of a “flare-up of bone spurs,” Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
The announcement took many royal watchers by surprise, because in her sixty-six-year reign the Queen had never before complained of bone spurs.
But, according to the Queen’s spokesman, Peter Rhys-Willington, Elizabeth had intentionally kept her chronic bone-spur condition a closely guarded secret until now. “Her Majesty is a very brave woman, and has not wanted to unnecessarily worry her subjects,” Rhys-Willington said. “And so, for decades, she has suffered in silence.”
The Queen referred to her bone spurs obliquely in an official statement issued on Thursday. “We are sorry to have to cancel the engagement, but we feared that meeting Donald Trump would be most painful,” the Queen’s statement read. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/
2. Watchdog finds detainees 'standing on toilets' for breathing room at border facility holding 900 people in space meant for 125
The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General has found "dangerous overcrowding" and unsanitary conditions at an El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol processing facility following an unannounced inspection, according to a new report.
The IG found "standing room only conditions" at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center, which has a maximum capacity of 125 migrants. On May 7 and 8, logs indicated that there were "approximately 750 and 900 detainees, respectively."
"We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets," the report states. The report was first obtained by CNN.
A cell with a maximum capacity of 12 held 76 detainees, another with a maximum capacity of eight held 41, and another with a maximum capacity of 35 held 155, according to the report.
"(Customs and Border Protection) was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells. With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks," the report states. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/31/politics/inspector-general-warns-overcrowded-conditions/
3. Trump’s Newest Tariff Threat Ripples Across 2020 Battlegrounds
The economic damage of U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods would tear through battleground states that President Donald Trump needs to win re-election, hurting the auto industry in Michigan and Ohio, dairy farmers in Wisconsin and grain and hog farmers in Iowa and North Carolina.
Retaliation by Mexico is virtually certain to strike Trump’s political base in rural America. Farmers are already under strain from ongoing trade wars, low commodity prices, and natural disasters including spring flooding across the Midwest.
Chris Kolstad, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates, a grower-financed group that promotes exports, and a wheat farmer from Ledger, Montana, compared the potential fallout to “struggling to survive a flood then getting hit by a tornado.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-01/trump-s-newest-tariff-threat-ripples-across-2020-battlegrounds
4. New Democratic Debate Rules Will Distort Priorities, Some Campaigns Say
The Democratic Party’s new directive that candidates must have at least 130,000 donors to qualify for the third primary debate in September arrived virtually without warning on Wednesday morning, and immediately sent shock waves through presidential campaigns worried that it would distort their priorities and affect the way they operate.
Two-thirds of the sprawling field of 23 candidates are probably at risk of falling short of that threshold, and news of the more stringent rules set off a flurry of frustrated early-morning text messages, emails, calls and meetings as campaigns reassessed the path forward, according to multiple 2020 campaign officials. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/30/us/politics/democratic-debate-rules.html
5. Trump Taunted by Projections on London Landmarks
6. Trump Has Ceded the Middle. Can Democrats Grab It?
The age-old debate over whether it is better to nominate a candidate who can motivate the party base or one who reaches into the middle, appealing to independent and other swing voters, is presenting a choice of walking or chewing gum—you have to do both. Where these things come into conflict is that the issues that most motivate the base, whether within the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, are often ones that grate on the nonideological, or at least less ideology-driven, voters in the middle.
Trump has clearly picked the base-motivation model, effectively conceding the middle ground to Democrats—if they choose to take it. https://cookpolitical.com/analysis/national/national-politics/trump-has-ceded-middle-can-democrats-grab-it
7. Fact-checking Trump's flurry of falsehoods and lies after Mueller declined to exonerate him
One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings.
Over a few hours Thursday morning, Trump spread at least 21 lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller's findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced when grappling with the possibility of a President who broke the law. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/30/politics/fact-checking-trump-mueller-claims/index.html
8. Paul Manafort officially forfeits Trump Tower condo to U.S. government
A federal judge has signed off on a forfeiture order for President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort to hand over his Trump Tower condo on Fifth Avenue to the U.S. government, according to court documents filed Thursday. https://www.axios.com/paul-manafort-trump-tower-condo-mueller-investigation-0cdfffa6-c8e4-45c5-bb30-dffda895a82b.html
9. Trump Faces a Rocky Road to 270
Trump is stuck on 259 electoral votes, and his campaign is trying to scheme any way possible to get him back to a majority.
