WTF Community

Day 819


(Matt Kiser) #1

Updated 4/18/2019 10:01 AM PDT

Editor's note: Today's post will be updated throughout the day. Check back for updates or follow the live blogs below.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/2019/04/18/day-819/

👀 What I’m Watching: Day 819
(Matt Kiser) #2

Here’s a running list of stories I’m keeping an eye on today. What’d I miss? Contribute any links, write short blurbs, or send me copyedits below and become the media.


tl;dr

  • Attorney General William Barr held a press conference to discuss the release of the redacted report from Robert Mueller’s investigation. Read Barr’s prepared remarks.
  • The redacted report was released publicly. Read it here.

Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg

The Mueller Report: Annotations and Live Analysis


Attorney General William Barr repeatedly insisted that Robert Mueller “found no evidence” that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that Russian efforts to interfere “did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign.” Barr repeatedly said Mueller"s report did not find “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Further, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign colluded with WikiLeaks, that was not a crime. Barr added that Mueller examined 10 “episodes” that Trump may have obstructed justice, but that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction.” According to Barr, Trump acted out of “noncorrupt motives” because he was frustrated by Mueller’s investigation, as well as media coverage that he felt was hurting his administration. Barr also confirmed that he gave Trump’s lawyers access to Mueller’s report “earlier this week” – before it was to be sent to Congress and made public – and that Trump’s lawyers did not ask for any redactions. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • :pushpin: Day 700: Trump’s pick for attorney general criticized Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation in an unsolicited memo he sent to the Justice Department in June . William Barr said “Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived,” claiming that Trump’s interactions with James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, because Trump was using his “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding.” If confirmed as attorney general, Barr would oversee Mueller’s work. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post)
  • BEFORE REPORT: Mueller’s report will reportedly be “lightly redacted” and is expected to reveal details about Trump’s actions in office that came under scrutiny. According to an outline the Justice Department used to brief the White House with, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice because he couldn’t determine Trump’s intent behind his actions. Separately, the Justice Department will let a “limited number” of lawmakers review Mueller’s report “without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case.” (Washington Post)

Mueller’s office chose not to charge Trump with obstruction, because “we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct.” According to the report, Mueller considered Trump’s written answers “inadequate,” but knew subpoena would impose “substantial delay,” but they believe they have “sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony.” As part of Trump’s written answers, he stated more than 30 times he “does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘‘independent recollection’” of information investigators asked about. When Mueller was appointed special counsel on May 17, 2017, Trump reportedly panicked, saying, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.” (NBC News / Washington Post)

  • "GAME OVER," Trump tweeted immediately after Barr’s press conference. Trump spent the morning tweeting about “Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats” and complaining of “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT.” (NBC News)
  • :pushpin: Day 666: Trump said he answered Robert Mueller’s written questions himself “very easily,” but he hasn’t submitted them because “you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions.” Rudy Giuliani said there are at least two dozen questions that relate to activities and episodes from before Trump’s election. Trump spent more than five hours in meeting over three days this week with his attorneys working out written answers for Mueller about alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Despite telling reporters that “the questions were very routinely answered by me,” Trump’s temper boiled during all three meetings. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump targeted Mueller on Twitter yesterday, calling the special counsel team “thugs” and the investigation a “witch hunt.” (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)
  • :pushpin: Day 670: Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller’s questions “regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry,” according to Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow. Mueller has not ruled out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing the written answers. (Bloomberg/ CNBC / New York Times / Associated Press)

The Justice Department briefed White House lawyers about the conclusions made in Robert Mueller report multiple times in recent days, which have aided Trump’s legal team as it prepares a strategy for rebutting the report’s findings. Attorney General William Barr refused to answer whether the Justice Department had given the White House a preview of Mueller’s findings. The Justice Department will deliver the report to Congress following Barr’s press conference, between 11 a.m. and noon – several hours after Barr held a press conference. The report will also be posted later to the special counsel’s website. (New York Times)


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Barr of “waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump.” Nadler charged that Barr was attempting to “bake in the narrative to the benefit of the White House” and to protect Trump by holding a news conference about Mueller’s report hours before it will be made public. Nadler and other House committee chairs issued a joint statement urging Barr to cancel the news conference and “let the full report speak for itself.” The House Judiciary Committee plans to review the redacted report, and then ask Mueller and his team to testify before Congress. (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)


In other news.

