Trump’s Contact With Russia Was Done in Plain Sight
The Media Is Encouraging Trump to Take More Hostages
2020 Candidates Have Heavy Baggage; Trump Will Exploit That
An out of the box solution to an age-old question
Impeachment is in the air
Late Thursday night, BuzzFeed News published a report that, if true, could prove historic: President Trump directed his then- personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a real-estate deal he was pursuing in Moscow during the 2016 election. Trump immediately denied the story, but for many Democrats, including those who had previously cautioned against impeaching the president before Special Counsel Robert Mueller produces his findings in the Russia investigation, the report was cause to consider proceeding with impeachment before the Russia probe is finished.
The comments mark a noticeable shift in what had been the standard party line on the possibility of impeachment—that Democrats should wait to act until after Mueller issues his final report. But Attorney General nominee Bill Barr’s refusal to commit to providing Mueller’s findings to Congress and to the public, combined with BuzzFeed’s implication that the president committed a felony while in office, has given Democrats a new sense of urgency—and they won’t necessarily wait to hold Trump accountable, I’m told, if they conclude that he knowingly obstructed justice to hide his involvement in business negotiations with the Kremlin during the election.
As the U.S. prepare to withdraw troops from Syria, its air campaign is accelerating
Jan: On pace for 1,300
(It’s now an aggressive counterinsurgency air campaign, which should grow in scope and intensity with US troop withdrawals.)
It looks like Trump and Kim Jong-un will ride again
A food line for furloughed federal workers stretches around the block.
Some tips from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter training session for fellow House Democrats
“Social media is not just for young people.”
“If you don’t know what a meme is don’t post a meme.”
“If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks.”
“Don’t try to be anybody who you’re not.”
“Jonathan Dingell is amazing on Twitter, absolutely amazing.”
“Social media is not a press release. It’s not a press conference.”
“It’s not the kitchen that’s popular, or the cooking that’s popular, it’s that I’m engaging people doing something I’m already doing.”
The most effective behavior is “behavior that is not like your normal member of Congress.”
“Sometimes the culture here is to fit in and keep your heads low,” she said. But “we don’t want to separate ourselves” from constituents on social media.
“Mute people but try not to block them.”
“The way we grow our presence is being there.”
The Pentagon once again acknowledged the threat posed by climate change, but the report did not go into detail or provide required cost estimates for upgrading installations
Flooding, drought and wildfires driven by climate change pose threats to two-thirds of the U.S. military’s installations, the Defense Department said in a new report required by Congress.
The authors of the report, which the Pentagon delivered to Congress on Thursday, note that it probably underestimates the full extent of risk to military facilities because it only looks at likely impacts over the next two decades.
… “It is relevant to point out that ‘future’ in this analysis means only 20 years in the future,” the report said. “Projected changes will likely be more pronounced at the mid-century mark; vulnerability analyses to mid- and late-century would likely reveal an uptick in vulnerabilities (if adaptation strategies are not implemented.)”
Ben Shapiro’s remarks at the March for Life sound really deep
Well, that ain’t good
Pelosi says that Trump wanted to sabotage her Afghanistan trip by any means necessary
Make no mistake: the government shutdown’s effects are brutal
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history will scar the federal bureaucracy and U.S. economy long after the doors are unlocked and workers return.
The feds will struggle to dig out of a backlog of hiring and training that’s essential to pushing out tax refunds, protecting U.S. borders and guiding air traffic. Government contractors are expected to jack up prices on everything from helicopters to IT support, growing wise to an administration that doesn’t pay its bills for weeks on end.
And the agriculture industry, real estate sector, oil drillers and global investors are all bracing for years of cascading setbacks spurred by the pause in government loans, permitting and deal-making approval. The enduring pain will extend across the quarter of the U.S. government now largely shuttered.
Joe Biden’s characterization of Elizabeth Warren’s policy sounds like a Republican’s
“It’s not about punishing the rich, which is the fundamental premise of Elizabeth — who’s smart as hell and a good person. It’s about, What do we do about the fact that the middle class has lost an incredible amount of wealth and has not seen a pay raise?”
Maybe those Tesla job cuts aren’t such bad news for the company?
