What The Fuck Happened Over The Weekend?


#122

Based on Avenatti’s track record, we can probably expect some additional announcements soon. Avenatti’s claims tonight are in addition to the allegations relating to Ford and Ramirez.

In an email to Mike Davis, the chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Avenatti said he had evidence that at house parties in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge, and others plied women with alcohol and drugs “in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.”


#123

This is an excellent article that, I believe, contains the most comprehensive and up-to-date reporting on the accusations against Kavanaugh (as of Sunday night, 11:55pm EDT). Things are evolving so quickly here that this will probably be “overtaken by events” as we move into Monday!

After reviewing details of the allegations related to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the article covers the newest allegations announced by Avenatti tonight:

. . . Michael Avenatti, a well-known Democratic lawyer, said he represents “a woman with credible information” about Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleged was in the room with her and Kavanaugh at the time of the alleged assault. Avenatti posted on Twitter that he has “significant evidence” that Kavanaugh and Judge “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs.”

Avenatti told POLITICO he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and his longtime friend in the 1980s.

Avenatti said he’d describe just one of the individuals as a victim.

“She will testify,” he said. “But before she does, she will likely appear on camera for an interview.”

He said the others were witnesses to the allegations. Avenatti would not elaborate on the number of clients but said he represents them alone.

“I represent multiple clients, they are witnesses. I’m representing multiple individuals that have knowledge of this, there’s no other attorneys involved,” Avenatti told POLITICO. Asked if the witnesses attended Georgetown Prep’s sister school, he said they went beyond that. “They went to schools in the same general areas. These house parties were widely attended.”


#124

My heart goes out to Deborah Ramirez. This whole experience must be gut wrenching. I’m sure this is absolutely not something she wanted to revisit – and certainly did not want to be thrust onto the national stage at the same time. Just like, Dr. Ford, we owe her so much for having the courage to come forward.

At the same time we are supporting those who are testifying to the truth, I feel we should also be shaming the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (especially the chairman, Chuck Grassley) as well as the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

The events surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation process are diverging into two separate, but related stories. First, we have the story of the accumulating allegations that point to appalling acts by the nominee. If even just a portion of these are substantiated, they will certainly disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court. Second, we have the evolving story of the Republicans’ shameful behavior as they attempt to ram through this confirmation, blowing past so many red flags. Have they no sense of decency? Have they no respect for our fundamental judicial processes?

These two sentences in Farrow and Mayer’s report are especially damning:

Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.

So when Republicans discovered that more allegations were pending, instead of putting on the brakes to allow time for a thorough examination, they actually tried to speed up the process and push Kavanaugh onto the court before the rest of the committee and the general public react. Disgraceful. Grassley, in particular, should be removed from the committee and, furthermore, expelled from the Senate. Corrupting the sanctity of the Supreme Court confirmation process should be treated as an impeachable offense.

And on top of this, Mitch McConnell persists in referring to the confirmation as if it’s already a done deal. What’s the point of even having Dr. Ford testify if the Senate Majority Leader has already pre-judged her? In this one-minute clip of his remarks, it’s stunning to see his total lack of respect for the confirmation process (and, although he doesn’t directly mention her, it’s obvious he also has no respect for Dr. Ford). To ensure we appoint a person of the highest moral character, the proceedings must be fair, balanced, and meticulously thorough – but no, McConnell declares the Senate is just going to "plow right through it."


#125

Yes to all your points @Keaton_James

  • R’s are fast tracking it, regardless of fair proceedings, and casting aside piles of doubt as to Kavanaugh’s character over time.

Since Kavanaugh has categorically denied ALL accusations, and R’s won’t engage in any further fact finding, we have truly lowered the bar on any degree of fairness and decency to support his ‘innocence’ by taking the position that any accuser of Kavanaugh must therefore be a liar. R’s are blaming the victim, and the Dems for ambushing the proceedings at the 11th hour, again damn what it is they are or will be saying.

