March 22, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 4:51 AM


Sasse Slams White House's Handling of 'Putin's Phony, Sham Re-Election' (JENNA LIFHITS, 3/21/18, Weekly Standard)

In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Sasse said Sanders was wrong to sidestep a question about the integrity of Russia's elections, a question to which he said the world already knows the answer.

"Yesterday, when the White House refused to speak directly and clearly about this matter, we were weakened as a nation and a tyrant was strengthened," he said. "The dodge on Putin broke with the basic American moral tradition. It broke faith with our core values. It broke trust with freedom seekers across the globe."

He continued: "To those who struggle, we have always said, 'we see you, and we stand with you.' These simple truths matter. The moral responsibilities of the office of the presidency matter, and when we don't affirm these basic truths, it is a failure to who we are. It is a failure to do what we do, and it is a betrayal, not just to the millions of people who are denied free and fair elections in Russia this week, but it is a failure to people all across the globe who are struggling in darkness against tyrants."

Posted by orrinj at 4:39 AM


Inside the Bizarre World of Indoor Marathons (Martin Fritz Huber, Mar 21, 2018, Outside)

"I'm not trying to insult anybody, but I feel like this is an event for running geeks," said Amelia Bourdeau, a recreational runner who, on Saturday, was sitting in street clothes in the balcony-level stands of the six-lane indoor track and field facility in New York City, known locally as the Armory.

Below, seven runners--five men and two women--were in the process of running 211 laps in an attempt to break the indoor marathon world record. Christopher Zablocki, who set the men's mark of 2:21:48 at this event last year and was recently profiled in the New York Times, was back to defend his title. From the looks of it, however, he had some work to do; with less than a third of the race to go, Zablocki's rival Malcolm Richards had already twice lapped the rest of the men's field and was showing no sign of slowing down. Richards had set the world record at the inaugural Indoor Marathon World Record Challenge, in 2016, and seemed bent on regaining his title.

"Malcolm has a two-and-a-half lap lead now. That's only 500 meters!" a race announcer said over the loudspeaker, in an apparent bid to reinject a little drama.

Posted by orrinj at 4:37 AM


John Bolton's Curious Appearance In A Russian Gun Rights Video (TIM MAK, 3/22/18, NPR)

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton recorded a video used by the Russian gun rights group The Right to Bear Arms in 2013 to encourage the Russian government to loosen gun laws.

The episode, which has not been previously reported, illustrates the common cause that Russian and American gun rights groups were forming in the years leading up to the 2016 election through former National Rifle Association president David Keene.

Posted by orrinj at 3:48 AM


How a Witness for Mueller and a Republican Donor Influenced the White House for Gulf Rulers (David D. Kirkpatrick and Mark Mazzetti, March 21, 2018, NY Times)

A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence between the two men reveal an active effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies, both close American allies.

High on the agenda of the two men -- George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee -- was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of the U.A.E.

Mr. Tillerson was fired last week, and the president has adopted tough approaches toward both Iran and Qatar.

Posted by orrinj at 3:39 AM


Americans are more likely to be attacked by far-right terrorists than Islamists (MEHDI HASAN, 3/22/18, New Statesman)

Over the course of his 14 months in office, the president has pointedly refused to use the term "white supremacist terrorist". He has turned a blind eye to a wave of shootings, stabbings and bombings carried out not by radicalised Muslims but by radicalised white men. He has ignored the fact - documented in a range of studies - that Americans are much more likely to be the victims of a "white supremacist terrorist" than a "radical Islamic terrorist". (According to the Investigative Fund, an independent journalism organisation, "far-right plots and attacks outnumber Islamist incidents by almost two to one.")

And the reason for Trump's PC position? It's straightforward - if scary. "Radical Islamic terrorists" aren't part of his base. "White supremacist terrorists" are.

