GONZO’S WORLD: DOJ #3 RACHEL BRAND FLEES SINKING SHIP TO SAVE CAREER – FINDS REFUGE AT WALMART – No, It’s Not Normal For The Associate AG To Leave After 9 Months! – But, Who Ever Said The Trump/GONZO DOJ Is “Normal?”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/rachel-brand-is-leaving-doj-are-we-headed-for-a-massacre.html

“In a surprise move, Rachel Brand is stepping down as the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, the New York Timesreported on Friday. Brand was next in line to oversee the special counsel’s Russia inquiry after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brand’s departure could have enormous consequences for Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and President Donald Trump.

The New York Times has reported that Trump considered firing Rosenstein and Mueller over the summer, a situation that would have been reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre and the firing of Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Trump will now get to hand-pick a replacement for Brand, who would step in to take over the investigation should he or she be confirmed by the Senate and should Rosenstein go. It’s also been noted that Rosenstein may ultimately have to recuse himself from the investigation; in that case, he wouldn’t even have to be fired for the Trump selection to take control of the investigation into Trump.

Last March, Trump issued an executive order modifying the line of succession for an acting attorney general, the person who would be in control of Mueller’s inquiry since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. According to that order, under normal procedures, a potential replacement for either Brand or Rosenstein to oversee the Russia inquiry would need Senate confirmation.

Fordham Law professor and occasional Slate contributor Jed Shugerman has laid out the potential orders of succession at the current moment. According to the vacancy statutes, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be designated by Jeff Sessions as acting attorney general if Rosenstein were to depart, and he’d be followed by the assistant attorneys general. The next in line after that would typically be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a position which is being vacated by Dana Boente. Since Boente is leaving that job, it would go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr.

It’s worth noting that the executive order says Trump “retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law” to go around this line of succession to select an acting attorney general on his own. But doing so in an effort to squelch an investigation into himself, his allies, and his family would conceivably be such a transparent effort to subvert the rule of law as to be a political liability even within the Republican Party.

Rosenstein has been personally attacked by Trump. He has come under additional fire recentlyfrom critics of the Russia investigation, who have been using a concocted and false narrative from a recently declassified talking points memo to go after the FBI, Mueller, and Rosenstein. When Trump was asked by reporters if he still had confidence in Rosenstein last week, he responded “you figure that one out.”

Brand is reportedly leaving to become the head of global corporate governance at Walmart. The move feels possibly odd for someone who has served in three presidential administrations, cultivated a reputation as a devoted public servant, and who has only been in her current job less than one year.

Politico’s Eliana Johnson reported that someone close to Brand and the administration said she was leaving “because she is very smart, accomplished, and talented, and wants to protect her career.”

Brand worked in the George W. Bush administration and has been considered a rising conservative legal star for more than a decade. It seems very possible that staying in that DOJ position might have ultimately left her facing a very difficult situation career-wise. In a world where Rosenstein was fired and Brand was placed in charge of the Mueller probe, she might have to choose between obeying a Trump order that might upend the rule of law and being fired by Trump. As congressional and mainstream Republicans have moved closer towards Trump’s apparent anti-Mueller, anti-rule of law position, such martyrdom does not sound like it would help her future in the GOP.

Either decision might have done long-term damage to Brand’s future career prospects in any branch of government.

Brand’s move, however, preemptively abdicates that possible decision, quite possibly leaving it to a Trump-approved successor. As Elie Mystal, the executive editor at Above the Law, wrotefollowing the news, it seems as though we might be rolling towards a “slow moving Saturday Night Massacre.”

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Gee, Jeremy, I’m only a retired Immigration Judge (and 35 year vet of the DOJ), but I don’t view this a much of a “surprise.”

Brand has a reputation as as a smart lawyer, perhaps the smartest of the “Sessions crew.” As opposed to someone like the buffoonish racist White Nationalist xenophobe Stevie Miller or the often incoherently bias spewing Sessions himself, Brand was a low-key “doer.” She actually did a “bang up job” of implementing the Sessions alt right, anti-civil rights, anti-due process, anti-minority, anti-civil-liberties, anti-diversity, homophobic agenda at the DOJ.

She obviously sees “Armageddon” coming to the realm of “Gonzo Apocalypto” and wants to get out before she is left in the “lose-lose” position (that both Trump & Sessions have a penchant for creating) of having to become “Trump’s patsy” in the Russia investigation or maintaining her integrity, getting fired, and getting on Trump’s “S-list.”

This way, she can get out of the way of the “train wreck,” make some real money, and preserve her reputation in both right-wing legal circles and with Trump. That sets her up as a possible Cabinet appointee in a future, somewhat saner GOP Administration, or even to be a Trump nominee for a Federal Judgeship.

Smart, Rachel!

PWS

02-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: NO DEFENSE! – SESSIONS MIA AS TRUMP AND GOP ATTACK INTEGRITY OF DOJ!

https://www.newsmax.com/politics/attorney-general-department-of-justice-the-new-york-times-doj/2018/02/05/id/841477/

Brian Freeman reports for Newsmax:

“Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.

“What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”

Many prosecutors say Sessions’ tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.

“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”

Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents “the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department” and he had “great confidence in the men and women of this department,” many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, “But no department is perfect.”

One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.

Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.

“Sessions’ silence is evidence that Trump’s public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working,” said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. “It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process.”

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The law enforcement community might have thought that they were getting a strong defender/advocate in the right-winger Sessions. After all, he’s out to bust those recreational legalized marijuana users and hard-working maids and janitors who have been in the U.S. without documents for decades waiting for the immigration reform that never came because he helped block it in the Senate.

But, what they actually got was a disingenuous “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist interested primarily in advancing his racially inspired agenda at the expense of the U.S. justice system and anyone who might stand in the way. Oh yeah, and a guy who is also very interested in “covering his own tail.” That’s why he didn’t hesitate to hire DC Lawyer Chuck Cooper to defend him once his continuing “memory lapses” came to light in the Russia investigation and things started “hitting the fan.”

