WTF Community

Day 769


#81

This bananas news day is not yet over:

Stone is grasping at straws. He called for a hearing in which he hoped to prove that the FBI leaked details of his impending arrest. After examining all the facts, Judge Jackson said no such hearing is warranted. In other words, Stone didn’t even get to square one with this bogus allegation/distraction.

A D.C. federal judge rejected a motion Wednesday from GOP operative Roger Stone claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team tipped off CNN before his Jan. 25 morning arrest.

Stone had petitioned Judge Amy Berman Jackson to hold a hearing demanding that prosecutors “show cause” for why they were not in contempt of court for allegedly leaking a copy of the indictment to the press. A CNN news crew captured Stone’s arrest on video, after having a team stake out the spin artist’s Florida home.

But exhibits Stone provided “supplied no reason to believe that any contempt of court had occurred,” Berman Jackson wrote in the order, adding that evidence and filings he introduced into the record “demonstrate that there is no basis” to issue a contempt order.

:balance_scale:


#82

The Lawfare Blog Podcast made a super cut of all the important moments from Cohen’s appearance before Congress. If you missed out but don’t want to binge five hours of testimony, than this is for you! It’s about an hour, skip around as you please.

On Wednesday, Michael Cohen—the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former personal lawyer to Donald Trump—paid a visit to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen accused the president of campaign finance violations after taking office. He alleged that he was present when Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice of the WikiLeaks dump of the hacked DNC emails. And he claimed that the president’s statements in a meeting with Jay Sekulow led Cohen to conclude that the president wanted Cohen to make false statements to Congress. So we cut out all of the bickering, all of the procedural obstructions, and all the rest of the frivolity, to bring you just the one hour of testimony you need to hear.


#83

Totally agree. Full disclosure: I’m not aligned with some of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policy positions, but I have great respect for her and was tremendously impressed with her line of questioning and composure today (compare and contrast with Rep. Jordon’s childish performance). Her approach was refreshing and incisive. She didn’t grandstand; she was efficient, clear, and straight forward. Most importantly, she addressed the issues of possible tax fraud and financial crimes while, at the same time, she laid out a persuasive case for why the House needs to take steps to examine Trump’s tax returns.

Here’s a fine recap and analysis of her testimony with a video link:


#84

Agree wholeheartedly…she was positively surgical in her questions and uncovered ‘sticky’ areas for further inquiry. The fact she was so adept at both being strategically sound and adept at getting her points across is a win.

Several of the new Democratic women’s wing of Congress are so very smart and their questions proved it…others include Rep. Katie Hill, Rep Katie Porter with Equifax yesterday and Rep. Rashida Tlaib did great. The latter may have stepped over some boundaries, but she cracked open the discussion even more.

So out of the gate, AOC’s strategy to speak her conscious at times, and level the playing field is refreshing. Because she is showing a lot of political courage and ability, she may get similar respect as Pelosi has. It is still early though. But the R’s know for sure that they have some very strong and worthy opponents and need to watch it.


#85

No surprises here…

Trump and Kim abruptly cut short summit after failing to reach nuclear deal

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit here Thursday after the two leaders failed to reach an agreement to dismantle that country’s nuclear weapons.

Although Kim said he was ready in principle to denuclearize, he and Trump ended their meetings without sitting for a planned lunch and without participating in a joint signing ceremony.


#86

Some highlights:

President Trump told reporters in Hanoi he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not sign an agreement as scheduled largely because they disagreed on sanctions.

Mr. Trump, fielding reporters’ questions after the White House abruptly announced the summit would be cut short, explained, “Sometimes you have to walk.” Mr. Trump said he and U.S. leaders decided walking away would be better than giving away too much…

No next summit scheduled at this point, Trump says

Mr. Trump said there is no next summit scheduled with Kim at this point.

That can’t be a good sign.

Trump accepts Kim Jong Un’s claim to innocence regarding Otto Warmbier

A reporter asked Mr. Trump if he has brought up Otto Warmbier, the American who died after being in the custody of North Koreans.

Mr. Trump, in a stunning claim for a U.S. president, said he doesn’t believe the top leadership knew and he doesn’t believe Kim knew. Mr. Trump claimed Kim said he was unaware.

"I will take him at his word," Mr. Trump said.

At least Trump is consistent in naively accepting the word of ruthless autocrats and dictators. He took Putin’s word that he did not attack our 2016 election process. He took Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s word that he did not order the heinous torture, assassination and dismemberment of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. And now he’s taking Kim Jong Un’s word that he knew nothing about the brutalization of U.S. college student Otto Warmbeir that left him brain dead and led to his subsequent death.

Trump criticizes South Korea for not funding joint military exercises

Mr. Trump, asked if he would bring back joint military exercises with South Korea, said those exercises are exceedingly expensive. The U.S., he said, is saving lots of money.

Mr. Trump then appeared to criticize South Korea for not paying more for those military exercises.

The big takeaway here is not whether or not South Korea should help fund the exercises, but the fact that Trump is now apparently abandoning them permanently. Why not bring them back until Kim makes some concessions? This is a huge giveaway by Trump and he’s getting nothing in return.