Posted by orrinj at 3:33 AM


Trump Fumes Over Leak About Putin Call (Noah Bierman And Tracy Wilkinson, 3/21/18, Tribune)

President Donald Trump and some aides were furious on Wednesday after the leak of sensitive notes for briefing the president before a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to aides and a close associate.

The leak appeared designed to embarrass Trump for congratulating rather than confronting Putin -- contrary to the notes' recommendation.

Posted by orrinj at 3:27 AM


Behind the scenes: Fox News analyst's stunning note hit network 'like a bombshell' (Oliver Darcy, March 21, 2018, CNN)

The stunning note reverberated through the Fox News community. Employees passed it along to other employees, people familiar with the matter said, with many agreeing with the thrust of the note: That Fox News opinion personalities were out of control in their devotion to Trump. One employee even told CNN that they were "jealous" about the way Peters made a splash on his way out and that the person "fantasized" about doing the same.

And it wasn't only the rank-and-file employees who were talking about it. Fox News executives were "rattled" by the leak, afraid that the story has the potential to grow legs, as Peters is a fierce conservative with a lot of credibility within the conservative community, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

Indeed, it's possible Peters could speak out on rival networks after he is freed from the constraints of his contract, which he said is set to expire next week. And he's not someone who can be characterized as sympathetic to liberal views. [...]

Peters' note, however, underscored the divide at Fox News between the network's opinion programming and hard news. Peters cited the Fox News opinion hosts' relentless attacks on the FBI, Justice Department, intelligence agencies, and other branches of government and said he believed Fox News was knowingly causing harm to the country in exchange for profit. His comments helped expand a rift that has grown incredibly deep as of late, the longtime Fox News employee told CNN.

In fact, it's started to boil over into public view. In October, "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace told the Associated Press he was bothered by how some of his colleagues on the opinion side of the network used their platforms to attack the media. And Shepard Smith, the chief news anchor at Fox News, was critical of the Fox News opinion bloc in a story published last week.

Posted by orrinj at 3:23 AM


Al-Qaeda 3.0: turning to face the near enemy (Isaac Kfir, 3/22/18, The Strategist)

In the 1990s and 2000s, as al-Qaeda was asserting itself on the global stage as the premier Salafi-jihadi terrorist group, its ideology and action inspired tremendous bloodletting, especially among Muslims. By the 2010s, Zawahiri recognised the limited value of that approach and reoriented the organisation away from mass casualty-terrorism, especially against Muslims.

To highlight how attuned Zawahiri is to shifting perceptions, he clearly noted that by the late 2000s, pollsters were pointing out that public opinion, especially in Muslim-majority countries, had shifted against suicide bombing. In Lebanon, for example, 74% of the population thought that such attacks could be justified in 2002; by 2007, that support had fallen to only 34%. At that time, noted that large majorities in Egypt (88%), Indonesia (65%) and Morocco (66%) opposed attacks on civilians.

Zawahiri's al-Qaeda even chastised Islamic State, accusing it of 'deviation and misguidance' and saying that the group 'exceeded the limits of extremism'. That has meant that the prospect of another al-Qaeda-inspired 9/11 has decreased, as Zawahiri appreciates that such an attack is likely to harm his cause more than to help it. [...]

Interestingly Zawahiri appears to have adapted the ideas of his arch-enemy, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, who argued that after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, it was time for the Arab Afghans (Arabs who had made the hijrah (migration) to Afghanistan) to shift their attention to the near enemy--'apostate' Muslim regimes and Israel. Zawahiri had argued that the mujahedeen should focus on the far enemy (the US and the West in general), as it was Washington that was keeping the Arab leaders in power.

Zawahiri's current strategy seems to indicate that al-Qaeda is moving away from its initial focus, the far enemy, and focussing instead on the near enemy, specifically Arab countries with fragile governments. There are many such governments across the Muslim and Arab World, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb.

'So where are you,' Zawahiri asks his followers in his latest message. 'Where is your Islamic zeal? Where is your eagerness? Where is your settlement of your duties for the inheritance of your fathers?'

