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'They're Going to Be in Some Trouble': MSNBC Analyst Identifies Two Key Issues Mueller Will Grill Paul Manafort About That May Imperil Trump's Team

October 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Tim O'Brien warned Trump's critics not to be too hopeful Manafort will take down the president outright — but that he could still cause problems for the White House.

On Monday, POLITICO reported that President Donald Trump's former campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort met with prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his cooperation agreement in the Russia investigation.

On MSNBC's “Deadline: White House, Republican host Nicolle Wallace asked analyst Tim O'Brien what the legal implications could be for Mueller — and for Trump's team.

“You're here, and I'm glad you're here, because I made a quick list, but I'm sure you can make a longer one, of things that Manafort could tell Mr. Mueller and his team about,” said Wallace. “The Trump Tower meeting. The platform change where it became pro-Putin for the first time in GOP platform change history. An offer to brief Deripaska, Russian oligarch. He's pleaded guilty, he's been convicted of, or didn't plead guilty but he's been convicted of eight felonies. How useful do you think Manafort could be to Mueller's team?”

“I think narrowly useful,” said O'Brien. “I think there's been a lot of hope from Trump critics that Manafort owns some keys to the kingdom, and unlocking secrets or problems in Trump's past. I think a lot of that probably isn't problematic for the president, but as you've pointed out, there are two very salient things. One is the Trump Tower meeting, because that gets at whether or not in June of 2016, members of Trump's campaign met with people who had kompromat on Hillary Clinton in an effort to tilt voters against her campaign. That gets to things like fraud against the United States, etc, etc, there's real problem there.

“It's the conspiracy,” said Wallace.

“It's the conspiracy,” agreed O'Brien. “I think the president, on some of the collusion and conspiracy stuff, has less vulnerability than some people have thought, but nonetheless—”

“Do you think it's for the same reason that his friends tell me privately?” cut in Wallace. “That he was too stupid to collude? That's what his friends …read more


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Trump Shocks White House Reporters as He Lobs Misogynistic Insult at Female Journalist

October 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

It was a completely demeaning and unnecessary remark.

While his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces serious allegations of sexual assault, President Donald Trump has been driving the point home that the Republican Party has little respect or concern for women.

First, he lashed out at Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh's accusers, for not coming forward with the allegation 36 years ago, when she says the assault happened — even though it is well known that victims often do not report sexual assault. Then, at a press conference last week, Trump was repeatedly rude and dismissive toward female reporters trying to ask him questions.

And on Monday, Trump needlessly and cruelly mocked a Cecilia Vega of ABC News at a press event at the White House Rose Garden.

“Okay question? Yeah, go ahead, sure,” Trump said, calling on a Vega in the audience. When there was a slight delay in her asking the question, he said, “She's shocked that I picked her! Like in a state of shock.”

“I'm not, thank you, Mr. President,” she said. 

“That's okay, I know you're not thinking,” he said. “You never do.”

At this remark, a surprised gasp rose from the audience, and Vega looked stunned: “I'm sorry?” she said.

“No, go ahead,” Trump said. He immediately looked down, seemingly regretting his needless slight.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

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Why Clinton Survived Impeachment While Nixon Resigned After Watergate

October 1, 2018 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

There are many reasons, but part of the explanation comes down to timing.

President Richard Nixon alongside the Watergate tape transciptions in 1974 and President Bill Clinton making a short statement regarding the Senate acquitting him of impeachment charges in 1999.

Just three presidents have faced impeachment charges in U.S. history—Andrew Johnson in 1868 surrounding the firing of a cabinet member; Richard M. Nixon in 1973 for his Watergate cover-up; and Bill Clinton, in 1998-99 for charges of perjury and obstruction in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Johnson and Clinton remained in office, while Nixon resigned in disgrace.

So, why was Watergate the only scandal to lead to the resignation of a sitting president?