Job cuts at Tesla is not quite the bad news investors are interpreting it to be, analysts at Jefferies and Oppenheimer said on Friday.
“Reducing headcount also suggests productivity gains,” Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois. “This is, in our view, consistent with slower growth rates but mostly the scope to improve productivity and flow that we identified during our visit to the Fremont plant mid November 2018.”
CEO Elon Musk announced Tesla announced Friday the automaker is cutting its full-time staff headcount by approximately 7 percent.
“It’s not a huge surprise to see this,” Oppenheimer senior research analyst Colin Rusch said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Beyond Elon Musk’s instability, all is not well at Tesla
Vice President Mike Pence is offended that you’re offended by the second lady of the United States teaching at a school that bars LGBTQ employees and students
“My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while, we’re used to the criticism,” Pence said in an interview with EWTN, a cable network that offers “news from a Catholic perspective.” But, he added, “to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”
“We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education, and frankly religious education broadly defined,” he continued. “We’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
Russian government hackers are still at it
The Democratic National Committee alleges it was among the intended victims of a widespread cyberattack that was detected days after the 2018 midterm elections, according to court documents filed overnight.
“On November 14, 2018, dozens of DNC email addresses were targeted in a spear-phishing campaign, although there is no evidence that the attack was successful,” the DNC wrote in an amended complaint filed late Thursday, part of an ongoing lawsuit against the Russian government, the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and others.
The DNC said that the content and the timing of the emails led the organization to believe it was targeted as part of a wider phishing campaign that cybersecurity firms had previously said appeared to use some of the same technical tricks as a Russian hacking group known as Cozy Bear, or APT 29. Cozy Bear is one of two groups linked to Russian intelligence that purportedly infiltrated the DNC’s systems ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
“Therefore, it is probable that Russian intelligence again attempted to unlawfully infiltrate DNC computers in November 2018,” the filing says.
This time Melania said “I really don’t care do u?” with a government jet
irst Lady Melania Trump flew to Florida on a government jet Thursday for a weekend vacation, hours after President Donald Trump dramatically postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’strip with other members of Congress to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, NBC confirmed, citing a law enforcement source.
President Trump cited the ongoing government shutdown as his reason for postponing Pelosi’s travel plans, shortly before she and her team were scheduled to depart on a military plane.
While Pelosi was practically grounded by Trump’s actions, the president’s wife headed to Joint Base Andrews for her own trip on a military aircraft, NBC said.
A big potential expansion in a state with around 250,000 uninsured
A record two days for Rudy Giuliani
Then added, “Also why does SDNY say he is not telling the whole truth, ask him about his father in law,” before liking his own text.
A litmus test of sorts: if the president is tweeting about the Steele dossier, he’s in for a rough night
The mayor discreetly removed his acting chief of staff for sexual harassment while in office
After winning a commanding re-election in 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio was effusive in praising a key member of his core City Hall team: Kevin O’Brien, his acting chief of staff.
Less than three months later, Mr. O’Brien was gone. According to documents obtained by The New York Times, Mr. O’Brien was quietly forced to resign after complaints of sexual harassment filed by two female city employees were substantiated.
At least some of the harassment occurred while Mr. O’Brien, 36, was working as acting chief of staff, Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, said, adding that City Hall officials first became aware of the allegations in February and acted on them promptly.
A report on Mr. O’Brien’s conduct prepared by the city’s Law Department and the office of the mayor’s counsel says that investigators interviewed the two women and found their statements credible. The investigators said that Mr. O’Brien’s account was found “to be not credible,” and recommended that he be “terminated from employment at the mayor’s office.”
A memo from 2017 shows that the Trump administration intentionally separated migrant children as a deterrent
Trump administration officials weighed speeding up the deportation of migrant children by denying them their legal right to asylum hearings after separating them from their parents, according to comments on a late 2017 draft of what became the administration’s family separation policy obtained by NBC News.
The draft also shows officials wanted to specifically target parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions, contradicting the administration’s previous statements. In June, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration did “not have a policy of separating families at the border” but was simply enforcing existing law.
The authors noted that the “increase in prosecutions would be reported by the media and it would have a substantial deterrent effect.”
