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Daily News Digest August 26, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have been asked to give eulogies at Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) funeral, The New York Times reported Saturday night.

Two Republicans familiar with the funeral arrangements told the Times that, under initial plans, Vice President Pence has also been asked to attend, though President Trump has not.

OPINION: Consider first what the Trump coal plant rule would accomplish. It would reduce coal-fired power plant emissions by between 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent by 2030. According to the proposal, this is a big deal and worthy of praise. To put this in context, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body for evaluating the science on the sources and impacts of climate change, estimates that developed countries like the United States will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by some 80 percent by 2050, relative to a 2005 baseline. Electricity generation accounts for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, so a 1 percent to 2 percent reduction is a blip in the picture.

Unions representing federal workers on Saturday declared victory in what they have described as an assault by the Trump administration after a federal judge struck down key provisions of a set of executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire employees and weaken their representation.

There’s no doubt: Kavanaugh would rule to gut Roe and criminalize abortion, gut health care, attack voting rights and LGBTQ rights, slash environmental protections, and further damage workers’ and immigrant rights. If Senators vote to confirm Kavanaugh, they would cement into place the worst and most dangerous of Donald Trump’s policies for generations to come.

We can win this fight if we stay united. So on August 26th, in states all across the country, the People’s Defense coalition, NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn and more than 30 other organizations (and counting) are building a National Day of Action, “Unite for Justice,” to stop Brett Kavanaugh.

Daily News Digest August 25, 2018

Daily News is taking the weekend off. Headlines are all about "The Pecker, the Porn Star, the Playmate and the President". 

The walls are closing in on Orange Julius - lots and lots of flippers.

  • The Lawyer - Cohen (guilty)
  • The Accountant - Weisselberg (immunity)
  • PR Manager - Pecker (immunity)
  • PR Manager - Dylan Howard (immunity)
  • Gates - (plead guilty)
  • Papadopolous - (plead guilty)

There is no indication that Manafort is "flipping" ... yet, but

  • Manafort (found guilty)

Somebody should tell Orange Julius that loyalty works better when it goes both ways.

If anything major happens this weekend, we will update this space.

Daily News Digest August 24, 2018

The last couple of days have been like a merry-go-round of headlines, coming faster and faster. Dizzy yet?

Michael Cohen's guilty pleas have some of the more conservative news outlets suggesting that maybe the president should consider resigning. The article from Forbes (linked below) is quite astonishing as it lays out the cost/benefit analysis for resignation.

In short, the President isn’t, from all appearances, having fun. He’s losing friends (at least the friendship of foreign leaders), he’s not sleeping, lots of people in the country can’t stand him, his wife is now subtlety, but publicly criticizing him, and his continued role as president may well be jeopardizing his children.

Seems like this is an economics no brainer. Trump should resign while the resigning is still good.

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the "unindicted co-conspirator" after Cohen's shocking guilty pleas:

Given the Justice Department’s policy of not indicting sitting presidents, a guilty plea from Mr. Cohen and his public implication of Mr. Trump were among the strongest outcomes prosecutors could have hoped for, according to former federal prosecutors. For prosecutors, the guilty plea meant they could avoid a contentious trial and free up resources to pursue other investigations.

Cable news is full of talk of impeachment -- so much so that Republican candidates don't want Trump stumping for them.

Tara Golshan for Vox writes:

The majority of Republican nominees in the 2018 midterms don’t mention Trump on the campaign trail, according to Brookings’s analysis. Of all non-incumbent Republicans running for the House, 53 percent don’t talk about the president at all. Just 37 percent of Republican candidates talk of Trump positively. And among Republican nominees who have already won their primaries, a slimmer 33 percent talk of Trump in a positive light.

It's gonna be a wild ride.

This Week's Headlines: 

“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who may be in line to head the Judiciary Committee next year, told reporters Thursday. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, the current Judiciary chairman, also changed his position on Thursday, saying in an interview that he’d be able to make time for hearings for a new attorney general after saying in the past that the panel was too busy to tackle that explosive possibility.

Daily News Digest August 23, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

The subpoena was issued after Cohen’s attorney said his client has information of interest to both state and federal prosecutors. As Trump’s longtime lawyer and self-described “fixer,” Cohen could potentially be a significant source of information for state investigators looking into whether Trump or his charity broke state law or lied about their tax liability.