Johnson aside, the time and place in history of the Nixon and Clinton presidencies are important to consider, says Lara Brown, director and assistant professor of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

“One of the important realities of our history is that Watergate came on the heels of the Vietnam War,” she says. “The difficulty of the war—the large loss of life combined with the sense that there was no way to win—and the release of the Pentagon Papers—in which many in the public realized they had been ‘lied to’ about the war—contributed to the decline of trust in government which had begun in the latter half of the 1960s and it is evident in the polling.”

Watergate Scandal (TV-14; 2:33)

During Clinton’s presidency, unlike Nixon’s, Brown notes, trust in government was increasing.

“Some of this rise in trust was about the productivity of the working relationship between the Republicans in Congress and the Clinton White House,” she says. “In essence, people were pleased that legislation was passing and compromises were agreed to across the aisle, from balancing the budget to welfare reform.”

Plus, adds Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston and host of the podcast, “Party Politics,” Watergate was the culmination of years of scandals and events.

“So, the outcome of the resignation of the president was surprising but not shocking,” he says.

Differences in economies also came into play, according to Brown, with the economy faltering in the early 1970s. “And when economic downturns happen, presidents typically take the blame,” she says. “Again, Clinton was on the other side of this trend—the economy was growing, not contracting.”

“The economy was a strong factor …read more


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2017 Las Vegas Shooting

October 1, 2018 in History

By Editors

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800.

On this day in 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Although the shooting only lasted 10 minutes, the death and injury tolls made this massacre the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the time of the attack.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired man who lived in Mesquite, Nevada, targeted the crowd of concert-goers on the Las Vegas strip from the 32 floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. He had checked into the hotel several days before the massacre.

Paddock began firing at the crowd at 10:05 p.m. using an arsenal of 23 guns, 12 of which were upgraded with bump stocks – a tool used to fire semi-automatic guns in rapid succession. Within the 10-minute period, he was able to fire more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition.

An open-door alert sent hotel security guard Jesus Campos to investigate the 32 floor at the start of the shooting. After arriving on the floor via the stairs, Campos couldn’t get past a barricade blocking the entrance so he used the elevator instead. While walking through the hall, he heard a drilling sound coming from Paddock’s room and was shot in the leg, through the door.

Once authorities were alerted, they arrived at Paddock’s suite at 10:17 p.m. and didn’t breach for nearly another hour at 11:20 p.m. Paddock was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His motives remain unknown.

In addition to the arsenal of weaponry found in Paddock’s hotel room, a note calculating how to attack the crowd based on trajectory and distance was also found. Authorities concluded that Paddock had no connections with terrorist groups such as ISIS and that his planned attack was carried out without accomplices.

The deadly shooting horrified the country and sparked debate over gun control legislation once again, with gun-control advocates claiming that Paddock’s use of bump stocks led to increased causalities. In response, President Trump said that he was open to banning the product, but would want to learn more about them first. One year following the shooting, 11 states had banned bump stocks and more than a …read more


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The Dangers of Creating a New Arab Alliance

October 1, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

How to explain the Trump administration’s fixation with Iran?
The Islamic Republic is an economic wreck and in political
disarray, and lacks an effective conventional military. It
obviously cannot seriously threaten America.

Moreover, Tehran’s capabilities are dramatically overshadowed by
Israel’s nuclear arsenal, Saudi Arabia’s lavishly appointed
military, and the United Arab Emirates’ brutal war-making. The
obvious response to Iran’s threats, which have been far exceeded by
Riyadh’s reckless aggressiveness, is regional cooperation—and
for Tehran’s neighbors to better treat their own oppressed
populations, so the latter do not find Iran’s Islamist message

Yet President Donald Trump, who doesn’t like the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, through which the Europeans have become
embarrassingly dependent on America, wants to create an Arab NATO,
provisionally named the Middle East Strategic Alliance. The
organization’s leading member would be Saudi Arabia, another nation
which candidate Trump criticized for taking advantage of the United

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used the latest UN General
Assembly meeting to host prospective members while Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking
criss-crossed the Gulf promoting the idea. If all goes well, it
will be introduced at a summit hosted by the United States in

Donald Trump doesn’t like
the original NATO, so why does he want a second one?

