Trump Has Been Refusing Since Last January To Do An Interview With Mueller

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

The date had been picked, the location too, and the plan was penciled in: President Donald Trump would be whisked from the White House to Camp David on a quiet winter Saturday to answer questions from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

But as the Jan. 27, 2018, date neared and Mueller provided the topics he wanted to discuss, Trump’s lawyers balked. Attorney John Dowd then fired off a searing letter disputing Mueller’s authority to question the president. The interview was off.

Nearly a year later, Trump has still not spoken directly to Mueller’s team — and may never. Through private letters, tense meetings and considerable public posturing, the president’s lawyers have engaged in a tangled, tortured back-and-forth with the special counsel to prevent the president from sitting down for a face-to-face with enormous political and legal consequences.

The prolonged negotiation speaks to the high stakes for Trump, Mueller’s investigation of his campaign and the presidency. Any questioning of a president in a criminal investigation tests the limit of executive authority. Putting this president on the record also tests his ability to stick to the facts and risks a constitutional showdown.

The process took a significant step forward this week when Trump’s lawyers handed over the president’s written answers to some of Mueller’s questions. The arrangement was a hard-fought compromise. Trump answered only questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election and not questions about whether he has tried to obstruct the broader investigation into potential coordination between Russia and his presidential campaign. It’s unclear whether Mueller intends to push for more — either in writing or in person.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined comment.

Even those written answers were months in the making.

In the months following Mueller’s May 2017 appointment, the White House pledged its cooperation, believing it the fastest way to end the investigation. The administration produced thousands of documents sought by the special counsel and made close Trump aides — including his legal counsel, chief of staff and press secretary — available for questioning. White House lawyer Ty Cobb predicted the investigation could conclude by the end of that year.

But it soon became clear that Mueller would want to interview Trump, given his involvement in several events under scrutiny. The president had fired FBI Director James Comey, harangued his attorney general over his recusal from the Russia investigation and dictated a misleading statement about a Trump Tower meeting involving his son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

But Trump lawyers Dowd and Jay Sekulow moved cautiously.

The last time a president is known to have been interviewed in a criminal investigation was nearly 15 years ago, and a commander-in-chief has not been subpoenaed before a grand jury since 1998, when President Bill Clinton was summoned in the Whitewater case. Trump’s lawyers were mindful such an interview would be a minefield for a president who often misstates the facts. They set out to avoid it however possible, even if it could lead to resisting a subpoena and bringing on a court fight over presidential power.

But first they tried to head off a request. Trump’s lawyers staked out a bold constitutional argument, declaring they considered his actions as president outside a prosecutor’s bounds. Mueller had no right to question the president on any of his decisions made at the White House, they argued, saying any outside scrutiny of those choices would curb a president’s executive powers.

At the same time, they worked to undermine Mueller’s case should he choose to challenge that argument. They furnished a trove of White House documents about key moments in the investigation in hopes of undercutting any claim that he could only get the information he needed by questioning Trump, according to people familiar with the strategy.

Trump had other plans.

As his lawyers plotted to dig in against any interview, he pushed for one, believing it would exonerate him. In January, he burst into a reporters’ briefing with chief of staff John Kelly and insisted he was eager to speak to Mueller. He might do so in weeks, he said, “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”

“I would love to do that — I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” Trump said.

What he didn’t mention was that his attorneys had already discussed, and scuttled, the planned interview with Mueller. That process had even progressed to discussing logistics with Kelly, who advised of ways White House officials could get people in and out of the building without the press knowing.

But the interest cooled after Mueller team prosecutor James Quarles dictated over the phone 16 topics Mueller wanted to cover, including Trump’s interactions with Comey, his knowledge of national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with the FBI and his involvement in the Trump Tower statement. Dowd responded that the answers could all be found in documents and witness statements provided to Mueller. He then canceled the interview and days later drafted a feisty letter contesting the interview’s appropriateness and offering extensive explanations on the incidents in question.

The investigation has been “a considerable burden for the president and his office, has endangered the safety and security of our country, and has interfered with the president’s ability to both govern domestically and conduct foreign affairs,” Dowd wrote.

In the following months, Trump told some of his closest confidants that he still wanted to interview with Mueller, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the White House who asked for anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss private conversations. The president repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong and believed he could convince Mueller of that.

He told one confidant last spring he was frustrated his lawyers didn’t believe he should do it and snapped that he didn’t understand what was taking so long, according to one Republican in contact with the White House.

Tensions were on display at a March meeting where Dowd and Sekulow met with Mueller to discuss the need for an interview. Mueller said he needed to know if Trump had a “corrupt intent” when he fired Comey, such as by intending to stymie the investigation, according to a person familiar with the encounter. Dowd responded that the question was ridiculous and the answer was obviously no. Investigators at the same meeting raised the prospect of a subpoena if Trump didn’t cooperate, Dowd has said.

Later that month, Mueller’s team produced its most detailed list of questions yet — dozens, in different categories from Trump’s time as a candidate, through the transition period and into his presidency.

Trump’s own views soon began to shift. He had his first misgivings in mid-April after FBI raids on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, thinking they were a sign that he could “not trust” Mueller, according to one of the Republicans close to Trump who spoke with the AP.

