rgl7194 + gov2.0   4617

An Actuarial Perspective on the 2018 Social Security Trustees Report | American Academy of Actuaries
For a print-ready PDF of this page, click here.
The Social Security Trustees Report is a detailed annual assessment that serves as a basis for discussions of Social Security’s financial problems and their solutions. Social Security’s chief actuary prepares and certifies the financial projections for the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, under the direction of the Social Security Board of Trustees.
Because future events are inherently uncertain, the report contains three 75-year financial projections to illustrate a broad range of possible outcomes. These projections, each based on a different set of assumptions, are referred to as intermediate, low-cost, and high-cost. The report also provides a sensitivity analysis for key assumptions and a projection based on a probability model (i.e., a stochastic forecast). The trustees consider the intermediate projection to be their best estimate. All information in this issue brief is based on the intermediate projection, unless otherwise noted.
2010s  gov2.0  insurance  politics  report  seniors  social_security 
5 hours ago by rgl7194
Don’t Believe Misleading Coverage of Social Security Trustees’ Report
Do some mainstream media outlets truly not realize that members of Congress are working to avert shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare without cutting benefits? Or do they simply believe that the "no action in Washington" narrative is more compelling than the truth?
The media’s reporting on the Social Security Trustees’ annual reports has fallen into an unfortunate pattern: No matter what the Trustees actually report, journalists tend to describe Social Security and Medicare’s future in the gravest terms possible – topped by alarmist headlines.  The coverage of Monday’s 2019 report was no different.
“Social Security won't be able to pay full benefits by 2035” - CNN
“Medicare, Social Security Face Shaky Fiscal Futures” – Associated Press
“Social Security and Medicare Funds Face Insolvency” – New York Times
“Social Security is headed for insolvency by 2035” – CNBC
“Social Security, Medicare — uh oh!” – Federal News Network
The actual news in the 2019 Trustees Report was much more positive than the headlines indicate. While it’s true that the combined Social Security trust funds will become depleted in 2035 (if Congress takes no action to prevent it), that’s one year later than the trustees projected in last year’s report.
Even in the unlikely scenario that Congress allows the trust funds to run out, Social Security still would be able to pay 80% of benefits—1% higher than projected in last year’s report.  Meanwhile, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund is now projected to last twenty years longer than previously estimated—until 2052.
2010s  gov2.0  insurance  politics  report  seniors  social_security 
5 hours ago by rgl7194
2019 Social Security Trustees Report: The 5 Things You Need to Know
Find out what's changed with Social Security since last year.
Tens of millions of people rely on Social Security, but the retirement benefits program has faced financial challenges for a long time. A flood of new retirees has created a demographic imbalance in the way that Social Security traditionally funded itself, and it's now imminent that the federal government will have to start tapping Social Security's trust funds in order to keep paying benefits at the levels it has promised.
To keep the public informed about the financial condition of Social Security, the trustees of Social Security's trust funds have a legal obligation to issue an annual report. Although the full 270-page Trustees Report has large amounts of sophisticated actuarial analysis standing behind it, its conclusions are relatively easy to understand, and they underscore the size of the challenge facing lawmakers to address a steadily worsening situation. Here are the five most important things to take from the latest Social Security Trustees Report.
2010s  gov2.0  insurance  politics  report  seniors  social_security 
5 hours ago by rgl7194
Social Security trustee report: Lower immigration increases the deficit - Vox
The latest Social Security trustees report shows how immigration is keeping the program afloat.
The federal government barely avoided dipping into its savings accounts last year to help pay Social Security benefits to millions of Americans.
Economists had warned last year that — for the first time in decades — the Social Security Administration would not bring in enough money from payroll taxes and investment income to cover all the disability and retirement checks it owed to millions of Americans. Instead, the agency would need to start taking money from two savings funds: one for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance program (a.k.a. Social Security) and one for the Disability Insurance program.
Luckily, that dreaded shortfall didn’t materialize — but only just barely, and not for particularly positive reasons.
In their latest Social Security trustees report, which was released Monday, Treasury Department officials and economists said far fewer workers applied for disability benefits in 2018 than they expected, which lowered overall costs. But there’s another reason the government didn’t dip into its reserves, and it’s a bit disturbing: Life expectancy in the US is decreasing. Americans are dying sooner than they once did, which means the government pays out less in benefits.
2010s  gov2.0  insurance  politics  report  seniors  social_security  immigration 
5 hours ago by rgl7194
Reports from the Social Security Board of Trustees
Detailed reports on the financial outlook for Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds
Latest Release : 2019 Report
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Summaries of the Annual Reports for the Social Security and Medicare Programs
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Trustees Reports on the financial status of the Medicare program
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Special reports on OASI or DI Trust Fund assets dropping below 20 percent of annual cost within 10 years
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2010s  gov2.0  politics  report  social_security  insurance  seniors 
7 hours ago by rgl7194
Social Security Trustees Report Summary
A MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC:
Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. This message summarizes the 2019 Annual Reports.
Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing. Lawmakers have a broad continuum of policy options that would close or reduce the long-term financing shortfall of both programs. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls, so that a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in changes while giving the public adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.
Social Security and Medicare together accounted for 45 percent of Federal program expenditures (excluding net interest on the debt) in fiscal year 2018. The unified budget reflects current trust fund operations. Consequently, even when there are positive trust fund balances, any drawdown of those balances, as well as general fund transfers into Medicare’s Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) fund and interest payments to the trust funds that are used to pay benefits, increase pressure on the unified budget. Both Social Security and Medicare will experience cost growth substantially in excess of GDP growth through the mid-2030s due to rapid population aging caused by the large baby-boom generation entering retirement and lower-birth-rate generations entering employment. For Medicare, it is also the case that growth in expenditures per beneficiary exceeds growth in per capita GDP over this time period. In later years, projected costs expressed as a share of GDP rise slowly for Medicare and are relatively flat for Social Security, reflecting very gradual population aging caused by increasing longevity and slower growth in per-beneficiary health care costs.
gov2.0  politics  report  social_security  2010s  insurance  seniors 
7 hours ago by rgl7194
Is America Turning Into a Nation of Dunces? | The Heritage Foundation
KEY TAKEAWAYS
Today, 60% of college graduates cannot name a single step necessary to ratify a constitutional amendment.
Ten percent of the college graduates surveyed thought that Judge Judy is currently serving on the Supreme Court.
For the sake of our nation and our own personal freedom, it is essential that we get back to teaching the basics of American civics. We are failing the founders.
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” So wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1789.
But if Jefferson were to read the results of the latest survey from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, he might seriously doubt modern America’s capacity for self-governance. It shows that most Americans would fail even a basic citizenship test.
Today, 60% of college graduates cannot name a single step necessary to ratify a constitutional amendment; half don’t know how long the terms are for representatives or senators. Two out of five don’t know that Congress has the power to declare war.
The First Amendment prohibits an “establishment of religion” and guarantees the “free exercise of religion,” yet a majority of Americans believe that the Constitution established a Christian nation. One in 10 think Congress could actually “outlaw atheism because the United States is one country under God."
It gets worse. Ten percent of the college graduates surveyed thought that Judge Judy is currently serving on the Supreme Court.
Indeed, pop culture references are better known that basics of American civics and history — even when those “pop” references are decades old. More Americans can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government, and three times as many can identify the city with the ZIP code 90210 than the city where our Constitution was written.
usa  education  intelligence  gov2.0  history 
yesterday by rgl7194
American-Ukrainian under fire from Trump | KyivPost - Ukraine's Global Voice
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alexandra Chalupa, the Ukrainian-American woman who threw a wrench in Republican Party candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election race, has come under renewed attack from the White House and the president’s allies as the report about investigations into Trump’s dealings with Moscow is expected to be made public on Apr 18.
Chalupa told the Kyiv Post that the Trump administration had repeated accusations against her and Ukraine by Russian propagandists. The president himself has tweeted more than once about a book called “Spygate” which names Chalupa in its opening pages as part of a Ukrainian conspiracy to damage Trump’s presidential bid.
In 2016, candidate Trump’s opaque financial dealings in Russia and regular public praise for Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin were already sounding alarm bells when Chalupa dramatically raised the stakes by revealing Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s links to powerful Kremlin-connected figures.
An American political operative and spin-doctor, Manafort had long been reviled in Ukraine for his many years of lucrative service to the country’s ex-gangster, pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014.
gov2.0  politics  ukrainian  trump  chalupa 
yesterday by rgl7194
California Sanctuary Law Upheld By Federal Appeals Court : NPR
A federal appeals panel has upheld California's controversial "sanctuary state" law, ruling that the measure does not impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws in that state.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, found that the state law, known as SB 54, limiting cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities does not conflict with federal law.
