WTF Community

More Questionable Behavior from Trump, T Admin, DOJ, and R's vs Dems, Press, Justice


#444

Judicial Committee Democratic members are introducing some new checks to curb the Presidential pardon power. It is still in committee, but being pushed forward for a fuller vote.

Definitely need a big check on T’s power.

Outraged by President Trump’s commutation of the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., House Democrats pushed forward legislation on Thursday that would give lawmakers new authority to scrutinize uses of executive clemency involving presidential family members or crimes against Congress and explicitly outlaw presidents from pardoning themselves.

The measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee amounts both to the most substantial attempt by Congress in recent history to put guardrails around one of the most powerful authorities granted to a president by the Constitution and to a symbolic rebuke of Mr. Trump. Given the scope of that power, it would almost certainly be challenged in court if it ever becomes law, which itself remains a long shot unless Democrats recapture full control of the government this fall.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee said Thursday that Mr. Trump’s general willingness to test the limits of his powers and his particular commutation of Mr. Stone, a longtime friend who was found guilty of lying to and obstructing a congressional investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign and its ties to Russia, made it necessary to act.

At the same time, Democrats advanced legislation that would pause the statute of limitations on any federal offense committed by presidents or vice presidents during their time in office so they cannot escape charges that might be brought if they were not in the White House.

“We do live in days when long-settled norms are being destroyed with alarming frequency,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the author of the provision outlawing self-pardons. “Now is the time to make clear what has always been the very basis of our rule of law: No person is above the law and no president of the United States of any political party can insulate himself from the consequences of his past or future crimes by pardoning himself.”


#445

"Judicial Committee Democratic members are introducing some new checks to curb the Presidential pardon power. It is still in committee, but being pushed forward for a fuller vote.

Definitely need a big check on T’s power."

So now we’ll see if the House Republicans will display some sign that they’ve still got some cahones, or just automatically fall in lockstep behind the Orange Menace.


(David Bythewood) #446

New video from Meidas Touch: Wall Against Trump

https://twitter.com/windthin/status/1287173972656893953?s=20


#447

Fall out for Rep Yoho…AOC’s reprimand has impactful consequences.

Washington, DC (CNN)Florida GOP Rep. Ted Yoho has resigned from the board of a Christian organization that works to fight hunger following his tense exchange with Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Chris Ford, the deputy director for strategic communications and campaigns of Bread for the World, on Saturday evening confirmed Yoho’s resignation to CNN. The Florida congressman resigned on Friday during a meeting with the organization board, according to a statement from Bread for the World.

"We believe that Rep. Ted Yoho’s recent actions and words as reported in the media are not reflective of the ethical standards expected of members of our Board of Directors," the organization wrote in a statement.

“…[B]read sought his resignation as an action that reaffirms our commitment to coming alongside women and people of color, nationally and globally, as they continue to lead us to a more racially inclusive and equitable world.”

https://twitter.com/dabeard/status/1287186334428397569?s=20

https://twitter.com/dabeard/status/1287190695615307777?s=20


#448

Yes, what could happen?? :frowning_face:

With peak hurricane season yet to come, southeast communities are grappling with uncertainty over whether it’s possible to evacuate to shelters without risking coronavirus exposure.

A powerful storm could uproot tens of thousands of people at a time when coronavirus infections and deaths from COVID-19 are soaring through the region. Congregate shelters, from school gyms to vast convention centers, risk becoming infection hot spots if evacuees pack into them. Many shelters are managed by the American Red Cross under the supervision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But the Red Cross intends to adhere to new guidelines based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing standards, which could cut shelter capacity by as much as 60%, according to local emergency managers.

In planning for a hurricane season that scientists expect to be unusually active, FEMA is seeking ways to house the possible overflow of evacuees from crowded shelters and is urging emergency managers to consider hotels left vacant by the economic downturn as a key alternative.

https://twitter.com/NPR/status/1287131438815608837?s=20


#449

The F.B.I. Pledged to Keep a Source Anonymous. Trump Allies Aided His Unmasking.

The F.B.I. had approached the expert, a man named Igor Danchenko, as it vetted the dossier’s claims. He agreed to tell investigators what he knew with an important condition, people familiar with the matter said — that the F.B.I. keep his identity secret so he could protect himself, his sources and his family and friends in Russia.