As Rudy Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team in April, the White House settled into a new strategy: Drag out the interview drama for months, and use that time to ratchet up attacks on Mueller’s credibility and complaints about the cost and time of the probe, according to the officials and advisers familiar with the strategy.

Giuliani led the charge. His scattershot arguments sometimes frustrated others in the White House, as he frequently moved the goalposts as to what would be required to have an interview. But the effect was to ensure the process would drag out longer.

Trump, meanwhile, continued complaining about the investigation even as his lawyers quietly negotiated acceptable interview terms.

A key breakthrough occurred earlier this fall when Mueller’s team said it would accept written answers on Russian election interference and collusion. The concession ensured that Mueller would get at least some on-the-record response from Trump. Prosecutors tabled questions about obstruction, reserving the right to return to that area later.

Giuliani seemed to foreclose future dialogue Tuesday, saying, “It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion.”

Whether Mueller agrees is a different story.

Trump Once Again Has Ass In Mouth Disease Concerning U.S. Supreme Court?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

President Donald Trump lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts Wednesday after the Supreme Court leader rebuked the president for suggesting a U.S. judge was biased.

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” Trump said over Twitter.

He added: “We need protection and security ― these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have “Obama judges,” and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary,” but if it is why……

26.4K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

…..are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!

19.1K people are talking about this

Trump dismissed a ruling against his administration on Tuesday because it came from an “Obama judge.”

In his first public criticism of the president, Roberts said in a statement, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.”

Roberts added, one day before Thanksgiving, that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

The president’s “Obama judge” comment came after U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, put a stop on Monday to the Trump administration’s ban on refugees seeking asylum outside official points of entry along the U.S. border.

“You cannot win, when you’re us, in the 9th Circuit,” Trump said outside the White House when asked about the ruling.

The president complained that “they” file suits in the left-leaning 9th Circuit purposefully so that “we get beaten, and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court.” In the case of the asylum ban, “they” refers to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“This was an Obama judge. And I tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore,” the president threatened Tuesday.

The 9th Circuit also ruled against the Trump administration’s third attempt to enact a travel ban for people from several Muslim-majority countries last year.

Over Twitter on Wednesday, the president once again suggested the 9th Circuit was not an “independent judiciary” by claiming “so many opposing view” cases are filed there.

Prior to that, Trump sneered at a “so-called judge” who cracked down on a related travel ban.

The squabble between the heads of the executive and judicial branches comes more than a month after a nasty partisan battle to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh left some justices concerned about the Supreme Court’s reputation as an impartial arbiter of justice.

Following Kavanaugh’s confirmation last month, Roberts stressed the importance of maintaining the judicial system’s independence from what he called the “political branches” of government. The Supreme Court, he said, “would be very different without that sort of independence.”

Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Meets Saudi King And Crown Prince In Disgraceful Photo Op

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Meets Saudi King And Crown Prince In Disgraceful Photo Op

Salah Khashoggi likely had no real choice to refuse the man who allegedly ordered his father’s murder.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 2

SAUDI PRESS AGENCY VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 23, 2018.

Officials in Saudi Arabia summoned Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to a palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, where he posed for photos with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While the Saudis claim that the son “expressed … great thanks to the Saudi King and Crown Prince for their condolences,” the pictures suggest otherwise, and with good reason.

Mohammed bin Salman reportedly ordered the operation that resulted in the death, allegedly by torture, of Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month. His body was allegedly then dismembered. Under international pressure, the Saudis admitted last week that Khashoggi died in an altercation in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, was living in the U.S.

King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

Salah Khashoggi himself has been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia since last year because of his father’s criticism of the Saudi regime, a friend of the Khashoggi family told the Associated Press.

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Regardless of the intent behind the staged photos, the event didn’t sit well with observers on Twitter, many of whom noted its similarity to other forced photo ops with murderous tyrants:

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Jorge Guajardo

@jorge_guajardo

MBS meeting with Khasshogi’s son in Saudi Arabia (left) reminded me of Saddam Hussein meeting with foreign “guests” (unable to leave) in Iraq before Desert Storm.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Elizabeth Tsurkov

@Elizrael

The photo shoot of Khashoggi’s son with MbS, the man who probably ordered the murder of his father, reminds me of the time @WJoumblatt had to go meet Hafez al-Assad, shortly after apparently Hafez ordered the murder of Walid’s father, Kamal. Video: http://bit.ly/2R4wfwS 

Piers Morgan

@piersmorgan

REPULSIVE.
Saudi tyrant ‘MBS’ – aka Mohammed Bone Saw – forces Jamal Khashoggi’s son to do a PR photo-op handshake, days after ordering his father’s torture, dismemberment & murder.
A new low, even by the medieval standards of this barbaric crown prince.

Rula Jebreal

@rulajebreal

This is sickening! I’m outraged
The Saudi Regime is forcing Salah Jamal Khashoggi, Jamal Khashoggi’s own son, to shake the hand of the mastermind behind his father’s murderer.
The international community must pressure King Salman to lift the travel ban on Salah Jamal Khashoggi.

