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The coming parade of witnesses against Trump

December 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Martin Longman, The Washington Monthly

They won’t be tell-all mistresses or victims of sexual harassment or victims of fraud and aggrieved contractors or pissed off members of the intelligence community. They will be people from Trump’s inner circle.


It was only eight days ago that I wrote Trump Will Be Brought Down By His Own People. In that piece, I made the point that witnesses like Rick Gates and Michael Flynn will be providing the most compelling evidence against President Trump. I noted that the Office of Special Counsel has interviewed virtually everyone in the Trump’s inner circle, and that most of them probably told the truth while others were compelled to sign cooperation agreements. Susan Glasser provides another take on this in a new piece in The New Yorker:

“Largely overlooked in the daily flood of Trump-era news, a week ago, his former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said in an interview that Trump had repeatedly pressed him to violate the law… The coverage of Tillerson’s interview with the journalist Bob Schieffer focussed more on Trump’s outraged response than on the underlying revelation… But Tillerson’s allegation was more than just another bout of Trump-era name-calling between a former Secretary of State who once called his boss a “fucking moron” and the President who fired him by tweet. Imagine Tillerson before Congress come January, testifying under oath and live on television, about which laws Trump told him to break.”

This morning, Michael Cohen appeared on ABC News with George Stephanopolous and made two important points. First, he reiterated that he did nothing unless directed to do it by Donald Trump, and that Trump was fully aware that he was requesting Cohen to commit crimes. Second, when asked whether Trump has been telling the truth about his collusion with the Russians, Cohen responded, “No.”

So, to make my original point again, you can anticipate a parade of witnesses against Trump. But those witnesses won’t be tell-all mistresses or victims of sexual harassment or victims of fraud and aggrieved contractors …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The truth about the 'pee tape': Experts compare the infamous Steele dossier with Mueller's findings

December 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Noor Al-Sibai, Raw Story

None of it has been disproven.


A former U.S. attorney and a Harvard Law student teamed up to revisit the Steele dossier by cross-referencing it with special counsel Robert Mueller's findings — and unveiled which parts of it hold water.

Former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg and Harvard Law student Sarah Grant wrote for Lawfare that many of the findings made public as part of Mueller's probe confirm “both specifically and thematically” aspects of the dossier.

“The dossier holds up well over time,” the scholars wrote, “and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven.”

In an interview Saturday morning with MSNBC's David Gura, Rosenberg noted that during his sentencing, Donald Trump's former “fixer” Michael Cohen essentially “acknowledged and admitted to” the business ties between the Trump Organization and Russia that were first alleged in the dossier.

In this dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele claimed that between March and September 2016, some Russian entities “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct 'altering operations' against the Democratic Party leadership.”

That claim was corroborated, the scholars wrote in Lawfare, by Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers — including the dates.

Another of Grant and Rosenberg's key findings included the now-publicly confirmed association between Trump confidante Roger Stone and Wikileaks through a Russian “conspirator” using the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0.

In the draft statement of offense for Stone-connected author Jerome Corsi, the pair noted, corroborates the trial between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.

Official filings related to Mueller, their report noted, “connects Russian intelligence—behind the guise of Guccifer 2.0—to Wikileaks and, to a lesser extent, to Stone.”

Mueller's filings, they added, haven't corroborated the dossier's claim that a Russian intelligence “operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”

“Mueller and his team have not yet alleged or asserted in public filings that individuals associated with the Trump campaign knew that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence cover and that the documents in Wikileaks’s possession came from Russian government hackers,” Grant and Rosenberg wrote.

Read the entire report via Lawfare and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Rise of the Robots: How Trump and the Republicans betrayed their base voters

December 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Dartagnan, Daily Kos

the Trump tax cut did more than just encourage automated replacement of workers in Trump country—it encouraged industries to move out of the country altogether:


Trump’s formula for his unfortunate electoral victory in 2016 relied almost exclusively on persuading rural American voters in the so-called “heartland” that their economic decline was due not to any fault of corporate, late-stage capitalism but to fact that their jobs were being “stolen” by people with darker skin than themselves. By scapegoating Latinos and Hispanics in particular, and by employing familiar Republican stereotypes against African-Americans, Trump succeeded in eking out the election against a polarizing female Democratic candidate by mobilizing rural “working class’” Americans, mostly white and male, to vote for him out of a sense of race-based grievance.

In an articlefor the New York Times,  Thomas Edsall shows how Trump and the Republicans almost immediately betrayed that rural voting base with their massive tax giveaway to corporations in 2016, creating a tax incentive bonanza that encouraged and accelerated the pace of automation and the implementation of robots, now displacing thousands of relatively low-skilled workers in largely Trump-voting areas of the country.  Another articleby Eduardo Porter (also written this week for the Times) highlights the root causes behind the seemingly intractable problem of rural poverty in this country, and offers some clues on how we as Democrats might reclaim many of those rural voters without compromising Democratic values on issues of racial inclusion and equality.  

If for nothing else, last month’s elections were remarkable for the fact that virtually no Republicans highlighted their singular achievement, a massive tax giveaway to corporate America. One obvious reason for that is that few Americans making less than mid-six figure incomes saw any benefit to themselves from this tax cut. But the other reason was even more damning, if less noticeable: buried in this gargantuan payoff to reward the CEO donors in boardrooms who supported their campaigns, Republicans deliberately provided a huge incentive for corporations to eliminate the very jobs that their rural voters needed to survive.

Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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U.S. Politicians Should Stop Punishing the Cuban People to Win Florida Votes

December 15, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

HAVANA, CUBA—“Where are you from?”, asked the
20-something as he passed me on the street in Havana. America, I
replied. “I love America” he declared, before turning
into one of the city’s many restaurants. He likely was a
member of Cuba’s growing private workforce.

