Category Archives: Crime

Russian hacking of U.S. elections more extensive and is ongoing

First, an aside to a related matter, Justice Department: No evidence Obama wiretapped Trump Tower:

There is no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department said in a new court filing.

The DOJ made the statement in a motion for summary judgment filed Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight.

“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets,” the government said, referring to the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

This confirms that pathological liar Donald Trump lied to fabricate a media distraction at the time, but then, we already knew this. Actual fake news!

The New York Times reported last week about the genuine hacking scandal, Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny:

[Months after the election disruptions involving electronic poll books in Durham, North Carolina], for Ms. Greenhalgh, other election security experts and some state officials, questions still linger about what happened that day in Durham as well as other counties in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Arizona.

After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.

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Conservatives lament the moral decay of the GOP under Donald Trump

Two important opinion pieces recently from conservative pundits on the moral decay of the GOP under Donald Trump. People who approve of Trump do so *because* of his behavior in office, not despite it.

First, Michael Gerson of the Washington Post writes, Trump deepens the moral damage to the GOP:

Repetition is the enemy of maintaining proper distinctions. It is a short road from being serially outraged to being slightly bored to being completely inured.

Thus many are likely to find the pardon of former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio to be just another . . . something. Just another public feeding of President Trump’s base; or just an additional shiny distraction from real issues; or just one more cause for head-shaking and shoulder-shrugging; or just further evidence of the tawdry political company kept by the president of the United States.

This would be a mistake. This presidential action is not “just” anything. Following his expression of sympathy for the “very fine people” attending a white- supremacist rally in Charlottesville — who were, he said, defending “our history and heritage” — Trump must have known his next move would be highly symbolic, either as a retreat from prejudice or as its affirmation. What followed with the Arpaio pardon constitutes the most forthright racist incitement of the Trump era.

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An authoritarian vision of ‘law and order’

The Washington Post reports that Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons to police:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.13.52 PMPresident Donald Trump plans to resume the transfer of surplus weapons, vehicles and other equipment from the nation’s military to its state and local law enforcement agencies, reviving a program that was sharply curtailed by President Barack Obama two years ago. The program launched in 1990 but was greatly limited after public reaction to images of heavily militarized police in the streets of Ferguson, Mo., and other sites of civil unrest.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the move Monday morning at the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Nashville, and said the president would do so by executive order. The police union had lobbied for the restoration of the program, and Trump said he would do so during his campaign.

“The decision to restore the flow of military weaponry to civilian law enforcement was the latest move by the Trump administration both to stake out a hard-line stance on law and order as they view it, and to undo actions by the Obama administration which were unpopular in some quarters of law enforcement.”

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Collaborators in Trumpism, the new American Fascism

A must-read column today from the New York Times‘ Paul Krugman on Fascism, American Style:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, Trump Asked Top Aides Months Ago if Arpaio Case Could Be Dropped, Officials Say, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

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Trump pardons his partner in crime, crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio (Updated)

The Trump administration has made prodigious use of the “Friday night news dump” since taking office. And with much of the nation distracted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the potential natural disaster of catastrophic flooding to occur over the next several days,  the Trump administration announced, among other moves, the first presidential pardon issued by President Trump to former Maricopa County Sheriff crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio. President Donald Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It was not a pardon issued in the “regular order” of how pardons are issued by the Department of Justice, Standards for Consideration of Clemecy Petitioners, but rather was a patently political pardon issued by the president to a political supporter and friend — Trump announced his intentions at his Phoenix campaign rally — a dispensation if you will, to Trump’s partner in crime in the racist Obama “birther” movement and his anti-immigrant nationalism movement.

Arpaio was found by the court to have singled out people based on their race for disproportionate law enforcement scrutiny with his immigration sweeps, which violated their constitutional civil rights and the fundamental principle of equal justice under the law.

Arpaio was ordered by the Court to cease and desist, and his office agreed to a consent agreement with the Department of Justice to monitor his compliance. Arpaio defiantly violated the court’s order and that agreement. Arpaio had a legal duty to obey the court’s order while appealing it. Arpaio was properly found guilty of criminal contempt of the court’s order.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio sends the message that some people are above the law if they have friends in high places in the White House.

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Donald Trump doubles down on ‘both sides to blame,’ energizing the alt-right

As I posted yesterday, the takeaway from Monday’s “press availabilty” is that Trump was forced to make a more forceful condemnation of white supremacist groups because he had to staunch the flood of bad press he has been getting since Saturday. The sincerity of his statement was seriously in doubt.

If you have not seen Tuesday’s press availability, you really must watch a replay. Donald Trump had a total meltdown today, returning to his “blame both sides” position on Saturday, and destroying whatever political cover he gave to Republicans yesterday with the prepared remarks that he had obviously been forced to give. Trump made things worse today.

Watch the entire heated exchange between Trump and reporters over Charlottesville.

This was a big “fuck you!” to his White House staff, to reporters and pundits, and to other critics of his belated and weak response to events in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was Donald Trump unchained and out of control.

It is being reported that Trump was not supposed to take any questions today and went rogue. His staff  is reportedly stunned by what they observed today, as were reporters.

This Washington Post report really does not do this press availability justice. You have to see it to fully appreciate what happened. Trump again blames both sides in Charlottesville, says some counterprotesters were ‘very, very violent’:

President Trump said Tuesday that counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville acted violently and should share the blame for the mayhem that left a woman dead and many injured.

Speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the president called the events of Saturday at the “Unite the Right” rally a “horrible thing to watch,” but he emphasized that both sides acted irresponsibly.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said.  “No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

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