The judges said they "have no doubt that SB 54 makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult." But "California has the right ... to refrain from assisting with federal efforts."
The decision upholds a lower court ruling issued in July 2018.
The Trump administration had sued California in March 2018, arguing the Constitution gives the federal government sweeping authority over immigration matters. The administration also had challenged two other state laws. One, AB 450, requires employers to alert employees before federal immigration inspections. The other, AB 103, gives the California attorney general the authority to inspect immigration detention facilities.
The appeals panel upheld both of those laws, although it blocked a subsection of the inspection law that gave state authorities jurisdiction to examine the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of immigrant detainees.
gov2.0  politics  california  legal  immigration  sanctuary  state 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Kakistocracy, a 374-year-old word that means ‘government by the worst,’ just broke the dictionary
Today was a productive vocabulary day in the United States of America.
The learning began in the morning, when former CIA director John O. Brennan tweeted at President Trump: “Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey.”
The insult was part of a raging feud between Trump and various members of the intelligence community, some of whom suspect the president’s inner circle of committing federal crimes, and many of whom Trump says are out to destroy him.
Brennan’s tweet proved quite popular with Trump’s critics, even if not everyone totally understood it.
What, wondered the actor/director Zach Braff and the fake congressman Steven Smith, and many others, was a “kakistocracy”?
Kleptocracy means a government by thieves, and autocracy means government by one person. Both of those terms have been used liberally by Trump’s critics in the last year or so, but kakistocracy … was that like a government of cack, as in dung?
Actually, yeah, kind of.
Searches for the kakistocracy surged to the top of Merriam-Webster, arguably the hippest of the major dictionaries, which recently made “dumpster fire” an official English word.
So Merriam-Webster wrote a short explainer. Kakistos is Greek for “worst,” so kakistocracy means government by the worst people.
The plural is kakistocracies, the dictionary added, in case the world one day ends up with two of them.
gov2.0  politics  trump  language  dictionary  kakistocracy 
2 days ago by rgl7194
A Trump Transition Staffer Calls for Impeachment - The Atlantic
I was a Trump transition staffer, and I’ve seen enough. It’s time for impeachment.
Let’s start at the end of this story. This weekend, I read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report twice, and realized that enough was enough—I needed to do something. I’ve worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years and recently served as counsel to the Republican-led House Financial Services Committee. My permanent job is as a law professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, which is not political, but where my colleagues have held many prime spots in Republican administrations.
If you think calling for the impeachment of a sitting Republican president would constitute career suicide for someone like me, you may end up being right. But I did exactly that this weekend, tweeting that it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings.
Let’s go back to the beginning. In August 2016, I interviewed to join the pre-transition team of Donald Trump. Since 2012, every presidential election stands up a pre-transition team for both candidates, so that the real transition will have had a six-month head start when the election is decided. I participated in a similar effort for Mitt Romney, and despite our defeat, it was a thrilling and rewarding experience. I walked into a conference room at Jones Day that Don McGahn had graciously arranged to lend to the folks interviewing for the transition team.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
How Major Democratic And Republican Blocs Are Responding To The Mueller Report | FiveThirtyEight
The Mueller report, released in full on Thursday, has complicated the politics of the broader Trump-Russia story for both Democrats and Republicans.
Congressional Democrats are facing an obvious question: What should they do now? Before the report’s release, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed the idea of impeaching President Trump. But the 400-plus page report included lots of evidence that Trump’s actions to stifle the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election may have constituted obstruction of justice. The report also implied that Mueller and his team felt that they could not file obstruction charges against Trump because of Justice Department guidelines that prevent bringing criminal charges against a sitting president. Some analysts have cast the Mueller report as essentially an “impeachment referral,” giving House Democrats lots of information about possible wrongdoing by the president and implying that Congress, not the Justice Department, has the authority to determine what to do about it. So Democrats have to decide whether they want to impeach Trump, definitely not impeach Trump or take some kind of middle road.
For Republicans and Trump, there is a question too. Some in the party, relying on Attorney General William Barr’s interpretation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that Barr sent to Congress last month, were eager to start an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, essentially investigating the investigators. But the report itself was much more damning than Barr’s letter describing it had indicated. Are Republicans, however angry they are about the Trump-Russia investigation, better off trying to move away from this issue, rather than relitigating it?
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Rudy Giuliani is 100% wrong (Opinion) - CNN
(CNN)There was a time Rudy Giuliani was viewed as a crime-fighting US attorney and later as the valiant mayor of New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. But that Rudy is long gone. And all that remains is a man who will be best known for his work as a pathetic shill for Donald Trump.
We saw another example of this on Sunday when Giuliani, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" in his capacity as Trump's personal lawyer, gave a master class in deceit as he discussed Robert Mueller's report.
First, Giuliani tried to make Americans think there's nothing wrong with a campaign for president of the United States accepting help from Russians. This came up in the discussion of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in the hopes of obtaining "dirt" on Hillary Clinton from Russian nationals.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Reveals Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry in Highly Anticipated Report - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III revealed the scope of a historic Russian campaign to sabotage the 2016 presidential election in a much-anticipated report made public on Thursday, and he detailed a frantic monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart a federal investigation that imperiled his presidency from the start.
Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, laid out how his team of prosecutors wrestled with whether Mr. Trump’s actions added up to a criminal obstruction-of-justice offense. They ultimately chose not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him and suggested that it might be the role of Congress to settle the matter.
The report laid bare that Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power, and cataloged numerous meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russians seeking to influence the campaign and the presidential transition team — encounters set up in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president.
The special counsel concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to determine that the president or his aides had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians, even though the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin sabotage effort and “expected it would benefit electorally” from the hacks and leaks of Democratic emails.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Said He Would Have Exonerated Trump On Obstruction If The Evidence Supported It, But He Couldn’t
Mueller and his team declined to make a “prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump committed obstruction. Attorney General Bill Barr later concluded that the evidence didn’t support that.
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in his final report that his office would have exonerated President Donald Trump if the evidence had supported it, but based on the information they had, they could not do that.
Mueller ultimately declined to make a “prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump had committed any obstruction offenses, choosing instead to submit his evidence and legal analysis on the issue to Attorney General Bill Barr. Mueller repeatedly found “substantial evidence” that Trump had committed potentially obstructive acts and that often his intent was to stymie the investigation into himself and his campaign. Barr, after consulting with senior Justice Department officials, concluded that the evidence did not support finding that Trump had committed a crime, however.
Undercutting Trump’s claim that Mueller, in addition to Barr, had cleared him of wrongdoing on obstruction, Mueller wrote that if his office had confidence that Trump did not commit obstruction, “we would so state.” But based on the facts and the law, he wrote, “we were unable to reach that judgment.”
“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred,” Mueller wrote. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — At 9:34 on the November morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and an informal envoy for President Vladimir V. Putin, sent a text message to a Lebanese-American friend with ties to the Trump campaign.
Mr. Dmitriev wanted to connect quickly with someone in Mr. Trump’s inner circle, preferably Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner. By the end of the month, he was in touch with Rick Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner’s who manages a New York hedge fund.
The two discussed a potential joint investment venture. But the special counsel’s report released Thursday suggested that Mr. Dmitriev’s real interest lay elsewhere: He had been instructed by Mr. Putin, he told Mr. Gerson, to come up with a plan for “reconciliation” between the United States and Russia.
Mr. Dmitriev and Mr. Gerson worked together on a two-page proposal for how the nations could cooperate on a variety of fronts. That document, the report said, later made its way to Mr. Kushner, Rex W. Tillerson, the incoming secretary of state, and Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist. Nothing came of the idea that the Russian sovereign fund would invest with Mr. Gerson.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
8 times the Mueller report shows Trump, White House spread false or misleading claims | PolitiFact
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report provides a behind-the-scenes reconstruction of key events in the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The redacted version of the report, released April 18 by Attorney General William Barr, verifies and supports media reports about events that Trump dismissed as "fake news." And it highlights several instances where Trump aides told the press false information, including about the firing of former FBI director James Comey.
Here’s an overview of some notable claims from Trump and his administration that turned out to be false.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  factcheck 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report: Sarah Sanders makes tortured effort to explain her lies - Vox
The press secretary is now lying about lies.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders was caught lying several times in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and now she’s defending herself with more misdirections.
