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Monday, August 20, 2018

Kavanaugh and the dirty,dirty

by digby

House impeachment manager Lindsey Graham with Mary Bono

So Brett Kavanaugh wanted to get really down and dirty with the Lewinsky investigation and ask Clinton extremely personal sexual questions in his grand jury testimony? Actually, that's not a surprise. The investigation was full of that sort of extraneous detail with important elements of the case ultimately turning on whether or not Lewinsky orgasmed during their encounters.

I'm not kidding:

The House Judiciary Committee yesterday ended two days of partisan skirmishing behind closed doors with majority approval of the release of President Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony in the Monica S. Lewinsky case, along with 2,800 pages of documents containing substantial amounts of sexually explicit material.

All of the material is scheduled to be made available at 9 a.m. Monday, when copies of the documents, printed by the Government Printing Office, are to be handed to the committee and other lawmakers, after which the information will be posted on the Internet. Sources said the documents -- appendices to the report on the Lewinsky investigation presented to the House last week by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr -- include graphic, and as yet unpublished, portions of Lewinsky's testimony about her Oval Office trysts with Clinton.

The House radio and television gallery will feed television networks the four-hour videotape of Clinton's Aug. 17 grand jury testimony, during which he was questioned by Starr and aides.
Before convening the committee Thursday, Hyde and ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) had agreed to 155 deletions in the printed material, under guidelines aimed at protecting the privacy of innocent third parties, removing redundant or irrelevant sexual references and striking material being used in ongoing criminal cases, and anything relating to official duties of the Secret Service.

But GOP members, who outnumber Democrats on the committee 21 to 16, rejected an attempt by the minority to delete 25 additional references, according to committee records. Among these were more explicit material relating to sexual interaction between Clinton and Lewinsky, the manner in which Clinton undressed her, and details about their telephone sex, according to sources in both parties.

Other Democratic motions were repeatedly defeated on straight party-line votes, and in a final rebuff, GOP members rejected a Democratic move to allow the transcript of the committee hearings to be made public.

Republicans on the committee approved, 20 to 16, a motion by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) to restore three deleted references to a cigar in Lewinsky's sworn testimony to the grand jury, according to information provided by the committee and other sources. One Republican, Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) joined the Democrats in opposing the Barr motions.

Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) said the release of sexually explicit material was necessary because of the president's insistence that he did not commit perjury when he denied in a sworn deposition that he had sex with Lewinsky. Barr agreed, telling reporters: "It's extremely relevant. We were forced to do this by the president's own words."

Republican sources said that material related, for example, to Lewinsky's orgasms, was left in specifically to address the question of whether Clinton aimed to arouse Lewinsky -- a key component of the definition of sexual relations at testimony by Clinton in the sexual harassment suit brought against him by Paula Jones.

In his report to Congress, Starr contended that Clinton's perjury on that point was one ground for impeachment.

Nonetheless, Republicans acknowledged there were risks in continuing to disgorge more lurid details of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, beyond the vivid descriptions already made public as part of Starr's Sept. 9 report to the House. "Nobody can ever predict how the public will react to a decision," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), a Judiciary Committee member.

One sign of GOP nervousness came after Judiciary Committee Republican Bob Inglis (S.C.) proposed that the generic description of one deleted item -- which was not included in Starr's published report -- be changed to indicate more specifically the form of sexual contact that it dealt with. Only five other Republican members, Barr, Ed Bryant (Tenn.), Edward A. Pease (Ind.), James E. Rogan (Calif.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) joined Inglis in pushing for the disclosure. The tally defeating the motion was 28 to 6, according to the committee.

"My view is that full disclosure is the best approach," said Inglis, who is battling to unseat Democrat Ernest F. Hollings in his state's Senate race this fall. "In a democracy, people have a right to know that government and its operations are open."

They were drooling over all of this, Graham in particular. Kavanaugh wasn't alone.

I must say that I never expected any of these perverts to be on the Supreme Court though. Yet another failure of imagination on my part.


Entitlement cuts will be a the top the list when we get back to "normal"

by digby

You know how this works
.They cut taxes for their wealthy owners and then try to throw the poor and the middle class into penury. They are monsters.
CNBC's John Harwood: You were, during the Obama administration, a big critic of rising levels of national debt. We see the deficit going up to $1 trillion next year, debt levels are rising. About the tax cut: Did you guys go about it the wrong way?

Rep. Steve Stivers: I don't think we did. I think you'll see the economic growth will actually reduce the deficit a bit from the projected levels. And I think there's still an opportunity to continue that growth.

Harwood: No misgivings about a tax cut that was not paid for, that's allowing debt and deficits to rise like it is now?

Stivers: I do think we need to deal with our some of our spending. We've got to try to figure out how to spend less.

Harwood: Entitlements? Social Security, Medicare?

Stivers: Yeah, I mean, what I think we need to do is get some people who are now on government programs jobs, we have more open jobs than we have people on unemployment. So if we could get people to go from unemployment, or a government program, to become a taxpayer, it's a twofer because not only are they getting less government assistance, they probably have a better life economically and they're actually paying taxes.

Harwood: You're talking here about Social Security disability?

Stivers: I'm talking about a lot of programs. A lot of those people, there's a skills gap. You have to give them the skills they need for the jobs that are available today. I don't want to be, you know, mean and kick people off of programs, but the way I'd like to see us do it is in the benefit cliffs and create ramps where the more people earn. It might cost them a little more for their social subsidy, but they actually can keep their Medicaid expansion, or they can keep their housing, but they actually have an incentive to take that pay raise and do better and pay more taxes.

Harwood: Your speaker, Paul Ryan, has said the biggest spending issues are in those big entitlement programs, Medicare and Social Security, as opposed to food stamps or welfare or that sort of thing.

Stivers: They are. And we have 10 million people on Social Security disability now — actually, 11 million — more than any time in history. And some of those people can't work at all, but many of those people can't work in the job they used to be in. And if we gave them some training, let them keep making a portion of the Social Security disability, but put them back to work, it would be a net win for the individual.

Harwood: But also Social Security and Medicare, right?

Stivers: The only way we're going to be able to fix Social Security and Medicare is for the two parties to come together — the way that Ronald Reagan did with Tip O'Neill — and figure out how to fix them together. I hope we can do that, I believe it's the right thing to do.

Yeah well, go fuck yourself. Even blandly referring to bipartisanship after what you Republicans have pulled is a joke. You are the walking political dead and any Democrat who decides to let bygones be bygones will join you.

They know what they are doing, you can tell by his dissembling and circling and idiotic rationalizations. They want sick and old people to work themselves to death. Monsters.