Ragıp Soylu

@ragipsoylu

BREAKING — Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince MbS met two members of #Khashoggi family, one of them is son Salah – SPA

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Saudi Arabia: Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was A Saudi Warning Shot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was A Saudi Warning Shot

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Long before Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, Saudi Arabia had a history of cracking down on dissidents. Little tolerance exists inside the kingdom for activism and dissent. Even abroad, critics have not been safe: Saudi princes critical of the regime have gone missing while living in Europe.

But Khashoggi was not an ordinary dissident. He had started an advocacy group called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which aimed to bring together reformer intellectuals and political Islamist in pursuit of building democracy in the Arab world. Khashoggi also had links to Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist movement that has had tremendous influence in the region but one that Saudi Arabia regards as a regional threat and terrorist organization.

His political engagement had become especially alarming for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, given Khashoggi’s once very close relations to the royal family and his in-depth knowledge of issues and networks within the kingdom. Khashoggi had become a “dissident” only recently, but he did so with a level of ambition that triggered Mohammed bin Salman insecurity. The crown prince, known as MBS, tried and failed to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. Khashoggi expressed his distrust of the Saudi authorities, and continued his activism.

Khashoggi had become a ‘dissident’ only recently, but he did so with a level of ambition that triggered Mohammed bin Salman’s insecurity.

So the crown prince, it seems, had him tortured and killed. The message was clear: Anyone who challenges the Saudi regime and tries to create alternatives to the current Saudi rule will be punished in the harshest way possible. It is a stark warning to dissident members of the Saudi diaspora and their supporters.

The Khashoggi incident is not only a matter of human rights or suppressing dissidents. It’s a sign how personally MBS took Khashoggi’s political conversion. That the incident happened at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shows that MBS was not afraid of any major repercussions when delivering his message. The Saudi ruling elite surely has the means to have a dissident killed in an “accident” that would be difficult to officially trace. The crown prince chose a different, more frightening route.

The brazen nature of the kidnapping and murder seems to have surprised many in U.S. and international policy circles. But Saudi authorities had good reason to believe that they could get away with kidnapping and killing one of their own citizens.

Russia’s 2016 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London, as well as its attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal, showed how a country can deal with its “traitors” abroad. The exiled brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was killed in Malaysia with VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction. Despite the clear Pyongyang link to this murder, President Donald Trump was shaking hands with Kim within a matter of months.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been widely criticized for his friendly demeanor in public as he met with Saudi Crown

LEAH MILLIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been widely criticized for his friendly demeanor in public as he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this week to gather information about the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Despite all the attention and the possibility of rising tensions in the next couple of months, the Khashoggi incident is not likely to change any major power dynamics or relation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in long-term. When the details of the incident first emerged, the Saudi disregard for international civility and norms did not seem to bother Trump, who stated that Saudis are “spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country” ― referring to a proposed arms deal that has yet to take full effect.

He also seemed to shrug off whatever happened in the Saudi consulate by saying “This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a United States citizen.”

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There is no doubt that MBS counted on Trump’s emphasis on deals and money, as well as the president’s disdain for the press and his closer relations with autocratic countries like Russia and North Korea when compared to the policies of the former administrations.

MBS also has close ties to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner facilitated the $110 billion Saudi-U.S. military deal and foresees a key role for Saudi Arabia in the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan he envisions. The crown prince also knows that Saudi oil exports are critical to the global economy and Saudi cooperation is still a key milestone in the U.S. administration’s Middle East policy. All this makes him feel he can act with impunity.

The U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia is not based on values, but on interests. After the outrage from U.S. business and political circles over Khashoggi’s apparent murder, especially from some within his own party, Trump transitioned from his “this is not our business” response to “not good if they really did it.”

Trump spoke to the Saudi King, and upon the King’s denial of any Saudi involvement in the Khashoggi incident, Trump said it was possible “rogue killers” might have murdered Khashoggi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also sent to meet with the Saudi King and MBS. According to the State Department website, the discussions covered bilateral and regional issues, and Pompeo “thanked the King for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

In short, the president and the secretary of state sound ready to accept the narrative Saudi officials will provide them.

There is no doubt that MBS counted on Trump’s emphasis on deals and money, as well as the president’s disdain for the press.

True, the Saudi ruling elite underestimated the extent of Turkish surveillance of the consulate in Istanbul, and it didn’t seem to have predicted the immediate negative reaction to the Khashoggi incident in U.S. business and policy circles. But Saudi authorities likely will continue to focus on doing just enough to appease the U.S. administration in answering questions about what happened to the journalist. The Saudis can be expected to claim that MBS had no knowledge of the apparent murder, and down the road they may even pretend to punish those they say were involved.

With the Khashoggi incident, MBS was just testing the boundaries of diplomatic impunity in a world where the standards for diplomatic civility are on a fast decline. It is no secret that he wants to control and subdue the Saudi diaspora, and any political movement that can challenge his legitimacy.

Given the backlash from the business world ― which probably will intensify as gruesome details of the violence inflicted on Khashoggi trickle to the press ― MBS will likely be more cautious, at least in short-term.

In long-term, though, businesses and policymakers will need to signal consistently ― in public and in private ― that, despite the potential damage that sanctions on Saudi Arabia might do to the global economy, there are values that the international community is not ready to sacrifice. The challenge for the international community is to decide what those values are.