But his hope of remaining anonymous evaporated last week after Attorney General William P. Barr directed the F.B.I. to declassify a redacted report about its three-day interview of Mr. Danchenko in 2017 and hand it over to Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Graham promptly made the interview summary public while calling the entire Russia investigation “corrupt.”

The report blacked out Mr. Danchenko’s name and other identifying information. But within two days, a post on a newly created blog entitled “I Found the Primary Subsource”identified him, citing clues left visible in the F.B.I. document. A pseudonymous Twitter account created in May then promoted the existence of the blog. And the next day, RT, the Kremlin-owned, English-language news and propaganda outlet, published an article amplifying Mr. Danchenko’s identification.

Outing creditable sources and endangering lives to own the libs. This is will deter others from offering their services on intelligence matters. Way to burn a source guys.


Congressional Oversight 2020 - election edition
#450

What a farce…somehow the information got leaked to make a politically-charged point about the Steele Dossier. All it boils down to is revealing some mishanbled information on a fisa warrant for a person who was never charged. (Pappadopoulis)

Reminds me of this slippage -last year. Gee who leaked this and why?

Possible Russian spy for CIA now living in Washington area


#451

I wonder what happened with that man?


(David Bythewood) #452

General’s Dangling Of Job For U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Potentially ‘Criminal’


(David Bythewood) #453

United Nations calls on US police to halt use of force against journalists covering protests

The plea comes amid a rise in attacks on members of the press by American authorities – as well as more arrests

What to Do If You’re Kidnapped by Federal Officers While Protesting


#454

Purposeful slowing down of the US Postal Service in hopes of privatizing it…and screwing up the mail-in votes. What a master plan for the R’s. Dithering away at the way America functions. The T appointed LeRoy, who is also a big Republican fundraiser is at the helm and this is the plan.

Just shameful.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” So goes the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service (USPS), adapted in 1912 from The Persian Wars by Herodotus and inscribed in the stone atop the main USPS building in New York City.

The inscription, however, leaves out the quest for profit, which is currently threatening the “swift” delivery of mail.

Americans have come to depend on the modern iteration of the Postal Service to quickly deliver lifesaving medicines, election ballots, bills, checks, and other goods through rough weather, world wars, natural disasters, and pandemics. Nearly 6,190 USPS employees, deemed essential workers, have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 60 have died.

But now, as the cash-strained Postal Service faces what union leadership is calling “Christmas every day for package delivery” and an impending November presidential election that will likely necessitate an unprecedented increase in vote-by-mail ballots, it appears that the 108-year-old credo may have met its match in new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

“These changes are happening because there’s a White House agenda to privatize and sell off the public Postal Service,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. “But there’s too much approval for the organization right now. They want to separate the service from the people and then degrade it to the point where people aren’t going to like it anymore.”
>
The end of overtime work and other changes come as the Postal Service staff finds itself stretched thin. Nearly 40,000 workers have had to quarantine for two weeks after exposure to the virus, according to sources close to the USPS.

Data obtained by the American Postal Workers Union, which represents about 200,000 postal workers, shows that nearly 20% of all work by mail handlers, city carriers, and postal drivers is done in overtime.

There are no plans to hire more employees to make up for the cut in hours. Because the Postal Service is required by law to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits for new hires, it is generally thought of as more cost-efficient to increase overtime rather than hire new employees.

“Overtime will be eliminated…If the plants run late they will keep the mail for the next day,” reads an internal memo reviewed by Fortune . “If we cannot deliver all the mail due to call offs or shortage of people and you have no other help, the mail will not go out.”

The memo warns that “this is the first wave of changes that will be coming to USPS this year,” and that “we all must have a different mindset to keep the USPS alive.” The memo points to Bethlehem Steel, GM, and Packard Electric (all corporations, not public services) as companies that faltered because they “did not want to change and be profitable.”

Another memo, entitled, “Pivoting for Our Future,” warns that “one aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that—temporarily—we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks, which is not typical.” But, the memo explains, “this is a critical time for us, when decisive, quick, and meaningful action is needed.” The mail left behind would presumably be delivered at a later date, though the document doesn’t clearly state that.

Critics of the changes say they don’t see how minimizing mail delivery efforts will lead to an increase in revenue. Empirically, the opposite has occurred. In late 2011, the USPS announced nearly $3 billion in service cuts that slowed first-class mail delivery for the first time in 40 years. It ended the 2012 fiscal year with a record net loss of $15.9 billion, compared to a net loss of $5.1 billion for the same period the year before.

