WTF Community

Day 439

Updated 4/3/2018 9:46 AM PDT

1/ Rod Rosenstein authorized Robert Mueller to investigate Paul Manafort for alleged "colluding with Russian government officials" in a classified August 2017 memo. Mueller was given authority to also probe Manafort's work for the Ukrainian government. The memo was disclosed in a court filing as Mueller's prosecutors seek to counter arguments by Manafort's lawyers that his indictment should be thrown out. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This article includes a copy of the letter that members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent to Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, grilling him on his highly suspicious condo rental arrangement with the wife of an energy lobbyist. The Committee asks Pruitt nine excellent questions that cut right to the heart of this glaring conflict of interest. For example:

  1. Press reports indicate you solicited use of this property. How did you identify and obtain use of this property? Was the rental publicly advertised, were you contacted by the owner(s) or an intermediary, or did you or anybody operating on your behalf solicit the use of the property? …
  1. Press reports also indicate that your daughter stayed at the home for a time in another bedroom in the house. Was this bedroom paid for as part of your lease or a separate lease with the owners? If not, how would you explain that this was not a gift? …
  1. Press reports suggest you spent four days last December in Morocco where you “talked with officials about their interest in importing natural gas” despite the fact that the EPA has no role in overseeing or promoting, U.S. natural gas exports. Williams and Jensen represents a number of clients in the natural gas industry and J. Steven Hart [husband of the condo owner] specifically represented Cheniere Energy, Inc. a producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas. Were you living at this property during the period in which this trip was conceived, planned, or undertaken? …

To me, question 9 is the most incriminating.


Today in a joint press conference Trump said he plans to deploy the US military to guard the US southern border. :woman_shrugging:t2::woman_facepalming:t2:


“We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States,” Trump said Tuesday in a joint press conference with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody and I think it’s something we have to do,” he said, referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.


What do you guys think?


Republicans be all like:

I’m a big car guy and even I think this is bullshit. Why wouldn’t you want better mileage standards? Car manufacturers are continually improving fuel efficiency and reducing costs while maintaining or increasing performance. It’s mind-blowing to think that these days you can get a car with 300+ horsepower that can still easily get 30+ mpg. “I want worse gas mileage” said nobody ever (except for gas company CEOs perhaps… Wait a minute!).


From the Trump Say’s He’ll Deploy Military to Guard US - Mexico Border
article WAPO

But Trump, while providing no details, sought to portray his plan to send troops to the border as a new, aggressive part of his immigration agenda.

T is eager to get funding for the wall via the military, perhaps this is another angle for him to hype the need for military involvement. He is ramping up his argument I think…

As the article indicates,

Deploying troops to the border is not unprecedented. The Obama administration sent 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border in 2010 to assist Border Patrol and immigration officials amid rising concerns about drug trafficking.

But ramping up an anti-immigration zeal with military strength, is getting into more of militarized stance, and very hard line. Seeing pix of ‘caravan’ of migrants as the first leg of the propaganda, and then sending in troops to defend is the net result he and the Stephen Millers want. Ugly.


van der Zwaag’s senctencing - 30 days and $20,000 penalty fee is all he’s getting for lying to the Feds. But 30 days is not insignificant.

WASHINGTON – A Dutch attorney who lied to federal agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison in the first punishment handed down in special counsel’s Russia investigation.

He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

He’s sending the military to battle the “caravan” of migrants. I thought he was Donald Trump. Turns out he’s Don Quixote, tilting at windmills.


Every time I hear about this supposed “caravan of immigrants” I can only think of caravan in the UK definition.


Mueller’s team is indicating that while T may not be a criminal target in the Russia investigation, he may be someone of interest. The need for that Presidential interview which has been looming is still there. Interestingly, the Prez may incriminate (!) himself during that proceeding, so given T’s proclivities to openly lie, well, that’s what many of us are hoping for.

Article weighs in on where the various outcomes of the Mueller investigation - obstruction (I think yes); collusion (could they pin some of the Russian meetings on him, or only on his subordinates?); direct indictment (not clear - on money laundering, etc)

All we know is that the report that Mueller does write up about all he’s investigated, and made charges against goes to Deputy Atty General Rod Rosenstein. The rest is unknown.

QUOTE "The president has privately expressed relief at the description of his legal status, which has increased his determination to agree to a special counsel interview, the people said. He has repeatedly told allies that he is not a target of the probe and believes an interview will help him put the matter behind him, friends said.

However, legal experts said Mueller’s description of Trump as a subject of a grand jury probe does not mean he is in the clear.

Under Justice Department guidelines, a subject of an investigation is a person whose conduct falls within the scope of a grand jury’s investigation. A target is a person for which there is substantial evidence linking him or her to a crime.

A subject could become a target with his or her own testimony, legal experts warn.

“If I were the president, I would be very reluctant to think I’m off the hook,” said Keith Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University and impeachment expert."


Immigration does not increase crime. I started highlighting this piece to share and ended up highlighting almost all of it. Please read and remember almost every American family has an immigration story.


Great information…point by point it destroys all the negatives that this Admin and it’s Alt-right affiliation is promoting. The crime is that their mind is made up, and low information voters would never begin to ask any of these questions, much less look at a reasoned study. Too elitist.


