Category Archives: Crime

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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Rep. Steve Scalise shot at congressional baseball practice

Breaking news ths morning from the AP: Top House GOP leader shot at congressional baseball practice:

A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot by a rifle-wielding gunman Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington. Several other people were also believed to have been hit, according to a lawmaker who witnessed the shooting.

Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise’s security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.

Scalise, the House majority whip, was in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital, according to one congressional aide. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot.

President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments.

The shooting occurred at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice.

“We were doing batting practice,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field.” He said the gunman had “a rifle of some sort … a lot of ammo.”

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Right-wing media lays the groundwork for firing Robert Mueller

One of President Trump’s lawyers on Sunday would not rule out that the special counsel overseeing the Russia criminal investigation could get fired. President Trump lawyer won’t rule out Special Counsel Robert Mueller getting fired:

On ABC News’ “This Week,” attorney Jay Sekulow evaded a direct question about whether Trump would promise not to interfere with the probe run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“Look, the President of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive,” Sekulow said.

“But the President is going to seek the advice of his counsel and inside the government as well as outside. And I’m not going to speculate on what he will or will not do.”

He added, “I can’t imagine that that issue is going to arise. But that again is an issue that the President with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.”

Unitary executive“? We’ve heard this phrase before. The unitary executive theory “asserts that all executive authority must be in the President’s hands, without exception.” Presidential power “must be unilateral, and unchecked.” The phrase “unitary executive” is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power, from the twisted mind of Dick Cheney.

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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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Draining the Trump Swamp: Emoluments Clause lawsuits are heating up

On Friday, the Trump Justice Department argued that President Trump’s businesses are legally permitted to accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office, and thus Trump is not in violation of a constitutional clause barring the acceptance of emoluments. Foreign payments to Trump’s businesses are legally permitted, argues Justice Department:

In a 70-page legal brief responding to a liberal watchdog group’s lawsuit, the administration said that market-rate payments for goods or services made to the president’s real estate, hotel and golf companies do not constitute emoluments as defined by the Constitution.

US Constitution

Advocates from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) brought the suit against Trump in January, shortly after he entered office. The group asserted that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments — which may seek to curry favor with him — the president has breached the emoluments clause.

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Justice Department attorneys referenced a series of Washington’s letters and speeches to support their argument.

“Neither the text nor the history of the Clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the administration argued. “Were Plaintiffs’ interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited ‘emolument.’”

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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.

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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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