The R’s just need this nomination to get into the Supreme Court badly. They need it for the midterms, their evangelical base, and to keep conservative protections in the future. McConnell is holding sway over this process because at this juncture he CAN, and he MUST for his party’s sake. But there is not justification aside from party to use his bullying tactics, and full court press to do so.

Kavanaugh’s reputation is going to be forever besmirched by all these accusations. It positively does NOT pass the smell test. He now needs to save face.

Bad news always travels fast…Kavanaugh is by all the reports enveloped in a sea of unseemly details that are indeed damning.

Here’s an interesting article by Benjamin Wittes (the BOOM :boom: prognosticator and writer for Lawfare) who knows Kavanaugh and does like his skills as a lawyer and judge, BUT has reservations as to how this confirmation process can continue.

I have known Brett Kavanaugh for a long time—in many different contexts. I am fond of him personally. I think the world of him intellectually. I don’t believe he lied in his Senate testimony. I don’t believe he’s itching to get on the Supreme Court to protect Donald Trump from Robert Mueller. I’m much less afraid of conservative judges than are many of my liberal friends. As recently as a few days ago, I was cheerfully vouching for Kavanaugh’s character.

If Kavanaugh were to ask my advice today—and to be clear, he hasn’t done so—I would tell him he almost certainly should have his nomination withdrawn. The circumstances in which he should fight this out are, in my view, extremely limited. I would advise him against letting Senate Republicans ram his nomination through in a fashion that will forever attach an asterisk to his service on the Supreme Court. Assuming she is not impugning him maliciously, Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, deserves better than that. The Court deserves better than that. And Kavanaugh himself, if he is telling the truth about his conduct in high school, deserves better than to be confirmed under circumstances which tens of millions of people will regard, with good reason, as tainted.

Let’s start with a blunt reality: The sum of the allegations against Kavanaugh is, if true, disqualifying. On both left and right, commentators have suggested that the assault allegation alone is not grounds for Kavanaugh’s rejection—even if true. Let’s leave for another day the question of whether that’s right. The allegation does not present on its own. Kavanaugh has categorically denied the incident took place. That means that if it did take place, he is either lying about it now or, short of that, perhaps has no memory of the matter. The former is certainly disqualifying. The latter, even if Kavanaugh’s memory is genuinely and honestly impaired and he actually believes the incident never took place, cannot be distinguished publicly from the former. Though Kavanaugh has been careful not to slime Ford, his denial of the incident impugns her anyway, which is legitimate if his denial is accurate. It will not do, however, to impeach her credibility wrongly and then ask for confirmation to the highest court in the land because the false denial was not intentionally false. If the allegations are true, Kavanaugh cannot be confirmed.


#126

Rod Rosenstein to be fired or resigned… :angry:

All eyes on WH this morning.

@NatashaBertrand

CNN’s Laura Jarrett now says that Rosenstein discussed resigning with Kelly on Saturday, conditions, timing, etc., but did NOT resign. The WH did not agree to some or all of those conditions. Now he’s headed over to the WH after being summoned and expects to be fired.


#127

Yes, there’s always a snag in what can be investigated…and what can not. Hmmm.

Politics News
White House limits scope of the FBI’s investigation into the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

The FBI has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.

by Ken Dilanian, Geoff Bennett, Kristen Welker, Frank Thorp V, Hallie Jackson and Leigh Ann Caldwell / Sep.29.2018 / 1:33 PM PDT

WASHINGTON — The White House is limiting the scope of the FBI’s investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC News.

While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. A White House official confirmed that Swetnick’s claims will not be pursued as part of the reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh.

Ford said in Senate testimony Thursday that she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Ramirez alleged that he exposed himself to her when there were students at Yale. Kavanaugh has staunchly denied allegations from Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick.

