WTF Community

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


#162

So this is another fiasco in the making…WTF

A top donor to President Trump and the Republican National Committee will be named the new head of the Postal Service, putting a top ally of the president in charge of an agency where Trump has long pressed for major changes in how it handles its business.

The Postal Service’s board of governors confirmed late Wednesday that Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman who is currently in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general.

The action will install a stalwart Trump ally to lead the Postal Service, which he has railed against for years, and probably move him closer than ever before to forcing the service to renegotiate its terms with companies and its own union workforce. Trump’s Treasury Department and the Postal Service are in the midst of a negotiation over a $10 billion line of credit approved as part of coronavirus legislation in March.


(David Bythewood) #163

Congress insider trading inquiry looks ‘particularly damning’ for Senator Burr, expert says

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/congress-insider-trading-inquiry-burr-expert-180314242.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw


DOJ releases Mueller’s marching orders

The memo laying out the scope of the special counsel’s mandate has long been sought by the president’s allies.



(David Bythewood) #164

Trump sending ally to Pentagon to vet officials’ loyalty: report


#165

:boom::boom::boom:

Justice Dept. Drops Case Against Michael Flynn

The extraordinary move came after the former national security adviser had fought the case in court for months, a reversal after pleading guilty twice and cooperating with investigators.

The Justice Department is dropping its criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, who had previously pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat, a department official said on Thursday.

The extraordinary move comes amid a sustained attack by Mr. Flynn’s lawyers on prosecutors and the F.B.I., accusing them of egregious conduct. In recent days, Mr. Flynn’s lawyers said the Justice Department had uncovered new documents that pointed to misconduct.

In a possible sign of disagreement with the Justice Department decision, Brandon L. Van Grack, an assistant United States attorney who led the prosecution of Mr. Flynn, abruptly withdrew from the case on Thursday. Mr. Flynn’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked Mr. Van Grack by name in court filings, citing his “incredible malfeasance.”

Mr. Flynn first pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to investigators and cooperated extensively before moving to withdraw his plea and fight the case in court. He had also entered a guilty plea a second time in 2018 at an aborted sentencing hearing.

The top prosecutor in the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn has withdrawn abruptly and without explanation, a development that comes amid mounting pressure by President Donald Trump and his allies to have the entire matter thrown out of court.

Brandon Van Grack, who served as one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s top lawyers and remained on the Flynn case even after Mueller’s office closed down, signaled his exit from the case in a terse, one-sentence filing with U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan Thursday afternoon.


#166

Cross-post for discussion


#167

What a counter-punch from the Intel Committee. WOW!

They know that this ‘dropping’ of the Flynn case is the most appalling Barr/DOJ move, to re-write the Trump history for upcoming election.

The fact that Flynn did state his ‘guilt’ in lying to Congress, VP Pence etc. and now the DOJ comes back and says that now Flynn has some gaps in his memory, and that the FBI wanted to coerce Flynn to get him to 'lie"

The unraveling of Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI came after senior political appointees in the Justice Department determined lower-level prosecutors and agents erred egregiously in the course of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said that “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information … the government has concluded that [Flynn’s interview by the FBI in January 2017] was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” and that it was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

It is a huge intel dump…and glad to see some links to the most important areas. That the R’s are carrying water for the president by supporting the Ukraine meddled’ story directed from Russia.

Flynn violated the law…and others are culpable as well. It is a devious twist on Barr’s/DOJ’s part - as the pundits would say “Get out of Jail Free card”

UnREAL.


#168

Yes it is, that’s why no one believes it. The level of President’s culpability here is astounding. He had to have known this was happening within his campaign.

He’s not worthy. We have to vote him out.


#169

Yes…and giving cover to T seems to be Barr’s only job - which is “we need to keep in power.” They know it would play better if it came from DOJ as opposed to T giving Flynn a pardon.

Now, Barr is playing Good Cop with ACA and suggesting this might not be the time to drop it in our pandemic.