Nukhet A. Sandal is the director of global studies at the Center for International Studies and associate professor of political science at Ohio University. She is the author of Religious Leaders and Conflict Transformation.

Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to US amid crisis over Khashoggi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Saudi Arabia ‘Coincidentally’ Wires $100 Million To U.S. Amid Khashoggi Controversy

The payment, which the Saudis had committed to in August, reportedly arrived on the same day that Pompeo landed in Riyadh.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That same day, the U.S. government received a $100 million payment from the oil-rich kingdom, The New York Times and Washington Post reported — an amount that had earlier been promised to the Trump administration to support its stabilization efforts in Syria.

Trump officials have insisted the timing of the hefty transfer was pure coincidence. But some Middle Eastern experts say they aren’t so sure.

“In all probability, the Saudis want Trump to know that his cooperation in covering for the Khashoggi affair is important to the Saudi monarch,” Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center of Middle East Studies, told the Post. “Much of its financial promises to the U.S. will be contingent on this cooperation.”

One U.S. official involved in Syria policy was blunter. “The timing of this is no coincidence,” the official told the Times.

Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, has maintained, however, that the Saudi payment had no connection whatsoever to Pompeo’s meeting with the Crown Prince or Khashoggi’s alleged murder.

Saudi Arabia had publicly committed the money in August, he said, adding that “the specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit.”

Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to US amid crisis over Khashoggi

Reports have connected the alleged murder and dismemberment of the journalist with people from the Crown Prince’s inner circle. Yet both the president and Pompeo said this week that the Saudis should be given more time to investigate the situation and should be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

Trump and Pompeo also stressed America’s close ties to the Saudis ― and the massive amounts of money that the U.S. receives from the kingdom.

Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday that “we need to make sure we are mindful” of the important business and government ties with Saudi Arabia as the U.S. considers next steps regarding the Khashoggi case.

“I do think it’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships ― financial relationships between U.S. and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, things we work on together all across the world, the efforts to [counter Iran],” Pompeo said, according to CNN.

When asked about Khashoggi’s disappearance last Thursday, Trump said that while “we don’t like it even a little bit,” it wouldn’t be “acceptable” to him to stop selling billions of dollars worth of weapons to Riyadh.

“We don’t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me,” the president said, referring to an arms deal that experts have called hugely exaggerated.

ONCE AGAIN: Donald “Is The Fake News’ Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Even Fox News Shoots Down Donald Trump’s Economy Boast

President’s GDP tweet has been contradicted by his top White House economic adviser; he still hasn’t removed it.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, isn't vouching for the president's tweets.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, isn’t vouching for the president’s tweets.

President Donald Trump boasted Monday in a tweet that it’s the first time in more than a century that America’s gross domestic product growth is higher than the unemployment rate.

Except that it’s not.

In fact, the GDP has been higher than the unemployment rate more than 20 percent of the time since 1948, according to actual facts.

Even Fox News wasn’t buying Trump’s tout this time.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also shot down the president’s claim, later quipping about yet another Trump tweet that he’s not the head of the “Council of Twitter Advisers.”

But Trump still hadn’t changed his false tweet as of Monday night.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!

Fox News research contradicted Trump in a tweet about two hours after his claim, noting that there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than the average quarterly unemployment rate (several during the Clinton administration).

In 2006, unemployment was about 4.7 percent and quarterly GDP growth was significantly higher than it is now, at 5.4 percent, according to data.

Fox News Research

@FoxNewsResearch

Since 1948, there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than avg quarterly unemployment rate

Recent Quarters with GDP Growth higher than Unemployment Rate:
•Q2 2018
•Q1 2006
•Q3 2003
•Q2 2000
•Q4 1999
•Q3 1999
•Q4 1998
•Q3 1998
•Q3 1997
•Q2 1997
•Q2 1996

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!

Twitter had fun with Trump’s fake news — and the takedown by Fox.

Hassett told skeptical reporters that the GDP has been higher than unemployment for 10 years and speculated that someone may have given Trump that information with an extra zero accidentally added to the 10.

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Trump also tweeted that President Barack Obama claimed he’d need a magic wand to boost the economy to 4.2 percent. But Obama was actually talking about boosting manufacturing jobs, not economic growth.

PBS NewsHour

@NewsHour

Pres. Obama on Donald Trump: “The answer is he doesn’t have an answer.”

Asked to clarify Trump’s tweet about that, Hassett smiled and said: “I’don’t know. I’m sorry, and again, I’m not the chairman of the Council of Twitter Advisers.”

Hassett also said he’s “grateful” when the press points out mistakes.

Hassett talked to reporters at a press briefing about Trump’s positive effect on the economy.

Trump inherited a healthy economy, and most indicators remain on the same uphill incline that began under Obama — who inherited an economy in crisis from a Republican administration.

The U.S. is in its 10th year of economic growth, with 95 straight months of job creation. Trump has been in office less than 20 months.

TicToc by Bloomberg

@tictoc

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett corrected Trump’s false claim that U.S. GDP was higher than unemployment in 100 years:

“At some point, somebody probably conveyed it to him adding a zero to that and they shouldn’t have done that”

Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’ At Confirmation Hearing

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee defended his support of Priests for Life on the third day of his hearing.