“Every time we’ve slowed down mail, we’ve lost revenue,” said Dimondstein. The new postmaster general, he said, instituted sweeping policy change after just one month in his position and without consulting any unions or representatives with deep institutional knowledge.

“These seem to be arbitrary decisions. If you slow down mail and packages, people are going to go elsewhere to get deliveries,” he said.

The Postal Service was losing money at an unsustainable pace before the COVID-19 crisis, but it has seen a precipitous drop in revenue since. For this fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1, the USPS is predicting a revenue loss of $13 billion due to COVID-19. That’s on top of the nearly $9 billion the USPS had been losing annually before the pandemic.

In order to keep the Postal Service afloat, advocates are asking Congress for $25 billion in immediate assistance, a $25 billion modernization grant to overhaul infrastructure, and $14 billion in debt forgiveness. The Postal Service Board of Governors, which consists of three Republicans (all appointed by President Donald Trump) and two Democrats, unanimously approved of the ask in April.

But Trump has repeatedly said that he refuses to sign any legislation with a USPS bailout provision. “The Postal Service is a joke,” said the President in May. His administration nixed a bipartisan attempt to provide $13 billion to the Postal Service in March and previously recommended measures to privatize parts of the service.

The Trump administration’s efforts have been met with backlash: The USPS is the most well-liked government agency in the country according to Pew, with a 91% favorability rating. Another poll found that 92% of American voters said they supported direct financial aid for USPS as part of the next coronavirus relief bill.

Dimonstein took particular umbrage with comparisons to private institutions like Bethlehem Steel.

“A private business can make arbitrary business decisions, but we’re not a private business. We’re a service,” he said, adding that even during the best of times the USPS wasn’t run with the goal of bringing in a big profit. “I guess that the postmaster general must think it’s the Wild West, and he’s the new sheriff.”

The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, he pointed out, requires “prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas,” in its first paragraph.

The Postal Service is required by the Constitution to serve everyone in the country equally and with uniform rates. The USPS is the only universal provider of mail service and has been a low-cost anchor for the mailing industry, helping to keep private mail service rates down. A recent analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies found that, without the USPS, 70 million more Americans would have to pay hefty surcharges for deliveries.

But the agency has been rapidly losing money since a 2006 law, passed with the support of the George W. Bush administration, required USPS to pre-fund employee retiree health benefits for 75 years in the future. That means the Postal Service must pay for the future health care of employees who have not even been born yet. The burden accounted for an estimated 80% to 90% of the agency’s losses before the pandemic.

Critics call the law “draconian” and say that it was created with the intention of leading the Postal Service toward privatization. No other federal agency bears this burden.

In a statement to Fortune , the Postal Service said that it was currently “developing a business plan to ensure that we will be financially stable,” which will be presented to the Board of Governors once finalized and will “focus on the Postal Service’s strengths to maximize our prospects for long-term success.” But for now, it is “taking immediate steps to increase operational efficiency by reemphasizing existing plans that have been designed to provide prompt and reliable service within current service standards.”

Union leaders say they don’t understand how plans to slow mail delivery services lead to an increase in efficiency.

Dimonstein points to a decision to cancel extra truck trips from processing stations to post offices. Each mail truck, he said, can only hold so many containers of mail. When volume goes up, as package volume has during shelter-in-place orders, workers will make an extra trip to make sure everything gets delivered on time. Without those extra trips, packages and mail will sit at the station for at least an additional day. But as volume continues, a snowball effect occurs where days can grow into weeks.

“It’s outrageous. It’s an arbitrary act,” said Dimonstein.


(David Bythewood) #455

TrumpleThinSkin apparently thinks it’s illegal to mock him on twitter.

Boy is he in for a rude awakening if he pursues that…

image


(David Bythewood) #456

‘Get the hell out of our uniforms’: It’s getting hard to tell who are the real law enforcement as camouflaged Feds crack down on protests

  • Retired US Army Gen. Russel Honoré, the three-star general who commanded the military’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, sharply criticized the Department of Homeland Security for wearing military uniforms.
  • “That uniform represents the cloth of our nation for people who don’t draw overtime, who serve around the world at the direction of the national command authority,” Honoré said to MSNBC.
  • The optics of federal agents, who wore US Army uniforms in crackdowns on protesters, have concerned top Pentagon officials and lawmakers. Some armed activists have also worn pieces of the Army’s uniform or carried with them military-style gear to protests, making it even more difficult to differentiate civilians from law enforcement.
  • “Federal agents who are wearing camouflage in our streets and carrying out the orders of our corrupt president against Americans obviously have no understanding of our military’s most basic values — to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, a former US Marine Corps infantry officer, told Insider.

