Category Archives: Campaigns

Sessions testimony: ‘a master class in dissembling’

During the testimony of our Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday there was this entertaining exchange:

SEN. WYDEN: The question is, Mr. Comey said there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them. What are they?

SESSIONS: Why don’t you tell me! There are none, Senator Wyden. There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty. This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don’t appreciate it. I try to give my best and truthful answers to any committee I’ve appeared before, and it’s really — people are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I’ve tried to be honest.

I half expected Sessions to go all Zell Miller on Sen. Wyden: “I do declare that you have impuned my honor, sir. I demand satisfaction. I challenge you to a duel.

And it was not innuendo, it was signal intelligence of Russian communications. Comey’s Hint at Jeff Sessions-Russia Problem Was Alleged Secret Meeting at Mayflower Hotel: classified intelligence suggested an undisclosed meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Sessions followed the script set by Lt. Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal asserting “I do not recall” more times than I could keep count (this is how a witness can avoid perjury charges). And what he did know, he refused to answer citing some ethereal executive privilege in the future that president Trump might assert, someday,  but had not asserted before his testimony.

This is becoming a thing with Trump administration officials.

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to testify on Tuesday

Programming Note: Our Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will testify in open hearing Tuesday before Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, according to the committee’s leaders.

The hearing will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Former FBI Director James Comey testified last week that the bureau had information about Sessions — before he recused himself from overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — that would have made it “problematic” for him to be involved in the probe. The former director did not elaborate in public on the nature of the information.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions requested that the committee hearing be public.

“He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee’s questions tomorrow,” Flores said.

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Support for James Comey’s version of the story

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an interview with ABC’s This Week that Trump’s alleged effort to dissuade then-FBI director James Comey from pursuing an investigation into former national security director Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia merited an inquiry.

I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case,” Bharara told This Week host George Stephanopoulos, adding: “I think it’s very important for all sorts of armchair speculators in the law to be clear that no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction.”

“It’s also true I think from based on what I see as a third party and out of government that there’s no basis to say there’s no obstruction,” he said.

More importantly, Preet Bharara says he was similarly pressured by Donald Trump as former FBI Director James Comey testified under oath. Former U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara says Trump fired him after a series of ‘uncomfortable’ calls:

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, told an interviewer Sunday that he was fired after a series of  “uncomfortable” telephone calls that made him feel that President Trump might be trying to compromise his independence as a federal prosecutor.

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Robert Mueller is assembling a ‘dream team’ of prosecutors

For those Tea-Publicans who have abandoned all reason for blind loyalty to the authoritarian personality cult of Donald J. Trump, and who have convinced themselves that their Dear Leader is either a naife who is innocent of any and all wrongdoing, or is above the law, I would suggest you consider the legal team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is putting together for his investigation. If there is “nothing to see here,” as Trump apologists delusionally assert, Mueller would not be assembling a “dream team” of heavy-hitter prosecutors. He clearly believes that he is sitting on something “yuuuge.”

Politico reports, Everything we know about the Mueller probe so far:

Special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

His first appointments — tapping longtime law-firm partner James Quarles and Andrew Weissmann, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit — were the opening moves in a politically red-hot criminal case that has upended the opening months of the Trump White House.

* * *

Mueller brings a wealth of national security experience from his time leading the FBI in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Veteran prosecutors say he has assembled a potent team whose members have backgrounds handling cases involving politicians, mobsters and others — and who know how to work potential witnesses if it helps them land bigger fish.

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Quick Takes on James Comey Testimony (updated)

> Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast: “A few hours after former FBI director James B. Comey finished testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, suggested that Comey had violated the law. By causing memos about conversations between Trump and Comey to become public, Comey had committed an “unauthorized disclosure of privileged information,” Kasowitz claimed.” Trump’s lawyer says Comey violated executive privilege. He’s wrong. “On a day characterized by hubris remarkable even for Washington, the blatant wrongheadedness of this “privilege” claim still stands out. In fact, executive privilege almost certainly does not cover the Comey memo. And even if it did, disclosing it without authorization isn’t illegal.”

> Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post: Comey’s sharing of notes about Trump doesn’t make him a criminal, analysts say: Prosecutors who bring charges against people for sharing information with the public can do so only when classified or other national security material is at issue. Material cannot be classified to conceal legal violations or prevent embarrassment, according to an executive order from President Barack Obama. Telling a reporter nonclassified information of public interest is not only legal, but it’s often the right thing to do.

> Phillip Bump, Washington Post:There’s no indication Comey violated the law. Trump may be about to. By threatening James Comey, Trump’s lawyer may be violating whistleblower retaliation rules.

> Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, and a co-founder and the chairman of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW and a former federal corruption prosecutor. Comey’s Case for Obstruction of Justice: “Mr. Comey’s sworn statement and answers before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee now provide strong evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice.” “But strong initial evidence is not the same as a slam-dunk case, and Mr. Comey’s testimony also made clear how far we have to go before the question is definitively resolved.”

> Phillip Allen Locavara, served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski: I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case. “Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.”
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6 Surprising Democratic Candidates Vow to Oust Martha Motormouth McSally

The mission to oust right-winger Martha “Motormouth” McSally from her Congressional seat launched this week as a suprising array of Democratic candidates made their pitches to progressive loyalists.

The first candidates’ forum was sponsored by the brand-new McSally Take a Stand PAC. The registration of the PAC, with 1,150 members, is exciting because there is no limit to the donations you can make to it.

Inspiring the attendees, most of the candidates supported Medicare for All. The Arizona Democratic Party State Committee has united in support of HR-676 -Medicare For All — single-payer health care.

