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(David Bythewood) #769

I might be sick, because these people were and they’re being jailed for it in a massive scam to pay off their debts… and the lawyers who are jailing them.

“You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills”: County in rural Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt

There is at least one issue a divided electorate can come together on this election year: A recent poll finds 90% of those surveyed agreed on the importance of making health care more affordable.

Millions of Americans remain uninsured.

As CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver reports in partnership with ProPublica, some people are even going to jail because they’re squeezed by a system that’s putting new demands on overburdened incomes.

Tres and Heather Biggs’ son Lane was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 5 years old. At the same time, Heather suffered seizures from Lyme disease.

“We had so many — multiple health issues in our family at the same time, it put us in a bracket that made insurance unattainable,” Heather Biggs said. “It would have made no sense. We would have had to have not eaten, not had a home.”

Tres Biggs was working two jobs but they fell behind on their medical bills, then the unthinkable happened.

“You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills,” Tres Biggs said.

Tres Biggs went to jail for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. He described it as “scary.”

“I was scared to death,” Tres Biggs said. “I’m a country kid — I had to strip down, get hosed and put a jumpsuit on.”

Bail was $500. He said they had “maybe $50 to $100” at the time.

In rural Coffeyville, Kansas, where the poverty rate is twice the national average, attorneys like Michael Hassenplug have built successful law practices representing medical providers to collect debt owed by their neighbors.

“I’m just doing my job,” Hassenplug said. “They want the money collected, and I’m trying to do my job as best I can by following the law.”

That law was put in place at Hassenplug’s own recommendation to the local judge. The attorney uses that law by asking the court to direct people with unpaid medical bills to appear in court every three months and state they are too poor to pay in what is called a “debtors exam.”

If two hearings are missed, the judge issues an arrest warrant for contempt of court. Bail is set at $500.

Hassenplug said he gets “paid on what’s collected.” If the bail money is applied to the judgment, then he gets a portion of that, he said.

“We’re sending them to jail for contempt of court for failure to appear,” Hassenplug said.

In most courts, bail money is returned when defendants appear in court. But in almost every case in Coffeyville, that money goes to pay attorneys like Hassenplug and the medical debt his clients are owed.

“This raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Nusrat Choudhury, the deputy director of the ACLU. “What’s happening here is a jailhouse shake-down for cash that is the criminalization of private debt.”

CBS News went to court on debt collection day. They wouldn’t allow our cameras in, but we watched more than 60 people swear they didn’t have enough money to pay, and only one of them had an attorney representing them.

Michael Hassenplug continues to operate.

(David Bythewood) #770

Brace yourselves.

Trump is gearing up to pardon Roger Stone.


Well, apparently instead of a direct pardon Donnie will just tell Bill Barr’s inJustice Department “hey, give him a break”.

Justice Dept. to reduce sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone, official says, after president calls it ‘unfair’

Developing story with interesting implications:

Philippines Duterte deals blow to U.S. by terminating troop pact

Basically, using the revocation of a U.S. visa held by the former police chief who led Duterte’s bloody war on drugs as an excuse, Duterte is looking to scrap our alliance and move closer to China and Russia. Some Philippine legislators are trying to block it, worried it will render other major pacts with the U.S. moot, while Philippine nationalists claim the U.S. did nothing to prevent the construction of China’s missile-base islands in the South China Sea and that the pact with the U.S. is one-sided, largely favoring America.

The loss of the security agreement will be a major blow to U.S. interests in the region, and, as with his interactions with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, again shows how Trump’s befriending of dictators doesn’t necessarily lead to any benefits.

Some Tennessee Republicans think tampons need to be taxed to limit women from “abusing their tax-free status” and buying too many.

Excuse me while I go bang my head on a wall for a bit.


But not before the DOJ reverses it’s prison recommendation, and three prosecutors RESIGN on Roger Stone’s case.

Three prosecutors in Roger Stone’s criminal case abruptly resigned from the case on Tuesday after the Justice Department said it planned to reduce the recommended sentence for the longtime Trump associate.

