U.S. Supreme Court spurns Virginia Republicans in racial gerrymandering case
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed Republican legislators in Virginia a defeat, leaving in place a ruling that invalidated state electoral districts they drew because they weakened the clout of black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
New York Times on Double Jeopardy:
Supreme Court Affirms Exception to Double Jeopardy in a Case With Implications for Trump Associates
“I have the biggest people – yesterday I had some of the biggest business people in the world in my office and they have beautiful offices perhaps more beautiful than the Oval Office, although to me there is nothing more beautiful because of what it represents.”
The U.S. covertly launched offensive cyber operations against an Iranian intelligence group’s computer systems on Thursday, the same day President Trump pulled back on using more traditional methods of military force, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The cyberstrikes, which were approved by Mr. Trump, targeted computer systems used to control missile and rocket launches that were chosen months ago for potential disruption, the officials said. The strikes were carried out by U.S. Cyber Command and in coordination with U.S. Central Command.
Personal Note: I don’t think any of this is good or good policy, I just find it fascinating.
I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy
Reporter: I’m a reporter who travels to Mexico a lot.
CBP: What’s your story on?
Rept: I’m a US citizen.
CBP: That wasn’t the question.
Rept: I’d like to call a lawyer
Reporter after 3 hours in detention: Thanks for the new story.
Trump claims did not send message to Tehran warning of attack
You know you’re in trouble when even Fox News insists “that’s not how that works.”
Fox News Hosts Doubt Donald Trump’s Iran Strike Story: ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’
Chris Wallace and Shep Smith both claimed “something’s wrong” with the president’s version of events.
Who thinks Kushner’s got a plan to solve the Middle East discord? Perhaps a party of 2- T & Netanyahu (bff)
Throw money at a huge political problem which given the huge weight and influence the Israelis already have, is hardly a solution. Oh, and the Palestinians will not be attending the unveiling of this plan.
The unveiling of the economic blueprint follows two years of deliberations and delays in rolling out a broader peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians, who are boycotting the event, have refused to talk to the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in late 2017.
Veteran Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the proposals on Saturday, saying: "These are all intentions, these are all abstract promises" and said only a political solution would solve the conflict.
Kushner made clear in two interviews with Reuters that he sees his detailed formula as a game-changer, despite the view of many Middle East experts that he has little chance of success where decades of U.S.-backed peace efforts have failed.
“I laugh when they attack this as the ‘Deal of the Century’,” Kushner said of Palestinian leaders who have dismissed his plan as an attempt to buy off their aspirations for statehood. "This is going to be the ‘Opportunity of the Century’ if they have the courage to pursue it."
Kushner said some Palestinian business executives have confirmed their participation in the conference, but he declined to identify them. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian business community will not attend, businessmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.
Axios has a show on HBO on Sundays and one of the surprises of tonight’s show were over 100 internal Trump transition documents that clearly show compromised candidates. Looks like the RNC did a lot of the vetting. And while EPA’s Scott Pruitt did not stay as secretary and was drummed out there were quite a few others who had unsavory mentions.
Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to “Axios on HBO” identify a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.
Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.
Some highlights :
Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his jobas EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies."
Tom Price , who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging “criticisms of management ability” and “Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price’s Leadership Of The House Budget Committee.”
Mick Mulvaney , who became Trump’s Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of “red flags,” including his assessment that Trump “is not a very good person.”
The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani , in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier” with copious accounting of his “foreign entanglements.”
One red flag for Gen. David Petraeus , who was under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser: “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.”
Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump’s surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over — which V.P. Mike Pence helmed — outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.
We obtained the political vetting forms that Trump and his senior aides were given for Ben Carson, Dan Coats, Betsy DeVos, Gary Cohn, Don McGahn, Elaine Chao, John Kelly, James Mattis, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, Robert Lighthizer, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, and many others.
President-elect Trump reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and Bedminster before his interviews, according to a source who saw him eyeball them.
Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect’s political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.
We obtained many of the political vetting forms. According to sources on the RNC vetting team, senior Trump officials asked them to do an initial “scrub” of the public record before Trump met the contenders. But in many cases — for example the misguided choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary — this RNC “scrub” of public sources was the only substantial vetting in Trump’s possession when he announced his picks.
The documents show what Trump’s vetting shop worried about in assessing candidates for the most important jobs in government.
The RNC researchers identified some striking "Red Flags."
The first red flag for Rex Tillerson, who became Trump’s first Secretary of State, was about Russia. “Tillerson’s Russia ties go deep,” it read.