During a string of media appearances following the release of the Mueller report on Thursday, Sanders has faced questions about a claim she made during a May 2017 press briefing that she later admitted was false during testimony to Mueller’s team. In an attempt to justify President Donald Trump’s decision to fire then FBI director James Comey, Sanders told reporters that “countless members of the FBI” had contacted her to say they had lost confidence in Comey, when in fact that wasn’t the case.
On Thursday evening and Friday morning, Sanders repeatedly downplayed that lie as a mere “slip of the tongue.” But as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pointed out to her in an interview on Friday morning, she used the line about “countless members of the FBI” multiple times in the days following Comey’s firing — a revelation undercutting her claim that she merely misspoke.
“You said it was a ‘slip of the tongue’ when you talked about ‘countless FBI members,’ yet you repeated it twice the very next day,” Stephanopoulos said. “That’s not a slip of the tongue, Sarah, that’s a deliberate false statement.”
Sanders, however, refused to own it, and bizarrely blamed her lie on Democrats.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
After Mueller report, Democrats divided over end game — investigate Trump or impeach - The Washington Post
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report gave House Democrats a road map for investigating President Trump and the cue they were waiting for — but the party was divided Friday over what, ultimately, should be their end game.
In one camp, a faction of Democrats determined to pursue impeachment of Trump was emboldened by the report, seizing on Mueller’s detailed findings about 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice to revive calls for delivering the ultimate congressional censure.
Ramping up the pressure for impeachment Friday were two presidential hopefuls — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration.
“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,” Warren said. “That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  Dems 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Donald Trump Sounds Like a Mafia Boss - The Atlantic
Donald Trump’s Mafia Mind-Set
Listening to a legendary American mobster and hearing the president of the United States
Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, the former underboss of the Gambino organized-crime family, is a mass murderer (19 bodies, maybe more, across his distinguished career), and also the most consequential turncoat in the history of organized crime. Gravano, whom I came to know while covering the Mob in the 1990s, had many thoughts about respect and loyalty, which he shared with me in a number of conversations. Like most mobsters—including, and especially, those who became known for their “ratting”—he was preoccupied with matters of honor.
At the time of those conversations, Gravano, whose testimony led directly to the downfall of his former boss, John Gotti, was participating in the federal witness-security program, and we met at a number of locations in the Southwest. I did not know it at the time, but while under federal protection Gravano was leading Arizona’s largest Ecstasy-distribution ring. He was also in the pool-building business.
I have not seen Gravano in a very long time—he has spent most of the past two decades in prison, after having failed to hide his drug-distribution business from his federal monitors—but my thoughts turned to him yesterday, when I read President Donald Trump’s tweet on the subject of loyalty and respect. The president, who is obviously perturbed by the felony conviction of his former campaign chair Paul Manafort and the plea deal taken by his former attorney Michael Cohen, wrote the following: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’”—a cutting reference to the Justice Department, which he oversees as the leader of the executive branch—“took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ - make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
politics  crime  trump  SMH  gov2.0 
3 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Russia Probe Ends, More Inquiries Around Trump - The Atlantic
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has wrapped up, but Trump and his associates may not be out of legal jeopardy yet.
After 675 days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is over. But President Donald Trump’s legal troubles are far from finished.
What has ended is the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, which began after the United States assessed that Moscow had intervened in the vote to tip the election in Trump’s favor. Both Trump and Russia have consistently denied this. But Mueller’s investigation has led to 215 criminal charges, 38 indictments or pleas, and five prison sentences so far. His probe ensnared Trump’s business associates, many of whom had become involved in his political career, including his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The special counsel’s office also unearthed a web of criminality, not always directly related to Russian interference.
Mueller’s probe pursued multiple lines of inquiry, spiraling out from Trump’s immediate circle into investigations implicating foreign nationals and Washington lobbyists. As a direct result of Mueller and his team’s work, at least eight people, including Manafort and Cohen, were convicted of crimes ranging from unregistered foreign lobbying to campaign-finance violations.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
3 days ago by rgl7194
20 Years After Columbine, Fed's Background Checks Haven't Stopped Mass Shootings : NPR
Twenty years ago, a pair of students killed a teacher and a dozen of their classmates at a high school in Littleton, Colo. The shooters at Columbine High School used semi-automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns in the attack before turning the guns on themselves.
Just a few months before that shooting, the FBI launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to try to prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing guns.
And in the two decades since, the federal government says it has conducted hundreds of millions of background checks. With critical shortcomings in the system, though, mass shootings continue in the U.S.
"The weakness of the NICS system is talked about mostly in the wake of a tragic shooting, which happens more often than not," says Stephen Morris, a former FBI assistant director for the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which oversees NICS.
NICS functions today much like it did 20 years ago. When someone wants to buy a firearm, a federally licensed gun dealer contacts the system. Usually within minutes, federal investigators receive the request and begin searching for clues within three main databases to approve or deny the purchase.
gov2.0  politics  guns  review 
3 days ago by rgl7194
Pelosi Says Trump Knows He Shouldn't Be President
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't hold back during an interview with 60 Minutes regarding her opinions on the capabilities of President Donald Trump.
"I think that there's nobody in the country who knows better that he should not be president of the United States than Donald Trump," Pelosi said when asked to describe the president.
60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl then asked if Pelosi thought Trump was aware he should not be president.
"I think he does. Yeah," Pelosi said. "But I respect the office he holds and, uh, he's not-- worth the trouble of saying you're so horrible we can't work together. No, we need to work together."
Working together was a frequent call from Pelosi during the interview, including among members of her own party.
"You are contending with a group in Congress: Over here on the left flank are these self-described socialists, on the right, these moderates. And you yourself said that you're the only one who can unify everybody. And the question is can you?," Stahl asked.
"By and large, whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know that we have to hold the center. That we have to be m- go down the mainstream," Pelosi said.
The congresswoman later shrugged off assertions that the Democratic party is fractured due to progressive voices like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a group that Pelosi said was "like five people."
trump  gov2.0  politics  congress  Dems  pelosi  interview  tv 
5 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report: More Disquieting Insights - WhoWhatWhy
It takes many hours to read the Mueller report, but the deeper you dig, the more arresting insights and intriguing plot twists you find.
One surprising insight: Many of the players in the Trump campaign appear to be apolitical. They don’t grasp for power; they seek what’s “good for business,” in the words of former campaign chair Paul Manafort.
Case in Point: Carter Page
Beginning on page 95, the report recounts the saga of Carter Page, candidate Trump’s foreign policy adviser. His story could have been written by Henry James, whose novels describe what happens when naïve Americans meet worldly strangers abroad. In Mueller’s account, Page is eager to make his fortune in the Russian energy business.
One of Page’s longtime contacts was Victor Podobnyy, a Russian intelligence officer. Podobnyy, in a recorded conversation with another Russian intelligence operative, said that “it was obvious he [Page] wants to earn lots of money.” Podobnyy said he fed Page lots of “empty promises” that he [Podobnyy] could help him make business deals in Russia, as a way to get useful information from him.
Page told Mueller’s investigators that he knew that some of his contacts were Russian intelligence agents, and admitted he gave “immaterial non-public information” to them, but made no apologies. “The more immaterial non-public information I give them, the better for this country.”
When he worked for the Trump campaign, Page met many officials in Russia, and sent emails bragging to Trump’s folks about all the contacts he was making and how valuable they would be.
Mueller’s team concluded that Page did not help Russians influence the election. But they also stated that they were limited in what they could find out. “Page’s activities in Russia — as described in his emails to the campaign — were not fully explained.”
When the media picked up on Page’s activities, and his advocacy of pro-Russia policies, the Trump campaign dropped him, two months before the November 2016 election.
Even then, Page sought a job with the new administration after the election. He was not hired.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report: Trump owes America contrition and plan to face Russia
A president who takes seriously his oath would be in shock to realize the astonishing level of penetration of his inner circle by agents of Russia.
The President of the United States, like all elected officials and public servants, swears to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies. But there is one responsibility the president must bear alone, and that is the obligation to act as the commander in chief, the guardian of our national security and the defender of our nation from malevolent foreign powers. The Mueller report makes clear that Donald Trump has failed miserably in this sacred obligation, and instead has traded his constitutional duty for his own safety.
Mueller’s conclusions lay to rest some — but not all — of the legal issues surrounding the Russian attempts to subvert our democratic processes. As the report notes, Mueller’s team could not find a specific agreement between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to cooperate in an operation against American institutions.
For this, we should be grateful, but that’s about as far as the good news goes.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller's Report Could Hurt Trump and the GOP in 2020 - The Atlantic
The special counsel’s findings validate the concerns of anyone who feared how Donald Trump would wield presidential power.