No collusion – for any of his clients
A Russian Ukrainian mogul who has drawn scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller has a business connection to one of the lead lawyers representing Donald Trump in the Russia investigation: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani told Mother Jones that Pavel Fuks, an oil and real estate magnate, hired his security firm, Giuliani Security & Safety, in 2017 to advise Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million in Ukraine. “He was [a] sponsor of a preliminary study that my firm did of security and emergency management in Kharkiv and some on advice on a planned Holocaust Memorial,” Giuliani said in a text message.
Giuliani’s work in Ukraine is notable because Fuks and other prominent Ukrainians have recently emerged as figures in the Trump-Russia scandal. The New York Times reported last week that Fuks is among a dozen Ukrainian businessmen and political officials who attended Trump’s inauguration. During their time in Washington, DC, some of the Ukrainians arranged meetings with Republicans and Trump allies to promote peace plans regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict that were aligned with the Kremlin’s interests.
Some high-profile reader feedback
On Monday, Dahlia Lithwick and I wrote an article in Slate arguing that the Senate should not confirm William Barr, Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, merely to oust Matthew Whitaker, who is currently serving as acting attorney general. We noted that Whitaker was arguably appointed in violation of the Constitution and previously worked for a patent company that was shuttered and fined by the Federal Trade Commission for alleged fraud. We also pointed out that, as a federal prosecutor, Whitaker spearheaded an unsuccessful prosecution of Iowa’s first openly gay lawmaker, who believed Whitaker was motivated by homophobia. And we wrote that Whitaker repeatedly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation on TV in 2017.
In response to this article, Whitaker’s wife, Marci, sent me an email on Wednesday morning.
“Literally none of the awful things you and your co-author say are true. There is zero evidence that Matt is homophobic and if you knew how the US Attorney’s office worked and how multiple law enforcement agencies participated in the McCoy case, you would not print that. Mr. McCoy has for years attempted to spin it this way and it has never taken hold, except perhaps, to the very negatively motivated and gullible. To imply that Matt had visibility and knowledge of $25 million dollars of wrongdoing is preposterous.”
Fascinating reporting on how structural disadvantages affect even high-achieving poor and POC students
Congress members are starting to feel the shutdown stress
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has seemingly tried everything to open the government up. She’s complained publicly about her party’s strategy. She’s signed onto a bipartisan letter urging Trump to end the shutdown in exchange for a three-week immigration debate, which was promptly rejected by the White House, according to sources familiar with the talks. She’s even endorsed moving forward with no wall money.
“Glum. Glum. I’m not a glum person. I’m not somebody who gets down. But I’ve been discouraged,” Murkowski said of her state of mind. “People I work for back home in Alaska are asking me to ‘fix it.’ And it’s hard for one person to fix anything around here. Unless you’re the president. Or the speaker. Or the majority leader.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) summed up his feelings in more dire terms: “We are in this horrible purgatory between heaven and hell.” He said “fatalism” had set in: “That there is no way out unless either he or we relent entirely.”
Another potential red flag for the GOP’s longterm electoral prospects
Generation Z – diverse and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet – is moving toward adulthood with a liberal set of attitudes and an openness to emerging social trends.
On a range of issues, from Donald Trump’s presidency to the role of government to racial equality and climate change, the views of Gen Z – those ages 13 to 21 in 2018 – mirror those of Millennials. In each of these realms, the two younger generations hold views that differ significantly from those of their older counterparts. In most cases, members of the Silent Generation are at the opposite end, and Baby Boomers and Gen Xers fall in between.
On views about race relations, Gen Z Republicans are more likely than older generations of Republicans to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites. Among Republicans, 43% of Gen Zers say this, compared with 30% of Millennials and roughly 20% of Gen Xers, Boomers and Silents. Gen Z Republicans are also much more likely than their GOP counterparts in older generations to say increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. is a good thing for society. On each of these measures, Democrats’ views are nearly uniform across generations.
Federal contractors don’t receive back pay for shutdowns
On Wednesday, [Senator Tina] Smith introduced legislation along with fellow Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Ben Cardin (MD), Mark Warner (VA), and Tim Kaine (VA), to require federal agencies to work directly with companies that contract to them to provide back pay for the employees caught up in the shutdown. Because of the way the system currently works, contractors are paid directly by companies that can’t bill the government for services when it’s shut down. Since these companies aren’t getting paid, they, in turn, aren’t able to pay their workers.
