Open Thread

The Open Thread for August 20, 2018

“President Trump’s lawyers do not know just how much the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, told the special counsel’s investigators during months of interviews, a lapse that has contributed to a growing recognition that an early strategy of full cooperation with the inquiry was a potentially damaging mistake,” the New York Times reports.

“The president’s lawyers said on Sunday that they were confident that Mr. McGahn had said nothing injurious to the president during the 30 hours of interviews. But Mr. McGahn’s lawyer has offered only a limited accounting of what Mr. McGahn told the investigators.”

”That has prompted concern among Mr. Trump’s advisers that Mr. McGahn’s statements could help serve as a key component for a damning report by the special counsel.”

President Trump “repeatedly attacked the New York Times on Sunday, over a report which said White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian election interference, links between Trump aides and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice,” The Guardian reports.  ”The president both called the report ‘fake’ and confirmed its substance.”

Trump claims a recent New York Times story about White House counsel Don McGahn cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller is so “fake” other “members of the media” have called him to apologize for it. Playbook: “Why would reporters be angry at the New York Times and call the White House?”

Sean Hannity called him.  And Donald, I think you doth protest too much.

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) told ABC News that President Trump will regret not invoking executive or attorney-client privilege in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Said Christie: “You never waive that. Absolutely not. This shows what a C-level legal team the president had in Ty Cobb and John Dowd.”

He added: “This is not in the president’s interest. It wasn’t in the president’s interest. It’s bad legal advice. Bad lawyering.”

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden told CNN that he thinks the relationship between the national security community and President Trump is on the edge of shattering.

Said Hayden: “It’s dangerously close to being permanently broken, it is badly injured right now.”

When asked if Hayden would be proud to have his security clearance revoked, he replied that he would: “And frankly, if his not revoking my clearance gave the impression that I somehow moved my commentary to a direction more acceptable to the White House, I would find that very disappointing and frankly unacceptable.”

“Several top White House officials thought then and think now that President Trump made an epic error in rolling over to cooperate with Robert Mueller in the early stages of the special counsel investigation.” Axiosreports.

“Trump himself thought then and thinks now that he personally has nothing to lose because he personally did nothing wrong. Who’s right might very well decide the fate of the Trump presidency.”

“One source close to the Trump team told us the full acquiescence to Mueller was ‘dumb’ and ‘idiotic.’”

Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for President Trump who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists in 2016, has left the White House, CNN reports.

“The White House, which asked CNN to hold off on the story for several days last week declined to say when Beattie left the White House. Beattie’s email address at the White House, which worked until late Friday evening, was no longer active by Saturday.”

“A jury is still deliberating Paul Manafort’s future, but even if he’s acquitted his legal battle will only be halfway over,” USA Today reports.

“The former campaign chairman for President Trump is due back in court in Washington next month for a second trial centered on allegations of lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying.”

“This time prosecutors say they have even more evidence – more than double the amount they showed jurors in Virginia. “

“Four months after abruptly quitting Congress amid a sexual harassment scandal, former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) still doesn’t think he did anything wrong,” according to the HuffPost, which obtained a copy of his deposition in a lawsuit over his new job.

“In fact, the former GOP lawmaker says he ‘took a bullet for the team’ by resigning. He insists he’s right not to repay $84,000 in taxpayer money he spent on a sexual harassment settlement. He ripped the House Ethics Committee for not caring about facts. And he blames ‘f-tards’ and the Me Too movement for driving him out of a job.”

CBS News Battleground Tracker: “Democrats have improved their standing in the fight for control of the House of Representatives. Our House model now shows the party poised to win 222 seats if the election were today, up from our estimate of 219 earlier this summer. The range on that estimate is plus or minus 11 seats, or 5% of House seats.”

Budget director Mick Mulvaney said he believes President Trump’s plans for a military parade were canceledfor other reasons besides the cost of the event, but would not specify other “contributing factors,” Politicoreports.

Said Mulvaney:  “If the parade had been canceled purely for fiscal reasons, I imagine I would have been in the room when that was made and I wasn’t. So my guess is there were other contributing factors.”

“The Trump administration is proposing to dispose of federal land in Utah that was protected within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument until its boundary was redrawn by the Interior Department earlier this year — despite Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s assurance last year that he would not sell public lands,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Zinke at his Senate confirmation hearing: “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.”

The Washington Post reports Zinke has backed off the plan.

“Federal authorities investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, committed bank and tax fraud have zeroed in on well over $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses that he and his family own,” the New York Times reports.

“Investigators are also examining whether Mr. Cohen violated campaign finance or other laws by helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The inquiry has entered the final stage and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August, two of the people said.”

“Any criminal charges against Mr. Cohen would deal a significant blow to the president.”




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5 comments on “The Open Thread for August 20, 2018

  1. PHILADELPHIA (AP) – State records show that a Pennsylvania state representative has had three car accidents in three years – with repairs and insurance claims covered by state taxpayers.

    Democratic state Rep. Margo Davidson has a total bill for repairs and claims exceeding $30,000 from crashes involving two state-owned vehicles. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the costs mounted under a state program allowing General Assembly members to lease state-owned vehicles for up to $628 a month.

    The Delaware County-area representative said in a statement that “accidents unfortunately happen from time to time when people drive.”

    Republican state Rep. Brad Roe, of Crawford County, says the state leasing program has poor oversight and introduced a bill last year to end the practice of providing state cars to members of the General Assembly.
    Updated: Aug 16, 2018 12:54 PM EDT
    Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,

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