A guy with no time for the rights of African-Americans Latinos, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, women, or apparently his subordinates and employees at the DOJ seems to have an excellent sense of his own rights and self-preservation. And, he isn’t so silent when it comes to an opportunity for slandering and diminishing the achievements of DACA recipients, Immigrants, sanctuary cities, asylum seekers, or people of color who are supposed to be entitled to justice and protection from his more or less “Whites only” DOJ.

PWS

02-06-18

 

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM @ POLITICO: WILL VLADI EVER GET TIRED OF WINNING? – NOT LIKELY IF THE “PUPPET PRESIDENT,” “AGENT DEVON,” AND VLADI’S GOP “FELLOW TRAVELERS” HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT! — “This memo just plays right into that. … This is exactly what Putin had in mind.”

Matthew Nussbaum reports:

POLITICO

The Nunes memo and Putin’s long game

imageMatthew Nussbaum

Vladimir Putin might get tired of winning. Ever since the U.S. intelligence community discovered the Russian operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and aid President Donald Trump’s victory, some Republicans have been laboring to undermine…

READ ON POLITICO.COM

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The greatest threat to American democracy doesn’t come from abroad or even from MS-13. No, it comes from the GOP “dupes and stooges” that were (remarkably) elected to protect our country, as it turns out, from themselves! But, their desire to protect and further their own kleptocracy dwarfs any small amount of allegiance they might have to the “common good.”
Will Putin be able to “close the deal” before American voters finally wake up to the danger they have elected?
PWS
02-03-18

JRUBE: GOP “PARTY OF PUTIN” OUT OF CONTROL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/02/01/the-nunes-fiasco-grows-more-outrageous-by-the-hour/

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

The Post reports:

The long-simmering feud between President Trump and the Justice Department erupted into open conflict Wednesday when the FBI publicly challenged the president’s expected release of a contentious and classified memo related to the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In a rare unsigned statement, the FBI cited “grave concerns” with inaccuracies and omissions in the four-page memo, which was written by House Republicans and alleges abuses at the Justice Department connected to secret surveillance orders. Trump has told advisers that the memo could benefit him by undercutting the special counsel’s investigation and allow him to oust senior Justice Department officials — and that he wants it released soon, something that could happen as early as Thursday.

“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said. …

The memo in dispute was written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) earlier in January after the panel obtained documents related to a controversial dossier of allegations concerning Trump and his purported ties to Kremlin officials.

We cannot stress enough just how bizarre and outrageous is the Nunes scheme. FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, also appointed by Trump, have warned the president that disclosure of the memo would do great damage to American national security. The FBI publicly has, in essence, said the Nunes memo is misleading. And despite all that, the president plans to allow the release of the memo, which has one purpose only: to discredit and hobble the FBI and the Justice Department that are investigating the president. Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing.

2:24
What is the Nunes memo?

Created by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the four-page memo is critical of the Justice Department and the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. (Video: Victoria Walker/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Wednesday night, events got even weirder. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, released a letter he sent to Nunes accusing Nunes of altering the memo the committee voted to release before Nunes sent it to the White House. Schiff wrote:

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Because there were material changes made to the document unbeknownst to Committee Members and only revealed to us this evening, two days after the vote, there is no longer a valid basis for the White House to review the altered document, since this new version is not the same document shared with the entire House and on which Committee Members voted.

It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House. If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document. This can be done at the business meeting on Monday, February 5, 2018 when we will move, once again, to release the Minority’s responsive memorandum, which House Members have now had the opportunity to read.

Schiff’s letter is unlikely to alter Nunes and the White House’s plans to release the memo on Thursday, but it does once more expose Nunes’s sleazy, dishonest behavior. Nunes has managed — just as he did in the phony “unmasking” scandal — to mitigate the impact of his own scheme. It’s hard to take seriously a convoluted conspiracy theory coming from someone who trips over his own feet with such regularity.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then weighed in. “It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe,” he said in a written statement. “He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker [Paul] Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”

Ryan, however, has been part of the problem. It is fully within his power as House speaker to remove Nunes as chairman and to signal to Republicans that the institution (Congress, in this case), the party, the intelligence community and the country would not be served by Nunes’s stunt. Instead, Ryan threw a few logs on the bonfire by suggesting that the FBI needed to be cleansed, which sounds an awful lot like a politically minded purge.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who seems more and more to be in the wrong party, denounced Republicans’ antics. “These attacks on these institutions like we’re seeing now with the FBI and the Justice Department — I mean, these are things that they’re hallmarks of our country,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “And as we erode them or create enormous doubts in the minds of Americans that there’s anything we can trust … it gets us in trouble.”

If Democrats ever needed proof for the midterms that the GOP is a threat to national security and is unfit to govern, this should do it. The Republicans cannot with a straight face claim to be the party of national security while carrying on in such fashion. And even if a congressman in Iowa or Michigan were to say he played no part in Nunes’s conduct, his or her reelection by definition would help return Nunes to the intelligence committee chairmanship and Ryan to the speakership. In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.

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So, “Vladi’s Not So Secret Agent” Devon Nunes (R-Moscow) and his Fellow Travelers want to attack our democratic institutions of justice!

Here’s what we know for sure:

  • Russia tried to interfere with our 2016 Presidential election.
  • Vladimir Putin hated Hillary Clinton.
  • Russia plans to interfere with our 2018 elections.
  • Several individuals close to the Trump Campaign, including former “National Security Director” General Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about their Russian connections.
  • Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort faces Federal criminal charges for lying about his Russian connections.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions “forgot several times under oath” about various Russian contacts.
  • Donald Trump is a known liar.
  • Nunes & Trump plan to release a classified GOP propaganda memo over the national security objections of the Deputy AG and the FBI Director appointed by Trump.