  1. House Democrats subpoenaed nine banks as part of an investigation into Trump’s financial and potential money laundering tied to Russia: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Investigators on the House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee have focused their early efforts on Deutsche Bank, which has said it in engaged “in a productive dialogue” with the committees. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  2. North Korea said continued nuclear talks would be “lousy” if Mike Pompeo remains involved, demanding that the Secretary of State be replaced by someone who is “more careful.” A North Korean foreign ministry official said last week that Pompeo “spouted reckless remarks, hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership” after he agreed with the characterization of Kim Jong-un as a tyrant. That same official warned on Thursday that if Pompeo remains involved, “the talks will become entangled.” (BBC)

  3. North Korea said it test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon.” There was no evidence the test involved a nuclear detonation or an intercontinental ballistic missile. (New York Times)


#3

House Democrats have subpoenaed nine large banks as part of an inquiry into President Trump’s financial interests, according to people familiar with the matter, including six U.S. firms and three foreign lenders.

The list includes U.S. giants JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America as well as Capital One Financial Corp. It also includes Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

The total number of lenders targeted by the lawmakers hasn’t been previously reported, nor have most of their identities.


(Diane S. Pape) #4

Is anyone as disgusted as I am that “our” attorney general will be having a press conference prior to releasing the Mueller report? I don’t know why the media outlets will cover it at all- we are so f-ed.


#5

Yes! I wish the media would boycott the “press conference”. I turned off my TV in protest.


#6

Barr’s pronouncements said nothing about that President could not be exonerated, per Mueller…

and comments from Chris Wallace, Fox


#7

The report set to be released will be only lightly redacted and give a granular accounting of the ways in which the president’s behavior raised concerns he might have tried to obstruct justice, people familiar with it said.

Justice Department officials have briefed the White House on the report’s general outlines, these people said. It will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, the people said. But it will offer a detailed blow-by-blow of his alleged conduct — analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller’s inquiry, they added.


#8

Some ‘interesting’ tweets regarding what the WH is thinking…what they knew and when…and how Barr fulfilled the strategy to spin the story in the President’s favor.
Begs the question - why is DOJ in the pocket of the WH?


#9

It’s HERE Mueller Report!~

Pg. 10 Definition of Collusion vs. Coordination

:boom::boom::boom::boom::boom::boom::boom::boom::boom::boom:


#10

#11

I’m on page 261 of the Mueller report, I have to say, so far, it reads an awful lot like a roadmap for congress. :woman_shrugging:t2:


#12

And you wonder with Pelosi’s firm grip on the subject of Impeachment that we’d get anywhere…? But yes, it looks like all lanes lead to Congress.

You’re a wiz on the reading @Pet_Proletariat


#13

Poor Nancy. This is a lot for any leader. I trust Nancy, if she says that Trump isn’t worth impeachment after this report, believe her because it may be more valuable to use as a political cudgel going into 2020.

If anything this report shows repeatedly the Trump campaign is a group of shifty, quasi-criminal and criminal political hacks and liars out to make money and gain power to do more shifty, quasi-criminal, corrupt things with that power.


#14

I agree…She is smart, effective and the best vote counter out there.

She can see the through line here…Dems can not get an impeachment thru the Senate, and not worth the efforts…already too close to 2020.

Maybe some committees can subpoena Trump and get him? in front of Congress but I doubt. More eyes on 2020 and there may be a way of getting him out via SDNY perhaps


#15

This New York Times “takeaway” article is the best I’ve come across so far. It’s a quick read, and worth the time – these are the points the nation should be focused on.


#16

T 'n Co were open to Russian help and looked for openings and backchannel methods to get that help. Jared was very open to this.

In December 2016, a few weeks after Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, Russian president Vladimir Putin convened what a Russian oligarch described as an “all-hands” meeting with some of his country’s top businessmen. A main topic of discussion: U.S. sanctions against Russia.

One of the oligarchs present was Petr Aven, co-founder of Alfa Bank, Russia’s biggest commercial bank. Aven had recently met with with Putin one on one to discuss the sanctions and what to do about them. Putin said he had been struggling to get messages to Trump’s inner circle, and urged Aven to take steps to protect his bank from additional U.S. penalties, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which details the episode. Aven perceived that as an order, not a request, according to Mueller, and understood “that there would be consequences if he did not follow through.”

Aven quickly understood that his mission was to contact the Trump transition team, and began an effort to contact Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
>
Mueller’s nearly 450-page report granularly describes this and related episodes, revealing how Putin explicitly encouraged his country’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen to make contact with Trump’s transition team after the election. The directives help explain the “flurry” of contact the oligarchs made with Trump’s associates in the weeks following the reality TV star’s unexpected victory, Mueller wrote.