Beyond all the revelations about Russian entanglements and possible obstruction of justice, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report crystallizes two cardinal rules about governance in Donald Trump’s Washington. One is that Trump will shatter any boundaries of law, morality, or custom in his exercise of presidential power. The second is that Republicans—not only in Congress, but now also in the executive branch—will not restrain any of his excesses. The same holds true for both unwritten rules: They constitute a defining gamble for the GOP in future elections.
Starting with Attorney General William Barr’s staggeringly misleading press conference Thursday about the report, and extending through the blithe dismissal from congressional Republicans of its revelations, the release was yet another demonstration that there may be literally nothing Trump can do that would cause Republicans to break from him. Mueller’s report cataloged dozens of behaviors from Trump and his advisers—from sharing internal campaign polling data and strategy with a suspected agent of a foreign power to repeatedly lying to the public to systematically seeking to thwart investigations—that would have inspired volcanic eruptions of outrage from congressional Republicans and the conservative-media infrastructure if perpetrated by a Democratic president.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Colbert Rips Apart Trump's Mueller Report Reaction | Time
Stephen Colbert has some questions about the Mueller Report. Mainly, he is questioning President Donald Trump’s quote in the report, released Thursday, which concludes this investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
“We now know how Trump felt about Mueller’s investigation,” Colbert explained during his late night show monologue. “When Jeff Sessions told Trump special counsel had been appointed, Trump slumped back in his chair and said ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f–ked.” It’s quite a quote — and Colbert had a hot take: “I’m guessing that’s not how an innocent person reacts,” he suggested.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller's report looks bad for Obama (opinion) - CNN
(CNN)The partisan warfare over the Mueller report will rage, but one thing cannot be denied: Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it.
The Mueller report flatly states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the effort blossomed into a robust attempt to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on and yet did nothing. In 2016, Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to "stand down" and "knock it off" as they drew up plans to "strike back" against the Russians, according to an account from Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump".
Why did Obama go soft on Russia? My opinion is that it was because he was singularly focused on the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama wanted Putin in the deal, and to stand up to him on election interference would have, in Obama's estimation, upset that negotiation. This turned out to be a disastrous policy decision.
Obama's supporters claim he did stand up to Russia by deploying sanctions after the election to punish them for their actions. But, Obama, according to the Washington Post, "approved a modest package... with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic." In other words, a toothless response to a serious incursion.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  obama 
5 days ago by rgl7194
What the Mueller Report Reveals About the Presidency - The Atlantic
Almost 50 years after Watergate, it’s still exceedingly difficult to hold a president accountable.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report contains numerous factual revelations and, even with the redactions, rounds out what was so far known about the president’s openness to a political alliance with Russia and his dedication to obstructing any inquiry into “collusion.” Weeks will pass before the full significance of these investigative findings can be assessed. In the meantime, the report is itself evidence: a clear indication that almost 50 years after Watergate, major barriers have now settled into place against presidential accountability for serious misconduct.
First, note the impact of the two Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions immunizing the president from prosecution while in office. In a striking passage, Mueller suggests a reluctance to reach a final judgment about the president’s criminal liability if he cannot be indicted and tried—and therefore cannot defend himself.
These OLC opinions, each written in administrations of presidents who faced impeachment, have virtually no credibility. They do not purport to reflect anything like established or even clear law. It is perhaps somewhat unfair and overly simplistic to say that the premise of the opinions is that the president is too important to face accountability under the criminal-justice system. But it is neither entirely unfair nor wildly oversimplistic.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Opinion | Mueller Hints at a National-Security Nightmare - The New York Times
The missing piece of the report is a counterintelligence investigation that should set off alarm bells about our democracy and security.
The Mueller report isn’t actually close to a full account of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. That’s not just because of the redactions. When he was hired, Mr. Mueller inherited supervision of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation. That is the missing piece of the Mueller report.
President Trump may claim “exoneration” on a narrowly defined criminal coordination charge. But a counterintelligence investigation can yield something even more important: an intelligence assessment of how likely it is that someone — in this case, the president — is acting, wittingly or unwittingly, under the influence of or in collaboration with a foreign power. Was Donald Trump a knowing or unknowing Russian asset, used in some capacity to undermine our democracy and national security?
The public Mueller report alone provides enough evidence to worry that America’s own national security interests may not be guiding American foreign policy.
The counterintelligence investigation is not necessarily complete, but from the glimpses we see in the Mueller report, it should set off very serious national security alarm bells.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes  op-ed 
5 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report: Further Proof That a Savior Isn’t Coming - WhoWhatWhy
According to Sarah Kendzior, the Mueller Report doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s been happening.
In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Kendzior, the no-holds-barred commentator, calls special counsel Robert Mueller incompetent. She sees the country as being in the grip of an international crime syndicate, engaged in money laundering, fraud, and racketeering, with the express goal of bringing American democracy to its knees.
Kendzior tells Jeff Schechtman of her frustration with what she sees as an absence of moral courage and an unwillingness to acknowledge the magnitude of the country’s problems.
She explains why she thinks impeachment is absolutely necessary and asks, “if Trump isn’t impeachable, who is?” She wants to see O.J. Simpson–style hearings, live on TV, and on a daily basis, to make people aware of the criminality that she sees all around.
In fact, she says, a lot of the corruption started long before Trump, who she doesn’t believe is ever going to leave office willingly.
She says that we have to stop believing that a savior is coming. From her perspective, most politicians seem to be hell-bent on letting America roll over and die.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  podcast  transcript 
5 days ago by rgl7194
House Judiciary Chairman Nadler subpoenas full, unredacted Mueller report
The subpoena comes a day after a redacted version of the special counsel's report was made public.
WASHINGTON — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Friday subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report as well as the underlying evidence.
In a statement, Nadler said that the Justice Department must comply by May 1.
"I am open to working with the Department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials, however I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability," he said Friday.
The subpoena comes a day after Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the report to Congress and to the public, which details Trump's attempts to muddy the special counsel's probe, including efforts to tamper with witnesses, and the decision not to charge him with obstruction of justice in part because there was no underlying crime and many of the attempts were carried out in plain view.
The report also laid out numerous contacts between members of Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians, but said investigators found Trump’s team had not “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  congress 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Trump's Orders Are Routinely Disregarded by His Staff - The Atlantic
Trump keeps issuing orders, and staffers keep ignoring them because they’re illegal or unwise. It’s an unsustainable situation—but it shows no sign of abating.
It’s been another dizzying few days in Washington, starting with yet another border controversy, as President Donald Trump threatened to bus unauthorized immigrants to sanctuary cities, and ending with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which turned out to be far more damning than advertised by Trump’s attorney general.
These two very different stories have more in common than meets the eye. In each case, there’s a central tension between the president and aides who refuse to execute orders from him that they believe are illegal or foolish. Mueller’s report is packed with incidents in which White House staff not only didn’t do things Trump said, but never had any intention of doing them. In the case of the border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff rebuffed Trump’s plan to bus migrants on legal grounds; meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan refused to turn away migrants seeking asylum, concluding that it was illegal. (Nielsen was sacked soon after, while McAleenan is now her acting replacement.)
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
House asks Robert Mueller to testify by May 23 | PBS NewsHour
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is asking special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before his panel as soon as possible about his report on the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler released a three-sentence letter to Mueller requesting his appearance, minutes after Attorney General William Barr ended a news conference in which he described the special counsel’s report. The New York Democrat tweeted that Congress and the public need to hear directly from Mueller to “better understand his findings.”
Nadler wrote in his letter that he wants Mueller to testify by May 23 and asked for his “prompt attention” to the request.
Barr said at his news conference that he did not object to Mueller testifying.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  congress 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report shows Ivanka was in on the Trump Tower meeting cover-up
The first daughter Ivanka Trump was in on the effort to cover up the meeting her husband, brother, and Paul Manafort had with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
First daughter Ivanka Trump has long stayed above the fray of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
However, the Mueller report suggests that she was involved in the cover-up of the fateful Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, which was attended by Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner; her older brother, Donald Trump Jr.; and convicted former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
The evidence of Ivanka Trump's role begins on page 98 of the report, which details the moment when "senior administration officials" learned about emails setting up the Trump Tower meeting intended to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton's campaign.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Poll: Most Americans don’t think Mueller report will clear Trump - POLITICO
Most Americans do not believe that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report exonerates President Donald Trump, according to a new survey from a Democratic firm.
The poll, by the Navigator research project, was conducted between April 1-7, after Attorney General William Barr publicly released his summary of the report on March 24. Navigator describes itself as a group of top Democratic pollsters and progressive leaders focused on the party’s messaging during the Trump era.