One red flag for Fox News host Laura Ingraham, considered for White House press secretary: “Ingraham said people should wear diapers instead of sharing bathrooms with transgender people.”
One heading in the document about Kris Kobach, in the running for Homeland Security Secretary, listed “white supremacy” as a vulnerability. It cited accusations from past political opponents that he had ties to white supremacist groups.
Vetters had unique concerns about Gary Cohn. “Some Say Cohn Has An Abrasive, Curt, And Intimidating Style,” they wrote, citing a Bloomberg piece. “He Would Sometimes Hike Up One Leg And Plant His Foot On A Trader’s Desk, His Thigh Close To The Employee’s Face, And Ask How Markets Were Doing.”
Omfg! Between this and the Manafort/Hannity texts this week is full of behind the scenes intrigue! The down side is that no one can process any of this before the next stop on this runaway train to “crazy-town”.
It’s always amazing to me that we just live like this now. This is just the current standard of operation in our country. Unless we change it.
Everyone, please consider adopting a campaign near you, everyone will need volunteers in 2020.
Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review. More blatant yet are his recent assertion of a right to accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments, and his declaration of a national emergency, when he himself said he “did not need to do this,” he just preferred to “do it much faster.”
Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will.** To the contrary, in securing his confirmation as attorney general, Barr successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected to hold the Trump administration to established legal rules. Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true. But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular his handling of the Mueller report, suggest something very different—that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.
From CNN’s Brian Stelter On T’s press conference at DMZ
Amid all of this, WaPo’s David Nakamura tweeted: "Trump thinks so much about the media and his image. He wants a grab for history. He should [choose] his words carefully at this moment in the DMZ. Instead he says: ‘I say that for the press, they have no appreciation for what is being done, none.’ Purely tactical, as always.
That “no appreciation” comment, BTW, was followed by a blatant misrepresentation. Trump claimed “there was great conflict here prior to our meeting in Singapore. After our first summit, all of the danger went away.”
Earlier in the day, Margaret Talev with Bloomberg News did her best to inject some truth. In a question at a joint presser, she brought up the second summit, in Hanoi, and said “nothing has substantively changed since Hanoi. North Korea has tested short-range missiles. Why does Kim Jong Un deserve this moment?" Trump deflected by saying “We’ve made tremendous strides. Only the fake news says they weren’t.” And later: "We are so far advanced from where we were two and a half years ago that it’s always insulting. And I think it’s why the press, frankly, has lost such credibility. They’ve lost such credibility.”
CNN and Daily Mail describe leaked memos from Sir Kim Darrock, British Ambassador to the US described T as "inept’ ‘insecure’ and 'incompetent’
A UK government source tells CNN the memos described in the Daily Mail story are “real.”
The Daily Mail says the memos span the period between 2017 to present day, covering everything from Trump’s foreign policy to his 2020 reelection plans.
The White House told CNN they have no comment on the story.
“The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country. Their views are not necessarily the views of Ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the US Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities,” a statement from the British FCO said.
Daily Mail excerpt
Britain’s Ambassador to Washington has described Donald Trump as ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’ in a series of explosive memos to Downing Street.
Sir Kim Darroch, one of Britain’s top diplomats, used secret cables and briefing notes to impugn Trump’s character, warning London that the White House was ‘uniquely dysfunctional’ and that the President’s career could end in ‘disgrace’.
His bombshell comments risk angering the notoriously thin-skinned President and undermining the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with America.
In the memos, seen by The Mail on Sunday following an unprecedented leak, Sir Kim:
Describes bitter conflicts within Trump’s White House – verified by his own sources – as ‘knife fights’;
Warns that Trump could have been indebted to ‘dodgy Russians’;
Claims the President’s economic policies could wreck the world trade system;
Says the scandal-hit Presidency could ‘crash and burn’ and that ‘we could be at the beginning of a downward spiral… that leads to disgrace and downfall’;
This is a huge deal for many reasons – primarily because justice may actually and finally be served. But also because we may now find out more about what role Trump’s Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, played in Epstein’s astoundingly lenient plea deal during his original trial. And we may find out who else was involved in these heinous crimes against minors – some big names are likely to surface.
For an award-winning investigative report on the original scandal, see Julie Brown’s Miami Herald piece:
The accompanying 12-minute video (below), while heartbreaking, is really a must-see. Something very dirty went down when this whole episode was covered up – whatever that was involved Acosta and other well-connected cronies of Epstein-- it’s about time we got to the bottom of this.