The limited scope seems to be at odds with what some members of the Senate judiciary seemed to expect when they agreed to give the FBI as much as a week to investigate allegations against Kavanaugh, a federal judge who grew up in the Washington DC area and attended an elite all-boys high school before going on to Yale.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the FBI has “free reign” in the investigation. “They’re going to do whatever they have to do,” he said. “Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing — things that we never even thought of. And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”


#128

“If both parties speak with passion and clarity, but one of them says many inconsistent, evasive, irrational, and false things, then we actually have a very good indicator of who is telling the truth…


#129

@dragonfly9 Thanks for posting, that Currant Affairs article is a must read!


#130

This is the latest reporting as of Sunday, 4:20pm EDT. I’m saying this because the reporting here has vacillated. Early reporting yesterday was that the scope of the investigation was limited – then Trump came out at said, no, the FBI has “free rein.” But now the reporting is back to where it was originally – in fact things are looking even worse. According to CNN, the investigation is very narrow in scope and the FBI has been forbidden to pursue many highly relevant leads. Not only that, the investigation is actually being run by the White House legal counsel, Don McGhan! Bottom line: Trump has lied to us yet again. This investigation is shaping up to be a massive whitewash.

The FBI investigation into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is narrowly focused, top officials said in interviews on Sunday, with sources telling CNN that the White House is controlling the scope of the probe.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that the FBI would take its direction from the White House, not the Senate, and that the agency would interview a handful of people.

Kavanaugh’s drinking history, the source said, which has come up in the allegations, is not part of the probe, which was being managed by the FBI’s security division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

But the probe must include Kavanaugh’s drinking history because this is an area where it was obvious that Kavanaugh perjured himself. Unfortunately, the fact the perjury was “obvious” is not enough – we must have the corroborating evidence; we must have the proof – it is out there and the FBI can easily uncover it through interviews with Kavanaugh’s classmates.

We must also have proof that Kavanaugh lied under oath when he testified to the meaning of various cryptic references in his yearbook entry. He can’t be allowed to get away with those lies. They are very specific cases of perjury and, in and of themselves, they are enough to disqualify him. However, we must have the proof and the FBI can provide that if they are simply allowed to do their job without obstruction.

While President Donald Trump declared Saturday that the FBI would have “free rein” in its investigation, people close to the matter say the scope is far more limited. White House counsel Don McGhan, who is the administration’s leading advocate for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, is overseeing the probe for the President and working closely with Senate Republican leaders.

So which is it – does the FBI have “free rein” or are they being tightly controlled by the President and his White House counsel? This just plain stinks.

The source reiterated that the agents would make no conclusion about what witnesses tell them and would hand their results over to the White House, which is standard protocol in similar background investigations. The source would not say if the direction the FBI received listed specific people or if it was to investigate specific allegations.

What is the chance that the White House will only make public a cherry-picked selection of findings from the report? 100%.

Contrast the CNN reporting with what Sanders and Conway are saying:

Senior Trump administration officials insisted Sunday that the White House is not “micromanaging” a new FBI background check of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and that senators are dictating the parameters of the investigation.

“The White House isn’t intervening. We’re not micromanaging this process. It’s a Senate process. It has been from the beginning, and we’re letting the Senate continue to dictate what the terms look like,” Sanders said.

The Committed didn’t agree to an investigation directed by the Senate; it agreed to an investigation directed by the FBI. Furthermore, the CNN reporting says that it’s not even being directed by the Senate, it’s being directed by the White House! – see the 2nd paragraph of the CNN article above.

Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the investigation will be “limited in scope” and “will not be a fishing expedition. The FBI is not tasked to do that.”

But investigating Kavanaugh’s drinking history is not “fishing” – it is directly relevant to whether or not he perjured himself.

Trump told reporters Saturday that the FBI “is all over talking to everybody” and that “this could be a blessing in disguise.”

“They have free rein. They’re going to do whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do. They’ll be doing things that we have never even thought of,” Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to West Virginia. “And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”

He revisited the “scope” question later Saturday on Twitter, writing in part, “I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion.”