Let’s hope T’s poll numbers keep plummeting, as there is no real obvious way out of a) keeping the nation safe b) getting people fully back to work in dangerous times and c) the economy will not be healthy come election time.

Less than 6 months…we can do it - vote him out.


(David Bythewood) #170

Bill Barr’s defense is literally “we won so we can do what we want.”

Bill Barr Defends Michael Flynn Reversal: ‘History Is Written by the Winners’

Schiff says dismissal doesn’t exonerate Flynn. "But it does incriminate Bill Barr’


#171

Why wouldn’t we want T’s power curtailed, or for that matter any president without a check from Congress? Blind loyalty…enabling…fear of retribution perhaps?

WASHINGTON — The Senate failed on Thursday to overturn President Trump’s veto of a resolution seeking to block him from taking further military action against Iran without explicit approval from Congress, falling short in its latest effort to curtail his unilateral moves on matters of war and peace.

The unsuccessful override attempt, the second in two years aimed at limiting Mr. Trump’s war-making powers, was defeated on a 49-to-44 vote, a margin well below the constitutionally required two-thirds majority that would have been needed to enact the measure over his veto. But the bipartisan support for doing so underscored lawmakers’ deep skepticism about the president’s penchant for defying Congress on military matters and his expansive authority to wage war without consulting a coequal branch of government.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats to support the measure.

Congress needed to stand up in a bipartisan way to make plain that this president should not get into a war with Iran, or any war, without a vote of Congress,” said Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the sponsor of the measure. “Congress has expressed what is the popular will.”


#173

Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case

Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to former members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”

Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury. But the Justice Department, in a filing with a federal judge on Thursday, asked that the case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller be dismissed, arguing that FBI agents did not have a justifiable reason to question the then national security adviser about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak — talks FBI agents and Mueller’s prosecutors concluded he had lied about.

Still, Obama’s unvarnished remarks were some of his sharpest yet about the Trump administration and appeared to forecast a dramatically stepped-up political role he intends to play in this year’s election. The comments came during a lengthy chat in which he also sharply criticized the response to the coronavirus pandemic, blaming it on the “tribal” trends that have been stoked by the president and his allies.

“This election that’s coming up on every level is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party. What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life. And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well. It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.

“That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden,” he added.

Obama’s remarks about Flynn seemed especially pointed in light of the fact that the former Army general had served in his administration as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency — until he was forced out by administration officials who viewed him as a chaotic, insubordinate manager. During the transition, Obama even warned Trump not to hire Flynn — advice that Trump ignored.

Obama also gave some insights into his life during the pandemic. The lack of sports, he said, is “driving me nuts.” But there was a bright side, he added. His daughters, Malia and Sasha, “are stuck having dinner with me” at home.

I don’t know why it displays a video instead of the link :woman_shrugging:t2: Exclusive: Obama says in private call that 'rule of law is at risk' in Michael Flynn case

Update: there’s a little Coronavirus crossover from this story too.


#174

I am glad to hear straight up what Obama thinks and wants to do. I would not be surprised if this might be an intended leak, that gives Obama some cover as to his vehemently critical remarks against DOJ, Flynn case and the need to “make this happen.” In normal administrations, you never hear a previous President criticize a current President in so many words…but this administration presents a LOT of problems and it is ‘corrupt’ as Obama said earlier in his bid to help Biden.

I am glad to hear him pitch for a ‘sense of urgency,’ and gearing up to get Biden elected. The country is in serious peril, and we have horrible leadership now - that Reality TV strawman.

Ok…let’s hear some more Obama.

Oh…and just thinking out loud here…Barack has a big book coming out, and I was wondering when that was and there is speculation that it is due during campaign season 2020. Shift some momentum over to Biden


#175

Agreed. I would not be surprised, his messaging has always seemed very intentional.


#176

Ok…This is propaganda.

Just look at the headlines, you do not have to watch the video…but Sec of State Pompeo is on it, pushing the China conspiracy theory.

OANN - Very pro-Right, T-supported TV network talking about some China conspiracy theory about leaking the virus, George Soros


(David Bythewood) #177

I am sure you saw that Trump Jr. is trying to buy OANN with a group’s backing to replace Fox?