Sure looks like 1) our national security is at risk, and 2) there are connections between Russians and various Trump campaign officials that those individuals went to the trouble of lying (or “forgetting”) under oath to hide.

But, do the “Party of Putin” and “Agent Nunes” want to get to the bottom of this? No way! Instead, they want to protect their sleazy President even at the cost of our national security and our democratic institutions!

Every time Trump and the GOP disingenuously talk about “protecting national security,” what they really mean is protecting themselves and their corrupt President from the truth.

By far, the biggest threat to our national security and  indeed to our continued existence as a nation, resides right in plain view at 1600 Pennsylvania, Avenue, Washington, D.C. When, if ever, will we wise up?

PWS

02-01-18

LA TIMES: VLADI’S “NOT SO SECRET AGENT” DEVON NUNES (R-CA) DELIVERS AGAIN! – Bogus Attack On U.S. Institutions & Deflection From Russian Meddling Investigation Exceeds Putin’s Expectations For Destroying American Democracy!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=931a545e-7bbc-45a3-9e6c-7b9d7c136452

From the LA Times Editorial Board:

“Devin Nunes strikes again

For months, some Republicans in Congress have been itching to give cover to President Trump’s complaint that the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a politically motivated “witch hunt.” On Monday, the majority of the House Intelligence Committee put that shameful strategy into practice.

The panel voted along party lines to make public a ballyhooed memo purporting to show that the investigation now being pursued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was tainted from the beginning by partisan bias. The White House can refuse, but Trump has signaled that he wants the document released despite opposition from his own Justice Department.

We welcome any effort by Congress to be genuinely transparent, especially on controversial and polarizing issues. But this move falls short of genuine transparency.

The panel’s Republican majority rejected a proposal to simultaneously release a dissenting document prepared by committee Democrats, who have dismissed the Republican memo as a “misleading set of talking points.” The Democrats’ response will be viewed by House members and could be released later — after the Republicans’ spin on the underlying classified information has dominated a few news cycles.

Nor is the committee seeking to release the actual documents used in the case. Instead, the memo provides an interpretation of those documents prepared under the direction of California’s own Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee chairman.

We haven’t seen the memo, but Republicans who have read it have described it in sensational terms that makes it clear that it will be music to Trump’s ears. The memo reportedly asserts that an application for a court order to conduct surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, drew on information from Christopher Steele, a former British spy who created the now notorious “dossier” about alleged contacts between Trump and Russia that was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. But the fact that Steele’s research might have been part of the basis for the court order doesn’t mean that other matters weren’t cited in the application to the court or that subsequent investigations were unjustified.

Moreover, Nunes’ involvement in this project undermines its credibility. Last year, the Republican from Tulare pushed a bogus “unmasking” scandal that sought to shift the public’s focus away from the evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. That bit of freelancing led to him recusing himself from the panel’s probe.

The underlying allegations being investigated by Congress and by Mueller are as serious as can be. It’s alarming and infuriating that a foreign government may have sought to subvert our elections — and it’s even more outrageous that a candidate might possibly participate in such subversion. Accusations this grave need to be investigated and considered objectively, carefully and without fear or favor. The idea that either party or both would turn such serious issues into opportunities for partisan gain or gamesmanship is a sign of how dysfunctional and amoral Washington has become.”

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A bad week for America = a great week for Vladimir Putin and his Oligarchs!

Who would have thought that the party that saw the “Red Menace” under every bed in America when I was growing up would so eagerly “leap into bed” with our old (not really “reformed”) KGB menace Putin in an effort to discredit the FBI, the DOJ, the American Intelligence Community, and our Courts, all to preserve a congenital liar and “Putin sell-out” who happens to occupy our White House! Amazing, sports fans!

PWS

01-31-18

PUTIN’S PATSIES: GOP RAMPS UP PLAN TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE AT JUSTICE – With McCabe Ousted, DAG Rosenstein Appears To Be Next Target In GOP’s Move To Subvert American Government!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-carter-page-secret-memo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.

The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.

The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.

A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.

Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.

Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.

It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Mr. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the president and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.

The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”

But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”

To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”

Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.

But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.

The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Mr. Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.

In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”

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Man, “Ol’ Vladi P” must wake up with an ear-to-ear grin every single morning! How could it get any better for him!

First, notwithstanding a solid year of totally unpresidential performance, moronic Tweets, intentional divisiveness, blatant lies, wanton environmental destruction, attacks on American’s health, kleptocracy, overt promotion of income inequality, and abandonment of American world leadership, about one-third of American voters love having a puppet (even an evil and incompetent one) for a President! Sometimes in the former “Soviet Satellites” that the old KGB-man loved so much, the “chosen one” never, ever got to that support level!

And, as if that’s not enough, Vladi’s “GOP Fellow Travelers” are busy tearing down the fabric of the American justice system and at the same time insuring that nobody will ever get to the bottom of Vladi’s well-documented attempts to “tank” the American electoral system and the several already-documented (formerly) secret contacts between officials of the Trump campaign and Vladi’s chosen Russian agents.

“Wow,” Vladi’s thinking, “all my predecessors spent all that time, money, and trouble ‘weaponizing,’ building up our military, overthrowing pro-American governments, infiltrating, starting wars in third countries, and supporting terrorists. But, I’ve gotten all of this from the dumb Yanks pretty much for free — just the investment in some basic hacking equipment that most high school kids could have developed in the basement, a few juicy rumors about “HRC,” and some rubles converted to dollars to underwrite some fake “consulting contracts” and I’ve got these guys destroying American democracy and world leadership without me lifting a finger or firing a shot! I’m a genius,” thinks Vladi!

Leaving the question, if Vladi’s a “genius” what does that make us, our elected puppet President, and his enablers?