The Justice Department on Tuesday said it was pulling back on its request to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”

The revised recommendation doesn’t ask for a particular sentence but says the one that was recommended earlier “does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter.”

“The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration,” but based “on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances. Ultimately, the government defers to the Court as to what specific sentence is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case,” the filing said.

After the reports of the imminent softer sentencing recommendation, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney has resigned effective immediately.”

Zelinsky, who was a part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. Attorney in Maryland.

Another one of the prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned— both from the case and his job as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.” A third prosecutor, Adam Jed, also withdrew from the case.

Trump in a tweet earlier in the day called the department’s initial sentencing proposal “disgraceful!

"This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in a follow-up post on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

He told reporters in the Oval Office later Tuesday that he did not speak to the Justice Department about Stone’s sentencing.

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the decision to change the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night prior to Trump’s tweet.

(David Bythewood) #772

Oh yeah, I posted that before it came out that he was taking a different tactic. But he could still push through the pardon.


Fluid situation…am sure T’s gonna want to pardon Stone and Flynn.


Same thing happening with Flynn. Trump is maneuvering to either get him a mere slap-on-the-wrist-sentence or have his case completely thrown out. This will also make it easier for Trump to outright pardon Flynn because, hey, it’s no biggie. Same applies to Stone. And, of course, the reason Trump wants to get his henchmen off the hook is not out of mercy, but because he doesn’t like the optics of having criminals in his inner circle. If they are declared innocent or pardoned or whatever, then the horrible things they’ve done will not incriminate Trump.

Fox News is already crowing about this, implying in its headline that Flynn will never be sentenced: Federal judge indefinitely postpones sentencing of Michael Flynn. (not actually linking to it because – yeah, it’s Fox News).

Day 1118

WTF WTF WTF :boom:

By Carol E. Lee, Ken Dilanian and Peter Alexander

WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney who had presided over an inconclusive criminal investigation into former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was abruptly removed from that job last month in one of several recent moves by Attorney General William Barr to take control of legal matters of personal interest to President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

A person familiar with the matter has confirmed to NBC News that President Trump has now rescinded the nomination of the U.S. attorney, Jessie Liu, for a job as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department.

On Tuesday, all four line prosecutors withdrew from the case against Trump associate Roger Stone — and one quit the Justice Department altogether — after Barr and his top aides intervened to reverse a stiff sentencing recommendation of up to nine years in prison that the line prosecutors had filed with the court Monday.

But that wasn’t the first time senior political appointees reached into a case involving a former Trump aide, officials told NBC News. Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government’s sentencing recommendation for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI. While once the prosecutors in the case had recommended up to six months in jail for Flynn, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate.

The resignations and the unusual moves by Barr come as Trump has sought revenge against government officials who testified after being subpoenaed by congressional Democrats in their impeachment investigation. In the days since the Senate acquitted him, Trump fired his ambassador to the European Union, a political supporter the president nominated, and had other officials moved out of the White House.

This signals to me that there has been a political infestation,” NBC News legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney, said on MSNBC. “And that is the single most dangerous thing that you can do to the Department of Justice.


From Crooked Media


Panel sends DC statehood bill to full House for consideration

Before you get too excited,

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Tuesday declined CNN’s request for comment on the measure, citing his previous statements on it. During a Fox News interview last year, the Kentucky Republican said the idea, along with a number of other progressive proposals in the House, wouldn’t “go anywhere” as long as he controls the chamber.

The legislation would need to be approved by the full House and Senate before it goes to President Donald Trump for his signature or veto.

(David Bythewood) #779

Trump’s Trophy Hunting Council Disbanded After Legal Defeat

Kenya’s blood banks run dry after Trump administration cuts transfusion aid


R E T A L I A T I O N - T makes it his priority.


This is a good ‘explainer’ of the sequence of events leading up to where we are today - with Barr’s hand clearly on the scales of Justice favoring his boss, T. I rely on a lot of sources, and this History Prof, Heather Cox Richardson does full recap daily which I find helpful. WTFJHT is my #1 source Thx to @matt 'n co …but it is good to check others as well.