Here’s my scorecard (also see the latest Scuttlebutt below).

#1 Alison Jones, a water scientist,  hydrogeologist and past president of the Arizona Geological Society. She works at Clear Creek Associates, a company that does well design, water supply, and contaminated sites investigations. The political newbie was articulate, smart and organized.  She was only candidate with handout materials — hitting all the progressive notes about climate change, humane immigration, sustainable water policy, pro-choice, support the middle class, LGBT rights and sensible gun laws.

She was only candidate with handout materials — hitting all the progressive notes about climate change, humane immigration, sustainable water policy, pro-choice, support the middle class, LGBT rights and sensible gun laws.

I love scientists and she’s assembling a team of them to advise her. It will take a woman to beat McSally. I wish Alison had elected office experience and an existing base.

Best line: “Martha, how can you sleep at night?”

To support her: https://www.facebook.com/Jonesing4AZ/, Phone 520-230-1249, Email: aj4az2@gmail.com

#2 Billy Kovacs, a 30-year old who is the new Operations Manager for the Congress Hotel. The political newbie is tall, articulate, charismatic, handsome and young. His LinkedIn profile shows he has a lot of business experience for a kid. Did I mention he’s young and will attract Millennials who are 25% of the Tucson population?

A diamond in the rough, Billy can ride the wave of new, young volunteers who are flooding the Democratic Party. Before the election, I went to meetings of precinct committeemen and was let down by all the white hair I saw. And I say this speaking as a senior citizen myself. After Inauguration Day, these meetings have quadrupled in attendance and were moved to a bigger location. As Bob Dylan sang in 1963, “Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall, For the times they are a-changin.’” Let’s let the younger people take over.

I wish he had elected office experience and an existing base.

Best line: “We need to reach young people who haven’t seen a Democrat knocking on their doors.”

To support him: https://www.kovacsforcongress.com/, https://www.facebook.com/kovacsforcongress, Email: info@kovacsforcongress.com.

#3 Bruce Wheeler, an experienced legislator who was Assistant Minority Leader in the Arizona state house. He has served from 1975-1978, and 2010-2017. Bruce has done a lot for Arizona, sponsoring 71 progressive bills in the house.

He is the favorite of seasoned precinct committeemen, who are holding house parties for him now.  I can see why: he is for Medicare for All, a fair immigration policy, combating climate change, securing a woman’s right to choose, jobs not jails, stopping dark money, gay rights and eliminating school vouchers.

He quoted Martin Luther King and Noam Chomsky and said hello to Randy Friese from the podium. Friese is Assistant Minority Leader and a shining hope for Democrats. Bruce has been elected three times, and all of his constituency is in McSally’s congressional district.

I just wish he were as exciting as Governor candidate Steve Farley. I wonder if he can beat a female A-10 pilot in the election.

Best line: “We are optimists who can turn this around. CD2 is winnable.”

To support him: http://wheelerforcongress2018.com/, Email: bwheeler48@gmail.com, Phone 520-609-7800.

#4 Mary S. Matiella, a former US Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), appointed by Obama. She has three key advantages: she’s a woman, a Latina and ex-military.

The daughter of migrant workers who grew up in Marana and Picacho, she told heart-rending stories of a childhood without medical care.

Today she is an alumna of the Eller College, where she earned her MBA in 1976. She was the youngest person in her MBA class, the only woman, and the only minority candidate. She has 33 years of military and federal government experience. She supports free public education, a woman’s right to choose, and labor unions.

Mary has the support of Bill Roe, a longtime leader among Arizona Democrats who is the party’s first vice chair. Tim Steller interviewed her for the Arizona Daily Star.

Best line: “Without free pubic education, we cannot give hope to the children who play in the dirt.”

Support her at: matiella@gwu.edu, phone: 703-321-6447.

#5 Charlie Verdin, an odd guy with no particular points. He is running “to create a better vision of representative democracy.”

Chris Wright

#6 Chris Wright, a guy with a beer belly in a blue t-shirt, gym shoes and white cargo pants. Best line: “I do have a clue.” He just launched a Star Treck Facebook page.

No-shows: Jeff Latas, Matt Heinz, Lou Jordan, Ann Kirkpatrick, Joshua Polacheck.

Scuttlebutt

Randy Friese told me he waiting to see if a strong candidate emerges in the McSally race. If there is, he might run against US Sen. Jeff Flake, who may face serious primary challenges from Trump lackeys like State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, onetime state GOP boss Robert Graham, and wacko crackpot Kelli Ward.

Ann Kirkpatrick has moved to Tucson from Flagstaff and Ron Barber is trying to draft her. She was a Congresswoman from Arizona’s 1st district from 2009 to 2011 and 2013 to 2017.

Tamar Rala Kreiswirth, founder of The Arizona Ground Game (where I am a steering committee member) passionately reminded us that 25% of Arizona Democrats did not vote in the last election. In McSally’s district, there are 122,000 registered Democrats, 116,000 registered Republicans and 104,000 independents and others. TAGG is a grass-roots group that supports precinct committeemen like me by recruiting neighborhood Guides. The Ground Game encourages active citizenship through neighborhood building and public policy education. See AZGroundGame.org.

Richard Elías, a Pima County Supervisor Supervisor is the new Chairman of the Nucleus Club, whose memberships pay the mortgage on the Pima Democratic Party office on E. 1st Street. Meetings are on the second Thursday of the month at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E Broadway starting at 5:30 pm with cocktails and appetizers. The programs start at 6:00 pm. I fondly remember the late Martin Bacall who always encouraged me to attend the meetings.


Larry Bodine is an elected Democratic Precinct Committeeman in Precinct #238.