PWS

01-29-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO TRUMP’S “DIRTY WORK” AT JUSTICE — GONZO WELCOMES THE CHANCE – “CHATTER ON THE STREET” SAYS HE’S BEEN TERRIFIC AT IMPLEMENTING RACIST, WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA AND “DECONSTRUCTING” JUSTICE IN AMERICA! – Damage To Rights Of American Blacks, Latinos, Gays, and Other “Targeted Groups” Could Be Long Lasting!

“Dirty Work” by Steely Dan.

Check it out here:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/dirty-work-lyrics-steely-dan.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/23/its-looking-more-and-more-like-jeff-sessions-is-doing-trumps-political-dirty-work/?utm_term=.20948af9517b

Aaron Blake reports for the Washington Post:

“The defining moment of Jeff Sessions’s time as attorney general has been when he recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation. That quickly led to the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is now extensively probing President Trump. And by all accounts, it seriously strained Sessions’s relationship with Trump, who thinks Sessions should be protecting him and doing his bidding.

But there are increasing signs that Sessions has indeed done plenty of Trump’s bidding behind closed doors. And he’s done it on some dicey and very politically tinged issues — so much so that he made Trump’s second FBI director deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing.

The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker report that Sessions has pressured FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to get rid of his deputy Andrew McCabe, a holdover from James B. Comey’s FBI and favorite target for Republicans alleging bias in federal law enforcement. Some have reported that Wray even threatened to resign; The Post is reporting that he did not explicitly do so.

Here’s the meat of it all:

Sessions, Republican lawmakers and some members of the Trump administration have argued for weeks that Wray should conduct some kind of housecleaning by demoting or reassigning senior aides to his predecessor, Comey, according to people familiar with the matter. These people added that Sessions himself is under tremendous political pressure from conservative lawmakers and White House officials who have complained that the bureaucracy of federal law enforcement is biased against the president.

Trump has made no secret of his distaste for McCabe, even tweeting about it repeatedly after McCabe announced last month that he would soon retire, when he becomes eligible for full pension benefits. Trump’s tweets date back to the summer and have focused on McCabe’s wife’s run for the Virginia state legislature as a Democrat and ties to Hillary Clinton.

. . . .

In other words, Trump has publicly stated his preference for Sessions to try to get rid of McCabe, and he has suggested Wray do it as well. Now we find out Sessions did indeed attempt it, and Wray resisted it.

But it’s only the latest evidence that Sessions and his Justice Department are taking specific actions that Trump has publicly urged, even as they, in some cases, risk looking like they are in service to Trump’s political goals.

The New York Times reported recently that a Sessions aide went to Capitol Hill last year seeking derogatory information about Comey at a time when Trump clearly had his eyes on firing Comey. (A Justice Department spokesman has denied this occurred.) There are also reports that the Justice Department is considering a revival of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Trump has repeatedly called for. And back in August, Sessions announced a ramped-up effort to root out leakers in the federal government — just days after Trump tweeted that Sessions had taken “a VERY weak position” on the issue.

(Remarkably, Trump actually hit Sessions for his weak positions on both leakers and Clinton’s emails in the same tweet. The Justice Department now appears to be addressing both.)

The Post’s Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky even reported last month that Sessions has engaged in an all-out campaign to regain Trump’s faith by pointing to things the Justice Department has done in service of Trump’s agenda. That’s a pretty remarkable state of affairs.

Some of these things are issues on which Sessions has clearly sided with Trump, especially the dangers of leakers. So it’s perhaps no surprise Sessions would pursue them. But the fact that Trump called for these actions before Sessions was reported to have taken them sure makes it look like he’s taking direction from Trump — or at least succumbing to pressure that Trump and others have brought to bear.

Sessions has also, notably, resisted that pressure at times. During congressional testimony in November, he very publicly shunned a Republican lawmaker’s conspiracy theory — one to which Trump has also alluded — about how the federal government may have colluded with Democrats to spy on Trump’s campaign. Sessions said the issue didn’t rise to the level of appointing a special counsel.

But the picture of what Sessions is doing behind the scenes is increasingly suggesting that Trump’s very public hints that his attorney general should do this or that have often resulted in those specific actions. And especially when it comes to things such as trying to force out McCabe or reportedly dig up dirt on Comey, it sure makes it look like Sessions is using his authorities to try to address Trump’s political aims.

And for an attorney general who leads the federal law enforcement that is currently investigating the president and his team, that’s a perception problem, at best.”

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Read Blake’s full article, complete with “Tweet Texts,” at the link.

Meanwhile “chatter” surrounding the DOJ credits Sessions for doing a “bang up” job of implementing his racist, White Nationalist agenda at Justice. Basically, according to some, he’s very effectively shifting the Government’s resources, focus, and litigating capacity to insuring  that no element of White privilege or far-Right religious intolerance goes unprotected.

At the same time, he’s using basically bogus or at least highly misleading “statistics” to “rev up” racist fervor against immigrant, primarily Latino communities and Democratic local officials who won’t go along with his program of attempting to draw false connections between immigrants and crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, he essentially has consigned the rights of African-Americans, Latinos, Immigrants, Migrants, Women who seek abortions, and the LGBTQ community to the “trash-bin of Justice.” Many who care about the future of racial equality and social justice in America are concerned that this type of “deep damage” to our justice system can’t easily be undone or repaired, even after Sessions and his “wrecking crew” finally depart the “Halls of Injustice.”

Reportedly, Sessions has been ably assisted in his campaign “to take the justice out of Justice” by Associate Attorney General Rachel B. Brand, the “number three” person at Justice. Brand, a former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy under Bush II, DOJ “vet,” and apparent “true believer” in the Radical Right, maintains a much “lower profile” than the ever controversial Sessions. But, apparently she and those under her excel at undoing and “deconstructing” all of the “social justice” achievements of the Obama Administration.