Since the middle of July, a group of some twenty government officials has been gathering each week at the headquarters of Customs and Border Protection, in Washington, D.C., to discuss what the Trump Administration should do in the aftermath of the President’s failed zero-tolerance policy. The policy, which called for the criminal prosecution of anyone crossing the border illegally, and led to the separation of more than twenty-five hundred children from their parents, has coincided with a broader effort to dismantle the U.S. asylum system. Yet the government never had a plan for keeping track of the separated parents and children once they were in custody, and, even after a federal judge in San Diego, Dana Sabraw, ordered the government to reunite them, it struggled to comply.

Turkey and the U.S. are in the middle of an intense feud over trade and the fate of U.S.-born pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years on terrorism and espionage-related charges.

The White House already slapped sanctions on two top Turkish officials over Brunson’s detention, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchinhas threatened even more sanctions if he is not quickly released.

Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos has issued an explosive warning about the threat of further election interference and hacking, arguing that it is now "too late to protect the 2018 elections" and that the United States "risks allowing its elections to become the World Cup of information warfare."

Stamos is in a good position to know: He led Facebook's response to Russian meddling during the 2016 US presidential election,

"The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious. The Ethics Committee deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department," Ryan said in a statement.

"Now that he has been indicted, Rep. Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments pending the resolution of this matter," he added.

Daily News Digest August 22, 2018

Eight is a magic number:

  • Number of crimes Paul Manafort found guilty of.
  • Number of crimes Michael Cohen plead guilty to.

The first two members of Congress to endorse President Donald Trump – New York’s Chris Collins and California’s Duncan Hunter – are both under indictment.

This Week's Headlines: 

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds and filing false campaign finance documents.

The indictment comes after a yearlong Justice Department investigation into whether the congressman and early supporter of President Trump misused campaign funds for personal reasons. He routinely used that money to pay to fly his pet rabbit back and forth from his district, as well as for dental work, a vacation to Italy and heavy spending at restaurants.

Paul Manafort faces a maximum of 80 years in prison for his conviction Tuesday on eight charges of bank and tax fraud.

President Trump’s one-time campaign chairman was found guilty on five counts of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

"If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?" Davis said in a statement.

Daily News Digest August 21, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

It became very clear this month that neither the Trump White House nor its allies on Capitol Hill want you to know that the federal budget is already in very bad shape ... and getting worse.

It happened when the Treasury, the official keeper of Washington’s financial results, issued its monthly statement for the first 10 months of fiscal 2018 about federal revenue, spending and, therefore, the budget deficit.

But left unmentioned in the impeachment and the debate around it has been a peculiar vote by Walker that benefited the natural gas industry. In one of her earliest votes, Walker made a highly unusual decision to reopen a case and then reverse a Supreme Court ruling that would have forced drillers to pay more in profits to residents. Walker voted to reopen the case around the time her husband owned stock in a variety of energy companies, including those participating in West Virginia’s growing gas boom.

But it’s hard for Trump to pin everything on McGahn when he refuses to sit down with Mueller himself. As the Times notes, it later became apparent to McGahn and his lawyer that they had “overestimated the amount of thought that they believed the president put into his legal strategy.” Trump was also reportedly under the impression that McGahn was essentially his personal lawyer — and would thus try to protect him — rather than a representative for the office of the presidency.

On Monday, a handful of Senate Democrats on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, petitioned Chairman Johnny Isakson of Georgia to hold a hearing on the matter. The senators cited the three men’s reported interest in privatization, as well as their influence in a deal to revamp the VA’s electronic health records, as cause for concern.

Daily News Digest August 20, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

The Journal reported that the personnel shifts will affect officers fighting in the Middle East, as well as those working to counter Russia, overseeing Guantanamo Bay and engaging in stealth operations around the world.

Officials told the Journal that Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke is anticipated to be formally appointed to U.S. Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla. He would succeed Army Gen. Tony Thomas, who will retire next year. The Special Operations Command oversees the specialized forces of all military branches.

Federal authorities investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. 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, according to people familiar with the matter.

HuffPost obtained a transcript of Farenthold’s deposition, along with copies of his texts and emails submitted for the lawsuit. What’s clear is that he blames everyone but himself for his downfall and that his reasons for not repaying the $84,000 are bonkers. You can read 79 pages of his deposition yourself, here, or just read below for the bits we thought were particularly bananas.

As a corporate lawyer, William L. Wehrum worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants.

Now, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government’s top air pollution official.

The White House rejected Turkey's offer to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson in exchange for the U.S. dropping an investigation into Turkish bank Halkbank, a senior White House official told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. 