Barr wrote in his summary that Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia but that Mueller was inconclusive on whether Trump obstructed justice. Trump and his allies immediately heralded the summary as a total exoneration, but poll respondents indicated they don’t agree.
Only 30 percent of respondents accept the president’s interpretation that he was fully exonerated of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, 45 percent said they believe the Mueller report is inconclusive, and 18 percent said they don’t know enough to make a judgment.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report suggests Congress should judge whether Trump obstructed justice - Los Angeles Times
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, in his highly anticipated report, portrayed President Trump as a mercurial leader who repeatedly and frantically sought to undermine the federal investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign.
The only thing that seemed to thwart the president's whims, Mueller wrote, was that advisors ignored his orders. The Justice Department released a redacted version of the report on Thursday.
Trump's efforts to obstruct the investigation "were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels," Mueller wrote.
"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," he continued.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  latimes 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Justice Department reportedly already tipped off Trump’s lawyers to Mueller report conclusions:
The Mueller report into Russian election meddling is scheduled to be released in all its redacted glory Thursday morning. It will be a lot of new information to quickly take in and assess for everyone involved. Everyone, that is, except for the Trump legal team, which, the New York Times reports, has already had multiple conversations with officials at the Department of Justice about the Mueller report’s conclusions. Wait, what? That’s right, the principle subject of the investigation, the president and his team, has already been briefed on the probe’s findings by the very department overseeing the inquiry, the Justice Department. Let’s not forget that congressional investigations into the president remain unresolved, making this very much an active legal matter.
Perhaps most important to Trump is the coming skirmish over public opinion and the shaping of public perception surrounding the findings. The tipping off of the president’s lawyers would certainly give Trump a leg up on crafting the narrative. The president now has the ability to get out ahead of what’s coming, much of which will likely be deeply unflattering to Trump irrespective of the conduct in question’s literal legality. If all of that seems a bit off to you, you’re obviously not the attorney general of the United States, or the president for that matter.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Where Is the Mueller Report? - The Atlantic
Before allowing the public and Congress to see it for themselves, the attorney general has called a Thursday-morning press conference.
The Justice Department said on Tuesday that it would release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, but it didn’t say how. Finally, late on Wednesday, word emerged: Attorney General William Barr will deliver a press conference at 9:30 a.m., followed by the release of the report to Congress and then the public later in the morning.
No wonder DOJ waited so long to detail the rollout: Barr’s decision is baffling. Since Mueller completed his report, Barr has made a series of judgment calls—on whether there was evidence for an obstruction-of-justice charge, on producing a summary of Mueller’s principal conclusions, and on redacting the full report. Each of these was questioned, but was arguably defensible. But Barr’s decision to hold a press conference on the report, before either the public or Congress has even had a chance to see it, doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps Barr has good reasons that he is not sharing, but based on what’s publicly known, it’s easy to wonder whether he’s trying to spin the report to Donald Trump’s benefit.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report release: William Barr trashed the DOJ to try to save Trump.
On Thursday morning, Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to release a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress and the public. Two days before that scheduled release, a federal judge issued a critical rebuke of Barr’s handling of the release of that report. “The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the public … to be concerned about whether or not there is full transparency,” said U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, on Tuesday during a Mueller-related hearing.
The judge is right. Barr’s handling of the report has only served to sow public distrust of the Justice Department. As a former federal prosecutor, I would go further: The attorney general’s transparent efforts to protect President Donald Trump have done enormous damage to the department.
Here are just some of the ways that Barr has failed the public and the Justice Department he heads.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Report Is Bad News For Trump Ally And Blackwater Founder Erik Prince | HuffPost
The special counsel’s team suggested Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, lied to Congress, and it portrayed the mercenary as amateurish.
The Trump administration’s informal foreign policy adviser Erik Prince, who is best known for founding a military contracting firm called Blackwater that massacred 14 Iraqis in 2007 and who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, appears to have lied to Congress about conducting an unsophisticated effort to connect the White House and the Kremlin, according to the redacted report of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, released Thursday.
Mueller’s team interviewed Prince, former White House adviser Steve Bannon and George Nader, a convicted pedophile who works for the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. ally, and reviewed text messages, emails and other relevant data.
The report doesn’t explicitly say Prince lied under oath, which is in keeping with a so-called “queen for a day” immunity offered to those interviewed in the investigation. Mueller also did not indict Prince, as he did other associates of President Donald Trump. But the special counsel depicts his interactions with a well-connected Russian, Kirill Dmitriev, very differently from the way Prince did when he spoke with the House Intelligence Committee as part of its own inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
And along the way, Mueller drily notes how the American mercenary ― who pitches himself internationally as a mastermind who can maneuver terrain from Afghanistan to sub-Saharan Africa ― behaves in bush-league style.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller had everything he needed to charge Trump with obstruction, but didn't - CNNPolitics
Washington (CNN)If Robert Mueller wanted to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction, he found all he needed to do it.
And he found it on multiple fronts. But he didn't make a decision on whether to bring the case.
Mueller's report Thursday walked through excruciating detail of evidence in the obstruction of justice investigation and legal analysis, hitting over and over again how prosecutors had enough to meet the legal threshold for a case against Trump.
The special counsel examined multiple incidents for potential obstruction. It showed how Trump's actions crossed the threshold for a case when Trump confronted former FBI Director James Comey to "let" national security adviser Michael Flynn go; when Trump fired Comey; when Trump directed his former White House counsel Don McGahn to shut down Mueller; and when Trump tweeted about his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's charges as he headed to trial.
In each of these situations, Mueller found evidence that Trump took steps to harm an investigation, had the ability to harm an investigation and had a personal motivation to harm the investigation.
The decision not to charge Trump with a crime means the President and his allies can claim a clean victory following the nearly two-year probe, but the evidence Mueller gathered and that Congress can still investigate suggests that conclusions about the President's actions could still come.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report Is Much Worse For Trump Than Barr Let On | WIRED
IF DONALD TRUMP isn’t guilty of obstruction of justice, who ever could be?
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, made public Thursday in redacted form (on CD, natch), outlined over nearly half of those pages how the president reacted to and fumed over the Russia probe, seeking to undermine it, curtail it, and even fire the special counsel himself.
The first section of the Mueller report details Russia’s efforts to upend the 2016 presidential campaign, and scrutinizes the many interactions between Trump associates and Russia. But it’s in the second half, which provides a litany of instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, that the real bombshells await.
‘I’m fucked’
According to the report, Trump reacted to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in May 2017 as follows: “Oh my God, this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
And then, as Mueller lays out in sometimes lurid detail, in at least 10 episodes over the ensuing months Trump sought to block or stop that very investigation. He did so even as Mueller doggedly made public the “sweeping and systematic fashion” in which the Russian government attacked the 2016 presidential election, and brought serious criminal charges—and won guilty pleas—from a half-dozen of the president’s top campaign aides.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Leaves It to Congress to Decide Whether Trump Obstructed Justice – Mother Jones
The special counsel report is at odds with the attorney general’s contention that Congress shouldn’t make that call.
Special counsel Robert Mueller decided it would not be appropriate for him to determine whether President Donald Trump had committed the crime of obstructing justice through his actions that threatened to derail Mueller’s investigation. But Mueller specifically left open the possibility for Congress to make that determination—concluding in his report that Congress has the power to continue its own investigation and consider the facts laid out in his report.
“With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” the redacted report, released Thursday, states. 
The report continues: “The separation-of-powers doctrine authorizes Congress to protect official proceedings, including those of courts and grand juries, from corrupt, obstructive acts regardless of their source…The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” 
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Sally Yates just honored Mueller and infuriated Trump with powerful Time Magazine profile
On the eve of the day when the American people will finally get their first look at the actual Mueller report — in a redacted form at least — former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates paid tribute to the man behind the two-year inquiry that preceded the report by authoring the biography of her former Justice Department colleague for Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019.
Yates – who was a pivotal figure in the events that led to the appointment of the Special Counsel after her warning to the Trump administration that their newly installed National Security director could be compromised by Russian intelligence — celebrated her tribute to the stoic and determined public servant by tweeting it out for her numerous Twitter followers to see,
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller’s Report Doesn’t Exonerate Trump. But Does That Matter? | FiveThirtyEight
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election finally became public this morning, with an explanation for why he didn’t come to a conclusion about whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice that appeared to be in tension with Attorney General William Barr’s interpretation of the report. In a press conference before Mueller’s report was released, Barr offered an explanation for his decision not to prosecute the president on obstruction of justice charges, saying that he believes that regardless of whether Trump actually committed obstructive acts, he’s satisfied that the president had “non-corrupt motives.”