Following the “Watergate Disaster” in the 1970, where the Nixon Administration’s blatant politicization of the DOJ became a national scandal, succeeding Administrations, in my view, more or less “backed off” of obvious political partisanship at the DOJ. But, as Watergate becomes a “mere tiny image in the rearview mirror,” that “tradition of restraint” has gradually eroded. Sounds to me like the “Watergate Era” has basically returned to the DOJ. This time, and quite sadly for our Constitutional system of Government and the U.S. Justice System, there is some doubt as to whether it will ever depart again.

PWS

01-28-18

 

 

 

SLEAZE-BALL-IN-CHIEF: TRUMP WANTED TO FIRE MUELLER IN JUNE ON BOGUS GROUNDS — WHITE HOUSE LAWYER’S THREAT TO QUIT STOPPED HIM!

Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

More “not-so-bright Third World dictator” than “stable genius.” The minority of Americans who voted for this evil clown have debased our once-great nation! And the GOP continues to enable the destruction of American democracy and values.

PWS

01-26-16

GONZO’S WORLD: HE GETS AN “F” IN “ETHICS 101” FROM THE WASHPOST!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/some-officials-are-protecting-the-country-from-trump-sessions-isnt-one-of-them/2018/01/23/919121b8-0078-11e8-8acf-ad2991367d9d_story.html

From the Washington Post Editorial Board:

“THE NATION just got another reminder that the political independence of the nation’s law enforcement system is in jeopardy. It is being protected by a thin line of principled public servants who refuse to bend to the Trump administration and congressional Republicans’ campaign to attack and cajole the FBI into serving political, rather than public, interests.

Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressured FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to fire Andrew McCabe, a senior FBI official whom President Trump dislikes and has repeatedly excoriated on Twitter. The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker later confirmed much of the story. Mr. McCabe’s sins mostly amount to association with former FBI director James B. Comey, who was himself fired by Mr. Trump for refusing to swear fealty to the president and for declining to treat Mr. Trump’s associates with undeserved leniency.

Even if there were stronger grounds for concern about Mr. McCabe, the attorney general’s overriding interest should have been to protect the integrity of the FBI and do everything possible to guard against it becoming the president’s personal police force, as Mr. Trump appears to want. When the president says he wishes that the attorney general would protect him and when he personally attacks the credibility of seasoned law enforcement agents such as Mr. McCabe, all while the president’s associates are under federal investigation, the only principled response is to insulate the FBI from political pressure by refusing to act on the president’s pique. Mr. Sessions failed this test.

Fortunately, Mr. Wray did not fail it. The FBI director, a veteran of the George W. Bush Justice Department, not only declined to fire Mr. McCabe, but he also reportedly registered his displeasure at being pressured. Mr. Sessions apparently relayed Mr. Wray’s dissatisfaction to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who felt it best to back off. Mr. McGahn should not have been involved at all. Mr. Sessions should have recognized his ethical lapse after Mr. Wray resisted and not brought it up again. But that would not have served Mr. Sessions’s goal of re-ingratiating himself with Mr. Trump, nor would it have sated ultra-partisan Republicans in Congress who have launched their own offensive on the FBI’s autonomy.

Mr. Trump does not respect the sort of integrity Mr. Wray displayed, he does not understand the proper role of the Justice Department, and he will not stop trying to bend federal law enforcement to his desires. As if to confirm this, he launched another Twitter missive at the FBI on Tuesday, in the process singling out two FBI agents caught up in the president’s ire about the Russia investigation.

The president’s underlying argument — that the Russia probe is an anti-Trump witch hunt led by politically motivated hacks — is a self-serving conspiracy theory that too many in the government have indulged. It is heartening that there are still senior public officials who refuse to compromise key civic principles to accommodate the wayward personality in the Oval Office. It is discouraging that the attorney general is not one of them.”

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Integrity? Civic principles? Don’t mistake Gonzo’s one, rather self-interested act, of properly recusing himself (sort of) from the Russia investigation as an indication that he has either of the foregoing. This is a guy who has been engaged in creating an atmosphere of injustice, arrogance, intellectual dishonesty, disregard for the rule of law, and ripping apart the U.S. justice system since he set foot in the DOJ! Sen. Liz Warren was right!

PWS

01-24-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: DRAMA UNFOLDING AT JUSTICE AS FBI DIRECTOR WRAY RESISTS GONZO’S POLITICAL INTERFERENCE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/tensions-between-sessions-and-fbi-over-senior-personnel-from-comey-era/2018/01/22/c95fc2bc-ffeb-11e7-8acf-ad2991367d9d_story.html

 

Delvin Barrett & Philip Rucker report for the Washington Post:

“FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has been resisting pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to replace the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of criticism from President Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

The tension over McCabe and other high-level FBI officials who served during James B. Comey’s tenure has reached the White House, where counsel Donald McGahn has sought to mediate the issue, these people said.

As Sessions tried to push Wray to make personnel changes, Wray conveyed his frustration to the attorney general, these people said. Sessions then discussed the matter with McGahn, who advised him to ease off, which he did, these people said.

One person familiar with the discussions said Wray has not addressed FBI personnel matters with the president, but in December, after The Washington Post reported that McCabe planned to retire in Marchwhen he becomes eligible for his full pension benefits, Trump tweeted about his criticisms of McCabe, a target of his since the 2016 presidential campaign.