That’s the takeaway from a new Politico story outlining the Trump campaign’s intent to target three Democratic-leaning states—New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada—as part of its battleground state strategy.”
On paper, it looks like the campaign is going on offense in states that should be solidly in the Democratic corner. In reality, it’s a concession that the traditionally Democratic Rust Belt states that fell to Trump in 2016—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan—are turning away from the polarizing president, and he may need to look elsewhere to make up that ground. If he fails to breach that ‘blue wall’ again but holds the other swing states, Trump will still need 11 additional electoral votes to prevail. https://www.nationaljournal.com/s/679272?unlock=W830KZVNQPQYBRY
10. From the Late Shows
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: The Trumps Go On A Royal Field Trip: https://youtu.be/CK-Mvv6UCag
Trump Hits the U.K., Beefs with London’s Mayor & Gets Negged by Buckingham Palace | The Daily Show: https://youtu.be/LqaRqLjLxTA
11. Senator Wyden threatens to hold nominees over Trump tax return defiance
Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, had pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter this month about the administration’s handling of House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal’s request for Trump’s returns. He said Thursday that the department’s response — which came not from Mnuchin, but from Justin Sok of Treasury’s legislative affairs office — was “unresponsive and wholly unacceptable.”
“If the Treasury Department refuses to answer our questions, I am prepared to again place a hold on department nominees as I did previously when routine requests for information went unanswered,” the Oregon Democrat added. “Congress needs to take action to force the administration to comply with oversight.” https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/30/wyden-threatens-nominee-holds-over-tax-return-response-1489740
12. Merkel Believes Germany Can Not Rely on the U.S.
German chancellor was asleep in her government plane somewhere over the Atlantic in June last year when Donald Trump scuttled the fragile settlement she’d built with other Group of Seven leaders in Canada, according to a person familiar with the events.
Merkel has faced a barrage of attacks since Trump took office -- over German luxury cars, defense spending, Iran, Russian gas, and doing business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co. But it was the rupture after last June’s G-7 meeting that made up her mind: Trump is not a partner that Germany can rely on.
Almost 12 months on, the situation has only gotten worse. There’s a mix of anguish and frustration in Berlin and officials are asking themselves whether the relationship has already crossed the point of no return.
Even if Trump loses in 2020, they say the trust that underpinned the transatlantic friendship for seven decades may be gone for good. Germany has already started building new alliances that will safeguard its interests in a world where the U.S. won’t. And some of them are not to Washington’s liking. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-30/the-moment-merkel-realized-trump-changes-everything-for-germany
13. Oops: GOP Docs Reveal Census Questions Were Designed To Help White Republicans
In a blow to the Commerce Department’s claim that asking about citizenship status on the U.S. census is not at all politically motivated, several lawyers have produced evidence that the endeavor was concocted by a Republican strategist. Files found on the hard drives of the late Thomas Hofeller, the “Michelangelo” of gerrymandering, reveal he pushed the Trump administration to make the citizenship question, a first in census history, a key policy goal. Per the documents, he also personally drafted a letter on behalf of Commerce and DOJ officials arguing that adding a citizenship question upheld the Voting Rights Act. And perhaps most damning of all, in conjunction with the results of a 2015 study he conducted for a Republican mega-donor, he explicitly noted that the question “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/census-citizenship-question-republican-gerrymandering
14. The DAILY GRILL
“Mueller has spent two and half years, and the fact is, there is no evidence of a conspiracy,” he says. “So it was bogus, this whole idea that the Trump was in cahoots with the Russians is bogus.” — Attorney General Barr, contradicting Mueller’s findings with regard to Trump’s ties to Russia.
Mueller was unable to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia in part, because “some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right,” or “provided information that was false or incomplete,” or “deleted relevant communications.” Indeed, the two Trump campaign officials most closely linked to Russian cutouts, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, refused to cooperate with prosecutors. A failure to establish a criminal conspiracy is not the same thing as finding “no evidence of a conspiracy.” Nowhere does the Mueller report say there’s no evidence of a conspiracy. Some of the potential conspiracy elements were unprovable — Mueller never figured out why Manafort gave 75 pages of polling data to a Russian agent. -- Jonathan Chait
"Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected .... Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing. That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No! -- Trump in a pair of tweets sent during his trip to Japan.