According to the CNN reporting (which I give far more credence to than the claims from the White House), Trump is once again flat out lying to us.


#131

This will give you hope! If you don’t have time to watch the full interview, skip to the very end (13 minute mark) for Scott Pelley’s final question:

Scott Pelley: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, the nomination is over?

Sen. Flake: Oh, yes.

Sen. Coons: I would think so.

The nation needs to hold Senator Flake to his answer here. I am convinced that the FBI investigation will show that Kavanaugh lied to the committee. He lied about his drinking history; he lied about the meaning of references in his yearbook; he lied when he said he had “no connections” to Yale.

We are already 99% sure that Kavanaugh perjured himself multiple times and we just need the FBI’s investigation to bring us that last 1% to absolute certainty – then Republicans will have no more excuses – a perjurer must not be allowed to sit on the Supreme Court. Now if Trump and McGhan would just stop obstructing and let the FBI do its job. . .


#132

This news has broken in the few minutes since my previous post. Yes, this is yet another classmate who has just come forward to call out Kavanaugh on his perjurous statements regarding his college drinking.


#133

Once again, top-notch reporting by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. They describe, in detail, the confusion surrounding this investigation and the difficulty witnesses are having as they try to speak with the FBI.

As the F.B.I. began its investigation this weekend into allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, several people who hope to contribute information about him to the F.B.I. said that they were unable to make contact with agents. President Trump has promised to give the F.B.I. “free rein” in its probe, but the Times reported on Saturday that the White House had asked the F.B.I. to question only four witnesses. In the course of the next day, confusion spread about whom the F.B.I. would be interviewing, and Senate Democrats demanded that the White House provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with a copy of the written directive that it had sent to the F.B.I. regarding the investigation.

With a one-week deadline looming over the investigation, some who say they have information relevant to the F.B.I.’s probe are suspicious that the investigation will amount to what one of Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmates called a “whitewash.” Roberta Kaplan, an attorney representing one potential witness, Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Kavanaugh’s high-school friend Mark Judge, said her client “has repeatedly made clear to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to the F.B.I. that she would like the opportunity to speak to them.” But, Kaplan said, “We’ve received no substantive response.” . . .

A Yale classmate attempting to corroborate Deborah Ramirez’s account that, during her freshman year at Yale, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a drunken party, said that he, too, has struggled unsuccessfully to reach the F.B.I. . . .

. . . Democratic officials with experience overseeing F.B.I. background investigations disputed that there was anything procedurally routine thus far in the F.B.I.’s renewed investigation into Kavanaugh. Robert Bauer, who served as the White House counsel to President Obama, said that he had overseen numerous F.B.I. background investigations and never seen one so circumscribed. “The F.B.I. should have the latitude to determine what is necessary in a credible, professional inquiry,” he said. “The issue on the table is, Did he or didn’t he engage in the conduct that Dr. Ford alleged?” To reach the answer, he said, “The F.B.I. needs to utilize its expertise to investigate. But instead the White House has dictated a restricted investigative plan. So it’s contaminated at the core.”

Side note: Mayer and Farrow’s dogged reporting reminds me of how indebted we are to our free press and how we must fiercely protect their right to investigate and report. If it weren’t for our free press, this nomination would have been railroaded through and we would have been none the wiser as to the numerous credible allegations against Kavanaugh. There’s still a chance that Kavanaugh will be confirmed, but if he is, Republicans will pay the price at the polls in November, thanks to our free press.


#134

Two possibilities here:

  1. The Senate votes this week and confirms Kavanaugh – the country will be outraged at Republicans that they didn’t even allow the FBI one week to do its job.

  2. The Senate votes this week and rejects the confirmation – this means Republicans have surrendered and know, regardless of an FBI investigation, they no longer have the votes and they want to move on before this debacle makes them look even worse.

I believe we’ll know the answer soon – before the vote is even taken.