Mueller’s report, however, is darker and more ambiguous. Mueller’s team found “multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.” And in many cases, Trump was kept out of further legal hot water by his staff’s unwillingness to carry out his directives, such as when his White House counsel refused to fire Mueller. Mueller pointedly wrote in the introduction to the section of the report dealing with obstruction that the report did not “exonerate” Trump. Mueller also wrote that he didn’t try to come to a conclusion about the president’s innocence or guilt because of a longstanding Justice Department policy that prevents a sitting president from being charged and put on trial — which he saw himself as bound by.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
6 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report: The First Hundred Pages - WhoWhatWhy
It is nearly as long and as chock-full of Russian names as any novel by Tolstoy. It is such good reading that it should not be left to the pundits to digest. Dive right in and you’ll almost immediately come up with intriguing tidbits.
First, there’s a “caveat emptor” message from the author:
On page 10 of the report: Mueller lists all the limitations of the investigation, including the lack of communications that would corroborate witness reports. Some of that evidence was “deleted,” or it was sent via encrypted communication, or through apps that don’t retain conversations. Some witnesses lived abroad, and others took the 5th.
Mueller concludes: “given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.”  
And throughout its pages, we come across interesting lines of investigation that Mueller did not pursue.
On page 50: The investigation identifies Russian operatives who successfully penetrated state boards of elections, managing to install malware on the Illinois voter-registration database, which contained information on a million voters. Russians also tried to hack into companies that made election software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations. But Mueller left others — state investigators, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI — to follow up.
On pages 59–60: Entertaining reading on Donald Trump Jr.’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks even wrote back at one point: “It is great to see you and your dad talking about our publications.”
Beginning at page 67: The whole Trump Tower Project has the feel of a Trump “gang who couldn’t shoot straight” getting conned by a variety of Russian operatives. Cohen’s emails to one Russian never arrived because he had the wrong address.
On page 93: After recounting the funny-sad saga of George Papadopoulos, the investigators cannot determine whether Papadopoulos told the Trump campaign that Russia had the Clinton emails, even though the representatives of two foreign governments said that he had told them. Neither Papadopoulos nor any member of the Trump campaign could “recall” him reporting this significant fact.
We’ll be bringing you our insights from the rest of the report as we continue reading it.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Politics Podcast: The Fallout From The Mueller Report Has Just Begun | FiveThirtyEight
The U.S. Department of Justice released a redacted version of the full Mueller report Thursday. On this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew reacts to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that the Trump campaign did not criminally conspire with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. The report came to no conclusion about the criminality of President Trump’s actions during the investigation.
Also, the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recording a live podcast in Houston on May 8. Find more information and tickets here.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN app or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with additional episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  538  podcast 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Is The Mueller Report A BFD? | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to a special, extra edition of FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
sarahf (Sarah Frostenson, politics editor): At long last, we have special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And compared with Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the report, which he sent to Congress last month, it paints a murkier picture of whether President Trump might have obstructed justice; for example, the report includes details of the president attempting to fire the special counsel.
Ultimately, though, Mueller’s team wrote that it did not have the confidence to clearly state that the president either did or did not obstruct justice and that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
So, tell me … now that we have the report, is it a BFD?
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Read the Mueller Report: Searchable Document - The New York Times
These findings, from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, detail his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The document has been redacted by the Justice Department.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes  search 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Daring Fireball: The Mueller Report
We’ve all been bombarded by news alerts on Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel report today. I’ve spent most of my day reading it. I strongly suggest all of you do the same.
Yes, it’s effectively a book, and not a short one, but it is incredibly well written and structured. That’s not a surprise to me — we knew Mueller hired a team of excellent attorneys, and good lawyers are good writers. But the information density is very high — no summary or simple list of highlights can do it justice. It is 400+ pages not because it is padded with extraneous details or legal jargon, but because it contains 400+ pages of evidence and narrative. It reads almost like a novel.
And like any good novel, it begins with a bracing opening line:
The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  daring_fireball 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller discovered new ways Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election - CNNPolitics
New York (CNN)While Washington debates how damaging the Mueller report is for President Donald Trump, there is no doubt about its verdict that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a "sweeping and systematic fashion."
The 448-page report provides new details on what was a coordinated and extensive Russian government effort to undermine the US electoral process.
Amongst the more striking revelations in the report are claims that Russian government hackers managed to compromise a Florida county's election systems and that Russia attempted to hack Hillary Clinton's campaign just five hours after Trump publicly appealed for her deleted emails.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report: the case Trump obstructed justice, in one paragraph - Vox
This is one of the most important paragraphs in Mueller’s report.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation does not reach a hard conclusion on whether President Donald Trump should be charged with obstruction of justice. But it’s certainly very suggestive about Trump’s actions and intent.
One paragraph in the report is especially pertinent here:
In this investigation, the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference. But the evidence does point to a range of other possible personal motives animating the President’s conduct. These include concerns that continued investigation would call into question the legitimacy of his election and potential uncertainty about whether certain events — such as advance notice of WikiLeaks’s release of hacked information or the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians — could be seen as criminal activity by the President, his campaign, or his family.
In short, Mueller did not find evidence that Trump directly colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election — so he probably wasn’t obstructing justice to cover up a secret plot with the Russians.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
What's in the Mueller report? CNN breaks it down - CNN Video
After the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report, CNN analyzed the major takeaways and discussed what might happen next.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  video 
6 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report Is an Invitation to Congress to Impeach Donald Trump - GQ
The special counsel didn't draw sweeping conclusions, but he gave lawmakers everything they need to hold the president accountable.
After three-plus weeks of feverish speculation about what, exactly, special counsel Robert Mueller uncovered during his two-year investigation of Donald Trump, attorney general William Barr at last released a redacted version of the Mueller report to the public on Thursday morning.
Until today, the only official word about what the Trump campaign may have known about Russian interference in the 2016 election—and what the president may have done to conceal this information after taking the oath of office—came from a bizarre, cagey, four-page letter in which Barr happily asserted that the report, which at that time only he had reviewed, cleared the president who appointed him of any and all wrongdoing. The report itself, however, reveals Barr's letter to be a transparent spin attempt at best, and a collection of brazen lies at worst. More importantly, it contains mountains of evidence that President Trump in fact obstructed justice, and it is a clear invitation to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings at its earliest convenience.
Although Barr acknowledged in his letter that the special counsel "did not draw a conclusion—one way or the other—as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction," he stated that after examining Mueller's findings, he had determined that they were "not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." The attorney general was careful to add that his determination was "made without regard to, and is not based on" a Clinton-era policy authored by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which asserts that presidents cannot be subject to criminal prosecution while they are in office.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report: Stephen Colbert and Hollywood have a field day with its findings - Los Angeles Times
As the public pored over the redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation on Thursday, celebrities and politicians weighed in on what the report meant for President Trump.
The 448-page report — divided into sections on collusion and obstruction — did not conclude that the president committed a crime but detailed “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”
It also confirmed that Russians interfered in the 2016 election.
The report’s rollout began Thursday morning with Atty. Gen. William P. Barr’s press conference, which critics, including 2020 presidential candidates, said focused on presenting Trump’s point of view rather than a balanced summary of the Mueller report’s findings.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  latimes  twitter 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Carl Bernstein: Mueller report is the 'most damning' document - CNN Video
Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein discusses the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's "sprawling account" of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  video 
6 days ago by rgl7194
27 times Trump can’t remember - POLITICO
More than two dozen times, Trump’s answers to Mueller included phrases “I can’t remember” or “I do not recall.”
Following the release of the redacted Mueller report, President Donald Trump’s lawyers provided the full transcript of Trump’s written answers to questions Mueller posed to the president during his investigation.
More than two dozen times, Trump’s answers included phrases like “I can’t remember” or “I do not recall.”
Trump’s lawyers took issue with Mueller’s questions, saying they invited “speculative answers” because they were be based on “brief interactions” that took place more than two years earlier during “an extraordinarily eventful and fast-paced presidential election campaign.” The lawyers said that the questions, many of them pertaining to alleged communications with foreign operatives, would be “burdensome” for any person to remember, let alone the president of the United States.
Following are the 27 things Trump couldn’t recall. The full letter, questions and answers can be found here.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report ropes in Senate GOP - POLITICO
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr apparently supplied the White House counsel’s office with information about the Russia probe.
The Senate GOP found itself ensnared in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report Thursday, with new revelations about Sen. Richard Burr's communications with the White House and details about a GOP aide’s quest to obtain Hillary Clinton‘s emails.