Trump's criticisms of Biden are undercut by positions he took in his 2000 book "The America We Deserve." Trump wrote in the book that he supported tougher sentencing and street policing and warned of "wolf packs" of young criminals roaming the streets, citing since-discredited statistical analysis that was linked to the "super predator" crime theory.
15. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
Laura Ingraham defends white supremacist Paul Nehlen as one of the "prominent voices censored on social media.” Nehlen has publicly stated that a "race war" needs to be "kick[ed] off" in the U.S. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/05/30/laura-ingraham-defends-white-supremacist-paul-nehlen-one-prominent-voices-censored-social-media/223840
Hannity guest John Solomon: "Linguistic experts have told me it didn't look like Bob Mueller was reading his own words.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/05/31/hannity-guest-john-solomon-linguistic-experts-have-told-me-it-didnt-look-bob-mueller-was-reading-his/223845
Laura Ingraham's history of promoting hate and white supremacy. YouTube video
Fox contributor calls for mass deportation of "over 100,000 family units.” Tom Homan: "Over 100,000 family units with final orders been ordered removed by the immigration judge. We need to seek them out and return them to their homeland.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/05/31/fox-contributor-calls-mass-deportation-over-100000-family-units/223841
In terms of Trump and obstruction of justice, compare what was said on Fox with what Robert Mueller said. VIDEO https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/05/29/terms-trump-and-obstruction-justice-compare-what-was-said-fox-what-robert-mueller-said/223816
Tucker Carlson: Mexico is a "hostile foreign power" and America "must strike back.” Carlson: "When the United States is attacked by a hostile foreign power it must strike back. And make no mistake Mexico is a hostile foreign power.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/05/31/tucker-carlson-mexico-hostile-foreign-power-and-america-must-strike-back/223846
How Fox News is downplaying the anti-Trump UK protests during his state visit. Fox claims "a lot of those demonstrations will also include pro-Trump folks.” https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/06/03/how-fox-news-downplaying-anti-trump-uk-protests-during-his-state-visit/223851
16. Kushner Questions Whether Palestinians Can Govern Themselves
Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview that the Palestinians aren’t yet able to govern themselves and declined to promise them an independent state in the White House’s long-awaited Mideast peace plan.
“The hope is that they over time will become capable of governing,” Kushner said in an interview with Axios on HBO that aired on Sunday. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-03/kushner-questions-whether-palestinians-can-govern-themselves
17. Supreme Court rejects Trump request to fast track decision on DACA case
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to fast track a decision on whether it will hear a case over the president's rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The justices, in an unsigned order, denied the request, which was filed on behalf of the administration last month to expedite a decision on whether to review the case. https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/446672-supreme-court-rejects-trump-admin-request-to-fast-track-decision-on
18. House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Mueller report
The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it would hold a series of hearings on the Mueller report beginning on June 10, with a session focused on "President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction," according to Chairman Jerry Nadler.
Amid growing calls to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, House Democratic leaders are instead opting to continue holding hearings under the umbrella of standard congressional oversight. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on Sunday that he believes impeachment proceedings will begin at some point, but that Democrats must first "do what's necessary to educate the public" on Trump's alleged corruption.
The first hearing will be titled, "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes," and will feature former White House counsel John Dean, whose cooperation in the Watergate scandal famously made him a star witness against President Richard Nixon. The hearing will also feature former U.S. attorneys and other legal experts. https://www.axios.com/house-judiciary-committee-mueller-report-john-dean-3eed2f15-f023-4272-8a3d-e023242b7b54.html
19. House passes immigration bill to protect ‘dreamers,’ offer a path to citizenship
The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children.
The vote was 237 to 187 for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would grant dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-poised-to-pass-immigration-bill-that-would-protect-dreamers/2019/06/04/bac5cf98-86d7-11e9-a491-25df61c78dc4_story.html
20. The 20 Democrats Who Have Qualified for the Debates
The DNC has said that no more than 20 candidates will be allowed onstage during the back-to-back debates on June 26 and 27, hosted by NBC News in Miami. But with more than a week to go until the qualification deadline, another one or two candidates could still qualify, meaning someone who met at least one of the DNC’s two criteria could be left out.