“This analysis is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies of the local immigrant-crime relationship. It spans decades of metropolitan area data, incorporating places with widely differing social, cultural and economic backgrounds, and a broad range of types of violent crime.”


This is why I came here. I think this isn’t justice at all. How is a mere 30 days and a piddly 20K fine significant in any way? This makes me think we aren’t really going to see any justice in any of this.

because the point is to roll over the little guys to get to the big guys… he’s pleaded guilty and is partially cooperating. rick gates is cooperating. manafort will eventually cooperate, etc.


Per Rachel Maddow, he is not cooperating, beyond pleading guilty. Mueller is not getting any more useful information out of him in exchange for such a wimpy sentence. This strikes me as a “you played along, here is your reward” kind of sentence for someone who is cooperating.


You may enjoy this story. :point_down:

1 Like

You’re right. There is no on-going cooperation agreement.

This, however, is interesting…

Publicly available court documents in van der Zwaan’s case do not show any cooperation agreement with the special counsel, and neither Schwartz nor Weissman made any reference to ongoing cooperation by van der Zwaan as a mitigating factor in his sentencing.

The lack of any mention of cooperation by van der Zwaan during the sentencing hearing suggests that his involvement in L’Affaire Russe might not go any deeper than that.

So if van der Zwaan is so unimportant, why would the special counsel’s office bother prosecuting him? Perhaps it’s a matter of principle: as we’ve seen in recent months, the FBI does not like it when people lie to them. Or perhaps it’s an effort to send a message to others caught up in the Mueller investigation that impeding the work of the special counsel’s office is serious enough to merit jail time, even when the offense in question is minor. Perhaps it’s both.

Further details:

Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort while he practiced law at a large international firm, admitted to lying and failing to turn over emails to Mueller’s team in February.

He was wrapped into the special counsel’s investigation last fall after his firm, Skadden Arps, began to cooperate in an investigation of Manafort and Gates’ alleged contact with Ukrainians and Russians during the 2016 election. He lied in his first voluntary interview with investigators in November, and according to both Judge Amy Berman Jackson and prosecutor Andrew Weissmann on Tuesday, was “caught red-handed.”

Unlike other defendants, van der Zwaan did not enter into an ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office.

Sounds like a guy who cooperated to some extent in the past and taken with the above puts a bow on things.


Good clarification, not cooperating…Mueller will jail anyone who lies. Full stop.


Here’s another quote from MSNBC "

All of this came to mind this week as Donald Trump’s hysterical rhetoric about immigration and border security became progressively louder. The president seems desperate to convince the public that there’s a crisis unfolding – he insisted on Monday that “our country is being stolen” – that requires drastic measures, including the deployment of National Guard troops.

“I think it is something we have to do,” Trump said at a press conference yesterday.

But why is it, exactly, that the president has settled on this course all of a sudden? The New York Times’ report on this included an important data point:

While the president couched his idea as an urgent response to an onslaught at the nation’s southern border, the numbers do not point to a crisis. Last year, the number of illegal immigrants caught at the border was the lowest since 1971, said the United States Border Patrol.

Right. Illegal border crossings began to fall years ago – the Obama administration increased border security, a fact the right prefers to ignore – and have reached generational lows.

Or put another way, there is no crisis. Trump is scrambling to respond to an emergency that exists only in conservatives’ imaginations.

Indeed, there’s a degree of irony behind the latest White House public-relations push. The president spent much of 2017 insisting that illegal immigration was a problem that was slowly vanishing – all as a result of his amazing amazingness."


NYT Editorial Board
Trump’s Irrational Border Plan. (Keyword: irrational)

"It is a president’s duty to defend the country, and putting troops on the border is not unprecedented. Yet Mr. Trump’s move is not rooted in the reality of immigration in recent years. The number of people apprehended at the border plummeted from more than 1.6 million in 2000 to 310,000 last year, the lowest level since 1971. The main causes are slowed population growth, improved economic opportunities in Mexico and stronger American border security, the result of investment in thousands of guards, physical barriers and technology.

Like so many of the president’s decisions, the one to put troops on the border seems impulsive, spiteful and politically motivated. Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security chief, and other aides reportedly briefed Mr. Trump on the idea last week. Even so, after his unexpected announcement on Tuesday, the White House struggled to explain his intentions, including how many and which troops would be deployed. Officials have since said that he was referring to National Guard troops, not active-duty troops. There was no consultation with the Mexican president, whose ambassador to the United States called the decision unwelcome.

Mr. Trump is feeling heat from supporters who believed his pledge to build a wall paid for by Mexico. Not only has Mexico refused to fund this folly, Congress also thwarted him by approving only $1.6 billion for the project in a recent omnibus spending bill, rather than the $25 billion Mr. Trump sought. Despite opposing the wall, Democratic leaders offered to fund it if Mr. Trump backed a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants. He refused.

One impediment to using troops on the border could be American law. The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act bars the use of the armed forces for civilian law enforcement tasks unless authorized by the Constitution or Congress. Since the 1980s, however, the Defense Department, including the National Guard, has provided indirect support to border-related anti-drug and counterterrorism efforts."

Trump’s Irrational Border Plan


I wouldn’t worry too much, it’s my understanding that Trump is sending in the National Guard to aid and assist Border Patrol, similar to what President George W Bush did in 2006. The optics aren’t great but it doesn’t look like he wants war with Mexico. I hope that helps!