This fight is off the table for the moment. But it's going to come back. They will never stop trying to destroy the ragged American safety net altogether. And don't kid yourself. The media is dying to re-establish this bullshit bipartisan "norm" more than any other. They will be thrilled to push it hard the first chance they get.



by digby

What the hell?

Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman revealed on Sunday that a C-SPAN caller had threatened the life of former President Barack Obama during a racist tirade.

Waldman said that he was appearing on the Sunday edition C-SPAN’s Washington Journal when a caller used the N-word to refer to Obama and then wished for his death

A Raw Story review of Sunday’s Washington Journal suggested that C-SPAN had used its 7-second delay to cut off the caller before the slur aired.

In the case of one racist caller on the Republican line, the C-SPAN host was forced to quickly hang up.

“Barack Obama is an illegal alien!” the caller named Christopher boomed.

“How do you know this?” the C-SPAN host asked.

At that point, the show’s audio cut for about 2 seconds, suggesting that C-SPAN producers censored the caller. It was obvious from the expressions on the faces of the two guests that the caller had said something offensive.

Sure, this is fine...

Fasten your seatbelts. We're about to go into warp drive.

by digby

Paul Waldman writes this morning that the next eleven weeks are going to be decisive for the Trump presidency. He notes first that Michael Cohen appears to either be on the cusp of indictment or cooperation and that could spell all kinds of new headaches for Trump both politically and legally. But that's not all:
And here are some other things that could or, in some cases, will happen between now and the first week in November:

  • Paul Manafort will either be convicted or acquitted in his first trial, presumably this week (the jury is currently deliberating). And his second trial — which will deal more directly with his work in the former Soviet Union and the ways it may have affected his actions as Trump campaign chairman — will begin in mid-September.
  • Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III could hand down more indictments, or even release a final report on all that he has learned in his investigation.
  • Trump will likely continue to revoke the security clearances of his critics in the intelligence community, which will generate more bipartisan condemnation and comparisons to Richard Nixon.
  • Omarosa Manigault Newman will release more tapes she recorded of conversations with people in the White House.
  • A lawsuit will begin in Texas in which Republican states and the administration will be arguing for the entire Affordable Care Act to be struck down, handing Democrats a priceless campaign issue.
  • Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will take place. Even if the process ends with a win for Trump, it will also likely generate an immediate backlash, a wave of fear and opposition from Democrats as they realize the implications of an intensely partisan, intensely conservative Supreme Court.

Then there's McGann, the trade war and any of a number of simmering international crises. And these are just what we know about. He continues:

The culmination of this intense period is, of course, the November elections. The wave of scandal news will only increase the likelihood that Democrats will win control of the House, and as much as we’ve talked about that possibility, we haven’t fully reckoned with how transformative it would be.

Right now Congress is all but nonexistent as a force in our political life; having passed a tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, Republicans have given up on any serious legislating, and certainly aren’t exercising anything resembling oversight of the administration. But if Democrats have control, they’ll begin holding hearings and mounting investigations of all the Trump scandals. Russia will be just the beginning; they’ll use their subpoena power and ability to create news events to probe the president himself, possible misconduct committed by other members of his administration (of which there is a nearly inexhaustible supply) and various policy outrages. It will be a ceaseless drumbeat of Trump scandal for the next two years.

It's been a drumbeat of scandal since he started running for president. But this will be different. The Democrats are going to hold public hearing and real investigations. That changes everything.

John Dean, Michael Cohen and Don McGahn, oh my

by digby

Jonathan Swan:
President Trump tweeted this morning: "The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel [sic], he must be a John Dean type "RAT." But I allowed him and all others to testify — I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide."

What we're hearing: This afternoon, I called up said "RAT," John Dean, to get his take. Dean was Richard Nixon's White House counsel and heavily involved in the Watergate cover-up before he became a key witness for the prosecution.

"I am actually honored to be on his enemies list as I was on Nixon's when I made it there," Dean told me. "This is a president I hold in such low esteem I would be fretting if he said something nice."
Dean told me he read the hard copy of The New York Times this morning and enjoyed the "fascinating" story about the White House counsel, Don McGahn, cooperating "extensively" with Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

"It says more than it seems just in the cold print of the story," Dean said. "Trump doesn't really know what he's done. ... I don't think he really knows what this involved, and it's got to be incredibly helpful to Mueller, to put things in perspective and timelines...from somebody who was right there."
"Rudy [Giuliani] may think he [McGahn] had nothing but nice things to say about the boss, but Rudy has to remember his days as a prosecutor where, if you can get this kind of information, it can put a lot of other pieces into perspective that aren't so good for the defendant, or the potential subject or target."

Per the latest reporting from the NYT's Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, "The president, who is said to be obsessed with the role that John W. Dean, the White House counsel to President Richard M. Nixon, played as an informant during Watergate, was jolted by the notion that he did not know what Mr. McGahn had shared [with Mueller]."

What's next? As Politico first reported, Dean has been talking to Michael Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, who became a friend when they both appeared regularly on cable news during the Bill Clinton impeachment.

Dean says he sees parallels between his own Watergate experience and what Cohen is going through now.

Both were in the cross-hairs of criminal investigations (including a Southern District of New York investigation), both engaged with multiple congressional investigations, and both had been attacked by the president in order to discredit future testimony.

"There are some parallels," Dean said. "Nixon made a comment in his memoir, that I found striking.

That he wasn't worried about my Watergate testimony, but it was everything else I had to say.

Because I had become privy to so many activities... and he said that's what killed him."

"He [Cohen] can place this president in a broader context of how he operates."

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I've been saying this for months.

Trump's White House Counsel has a history with Russian oligarchs too

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

Reading President Trump's Twitter feed over the past week, it's hard not to conclude that he feels the walls are closing in. It started with his former adviser and fellow reality TV star Omarosa's new book. She accused him of being a racist and, even more unsettlingly, revealed that she has been taping conversations with people in the campaign and the White House, including the president himself.

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort's trial was coming to a conclusion. Trump seemed so unnerved by that spectacle that he went before the cameras and hinted strongly to any supporters on the jury that he thought they should acquit his former campaign chairman because the whole trial is "very unfair."

In what seems to have been a blatant attempt to change the subject, Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, ostensibly for his erratic behavior on the internet. (That took some real chutzpah.) This dramatic action resulted in major pushback from the intelligence community, starting with a scathing Washington Post op-ed by retired U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven, the man who led the bin Laden mission. He asked for his own security clearance to be revoked in solidarity with Brennan:

Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

This was followed by similar criticisms from top intelligence officials going back nearly 40 years.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the administration has a list of more such enemies at the ready. They're subject to having their clearances removed when the White House needs to shift the media attention. If that's the case, look for more clearances to be revoked this week. The New York Times published a major story on Saturday night, followed up with reactions on Sunday, that has the White House in a tailspin.