According to a POLITICO analysis, candidates to qualify for the debates are Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/04/michael-bennet-polling-criteria-2020-debates-1352729
21. The 2020 campaigns aren't ready for deepfakes
The 2020 presidential campaigns appear to have done little to prepare for what experts predict could be a flood of fake videos depicting candidates doing or saying something incriminating or embarrassing,.
“The recent manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was just a taste of what could lie ahead. Fake video has the potential to sow huge political chaos, and countering it is wildly difficult. And right now, no one can agree who’s responsible for countering it. https://www.axios.com/2020-campaigns-arent-ready-for-deepfakes-a1506e77-6914-4e24-b2d1-0c69b6e22162.html
22. Campaign Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower
With commercial tenants fleeing his Trump Tower, President Donald Trump continues to spend $37,500 a month of campaign money for office space there — with some of that cash destined for his own wallet ― even as thousands of square feet go unused at a newly opened office in northern Virginia.
No more than “four or five” campaign staffers work at Trump’s Manhattan base, according to an informal adviser close to the White House, where the campaign rents a few thousand square feet as its “headquarters.” The per-square-foot cost is likely at least triple what the Republican National Committee pays for the much larger space it shares with the campaign in Arlington, according to a HuffPost analysis. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-tower-campaign_n_5cf572e2e4b0e346ce82d3eb
23. Poor Americans likely to be hit hardest by new US tariffs
A 2017 research paper co-authored by Shambaugh found that tariffs would eat up a greater proportion of the incomes of the bottom 10% of households. The burden would be much lighter for those higher up on the financial ladder.
The findings — which are backed by most economists — stand in sharp contrast to Trump’s misleading claim that foreign countries are paying the tariffs. In reality, the taxes are passed along to consumers and companies in the form of higher prices and reduced economic activity that can stifle overall growth. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/poor-americans-likely-to-be-hit-hardest-by-new-us-tariffs/2019/06/04/57c957c0-86eb-11e9-9d73-e2ba6bbf1b9b_story.html
24.Trump says he "would've been honored" to serve in Vietnam War
Donald Trump has said he “would not have minded” at all serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, CBS News reports. Mr. Trump avoided the U.S. military draft in place during the war by getting a medical deferment for bone spurs.
Said Trump: “I would not have minded that at all. I would’ve been honored, but I think I make up for it right now. I think I’m making up for it rapidly because we’re rebuilding our military at a level that it’s never seen before.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-says-honored-serve-vietnam-war-us-military-medical-deferment-bone-spurs-piers-morgan/
25. Russia's manipulation of Twitter was far vaster than believed
Russia's infamous troll farm conducted a campaign on Twitter before the 2016 elections that was larger, more coordinated and more effective than previously known, research from cybersecurity firm Symantec out Wednesday concluded.
The Internet Research Agency campaign may not only have had more sway — reaching large numbers of real users — than previously thought, it also demonstrated ample patience and might have generated income for some of the phony accounts, Symantec found.
One expert said much of the information released by Symantec wasn't new, but underlined that those planning disinformation campaigns have been working on continuous, persistent attempts to distort public opinion. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/05/study-russia-cybersecurity-twitter-1353543
26. New York offers up Trump’s state tax returns — but one lawmaker stands in the way
House Democrats clamoring for Donald Trump’s tax information have eagerly awaited a newly passed New York law allowing limited access to the president’s state returns.
They’re about to be sorely disappointed.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal would be the only Democrat allowed by the new law to ask for the documents, but so far he has said he won’t do it. https://www.accountingtoday.com/articles/new-york-offers-up-trumps-state-tax-returns-but-one-lawmaker-stands-in-the-way
1. Robert De Niro: Robert Mueller, We Need to Hear More
You said that your investigation’s work “speaks for itself.” It doesn’t.
The country needs to hear your voice. Your actual voice. And not just because you don’t want them to think that your actual voice sounds like Robert De Niro reading from cue cards, but because this is the report your country asked you to do, and now you must give it authority and clarity without, if I may use the term, obstruction.
We’ve learned our lesson about what can happen to the perception of your work when interpreted in rabid tweets by the president, dissected by pundits all over the map, trumpeted in bizarre terms by the president’s absurd personal lawyer and distorted by the attorney general.
And if, in fact, you have nothing further to say about the investigation, for your public testimony, you could just read from the report in response to questions from members of Congress. Your life has been a shining example of bravely and selflessly doing things for the good of our country. I urge you to leave your comfort zone and do that again.