Though the vast majority of the report centered on Russian influence in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s apparent efforts to undercut Mueller’s probe, the report also offers a window into how the broad investigations have touched on individual senators and even a relatively unknown congressional staffer. It also shows how eager the White House was for insight into the series of federal probes that were launched early in Trump’s presidency.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Burr (R-N.C.), for instance, apparently supplied the White House counsel's office with information about FBI investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to the report. The report says that on March 9, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed congressional leaders and intelligence committee heads on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference. That briefing included "an identification of the principal U.S. subjects of the investigation."
Burr then corresponded with the White House a week later about the Russia probes, and the White House counsel's office, led by Don McGahn, "appears to have received information about the status of the FBI investigation," the special counsel report said.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
The stranger parts of the Mueller report you may have missed - BBC News
It's here - at long last the mammoth report into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election has arrived.
But while some have been wrestling with the grave political and constitutional questions the report raises the 448-page redacted document had lighter moments too. Here's the best of them.
Mueller disputed fees at a Trump golf course
In the days following the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate accusations of collusion with Russia, the president aired concerns to his inner circle, including then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, that there were conflicts of interest.
These included that Mr Mueller had interviewed for the FBI Director position shortly before his appointment and that he had worked for a law firm that represented people affiliated with the president.
However, the third and final concern was more bizarre as Mr Trump claimed that Mr Mueller had "disputed certain fees relating to his membership in a Trump golf course in northern Virginia".
Mr Bannon is said to have rejected all three claims, in particular calling the golf course dispute "ridiculous and petty".
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  bbc 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report: winners and losers - Vox
Let’s do this.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on President Trump’s ties to Russia is out, after what felt like an eternity of waiting. Of course, the report is massive — 400 pages, roughly — and hard to get through quickly. So what do its findings ultimately mean for President Trump, his top aides, and all the other players in the long-running Russia saga?
Well, we here at Vox have been combing through the report to answer those questions. And there’s a lot in there, things that shed light on questions ranging from whether the president committed obstruction (quite possibly) to why Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower wasn’t illegal (Junior is too ignorant, more or less) to whether the media bungled this entire story (no, surprisingly!).
So what follows is a kind of one-stop shop for understanding Mueller, through the lens of seven of the most important people and institutions that have been a part of the Trump Russia scandal — a guide to who comes out looking better, and who comes out looking a whole lot worse.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report documents Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders lying to press - Vox
From Comey to Trump Tower, the report documents — without even trying — how easily Trump’s press secretaries lie for him.
Donald Trump lies all the time, and his administration officials often end up lying on this behalf.
We know this. We’ve known this since the day after his inauguration, when then-press secretary Sean Spicer gave an angry press conference insisting that Trump had record crowds to watch him get sworn in.
But it’s striking that the Mueller report — in which Spicer and his successor, Sarah Sanders, are peripheral figures at best — still manages to incidentally document at least seven instances of Trump’s press secretaries lying, four of them in the 24 hours after Trump summarily fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017.
These aren’t all the times that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report proves that Trump administration officials were lying, or even all the times it shows Sanders and Spicer were lying. It is limited to the cases in which the lie is noted in the report, as well as the truth it ended up obscuring.
If the Mueller report is a testimony to just how big the difference is between “unequivocally a crime” and “an okay thing to do” — and arguably it is — having your press people lie routinely and without apparent regret about important things is a pretty representative motif. No one would argue that what Spicer or Sanders are documented doing here is criminally chargeable, but it’s still bad for democracy.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Report Lays Out Trump’s Attempts to Curtail Inquiry - WSJ
Special counsel doesn’t establish campaign links to Moscow were part of a criminal conspiracy
WASHINGTON—Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report outlined efforts by President Trump to curtail or shut down his investigation, but it also made clear why the special counsel didn’t pursue charges of obstruction of justice and why contacts with Russians by the Trump campaign didn’t amount to a criminal conspiracy.
The 448-page report, released Thursday with portions redacted, follows a nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and ties to Mr. Trump’s campaign. Mr. Mueller, explaining in the report why he didn’t pursue a charge of obstruction against the president, cited in part Justice Department guidance that a sitting president can’t be indicted.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Trump’s greatest sin wasn’t what we thought it was - The Washington Post
It has long been presumed that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation was based on an original sin: President Trump’s May 2017 decision to fire James B. Comey as director of the FBI.
But Mueller’s long-awaited report argues that an action of greater potential criminality on the president’s part was one that came a month later, on June 17.
On that Saturday, Trump twice telephoned his then-White House counsel Donald McGahn from Camp David and told McGahn to get rid of Mueller himself.
Though one of the qualifications required of those who work for this president is a high tolerance for his impulsive and questionable behavior, the White House counsel was shocked when Trump told him, “Mueller has to go.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things. - The New York Times
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of President Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.
1. Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Mr. Trump that a special counsel had been appointed in May 2017, Mr. Trump grew angry: “I’m fucked,” he said, believing his presidency was ruined. He told Mr. Sessions, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller, only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. In June 2017, the president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn resisted. Rather than carry out the president’s order, he decided he would rather resign.
Two days later, Mr. Trump asked another trusted adviser, Corey Lewandowski, to tell Mr. Sessions to end the investigation. Mr. Lewandowski did not want to, so he punted to a colleague, Rick Dearborn. He, too, “was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller’s report paints a damning portrait of Trump’s presidency - The Washington Post
The Trump presidency long has been an exercise in normalizing extraordinary behavior, with President Trump repeatedly stretching the limits of what is considered appropriate conduct by the nation’s chief executive. The report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III puts into high relief the degree to which Trump has violated the norms.
The principal focus of the special counsel’s investigation was on questions of criminality. But there is more than the issue of what rises to the level of criminal conspiracy or criminal obstruction when judging a president and his administration. These are questions that go to the heart of what is acceptable or normal or advisable in a democracy. On that basis, the Mueller report provides a damning portrait of the president and those around him for actions taken during the 2016 campaign and while in office.
The 448-page document is replete with evidence of repeated lying by public officials and others (some of whom have been charged for that conduct), of the president urging advisers not to tell the truth, of the president seeking to shut down the investigation, of a Trump campaign hoping to benefit politically from Russian hacking and leaks of information damaging to its opponent, of a White House in chaos and operating under abnormal rules.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Trump claimed he couldn’t ‘remember’ at least 30 times when answering Mueller team’s questions – ThinkProgress
The attorney general said Thursday morning the White House cooperated fully. Trump didn't, says the SCO.
The special counsel’s report on election meddling found President Donald Trump provided insufficient answers to their written questions and refused to sit for an interview with investigators, effectively refusing to fully cooperate with the investigation.
Attorney General William Barr, just minutes before the report was released, falsely told reporters that the White House had “fully cooperated” with the investigation.
It took the special counsel “more than a year” to obtain written answers from the president, according to the report. Those answers would be sworn testimony subject to perjury charges if the president answered questions falsely.
Investigators found the president’s answers insufficient in several ways. They wrote in the report that the White House stated on more than 30 occasions that he “does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’ of information called for by the questions.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
William Barr’s been accused of a presidential cover-up before – VICE News
The attorney general has spent much of his career protecting presidents. Will the Mueller report be any different?
WASHINGTON — Weeks before former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s criminal trial over his role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra scandal, then-Attorney General William Barr dropped a bomb on the prosecution.
“People in the Iran-Contra affair have been treated very unfairly,” Barr told USA Today in December 1992, blasting the charges as illegitimate. “People in this Iran-Contra matter have been prosecuted for the kind of conduct that would not have been considered criminal or prosecutable by the Justice Department.”
Weinberger faced charges of lying to Congress, brought by a special prosecutor, then known as an “independent counsel,” who accused him of withholding 1,700 pages of notes about high-level meetings that allegedly held “evidence of a conspiracy.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Trump Jr. just tried to take a Mueller report victory lap and got humiliated by people who actually read it
Trump’s Attorney General William Barr finally released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report today, and the administration is claiming it as a victory (which they were doing before it was even released) despite the fact that it contains incredibly damning information about the president, including ten instances where Mueller probed whether or not Trump attempted to obstruct justice.
The fact that Barr, the president’s handpicked hack, chose not to pursue obstruction charges should surprise absolutely no one familiar with how deeply corrupt Republican politics have become. This morning, before the report was made public, Barr gave an embarrassingly sycophantic press conference in which he went out of his way to shield his boss from criticism. Already, critics are predicting that he will go down as one of the worst attorneys general in American history.
Add your name to demand Senate Republicans allow a vote on the bipartisan bill to make Mueller's report public. We deserve the truth!