#135

Some indications that Kavanaugh’s team was trying to sway one of the college witness to the Ramirez claim.

Kavanaugh should not pressure anyone. But Grassley is saying it is normal to do a search for your witnesses and evidence,

NBC News reached out to Berchem for comment after obtaining a copy of a memo she wrote about the text messages. In a statement to NBC News, Berchem, a partner in the law firm Akin Gump, said: “I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him. However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate. “

George Hartmann, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles > Grassley said that “The texts from Ms. Bercham do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony. This appears to be another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination with baseless innuendo by Democrats who have already decided to vote no.”

Her texts with Yarasavage shed light on Kavanaugh’s personal contact with friends, including that he obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez ten years after the alleged incident. Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding.

Berchem hired a lawyer on Sunday to help her get her information into the right hands. She has twice sent her memo to the FBI and has yet to hear a response, according to her lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He flagged two texts in particular


#136

From Crooked Media newsletter

GAME OVER

Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday, amid credible allegations that he assaulted young women in his youth and ample evidence that he is a rabid partisan who has serially misled the Senate for over a decade. It is ok to pause at the end of this sentence and unleash a primal scream. Then please go to Vote Save America and find a volunteer shift for this weekend, because fuck these people →

Kavanaugh stands to be confirmed by a historically thin margin, with the help of three of the four last undecided senators: Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Yeah, that last guy has a D next to his name.

His fate became fairly clear after all three of them teamed up to end a filibuster of his nomination, over the objection of 48 Democrats and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—the one Republican who took the allegations, the lies, and the partisanship seriously.

Within hours, all three had announced that they would support his final confirmation vote, which will take place late Saturday afternoon. Collins and Manchin each publicly embraced the right wing theory that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—who testified to being 100 percent certain Kavanaugh assaulted her—might simply be confused about the identity her attacker. Which is the same thing as not believing her.

Flake is retiring, and Manchin has a healthy lead in his bid for re-election against West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. But Collins will be up for reelection in 2020, and her vote is almost certain to draw her a credible Democratic challenger.

Activists have already raised over two million dollars to fund Collins’s opponent—money that would have been returned to donors had Collins decided to vote no—and there are multiple credible Democrats who could plausibly defeat Collins. After Collins announced her support for Kavanaugh, Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s U.N. Ambassador and national security adviser, and has family roots in Maine, suggested she might challenge Collins.

From Brian: Kavanaugh’s ascent to the Supreme Court is a blow for the worst forces in politics. It is a victory of the patriarchy over equality movements like #MeToo; a victory for the forces of deception and bad faith over virtues like ethics and decency; a victory for the maximalist right wing effort to co-opt democratic institutions and turn them into tools of partisan control as a means to preserve minority rule; and a victory for President Trump in his ongoing effort to corrupt the judiciary and the federal law enforcement apparatus. There’s only one lesson to be taken from this outcome and it is for the masses to mobilize as if their lives and livelihoods depend on it—for many of them, it does.


#137

@rgoodlaw. Ryan Goodman (former Special Counsel)

The Susan Collins standard: if there’s a 49% chance a nominee is an attempted rapist, they should be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.

If she’d adopted a reasonable standard, would this have turned out differently?

Did she make up a high standard to mislead Maine voters? https://t.co/CqulbtGYNi


#138

Jonathan Swan of Axios predicts that the WH will be on different footing come the mid-terms. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to sense that the Dems will be getting the upper hand in the House and win, (and very possibly so) but right now with all the R’s and T gloating over the SCOTUS win, it is hard to see.

Read on…what may be developing in terms of WH protecting themselves from subpoenas etc.

Some of this falls on Gen Kelly’s shoulder’s to plan for the results of the midterms and pending legal actions. AND I am still wondering was he the NY Times Leaker. Is it KELLY??? IS he any dis-incentivized to really protect and serve his president. I know he’s still employed, but who’s the one that plays both sides…?