Much of the discussion between Wray and Sessions about housecleaning at the FBI also came in December, according to people familiar with the matter.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray speaks at an event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Jan. 15. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Axios was first to report the Session-Wray dispute on Monday evening, indicating that Wray had threatened to resign if Sessions did not stop pressuring him to fire McCabe. But several people familiar with the dynamic told The Post that they were not aware of Wray making such an explicit threat. Firing McCabe could be problematic because he has limited civil service protections as a government employee. Such a move, in the aftermath of public criticism from the president and others, could prompt litigation.
. . . .
Sessions, Republican lawmakers and some members of the Trump administration have argued for weeks that Wray should conduct some kind of housecleaning by demoting or reassigning senior aides to his predecessor, Comey, according to people familiar with the matter. These people added that Sessions himself is under tremendous political pressure from conservative lawmakers and White House officials who have complained that the bureaucracy of federal law enforcement is biased against the president.”\
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Read the full article at the link.
Makes me wonder what would happen if EOIR had a Director committed to standing up for individual Due Process and protecting the judicial independence of administrative judges, rather than acting as a “conductor” on Gonzo’s “Deportation Express.”
PWS
01-23-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: WASHPOST EDITORIALS RIP GONZO’S BOGUS “CRIME WAVE” & “REEFER MADNESS!” – Is He “On The Ropes?” – Don’t Count On It – NBC Describes How He’s The “Ultimate Survivor!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-says-theres-a-staggering-increase-in-homicides-the-data-dont-agree/2018/01/05/b0ae52fa-f169-11e7-b390-a36dc3fa2842_story.html

Jeff Sessions says there’s ‘a staggering increase in homicides.’ The data disagree.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the White House in Washington on March 27, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
January 5

“PRESIDENT TRUMP rode a claim of out-of-control crime — to be fought with “law and order” — to victory in 2016. He reinforced the message in his inaugural address about “American carnage.” So it’s no surprise that Attorney General Jeff Sessions harps on the same theme, most recently on Wednesday, when he issued a statement describing this as a “time of rising violent crime [and] a staggering increase in homicides.” As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Mr. Sessions can and should use his bully pulpit to raise justified concern about crime and violence; his latest remarks, however, constituted a misuse of that power. Currently available data do not support his alarmism.

The most recent FBI national crime reports do indeed show that both murder and violent offenses generally rose in 2015 and 2016. The murder rate had risen from at least a 54-year low of 4.4 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 5.3 at the end of 2016. This reversal of a long and positive trend in American society cries out for thoughtful analysis and response. We’re still waiting for the 2017 FBI data, which won’t be out until later this year.

Meanwhile, private sources have been crunching the 2017 numbers reported by the police of the largest cities — generally indicative of the national total, since homicide is overwhelmingly an urban phenomenon. The basic picture is that homicide probably dippedslightly last year. Through Dec. 16, the total number of homicides in the nation’s 30 largest cities was 4.4 percent below what it was at the same point in 2016, according to the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center is a liberal nonprofit that frequently criticizes the Trump administration, but its numbers come from police agencies and city reports, and its findings agree with those of independent crime analyst Jeff Asher of FiveThirtyEight. His study of public data from 54 cities with 250,000 or more residents showed that murder is down 2.75 percent over 2016.

Mr. Sessions’s statement came in the context of his announcement of new interim U.S. attorneys, including for Manhattan and Brooklyn. Yet the nation’s largest city recorded only 290 homicides in 2017 — a decline of nearly 90 percent over the past quarter century. Mr. Sessions could just as easily have taken the opportunity to send the Big Apple and the other improving cities his congratulations.”

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sessionss-unwise-move-on-marijuana-may-backfire/2018/01/06/12216a4a-f264-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html

Sessions’s unwise move on marijuana may backfire

January 6 at 7:39 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing the federal government back into marijuana enforcement. This is an unwise and unnecessary move that may divert resources from more serious problems — and end up backfiring on those who want to restrain pot use.

Mr. Sessions rescinded Thursday a policy that kept the federal government largely out of the way of states that have legalized marijuana. A majority of states have now legalized it in some form. Maryland just began permitting medical marijuana. California just legalized recreational marijuana, and Vermont is near to doing so.

Mr. Sessions’s move upended a tenuous deal the Obama administration made with legalization states: keep pot out of minors’ hands and help combat trafficking, and federal authorities will focus on bigger priorities. This policy allowed a handful of states room to experiment with unencumbered legalization, which would have made the consequences clearer to others.

Mr. Sessions’s decision is unlikely to result in arrests of small-time marijuana users. But it will chill the growth of the aboveboard weed economy by deterring banks and other institutions from participating. From there, U.S. attorneys across the country will decide whether to crack down, and on whom — a few big distributors, perhaps, or a few local grow shops, too. In states with complex regulations on marijuana growing, testing and selling, some operations may move back underground rather than provide documentation to state authorities that federal prosecutors might later use against them.

Mr. Sessions’s move is counterproductive even for skeptics of legalization, whose only defense against a growing tide of public opinion would be evidence that full legalization has significant negative consequences. Mr. Sessions’s move diminishes the possibility of drawing lessons — including cautionary ones — from the examples of legalization states. Similarly, Mr. Sessions has made it harder to learn how to regulate the legitimate weed economy, if that is the path the country chooses.

Jars of medical marijuana are on display on the counter of Western Caregivers Medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

More concerning is the prospect that U.S. attorneys will begin diverting limited federal resources into anti-pot campaigns from far more pressing matters. As Mr. Sessions himself said this past November, the nation is experiencing “the deadliest drug crisis in American history.” That would be the opioid epidemic, which, Mr. Sessions noted, claimed some 64,000 lives in 2016. Marijuana simply does not pose the same threat, and the attorney general should have avoided any suggestion that it requires more attention right now.

Mr. Sessions’s decision will spur calls for Congress to finally change federal law. That is warranted, but lawmakers should be wary of swinging too far in the opposite direction. As a recent National Academies of Science review found, experts still know relatively little about marijuana’s health effects. It makes no sense to lock up small-time marijuana users, but it may not make sense to move quickly to national legalization. Rather, Congress should decriminalize marijuana use, then await more information.”