Retired US Army Gen. Russel Honoré, the three-star general who commanded the military’s and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, sharply criticized the Department of Homeland Security’s controversial methods to quell to the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon.

Several members of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which operates under the DHS, wore the US Army’s camouflage uniform as they patrolled Portland’s streets last week in a mission officials said was to protect federal buildings that were vandalized by demonstrators.

The CBP agents, who were also kitted with the same woodland camouflage uniforms US troops wear in combat, were shown in numerous videos and pictures detaining and beating demonstrators. One video uploaded to social media channels showed an individual suspected of assault or property destruction being whisked away in an unmarked minivan, prompting state and congressional leaders to demand an investigation.

“That uniform represents the cloth of our nation for people who don’t draw overtime, who serve around the world at the direction of the national command authority,” Honoré said to MSNBC on Tuesday. “And is not to be used as an instrument of protest suppression.”

“That uniform is designed to blend into terrain, not to make you look like a warrior,” Honoré added, referring to the distinct woodland camouflage pattern designed to obscure troops’ outlines in battlegrounds like Afghanistan. “They’re wearing these uniforms as a function of intimidation to look like warriors.”

‘Get the hell out of our uniforms’

Following President Donald Trump’s decision to broaden the duties of federal agencies to curb the protests across the country, specialized federal law enforcement units have been given paramilitary-like roles to suppress demonstrators.

Federal agents from agencies like the CBP’s immediate-response force, also known as the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), were mobilized in an effort to protect federal buildings, despite resistance from state and local leaders. These units and other federal law enforcement agencies often wear the US Army’s camouflage uniform — BORTAC in particular has deployed to austere environments in the past, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

But concerns have grown as pictures of the uniformed personnel in Portland beating protesters with batons were widely publicized amid the federalized crackdown. The optics of the federal agents, who were confused with US service members, have concerned top Pentagon officials due to its implication.

US Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previously highlighted his concerns, saying there needs to be clear “visual distinction” between the two organizations.

“You want a clear definition between that which is military and that which is police, in my view,” Milley said during a congressional hearing earlier in July. “Because when you start introducing the military, you’re talking about a different level of effort there.”

Gen. Honoré likened the federal agents’ actions against protesters as a “lawless group” who were “literally beating them with batons.”

“Police don’t do this, what kind of bull---- is this,” Honoré said. “Get the hell out of our uniforms.”

Unit patches

The DHS and CBP have disputed the suggestion that their agents at the scene were unidentifiable “masked stormtroopers.”

CBP commissioner Mark Morgan on Tuesday pointed out that his agents wore patches to identify their agency, and that “it is offensive to refer to these dedicated men and women that are out there as law enforcement professionals.”

Examples of their patches worn on their uniforms or protective vests include a unique string of numbers and letters for internal purposes; a distinct “POLICE” velcro patch; or the CBP’s own logo.

But both the Army’s uniforms and law enforcement patches are also available for purchase online by the general public, fueling concerns that a renegade group would be able to mimic the same tactics used by the federal agents — particularly in the scenario with unmarked minivans seen in recent videos.

And for many observers, including seasoned US service members and civil-rights groups, the visibility of the patches are often overshadowed by the military uniforms or even obscured by the fog of war during a time of crisis.

Members of specialized response teams, such as BORTAC, previously wore distinct uniforms depending on their location and circumstance. BORTAC members wore an olive-green uniform, without a camouflage pattern, that is currently worn by ordinary Border Patrol officers.

More patches, more confusion.

Several people have already been arrested after they were accused of posing as members of the military and law enforcement during the George Floyd protests.

In Los Angeles, Gregory Wong was taken into custody after he wore similar attire to a National Guard member ABC7 reported, citing sources. Wong, who was armed with an AR-15-type rifle and a pistol, was spotted by actual National Guard members after he fell into formation with them, the outlet said.

At a protest in Las Vegas, Zachary Sanns was charged with false impersonation of a federal officer, according to 8 News Now. Prosecutors reportedly said he stood on alongside police officers while armed with an AR-15-type rifle and wearing tactical gear.