1 big thing: Scoop — White House begins prepping for Dem legal storm

Top officials inside the White House have taken their first steps to prepare for an onslaught of investigations if Democrats win the House. According to a source with direct knowledge:

Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon sic Congress’ top investigators on Trumpworld.
Senior White House staff have an offsite weekend retreat scheduled for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic-controlled House, according to the source.
To be clear: Team Trump is still trying to prevent a House flip from happening. They’re ramping up political activities leading into the midterm — including a blitz of rallies from the president — to give Republicans their best chance of saving the House.

Why this matters: Polls show Republicans will probably lose the House in November. And Trump’s team, including the understaffed White House Counsel’s Office, must batten down the hatches for an onslaught from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

White House officials have been telling us for weeks they were worried that Kelly hadn’t been taking the threat seriously enough. This is the first time I’ve learned new information to suggest that they’re preparing.
According to three sources who attend senior staff meetings, when Kelly gathers the full White House senior staff in the Roosevelt Room several times a week, they never discuss the prospect of investigations.
You’d think,” one White House official told me, "we’d have a briefing or something to help us understand what’s coming with subpoenas and investigations."

What they’re saying: Over the past month, my colleague Evan Ryan and I have been interviewing lawyers who worked in the Obama and Clinton White Houses. We wanted to find out what it’s like being inside a White House when the opposite party controls Congress and trains its investigative fire on the president.

A couple lawyers spoke on the record; most didn’t. But what we learned from these conversations provides a map for Trump’s likely future.

> "Subpoenas flowing into a White House create paralysis," said Neil Eggleston, who was Obama’s White House counsel and an associate counsel in the Clinton administration.

“The whole system stops while everyone tries to comply with subpoenas and prepare to testify.”
“The White House doesn’t operate optimally, and the policymaking process doesn’t receive its due attention. Morale suffers, and energy is diverted to the crisis at hand.”

The big picture: Lawyers from previous White Houses mostly agreed on one thing: The better analogy for what’s coming for Trump is not the Obama White House, but Clinton’s.

Obama’s administration faced scandals — from “Fast and Furious” to the IRS-Tea Party targeting to Benghazi. But his White House counsels managed to mostly keep the White House out of the picture; the agencies bore the brunt of the investigative onslaught.
But Bill Clinton spent his entire presidency under a cloud of investigation, from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky under the glare of Ken Starr. Staff who worked in the Clinton White House say it felt like there was a subpoena coming for them every day.

The bottom line: For the most part, the staff who work in the Trump West Wing — beyond the Counsel’s Office — have no idea what may be coming for them. But senior staff are now finally preparing for a tough new normal under House Democrats.

  1. Trump’s traps: White House lawyers analyze his danger spots

Here are the looming legal dangers for the Trump White House, foreseen by former White House lawyers interviewed by Evan Ryan and me:

  1. Compartmentalization: One reason Bill Clinton survived a presidency of investigations was, according to his former staff, his almost supernatural ability to compartmentalize. He put the investigations in a psychic and literal box: A separate team handled them, from a communications war room to his lawyers. Clinton avoided publicly discussing the scandals.

    “The key to Clinton’s survival during impeachment,” a former Clinton official told us, “was ‘compartmentalization’: working with Congress on substantive issues like health care and education, even as the same Congress was trying to impeach the president.”
    “The president rarely talked about impeachment,” the former official added. “He showed himself to be busy at work delivering for the American people.”

Compare that to Trump. The president relishes discussing the Mueller probe, not only with his staff but on Twitter and in public interviews.

Staff tell us he can’t help himself. White House officials have told us they try to stay out of Trump’s vicinity on a bad Mueller news day, because any conversations with him may make their legal bills balloon.
"He has no boundaries," a former senior White House official told Axios. Trump will try to discuss the Mueller “WITCH HUNT” with whoever is around him.