The president’s namesake buffoon of a son is ecstatic, presumably because he lacks the attention span or basic literacy to understand what a deeply unflattering portrait of him the report paints. In reality, it’s possible that he could still face criminal proceedings, perhaps for breaking anti-hacking laws.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  twitter 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Report on Trump's Written Answers, No Interview - Bloomberg
President avoided having to testify in person to Mueller team
Special counsel determined court fight would take too long
President Donald Trump escaped a subpoena forcing him to testify -- despite offering only written answers that the special counsel determined to be “inadequate” -- because Robert Mueller’s office was wary of the “substantial delay” from a legal battle.
Mueller’s decision to forgo a court fight to compel the president’s testimony may be one of Trump’s biggest victories during the probe and came despite the president frustrating investigators by saying more than two dozen times in his written responses that he did not recall or remember critical events during and after his presidential campaign.
[Related: ‘Oh My God...I’m F---ed’: Trump Called Mueller Appointment the ‘End of My Presidency’]
“We made that decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation,” according to the special counsel’s report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.
“We also assessed that based on the significant body of evidence we had already obtained of the president’s actions and his public and private statements describing or explaining those actions, we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the president’s testimony.”
That includes Trump saying he didn’t recall knowing about the now-famous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower when top members of his campaign met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer to discuss possible dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Dems blast Barr’s ‘campaign press conference’ for Trump - POLITICO
House and Senate Democrats reacted with fury to Attorney General William Barr’s rollout of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, accusing him of acting more like the personal attorney for President Donald Trump than the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
In a 22-minute press conference, Barr repeatedly defended Trump, using talking points that Democrats said could have been written by the White House.
“There was in fact no collusion,” Barr said a press conference ahead of the release of the 400-page report — a move that had already prompted fierce backlash among Democrats on Capitol Hill. Barr repeated the “no collusion” line three more times, as well as stating Mueller “did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign.”
Democrats reacted with shock and rage, questioning why the attorney general would even hold the event hours before the report was released to Congress and the public.
“Now that President @realDonaldTrump's campaign press conference is over: It's time for Congress and the American public to see the #MuellerReport,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
A key part of the Mueller Report just opened the door for legally punishing Trump on obstruction of justice
This morning, the nation finally got its hands on a copy — albeit a heavily and obviously strategically redacted one — of Special Counsel Mueller’s report on President Trump and his campaign’s alleged effort to collude with agents of the Russian Federation.
Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr tried his best to muddy the waters this morning by holding a press conference in which he repeated over and over that there was “no collusion” and made the bizarre argument that somehow the president had to be innocent because he was emotionally distressed by the investigation.
It was an obvious partisan stunt designed to protect the president and dictate the narrative before the report itself dropped, and once it did, it was clear why they felt the need to do so.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Here’s what we know about the cost of the Mueller investigation | PolitiFact
Special Counsel Robert Mueller ended his investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election without accusing President Donald Trump or his campaign of conspiring or coordinating with the Russian government.
Given the favorable outcome, Republicans renewed their attention on the cost of the investigation, which stretched on for nearly two years.

"The total reported cost of the Special Counsel’s investigation through September 2018 was $25,215,853.00," said a March 24 tweet from the Republican National Committee. "The Mueller investigation will go down in history as one of the widest ranging and most expensive Special Counsel investigations ever."
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, in a March 25 Fox News interview, claimed that the investigation "cost actually about $40 million."
What are the facts on the cost of the Mueller investigation? Here’s what we know, though there’s more data to come.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  factcheck 
6 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller report: What you need to know | PolitiFact
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report presents a sweeping narrative of Russia’s 2016 election interference and clears the Trump campaign of criminally conspiring with the Kremlin. It also details the president’s efforts to curtail the nearly two-year probe, though Mueller declined to say whether or not Trump’s conduct amounted to illegal obstruction.
The report reaffirms the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia favored Trump over Hillary Clinton, and notes that the Trump campaign believed it would benefit  on Election Day from Moscow's interference.
But Mueller found the Kremlin’s acts on Trump’s behalf and numerous contacts between the campaign and Russia didn't rise to the level of criminal conspiracy or coordination. These contacts comprise the report’s first volume, which is heavily redacted in some sections, mostly owing to its use of material that relates to cases still being pursued by other prosecutors.
In the report’s second volume, Mueller’s team documented 10 instances of Trump trying to impede the investigation or directing his staff to do so (including firing Mueller). Ultimately, Mueller chose not to say whether Trump did or did not obstruct justice.  
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  factcheck 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Has Protected Trump and Hurt the Country - The Atlantic
The special counsel should have offered an opinion on whether Trump criminally obstructed justice.
There is much in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to concern the American public. It recounts a tale of Russian electoral interference that everyone (save President Donald Trump) now recognizes as extensive. And it details a course of obstructive conduct by the president that borders on criminality.
Yet Mueller reached no conclusion about the president’s behavior, and that is an even greater concern. For in elevating the institution of the president above the rule of law, Mueller has done a disservice to the nation.
With almost the very first words of Volume II of his report—the section on obstruction of justice—Mueller tells us that he flinched. He says that, in the end, his office declined to “apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgement that the President committed crimes.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller report aims to squash WikiLeaks Seth Rich conspiracy theory | PolitiFact
The Mueller report might not end the debate over what President Donald Trump did, but it has scuttled one conspiracy theory involving a murdered Democratic party staffer and WikiLeaks.
Well into 2017, Fox News host Sean Hannity championed the hunt for details about 27-year-old Seth Rich, who was shot and killed near his home in Washington, D.C., not long before the first WikiLeaks dump of Democratic emails in July 2016. Rich had been working on voter access projects for the Democratic National Committee. The police believed he was the victim of a botched robbery.
Hannity and others thought Rich had been killed because, as the conspiracy theory goes, he was the true source — not Russia — of the DNC files that WikiLeaks shared with the world to damage Hillary Clinton.
At one point, Fox News aired, and then quickly retracted, a report that said the FBI had proof that Rich was WikiLeaks’ source. (We dug into the lawsuit that Fox News drew in the wake of that broadcast. The suit was unsuccessful.)
The special counsel’s report places WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange at the epicenter of those rumors about Rich.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  factcheck 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Read the redacted Mueller report | PolitiFact
Attorney General Bill Barr released a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report about Russian interference and the Trump campaign to Congress and the American people April 18, 2019. Read it below.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  PDF  factcheck 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller Report Text: Collusion, Obstruction Summaries - The Atlantic
The details the special counsel apparently found most important for the public to know
Attorney General William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on Thursday. Contained therein were the summaries Mueller’s team prepared for the nearly 450-page-long document—presumably, the details he felt were most important for the public to know.
The report details Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and details 10 episodes the special counsel examined related to obstruction of justice. According to Barr, four types of information have been redacted, related to grand-jury material, the intelligence community’s sources and methods, ongoing cases, and the privacy of “peripheral third parties.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
In Context: Comparing Bill Barr’s summary of Mueller's findings to the publicly released report | PolitiFact
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr issued a four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s key findings nearly a month before publicly releasing an estimated 400-page redacted version of Mueller’s report.
Barr’s March 24 summary outlined what he called Mueller’s "principal conclusions" on the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, whether the Trump campaign conspired in those efforts and if President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
Barr’s summary included a few direct quotes from Mueller’s report that were enough to prompt Trump to claim "complete vindication," and for Democrats to demand a quick release of the full report.
Now that the report is public, here’s broader context surrounding the quotes that Barr included in his summary. Worth noting: The report said "a statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts." In other words, available evidence was not enough to make a conclusion, and Mueller is not claiming to have exhausted every possible line of investigation.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump  factcheck 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller found 10 instances of potential obstruction, but Barr cleared Trump anyway – VICE News
Attorney General William Barr delivered a full-throated defense of President Donald Trump Thursday, using Trump’s own repeated claim — “no collusion” — to describe the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, even before the public or Congress has had a chance to see it.
He repeated that phrase several times, and described Trump’s “sincere frustration” with the 400-page report that Barr said he’ll release to congressional leaders at 11 a.m. Right after the press conference ended, the 72-year-old president tweeted an apparent “Game of Thrones” reference: an image with the same typeface as the show, along with “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats, game over.”
Barr said that while the report showed Russia worked extensively to influence the election, no American was involved in the effort. As to whether the president obstructed justice by firing the head of the FBI, James Comey, Barr said he concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to reach a determination, despite Mueller laying out 10 accounts of potential obstruction and supporting legal theories. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, however, “disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  election  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  report  russia  special_counsel  trump 
6 days ago by rgl7194
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