While we will replace them with Islamist regimes,, rather than Islamicist, the near enemy is ours as well, to the extent each oppresses its own population.

Posted by orrinj at 3:19 AM


Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster (Middle East Online, 3/22/18)

The leader of Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Wednesday that the deeply indebted country faced disaster if it continued on the same financial path.

Iran-backed, Shi'ite Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's coalition government and wields extensive influence in Lebanese politics. Nasrallah was speaking on television about the group's platform for parliamentary elections in May.

"The danger reaches to the level of an existential threat to the state and to the country, and to the security and stability of society if the financial situation and spending continue like this," he said.

He urged measures to rationalise spending, reduce public debt and combat corruption and wastefulness, but without giving specifics.

March 21, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 PM


SAUDI CROWN PRINCE BOASTED THAT JARED KUSHNER WAS "IN HIS POCKET" (Ryan Grim, Alex Emmons, Clayton Swisher, March 21 2018, The Intercept)

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. "The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy," the Washington Post's David Ignatius reported at the time.

What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. [...]

One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was "in his pocket," the source told The Intercept.

Posted by orrinj at 6:51 PM


EXCLUSIVE: Fired FBI official authorized criminal probe of Sessions, sources say (MIKE LEVINE, Mar 21, 2018, ABC News)

According to the sources, McCabe authorized the criminal inquiry after a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter in March 2017 to the FBI urging agents to investigate "all contacts" Sessions may have had with Russians, and "whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred."

It's unclear how actively federal authorities pursued the matter in the months before Sessions' interview with Mueller's investigators. It's also unclear whether the special counsel may still be pursuing other matters related to Sessions and statements he has made to Congress - or others - since his confirmation.

During his confirmation in January 2017, Sessions told the Senate committee that he had not been in contact with anyone connected to the Russian government about the 2016 election. He also said he was "not aware" of anyone else affiliated with the Trump campaign communicating with the Russian government ahead of the election.

Two months later, after a Washington Post report disputed what Sessions told Congress, the attorney general acknowledged he had met the Russian ambassador twice during the presidential campaign, but insisted none of those interactions were "to discuss issues of the campaign."

Sessions "made no attempt to correct his misleading testimony until The Washington Post revealed that, in fact, he had at least two meetings with the Russian ambassador," Leahy and Franken said in a statement at the time. "We know he would not tolerate dishonesty if he were in our shoes."

Sessions called any suggestions that he misled lawmakers "false."

Nevertheless, charges subsequently brought by Mueller raised more questions over Sessions' testimony to Congress.

In November, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos admitted to federal authorities that during the campaign he was in frequent contact with Russian operatives about setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Papadopoulos pitched the idea to Sessions and Trump at a meeting of the then-candidate's foreign policy team in March 2016.

Posted by orrinj at 2:15 PM


Ex-minister: Israel halted Syria strikes at Putin's behest (JUDAH ARI GROSS, 3/21/18, tIMES OF iSRAEL)

A former deputy defense minister on Wednesday claimed Israel ended its attacks on Syrian air defenses last month because Russian President Vladmir Putin called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him, "That's enough."

Posted by orrinj at 1:52 PM

Posted by orrinj at 1:12 PM


White House Job Requirement: Signing a Nondisclosure Agreement (JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, MAGGIE HABERMAN, MICHAEL D. SHEAR and KATIE ROGERS, MARCH 21, 2018, NY Times)

To calm Mr. Trump, Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, drew up a broad document barring White House officials from publicly disclosing what they heard and saw at work. But he privately told senior aides that it was mainly meant to placate an agitated president, who was convinced that the people around him had to be pressured into keeping his secrets. Mr. McGahn made it clear the agreement could not ultimately be enforced, according to several people who signed.