Heather Cox Richardson Feb 13 \ 15x20 \ 11x20

The major news story today is the same as yesterday’s: the unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Department of Justice.

The man at the center of this crisis, Attorney General William Barr, is a proponent of what is called the unitary executive theory. This theory says that the president wields the sole power of the executive branch of government, and cannot be checked by either Congress or the courts. That theory has led him to argue that President George H. W. Bush did not need congressional approval to invade Iraq. Later, he backed Bush’s pardons of the Reagan officials charged in the Iran-contra affair.

That theory apparently has him firmly in Trump’s camp, despite the fact that the Department of Justice, which he oversees, is supposed to be nonpolitical.

So why the sudden crisis? On Monday, February 10, prosecutors in the Justice Department wrote to Judge Amy Berman Jackson to recommend jail time of 7 to 9 years for Trump’s friend and Republican self-proclaimed dirty trickster Roger Stone, whom a jury found guilty of seven counts of lying to Congress and witness tampering during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. This recommendation fell within standard department guidelines.

In their filing, they outlined the case: Before the 2016 election, Stone repeatedly reached out to Wikileaks “to obtain information… that would help the Trump campaign and harm the campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.” Campaign officials “believed that Stone was providing them with nonpublic information about WikiLeaks’ plans. Indeed, [Steve] Bannon viewed Stone as the Trump campaign’s access point to WikiLeaks.” Stone lied to Congress five times, interfering with their Russia investigation, and threatened another witness to try to keep him from exposing Stone’s lies.

The prosecutors noted: “Investigations into election interference concern our national security, the integrity of our democratic processes, and the enforcement of our nation’s criminal laws. These are issues of paramount concern to every citizen of the United States. Obstructing such critical investigations thus strikes at the very heart of our American democracy.”

Immediately after the sentencing recommendation, though, Trump tweeted that it was “horrible and unfair” and a “miscarriage of justice.” Trump and Stone go way back, and Stone’s business partner Paul Manafort, at loose ends after the Ukraine oligarch whom he had helped to get into the presidency was ousted, joined Trump’s floundering campaign and turned it around.

The Department then reversed itself, saying its own prosecutors had failed to be “reasonable.”

In response, on Tuesday, all four of the federal prosecutors responsible for Roger Stone’s case withdrew: Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Mike Marando. Kravis and Zelinsky resigned from the D.C. US attorney’s office altogether. Zelinsky, who had worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, will return to the Baltimore U.S. attorney’s office, from which he had come. (I got these men mixed up yesterday).

This is a huge statement.

Also on Tuesday, the administration abruptly withdrew the nomination of the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the Stone prosecution, Jessie Liu, for a top position in the Treasury Department. Barr had replaced her with Tim Shea, a Trump loyalist, last month. It appears that Barr is hamstringing the Department of Justice to make sure that no one can touch the president.

For his part, Trump is deliberately demonstrating his power over the Justice Department. While some DOJ officials tried to maintain that the call for a lighter sentence for Stone had been in the works for a while, Trump this morning tweeted: “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!” (The charge that Mueller lied to Congress is astonishing, and Trump has provided no evidence to back it up.)

This crisis has brought back onto the radar screen Barr’s actions since he took office almost exactly a year ago.

In his confirmation hearing, Senators pressed Barr about his stance on the relationship between the Justice Department and the White House, and he insisted that he would not permit the department to be politicized. Asked explicitly about the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign, Barr pledged that he would not impede the investigation and that he would disclose as much as he could of the forthcoming Report. Senators confirmed him by a vote of 54-45 with few senators crossing party lines. He took office on February 14, 2019.

Almost immediately, Barr had to deal with the Mueller Report. On March 22, Barr notified Congress that Mueller’s investigation was complete, and on March 24, he wrote a letter summarizing what the Report said. In his summary, he emphasized the Report’s conclusion that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Barr turned that careful statement into an exoneration of the president and his team when, in fact, the Report established first that the Russian government had illegally intervened in the election to benefit Trump, and second, that the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” Mueller’s team had concluded it could not prove a criminal case, in part because “several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation….”