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Obviously, Gonzo isn’t “winning friends and (favorably) influencing people” with his with his various personal vendettas. And, Trump trashes him one day and pats him on the back the next. But, that doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere soon. Ironically, Senate Democrats, who once called for his resignation, are now defending him in light of calls from various GOP legislators for him to step down.  Also ironically, it’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whom Gonzo doesn’t even supervise, who’s probably his “job insurance.” Jonathan Allen at NBC News explains how Gonzo has become the “ultimate survivor” of the Trump Administration.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/why-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-survives-trump-s-wrath-n835251

“POLITICS

Why Attorney General Jeff Sessions survives Trump’s wrath

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking so much friendly fire these days that it’s easy to conclude he might soon be shown the Justice Department exit.

President Donald Trump has long been apoplectic over Sessions’ recusal from the Justice Department’s Russia probe — as well as the agency’s passing interest in allegations of misconduct by Trump’s vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton — and the president often criticizes Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI publicly.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times … and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?” Trump wrote on Twitter last month.

Three House Republicans — Chris Stewart of Utah, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — called on Sessions to resign this week. In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Meadows and Jordan argued that leaks about the Russia investigation show the attorney general doesn’t have control over his department. And there have been reportsthat EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is lining himself up to try to take Sessions’ job.

Third Republican calls for Sessions to resign 0:48

Things have gotten so bad for Sessions that his chief defenders this week were the very same Senate Democrats that had railed against his appointment last year, a function of their fear that a new attorney general would be both more loyal to Trump and more able to affect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

It all adds up to the kind of drumbeat that usually portends the political demise of a Cabinet official.

But on Saturday, Trump sought to quiet Sessions’ critics. Asked whether he stands by his attorney general, Trump replied, “Yes, I do.”

It may be that Sessions is untouchable. At the very least, veteran Washington insiders say, he’s shown a survivor’s instincts for dealing with Trump.

“Sessions has figured out a way to appease Trump at the moments where his ire is at its maximum,” said Brian Fallon, a former Obama Justice Department and Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman who also worked on Capitol Hill. “Sessions finds ways to relieve some of the tension.”

In the latest example, Trump’s fury may have been tempered this week by reports that Sessions’ Justice Department has been investigating the Clinton Foundation and is taking another look at Clinton’s private email server. Trump had publicly pressured Sessions to investigate longtime top Clinton aide Huma Abedin over her handling of classified information.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in an email that the possibility of Sessions losing his job is a “non story” that has been “ginned up by the media.”

But even if he’s not fully pleased with Sessions, Trump may be stuck with him.

On a political level, it’s not clear whether any possible replacement could win Senate confirmation at a time when two GOP defectors would be enough to scuttle a nomination.

And there’s also the tricky legal question of whether firing Sessions could be interpreted as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Mueller probe, especially after The New York Times reported that a Sessions aide tried to dig up dirt on James Comey when the former FBI director testified that his agency was examining possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

While Sessions may be secure, his No. 2, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, may not be if Trump continues to be displeased with the progress of Mueller’s investigation. With Sessions recused, it’s Rosenstein who oversees Mueller. If Trump decides he wants to fire Mueller, that order would go through Rosenstein, which could set up the kind of constitutional crisis that faced Justice Department executives during the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre.

Back then, President Richard Nixon wanted to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate scandal. The top two justice department officials resigned rather than carry out his order, and Cox was eventually fired by Solicitor General Robert Bork at Nixon’s direction. Nixon won the battle but the backlash from his heavy-handed tactics accelerated his defeat in the war to keep his job. The House began impeachment hearings less than two weeks later.

That history is reason enough for Trump to think twice about cashiering Sessions or any other senior Justice Department official.”

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Gonzo’s attacks on African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ individuals, state and local officials, and legalized marijuana merchants and users, among others, is an anathema to effective law enforcement! Indeed, these are just the communities whose support and assistance Gonzo and the DOJ would need to actually be effective in fighting serious crime.

Moreover, his false crusades against these groups have made him ignore America’s most pressing problem: combatting the opioid crisis, which would require not just law enforcement but a coordinated effort among Federal, state and local law enforcement, local communities, and medical,social, welfare, and economic development entities, all of which Gonzo has gone out of his was to “dis” or otherwise offend.

On the other hand, as pointed out by Jonathan Allen, for reasons unrelated to his unrelentingly poor administration of “justice,” Sessions might be in charge of his own destiny at the DOJ.

PWS

01-07-18

THIRD WORLD AMERICA! – THE ATTACK OF THE SWAMP RATS! — Under Trump’s GOP, Americans Now Correctly View White House As The Most Corrupt Institution — But, Who Are The Fools Who Voted These Immoral Jokers Into Control?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/12/report-americans-view-trump-white-house-as-the-most-corrupt-government-institution/

Josh Rogin reports in the Washington Post:

“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.

A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.

According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.

Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.

The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.

The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.

Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.

“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!

But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:

  • Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
  • Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.

Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!

PWS

12-12-17

 

BREAKING: FLYNN TO COP PLEA TO MAKING FALSE STATEMENT TO FBI! — FORMER “NATIONAL SECURITY” ADVISOR GOES DOWN!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-flynn-charged-russia_us_5a2163f8e4b03c44072d042c

Ryan J. Reilly reports for HuffPost:

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government, an extraordinary development in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Michael Flynn is scheduled to appear in federal court in D.C. at 10:30 a.m., where he’s expected to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents.

. . . .