Pompeo: We are closer to goals with North Korea than 36 hours ago

Mr. Trump invited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the podium, where Pompeo said he believes they are closer – he didn’t say closer to what – now than 36 hours ago.

A meaningless platitude.

Trump responds to Cohen hearing

Mr. Trump, asked about a hearing hours earlier with his former attorney Michael Cohen, blasted Democrats for holding the hearing during his summit with Kim.

"I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing," Mr. Trump said.

The president claimed Cohen “lied a lot” but the hearing was very interesting.

The president then launched into his frustrations with the Russia investigation, claiming there is no collusion.

First, there’s no way that Cohen’s testimony affected the outcome of this doomed summit even one iota. Second, it seems inconsistent for Trump to call this a “very important summit” and then exploit it as a platform to complain about being investigated. If he cared about the summit, he’d stay on message and save his criticism of the Democrats until he returns home tomorrow.

Trump has insisted he isn’t interested in speed

“I’ve been saying very much from the beginning that speed is not that important to me,” the president said as he sat down with Kim earlier in Hanoi. “I very much appreciate no testing of nuclear rockets, missiles, any of it. Very much appreciate it.

Two things to note:

  • North Korea has suspended missile testing in the past and nothing came of it (1999 - 2005).

  • As this recent Politico article points out: “Despite a pause in nuclear and missile tests, North Korea’s nuclear program is in fact advancing by the day.”

More from the Politico article:

… While there have been no nuclear- or ballistic-missile tests since 2017, the program is far from frozen; all evidence suggests that North Korea continues to upgrade and expand its nuclear weapon and missile infrastructure…

Here is what we know: North Korea continues to produce fissile material, enabling it to build increasing numbers of nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed as much in Senate testimony last summer. A recent expert report estimated that in 2018, North Korea developed enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium to build up to 7 additional nuclear weapons and that the regime continued to advance “all phases” of its weapons program. As recently as November, the International Atomic Energy Agency observed expanded operations at Yongbyon, the North’s main facility producing fissile material.

North Korea also continues to expand its missile development and production facilities. And as researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies have shown using satellite imagery, Pyongyang maintains as many as 20 undeclared ballistic-missile bases where it continues to advance its missile program. North Korea will not negotiate over elements of the program it does not disclose.

Bottom line: Despite his colossal buildup to this summit, Trump has won zero new concessions from North Korea. At the same time he appears to have made a significant concession to Kim: He strongly implied that we’re permanently surrendering the annual joint military exercises with South Korea (previously, it looked like we were just skipping one while we were waiting for the talks to progress). Trump has also further legitimized Kim’s brutal regime on the world stage by sharing the spotlight with him. Meanwhile Kim has bought more time to advance North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and, based on their proven track record, they will likely resume testing whenever it suits them.

Sadly, it’s hard to find an upside here.


#87

Thanks for all the good analysis.

Yes, it was bungled. Some feel that Kim likes to stall everyone out…and keep building.

But his worse critics, nuclear expert MSNBC contributor Joseph Cirincione from Ploughshares (Ploughshares )was on MSNBC and one other, did concede, it was better to leave with sanctions in tact than to sign anything worse.

We have to put it in double negative terms I guess - it is better not to have not gone ahead with a premature agreement (and give Kim a lift of sanctions)

The truth of the matter, sanctions work. And Kim has to ride by railroad because there is not enough protection for him to travel anywhere by air. As the Koreans have taken down flights, they are worried about the same.

I do think that T was rattled - post Cohen hearing. (another win)


#88

Many people knew that the Release was going to happen in June of 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jun/12/wikileaks-to-publish-more-hillary-clinton-emails-julian-assange This was published a FULL MONTH AHEAD of when Cohen said that Stone called Trump - It was already in the NEWS.


#89

Don’t worry Stone will have due process regardless of what Cohen says under oath.

Read the full Indictment of Roger Stone here :point_down:

Anything Cohen has said is just a drop in the bucket.


(Matt Kiser) #90

I honestly find the Massie talking point to be tired. Yes, it was already reported that WikiLeaks had DNC emails. The issue isn’t new information or even the timeline of the hack, really. That’s not what’s at issue. It’s the campaign allegedly conspiring with actors tied to Russian intelligence in the coordinated release of the emails harmful to a candidate that Russia didn’t want to win, and then repeatedly lying about those connections.


#91

Sometimes I think we are too focused on 2016 to now and don’t go back far enough to look at the entire picture as to potiential Russian Collusion. Found this to be and interesting article. https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration


#92

That story is propaganda at this point. It’s been repeatedly debunked by various news outlets. Even Fox News, watch.


#93

We appear to have reached the tipping point for Congressional rejection of Trump’s border wall “emergency.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander has come out against Trump’s state of emergency on the southern border, possibly becoming the crucial fourth Republican needed for Congress to formally rebuke the president.

Alexander argued Thursday that the founders of the country rejected the concept of a king who can set taxes and spending on his own and said these powers must remain with Congress.

“Separation of powers is a crucial constitutional imperative that goes to the very heart of our freedom,” he said.


(Matt Kiser) closed #94

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