You are the voice of the Mueller report. Let the country hear that voice.
With great respect,
2. Paul Krugman: Trump Makes America Irresponsible Again
Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on Mexican exports unless our neighbor does something — he hasn’t specified what — to stop the flow of asylum-seekers is almost surely illegal: U.S. trade law gives presidents discretion to impose tariffs for a number of reasons, but curbing immigration isn’t one of them.
It’s also a clear violation of U.S. international agreements. And it will reduce the living standards of most Americans, destroy many jobs in U.S. manufacturing, and hurt farmers.
But there’s more. By deploying tariffs as a bludgeon against whatever he doesn’t like, Trump is returning America to the kind of irresponsibility it displayed after World War I — irresponsibility that, while obviously not the sole or even the main cause of the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and the eventual coming of World War II, helped create the environment for these disasters. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/opinion/trump-tariffs.html
3. David Brooks: The Coming G.O.P. Apocalypse
For much of the 20th century, young and old people voted pretty similarly. The defining gaps in our recent politics have been the gender gap (women preferring Democrats) and the education gap. But now the generation gap is back, with a vengeance.
This is most immediately evident in the way Democrats are sorting themselves in their early primary preferences. A Democratic voter’s race, sex or education level doesn’t predict which candidate he or she is leaning toward, but age does.
In one early New Hampshire poll, Joe Biden won 39 percent of the vote of those over 55, but just 22 percent of those under 35, trailing Bernie Sanders. Similarly, in an early Iowa poll, Biden won 41 percent of the oldster vote, but just 17 percent of the young adult vote, placing third, behind Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
As Ronald Brownstein pointed out in The Atlantic, older Democrats prefer a more moderate candidate who they think can win. Younger Democrats prefer a more progressive candidate who they think can bring systemic change.
The generation gap is even more powerful when it comes to Republicans. To put it bluntly, young adults hate them. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/opinion/republicans-generation-gap.html
4. Jonathan Chait: Conservatives Stunned by Mueller Suggesting Trump Is Not Innocent
Mueller produced massive evidence that President Trump committed Nixonian-scale obstruction of justice in office. But Department of Justice policy prevented him from charging a sitting president with a crime, and Mueller reportedly believes he can’t openly state that this policy prevented him from accusing Trump of crimes. Mueller views his job as sending his evidence to Congress without prejudice, where the impeachment mechanism serves as a substitute for the jury trial that such crimes would normally call for.
Trump, William Barr, and the Republican Party followed a strategy of systematically lying about this. Barr repeatedly suggested that Mueller, rather than being unable to charge Trump with crimes, simply didn’t have enough evidence of misconduct to make up his mind. By all indications, the conservative intelligentsia has failed to read the report and believes the misleading spin emanating from the president and his loyal attorney general.
Shortly after Mueller finished speaking, National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke complained, “Investigators are supposed to look for evidence that a crime was committed, and, if they don’t find enough to contend that a crime was committed, they are supposed to say ‘We didn’t find enough to contend that a crime was committed’ … If a person doesn’t have enough evidence that someone committed a crime to contend that a crime was committed, he is obliged to presume his innocence.”
Of course. But the explanation for this apparent paradox, which apparently hasn’t crossed Cooke’s mind, is that Mueller does have evidence that Trump committed crimes. Pages and pages and pages of evidence, in fact.
And as silly and basic as his error may be, fellow conservatives followed the same fundamentally mistaken premise. “By implying that President Trump might have committed obstruction of justice, Mueller effectively invited Democrats to institute impeachment proceedings,” writes a stunned Alan Dershowitz. “Obstruction of justice is a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ which, under the Constitution, authorizes impeachment and removal of the president.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/conservatives-stunned-by-mueller-implying-trump-not-innocent.html
5. William S. Cohen: When will the Republican silence on Trump end?
When one talks privately to some Republican members about a president who lurches from tweet to taunt; who, according to those who have worked closely beside him, is incapable of telling the truth even in mundane situations; who accepts the word of Vladimir Putin and rejects the unanimous judgment of our intelligence community that Russia launched a cyberattack at the very heart of our democracy; and whose toxic combination of egotism and insecurity distorts the basic process of governing, they express their disdain and even alarm at how he conducts the nation’s affairs.