Todd asked Brennan if he regretted any of his verbal attacks on Trump.

“Well I called his behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust, and to aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim,” Brennan answered.

“I think these are abnormal times and I think a lot of people have spoken out against what Mr. Trump has done” Brennan later said. “I think I need to speak out. And so I’ve been speaking out rather forcefully because I believe it’s important to do so. I don’t believe I’m being political at all. I’m not a republican, I’m not a democrat.”

Daily News Digest August 19, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

Omarosa Manigault Newman has a stash of video, emails, text messages and other documentation supporting the claims in her tell-all book about her time in the Trump White House, a person with direct knowledge of the records told The Associated Press Friday.

Manigault Newman has made clear that she plans to continue selectively releasing the pieces of evidence if President Donald Trump and his associates continue to attack her credibility and challenge the claims in her book, “Unhinged.” She’s already dribbled out audio recordings of conversations, and video clips, texts or email could follow, according to the person who described what Manigault Newman has called a multimedia “treasure trove.” The person was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and asked for anonymity.

“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did,” the statement read.

Daily News Digest August 18, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

Elliot Broidy, a longtime GOP fundraiser and former Republican National Committee (RNC) official, is reportedly under investigation for allegedly offering Trump administration actions for tens of millions of dollars, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Post that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is examining a plan allegedly created by Broidy to try and convince Trump officials to extradite a Chinese dissident.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced Friday he would introduce an amendment curtailing the president’s ability to revoke security clearances from his critics.

“I will be introducing an amendment next week to block the President from punishing and intimidating his critics by arbitrarily revoking security clearances. Stay tuned,” he tweeted Friday evening. 

Prince's idea, which first surfaced last year during the president's Afghanistan strategy review, envisions replacing troops with private military contractors who would work for a special U.S. envoy for the war who would report directly to the president.

A common suspicion ran through the conversations -- that the tariffs are just a small part of Trump’s plan to prevent China from overtaking the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. Several people expressed concern that the two nations may be heading into a long struggle for global dominance that recalls the last century’s rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Daily News Digest August 17, 2018

This Week's Headlines: 

Chance Democrats win control (69.0%)

The Senate took a rhetorical shot on Thursday at President Trump's attacks on the media, passing a resolution affirming that the press is "not the enemy of the people."

The nonbinding resolution, which cleared the chamber by unanimous consent, also touts the "indispensable role of the free press" and says an attack on the media meant to "systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole [is] an attack on our democratic institutions."

At first, Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to respond to Shapiro was treated as news (at least at Shapiro’s Daily Wire). Then, after Ocasio-Cortez explained why she ignored the offer, it became news again as Shapiro wronglyaccused her of “slandering” him. “Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions. And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one,” she tweeted. Shapiro and others on the right were quick to misread Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet as her literally accusing Shapiro of catcalling, which suggests that she was right to brush off his offer as coming from a place of bad intentions. That, and the fact that both Daily Wire articles featured cherry-picked, unflattering images of her, might lead one to think this was less about having a good-faith discussion of ideas and more just a setup.

As you know, in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh told the Committee under oath that he was “not aware of any issues” regarding “the legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees”;[1] was “not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants”[2]; had nothing to do with issues related to rendition;[3] and was unaware of, and saw no documents related to, the warrantless wiretapping program conducted without congressional authorization.[4]

However, at least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11.  In one, just days after the existence of the Office of Legal Counsel “torture memos” was publicly revealed, then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harriet Miers forwarded to Judge Kavanaugh a set of talking points addressing the memos and U.S. torture policy.[5]  The forwarded email makes clear that then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had personally asked for Judge Kavanaugh’s review.  Similarly, another email shows that Judge Kavanaugh was included on an email chain circulating talking points on rendition and interrogation.[6]  These emails and talking points demonstrate why we need access to Judge Kavanaugh’s full record as Staff Secretary.

A bomb threat was reported at The Boston Globe on Thursday, the same day the newspaper spearheaded a campaign to publish coordinated editorials at multiple papers condemning President Trump's attacks against the press. 

Officials from the Boston police told Boston 7 News that they do not believe the threat was "super serious" but that they have increased patrols around the building.

Now, nearly eight years later, it appears that the agency botched the communication system it used to interact with its sources, according to five current and former intelligence officials. The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it.

“The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable,” said one of the officials who, like the others, declined to be named discussing sensitive information. The former official described the attitude of those in the agency who worked on China at the time as “invincible.”