Posted by orrinj at 9:25 AM


Republicans leading Russia probe ignored every lesson I learned as a prosecutor (Adam Schiff, March 20, 2018, USA Today)

Investigations have a certain rhythm: You begin with solid leads, use subpoenas to compel testimony or documents from reticent witnesses, interview lower-level witnesses first and then move on to higher-level targets. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee did none of these things before shutting down their Russia investigation last week. [...]

If the committee Republicans intended to conduct a serious investigation, the path was obvious. They would have interviewed key witnesses like George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, KT McFarland and scores of others, and compelled answers from those we did interview but who refused to answer our questions. 

Instead, they uniformly refused Democratic requests to subpoena travel, bank, calendar, phone and Twitter Direct Message records. Witness interviews were rushed and scheduled haphazardly with no apparent order. Often the most important witnesses were brought in first (like Jared Kushner), and frequently before witnesses provided documents we needed to inform our questions.

During interviews, Republican lawmakers followed a familiar pattern. They would ask each witness the "three C's" as they became known: "Did you collude, conspire, or coordinate with Russia?" If a witness answered "no," all too often that was the end of the matter for Republicans. It's like asking the getaway driver if he robbed the bank and accepting "no" for an answer, rather than asking why he owned the car used in the heist, why his alibi didn't check out, or why marked bills were found in his house.

The fundamental un-seriousness of the Republican majority was most glaring when witnesses simply refused to answer, asserting non-existent, overly broad or farcical claims of privilege, or giving no basis at all. In permitting witnesses to choose their questions, the majority made a serious investigation impossible, and hobbled future congressional oversight by setting a terrible precedent. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


A stunning leak rattles Trump and his aides (Jonathan Swan, 3/21/18, Axios)

One of the most startling leaks -- and stunning revelations -- of this whole administration has left President Trump and his senior staff furious and rattled. The Washington Post reports in its lead story: "Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers [yesterday] when he congratulated ... Putin on his reelection -- including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating 'DO NOT CONGRATULATE.'"

Why it matters: The speed and sensitivity of the leak prompted immediate finger-pointing within the administration, as aides reeled from a leak that could only have come from a small group of people, each of whom is trusted with sensitive national secrets.

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 AM


Russell Kirk at 100: In an age of crass politics, remembering the man who laid American conservatism's roots. (BRADLEY J. BIRZER, March 20, 2018, American Conservative)

Almost as soon as Kirk entered Michigan State College as an undergraduate in 1936, Professor John Abbott Clark took him under his care and introduced him not just to the profoundly important but already neglected works of Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, but to Socratic and Ciceronian humanism as a fundamental part of the Western tradition. During his college years, Kirk combined his love of romantic literature, the humanist ideals of Babbitt and More, and the stoic wisdom of his grandfather into what would be recognized by 1953 as modern conservatism. While earning an M.A. in history at Duke in 1940 and 1941, Kirk also discovered an intense love of Edmund Burke, whom he'd encountered through Babbitt and More in college but only indirectly. It was while writing his M.A. thesis on the rabid Southern republican John Randolph of Roanoke that Kirk first felt the influence of the greatest of the 18th-century Anglo-Irish statesmen. Though many scholars--from Daniel Boorstin to Leo Strauss to Peter Stanlis--were also re-discovering Burke (along with Alexis de Tocqueville) in the 1940s, it was Kirk's 1953 work, The Conservative Mind, that would once again make Burke a household name in America and, to a lesser extent, in Great Britain.