Yet, the same members are reluctant to speak out publicly even in the face of behavior they would find intolerable by any previous occupant of the Oval Office.
Fear is a potent weapon. Today, Trump uses the accelerant of social media to rally and stir the passions of his supporters, even with information that is patently false. Technology’s ubiquity, speed and power, and other profound changes, make this a more complex time than the Watergate era was.
But Congress should not turn away from the central issue of whether Trump has, in word and deed, engaged in conduct that is fundamentally inconsistent with, and antithetical to, the highest office in the land.
If Congress cannot secure the cooperation of executive branch officials in the exercise of its oversight responsibilities, it will have no choice but to enter the temple and remove the fabled sword. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/29/when-will-republican-silence-trump-end/
6. Jonathan Chait: In Terrifying Interview, William Barr Goes Full MAGA
After the legal Establishment had granted him the benefit of the doubt, Attorney General William Barr has shocked his erstwhile supporters with his aggressive and frequently dishonest interventions on behalf of President Trump. The spectacle of an esteemed lawyer abetting his would-be strongman boss’s every authoritarian instinct has left Barr’s critics grasping for explanations. Some have seized on the darker threads of his history in the Reagan and Bush administrations, when he misled the public about a secret Department of Justice memo and helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal.
But Barr’s long, detailed interview with Jan Crawford suggests the rot goes much deeper than a simple mania for untrammeled Executive power. Barr has drunk deep from the Fox News worldview of Trumpian paranoia.
As far as Barr is concerned, Trump has done nothing wrong, and all the shredding of norms has been done against him, not by him. Trump’s calls to jail all his opponents, his non-stop lies, his demands to punish independent media and satirists, his open conviction that law enforcement should operate at his personal command and follow him loyally, not to mention the repeated obstruction of justice detailed by Mueller — none of it concerns Barr even slightly.
Everything Barr has said and done during this investigation tells us he is not lying about this belief. The terrifying truth is that he all but surely believes every word. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/william-barr-interview-cbs-mueller-coup-trump.html
7. Catherine Rampell: Just a few of the reasons that Trump’s Mexico tariffs are deeply stupid
Amid calls for impeachment, a persistently underwater approval rating, subpoenas for financial records and an ever-growing list of scandals, the strong economy is pretty much the only thing President Trump has going for him right now. It’s his best shot at reelection.
And for some reason he seems keen on destroying it.
On Thursday evening the Trump administration announced that it would impose a new 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports, ratcheting up in increments to 25 percent by Oct. 1. This is allegedly to pressure Mexico to stop the flow of immigrants coming to the United States.
This decision is so mind-bogglingly stupid, it’s hard to keep track of all the reasons it’s dumb. For a few go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/31/just-few-reasons-that-trumps-mexico-tariffs-are-deeply-stupid/
8. Michael Bloomberg: Stop Trump on Trade
President Donald Trump’s approach to trade policy had set new benchmarks of incoherence and irresponsibility even before his threat to impose escalating tariffs on imports from Mexico — but this latest maneuver takes the cake. The administration plans to harm businesses north and south of the border, and to impose additional new taxes on U.S. consumers, not to remedy a real or imagined trade grievance but to force Mexico to curb migration to the U.S.
This is a radical and disturbing development. The administration is invoking a law that allows it to impose emergency economic sanctions. It’s safe to say that Congress never envisaged that those powers would be used in a case like this.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who has supported many of Trump’s previous moves on immigration, said it plainly: “This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent.” It’s also, by the way, a straightforward violation of U.S. commitments under existing trade treaties. In effect, even the pretense that the U.S. is adhering to a legitimate, rule-bound trade policy has been all but abandoned.
And the message it sends to Canada, China, the European Union and other U.S. trading partners is wholly counterproductive. Negotiations on the deal Trump proposed as a successor to Nafta have only recently concluded; his earlier tariffs on Mexican steel were lifted just days ago. This new threat has nothing to do with those matters, U.S. officials explained: It’s about immigration, not trade. What are other governments to make of such a claim? They’re bound to wonder why they should ever enter into good-faith commitments with such an erratic and unreliable administration. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-05-31/mexico-tariffs-trump-s-latest-move-on-trade-is-dangerous
9. Robert J. Samuelson: There is a sheer nastiness to Trump’s Mexico tariffs
President Trump’s latest foray into trade policy is notable for its economic recklessness (it could tip Mexico into a recession, followed perhaps by the United States), its gratuitous insults of a close ally (Mexico) and its rank opportunism. (It would shift power to the White House from Congress.)
