The Open Thread for May 27, 2018

“The FBI has obtained secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank who has forged close ties with U.S. lawmakers and the National Rifle Association, that led to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the gun lobby’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., in May 2016,” Yahoo News reports.

“José Grinda, who has spearheaded investigations into Spanish organized crime, said that bureau officials in recent months requested and were provided transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer.”

Said Grinda: “Just a few months ago, the wiretaps of these telephone conversations were given to the FBI. Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”

Tom Toles is right to suggest that this peddling of conspiracy theories by Fox News is why “we can’t just discuss things like reasonable adults.”

“This is jaw-droppingly beyond irrational. This is a rusty razor being violently drawn back and forth across the throat of American discourse. No, there is no way to have a normal discussion with these people. They are using their words and their platform to poison not just discourse but American justice itself. […]

This is not a conversation that is possible to pursue. They have made into a zero-sum, us-vs.-them battle for power.

So a battle for power it will be.”

President Trump “said he had allowed embattled Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. to remain open despite fierce bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill, defying lawmakers who have warned that the huge technology company should be severely punished for breaking U.S. law,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sensing such a move, top Democrats and at least one Republican on Friday said the White House’s decision was tantamount to a bailout of a large Chinese company with little benefit for the United States.”

“North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, met unexpectedly with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on Saturday to discuss salvaging a canceled summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Trump, Mr. Moon’s office said, a new twist in the whirlwind of diplomacy over the fate of the North’s nuclear arsenal,” the New York Times reports.

“First lady Melania Trump, who spent five nights in the hospital following a kidney procedure, has been out of public view for 15 days running — an unusually long absence even for a first lady who relishes life outside the spotlight,” the Washington Post reports.

“Although medical experts have said the kind of procedure the first lady had typically requires only a night’s hospitalization, White House and East Wing aides have said nothing more about her condition and instead asked for privacy.”

With a month elapsed since President Donald Trump sent 1,600 troops to the U.S. Mexico border, the president of the border patrol union is calling the move “a colossal waste of resources,” according to a Thursday Los Angeles Times report.

“When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border I was extremely excited,” union president Brandon Judd told the Times, adding that past deployments have lifted the heavy workload for stationed officers. “That has not happened at all” with Trump’s deployment, he added. He reportedly said that the National Guard’s effectiveness has significantly dropped off from past deployments since this time, they must stay out of the “public eye” and can’t even man lookout posts.

“We generally support the administration, but we’re not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well,” Judd told the Times.

Norman Eisen and Elizabeth Holtzman say Donald Trump should not assume he’s above the law. A sitting president can be indicted.

“That brings us to the ultimate reason that Giuliani and the president would be unwise to rely on the Justice Department policy. Even if Mueller did acknowledge that as special counsel he cannot indict the president, as Giuliani claims, that is not definitive. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may give him permission to override that limit.

The special counsel regulations and the authority Rosenstein enjoys as acting attorney general over this matter allow him to make that decision. Because of the legal infirmities of the OLC opinions we have described, that outcome cannot be considered off the table. Then it would be for the courts to resolve, and as we have shown, they have been hostile to similar presidential claims.

Make no mistake — we are not suggesting that the forbearance on prosecution that Jaworski and Starr demonstrated is a bad model for Rosenstein and Mueller. The indictment of our democratically elected leader would be an unprecedented and somber moment for our democracy.

Instead, we are arguing that pursuing an indictment of a sitting president is a last resort that is entirely consistent with our constitutional values and democratic norms. It should be on the table not because it is a perfect option, but rather because it is preferable to a world in which our president is above the law and can engage in criminal conduct with impunity.”

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have obtained a presentation prepared by an Israel-based private intelligence firm that outlines ways in which Donald Trump’s 2016 election was helped by fake news and fake social-media accounts,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Mueller’s interest in the presentation suggests his investigation is focusing on the role of social-media manipulation during the 2016 campaign… The presentation consists of nine slides and was prepared by the Psy-Group, a firm that boasts of ties to elite Israeli intelligence agencies.”

New York Times: “With so many Democrats running, the party’s fear is that the vote will be splintered, allowing Republicans — who have fewer candidates — to dominate some primaries. The party and allied groups are spending more than $4 million on just three campaigns, intervening in one contest to prop up a favored candidate; attacking a Republican from the right in another; and even reminding people not to waste their votes on “ghost candidates” who have dropped out yet remain on the ballot.”

“The ‘top two’ system was meant to create incentives for political moderation in a state where about a quarter of the voters are independents, but it has created immense stakes for Democrats: They need to win 23 seats to take back the House, and party officials believe the path runs through the seven competitive California districts, all of which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.”

“President Trump falsely accused the New York Times on Saturday of making up a source in an article about North Korea, even though the source was in fact a senior White House official speaking to a large group of reporters in the White House briefing room,” the New York Times reports.

“The White House formally drove a dagger into the passage this year of the kind of massive infrastructure package called for by President Trump,” Roll Call reports.

“What is on the White House’s legislative agenda for the rest of the year includes another tax package, a farm bill, more federal judiciary nominations — and possibly immigration legislation.”

“White House legislative affairs chief Marc Short told reporters Friday that infrastructure will slide into 2019. He blamed election-year politics, saying Democrats have signaled in recent conversations they are uninterested in handing Trump a victory ahead of the midterm elections.”

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been probing Roger Stone’s finances as it summons a series of witnesses to gather more information about one of President Trump’s longtime advisers,” CNN reports. “Mueller’s team has questioned associates about Stone’s finances, including his tax returns”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

2 comments on “The Open Thread for May 27, 2018

  1. cassandram

    It is worth every minute of sitting through this interview to hear Stacey Abrams say: “Democrats can’t win by pretending to be Republicans“.

    I want this as my ring tone.

  2. I’d listen to her read the phone book. She’s a damn good orator.

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