By the time America entered World War II, a very young Kirk--rather enthusiastically Nockian and anarchistic--already despised Franklin Roosevelt for his mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities at home and abroad and his militarization of the American economy. As much as Kirk hated Hitler, he did not see FDR as a viable alternative. Succumbing to the draft in the late summer of 1942, Russell Amos Kirk, B.A., M.A., endured in the military the only way he knew how: by spending all of his free time reading. Before shipping off to training at Camp Custer in Michigan (he would spend much of the war as a company clerk in the desert wastes of Utah), Kirk purchased every work of Plato and the Stoics that he could find. From his childhood to his death, he kept a copy of Aurelius's Meditations close to him. As in the rest of his life, it would serve as his greatest comfort during the war. As he wrote in a personal letter, "everything in Christianity is Stoic":

Really, the highest compliment I can pay to the Greeks is that they could understand and admire the Stoics and admit their own inferiority. Were the Stoics to ask the moderns the rhetorical questions they asked the Greeks, the moderns also would accept the questions as rhetorical--but would answer them in exactly the opposite manner.

In imitation of Aurelius, his own war diaries attempted to describe the world around him through the lens of the Greek and Roman-adopted Logos, the eternal order of the universe. "'Nothing is good but virtue'--Zeno" Kirk scrawled across the cover of his first diary.

After-Donald the GOP will have to return to Conservatism to stay relevant.

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 AM


Posted by orrinj at 5:53 AM


March 20, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 9:05 PM


An "Ashamed" Fox News Commentator Just Quit The "Propaganda Machine" (Tom Namako, 3/20/18, BuzzFeed News)

A retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and Fox News contributor quit Tuesday and denounced the network and President Donald Trump in an email to colleagues.

"Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration," wrote Ralph Peters, a Fox News "strategic analyst."

"Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed," he wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 8:48 PM


Kris Kobach Just Got Humiliated in Federal Court: The Kansas secretary of state wanted to prove his claims of widespread voter fraud. Instead, he was repeatedly embarrassed. (ARI BERMAN, MAR. 20, 2018, Mother Jones)

[T]he trial devolved into a comedy of errors, with Kobach's witnesses frequently contradicting his claims or getting humiliated by pointed questions they couldn't answer.

Kobach, who led President Donald Trump's election integrity commission and is now running for governor, hired Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to support his claim that illegal votes by non-citizens had swung US elections. But under questioning from ACLU lawyer Dale Ho, von Spakovsky admitted he couldn't name a single election where votes by non-citizens had decided the outcome.

Kobach cited Jesse Richman, a professor of political science at Old Dominion University, to defend the charge that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 because of millions of illegal votes. But when Ho asked Richman if illegal votes had provided the margin for Clinton, Richman said "no."

Richman produced a study for Kobach last year alleging that as many as 18,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Kansas. However, the study offered evidence of only six noncitizens who attempted to register. Richman admitted in court that he didn't know if they had succeeded in registering or voting. And the methodology Richman used to identify noncitizen voters was deeply flawed: He simply flagged people with "foreign"-sounding names, although he was inconsistent in his execution. As Talking Points Memo reported, "two respondents with the last name Lopez were coded as foreign, and three Lopezes were not."

On the sixth day of the trial, Ho read a series of names and asked Richman if he would label them as foreign-sounding. When he came to the name Carlos Murguia, Richman said he probably would flag it as foreign. Ho responded that Carlos Murguia was a federal judge in that very courthouse in Kansas City.

Posted by orrinj at 2:19 PM


Africa is on the verge of forming the largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization (Justina Crabtree, 3/20/18,

African heads of state have gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign a free trade agreement that would result in the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Leaders are poised to approve the African Continental Free Trade Area, a deal that will unite the 55 member countries of the African Union in tariff-free trade.

The agreement is touted by the African Union as encompassing a market of 1.2 billion people, and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. It is hoped that it will encourage Africa's trade to diversify away from its traditional commodity exports outside of the continent, the volatile prices of which have hurt the economies of many countries.

"Less than 20 percent of Africa's trade is internal," Rwandan President Paul Kagame, also currently chairperson of the African Union, said in a speech Tuesday. "Increasing intra-African trade, however, does not mean doing less business with the rest of the world."

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 AM


Burgers triumph over baguettes in French fast food wars (AFP, 20 March 2018)

Baguette lovers may be horrified to learn that in 2017, for the first time ever, hamburger sales were higher in France than the classic jambon-beurre sandwich.

