Category Archives: Ethics

Democrats will filibuster the stolen seat on the U.S. Supreme Court

With all the craziness going on in Washington this week, one of the critical stories that got buried in the news was the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was partly due to the fact that Judge Gorsuch is a good actor and he stuck to the well-rehearsed script by being purposefully vague in his answers about his judicial philosophy.

A classic scripted moment was when he was asked the set-up question whether Donald Trump had asked him if he would overturn Roe v. Wade if appointed to the court. Gorsuch put on his most sincere morally righteous face and said “I would have walked out of the room.”

Maybe Judge Gorsuch will be nominated for an Emmy Award this year for best dramatic performance in a television series on C-Span.

The fact is that there are 52 Tea-Publican senators and not one of them is going to vote against Judge Gorsuch. Tea-Publicans purposefully engaged in an unprecedented and unconstitutional blockade of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, even before they knew the nominee, in order to steal this seat on the Supreme Court. They fully intend to complete their crime against democracy.

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House Intelligence Committee chairman has undermined the credibility of the committee

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes Apologized to Intel. Committee Members—But Won’t Explain His Stunt:

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee, blew up the congressional intelligence oversight process. On Thursday morning, at a private committee meeting, he apologized to his colleagues. But, according to a committee source, Nunes would not say what he thought he had done wrong or explain his actions.

Without consulting with the members of his committee—Republicans and Democrats—Nunes on Wednesday held two press conferences, during which he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team, including possibly Trump, were picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities were disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. Nunes also rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump.

Note: House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team: “The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim [on Wednesday] that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” “Until Nunes sees the actual documents, he does not know whether any of the transition officials were actually part of the surveilled conversations or were just talked about by others, spokesman Jack Langer said Thursday.” “He’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Langer said.

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‘All the president’s men’: following the Russian money and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Paul Manafort is gone, but his business associate remains a key part of Trump’s operation:

The White House on Wednesday sought to again distance itself from President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is under increasing scrutiny over his connections to Russian business interests.

But even as Trump officials downplay Manafort’s role, his ­decade-long business associate Rick Gates remains entrenched in the president’s operation. Gates is one of four people leading a Trump-blessed group that defends the president’s agenda. As recently as last week, he was at the White House to meet with officials as part of that work.

Through Manafort, Gates is tied to many of the same business titans from Ukraine and Russia, including Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with strong ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had a multimillion-dollar contract with Deripaska between at least 2005 and 2009 that was aimed at helping the political interests of Putin.

Manafort has acknowledged the contract with Deripaska but denied that it, or any other of their dealings, had anything to do with the Russian government. In a brief interview, Gates described his work as being focused on “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.”

Gates also acknowledged a role in at least two recent, controversial deals involving separate Putin-connected oligarchs, including one other with Deripaska. Both led to lawsuits in which Gates was listed as a partner to Manafort, though Gates said he holds no equity interest in the firm.

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The art of the tantrum: Trump gives do or die ultimatum to House Tea-Publicans for ‘Obamacare’ repeal

Donald Trump has a long history of fabricating his own myths about his ability of negotiating deals.

This political novice has no experience and no skills in legislating, and more importantly, no capital with those whom he is negotiating — he attacks Tea-publicans in Congress as easily as Democrats. He attacks anyone who does not immediately satisfy his petulant demands or dares to disagree with him.

What we have is a 70 year old man with a three year old’s child-like mentality, a man who throws tantrums to get his way, whether it is an early morning Twitter rage, or his latest tantrum: “Let me win or I will take my ball and go home!Trump delivers ultimatum to House Republicans: Pass health-care measure on Friday or he’ll move on:

President Trump delivered an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Vote to approve the measure to overhaul the nation’s health-care system on the House floor Friday, or reject it and the president will move on to his other legislative priorities.

The president, through his aides in a closed-door meeting, signaled that the time for negotiations was over with rank-and-file Republicans who were meeting late at night on Capitol Hill to try to find common ground on the embattled package crafted by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

The move was a high-risk gamble for the president and the speaker, who have invested significant political capital in passing legislation that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. For Trump, who campaigned as a skilled negotiator capable of forging a good deal on behalf of Americans, it could either vindicate or undercut one of his signature claims.

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D-Day for ‘Obamacare’ repeal aka Trumpcare bill in the House

It is decision day (D-Day) in the House.

The radical far-right GOP House Freedom Caucus is making eleventh-hour demands for more draconian measures to the GOP’s “Obamacare” repeal bill aka “Trumpcare 2.0” (soon to be 3.0?) ahead of the vote scheduled for today, only because it is the anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law. The post-policy nihilists of the GOP only do propaganda, not policy.

The New York Times reports, Key to Health Vote, Hard-Line Conservatives Push New Cuts:

Hard-line conservatives in the House will meet Thursday morning with President Trump to hammer out changes to the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pressing to eliminate federal requirements that health insurance plans provide a basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services and wellness visits.

What the Freedom Caucus wants in the GOP health-care bill, and why it’s not getting it:

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 dictates that not just anything can be passed by the “reconciliation” process; matters that are “extraneous” to the budgetary nature of the bill are excluded.

House leaders, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), are insisting that any provisions rolling back the ACA’s essential health benefits are indeed extraneous. And not only are they extraneous, Ryan argued Wednesday, but if the House adds them to the bill, the Senate couldn’t just strip them out — it could no longer consider it as a privileged reconciliation bill needing only a simple, Republican majority to pass.

Translation: the Senate cloture rule requiring 60 votes to end debate and advance to a vote on the bill will apply, and Democrats could comfortably filibuster this bill in the Senate.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday evening said that he has seen evidence that is “more than circumstantial” of collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia. Schiff: Evidence Of Trump Camp Russia Collusion ‘More Than Circumstantial:

“I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” Schiff said on MSNBC after host Chuck Todd noted the congressman’s comment on Sunday that there is “circumstantial evidence of collusion.”

“You have seen direct evidence of collusion?” Todd then asked Schiff.

“I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation. So that is what we ought to do,” Schiff replied.

CNN reported later on Wednesday night that the FBI has evidence that may show that Trump associates communicated with Russian officials about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, citing unnamed U.S. officials. US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

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