On the third day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he referred to contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

Judge Kavanaugh was responding to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday about his 2015 dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case. Kavanaugh had sided with the religious organization, which didn’t want to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Aaron Rupar

@atrupar

Kavanaugh seems to refer to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs”

Priests for Life, a Catholic group that opposes abortion rights, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 over the provision under the Affordable Care Act that required certain health care providers to cover birth control. The group argued that the provision was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ― the same premise of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit in 2014.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against Priests for Life in 2014. When the group tried and failed to get a full court hearing the next year, Kavanaugh dissented to lay out why he would have ruled for them.

This year, the group celebrated Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“We at Priests for Life have personal experience of Judge Kavanaugh’s approach to religious freedom, because he sided with us when we had to defend our religious freedom in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Father Frank Pavone, the organization’s national director, said in July.

“At a time when these freedoms need more defense than ever,” he went on, “we urge the Senate to conduct a swift and fair confirmation process, focused on the excellent qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh, and not on the politics of personal destruction that the Democrat Left are such experts at carrying out.”

Following Kavanaugh’s remarks on Thursday, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said it was “no wonder” activists have been so emphatic in protesting his nomination.

“Kavanaugh referred to birth control ― something more than 95 percent of women use in their lifetime ― as an ‘abortion-inducing drug,’ which is not just flat-out wrong, but is anti-woman, anti-science propaganda,” Laguens told HuffPost. “Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake.”

“Let me break it down for you, Brett,” she went on. “Birth control is basic health care. Birth control allows women to plan their futures, participate in the economy, and ― for some women with health issues like endometriosis ― allows them to get through the day.”

Bob Bland, co-president of the Women’s March, called Kavanaugh’s potential ascent to the Supreme Court “an emergency, all-hands-on-deck moment for women across America.”

“We know Brett Kavanaugh is against abortion, and now we know he thinks birth control is abortion,” Bland said Thursday.

Cruz, who brought up the Priests for Life case at Thursday’s hearing, used language similar to Kavanaugh’s when he referred to contraception as “abortifacients” at a 2013 summit. The religious right’s use of terms like “abortifacient” and “abortion-inducing drugs” has long been criticized by medical and pro-abortion rights communities.

Language has been amended to more precisely describe the timeline of the Priests for Life case.

Sen. Booker Releases Judge Kavanaugh Doc’s Republicans Trying To Hide From Public

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Cory Booker Releases Confidential Documents During Kavanaugh Hearing

Hawaii’s Sen. Mazie Hirono followed Booker’s threat to publish formerly confidential documents with her own release during the third day of hearings.
X

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) released formerly confidential emails from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about racial profiling and racial discrimination at the start of the third day of confirmation hearings on Thursday, around an hour after threatening to do so.

The dramatic move appeared to defy Republicans who had shielded the documents from public view, and it seemed to risk breaking Senate rules. Senate Judiciary Committee staffers for Republican and Democratic officials told The Washington Post, however, that the committee cleared the documents for public viewing before either senator posted them to their websites. A spokesman for Bill Burck, the Republican lawyer overseeing the approvals, also told the publication that the emails Booker released were cleared last night.

The precise timing is not yet clear.

A spokesman for Booker said in a statement that the senator and unnamed Democratic colleagues “were able to shame the committee” into releasing the documents. Yet a spokeswoman for Hirono told HuffPost the senator did not ask the committee to release the emails that she made public around 10:30 a.m. before she published them online. Hirono did not know they would be cleared for public release, the spokeswoman said.

Booker was the first to threaten to make the documents public, saying he would “knowingly violate” the rules and accept any punishment for his action, which he considered to be civil disobedience. Booker said the emails, taken from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House, do not pose a threat to national security.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asks Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a question during a confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asks Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a question during a confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said the emails Booker referenced had, in fact, just been deemed non-confidential, saying “the process worked.” Lee offered to work with Democrats in the committee to make other confidential documents public, too.

When Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) reminded Booker that he could lose his seat for breaking Senate rules, prior to the documents’ release, Booker responded: “Bring it.”

At the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) argued that all the committee confidential documents should be publicly released, saying, “We are literally trying to get at the truth here.”

Booker’s documents, released Thursday afternoon, reveal that while Kavanaugh “generally” supports “race-neutral” security measures, the nominee also believed there was an “interim” question on whether to use racial profiling before neutral security measures are deployed. The emails between White House staffers were sent from mid-2001 and early 2002.

Messages released by Hirono reference unspecified government programs. Kavanaugh said in June 2002 that any such programs “targeting” native Hawaiians “as a group” are “subject to strict scrutiny” and “of questionable validity under the Constitution.” Hirono said in the hearing that her “colleagues from Alaska should be deeply troubled” by the nominee’s views because they would also apply to native Alaskans. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska is seen as a possible swing vote in the confirmation process.

Booker’s colleagues Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Hirono also rallied around him, pledging their support in the event Booker faced “retribution,” as Durbin put it. Hirono said she would “defy anyone.”

