President Trump said that he would “demand” the Justice Department look into whether “any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!,” the Washington Post reports. His comment followed a six-part morning tweetstorm in which he lashed out at “the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt.”
The New York Times: “[I]n ordering up a new inquiry, Mr. Trump went beyond his usual tactics of suggesting wrongdoing and political bias by those investigating him, and crossed over into applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department to do his bidding, an extraordinary realm where past presidents have rarely tread…
Legal experts said Mr. Trump’s promise of intervention had little precedent, and could force a clash between the sitting president and his Justice Department that is reminiscent of the one surrounding Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, when a string of top officials there resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s order to fire a special prosecutor investigating him.
“I can’t think of a prior example of a sitting president ordering the Justice Department to conduct an investigation like this one,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “That’s little more than a transparent effort to undermine an ongoing investigation.”
If Mr. Trump were to follow through with the demand, Mr. Vladek added, “it seems to me that the recipients of such an order should resign — and that we’re heading for another Saturday Night Massacre.”
But a confrontation between Mr. Trump and his Justice Department over the order was not a certainty. It was not clear whether Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, or Mr. Rosenstein could refer the president’s demand to the department’s inspector general, who is already investigating surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Such a step could defuse the current crisis and perhaps satisfy Mr. Trump.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) May 20, 2018
President Trump’s demand that the Justice Department explore whether it or the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” the Trump campaign is a corrupt attempt to directly interfere into an investigation into his campaign. It’s not clear how Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who is recused), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or FBI Director Christopher Wray could carry out this order with good conscience. If Trump follows through, it’s quite possible that some or all of them resign.
Benjamin Wittes explains: “So if the President really gives Rod Rosenstein or Chris Wray an order (as opposed to Twitter bluster) demanding a particular investigation not properly predicated under FBI/DOJ guidelines for this overtly political purpose, I believe both men will resign rather than comply.
In other words, this tweet is different from other Trump craziness tweets. It’s one that promises a specific action on a specific date (tomorrow) with respect to a specific agency that will, if it takes place, precipitate a showdown.”
Roger Stone Says He’s ‘Prepared’ to Be Indicted by Mueller https://t.co/RO6MwCA5na
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) May 20, 2018
President Trump “raged anew on Sunday about the special counsel investigation, charging that it had turned up no evidence of collusion with Russia and was now casting a worldwide net so that it could stay active until the midterm elections and harm Republicans’ chances,” the New York Times reports. Said Trump: “Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.”
Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times that special counsel Robert Mueller plans to finish by September 1 its investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, the New York Times reports. He said that “waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in the midterm elections in November.”
“Mr. Giuliani’s comments were an apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller amid their interview negotiations. He urged that the investigation be wrapped up as soon as possible, pointing as a cautionary tale to the revelation by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey in the last days of the 2016 presidential race that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Mr. Comey’s announcement is widely blamed by Democrats for costing her the election. The F.B.I. found no wrongdoing.”
Why does all the media take Giuliani’s pronouncements about what Mueller plans to do as gospel? Given his and his client’s prolific history of lying, the reverse is indicated: assume everything is says is untrue until proven otherwise. Giuliani is not Mueller’s spokesman.
The Saudis and Israelis wanted to help Trump win. If the campaign accepted their plans for interference, it was illegal. Funny how quickly Trump honored the Saudis with a visit once he was POTUS, and how he shocked the world moving our embassy to Jerusalem https://t.co/TqgR3M5p1Q
— Lisa Gerrish (@GerrishLisa) May 20, 2018
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the United States and China are stepping back from a possible trade war after two days of talks that produced “meaningful progress,” the Washington Post reports. “Despite not getting China to agree to trim its overall trade surplus with America by a specific amount, Mnuchin said the U.S. team did get a number of commitments on a framework for reducing the deficit over time, including big increases in purchases of farm products and a doubling of purchases of U.S. energy products.”
Said Mnuchin: “We are putting the trade war on hold.”
Should Democrats focus more on capturing white working-class voters who feel let down by Trump? Or should they mobilize black voters and rally the base? My latest, on the Democratic primary race in Georgia: https://t.co/k5y3T3DnVv
— Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey) May 20, 2018
Rudy Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal that President Trump “shouldn’t agree to talk with special counsel Robert Mueller without knowing more about a man said to have approached Trump campaign aides in 2016 as part of the U.S. investigation into Russian election interference.”
Giuliani said Trump could be “walking into a trap” unless federal prosecutors make clear the role played by the suspected informant and whether the person compiled any “incriminating information” about the president’s associates.
Leonard Pitts shows how you it’s not just guns making American schools unsafe.
“Today, we will discuss one of the most pressing threats to American Christianity. Meaning, of course, American Christians. Yes, that’s an overly broad statement. All those Christians whose faith requires them to live the Good News, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, speak for the voiceless and welcome the stranger, surely do not threaten the faith. To the contrary, they empower it. They are what Christianity is supposed to be.
But we’re here to contend with what Christianity too often is. Having seen putative Christians excuse the liar, rationalize the alleged pedophile, justify the sexual assaulter and cheer as walls are raised against the most vulnerable, it’s obvious that many of those who claim that name embody a niggardly, cowardly, selfish and situational “faith” that has little to do with Jesus.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) May 20, 2018
Josh Marshall on that FBI Informant. “The topic here is the FBI’s use of an informant to talk to and solicit information from at least three Trump officials and advisors starting in the summer of 2016.
This is being portrayed by pro-Trump media as a major abuse on the part of the FBI, the latest discovery discrediting the Mueller probe and the investigation which preceded it. This is a wild thought. This was a major counter-intelligence investigation, trying to determine whether a hostile foreign power might have either infiltrated or be controlling a major party presidential campaign. This is entirely standard and the fact that the FBI thought it was necessary, far from discrediting the FBI, reflects very poorly, to put mildly, on President Trump and his entire campaign.
We are now faced with the stunning circumstance in which a sitting President is conspiring with friendly members of Congress against his own Justice Department and FBI, trying to out an FBI informant in order to protect himself from the law. (The Times and the Post pieces both contain enough information about the informant that anyone reasonably knowledgable able the DC foreign policy world could determine the man’s identity.) Indeed, the name of a man who appears to be that informant has already been circulating for days in the rightwing press – apparently courtesy of a leak from Rep. Devin Nunes. I tend to doubt that the informant in question is in any personal danger. He’s a US national who operates in the UK and the US. But others associated with his work for US intelligence could be endangered and their assistance to the US compromised. Probably more important, recruiting other informants will undoubtedly be more difficult when it becomes clear that domestic political fights in the US lead to informants being publicly exposed.”
What do the North Koreans mean when they say "denuclearization"? They explained it to Joel Wit personally. He lays it out here: https://t.co/ZUnu7S6dsO
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) May 20, 2018