Smith says federal agencies have already allocated money in their budgets to cover contractor costs that have not been doled out because of the shutdown. Her bill would simply ask these agencies to pay out what they would have spent anyway.
Trump is still learning about his own decisions through the TV
President Donald Trump was startled Tuesday as he watched television coverage of his nominee for attorney general describing a warm relationship with the special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to three people familiar with the matter.
During the first day of his confirmation hearing, William Barr described telling the President the first time he met him in June 2017 that he was friends with Mueller, referring to him on a first name basis.
While Barr said during his hearing that Trump “was interested” in hearing about the friendship, the details that emerged this week caught the President off guard, the three sources said. He bristled at Barr’s description of the close relationship, complaining to aides he didn’t realize how much their work overlapped or that they were so close.
France opts for continuity in their post-colonial involvements
Trump cannot appoint new judges during the shutdown, frustrating GOP allies who bear his antics for exactly that reason
Anxiety over the pace of judicial nominations reached new heights this week after the White House resubmitted for the Senate’s consideration a list of more than 100 people who were nominated but not confirmed for various offices in the previous Congress. The list did not include a single nominee for an appellate or district court judgeship; nearly everyone on it was initially selected for administration leadership posts.
The lack of quick action has sown frustration in some conservative legal circles, where Trump’s allies had hoped he would immediately make judicial nominations a top priority and put the GOP’s newly expanded Senate majority to use. Instead, the president has become increasingly entangled in the ongoing government shutdown over his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall and congressional Democrats’ refusal to grant it.
The White House, which did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, did submit six new district court nominations this week. The Judicial Crisis Network plans to launch a $1.5 million television ad campaign Thursday night urging Democrats to “swiftly confirm” Trump’s judicial nominees, according to a person familiar with the national buy.
A major seat for a freshman Congresswoman
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey still struggling with his self-perception in a new Q+A
I want to move on to the some of the aftermath from your trip to Myanmar. Did anyone look over those tweets before they went out or was that just from you?
That’s from me.
In one of the tweets, you said part of the meditation technique was to answer the question, “How do I stop suffering?” I’m assuming that means in terms of the individual?
Well, no, that was … If you read the tweet, it was Buddha’s question to himself.
Right. But do you realize how that sounds to be repeating that question and talking about ending suffering as Jack Dorsey, the billionaire, while the U.N. is calling for military officials in this country to be prosecuted for genocide? I’m just wondering if you see how your role is actually larger than just yourself.
I do, but I’m not gonna change the practice because of it and what people say. Like, this is the practice that Buddha laid out, and I’m not going to change it just because I have this particular role. I’m sharing what I practiced and what I experienced.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the Senate majority leader claims that House Democrats’ plan to reform campaign finance and voting rights – including making election day a federal holiday – are an effort to “swing elections”
A last-minute PR move – apologies to Steve Mnuchin
Getting back in the House speaker’s chair appears to have made Nancy Pelosi more popular
Wisconsin Republicans’ brazen power grab might not be so easy to implement
A federal judge on Thursday struck down early-voting restrictions Wisconsin Republicans adopted in a December lame-duck legislative session, saying the limits are clearly similar to restrictions he blocked two years ago.
Republicans voted in December to limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election. The move came after a difficult midterm election in November in which the overwhelmingly Democratic cities of Madison and Milwaukee held early voting for six weeks — far longer than in smaller and more conservative communities.
The GOP lost every statewide race, but retained majorities in the Legislature and quickly convened the lame-duck session to pass bills that Gov. Scott Walker — also defeated in the election — could sign before leaving office.
The officer who killed McDonald was convicted, but not his colleagues
Pelosi spokesman responds to Trump’s cancellation of her foreign trip
The CODEL to Afghanistan included a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest. In Brussels, the delegation was scheduled to meet with top NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies–to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance.
This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt.
The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines. The President traveled to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as did a Republican CODEL led by Rep. Zeldin
Oh good, the House minority leader is casually accusing Democrats of stealing elections
Trump’s stance on official travel during the shutdown may not be entirely above board
President Trump takes the high road by threatening to cancel Nancy Pelosi’s international travel, which was supposed to be secret