Other activists, such as members of the Boogaloo movement, have also worn pieces of the Army’s uniform or carried with them military-style gear to the same protests throughout the country — adding to the confusion in identifying actual law enforcement agents from others groups.

Members of movements like the Boogaloo and the Three Percenters militia often wear several velcro patches on their outfits in a similar arrangement to that of active-duty US service members, making themselves difficult to identify for those unfamiliar with military customs and regulations.

Some of these visibly armed activists also wear the same specialty patches worn by US troops upon completion of the military’s specialty schools, such as the US Army’s Airborne or Ranger School, likely in reference to their past achievements if they previously served in the military.

A Pentagon spokesman on Tuesday echoed Gen. Milley’s view and said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has made the Trump administration aware of his concerns with the appropriation of the US military’s uniforms.

“We saw this take place back in June, when there were some law enforcement that wore uniforms that make them appear military,” Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said to reporters, referencing the George Floyd protests throughout the country earlier this year.

“The secretary has a expressed a concern of this within the administration, that we want a system where people can tell the difference,” he added.

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, a former US Marine Corps infantry officer, questioned the presence of camouflage uniforms on urban streets and likened it to “the president’s secret police.”

“Federal agents who are wearing camouflage in our streets and carrying out the orders of our corrupt president against Americans obviously have no understanding of our military’s most basic values — to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Moulton said to Insider.

"The use of these shadow forces by President Trump and the acting DHS secretary is deeply disrespectful to our military men and women in uniform who risk their lives abroad to fight for the rights our Constitution guarantees us.

“We shouldn’t just tell these police officers to change out of camouflage, we should do away with BORTAC … so that federal law enforcement masquerading as military can never again be used as the president’s secret police,” Moulton added.

Portland is fining federal government $48,000 a day for the stupid ass fence they unlawfully erected.

So far five days and counting…

Portland hits feds with $500 fine every 15 minutes fence stands outside besieged courthouse

Fair warning, the article above is a Fox article and full of propaganda.


(David Bythewood) #457


https://twitter.com/cspan/status/1288166649103880192?s=20

“Defendant Shall Not Attend Protests”: In Portland, Getting Out of Jail Requires Relinquishing Constitutional Rights

A dozen protesters facing federal charges are barred from going to “public gatherings” as a condition of release from jail — a tactic one expert described as “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”

Federal authorities are using a new tactic in their battle against protesters in Portland, Oregon: arrest them on offenses as minor as “failing to obey” an order to get off a sidewalk on federal property — and then tell them they can’t protest anymore as a condition for release from jail.

Legal experts describe the move as a blatant violation of the constitutional right to free assembly, but at least 12 protesters arrested in recent weeks have been specifically barred from attending protests or demonstrations as they await trials on federal misdemeanor charges.

“Defendant may not attend any other protests, rallies, assemblies or public gathering in the state of Oregon,” states one “Order Setting Conditions of Release” for an accused protester, alongside other conditions such as appearing for court dates. The orders are signed by federal magistrate judges.

For other defendants, the restricted area is limited to Portland, where clashes between protesters and federal troops have grown increasingly violent in recent weeks. In at least two cases, there are no geographic restrictions; one release document instructs, “Do not participate in any protests, demonstrations, rallies, assemblies while this case is pending.”

Protesters who have agreed to stay away from further demonstrations say they felt forced to accept those terms to get out of jail.

“Those terms were given to me after being in a holding cell after 14 hours,” Bailey Dreibelbis, who was charged July 24 with “failing to obey a lawful order,” told ProPublica. “It was pretty cut-and-dried, just, ‘These are your conditions for [getting out] of here.’

“If I didn’t take it, I would still be in holding. It wasn’t really an option, in my eyes.”

It could not be learned who drafted the orders barring the protesters from joining further demonstrations. The documents reviewed by ProPublica were signed by a federal magistrate in Portland. Magistrates have broad authority to set the terms of release for anyone accused of a crime. They typically receive recommendations from U.S. Pretrial Services, an arm of the U.S. Courts, which can gather input from prosecutors and others involved in the case. ProPublica identified several instances in which the protest ban was added to the conditions of release document when it was drafted, before it was given to the judge. It remained unclear whether the limits on protesting were initiated by Justice Department officials or the magistrates hearing the cases.

Constitutional lawyers said conditioning release from jail on a promise to stop joining protests were overly broad and almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment right to free assembly.