For anyone who missed Trump’s announcement, here’s a summary. The president said he would impose a 5 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico ($372 billion in 2018) unless it halted illegal immigration by June 10. It would add another 5 percent every month that the demand was not met until the tariff hit 25 percent.
The timing of Trump’s policy is especially offensive. Earlier, Mexico, Canada and the United States had negotiated a successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the new arrangement is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexico and Canada were preparing to ratify their agreements; the Trump administration was trying to assemble the necessary support.
The betrayal resembles a marriage in which one of the betrothed doesn’t show up for the wedding. “Unless the Congress intervenes or Trump changes his mind, the new USMCA is dead,” wrote Edward Alden, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a blog post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/there-is-a-sheer-nastiness-to-trumps-mexico-tariffs/2019/06/05/4cdfa6fa-87ab-11e9-a870-b9c411dc4312_story.html
10. David Ignatius: Mueller went out like a lamb when the country needed a lion
What happens when one side in a dispute plays carefully by the rules and the other side repeatedly lies, threatens and intimidates? Too often, we know, the tough guys win.
That’s what troubles me most at the end of this week, when Robert S. Mueller III resigned from the Justice Department and ended his mission as special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller was a supremely responsible public servant — to a fault — and he’s getting trashed by President Trump anyway.
Mueller went out like a lamb in his remarks Wednesday, when the country needed a lion. He was so polite and deferential, so insistent on following Justice Department rules limiting his actions that, in practical terms, he ceded the ground to Trump and his apologists.
In addressing questions central to how the United States will maintain the rule of law during Trump’s presidency, Mueller was coy. His language was maddeningly indirect — almost deliberately obtuse.
On the evidence he had gathered about obstruction of justice: “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” On the path of impeachment (as opposed to the criminal indictment that Mueller felt was proscribed by DOJ policy):
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal-justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
What could Mueller have said instead? Based on his report, he could have stated: In at least four instances, Trump’s conduct appeared to meet the three-level standard that prosecutors use in weighing whether an obstruction of justice charge is warranted.
Based on his reading of the Constitution, he could have said: Because a president cannot be indicted, the special counsel’s evidence should be referred to the House of Representatives, which under the Constitution is charged with weighing evidence of presidential “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
At a minimum, Mueller could in his farewell have paraphrased this memorable statement from his report: “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
But he didn’t say anything so clear or direct. Historians will puzzle over why. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/31/mueller-went-out-like-lamb-when-country-needed-lion/
11. Toluse Olorunnipa: Shutdowns, emergencies and tariffs: Trump’s frenetic immigration approach has become central to his 2020 bid
Trump has shut down the government, declared a national emergency over his proposed border wall, threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border, cut off funding for Northern Triangle countries, sent additional troops to the border, fired his top immigration officials, selected an immigration “czar,” pitched an overhaul of the legal immigration system and called for releasing immigrant detainees into so-called sanctuary cities.
On Thursday, he ratcheted up the pressure again by threatening to slap tariffs as high as 25 percent on all goods imported from Mexico — a move that risks harming the economy and undermining a trade deal he had been championing as a potential legislative achievement under divided government.
The wave of border policies flowing from the White House offers a clear signal that Trump’s reelection bid is likely to focus on immigration more than any other topic — a cause that animates his base but also highlights his failure to contain the flow of Central American migrants coming to the United States in record numbers. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/shutdowns-emergencies-and-tariffs-trumps-frenetic-immigration-approach-has-become-central-to-his-2020-bid/2019/06/02/23384870-83d7-11e9-95a9-e2c830afe24f_story.html
12. Ian Prasad Philbrick: The Articles of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump: A Draft
Calls for President Trump’s impeachment are getting louder. Since the release of Robert Mueller’s report, White House stonewalling of congressional subpoenas and Mr. Mueller’s first public comments, almost 60 House Democrats, a quarter of the caucus, have said they support an impeachment inquiry.