Even though Mueller did not establish any conspiracy between Trump’s team and Russia, the special counsel’s report shows how important it was to Putin to establish a backchannel line of communication to Trump’s transition team — and how receptive Trump’s associates were to the overtures.


#17

Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos is there to help in terms of funding and helping locate Hillary’s emails.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince was involved in funding an effort to verify if a cache of stolen emails purporting to be from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server were legitimate, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Prince in 2016 was approached by Barbara Ledeen, an aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and agreed to fund the hiring of a tech expert to verify if the emails were from Clinton’s server, which was the subject of a 2016 FBI investigation.

“Ledeen claimed to have obtained a trove of emails (from what she described as the ‘dark web’) that purported to be the deleted Clinton emails. Ledeen wanted to authenticate the emails and solicited contributions to fund that effort. Erik Prince provided funding to hire a tech advisor to ascertain the authenticity of the emails,” reads a section of the Mueller report, which was released Thursday.

“According to Prince, the tech advisor determined that the emails were not authentic,” the report continues.


#18

Interesting, House Democrats will conference on Monday about what to do next, taking the holiday weekend to read the report.

House Democrats will convene via conference call on Monday to discuss the next steps following the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s election interference and whether President Trump obstructed justice.

In a letter to House Democrats Thursday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her caucus that they will talk about their strategy following the Passover and Easter holiday weekend, which will also offer lawmakers time to review the 448-page report in full.

Pelosi said the conclusion offered by Attorney General William Barr in his four-page summary and press conference that Trump did not obstruct justice was “directly undercut” by Mueller’s report. Pelosi added that the version of the Mueller report provided by the Justice Department was “disrespectfully late and selectively redacted.”


#19

George Conway III sees the Mueller Report gives Congress every right to impeach this president. Conway keeps speaking out on what a corrupt president this 45 has been. (am putting it here…as a go around the 3 post rule!)

So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not “totally” or “completely,” as he claimed. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III didn’t reach a conclusion about whether Trump committed crimes of obstruction of justice — in part because, while a sitting president, Trump can’t be prosecuted under long-standing Justice Department directives, and in part because of “difficult issues” raised by “the President’s actions and intent.” Those difficult issues involve, among other things, the potentially tricky interplay between the criminal obstruction laws and the president’s constitutional authority, and the difficulty in proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

So too with a president. The Constitution provides for impeachment and removal from office for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But the history and context of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” makes clear that not every statutory crime is impeachable, and not every impeachable offense need be criminal. As Charles L. Black Jr. put it in a seminal pamphlet on impeachment in 1974, “assaults on the integrity of the processes of government” count as impeachable, even if they are not criminal.

[The Post’s View: The Mueller report is the opposite of exoneration ]

And presidential attempts to abuse power by putting personal interests above the nation’s can surely be impeachable. The president may have the raw constitutional power to, say, squelch an investigation or to pardon a close associate. But if he does so not to serve the public interest, but to serve his own, he surely could be removed from office, even if he has not committed a criminal act.

By these standards, the facts in Mueller’s report condemn Trump even more than the report’s refusal to clear him of a crime. Charged with faithfully executing the laws, the president is, in effect, the nation’s highest law enforcement officer. Yet Mueller’s investigation “found multiple acts by the President that were capable of executing undue influence over law enforcement investigations.”

Trump tried to “limit the scope of the investigation.” He tried to discourage witnesses from cooperating with the government through “suggestions of possible future pardons.” He engaged in “direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.” A fair reading of the special counsel’s narrative is that “the likely effect” of these acts was “to intimidate witnesses or to alter their testimony,” with the result that “the justice system’s integrity [was] threatened.” Page after page, act after act, Mueller’s report describes a relentless torrent of such obstructive activity by Trump.

Contrast poor Richard M. Nixon. He was almost certain to be impeached, and removed from office, after the infamous “smoking gun” tape came out. On that tape, the president is heard directing his chief of staff to get the CIA director, Richard Helms, to tell the FBI “don’t go any further into this case” — Watergate — for national security reasons. That order never went anywhere, because Helms ignored it.

Trump, on the other hand, was a one-man show. His aides tried to stop him, according to Mueller: “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

As for Trump’s supposed defense that there was no underlying “collusion” crime, well, as the special counsel points out, it’s not a defense, even in a criminal prosecution. But it’s actually unhelpful in the comparison to Watergate. The underlying crime in Watergate was a clumsy, third-rate burglary in an election campaign that turned out to be a landslide.


#20

NYTimes: Read the Mueller Report: Full Document