On March 27, Mueller wrote to Barr saying that his letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Report. On April 18, Barr delivered the Report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and promised to make it available to the public. He held a press conference in which he said that Mueller cleared the president of “collusion” with the Russians. (“Collusion” is not a legal term, and Mueller said explicitly that they did not look at it.) Still, Barr emphasized again “the Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations. In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign “collusion” with the Russian government’s hacking.”

Since then, it appears that Barr has worked to consolidate his own control over cases involving Trump or his associates. He appointed his own investigator, John Durham, to try to prove that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked our 2016 election (our intelligence community has established definitively that it was Russia). Also, under him, Senior DOJ officials worked to change the sentencing recommendation for Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Lev Parnas (who is not a reliable reporter) claims Barr was in on the scheme to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear Joe Biden. And we learned earlier this week that the DOJ has set up a system to receive information from Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani which he insists ties Hunter Biden into a corrupt scheme.

All of this seems a bit in the weeds, but it is a huge red flag for our democracy. If our Department of Justice is corrupted by loyalty to Donald Trump rather than maintaining its traditional loyalty to impartial justice, another pillar of our three branches of government is tottering.

Judge Jackson is scheduled to sentence Stone on February 20.|


House Votes to Eliminate Deadline on Adding ERA to Constitution

The House voted to eliminate the deadline to add an amendment to the Constitution to establish equality between the sexes, though the court battle over the validity of the time limit Congress once set for ratification is set to wage on.

The resolution isn’t likely to be taken up in the GOP-led Senate, where it has limited Republican support.

“With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families and a stronger America, because we know when women succeed, America succeeds,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said.

All the best bills are just waiting for us to take back the Senate.

(David Bythewood) #783

Hey, that’s a selling point.

Also, if I am a bit quiet it’s because Twitter’s up and locked my account and I can’t get back in because I lost the number I had it on, so I am waiting for them to respond to an appeal and it’s driving me up the wall waiting, as I feel like I am flying blind right now.


Hang in there @Windthin !
Check out @matt’s other project to stay up to date.

(Matt Kiser) #785

yikes! that’s shitty. why’d your account get locked?


@Windthin - Sorry you have to deal with any kind of restriction from Twitter. Nonsense I’m sure. Hang in there.

Here’s some blowback from AG Barr…complaining of T’s tweets, and talking to ABC News on how Barr feels caught in the middle. Clearly, Barr is trying to clean up the situation.

In the interview with ABC News, Barr fiercely defended his actions and said it had nothing to do with the president. He said he was supportive of Stone’s convictions but thought the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years as excessive. When news outlets reported the seven to nine year sentencing recommendation last Monday, Barr said he thought it was spin.

Barr said he told his staff that night that the Justice Department has to amend its recommendation. Hours later, the president tweeted that it was “horrible and very unfair” and that “the real crimes were on the other side.”

“Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Trump tweeted

“Yes. Well, I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets. As I said at my confirmation hearing, I think the essential role of the attorney general is to keep law enforcement, the criminal process sacrosanct to make sure there is no political interference in it. And I have done that and I will continue to do that,” adding, “And I’m happy to say that, in fact the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”

Barr also told ABC News he was “a little surprised” that the prosecution team withdrew from the case and said he hadn’t spoken to the team.

(David Bythewood) #787

I don’t actually know, though I suspect perhaps because I added a bunch of people and it had been a while? The message said I did something that it felt looked automated. It wanted me to re-verify when I got home, and the reason I can’t unlock it is that the number I used expired, and I no longer have it, so I am waiting on them to unlock and restore it for me and then hopefully taking steps to ensure that doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, my account is there and visible, but all of the threads show up as individual posts and I can’t access it. Frustrating.


Bummer, hopefully you’ll sort it out soon.


I started following her the last time you mentioned her. She’s a great source too! Thanks.