According to the Times, White House counsel Don McGahn has been extremely forthcoming with special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump and his lawyers have made a big show of asserting they have fully cooperated with the investigation, and it's true they have not claimed executive privilege, refused to turn over documents or stonewalled on interviews -- except when it comes to the president himself, whose lawyers apparently understand that he can't tell the truth and would only get himself in trouble. As Barack Obama's former White House counsel, Bob Bauer, makes clear in this post for Lawfare, there's nothing unusual about the White House counsel cooperating with a prosecutor, since his obligation is to the office of the presidency, not the sitting president. It's a requirement, in fact.

But the Times reports McGahn has spent more than 30 hours in interviews, which certainly suggests that he had something interesting to tell the prosecutors. What made this such a bombshell was the revelation that McGahn and his lawyer became convinced some time back that Trump was preparing to throw McGahn under the bus and blame him for "shoddy" legal advice. So they decided he needed to make sure he wasn't implicated. The Times further reports that Trump and his lawyers were unaware of the scope of McGahn's cooperation, particularly in regard to possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Trump reacted as one would expect. He took to Twitter and tried to claim that he has no issue with McGahn, while rather too obviously revealing his criminal state of mind by claiming that John Dean, who blew the whistle on Richard Nixon's abuse of power, was a "rat."

He is clearly cracking under the pressure, and you can understand why. Learning from The New York Times that McGahn spent 30 hours being interviewed by prosecutors had to come as a particular blow, and not necessarily for the reasons assumed in the story.

As journalist Marcy Wheeler has astutely observed, the assumption that McGahn is only providing information about possible obstruction of justice may not be correct. After all, he was with the campaign as its general counsel from very early on and is one of the GOP's top campaign finance and election law experts. He ran the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee for nearly a decade and served as a controversial member of the Federal Election Commission from 2008 to 2013. If there is anyone in the Trump campaign who should have known what the legal exposure for accepting "things of value" from a foreign entity might be, it is Don McGahn.

Wheeler also points out that McGahn has a long history with Roger Stone and various dubious fundraising schemes that are likely to be of interest to the Mueller team as they seem to be homing in on the notorious dirty trickster. And McGahn himself has some interesting experience with Russian pay-to-play schemes going back to his days as former GOP House Whip Tom DeLay's lawyer.

In the late '90s, DeLay and his chief of staff came under scrutiny for some trips he took to Russia with the corrupt K Street lobbyist Jack Abramoff. These were organized by Russian oil and gas executives who wanted to lobby the U.S. government for more foreign aid. The trips were paid for by a shadowy group in the Bahamas associated with Abramoff and suspected of being financed by these Russian players. DeLay subsequently voted for the bill the Russians were pushing.

The kicker was that the Russian businessmen had also given a million dollars to something called the U.S. Family Network, an "advocacy" group founded by DeLay's former chief of staff and part of what was known as DeLay's "political money carousel." That group also received half a million from the National Republican Campaign Committee, where McGahn, who was DeLay's lawyer, worked as in-house counsel.

When some Democratic groups ran ads against DeLay in 2006, accusing him of pay-for-play corruption, Don McGahn publicly defended him, saying that there was no Russian connection and that there was nothing illegal about it anyway. (An argument that may sound somewhat familiar at present.) But the suspicion that the disgraced DeLay had engaged in a highly lucrative quid pro quo with Russian oligarchs lingered on.

Don McGahn's background as an election law expert and criminal defense lawyer for corrupt politicians with suspicious connections to Russian oligarchs made him a perfect choice for Donald Trump's campaign. It also makes him a highly desirable witness for Robert Mueller's investigation. Thirty hours of interviews can cover a lot of ground.

QOTD: Dave Wasserman

by digby

 "This election is the year of the angry female college graduate."
"The most telling number in the most recent NBC/WSJ poll is that Trump's approval rating among women with college degrees was 26 percent. That's absolutely awful and the intensity of that group is extraordinary. They're already the most likely demographic to turn out to vote in midterms. But never have they been this fervently anti-Republican."
Actually, we hate hate him and his minions with the fire of a thousand nuclear warheads...

But other than that ...


The freedom to be afraid

by Tom Sullivan

Wolfe at the White House in 2004. (Public domain)

Maybe it is coincidence. Or maybe shifts in thinking across large swaths of society simply take time to become visible. People's unconscious frustration with their standing under metastasized capitalism has been bubbling around society's edges long enough that lately it is breaking out into the open. Brexit was a clue. So were the 2016 campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Sanders pointed to shortcomings in how the economy as presently configured treats ordinary people. Trump blamed brown-skinned Others, because as a member of the class benefiting most from today's economy, of course he did.

Bottom line? This ain't working and people feel it.

Noah Smith argues Americans still reel from "half-century of wealth destruction and stagnation." He writes at Bloomberg:

The government’s failure to bail out underwater homeowners -- recall that the Tea Party was inspired by an on-air rant against the idea of aiding struggling mortgage borrowers -- was a fateful error whose economic and social consequences are still being felt.

Wealth inequality eats at the core of a society. But as long as the wealth of the middle and lower classes is growing -- as it was up until 2006 -- the corrosive effect of inequality will be limited. For half of the country, the housing collapse destroyed a 60-year story of the American dream -- no wonder so many people are turning to populism and socialism.

To restore that dream, wealth will have to grow again for a broader swath of Americans. In a country with slow productivity growth and an aging population, that probably would require redistribution of wealth.
We have yet to decide on how. But as with treating any ailment, identifying the disease helps in defining a course of treatment.

Economic historian Louis Hyman of Cornell University argues in the New York Times that the insecure nature of our work is not driven by "the inexorable march of technology," but by decisions from business and policymakers. The Industrial Revolution did not take place because of technology, Hyman writes. Rather, changes that had already occurred in how people organized their work made it possible for technological advances to build on it.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution came an “industrious revolution” in which independent networks of farmers spun fibers and wove cloth. Manufacturers gathering those workers under one roof as paid employees was a cultural change and a precondition for the Industrial Revolution:
The same goes for today’s digital revolution. While often described as a second machine age, our current historical moment is better understood as a second industrious revolution. It has been underway for at least 40 years, encompassing the collapse, since the 1970s, of the relatively secure wage-work economy of the postwar era — and the rise of post-industrialism and the service economy.
Corporations began to abandon the old model, Hyman writes, in favor of "a new, strictly financial view of corporations, a philosophy that favored stock and bond prices over production, of short-term gains over long-term investment." This approach, he asserts, not technology, made employees more disposable and jobs more tenuous. The technology behind the gig economy simply accelerated the change in work culture resulting from corporate and policy decisions:
I am neither for nor against temping (or consulting, or freelancing). If this emergent flexible economy were all bad or all good, there would be no need to make a choice about it. For some, the rise of the gig economy represents liberation from the stifled world of corporate America.

But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.
The late Tom Wolfe famously mocked the 1970s as the "Me" Decade, one of self-infatuation as self-enlightenment, of personal transformation, a third religious Great Awakening. If people felt it, so did the business world. In a world no longer defined by an us, infatuation with maximizing one's wealth drove corporations to become the vehicle for self-realization either through entrepreneurship or boosting stock value. Any balance between the interests of capital and labor broke down along with the very idea of a social contract. Self-maximalization through politics came through winning by any means necessary.

What Wolfe wrote of the new seekers is true of the period of vast wealth disparity that decisions since the 1970s have led us to, "There is no ecumenical spirit within this Third Great Awakening. If anything, there is a spirit of schism."

So, it is welcome to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren fighting to save capitalism from the worst excesses maximized by our own choices.

Forty years ago, Wolfe wrote:

And now many dare it! In Democracy in America, Tocqueville (the inevitable and ubiquitous Tocqueville) saw the American sense of equality itself as disrupting the stream, which he called “time’s pattern”: “Not only does democracy make each man forget his ancestors, it hides his descendants from him, and divides him from his contemporaries; it continually turns him back into himself, and threatens, at last, to enclose him entirely in the solitude of his own heart.” A grim prospect to the good Alexis de T.—but what did he know about . . . Let’s talk about Me!
Now the Great Me is President of the United States, and the greater we are free to be afraid.

[h/t MPW for Bloomberg]

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Did Robert Mueller direct the Watergate break-in too?

by digby

How many people are watching this drivel and believing it? Besides the president, I mean:

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro used the 2012 Benghazi attacks in Libya for her latest criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Speaking on Fox News Saturday, Judge Pirro used mafia references to claim Mueller and members of the Democratic Party need a "serial cleaner" to cover-up past government mistakes. Pirro linked a Mueller testimony regarding the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans in 2012 to Democrats "panicking" in 2018. Pirro claimed Mueller's past is laden with government cover-ups, including for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Your credentials as a government serial cleaner are really good,” Pirro said Saturday. “You testified, after four Americans are killed in Benghazi, to cover for Hillary Clinton’s incompetence. Bob, why would you say that the FBI couldn’t get into Benghazi in time?”

Last week, Pirro asked viewers whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was a bigger threat than Mueller.

“When covert missions go wrong, the government calls in its own cleaner,” Pirro said one week after suggesting Mueller himself needs legal defense. “And when things go terribly wrong for the Democrats, they don’t just call in a cleaner to get the job done, they call in someone who’s been in the clean-up business for a long time, they call in the serial cleaner, former FBI director and now Special Counsel Bob Mueller.”

Pirro's criticism of Mueller is only the latest right-wing shot at the Russia election meddling investigation. The Fox News host and ardent Trump defender mocked Mueller for having found "nothing" linking the president to any 2016 election meddling.

“Bob, honestly, you look and sound like a fool. CNN and just about every newspaper in the country, in the world, got there. They made it there, but the FBI couldn’t? Hey, I get it, a good cleaner wants a crime scene as trampled as possible. But you know, Bob, we are all getting tired of this and this all comes down to your effort to get Donald Trump indicted and you are panicking. You got nothing.”

The Benghazi attack conducted by the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia in September 2012 was a rallying cry against the Obama administration for several years. Last week, Benghazi terror attack survivor Kris “Tanto” Paronto applauded Trump's decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA DIrector John Brennan.

This is just nuts. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the likes of Try Gowdy to put this idiocy to rest.


The careerists join the cult

by digby

If you want to see Trumpism in all its glory, just hanging right out there, this guy is it:

I don't know about you but I think that smug asshole ought to have his mouth washed out with soap. Bigly.

He won the nomination. And what's important about that is that he's not just some loon on the fringe. He's the Georgia Secretary of State and he's not just sitting around watching Fox News and pleasuring himself like some people we know. He's putting his disgusting words into action:

On Thursday evening, the election board of Randolph County, Georgia, met to discuss a startling proposal to eliminate three-fourths of the county’s polling places months before the November election. A rural, impoverished, and predominantly black county, Randolph has just nine polling locations, all of which were open during the May primaries and July runoffs. The election board may soon shut down seven of them, including one in a precinct where about 97 percent of voters are black. Its plan would compel residents, many of whom have no car or access to public transit, to travel as much as 30 miles round trip to reach the nearest polling place.

Because of its history of racist voting laws, Randolph County was once required to seek federal permission before altering its election procedures. But after the Supreme Court gutted this oversight in 2013, the county was freed to crack down on the franchise. It is no coincidence that its election board chose this moment to shutter most of its polls: In November, the popular Democrat Stacey Abrams will compete for the governorship against Republican Brian Kemp, the current Georgia secretary of state. Kemp, who has devoted his time in office to a ruthless campaign of voter suppression, called upon Randolph County to abandon the plan when it spurred widespread outrage. That being said, the key figure in the Randolph County controversy is a Kemp ally who was handpicked by the secretary of state to close polls throughout Georgia.

To understand the brazen attack on black suffrage now occurring in Randolph County, it’s important to remember that Georgia is in the midst of a seismic demographic shift. As whites cease to be the majority in more and more counties, Republicans have clung to power by disenfranchising minority voters. Kemp’s opposition to the Randolph County plan marks the first time that he has adopted an affirmatively pro-suffrage stance. During his nearly eight years as secretary of state, Kemp engaged in mass voter purges, removing hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls. State officials appear to have singled out black voters in targeted purges.

Kemp also canceled or suspended 35,000 voter registrations using Exact Match, a version of Kris Kobach’s notorious Crosscheck program that compares registrants’ information with motor vehicle and Social Security databases. If a single letter, space, or hyphen did not match the database information, the voter application was rejected. Black voters were eight times more likely than whites to have their registrations halted due to Exact Match

Perhaps most egregiously, Kemp launched an investigation into Abrams’ efforts to register more minority voters despite no evidence of fraud. He used the probe to harass and intimidate voting rights advocates. Later, he refused to register 40,000 would-be voters who had signed up through the drive. Speaking to Republicans behind closed doors, Kemp explained the stakes: “Registering all these minority voters that are out there … if they can do that, they can win these elections.” During Kemp’s tenure, Georgia’s population has increased substantially—yet the number of registered voters has actually gone down.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Kemp seems to have played a major role in the Randolph County poll closures. At the meeting on Thursday night, the election board revealed that the move had been encouraged by Mike Malone, an associate of Kemp’s. Malone, who attended the meeting, explained that Kemp—who now claims that the poll closures are a bad idea—had asked him to go around the state and “recommend polling place closures” to various counties. Ten Georgia counties have already taken Malone’s suggestions and closed polling places. All of those counties have large black populations.

Malone has claimed that he chose which polls to close by gauging their compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Rather than target certain communities, he merely advised election boards to shutter polling places that are not ADA compliant. Notably, many of these locations are government buildings that should already comply with ADA regulations. (Several polling places selected for closure in Randolph County, for instance, are fire stations.) But rather than direct counties to fix whatever ADA problems they might have, Malone simply suggested these locations be scrapped.

At Thursday’s meeting, a county resident also asked Malone whether he had considered finding alternative polling places, like churches, that might be ADA compliant. Malone shot back that he was “not hired to find alternatives.” Another resident asked how much he was being paid for his consultant work. He refused to answer.

Sean J. Young, legal director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told me on Friday that he found Malone’s answers disturbing.

“The purpose of this ‘consultancy’ is not to explore the best ways to serve the voters with polling places that are up to code,” Young said. “It’s to shut down polling places. This alleged concern with ADA compliance is a total sham.”

We're really supposed to believe that the man in that campaign ad is concerned with people with disabilities? No, of course we are not. He is trolling even more competently than Trump himself. They want people to know they are not serious.

This man is the future of the Republican Party. If they continue to win (by whatever means they find) this is going to be the norm.

Paul Krugman described this accurately in his column today:

Republicans who defended Trump over the Muslim ban, his early attacks on the press, the initial evidence of collusion with Russia, have in effect burned their bridges. It would be deeply embarrassing to admit that the elitist liberals they mocked were right when they were wrong; also, nobody who doesn’t support Trump will ever trust their judgment or patriotism again.

So the path of least resistance is always to sign on for the next stage of degradation. “No evidence of collusion” becomes “collusion is no big deal” becomes “collusion is awesome — and let’s send John Brennan to jail.”

To some extent this is just human weakness in action. But there are some special aspects of the modern GOP that make it especially vulnerable to this kind of slide into leader-worship. The party has long been in the habit of rejecting awkward facts and attributing them to conspiracies: it’s not a big jump from claiming that climate change is a giant hoax perpetrated by the entire scientific community to asserting that Trump is the blameless target of a vast deep state conspiracy.

And modern Republican politicians are, with few exceptions, apparatchiks: they are creatures of a monolithic movement that doesn’t allow dissent but protects the loyal from risk. Even if they should happen to lose a race in their gerrymandered districts, as long as they toed the line they can count on “wing nut welfare” — commentator slots on Fox News, appointments at think tanks, and so on.

Even now, I don’t think most political commentators have grasped how deep the rot goes. I don’t think they understand, or at any rate admit to themselves, that democracy really could die just a few months from now.

And if it doesn’t, if Republicans lose Congress and Trump leaves office on or before January 2021, the same people who kept declaring that Trump just became president will try to go back to pretending that Republican politicians are serious, honorable people who care about policy. But they aren’t.

So remember this moment. We’re seeing, in real time, what the GOP is really made of.


This is your brain on Fox News

by digby

For those who aren't on twitter, here is your president today, via Hunter at Daily Kos:

Well, Trump is on a tear again. And it's the fault of the New York Times, which he doesn't read and is dumb and stupid and shut up.

It seems instructive that Donald Trump, walking garbage fire and man at the center of numerous investigations into potentially illegal acts he has undertaken both as candidate and pretzeldent, considers John Dean a "RAT.". We should probably make a note of that.

This is what happens when grandpa spends all his days watching Fox News. His cabinet has been roiled by scandal and resignations to an extent not seen since the Watergate days, but since Fox News doesn't cover it he doesn't remember it's happening. Instead, Something Something Witch Hunt.

Ah yes, the raging incompetent's favorite lie: What My Invisible Friends Are Saying. The odds that reporters have been calling Biff here to apologize for writing stories about his crimez is approximately zero. The odds that Donald spends hours of each day imagining this happening, however, are considerably higher.

Donald Trump has in his hand a list of reporters who are very ashamed that they are writing stories about him, and if you don't believe him you're like Joe McCarthy.

This man has been at the center of American politics since 2015.  Will we ever be able to recover?
Truth isn't truth?

by digby

Good lord, Rudy needs to lay off the Limoncellos on Saturday nights. His Sunday morning appearances are getting more and more embarrassing:


Kevin McCarthy, stable genius

by digby

Via Crooks and Liars:

The GOP Leader, and would-be Speaker-in-waiting, joined the other Trump cultists in accusing Twitter of censoring them.

It was pointed out pretty much immediately that he was being a dumbass had his settings wrong on twitter so that he couldn't see sensitive tweets which might contain hateful or racist language. Since he was trying to see something by Fox News personality and hatemonger Laura Ingraham that would make sense. Anyway, he got pissy about "censorship" of conservative voices, and started huffing and puffing about holding hearings on Twitter.

Two days after the fact, GOP Leader and his staff have yet to acknowledge their error, or even delete the tweet. Typical, right?
So, the heir to Paul Ryan has his twitter settings set to block hateful or racist language and it blocked something Laura Ingraham wrote. It's possible that he thinks nothing Laura Ingraham or  writes could possibly be considered hateful or racist so the setting is somehow "rigged" to see conservative comments that way. But that would be even dumber.

Keep in mind, this is the guy we're talking about:

No wonder Trump calls him "my Kevin."
This isn't Don McGahn's first trip to the Russian Rodeo

by digby

Emptywheel is very likely to be right about White House counsel Don McGahn being questioned about the conspiracy investigation not just obstruction of justice. He was the Trump campaign's general counsel fergawdsakes and the GOP's top campaign finance lawyer for years.

I agree with Wheeler that this is a big fat CYA operation using the NY Times to reassure Trump, not upset him, and it's likely to do with the fact that many of the laws Trump and his henchmen are suspected of breaking have to do with foreign money in his campaign, transition and elsewhere.

I wonder if people remember that Don McGahn made his bones defending Tom DeLay in a major Russian money scandal in the late 90s? He did:

One of the scandals surrounding DeLay involved a 1997 trip he made to Moscow, where he was joined by Abramoff, paid for by conservative nonprofit, the National Center for Public Policy Research. The group also financed two trips to Moscow by DeLay's chief of staff, Edwin Buckham, who went on to become a corporate lobbyist.

The trips were organized by prominent Russian businessmen who, joined by the Russian government, were mounting a major lobbying effort for increased foreign aid. In 1998, "DeLay voted for a bill that included the replenishment of billions of dollars in IMF funds used to bail out the Russian economy."

According to associates of Buckham, Russian oil and gas executives subsequently gave $1 million to the U.S. Family Network, a conservative advocacy group founded by Buckham in 1996. The Network was part of DeLay's "political money carousel," and later received $500,000 from the National Republican Campaign Committee, where McGahn was also in-house counsel. The group was named in a RICO lawsuit against DeLay filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1998.

McGahn defended the huge contribution and denied that it had any ties to Russia when Public Campaign ran political ads in 2006 attacking DeLay for the scandal.

This scandal was obscured at the time by the much more important investigation into Bill Clinton's pants.

Here's the full story of DeLay's Russia money scandal.

Let's just say that Don McGahn had some very special experience in dealing with Russian money being funneled into Republican campaigns.


Profiles in passivity

by digby

It is not ok for a president to have his staff sign non-disclosure agreements. It just isn't. They are public servants.

But it looks like it's the new normal. For Republicans anyway:

Republican senators, freshly returned to Washington after a week and a half on recess, didn’t have much to say about President Donald Trump’s unprecedented use of sweeping non-disclosure agreements pertaining to unclassified information for White House staffers on Wednesday night, most telling reporters they hadn’t considered the issue.

“I just don’t know what to make of that,” said Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker, adding that he hadn’t asked anything similar of his staff: “We’re so boring in our office, no one would want to expose much.”

Trump’s NDAs, intended to prevent his staffers from being publicly critical of him, his family, or his business, were first reported when the Washington Post obtained an early draft of one of the documents this spring. Their existence has since been confirmed by numerous outlets. Most recently, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Trump himself have alluded to the use of such agreements in their pushback against former administration official-turned antagonist Omarosa Manigault Newman.

As national security and free speech lawyer Mark Zaid points out, the federal government uses NDAs when handling sensitive national security information, but non-disclosure agreements drafted specifically to limit criticism of the president (and his family and his business) are unheard of in government. And as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg argues, the likelihood that these agreements aren’t enforceable may not matter as much as the fact that high-level staffers signed away, in perpetuity, their ability to speak openly about the president.

Still, the issue flew beneath the radar in the Senate on Wednesday, where questions about Manigault Newman’s numerous allegations were overshadowed by the White House’s apparent attempt to flip the script by releasing a three-week-old announcement it had been holding onto for a rainy day.

“I have no clue what that’s about,” Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy candidly answered when asked about the NDAs. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, tied up with various government funding packages over the past few weeks, said he hadn’t thought about the issue. “I don’t know what they’ve done at the White House. You know I’ve never worked down there. But a lot in the private businesses, they have it everywhere—non-disclosure, and confidential stuff and so forth,” he told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “I don’t have it in my office.”

Senator John Kennedy also said he hadn’t asked his staff to sign such an agreement. But, he added, “I’m not going to judge [Trump]. I don’t know.”

Tennessee Republican Bob Corker told reporters an untrusting environment at the White House had everything to do with the use of intimidation tactics such as NDAs. “They’ve brought in a whole different kind of culture over there,” he said.

In Congress, Corker asserted, members often deal with each other in trust. “I know that’s not the case over there. I mean, I’ve had people call me sometimes over there and it sounds like they’re in a coat room or something. The culture is just vastly different, probably, than any administration we’ve seen in modern times.”

Asked whether he thought anything could be done to change that situation, Corker was skeptical.

“I would doubt that,” the retiring senator said.



Health care likely to get worse under Trump

by Tom Sullivan

Todd Mouw's in-home care ended abruptly in March. A quadraplegic since a car accident 32 years ago, he required a ventilator to breathe and help feeding himself. Yet he lived at home for decades thanks to medical staff who visited daily to maintain his health and equipment, the Des Moines Register reports:

That care abruptly ended when a for-profit company that Iowa hired last year to manage the state's Medicaid program announced that some of the staffers who had attended to Mouw all those years weren't qualified, and it wouldn't pay for the cost.

As he and his wife Cyndi futilely searched for qualified help, Todd's health dissipated. He had to leave his home for care, and on July 8 he died at age 53.
While seeking caregivers Amerigroup would approve, Todd sometimes went days without care. He was eventually hospitalized with pneumonia and, although his health improved, he was never able to return home.

"Don’t get me wrong, his death was inevitable," Cyndi Mouw told the Register. "But I do believe with all my heart this could have been prevented and he would have lived longer."
Iowa's government for decades had managed the state's Medicaid program, which serves more than 568,000 poor or elderly Iowans.

That changed last year when then-Gov. Terry Branstad decided to move the state's Medicaid management to three private companies, saying health care would improve and the state would save tens of millions of dollars each year. The companies help decide which health procedures Medicaid will pay for.

Three companies — AmeriHealth, UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup — began managing the program in April 2016. The three companies were paid $1,041 to $3,313 a month for each Medicaid patient they oversaw.

Since then, hundreds of Iowans have logged complaints, many saying the companies have unfairly denied access to care.
Health care concerns transcend party lines. A Kaiser Family Foundation study last month that 56% of Americans believe the Trump administration are trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail. Polling shows Americans by a 7 to 1 margin believe that's bad. A key finding from their July polling:
The July Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds a candidate’s position on continuing protections for people with pre-existing health conditions is the top health care campaign issue for voters, among a list of issues provided. This issue cuts across voter demographics with most Democratic voters (74 percent), independent voters (64 percent), and voters living in battleground areas (61 percent), as well as half of Republican voters (49 percent) saying a candidate’s position on continued protections for pre-existing health conditions is either the single most important factor or a very important factor in their 2018 vote.
The Trump administration's proposing short-term plans that shortcut Obamacare's minimum care requirements and "are exempt from covering people with pre-existing conditions" contributes to voters' concerns. Health care was the No. 1 issue in a poll of potential 2018 voters conducted for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in June. Half of those in the 17 states that have not accepted the Medicaid expansion favor doing so, Kaiser found. Iowa is among the Medicaid expansion states. Medicaid expansion initiatives are on the ballot this fall in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah.

"Things are likely to get worse" under Trump, writes Jonathan Cohn at Huffington Post:
They have passed a tax cut that effectively eliminates the individual mandate penalty. They have slashed funding for enrollment outreach. Now, with this latest regulatory change, they have made it easier for people to purchase ― and then hold onto ― short-term plans that don’t comply with the ACA’s standards.