  1. Legal talent: Whoever ends up replacing McGahn as White House counsel “needs to put together what is in effect the best litigation and investigation law firm in this city,” Bill Clinton’s White House Counsel Jack Quinn told us.

    And needs to do it overnight. They’re going to have to get the best and the brightest and the most experienced and the most skillful, and assemble an absolutely first-rate team of lawyers to conduct defense on multiple fronts.”
    The current White House Counsel’s Office — hampered for months by a terrible relationship between Don McGahn and Trump — is nowhere near the fine-tuned machine Quinn describes.

  2. Competent and focused investigators: Incompetent, distracted and overzealous Republican congressional investigators helped both the Clinton and Obama administrations survive years of aggressive oversight.

    If they win the House, Democrats could make the same mistakes and screw up their investigations by overreaching.
    But there’s a decent chance they won’t. Former White House lawyers concurred that if Democrats install the highly experienced Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and keep Elijah Cummings and his seasoned staff in charge of oversight, they could marshal their investigatory power far more effectively than Republicans did under Obama and Clinton.

The bottom line: Obama’s White House Counsel Bob Bauer, who has thought considerably about these pitfalls and opportunities, told Axios: "An impeachment process is a legal process, and to defend against the inevitable political attacks, it must be carefully structured and well-presented to the public."

"It has to be disciplined in identifying and explaining the relevant standards for an impeachable offense, and it has to pay close attention to a fair and rigorous process.
"The House impeachment of President Clinton completely failed that test. …
“In any impeachment proceedings directed against Donald Trump, the House majority would be well-served by proceeding step by step with care, attention to detail and transparency.”


#139

There is some Mueller investigation news…Roger Goodman (Law Prof and ex Special Counsel) links us with some new evidence about Peter Smith, the GOP operative, who died by suicide…
Read about what Mueller may be looking into…WSJ is carrying this report (but it has a paywall) but some readers here could link to it perhaps.

  1. My WSJ SCOOP on Peter Smith’s 2016 operation to get Clinton emails ● WSJ raises specter Smith was killed, not suicide ● Emails involve payments to “Russian students” ● 4+ financiers ● Mueller expanding interest in Smith group ● potential ties to Flynn/Trump …

links to WSJ article on GOP Operative Secretly raises $100k

GOP Operative Secretly Raised at Least $100,000 in Search for Clinton Emails
Opposition researcher’s efforts are of intense interest to investigators probing Russian election interference

WASHINGTON—A veteran Republican operative and opposition researcher solicited and raised at least $100,000 from donors as part of an effort to obtain what he believed to be emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, activities that remain of intense interest to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and Capitol Hill.

  1. First, recall multiple reports that Peter Smith’s operation was potentially linked to Flynn/Trump campaign.

Ex-British security officer GCHQ Matt Tait (@pwnallthethings), who was approached by Smith, assessed Smith’s “group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.”
3 replies 155 retweets 312 likes

  1. Smith himself told @shaneharris—who broke the original story—of line of communication with Flynn, and Smith’s emails “show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company…to be allies in their quest" for Clinton emails

Links to WSJ 6/17 GOP Operative seeks emails…

  1. Smith’s document to Tait listed groups involved in operation One group: “Trump Campaign (in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure)” Named campaign officials: Flynn, Clovis (who approved Papadop-RUS efforts), Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Lisa Nelson

  2. Flynn is extra-important because WSJ 2017: “reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via AN INTERMEDIARY” (confirmed by @JasonLeopold @a_cormier_ reporting)

  3. WSJ now raises specter Smith was murdered (foul play) not suicide. Smith died suddenly about 10 days after WSJ interviewed him in 2017. Was ruled suicide. Chicago Tribune reported details consistent with suicide: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-peter-w-smith-death-met-0716-20170714-story.html … But look at WSJ final two paragraphs: (see below)

  1. :exclamation:️email on Russia nexus via WSJ

10/11/16
To:Smith
Subject:“Wire Instructions—Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative”

Text:“This $100k total with the $50k received from you will allow us to fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students for the promised $150K"
4 replies 121 retweets 241 likes

  1. On “the promised $150K” in Smith email: Note: @JasonLeopold @a_cormier_ reported “cash withdrawals totaling about $140,000” that Smith used: “PAID HACKERS who PROVIDED him emails, according to two bureau sources.” Smith may have then had difficulty authenticating the emails.