However, opportunities for young Cubans are too few. State
controls continue to stifle the economy.

Ironically, among the biggest barriers to reform is President
Donald Trump, who seems determined to preserve the fading communist
dictatorship. Increased economic ties to the U.S. are the best
means for Americans to undermine the regime. Yet the Trump
administration partially reversed President Barack Obama’s
opening to Cuba. This switch hurt the island’s many private
businessmen and women, who complained to me on a recent visit that
they cannot get a hearing from the administration.

Among the biggest
barriers to reform is President Donald Trump, who seems determined
to preserve the fading communist dictatorship.

In 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries swept the corrupt
Fulgencio Batista from power. Alas they proved to be far better at
tyrannizing opponents than uplifting citizens.

Fidel & Co. turned to Moscow, while Washington imposed an
economic embargo. Even after the Soviet Union’s collapse,
Florida’s politically active Cuban-American community blocked
any change in policy. Today the Russians are back and Chinese are
arriving. One of my tour guides observed: “In five years we
all will be speaking Chinese.”

President Barack Obama broke precedent and relaxed federal
controls—many cannot be repealed except by
Congress—allowing more travel and business. He also
reestablished full diplomatic relations. On my recent trip, Cubans
told me how his policy gave them hope for a better future.

U.S. companies entered the Cuba market and tourists visited the
island. The private sector grew to account for an estimated
one-fifth of the economy and an even larger percentage of the
workforce.

Then last year President Trump limited business and travel. The
rules are complicated and confusing. To be safe, tourists can use
groups familiar with the regulations such as Cuba Educational
Travel (CET), which handled my trip. However, many Americans simply
choose to go elsewhere.

Which hit the nascent private sector hard. “A lot of
private business feels crushed,” complained CET’s
Collin Laverty. “So many people opened businesses for
American tourists,” said Julia de la Rosa, who owns an Airbnb
with her husband, Silvio Ortega. “Now there is little
demand.”

Cubans I met complained that the new rules triggered a rash of
cancellations and pushed down future bookings. Also hurt are
“all the people you are going to hire for the restaurant, to
make the beds, etc.,” said Ortega. Restauranteur Niruys
Higueras complained of Washington: “you should know what you
are doing …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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All Donald Trump wanted was to be president — and just look how it turned out!

December 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

He just wanted to be president, and now look at him; Trump is going to be a defendant


Can we, after all these months, find it within ourselves to manage a teeny-tiny, eensie-weensie, little itty-bitty smidgen of sympathy for Donald Trump? It doesn’t have to be much. Something about the size of the period at the end of this sentence would do. I mean, all the man did was run for president and accidentally win, and now it’s all over Twitter and everywhere else that he could end up in jail!

C’mon folks, just look at the guy. It all started out so innocently back in the summer of 2015. He started out the only way he knew how: by running a reality TV show of a campaign. Remember that so-called “rally” in the lobby of Trump Tower when he announced? I mean, he and Melania coming down that escalator like a political Gloria Swanson descending the staircase of her mansion in “Sunset Boulevard.” He may as well have turned to the camera and said, “I’m ready for my close-up.” Even the crowd was mostly extras hired from an open casting call.

In the early days, his campaign amounted to Roger Stone and his pudgy sidekick Sam Nunberg operating with a couple of cell phones out of a spare office in the Trump Organization. Looking back, it appears that they had a list of Republican Party debates and a list of the primaries, and they spun things up from there, sending Trump out to rallies seemingly at random.

He announced on June 16, and June 17 found him in Manchester, New Hampshire. Okay, that made sense. New Hampshire is where every presidential wannabe starts out. But July found him in Phoenix, Arizona, and Sun City, South Carolina.

Somebody whispered in his ear in early August that he was spinning his wheels, so Trump got rid of Stone and Nunberg and moved Angry Young Man Corey Lewandowski in to run the campaign in a more professional manner.

It worked, kind of. Trump quickly held a bunch of rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Paul Ryan bids farewell to D.C. by doing Trump’s bidding just as Republicans find some spine on foreign policy

December 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Paul Ryan’s disgraceful last act: Providing cover for Trump on Yemen war


The Senate finally found its spine this week. But just as Mitch McConnell steadied his wobbly feet to stand up to Donald Trump, Paul Ryan swooped in to undercut one of the only real acts of Republican resistance in two years of galling fecklessness.

For the first time since it was passed during the depths of the Vietnam War quagmire, a chamber of Congress used the War Powers Act to serve as a check on the executive branch this week. Some of the Senate’s most conservative members voted on Wednesday for legislation co-sponsored by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that would have ended U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s three-year-long bombing campaign in Yemen.

The very next day, the Republican-led Senate voted unanimously for a non-binding resolution to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The pair of foreign policy rebukes came in the same week that one Republican joined with Senate Democrats to narrowly pass a resolution to stop the Trump administration’s attempt to loosen rules that require “dark money” nonprofit political groups to disclose donor names in tax returns.

A slow clap for the Senate, if you’ll allow.

To be fair, this is not the first time McConnell has allowed his caucus to flex back at the White House, even in the face of Trump’s bluster. The annual defense appropriations bill, which sailed through the Senate in a bipartisan vote earlier this year, included a provision that blocked the Trump administration from scrapping tough penalties on the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. The next month, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution aimed at rolling back Trump’s authority to impose national-security tariffs. McConnell even spoke out against the president’s shameful family separation policy for migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year.'

“[I]t is important for Congress to signal that there is no excuse for recent Saudi behavior,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fierce ally of Trump, wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

But just as the effort to speak out against Trump’s silence on the Saudi regime began …read more

Source: ALTERNET