The Open Thread for 12/19/2018

Lawyers for former national security advisor Michael Flynn asked a federal judge to delay his sentencing for 90 days — until his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is complete — during a sometimes heated appearance in D.C. federal court on Tuesday, Axios reports.

“Well, I would say this was a bad day for Michael Flynn because both he and the lawyers for Robert Mueller expected a sentence of zero prison time,” NBC News Legal Analyst Pete Williams said in the minutes after the delayed sentencing on Tuesday. “Now what the judge strongly suggested today is that he was prepared to sentence him to some time in prison, based on the seriousness of the offense.”

“I guess the only hope for Michael Flynn to avoid some prison time is if he continues to cooperate and if the judge, somewhat, calms down, then perhaps when we come back here…he will be able to get the sentence that he and his defense lawyers were hoping for of just probation,” he added.

Washington Post: “The delay was a stunning development in the case, as it had appeared Flynn would be able to avoid time behind bars.”

Natasha Bertrand at the Atlantic says Flynn and his lawyers badly miscalculated with their sentencing memo strategy of stoking some Trump conspiracies.   “Judge Emmet Sullivan, however, who was set to issue Flynn’s sentence on Monday, was not sympathetic. “How is raising these points consistent with accepting responsibility?” he asked Flynn and his lawyers as they stood before him at the lectern on Tuesday. He then lambasted Flynn for lying to federal agents on White House grounds while serving as the president’s top national-security adviser in January 2017, and for lying about his lobbying work for the Turkish government. “Arguably, you sold out your country,” Sullivan said. He added that while he would take Flynn’s 33-year public-service career and cooperation into account when sentencing him, he would not try to hide his “disdain” and “disgust” for Flynn’s crimes, and asked the government at one point whether Flynn’s conduct rose to the level of treason.”

Jonathan Chait: “Two more mysteries remain. The first is just what crimes by Flynn Mueller’s prosecutors found. The second, even larger, is what Flynn gave them on Trump. If his offenses were as serious as Sullivan indicated, and Mueller still suggested he skip prison, it stands to reason that the evidence he turned over concerning other figures is devastating.”

“Flynn was not set up. He was charged for committing serious crimes. And he is probably going to escape prison because the crimes committed by the people he worked with and for are even more serious.”

A new Focus on Rural America poll in Iowa finds Joe Biden leading the Democratic presidential field with 30%, followed by Bernie Sanders at 13%, Beto O’Rourke at 11%, Amy Klobuchar at 10% and Elizabeth Warren at 9%.

Key takeaway: Biden and Warren each saw seven-point drops in their performance since the poll was last in the field in September.

Politico: “The statute of limitations on the campaign finance felonies in question, as well as virtually any other felony with which President Trump might be charged, is five years, beginning with when the offenses were committed. Especially if Trump were reelected in 2020, he would still be a sitting president when those five years are up. Does that mean he might be able to run out the clock? Would he be legally free from prosecution if he serves two full terms in office?”

“Notably, the OLC opinion recognized this risk. The drafters believed, however, that either Congress could lengthen the statute of limitations or the courts could ‘toll’ the statute – that is, freeze it in place until the president has left office – as a matter of their ‘equitable’ discretion. But neither option is especially likely. For one thing, Congress cannot lengthen the statute of limitations if the statute has already run; the Supreme Court so held in 2003. And while Congress might be able to lengthen the statute before it has fully run, it almost surely could not constitutionally do so only for the case of United States v. Trump.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Bloomberg the Trump administration “is setting aside a middle-class tax cut and planning to focus its tax efforts next year on fixing mistakes in the 2017 overhaul.”

“Mnuchin said he’s hoping to work with Congress on ‘some minor technical corrections’ to the law, such as a drafting error that denies retailers and restaurants a tax break when they make renovations. He downplayed the prospect of the middle-class tax cut that Trump campaigned on in the days leading up to the midterm elections.”

“Four days after attorneys secretly argued over a grand jury subpoena suspected to be related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election, a federal appeals court is forcing an unnamed company to comply with the subpoena,” CNN reports.

“The appeals court did not identify the company, nor did the appellate judges say the subpoena was related to the Mueller investigation. The company that sought to quash the subpoena is owned by a foreign country.”

I guarantee this foreign company is Deutsche Bank.    Goodbye Trump.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “traveled to Afghanistan over the weekend as part of a congressional delegation, her office revealed Tuesday,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  “Such congressional trips are often kept secret until the lawmakers have returned.”

“Harris went to Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, and Kandahar, Afghanistan. She received briefings and met with U.S. troops, diplomats and national security professionals.”

“President Trump retreated from his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, as congressional Republicans maneuvered to avoid a partial government shutdown before funding expires at the end of Friday.” the Washington Post reports.

“But Democrats immediately rejected Republicans’ follow-up offer, leaving the two sides still at impasse as hundreds of thousands of federal workers await word on whether they will be sent home without pay just before Christmas. The new border funding offer from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calls on Congress to pass a $1.6 billion homeland security spending bill that was crafted earlier this year in a bipartisan Senate compromise.”

Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) will replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to fill for the next two years the Senate seat long held by the late Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republic reports.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) decision to appoint McSally, announced in a statement Tuesday and effective next month, revives her political life less than two months after she narrowly lost the race for the state’s other Senate seat to Kyrsten Sinema (D).

“New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday that the foundation is dissolving and distributing its remaining funds as her office pursues a lawsuit against the charity, President Trump and his three eldest children, who oversaw the Donald J. Trump Foundation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The shuttering of Trump’s charity comes after stories in The Post documented apparent lapses at the foundation. Trump used the charity’s funds pay off legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art that decorated one of his golf clubs and to make a prohibited political donation.”

First Read: “These numbers from our recent NBC/WSJ poll should be getting more attention: The percentage of Americans believing the economy will get worse in the next 12 months is at its highest point since 2013. Overall, 28% say the economy will get better in the next year, 33% think it will get worse and 37% believe it will stay the same.”

“Those numbers were essentially reversed last January: 35% said the economy would get better, 20% said it would get worse and 43% said it would stay the same.”

Associated Press: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell again Monday, the latest dip in the roller coaster markets amid the strain of Trump’s trade war, rising interest rates and worries about a slowing global economy.”

“For more than a year, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has questioned witnesses broadly about their interactions with well-connected Russians. But three sources familiar with Mueller’s probe told the Daily Beast that his team is now zeroing in on Trumpworld figures who may have attempted to shape the administration’s foreign policy by offering to ease U.S. sanctions on Russia.”

“The Special Counsel’s Office is preparing court filings that are expected to detail Trump associates’ conversations about sanctions relief—and spell out how those offers and counter-proposals were characterized to top figures on the campaign and in the administration.”

“The new details would not only bookend a multi-year investigation by federal prosecutors into whether and how Trump associates seriously considered requests by Moscow to ease the financial measures. The new court filings could also answer a central question of the so-called Russia investigation: What specific policy changes, if any, did the Kremlin hope to get in return from its political machinations?”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for 12/19/2018

  1. cassandram

    GRIFTUS voters need to set up a Go Fund Me for that damned wall. If each GRIFTUS voter sent in about $79 each that would do it.

  2. Pingback: The Open Thread for 12/19/2018 | Public News Press

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