“You want everything to be made public? All your emails? I don’t think you do,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) responded at the hearing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) jumped in to argue that the process of categorizing documents as committee confidential was far from transparent and perhaps unfair.

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“There is no process for ‘committee confidential,’” she said, adding that Democrats were not consulted in the decision to make certain documents private.

The release was in line with what progressive groups urged Democratic senators to do Wednesday: Go around Grassley and release the 141,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s record that are not permitted for public release or public discussion. Members of the committee can read and discuss the documents among themselves, but they cannot question Kavanaugh on their contents in the hearings.

Read the documents that Booker released below. Hirono also uploaded documents, which are now on her website.

Republican Senator Don’t Care That Judge Kavanaugh Lied Under Oath At Least Twice

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Sen. Leahy: Withheld Emails Show Brett Kavanaugh May Have Perjured Himself

“There is simply no reason they can’t be made public,” Leahy said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Wednesday that emails being withheld by Senate Republicans show that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may have lied under oath during his prior confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006.

The Democrat claimed that six emails from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House may contradict testimony Kavanaugh gave when being confirmed for his federal judgeships. But according to Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has labeled the emails as “committee confidential,” meaning they can’t be released to the public.

“There is simply no reason they can’t be made public,” Leahy said during confirmation hearings Wednesday.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

@SenatorLeahy

We have discovered evidence that Judge Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his 2004 and 2006 hearings. Truthfulness under oath is not an optional qualification for a Supreme Court nominee. Watch as I question him here: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/nomination-of-the-honorable-brett-m-kavanaugh-to-be-an-associate-justice-of-the-supreme-court-of-the-united-states-day-2 

Nomination of the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of…

United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary

judiciary.senate.gov

Leahy’s assertion shined a bright light on the fact that committee Republicans are rushing the judge’s nomination through without disclosing a huge number of documents related to his work in the White House counsel’s office under Bush.

Grassley only requested between 10 and 15 percent of the documents from Kavanaugh’s time in Bush administration, and only 7 percent ― 457,000 documents ― have been provided to the committee. Of the documents that have been turned over, Grassley is refusing to publicly release 189,000. The committee asked for no records from Kavanaugh’s time as White House staff secretary.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

CHIP SOMODEVILLA VIA GETTY IMAGES
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The six emails in question related to a scandal from 2002 and 2003 in which a Republican Judiciary Committee staffer named Manny Miranda stole emails from the committee’s Democrats that included strategy memos about how they would question Bush’s judicial nominees.

Leahy alleged that Kavanaugh, in his role preparing those judicial nominees for their confirmation hearings, knew he had received these stolen emails from Miranda detailing the Democrats’ strategy on the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Kavanaugh claimed in both his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings that if he did receive those documents, he “never knew or suspected” that they were stolen.

Under tough questioning by Leahy on Wednesday, Kavanaugh stated that what he said in 2004 and 2006 was “100 percent accurate.” Leahy’s line of questioning first focused on three emails that are available to the public, then later alluded to the six emails that are not.

Leahy brought up an email sent on July 19, 2002, from Miranda to Kavanaugh and another Bush official that, according to the senator, asked “why the Leahy people were looking into financial ties between two special interest groups and Priscilla Owen.”

Kavanaugh proceeded to read the email and concluded, “I don’t really have a specific recollection of any of this, senator, but it would have not have been unusual [to say] … ‘The Leahy people are looking into this and the Hatch people are looking into that.’”

Then Leahy asked about a January 2003 email.

“Mr. Miranda forwarded you a letter from me and other Judiciary Democrats to then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle,” the senator said. “The letter was clearly a draft. It had typos and it wasn’t signed. Somebody eventually leaked its existence to Fox News.”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh reads from an email sent to him when working at the White House while answering questions from Sen. Pat

WIN MCNAMEE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Judge Brett Kavanaugh reads from an email sent to him when working at the White House while answering questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy.
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“Here’s the thing,” Leahy continued. “You had the full text of my email in your inbox before anything was said about it publicly. Did you find it at all unusual to receive a draft letter from Democratic senators to each other before any mention of it was made public?”

Kavanaugh pointed out that the only reply he made to this particular email was asking, “Who signed this?” According to Kavanaugh, this meant that he did not realize that the document was a draft and, therefore, remained oblivious that the document had been stolen.

Leahy then wanted to know if Miranda ever asked Kavanaugh to meet outside of the White House or the Capitol.

“I can’t rule that out,” Kavanaugh answered.

Leahy continued, “Did he ever hand you material separately from what would be emailed back and forth?”

“I don’t know the answer to that, senator,” Kavanaugh said before hemming and hawing about how sometimes the Democrats and Republicans on the committee worked together.

After his failure to remember whether he met with or received documents by hand from Miranda, Leahy asked Kavanaugh about another specific email. This was the first allusion to confidential emails the committee was not disclosing to the public.

“When you worked at the White House did anyone ever tell you they had a mole that provided them with secret info?” Leahy asked.

Kavanaugh said he didn’t “recall the reference to a mole.”

Leahy got more specific: “You never received an email from a Republican staff member with information claiming to come from spying?”

“I’m not going to rule anything out,” Kavanaugh said, echoing previous denials. “If I did, I wouldn’t have thought the literal meaning of that.”