  2. Where may this all lead? New WSJ report refers to “Smith’s activities as an area of expanding interest” to Mueller. WSJ: John Szobocsan, a Peter Smith associate, appeared before grand jury recently (August) and was interviewed by Mueller’s team 3X earlier in the year.

P.S. On Peter Smith’s peculiar death. Note: By summer 2018. Mueller’s team added attorney Kathryn Rakoczy, “best known for her work on violent crime cases.” (@woodruffbets reporting)

DailyBeast link to Inside Mueller’s New (lawyer) Army

https://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-operative-secretly-raised-at-least-100-000-in-search-for-clinton-emails-1538913614?mod=e2tw


#140

This is for anyone following the U.K. Skripal poisonings.

One by one, members of the team of Russian GRU agents that allegedly carried out the poisonings are being exposed. In September, the first member was unmasked. Then last week, the second agent was named. And now, records have been uncovered pointing to a third member who may have been the “recon man”:

Sergey Fedotov, 45, travelled to the UK on the same day as the two assassins already charged by British authorities - and boarded the same flight home.

The Telegraph had previously reported the existence of a third member of the Russian intelligence hit squad and a trawl of flight records by the Fontanka news agency matched it to Fedotov.

According to Fontanka, Fedotov flew to the UK on a passport whose number differs by only a few digits from those used by the two GRU military intelligence agents officially wanted for the nerve agent attack.

It is almost certain Fedotov is not the passenger’s real name but an alias . . .

The role of Fedotov is not clear. CCTV images released by British counter terrorism police show only Chepiga and Mishkin in Salisbury on the day of the attack as well as the day before. It is possible Fedotov formed part of a reconnaissance team to scope Col Skripal’s home in a quiet cul-de-sac. . .

Fedotov’s passport number differs by only a few digits. It is of the same ‘64 series’ linked to not only Chepiga and Mishkin but also to other suspected agents such as Col Eduard Shishmakov, who is accused of the failed plot to assassinate the prime minister of Montenegro before its referendum to join Nato. . .

More details about Fedotov’s real identity are likely to emerge. More than 300 suspected GRU agents were exposed this month after they registered automobiles to the address of GRU unit 26165, which has been accused of hacking the 2016 US election.

That last paragraph brought me up short. Say what? 300 GRU agents were recently unmasked? And they belong to the unit accused of U.S. election hacks? So here’s the story – and it’s got to be an embarrassing one for the GRU:

It’s hard to condense the detective work involved into a few excerpts so I’ll leave it to you to refer to the article. It’s worth a read if you like this kind of thing – the sleuths made some ingenious connections as they followed a trail of clues to a treasure trove of GRU agent identities.

I think the cautionary tale here for any intelligence agency is that it’s becoming nigh impossible to stay anonymous in an age where so much data about everyone’s business is dumped into the internet everyday – and at the same time, we have at our disposal an increasingly sophisticated array of tools and services that allow us to search out, aggregate and compare data points across the entire web. These days, there’s almost no place to hide – even when you’re a spy!

I’ll close this post with one more piece of recently uncovered evidence that further incriminates the alleged Skripal poisoners:

UPDATE: If you like this kind of stuff, here’s an article about Bellingcat, the team of cyber-sleuths who tracked down the true identities of the Skripal poisoners and unmasked another 300 GRU agents along the way.


#141

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

:face_with_symbols_over_mouth::face_with_symbols_over_mouth::face_with_symbols_over_mouth: