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Mike Flynn's Delayed Sentence Suggests 'He Still Has a Lot More to Give' Robert Mueller: NBC Reporter

June 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president former national security adviser has become a cooperating witness in the Russia investigation.


President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a cooperating witness in the ongoing Russia investigation, appears to have become a valuable source of information in special counsel Robert Mueller's work, and according to a court filing Friday.

We know that because Mueller requested another two-month delay before Flynn's sentencing. NBC reporter Ken Dilianian explained what that means on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” with Nicolle Wallace.

“We have to be careful about reading too much into this,” he said, “but the fact that they are continuing to delay Mike Flynn's sentence, Mike Flynn's cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation, suggests that he still has a lot more to give them.”

He continued: “And you can contrast that with George Papadopoulos, another Trump campaign aide, who pleaded guilty and was nominally cooperating, his sentencing has been scheduled for September. So they're sort of done with him, it appears at this point. But Flynn may have a lot more to say.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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'This Is Much Bigger than Harley': General Motors Shows How Trump's Trade War Could Deal a Devastating Blow to His Presidency

June 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Obama saved General Motors — how will it look if Trump crushes it?


As President Donald Trump's plans to launch a trade war look increasingly likely to be carried out, American companies are increasingly sounding the alarms — showing signs that his tariffs could pose a real threat to the country and to his presidency.

It started with Harley-Davidson, which said it would be moving some of its manufacturing capacity overseas in response to the tariffs, which are import taxes. Trump lashed out at the company in response, but that does little to change its bottom line. 

But the real blow came on Friday. General Motors, a major employer in the Midwest, including in the critical state of Michigan, announced that Trump's tariffs will cause “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages” for employees and higher prices for customers. The price of cars from General Motors could see increases of the thousands of dollars because of the tariffs, the company said.

The policy “could lead to a smaller GM,” the company said.

“Big business seems to be waking up to the possibility that Trump really will get us into a nasty trade war,” said economist Paul Krugman. “This is much bigger than Harley.”

It's easy to see why this is such a big deal. In addition to the massive impact it will have on people's lives, a spiraling trade war could have dramatic electoral implications for both 2018 and beyond.

It would be trivially easy for anyone to run against a party that has, without any good reason, driven up prices in the United States and killed jobs. Democrats would love to run against these policies, if Trump is misguided enough to follow through on them.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Watch Tomi Lahren Gleefully Berate the ‘Tolerant Left’ Then Ask Why We Can’t All Just Get Along

June 29, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

She has literally made millions voicing her ill-informed opinions that consistently distort liberal ideology and attack the left.


Lahren is more upset over the press secretary being politely asked to leave and getting her cheese plate comped than she is the thousands of children who very likely will never see their parents again.

Tomi Lahren is back. The conservative Fox News commentator known for her racist remarks last month earned the nickname “Xenophobic Rage Barbie” after defending Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly's anti-immigrant remarks.

Now she is attacking all those on the left, asking why they aren't “loving and tolerant” – something conservatives claim liberals should be forced to be, even in the face of their own intolerance. And after detailing a litany of insults she feels best represent liberals, while wholly ignoring the extraordinary attacks on America from the right, Lahren demands to know why we can't all just get along (video below).

Seriously.

“When did we get to the point where we can’t even stand to be in the presence of someone with opposing political views?” Lahren, 25-year old a multi-millionaire with a lucrative Fox News contract and a home in Los Angeles asks. She has literally made millions voicing her ill-informed opinions that consistently distort liberal ideology and attack the left.

“It’s ugly and it's disheartening to watch,” Lahren says, wholly unaware that her entire manufactured persona exists only because people on the right support her extremist hate-filled views.

“Whether it's Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting kicked out of a restaurant, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Cho being shouted down by students, protesters harassing DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant, or having water thrown at me while I brunched with my parents – one thing is for sure: The so-called 'loving and tolerant left' seems to be anything but,” Lahren charges.

Not once does she bother to tell her viewers that those acts of protest against agents of the U.S government who are supposed to represent the American people (sans Lahren) are all because the Trump administration is separating young children, even babies …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Chief Executive Exit

June 29, 2018 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, one
of America’s leading constitutional scholars exhibited
classic signs of “PTSD”: Post-Trump Stress Disorder.
Impeachment “should begin on Inauguration Day,”
Harvard’s Laurence Tribe howled in December 2016. The next month, Tribe demanded Trump “be impeached for abusing
his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any
other President in American history”—a land-speed
record for somebody entering his second week in office. In the
months that followed, the dean of con-law profs urged Trump’s
defenestration for everything from emoluments clause violations to mean tweets.

Given that backdrop, when I opened Professor Tribe’s new
book, To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,
coauthored with Joshua Matz, I was braced for an
impeach-at-all-costs jeremiad. The last thing I was expecting was
an earnest plea for “cool and evenhanded reflection, informed
by the Constitution and lessons from history.”

That, however, is exactly what Tribe and Matz have produced.
Their intelligent and informative book insists that impeachment is
an awkward weapon, one that can’t be “readily fired
twice during a single presidency,” and that holds no magic
bullet for the problems of American democracy—useful
reminders for #Resistance enthusiasts and Never Trumpers alike.

Whether they quite
intended to or not, the Framers made it extraordinarily hard to
remove a president. Yet our political culture makes it harder still
by conjuring up specters of wounded democracy and constitutional
collapse.

And yet, they lay it on pretty thick: Impeachment, Tribe and
Matz insist, is “a great power and a terrible one,” its
use fraught with “extraordinary danger.” If, God
forbid, we ever need to deploy it, “we can hope only that the
nation survives with its spirit intact and the strength to rebuild
all that’s broken.” To End a Presidency turns
out to be a sober, conventional case for approaching impeachment
with fear and trembling.

Too sober and conventional, for my money: The case for
impeachment-phobia has by now been adequately made. It permeates
our political culture and dominates respectable opinion, whether
it’s Senator Jeff Flake—who has compared Trump to
Stalin while insisting impeachment is out of
bounds—or Stephen Colbert, who rejects it as an
“extreme” remedy. Exaggerating the dangers of
impeachment, as Tribe and Matz do, has made its use all too rare.
Neither the Constitution nor the lessons of our history justify
their trepidation.

Few if any of the Framers viewed the prospect of presidential
impeachments with the dismay and perturbation Tribe and Matz
demand. “A good magistrate will not fear them,”
Massachusetts’s Elbridge Gerry insisted during the
Constitutional Convention. “A bad one ought to be kept in
fear of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Rod Rosenstein Was Infuriated that Trump 'Manipulated Him' to Help in Comey's Firing: Report

June 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

One person told the New York Times Rosenstein was “frantic, nervous, upset and emotionally dis-regulated.”


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was furious after President Donald Trump used a memo he wrote to justify firing then-FBI Director James Comey back in May 2017, according to a new report from the New York Times.

Trump's decision to fire Comey led Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller as a special counsel in charge of the investigation of the president, Russia's interference in the 2016 election, and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.

The Times reports that Rosenstein “alternately defended his involvement, expressed remorse at the tumult it unleashed, said the White House had manipulated him, fumed how the media had portrayed the events and said the full story would vindicate him,” according to four people familiar with the “outbursts.”

People described Rosenstein after the firing as “shaken,” “unsteady,” “overwhelmed,” as well as “frantic, nervous, upset and emotionally dis-regulated,” the Times reports. 

Rosenstein's memo detailed a list of Comey's offenses, recently echoed in a report from the Department of Justice inspector general, in the handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. Rosenstein did not explicitly call for Comey's removal, but he strongly condemned the director's choice to comment publicly about the investigation in July 2016 and to announce the reopening of the probe shortly before the election — a choice many believe cost her the presidency.

As the Times notes: “Mr. Trump has long argued that Mr. Comey was too soft on Mrs. Clinton, but the memo and subsequent White House statements suggested that Mr. Comey was fired for actions that hurt her candidacy.”

Initially, many observers were critical of Rosenstein's involvement in the Comey firing. But more recently, he has been portrayed as a bulwark against presidential interference into Mueller's investigation, especially as the president's allies in Congress ramp up their attacks against the probe. 

While Rosenstein's involvement in the drafting of the memo could be seen as a reason for him to recuse from the case, the deputy attorney general has thus far said he is not conflicted and can appropriately oversee the investigation.

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hope Hicks May Return to the White House — As Chief of Staff: Report

June 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

She's an unlikely choice — but another top candidate comes with major baggage.


Former White House communications director Hope Hicks may soon be returning to the administration as chief of staff John Kelly's replacement, according to a new report from Vanity Fair's Jake Sherman.

Sherman calls Hicks a “dark horse” candidate for the job. A more likely candidate for the position is Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News who recently joined the White House to help manage communications — though he appears hesitant to accept the high-profile job.

Shine has more depth of experience than Hicks, but he comes with significantly more baggage. As Sherman reports, he is implicated in the coverup of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes' years of sexual misconduct. As one source colorfully told Sherman of Shine, “This guy is up to eyeballs in shit.”

But neither Shine nor Hicks has much experience in politics. (Mick Mulvaney, current head of the Office of Management and Budget, is also reportedly under considerations for the job and has substantial political experience.)

Trump himself even once noted at a rally that Hicks was a political neophyte when he hired her.

“She knew nothing,” he said. “And she was there the first day, and she was fantastic.”

The president, though, was himself completely inexperienced in politics when he launched his bid for the presidency, so he may not see her lack of qualifications as a negative.

Hicks did not respond to Sherman's request for comment. He says that a source has confirmed that she is interested in the job if it is offered to her.

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An Agenda for the Trump-Putin Summit

June 29, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump will meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin next
month in Helsinki, Finland. President Trump long sought this summit
and talking is better than silence. However, without a change in
U.S. policy it isn’t clear what positives will result.