At least the original NATO served a useful purpose. Western
European countries had been wrecked by World War II and the Soviet
Union turned Central and Eastern European states into dismal
satellites. Soviet domination of Eurasia, though not sufficient to
threaten American independence, would have presented the U.S. with
a dangerous security environment for years if not decades.

The alliance’s chief shortcoming was allowing Europeans to treat
America’s military commitment as welfare. NATO’s European members
are capable of confronting Russia or any other presumed adversary.
Yet after recovering economically, they continued to rely on Uncle
Sam, dismissing ever more embarrassing pleas from Washington that
they do more. They knew American officials would defend the
continent, no matter what.

Today even countries claiming to be vitally threatened by
Russia—Poland and the Baltic States—spend only about
two percent of gross domestic product on their militaries. They
expect the United States to swoop in at the last minute and save
them if the worst happens. NATO is an alliance primarily in name
rather than action. President Trump has repeatedly made this point,
but his own officials have done their best to undermine his

Alas, an Arab NATO, whether called MESA or something else, would
multiply the original NATO’s many infirmities. First, by its
own terms the proposed organization would be bound to target its
own members. A spokesman for the National Security Council …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Italy's Not the New Greece. It’s the New Argentina.

October 1, 2018 in Economics

By Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi

MILAN — The Italian government’s decision to

bust the deficit limits
it had agreed with the European Union
is depressing. But it’s not surprising.

It’s not just that Rome is now governed by a
grand coalition of extremists
: Interior Minister
Matteo Salvini
’s far-right League and Economic
Development Minister Luigi Di Maio’s anti-establishment 5tar

For years, Italian politicians have portrayed the
country’s fiscal constraints as the result of foreign
machinations — unfair limitations imposed by Brussels or

People tend to
overestimate the immediate benefits of government spending and
underestimate what it may cost them in the long run.

Right-wingers have portrayed the financial storm that ousted
then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2011 as a conspiracy.
Italy’s rising cost of borrowing, they claim, was somehow
weaponized to drive out one of the few politicians who stood up to

More recently, former Prime Minister
Matteo Renzi
demanded, and obtained, “flexibility”
over Brussels-mandated budget constraints, thereby undermining the
legitimacy of fiscal rules.

Indeed, his center-left Democratic Party’s electoral program
promised a budget deficit of 2.9 percent — quite a bit higher
than the 2.4 percent deficit the government unveiled Thursday

Renzi’s rhetoric portrayed the negotiation over budget limits as
a diplomatic skirmish with the
European Commission
— a framing that plays into the hands
of the populists in charge of the country today.

Seen in this light, a bigger deficit is proof that Italy is
staring down the European technocracy — never mind the
consequences for the country’s finances over the long

Italy’s government is made up of strange bedfellows. The
League is primarily concerned with restricting immigration. The
5Stars lean left; their key campaign promise was a
“citizen’s income” for the poorest of Italians,
one they partially delivered on by busting through the EU’s
spending constraints.

For now, the two parties have squared their differences by
agreeing to spend more freely.

At least in Renzi’s times, laxer public finances were seen as a
necessary counterpart to supply-side reforms. Now bigger deficits
are good in themselves.

Salvini and Di Maio both champion a vulgar form of Keynesianism:
a blind preference for government spending, regardless of the
macroeconomic outlook.

This has dire consequences for the long-term health of the

Italy’s cost of borrowing has roughly doubled since the
government took power last spring. This is a serious matter in a
country where the public debt is over €2.2 trillion or 132 percent
of GDP. It also translates into a higher cost of credit for
households and businesses.

This is particularly troublesome for the enterprising,
productive part of Italy: In short, the League’s stronghold in the

Perhaps because they lack a credible alternative …read more

Source: OP-EDS