“Wouldn’t that surprise you that you got an email saying that they got that from somebody spying?” Leahy pressed.

Kavanaugh, realizing that Leahy was talking about a document without revealing it, responded with his own question: “Well, is there such an email, senator?”

This led Leahy to turn to Grassley: “We’d have to ask the chairman what he has in the confidential material.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) shouts at Leahy as he questioned the lack of disclosure of Kavana

WIN MCNAMEE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) shouts at Leahy as he questioned the lack of disclosure of Kavanaugh’s documents.

Grassley responded angrily that all of the documents that the committee has made public from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House counsel’s office are publicly available online. Leahy replied that the email he referenced is marked “committee confidential.” Grassley, angrily yelling, declared that 80 percent of the emails the committee got from the archives are available to the public.

Leahy replied to both Kavanaugh and Grassley: “I’m concerned because there is evidence that Mr. Miranda provided you with materials that were stolen from me. And that would contradict your prior testimony. It’s also clear from public emails … that you had reason to believe that materials were obtained inappropriately at the time.”

“Mr. Chairman, there are at least six documents that you consider committee confidential that are directly related to this, including three documents that are already public,” Leahy added. “These other six contain no personal information. No presidential-act-restricted material. There is simply no reason they won’t be made public.”

Grassley said that he would produce the documents Leahy referenced: “He’s going to get what he wants. And I think there’s five of them.”

Trump: Dangerous Idiot—President Mike Pence: Dangerous Hypocrite? #2 Of 2

President Mike Pence: Dangerous Hypocrite?

(Part 2 Of 2)

 

On August 6th I wrote an article titled ” If Our President is Found Guilty Of Treason: Then What” That article is part one of this two-part letter to you. As a lot of you know, that by our Constitution the answer to that question is, the Vice President, Mike Pence becomes the President. Many folks that are hooked to this blog as well as people that I personally know have told me that in their opinion Mike Pence is more dangerous than Donald Trump. Personally I have though that these folks couldn’t be right, could they? So, I started digging for more information on our possible next President, for your knowledge, and for mine. The rest of this letter to you is information that I have gleamed off of various news agencies, I will document them for you as I go along.

 

Source: Market Watch

In 1998 when Mike Pence was a radio host in Indiana he argued that a President could be removed from office on “Moral grounds” when he was referring to President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Now that he is Donald Trump’s Vice President he has changed his opinion on this matter. There is no way that Mr. Pence can say that he was unaware of Mr. Trumps morals when he was asked to be Trumps running mate. Politics and big dollars make many folks change their religious ideologies, it looks like Mr. Pence is one of those folks.

During this time that he was a radio host Mr. Pence said that a President needed to be held to a higher moral standard than “our next door neighbor.” He argued that the ‘First Family’ must be role models for the rest of the country and the world.

 

Source: The New Republic

 

Their headline was “Is Mike Pence Really A Hypocrite?”

 

Mr. Pence detailed how President Clinton had broken the law by lying to the Grand Jury which is Perjury and Perjury is a Felony in the U.S. Legal System. He said that Presidents that commit perjury should resign or be impeached.

 

Source: The Business Insider 

 

10 Things we should know about Mike Pence’s political views and his religious beliefs. You may agree with some of his thoughts just as I did agree with a couple of his views from a Biblical view-point. Then again, you may agree with or disagree with all of them, I did not cherry pick the information given in an attempt to swing an opinion in either direction.

1.) Pence didn’t want women in the military. In 1999 a woman in the military fell in love with another soldier and he used this as his basis for his view-point.

2.) In 2000 Mr. Pence wrote an op-ed in which he said “smoking doesn’t kill”. He said this as he was taking money from big tobacco companies for his Congressional campaign. In 2016 during the Presidential Campaign he reworded his view-point to “smoking isn’t good for you.”

3.) While running for Congress in 2000 Mr. Pence wrote on his website that money funding research for HIV/AIDS should be moved to fund ‘Conversion Therapy” “Which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

4.) Mr. Pence told ‘The Hill Newspaper’ in 2002 that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he doesn’t attend events that serve alcohol without her. He has been blasted in some circles for being unfair to women, excluding them from important meetings saying that he is anti women because of this ‘moral’ policy. Personally I Agree with this policy from a religion stand point and from an ‘I love my wife’ stand point, but that is just me and my being old-fashioned.

 

Sources: The Hill Newspaper and the Washington Post

 

5.) During his 12 years as a Congressman Mr. Pence co-sponsored multiple pieces of legislation for a “Federal Shield Law” which would have allowed reporters to keep confidential sources secret, even if the government requested those sources. Now, as Donald Trumps VP he is against this legislation.

Source: The Washington Post

 

6.) Mr. Pence in 2006 cited a Harvard researcher in remarks where he declared that same-sex marriages would bring about a “social collapse” in America.

Source: Mic and the New York Times

 

7.) In 2011 Congressman Pence authored a bill to completely defund Planned Parenthood and he signaled that he was willing to prompt a government shut down in order to pass this bill.