In a criminal information filing from Mueller’s team, the government alleges that Flynn “willfully and knowingly made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” in an interview with FBI agents on Jan. 24. It alleges he falsely told the FBI that he did not ask the Russian ambassador to refrain from retaliating to sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia in late December. Flynn also allegedly lied about asking the Russian ambassador on Dec. 22 to delay or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.
Citing sources familiar with the investigation, NBC News reported in early November that Mueller’s team had enough evidence to charge Flynn, as well as his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with him during Trump’s campaign and transition.
The report sparked speculation that investigators were trying to flip Flynn, a top target of the multiple probes into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia last year, and could reach an agreement for him to become a cooperating witness.
The New York Times reported later that month that Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, was no longer sharing information with Trump’s legal team, further raising the possibility that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s probe. Kelner later met with the investigators, according to ABC News.
Flynn’s indictment follows Mueller’s team charging Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former aide Rick Gates with 12 counts, including allegations of conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to face a federal trial in May.
In October, the investigators also reached a plea agreement with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who lied to the FBI about being offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Papadopoulos also reportedly suggested a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year.
But those indictments involved only Trump campaign officials. Flynn is the first former administration official to be charged, making it more difficult for the White House to distance the president from Mueller’s probe.
After Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey amid his investigation into the campaign, Comey testified that Trump had requested that he end the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.
Flynn, who stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser in February after lying to administration officials about the extent of his communications with Russian officials, had long faced scrutiny from the multiple investigations into Trump’s campaign.
Of particular interest was Flynn’s history of suspicious business dealings and financial ties to Russia, as well as his concealing that he worked as a foreign lobbyist for the Turkish government while advising Trump’s campaign.
In the fall of 2016, a businessman with close ties to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid Flynn more than $500,000 to conduct research aimed at discrediting the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. Flynn failed to disclose the work until March, after he had already stepped down as national security adviser.
Mueller’s team has reportedly investigated Flynn’s lobbying firm and its dealings with Turkey.
Flynn also hid multiple contacts with Russia during Trump’s transition, including discussing sanctions with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
He also attended a meeting with Kislyak to discuss creating a backchannel with Putin. Also in attendance was Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser and also reportedly a subject of Mueller’s probe.
White House officials have repeatedly denied any collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, often by downplaying suspected officials’ involvement in the campaign or the administration. In March, then-press secretary Sean Spicer diminished Flynn as just “a volunteer.”

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What kind of Administration hires a criminal to be so-called “National Security Advisor?” An Administration that poses a “clear and present danger” to the national security of our country! And, it’s not that Gen. Flynn wasn’t a well-established slimy character even before embarking on his criminal enterprise!

Will “Jerry the K” be next? Stay tuned! No wonder Gonzo has “lawyered up!”

PWS

12-01-17

GONZO’S WORLD: “MINISTRY OF INJUSTICE” — How Gonzo Is Successfully Draining Justice From The Department Of Justice

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/jeff-sessions-slowly-surely-undoing-america-s-criminal-justice-progress-ncna823126

James Braxton Peterson reports for NBC News:

“The Russia investigation may be undercutting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ credibility, but it has not undermined his efforts to take the U.S. Justice Department back in time.

The time Sessions wants to go back to features an unforgiving system of mass incarceration that disproportionately targets people of color in a legal structure too often stacked against them.

To do this, the attorney general has issued a slew of policy rollbacks — unfortunate for a Justice Department that was only incrementally making progress toward equal justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

In this sense, Sessions’ Justice Department might be the most effective unit of the Trump administration. If Trumpism’s goal is, at least in, part to destroy the progress achieved under the Obama administration, Sessions’ scorecard so far outstrips his GOP colleagues in the Cabinet and former colleagues in the Senate.

In March, for example, the nation’s top law enforcement officer visited St. Louis, next-door to Ferguson, ground zero for the Black Lives Matter movement. Sessions was in St. Louis talking about crime initiatives but also seeming to criticize one of the most useful tools for documenting police brutality: civilian cell phone videos. The choice of venue could not have been a coincidence. By focusing on “targeted police killings,” he deflected attention from the challenges now confronting law enforcement.

In fact, Sessions has had little to say on how the Justice Department might address matters of police brutality, much less on the matter of Black Lives Mattering. Instead, he has mostly showcased President Donald Trump’s belief that strong policing and incarceration are key to maintaining law and civil order.

. . . .

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts. Because the statistics are well known: Whites and blacks use and sell drugs at roughly the same rates, and African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population. Yet law enforcement records are remarkably different for each demographic. According to Human Rights Watch: “Black adults are more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white adults to be arrested for drug possession. In 2014, Black adults accounted for just 14 percent of those who used drugs in the previous year but close to a third of those arrested for drug possession.” In many states, a felony conviction also means losing the right to vote.

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts.

Sessions looks eager to re-open the “war on drugs” — or, more appropriately, the war on poor people who use drugs. No available metric on this decades-long war shows any significant success in limiting access to drugs in the United States or in reducing addiction to controlled substances.

What the “war on drugs” has been good at is: stigmatizing poor people afflicted with the disease of addiction; profiling black and brown folks and arresting them at rates exponentially greater than their white counterparts; and creating revenue streams for the Prison Industrial Complex.

. . . .

Sessions’ success will be key if Trump wants to make good on his law-and-order promises.

Sadly, it is working. The Justice Department is slowly transforming into an injustice department right before our eyes.

Mass incarceration, its impact on families and communities and the often racially biased ways in which its policies operate is still one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. It’s a shame that, in the era of Trump, we are unable to effectively address the challenges we face.

James Braxton Peterson is the author of three books, including “Prison Industrial Complex for Beginners.”

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Read Peterson’s full article at the link.

Peterson doesn’t even get into Gonzo’s brazen attacks on justice for Latinos, immigrants, Dreamers, refugees, LGBTQ individuals, so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” lawyers, reporters, Federal Judges, critics of the Administration, forensic science, private property, or users of legalized marijuana. And, he only mentions in passing Gonzo’s disingenuous statements on Russia and his lackadaisical handling of the real threats Russia poses to our national security. Grim as Peterson’s article is, it actually substantially understates the true carnage that Gonzo is inflicting on our Constitution and our system of justice. It could turn out to be irreparable!

Senator Liz Warren was right!

PWS

11-24-17