“The government has a very heavy burden when it comes to restrictions on protest rights and on assembly,” noted Jameel Jaffer of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute. “It’s much easier for the government to meet that burden where it has individualized information about a threat. So for example, they know that a particular person is planning to carry out some unlawful activity at a particular protest.”

Over the past week, the federal government has sharply increased the number of protesters it’s charging with federal crimes — often for petty offenses that are classified as federal misdemeanors only because they occur on federal property. Court documents reviewed by ProPublica show that over a third of the protesters are charged with “failing to obey a lawful order,” which 14 protesters were charged with between July 21 and July 24 alone.

The office of the U.S. attorney for Oregon, Billy J. Williams, did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about who was making charging decisions. In a recent interview with The Oregonian, Williams urged local citizens to demand that “violent extremists” who have attempted to break through the fence outside the federal courthouse leave. “Until that happens, we’re going to do what we need to do to protect federal property.”

Craig Gabriel, an assistant U.S. attorney who works for Williams, insisted the office understood and respected the right to protest racial injustice. “People are angry. Very large crowds are gathering, expressing deep and legitimate anger with police and the justice system,” Gabriel told The Oregonian. “We wholeheartedly support the community’s constitutionally protected rights to assemble together in large, even rowdy protests and engage in peaceful and civil disobedience.”

Gabriel did not mention the written restrictions against protest that have been made a condition of release for some of those arrested.

Several protesters who were let go on July 23 had bans against demonstrating added by hand on their release documents by Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta, who signed off on them, a review by ProPublica found. Acosta’s office did not respond to ProPublica’s questions.

For those released on July 24, the restriction was added to the original typed document, also signed by Acosta. One protester arrested and released earlier in the month had his conditions of release modified at his arraignment on July 24. The modified order, signed by Acosta, added a protest ban not previously included.


Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta modified a court order to prohibit a Portland protester from attending “protests, assemblies, demonstrations, or public gatherings in the state of Oregon.” The defendant’s name was redacted by ProPublica. (Obtained by ProPublica)

Three of the 15 protesters charged on July 27, in orders signed by Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo, also had explicit protest restrictions added to their release terms. (One release order has not yet been posted to the federal courts database.) Russo’s office did not reply to ProPublica’s questions.

“I don’t see that as constitutionally defensible,” Jaffer said. And I find it difficult to believe that any judge would uphold it.”

The ACLU’s Somil Trivedi said, “Release conditions should be related to public safety or flight” — in other words, the risk that the defendant will abscond. “This is neither.” He described the handwritten addition of a protest ban to a release document as “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”

Publicly, the Trump administration has claimed that it has no problem with the protests that erupted in Portland and other American cities in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis. The administration said it launched Operation Diligent Valor in July with a massive deployment of federal officers merely to protect federal property from “violent extremists.”

Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School said that imposing a protest ban as a release condition undermines the distinction between protected protest and criminal activity. “Even if they’re right that these people did, in fact, step beyond the bounds of the First Amendment and do something illegal, that doesn’t mean you can then restrict their First Amendment right.”


A court order prohibits a Portland protester from attending “any other protests, rallies, assemblies or public gatherings in the state of Oregon.” The defendant’s name was redacted by ProPublica. (Obtained by ProPublica)

In many cases, the charges leveled at Portland protesters are closely tied to their presence at the protest — and not to any violent acts.

Eighteen of the 50 protesters charged in Portland are accused only of minor offenses under Title 40, Section 1315, of the U.S. Code. That law criminalizes certain behavior (like “failure to obey a lawful order,” as well as “disorderly conduct”) when it happens on federal property or against people who are located on that property. In other words, it describes behavior that wouldn’t otherwise be a matter for a federal court.

Dreibelbis, like other protesters to whom ProPublica has spoken, said he was arrested for being on the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse. Because the federal government owns the land under the sidewalk, another protester (who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid influencing his upcoming trial) told ProPublica it’s “common knowledge” among protesters that the sidewalk is a no-go zone, and setting foot on it risks federal prosecution.

Dreibelbis told ProPublica he roller-skated into the protest, expecting to attend only briefly. He said he knelt on the sidewalk and was arrested by officers. (The charging document filed against Dreibelbis offers no arrest details.)

Section 1315 is the same law the Trump administration is using to justify initiating the federal show of force in Portland, which the administration has said it intends to employ in other cities where protests have raged since Floyd’s death.