If Democrats do move to impeach Mr. Trump, the articles of impeachment drafted against past presidents will probably guide them. The Constitution leaves “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the term that describes impeachable offenses, vague, notes the historian Timothy Naftali, a co-writer of a recent book on impeachment. “So if you are doing your constitutional duty as an elected member of Congress, how do you define high crimes and misdemeanors?” he asked. “One of the ways you do it is by looking at past practice.”
What might impeachment articles against Mr. Trump look like? To find out, we reviewed the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Then we edited them — by removing and adding passages — to match the president’s conduct as described in the Mueller report and elsewhere.
Impeachment is often said to be a political process. But when you assess Mr. Trump’s conduct by the bar for impeachment set by past Democratic and Republican lawmakers for past presidents of both parties, the results are striking. The pathway to a possible Trump impeachment is already mapped out in these historical documents. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/05/opinion/impeachment-trump-democrats-nixon-clinton.html
13. Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck: How Donald Trump for years used the royal family to gin up publicity for his properties
President Donald Trump was all smiles on Monday as he attended a state dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. But the royal family has for years batted back stories that its members were looking into or joining Trump's properties -- stories that, according to multiple biographies of Trump, were spread by the real-estate developer himself.
Between 1981 and 1995, multiple claims that members of the British Royal family were joining Trump properties filled New York tabloids and national papers according to a CNN K File review of archival papers, audio, and books about the then-real estate developer. All of them were unequivocally shot down by Buckingham Palace.
One such instance occurred in the lead up to the Trump Tower's February 1983 opening, when a persistent rumor kept appearing that Prince Charles and his then-new wife Diana were looking at buying an apartment in the building.
The claim generated significant publicity for Trump Tower, which the then-36-year-old real estate developer Trump hoped would be his signature building. But it wasn't true, and the source of the misinformation, according to four biographies, was Trump himself. https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/05/politics/kfile-royals-trump/
14. Amanda Marcotte: Censure rather than impeach? Hell no, Democrats — that's inexcusable cowardice
Let's cut to the chase: Censure is a uniquely stupid idea. Censuring Trump instead of impeaching him might actually be worse than doing nothing at all to hold him accountable.
It's beyond me how anyone could have watched Trump's public antics for the past decade and think he's concerned about his "permanent record." He is definitely obsessed with fame and glory, but he obviously has no interest in being venerated for his strong moral character. Like most hardcore narcissists, he appears to have little interest in the question of how he'll be perceived once he's gone.
The two main reasons to impeach, in other words, are these: 1) It will make the Democrats look like they are boldly holding Trump accountable while Republicans continue to cover up for his crimes. 2) It will help Americans outside the Trump fan base — who largely did not read the Mueller report but might well watch impeachment hearings — understand how serious Trump's likely crimes are.
Censure, on the other hand, will accomplish neither of these things, while still giving Trump opportunities to play the victim to his Republican base.
On the contrary, the president — who obsesses constantly over "winners" and "losers" — has been quite clear that he would like to be seen as ruthless in his quest for domination. He glories in cheating and breaking the law, proud to demonstrate that he is untouched by the petty moral and legal concerns of mere mortals. https://www.salon.com/2019/06/04/censure-rather-than-impeach-hell-no-democrats-thats-inexcusable-cowardice/
15. Eric Lutz: Trump EPA’s New Climate-Change Proposal: Just Stop Talking About It
Dire times call for acts of courage, even from the notoriously skittish Democrats. The time for half-measures is over. It's time to impeach or go home. https://www.salon.com/2019/06/04/censure-rather-than-impeach-hell-no-democrats-thats-inexcusable-cowardice/
A new report released last week suggested climate change could put the world on a path toward “outright chaos” that would bring about the end of human civilization as we know it. The analysis, by Australia’s Breakthrough Centre for Climate Restoration, presents a doomsday scenario, to be sure. But its central point—that the human-caused global climate crisis will continue to worsen unless drastic action is taken—is at this point scientific consensus.
For Andrew Wheeler, Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Chief, the solution to climate change is much simpler: just stop talking about it!
Context is also important here. Wheeler’s remarks may not be damning on their own, but he happens to work for an administration that’s preparing to intensify its rollback of environmental regulations, and to further challenge the scientific consensus on the issue. He also works for a president who routinely casts doubt on climate change, which he’s called a “hoax created by and for the Chinese.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/trump-epa-new-climate-change-proposal-just-stop-talking-about-it-andrew-wheeler