People struggling with high premiums today will discover short-term plans are a lot cheaper ― and many who opt for that coverage will be just fine. But the buyers who get serious medical problems will face crippling medical bills and in many cases, they won’t know about this exposure until it is too late, because the companies and brokers who sell these plans are notorious for hiding limits and exclusions in the fine print.
Fine print can be worse than the disease. Where's the cure for that?

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Who is America? – BlacKkKlansman (****)

By Dennis Hartley

“I-I am going to be a storm-a flame-
I need to fight whole armies alone;
I have ten hearts; I have a hundred arms;
I feel too strong to war with mortals-

-Edmond Rostand, from Cyrano de Bergerac

[To two members of the KKK, while pretending to capture Bart]

Jim: Oh, boys! Lookee what I got heyuh.

Bart: Hey, where are the white women at?

-from Blazing Saddles; screenplay by Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, and Alan Uger

To bring in something, such as a fish, by winding up the line on a reel.

-from The Free Dictionary’s definition of the phrase “reel something in”

So what do you get if you cross Cyrano de Bergerac with Blazing Saddles? You might get Spike Lee’s new joint, Black KkKlansman. That is not to say that Lee’s film is a knee-slapping comedy; far from it. It does contain laughs, but there is nothing funny about some of the reaction it has sparked after only a week. From an Indie Wire article:
[Actor] Topher Grace contacted police after receiving a threatening phone call reacting to his role as former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke in Spike Lee’s “Black KkKlansman”. According to reports (via TMZ) Grace told police that someone called him over the phone and referred to him using a gay slur. The mystery caller also warned Grace that his role as Duke would “ruin race relations in America.” […] Grace reportedly described the caller as “aggressive” and “angry.”
Speaking of “race relations in America”, here’s something even less amusing. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 917 hate groups currently operating in the U.S. And (to paraphrase Gimli the dwarf) it gets even better! If you go to the SPLC website and click the “100 Days in Trump’s America” report, there’s lots of fun facts:
As he spoke to the nation on Jan.20 [2016], President Donald Trump reminded white nationalists why they had invested so much hope in him as their champion and redeemer. He painted a bleak picture of America: a nation of crumbling, third-world infrastructure, “rusted-out factories,” leaky borders, inner cities wallowing in poverty, a depleted military and a feckless political class that prospered as the country fell into ruin. He promised an “America First” policy that would turn it all around. […] 
Despite his failure to achieve any major legislative victories, Trump has not disappointed his alt-right followers. His actions suggest that – unlike the economic populism of his campaign – Trump’s appeals to the radical right did indeed presage his White House agenda. On Jan. 31 [2016], former Klan leader David Duke tweeted: “everything I’ve been talking about for decades is coming true and the ideas I’ve fought for have won.”
Well fuck me. There’s that fine fellow David Duke popping up again! When Mr. Wizard Tweeted he’d been “talking about” certain ideas “for decades” …he wasn’t exaggerating. The “David Duke” depicted in Lee’s film is the David Duke of the 1970s, right around the time he became the public face of the “National Association for the Advancement of White People”. This was also when he dropped the hood and robes for a suit-and-tie look.

True story. This window-dressing may have fooled some people, but it didn’t wash with Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington), an African-American undercover cop who managed to infiltrate…and become a card-carrying member (!) of the KKK in Colorado in the early 70s. To address the obvious question, he didn’t crash a Klan rally and ask where all the white women were at, because 1) that would’ve gone over like a lead balloon with the goys in the hoods, and 2) again, Lee’s film is not a comedy (per se).

Stallworth ingratiated himself with the organization Cyrano style. He made them fall in love with him by proxy. The “Ron Stallworth” who wooed his local Klan by whispering sweet racist nothings over the phone was not the same “Ron Stallworth” who attended the meetings. That was Stallworth’s white surrogate, his Jewish undercover partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). In other words, this was old school “catfishing”-if you will.

What ensues is the kind of story that frankly strains credulity…if it weren’t for the fact that this really happened (allowing for some creative license, naturally). Even Lee was skeptical at first, admitting in an interview that he did with Seth Meyers earlier this week:
“…when [co-producer] Jordan Peele pitched it to me, it was one of those very high-concept pitches. Six words: ‘Black man infiltrates Ku Klux Klan.’ […] I thought of [comedy sketches done by] Dave Chappelle, but [Peele] said ‘no’ and he sent me the book. I was very intrigued by it…it was in my wheelhouse.”
I think this is Lee’s most affecting and hard-hitting film since Do the Right Thing (1989). The screenplay (adapted by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Lee from Stallworth’s eponymous memoir) is equal parts biopic, docudrama, police procedural and social commentary, finding a nice balance of drama, humor and suspense. The cast is uniformly excellent. Washington (son of Denzel) and Driver have great chemistry, and Grace captures Duke’s smarminess to a tee. Other standouts include Robert Lee Burke, Laura Harrier, Ryan Eggold and a genuinely scary Jasper Paakkonen.

Lee is aware he’s preaching to the choir and will never reach a certain percentage of the “fine people” in America…sadly, the very ones who would benefit most from his counsel. And if someone were to call Lee’s approach heavy-handed, I wouldn’t disagree.

He opens with the iconic crane shot from Gone with the Wind that pans over hundreds of dead and wounded Confederate soldiers and resolves with the tattered stars and bars. He cross-cuts a solemn Klan initiation rite with a monolog by revered civil rights icon Harry Belafonte, playing a man sharing a horrifying eyewitness account of a particularly gruesome 1916 lynching. In case you’re still unable to connect the dots between the Stallworth story with Black Lives Matter and Charlottesville, he tacks on a timely denouement that jams to a screeching halt just inches away from slamming into “ta-da!”.

Yes, he ladles in on with a trowel. But you know what? The voices of reason in America are drowned out daily by the relentless clatter and din of Trump-fueled polarization and misdirection. He who shouts loudest wins (apparently). The hoods are off? Fine. I say more power to artists like Lee with something substantive to add to the conversation who feel they must (figuratively) bonk you over the head first to get your undivided attention.

Subtlety is prologue. Resist. Or get riled by seeing this film, immediately. Bring a friend.

Previous posts with related themes:

This day in (racist) American history
The Black Power Mixtape

More reviews at Den of Cinema
On Facebook
On Twitter

--Dennis Hartley

Trump would call him a loser

by digby

You know he would:

ORANGE CITY, Ia. — Thirty-two years ago, a vehicle accident left Todd Mouw a quadriplegic, unable to feed himself and needing a ventilator to breathe.

Yet for decades he was able to live at home with the help of family, aided by medical staff who visited him daily to help provide 24-hour care.