The law allows the secretary of homeland security to supplement the Federal Protective Service, the relatively small agency partly responsible for federal building security, with law enforcement agents from the department’s other agencies (such as Customs and Border Protection).

Both President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, have invoked that part of the law in the past. But the use of that same law to file criminal charges appears to be novel. The Obama administration sent a “surge force” of 400 FPS agents, and a dozen CBP agents, to Baltimore in 2015, when the police killing of Freddie Gray sparked broad unrest, but no charges were filed under Section 1315 itself in that response.

In Portland, the federal government has relied on the FPS and U.S. Marshals to write affidavits used to charge protesters in federal court. But it has detailed other agencies on the protest front lines: DHS agencies cited in court complaints include CBP, through its BORTAC tactical unit; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigations unit; DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis, in addition to FPS. Complaints also cite the U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which are Justice Department entities.

In the first weeks of the operation, the most common charge against protesters was assault of a federal officer — which, in some cases, counted as a crime on federal property because protesters on the streets were shining lasers at officers inside the courthouse. (DHS has claimed that some officers may permanently lose their vision, but as of July 24, the most serious injury detailed in federal charging documents was an agent who reported seeing spots in his eyes for 15 minutes after the laser attack.)

Over July 23 and 24, however, 10 of the 13 cases opened were charges only of “failing to obey a lawful order.” (One other defendant was charged with assaulting a U.S. Marshal while detained inside the courthouse — where she had been taken after an arrest for “failing to obey a lawful order.”)

Since then, almost all cases have accused protesters of assaulting a federal officer (generally a misdemeanor charge).

In many of the assault cases, files are thin and no details of the allegations have been posted, even for protesters charged as early as July 6. No case files identify an alleged victim — either by name or by the “unique identifier” on their uniforms. (DHS officials have claimed it’s unfair to describe the federal agents in Portland as “unidentified” because they clearly show identification.)

Some assault accusations charge protesters with throwing unidentified objects at officers in body armor, who were unharmed.

Even those defendants who aren’t explicitly barred from attending protests are unable to return to the epicenter of Portland’s unrest as a condition of their release. They are placed under a curfew (either from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and told not to go within five blocks of the courthouse grounds except for court hearings.

Experts said that while restrictions of that sort are common, they’re still questionably constitutional. “Though ‘stay away’ orders from a place where a potential crime has been committed are generally standard,” the ACLU’s Trivedi said, “‘stay away’ orders from public places that are part of the public square are more questionable.” But he and others conceded that the government could make an argument that it was necessary to prevent further wrongdoing.

They saw no legitimate rationale for a blanket ban on protests.

“I suppose the government could argue, ‘You disobeyed a law enforcement officer at a protest, and we don’t trust you to not do it again,’” Trivedi said. But the release documents already instruct defendants that they are not allowed to break any laws while awaiting trial.

“If they want to say ‘don’t break a law again,’ they’ve already said that,” Trivedi told ProPublica. “Beyond that, the only part that’s left would be not letting you exercise your First Amendment right.”

Driebelbis, for his part, must now watch the protests proceed without him. “I work across the water from the protests, and I can see it every” night, he told ProPublica. “I’m protesting from this side.”

He hastened to clarify that he didn’t mean he was attending a protest in violation of the court order. “Not protesting! There’s no protesting going on in the party of one. But I am there in spirit.”


#458

Yes, why would T? Astounding video where T is refuting this intelligence, and calls it fake news from Bush era supporters.

President Trump has never confronted Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, he told “Axios on HBO” in an interview on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Democrats have seized on the issue, and Trump’s reluctance to discuss it, as evidence he’s unwilling to challenge Putin even when American lives are at stake.

  • Trump spoke with Putin on Thursday, and subsequently deflected a question about whether he’d raised the alleged bounty scheme, saying on Monday: “We don’t talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion.”

In Tuesday’s interview, he was definitive:

“I have never discussed it with him.”

Pressed on why he didn’t raise the matter in Thursday’s call, he said: “That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.”

  • Trump has spoken to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged Russian bounties was reportedly included in the President’s Daily Brief — his written intelligence briefing — in late February.
  • Trump’s team says he was not verbally briefed on the matter before a June 26 report from the New York Times brought the controversy out into the open.

Between the lines: There’s no clear consensus within the intelligence community about the strength of the evidence that Russia paid the bounties — though that’s not the case when it comes to Russia’s broader support for the Taliban.