#178

:weary:


#179

Judge Sullivan has not weighed in on whether Flynn case will be dropped…lack of correct signature may mean more than a technical error.

The court filing on Thursday to drop former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s criminal case used the attorney identification number for the previous US attorney, a technical error that adds to the twists of the dramatic reversal by the government.

The bombshell court filing was signed only by interim DC US attorney Timothy Shea, a political appointee who used the court identity number of his ousted predecessor Jesse Liu. The incorrect ID number is a technical error that may need to be fixed before the judge weighs in.

Shea’s filing on Thursday – undoing more than two years of work from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and his own office’s work on the case – shocked lawyers across the country, who alleged the undermining of the rule of law for President Donald Trump’s political gain. Shea’s signature on the document already raised questions about who within the Justice Department prepared it, why other prosecutors didn’t sign the filing, and why the lead prosecutor on the case withdrew from it an hour before its submission.


(David Bythewood) #180

Trump has been on a tear all weekend and is still going strong today.

Trump to claim ‘absolute immunity’ from subpoenas in Supreme Court appeal: ‘It would literally put the president above the law’


(David Bythewood) #181

Nearly 2000 former DOJ officials call for AG Barr to resign over Flynn case


Sadly, this just another letter to frame on a wall with dozens of groups who have called Bill Barr out for his corruption of our federal law enforcement system.


(David Bythewood) #182

If you thought warrant-less wiretaps were bad, McConnell wants to make it harder for us to surveil politicians but allow the FBI to literally look through the browsing habits and searches of EVERY OTHER CITIZEN AND ORGANIZATION without a warrant.

Mitch McConnell Moves to Expand Bill Barr’s Surveillance Powers

Welcome to the Trump-era Patriot Act: a law that protects politicians while giving the government greater knowledge of the websites you searched for and visited.

Days after the Justice Department controversially dropped charges against Mike Flynn, Senate GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is set to expand a highly politicized Justice Department’s surveillance authority during a vote this week to renew the 2001 PATRIOT Act.

Under cover of redressing what President Donald Trump and his allies call the FBI’s “witch hunt” over collusion with the Kremlin, McConnell, via an amendment to the PATRIOT Act, will expressly permit the FBI to warrantlessly collect records on Americans’ web browsing and search histories. In a different amendment, McConnell also proposes giving the attorney general visibility into the “accuracy and completeness” of FBI surveillance submissions to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Versions of the amendments circulating Monday were shared with The Daily Beast.

Taken together, privacy advocates consider McConnell’s moves an alarming expansion of Attorney General Bill Barr’s powers under FISA, a four-decade-old process that already places the attorney general at the center of national-security surveillance. It also doesn’t escape their notice that McConnell is increasing Barr’s oversight of surveillance on political candidates while expanding surveillance authorities on every other American. One privacy activist called McConnell’s efforts “two of the most cynical attempts to undermine surveillance reform I’ve ever seen.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that Barr, who has been deeply involved in investigations of interest to Trump, could authorize an investigation into a political rival, which could then unlock the internet-spying powers McConnell wants to grant the FBI.

“Under the McConnell amendment, Barr gets to look through the web browsing history of any American—including journalists, politicians, and political rivals—without a warrant, just by saying it is relevant to an investigation,” said Wyden, who has been trying to ban warrantless surveillance on such records.

A vote to restore expired provisions of the Patriot Act, the vehicle for McConnell’s amendments, could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Barr has come under withering criticism from ex-Justice Department officials for corrupting his office on Trump’s behalf, starting with Robert Mueller last year. On Sunday, Mary McCord, a former senior department national-security official, accused Barr ally Timothy Shea of misrepresenting her position on the Flynn investigation in his brief for dropping the charges. A day later, former Roger Stone prosecutor Jonathan Kravis, a public-corruption expert, wrote that Barr had “betray[ed] the rule of law” by “directly intervenin[ing] to benefit the president’s associates.”