Much of Washington has fixated on the Russian Federation as
America’s most dangerous enemy. Democrats who dismissed Mitt Romney
when he fingered Moscow in 2012 now treat the White House as
Russian-occupied territory. Republicans outraged by any nation
which resists U.S. authority see Putin as a leader of the global
resistance. American policymakers bizarrely treat Russia as the
threat it wishes to be.

The president should approach the summit with a realistic
assessment of Moscow’s capabilities and intentions. Putin is no
friend of Western-style liberalism, but then, many U.S. allies are
no less authoritarian. There is no evidence that he bears any
ideological animus toward America or Europe. KGB officers were
among the most worldly and cynical Soviet officials. Although Putin
regrets the geopolitical wreckage left by the USSR’s collapse, he
has done little to recreate the Evil Empire. Retaking Crimea and
gaining influence in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the Donbass don’t
count for much.

What Moscow views as
offenses might not justify its actions, but its bill of particulars
certainly helps explain Russia’s aggressiveness.

Putin’s policies suggest that his ambitions are those of a
modern-day czar. A globe-spanning empire is unrealistic and
unnecessary. Instead, he insists on respect for his nation’s
interests, expects secure borders, seeks to deter potential
military threats, and desires to sit in global councils of power.
Nothing suggests plans for aggression against Europe. And the
Europeans don’t believe so either: even the countries squealing for
U.S. troops spend barely two percent of GDP on their militaries,
ludicrous levels if they really fear attack.

The United States might prefer the embarrassingly weak Russia of
the 1990s, but it is gone forever. Moscow no longer is a
superpower-it lacks the necessary population and economy. Russia
is, however, capable of asserting itself, as evidenced by its
confrontational policy toward Georgia and Ukraine. Yet even there
the Putin government’s ambitions were limited: seize control of
select territories and freeze conflicts to prevent the two nations’
admission to NATO. In this Putin’s behavior has been ugly but
effective, and no worse than that of such U.S. allies as Saudi
Arabia, which is waging a brutal and self-serving war, with
American support, against Yemen.

While many in the West deride Moscow’s security fears,
that perspective is easier to maintain with America’s history
than Russia’s history. Add to that Washington’s
widespread attempts at regime change, support for “color
revolutions,” and calculated mendacity concerning NATO
expansion: Russian skepticism …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Price for Making Justice Kennedy the Top Court's Kingmaker

June 29, 2018 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

The throne has fallen vacant.

Anthony Kennedy is retiring after 30 years on the
Supreme Court
, and we’ll soon learn who will don his
all-but-ermined robes in resolving the social conflicts of an
oft-divided nation, from abortion to zoning.

My own personal opinion is that if someone had to reign from the
court’s swing seat, I’m glad it was Kennedy. A champion
of individual liberty and strong constitutional restraints on
government, Kennedy has been a staunch guardian of the Bill of
Rights, including both First Amendment and Second.

“Most terms he agreed with Cato’s position more than
any other justice,” writes my Cato Institute colleague Ilya
Shapiro, though usually it’s more the Californian’s
results than the reasoning he has used to get there that merit the
label of “libertarian.”

But even after a king we regard as benign steps down, we might
want to reflect whether kingship is a good thing.

Both Kennedy and O’Connor
were famously reluctant to lay down clear rules for future cases,
preferring to leave options open for the exercise of their sense of
fairness.

The court’s varied constituencies were to Kennedy as iron
shavings to a magnet. Lawyers for both sides in the partisan gerrymandering cases this year
adjusted their pitches to fit his past pronouncements. Briefs in a
2016 abortion case, reported Time, “seem to be directly aimed
at Kennedy.” Advocates in the Fisher II affirmative-action
case in 2016 spent much of oral argument trying to master
Tony-talk.

Courts themselves joined the game: The late Ninth Circuit Judge
Stephen Reinhardt was said to have crafted his opinion striking
down California’s Proposition 8 to appeal to Kennedy. Even
presidents get drawn in: Some advised Barack Obama to choose
nominees for court vacancies who might skillfully woo Mr.
Middle.

Kennedy wasn’t the first to play this role on the high
court. During the reign of his predecessor Sandra Day
O’Connor, professors Susan Estrich and Kathleen Sullivan
wrote a law-review article announced by its title to be directed at
an “audience of one” — the Arizona-born justice.
Now that Kennedy is stepping down his scepter is likely to pass to
Chief Justice John Roberts, at least assuming President
Trump’s second pick is a staunch conservative like Neil
Gorsuch.

For years, Roberts has been drifting toward the court’s
center, most famously joining the liberals to uphold as constitutional a key provision of
ObamaCare
. Last week, he sided with them to rule that cops need to get a warrant if they want extended
access to cellphone-location records
.

Court gossip suggests Roberts did not discourage Kennedy from
retiring, perhaps relishing the chance, enjoyed by neither
O’Connor …read more

Source: OP-EDS