That care abruptly ended when a for-profit company that Iowa hired last year to manage the state's Medicaid program announced that some of the staffers who had attended to Mouw all those years weren't qualified, and it wouldn't pay for the cost.

As he and his wife Cyndi futilely searched for qualified help, Todd's health dissipated. He had to leave his home for care, and on July 8 he died at age 53.

Now, Cyndi Mouw is speaking out, blaming her husband's death on Iowa's decision to turn over its Medicaid program to for-profit companies she believes are unilaterally denying or revoking medical services to potentially thousands of other disabled or elderly Iowans.

"If they're trying to do this because they need to save money? Well, find other places," Cyndi Mouw said. "And, yeah, I'm sure he's not the only one."

Her criticisms have echoed those of other families who complain that the private companies now managing the state's Medicaid program are denying care that the state once approved.

And the state's long-term care ombudsman said she has received hundreds of complaints from Medicaid recipients who are appealing decisions of the private managers hired by the state.

If you're not rich enough to afford all the health care you need that's your own fault:


Remembering impeachments past

by digby

There is some thought among big shot Republicans that impeaching President Trump will make him more popular because that's how it happened with Bill Clinton.  

I thought it might be important to recall just what it was Ken Starr found Clinton had done to merit impeachment:

1. President Clinton lied under oath in his civil case when he denied a sexual affair, a sexual relationship, or sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

2. President Clinton lied under oath to the grand jury about his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.

3. In his civil deposition, to support his false statement about the sexual relationship, President Clinton also lied under oath about being alone with Ms. Lewinsky and about the many gifts exchanged between Ms. Lewinsky and him.

4. President Clinton lied under oath in his civil deposition about his discussions with Ms. Lewinsky concerning her involvement in the Jones case.

5. During the Jones case, the President obstructed justice and had an understanding with Ms. Lewinsky to jointly conceal the truth about their relationship by concealing gifts subpoenaed by Ms. Jones's attorneys.

6. During the Jones case, the President obstructed justice and had an understanding with Ms. Lewinsky to jointly conceal the truth of their relationship from the judicial process by a scheme that included the following means: (i) Both the President and Ms. Lewinsky understood that they would lie under oath in the Jones case about their sexual relationship; (ii) the President suggested to Ms. Lewinsky that she prepare an affidavit that, for the President's purposes, would memorialize her testimony under oath and could be used to prevent questioning of both of them about their relationship; (iii) Ms. Lewinsky signed and filed the false affidavit; (iv) the President used Ms. Lewinsky's false affidavit at his deposition in an attempt to head off questions about Ms. Lewinsky; and (v) when that failed, the President lied under oath at his civil deposition about the relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.

7. President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice by helping Ms. Lewinsky obtain a job in New York at a time when she would have been a witness harmful to him were she to tell the truth in the Jones case.

8. President Clinton lied under oath in his civil deposition about his discussions with Vernon Jordan concerning Ms. Lewinsky's involvement in the Jones case.

9. The President improperly tampered with a potential witness by attempting to corruptly influence the testimony of his personal secretary, Betty Currie, in the days after his civil deposition.

10. President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice during the grand jury investigation by refusing to testify for seven months and lying to senior White House aides with knowledge that they would relay the President's false statements to the grand jury -- and did thereby deceive, obstruct, and impede the grand jury.

11. President Clinton abused his constitutional authority by (i) lying to the public and the Congress in January 1998 about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky; (ii) promising at that time to cooperate fully with the grand jury investigation; (iii) later refusing six invitations to testify voluntarily to the grand jury; (iv) invoking Executive Privilege; (v) lying to the grand jury in August 1998; and (vi) lying again to the public and Congress on August 17, 1998 -- all as part of an effort to hinder, impede, and deflect possible inquiry by the Congress of the United States.

Now think about what Donald Trump is suspected of doing. Being a dupe or an agent of a foreign adversary and firing the entire top layer of the DOJ to cover it up is a different level of offense altogether....

But even on the more prosaic obstruction charges, Trump way out does Clinton. Take number 11 up there. He was accused of trying to get Monica a job working for a big company in New York to keep her quiet about their affair. (That was never proven to be the case but whatever.) But he didn't install a relative at the DNC in order to give pay people hush money with no-show jobs for 15k a month!


John Dean was White House counsel too

by digby

It's pretty clear who has been behind the leaks over the past year and a half that make Don McGahn look very heroic. There's only one person who would have so much to gain by it. Here's the latest:
The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

For a lawyer to share so much with investigators scrutinizing his client is unusual. Lawyers are rarely so open with investigators, not only because they are advocating on behalf of their clients but also because their conversations with clients are potentially shielded by attorney-client privilege, and in the case of presidents, executive privilege.

“A prosecutor would kill for that,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, which did not have the same level of cooperation from President Bill Clinton’s lawyers. “Oh my God, it would have been phenomenally helpful to us. It would have been like having the keys to the kingdom.”

Mr. McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by Mr. Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

Mr. McGahn and his lawyer, William A. Burck, could not understand why Mr. Trump was so willing to allow Mr. McGahn to speak freely to the special counsel and feared Mr. Trump was setting up Mr. McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, according to people close to him. So he and Mr. Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn did nothing wrong.

It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.

In fact, Mr. McGahn laid out how Mr. Trump tried to ensure control of the investigation, giving investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president. Mr. McGahn cautioned to investigators that he never saw Mr. Trump go beyond his legal authorities, though the limits of executive power are murky.

Mr. McGahn’s role as a cooperating witness further strains his already complicated relationship with the president. Though Mr. Trump has fought with Mr. McGahn as much as with any of his top aides, White House advisers have said, both men have benefited significantly from their partnership.

Mr. McGahn has overseen two of Mr. Trump’s signature accomplishments — stocking the federal courts and cutting government regulations — and become a champion of conservatives in the process.

But the two rarely speak one on one — the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and other advisers are usually present for their meetings — and Mr. Trump has questioned Mr. McGahn’s loyalty. In turn, Mr. Trump’s behavior has so exasperated Mr. McGahn that he has called the president “King Kong” behind his back, to connote his volcanic anger, people close to Mr. McGahn said.

This account is based on interviews with current and former White House officials and others who have spoken to both men, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.

Oh Don, you're such a great guy.

And your boss is really, really dumb isn't he?

McGahn has been covering his ass from the beginning. One imagines he's been safe from reprisals  because the GOP backs him for their court packing project which, at this point, is their only serious  strategy for future survival. This latest coming at a time of peak Trump hysteria will test how much clout Mitch McConnell and the federalist society really has with Trump.