McConnell’s amendment blocks the FBI from seeking the “content” of web browsing and searching conducted by Americans. But it explicitly permits the warrantless collection of “Internet website browsing records or internet search history records.” Barr and other attorneys general approve guidelines for conducting such surveillance.

Wyden and GOP colleague Steve Daines of Montana have been pushing to restrict warrantless web-browsing data collection by the intelligence agencies. Wyden considers McConnell’s amendment egregious.

“The reference to ‘content’ in the McConnell amendment is meaningless, since its application to web browsing has never been settled in the courts,” Wyden told The Daily Beast. “That’s just an invitation to Barr to engage in more secret interpretations of the law, which have led to abuses again and again.” That’s a reference to how the NSA and Justice Department, from 2006 until 2015, shoehorned the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records into part of the Patriot Act.

It’s not the limit of McConnell’s changes to FISA through the Patriot Act vote.

McConnell would mandate that Barr perform an annual review of the FBI’s FISA submissions for “accuracy or completeness,” speaking to the now-documented withholdings FBI officials made for re-upping surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Barr and his successors would present the congressional committees on judiciary and intelligence with a report on his findings each April.

Additional oversight of the FBI has merit to it, considering that Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz recently found widespread flaws in the FBI’s FISA applications, far beyond those relevant to Trump or his allies.

But there’s a competing proposal, from the civil libertarian Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), that puts oversight and review of those FBI surveillance applications in the hands of the comparatively neutral FISA Court and its amicus, an attorney who challenges the government’s surveillance submissions. They, rather than the attorney general, would get to review exculpatory evidence on a proposed surveillance target.

McConnell would also block expansion of the amicus’ authority. Lee and Leahy propose to involve the adversarial attorney in proposed surveillance on “a domestic religious or political organization”; a “domestic public official or political candidate” or their staff; or the news media. McConnell instead authorizes an amicus before the court only in cases that “targe[t] a campaign for Federal office or an application that targets a United States person when the application relies for its criminal predicate on only the provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

Neema Singh Giuliani of the ACLU said it was bizarre to “create an amicus to participate when targeting political candidates, but we’re not going to provide that same oversight in cases involving religious organizations, domestic news media or everyday individuals who are facing new or significant civil rights concerns. It’s hard to look at that amendment and conclude it’s intended to really address not just problems exposed by the Carter Page report but the subsequent IG audit.”

“McConnell is literally trying to take a privacy safeguard designed for the press and religious groups and instead give it only to politicians and people suspected of being foreign agents. He’s also trying to sneak warrantless surveillance of internet and search histories into an amendment that claims to prohibit it,” added Sean Vitka, the senior policy council with activist group Demand Progress. “These are two of the most cynical attempts to undermine surveillance reform I’ve ever seen, and they threaten to make a Patriot Act reauthorization even worse, after a process that has so far successfully prevented any member of Congress from fixing the underlying bill.”

Section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act mandates records providers turn over “tangible things” “relevant” to an ongoing investigation–which McConnell’s amendment would extend to web-browsing and search-history records. It and other provisions of the Patriot Act expired last month after McConnell couldn’t reach an agreement to pass a House-approved Patriot reauthorization that many privacy advocates hated.

Giuliani said McConnell’s amendment “can be read that some type of collection [on internet records] is appropriate, and leaves it up to leadership at the Justice Department. But the goal is not to leave this up to a DOJ determination, regardless of what administration you’re in, but giving the sense that search and browsing history is something you can’t collect under 215.”

McConnell’s Senate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did a Justice Department representative.

On Monday, a coalition of left and right civil-rights groups, including the NAACP and FreedomWorks, circulated a letter to lawmakers urging restraints on surveillance in line with what Lee, Leahy, and Wyden are proposing. The groups agreed that Horowitz’s report laid bare “systemic deficiencies” within the FBI’s surveillance practices.

“The McConnell amendment hands vast surveillance powers to Attorney General Barr at a moment when he is accelerating the corruption of the Department of Justice to serve Donald Trump’s political whims,” said Wyden.