8.) In a bid to limit abortions, Mr. Pence in 2011 sought to change when Federal funds for abortions could be used. The current stature was applied in cases of rape or incest. Mr. Pence wanted to change the term “rape” to “force-able rape.” Folks, I have a question for you, when is “rape” not force-able? If rape is not forced upon a person then isn’t it considered to be consensual sex?

Source: Mic and the Huffington Post

 

9.) While Governor of Indiana Mr. Pence signed the “2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which was meant to allow businesses in the state of Indiana to cite religious beliefs as a reason to refuse services to members of the LGBTQ community.

Source: the Huffington Post

 

10.) While Governor of Indiana Mr. Pence was blamed for a HIV crisis in his State after he moved to slash funding for Planned Parent-hood in 2011. A local Planed Parent-hood facility had to close in 2013 because of the spending cut. That facility was the only HIV testing center in Scott County which faced a deepening drug use problem that was believed to have hastened HIV out breaks.

Source: The New Yorker and former top adviser to President Trump, Stephen Bannon

 

“The danger of having a President Pence, Trumps critics yearn for his exit, but, Mike Pence is the ultimate Corporate Inside Man who poses his own risks.”

Bannon: “Pence is the outreach guy, the connective tissue between the Trump Administration and the most conservative wing of the Republican establishment.” Mr. Bannon also says that “Mr. Pence would be a President that the Koch brothers would own.” “Pence’s political career through-out has been sponsored at almost every turn by the same donors whom Trump has assailed. Pence is the inside man of the conservative money machine.”

 

“On Election Night of 2016 at the Hilton Hotel in Mid-town Manhattan in an upstairs Suite above the Ball-room there was an even more VIP that existed. Doug Deacon, a Texas businessman and a political donor told me that ‘it was amazing.’ In the VIP reception area alone I counted at least 8 or 9 billionaires.” Deacon said “he’s (Pence) really the contact to the big donors. Deacon said, that since the election I have attended two dinners for the wealthy backers at the Vice-Presidential residence. If Pence were to become President, the Government would be run by the Koch brothers-period. Pence has been their tool for years.”

 

Source: Doug Deacon

I had a meeting with Mikes mother (Nancy Pence Fritsch) and she said to me “the family identifies as Catholic, and Mike was an Alter-boy. Religion is the most important thing in our lives, she said.” “But we don’t take it seriously.”

Source: Gregory Pence, Mike’s brother

 

In Mikes Congressional Campaign he used personal donations toward personal expenses such as his mortgage and groceries. This wasn’t illegal, but it violated the trust of his supporters and sullied his “Pious” image. He upset a lot of his backers. It was partly because of immaturity, but he really was kind of full of shit. He comes across as Mid-western nice, but he is mean and shallow.”

 

In 1999 Mr. Pence took a job offer as President of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a tiny new ‘think tank’ that promoted free-market policies. They were known for being anti-union. They also opposed health, safety and environmental regulations. Also, because he was taking campaign contributions from big tobacco companies Mr. Pence said in 2000 that smoking doesn’t kill people. He said that a greater scourge than cigarettes was “big government disguised as do-gooder, healthcare rhetoric.”

Mr. Pence served in the Congress for 12 years yet he never, not once, authored a single successful bill. He was against George W. Bush’s expansion of Medicaid coverage for prescription drugs and the “no child left behind” program. Once Barack Obama was elected President Pence he became the early voice of the ‘Tea Party.”

Pence sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) that would have made it legal for government-funded hospitals to turn away a dying woman who needed an abortion to stay alive.

Pence calls “Global Warming” a myth. He may well feel this way because the Koch Brothers own several coal-fired power plants and oil refineries which release some 24 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. He voted against putting a tax on company’s carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide is said by most scientist to be the biggest reason for global warming. This tax would have cost the Koch brothers millions of dollars each year. It was after this bill failed to pass in the Senate that Mr. Pence became the “Koch’s guy” and they have been showering him with money ever since.

Source: Matthew Tully, a Columnist at the Indianapolis Star said 

“that Pence has a fatal flaw, he is to political and ideological, his focus is always on the next step up, not on his job at hand.

Pence brags about how good the state of Indiana was doing for the people financially yet when he left office Indiana ranked 38th in individual income.

Source: Michael Maurer, the owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal who is a Republican said in reference to Pence 

“It, his hypocrisy, just exploded in his face. His poll numbers were terrible. I bet he’d never get elected in Indiana again. But he went from being a likely loser as an incumbent governor to the V.P. of the U.S. but Indiana is still reeling from having him as our governor.”

Well folks, I think I now know a good bit more about why people from Indiana have been telling me how dangerous Mike Pence would be as our next President. I now see why so many people call him a hypocrite, a fraud, and dangerous. Most of the time I have associated the word hypocrite with something to religion yet in reality I associate it with a person who says one thing and does another. To me, a person who claims to be a Christian who worships money and human power over others, which also means they are also lying, is the worse kind of hypocrite and it appears to me that this definition fits Mike Pence quite well. Think back to the statement of his Mother about religion and I quote “religion is the most important thing in our lives, but we don’t take it seriously!” Just think about that statement, the most important thing in your life, but you don’t take that most important thing seriously, whew, what a ringing endorsement for the quality of a person, and by his Mother no less.