  • In 2018, Gen. John Nicholson, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, accused Russia of providing money and arms to the group, saying, “we know that the Russians are involved.”
  • Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he was not aware of Nicholson’s comments, and said evidence that Russia was aiding the Taliban “never reached my desk.”

The backstory: The New York Times reported in June that U.S. intelligence had concluded “months ago” that an infamous Russian military intelligence unit had offered payments for each U.S. or allied soldier killed.

  • Those payments were funneled through middlemen and could run as high as $100,000, according to the Times.
  • The White House claimed that Trump had not been briefed on the matter because the intelligence was inconclusive.
  • Multiple outlets subsequently reported that the intelligence was included in the PDB, but that Trump may not have read it.
  • Trump insisted in the interview that he does read the PDB — “they like to say I don’t read, I read a lot” — but stood by the claim that the matter “never reached my desk” because U.S. intelligence “didn’t think it was real.”

While the CIA appears to have concluded months ago that Russia did offer the bounties, the NSA reportedly disagreed.

  • However, several former national security officials have questioned the rationale for not briefing Trump about such a serious issue, even if the intelligence was not rock solid.
  • The Kremlin and the Taliban have, unsurprisingly, denied the existence of any bounty scheme.

This issue has featured in Democratic attacks in the lead-up to November’s election.

  • Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty,” claiming he either wasn’t briefed on a life-and-death matter, or “was briefed and nothing was done about this.”
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who has been considered a potential Biden running mate, has been updating a tally of how many days Trump has gone without challenging Russia on the matter.

Flashback: Suspicions of Russian support for the Taliban have swirled within the U.S. intelligence community since Barack Obama’s second term, though firm intelligence — including on any bounty scheme — didn’t come until later, Axios contributor Zach Dorfman reports.

What to watch: The Taliban and U.S. signed a deal in February aiming to bring U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan to an end after nearly two decades. Trump insists the U.S. will move ahead with its withdrawal, though the intra-Afghan peace process that was to precede an American exit has repeatedly broken down.

The full interview will air Monday, August 3, 2020 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.


#459

Good news to have Governor Brown get the Feds out of Portland - That is a relief, and glad they capitulated.

https://twitter.com/OregonGovBrown/status/1288497308733018113?s=20


(David Bythewood) #460

Trump Is Exceeding His Constitutional Powers in Oregon

There are limits to how the executive branch can deploy federal agents.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-07-21/can-trump-send-federal-agents-into-oregon-not-to-police-streets?sref=2o0rZsF1&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_content=view&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&cmpid%3D=socialflow-twitter-view


https://twitter.com/DemWrite/status/1288522311797051392?s=20


#461

The oversight hearing must have made an impact. :hugs:


(David Bythewood) #462

Minneapolis police also told the Star Tribune the man is a member of the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a small white supremacist prison and street gang based primarily in Minnesota and Kentucky.

The Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood? Wow.

Still no charges so far, though they feel imminent.

Not long after the man shattered the windows of the AutoZone and ran away, people started looting the store and eventually set it on fire.

Erika I. Christensen, a Minneapolis police arson investigator who wrote the affidavit, said that his “sole aim” was to provoke discord.

“Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful,” she said. “The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension.”

The destruction quickly spread. The following morning, the Minneapolis Fire Department said it had responded to roughly 30 fires. One man was shot and killed in a pawnshop, while a second man was found dead and burned in another pawnshop.

“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Christensen said.

It took months for Minneapolis police to identify the man. Christensen wrote in her affidavit that she spent “innumerable hours” scrolling through social media apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.

The break finally came last week, when a tip came in naming “Umbrella Man” and said he is a member of the Hells Angels, a motorcycle gang made up of mostly white men who ride Harley-Davidson bikes. Christensen wrote that “Umbrella Man” is also a “known associate” of the Aryan Cowboys, a group described by the Anti-Defamation League as a white supremacist prison gang based mainly out of Minnesota and Kentucky.

Christensen also wrote that just before smashing the windows to the AutoZone, “Umbrella Man” spray-painted in white, “free s— for everyone zone,” on the red doors of the store.

Basically, this guy set off ALL of the looting and arson.


(David Bythewood) #463

In the middle of a damn pandemic, with thousands dying and millions out of work, Trump is trying to sneak $377 MILLION into the latest pandemic bill to renovate the West Wing of the White House!

Administration wants West Wing remodel money in virus bill