American-style burgers were on the menu at 85 percent of restaurants in France last year, with a whopping 1.5 billion units sold, according to Paris-based restaurant consultants Gira Conseil.

Posted by orrinj at 3:55 AM


The Stormy Daniels saga could turn into a big deal for Mueller's Trump probe, experts say (Kevin Breuninger & Dan Mangan, 3/19/18,

Cohen said in February that he made a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016, just weeks before the election that would catapult Trump to the White House. Cohen later said the money came from a home equity line of credit. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has said the money was in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure deal facilitated by Cohen through a company he set up shortly beforehand.

Daniels gave details of the alleged affair to In Touch magazine in a 2011 interview that wasn't published until earlier this year. Although the relationship between Trump and Daniels allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2007 -- shortly after Trump's wife, Melania, gave birth to Trump's youngest son, Barron -- the hush-money deal wasn't signed until a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

 Trump's lawyer used Trump Organization email to arrange payment to Stormy Daniels Trump's lawyer used Trump Organization email to arrange payment to Stormy Daniels  

5:07 PM ET Fri, 9 March 2018 | 00:57

The timing of the payment has raised the question of whether Cohen and the Trump campaign violated campaign finance laws in an effort to prevent Daniels going public with her story just before voters started casting ballots.

The amount of money that Cohen gave Daniels was well in excess of the contribution maximum that an individual could make to a campaign. And the expenditure was not disclosed by the Trump campaign.

"I think that is something to care about," New York City criminal defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt said when CNBC asked why Mueller could be eyeing the Daniels deal.

"It's a close associate of the president involved in the campaign," Lefcourt said. "If the president knows about it, he's involved in the [potential] campaign violation as well."

He added: "Why would [Mueller] not want to know about it? It might not be a major violation, but he'd certainly want to know it."

Donald and the Trumpbots do seem to have been made especially frantic since this angle broke.
Posted by orrinj at 3:47 AM


Paris to examine making public transport free for everyone (The Local, 20 March 2018)

Could Paris take the revolutionary step of making public transport completely free for all residents of the capital? The mayor is looking into the idea. [...]

In the meantime Hidalgo is looking to at least make public transport free in Paris for certain sections of the population. The Paris city council will decide whether the monthly Navigo transport pass will be free for over 65s who earn less than €2,200 per month or €3,400 if they are in a couple.

Paris would not be the first place in France to make public transport free for residents.

In all there are some 24 towns (see link below) that have already committed to adopting the revolutionary measure including Dunkirk on the English Channel coast.

Posted by orrinj at 3:40 AM


Gowdy Tells Trump: 'If You're Innocent, Act Like It'  (Cristina Silva, 3/20/18,  Newsweek)

"When you are innocent ... act like it," Gowdy said on Fox News Sunday after he was asked about Trump's repeated attacks on Mueller on Twitter. "If you've done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible."

Gowdy also advised Trump's attorney, John Dowd: "If you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it." Dowd called over the weekend for Mueller's investigation to come to a close.

Yes, if he weren't guilty he would act differently.

March 19, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 PM


Tasty cow: Spring outing proves Martin Perez is ready to eat up innings like he ate the bull that injured him (Evan Grant , 3/19/18, Dallas Morning News)

The last obstacle that got in the way of Martin Perez's pitching career was an obstinate, ornery and rambunctious bull.

Perez had the bull killed. And then he ate him.

"It tasted good, too," Perez said rather gleefully Sunday after five sharp innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his first spring training game of the year. "Good meat." [...]

Perez required surgery to repair a broken bone at the tip of his right (non-pitching) elbow after the bull jumped at him and knocked him off a fence on his ranch in Venezuela. And then the bull met its end.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 PM


Trump to Hire Lawyer Who Has Pushed Theory That Justice Dept. Frame (MAGGIE HABERMAN and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, MARCH 19, 2018, NY Times)

Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president. "There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime," he said on Fox News in January. He added, "Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime."

Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.

Posted by orrinj at 3:56 PM


Andrew McCarthy's Puzzling Argument (Orin Kerr, March 19, 2018, LawFare)

McCarthy's accusation is pretty simple. Mueller didn't do that with Gates, and therefore he broke the rule. Straightforward, right?

The problem is that there's an exception to the rule that McCarthy ignores. It appears in the next paragraph:

The requirement that a defendant plead to a charge, that is consistent with the nature and extent of his/her criminal conduct is not inflexible. Although cooperation is usually acknowledged through a Sentencing Guideline § 5K1.1 filing, there may be situations involving cooperating defendants in which considerations such as those discussed in USAM 9-27.600, take precedence. 

What's USAM 9-27.600, you wonder? That's the section on entering into non-prosecution agreements in exchange for cooperation. The idea is that in some cases, the only way to get a defendant to cooperate quickly may be to make a deal: Cooperation in exchange for no prosecution at all. The Manual says that is an option if "the person's timely cooperation appears to be necessary to the public interest and other means of obtaining the desired cooperation are unavailable or would not be effective." But the Manual then explains that such an extreme approach should be undertaken only after considering and rejecting less extreme alternatives:

[N]on-prosecution agreements are only one of several methods by which the prosecutor can obtain the cooperation of a person whose criminal involvement makes him/her a potential subject of prosecution. Other methods - such as seeking cooperation after trial and conviction, bargaining for cooperation as part of a plea agreement, and compelling cooperation under a "use immunity" order - involve prosecuting the person or at least leaving open the possibility of prosecuting him/her on the basis of independently obtained evidence. Since these outcomes are clearly preferable to permitting an offender to avoid any liability for his/her conduct, the possible use of an alternative to a non-prosecution agreement should be given serious consideration in the first instance. 

Let's put the pieces together. 

In the ordinary case--the only kind of case McCarthy focuses on--a defendant must "plead to a charge that is consistent with the nature and extent of his/her criminal conduct."  But that ordinary approach is "not inflexible," and the need to get cooperation from a defendant may "take precedence" over the rule. In particular, prosecutors can "bargain[] for cooperation as part of a plea agreement," and the need for cooperation can "take precedence" over the usual requirement when "timely cooperation appears to be necessary to the public interest."   

In plain English, if a sweet plea deal is needed to get an important witness to flip and cooperate quickly, a sweet plea deal can be reached. Prosecutors should do so cautiously for a range of reasons. But accepting the plea to only a small part of the charge in exchange for cooperation, as happened in the Gates case, isn't "bizarre." It doesn't "shred" policy. And it doesn't "flout" the rules. The practice is expressly provided for in the rules. It's just in a paragraph that McCarthy for some reason ignores.

Posted by orrinj at 4:43 AM


Former FBI agent Fred Humphries calls McCabe firing justified (Howard Altman, March 17, 2018, Tampa Bay Times)

Fred Humphries woke up Saturday morning and for the first time ever raised a blue and white Federal Bureau of Investigation flag on the pole in his front yard. [...]

Humphries retired, a short while after serving a 60-day unpaid suspension for previously speaking to the Times without permission.

McCabe, fired after the Justice Department rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend, is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between FBI officials and a journalist.

Humphries said McCabe's firing was good for the organization because it is important for top officials to be held accountable for the same transgressions agents like him are. The McCabe firing is fitting, Humphries says, for a man accused of lack of candor about media contacts whose office launched an investigation into him talking to a newspaper.

"Every employee of the FBI voluntarily swears to observe the bureau's strict standards of conduct, especially in terms of candor and ethics," said Humphries. "When we fall short of that, we can expect appropriate sanctions. Yesterday's firing of the former deputy director demonstrates that those sanctions are meted out uniformly, regardless of rank or position."

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