The Libby Pardon: Trump’s Object Lesson in Presidential Firewalls
There are two reports out tonight:
- Rod Rosenstein will be fired in an attempt to quash any further investigation of Trump’s crimes.
- Scooter Libby will be pardoned in an obvious attempt to present an object lesson in presidential firewalls.
This post will be an initial attempt to explain the Libby pardon.
Side note: For those who claim Richard Armitage outed Plame, let’s just agree that you have no familiarity with the actual record and leave it there for now. Trust me on this: Bush and Cheney were very concerned that the written record showed Cheney ordering Libby to out Plame (whom, some evidence not introduced at trial suggests, he knew was covert). We can fight about that later, but I’ve got a library of records on this and you don’t.
First: Libby has already had his right to vote and his bar license restored. This pardon is purely symbolic. I’m sure Libby’s happy to have it, but the audience here is Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, and a slew of other people who can incriminate Trump.
This appears to be a stunt inspired by Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing (whom I’ll call DiG & T henceforth), who are great table pounders but not great lawyers. Also, remember that VT is representing Mark Corallo, Erik Prince, and Sam Clovis, all in some legal jeopardy, so this ploy may help them too.
Libby was Bush’s firewall because he was ordered–by either PapaDick Cheney and/or Bush–to out Valerie Plame as an object lesson to CIA people pushing back on their shitty Iraq case. By refusing to flip, he prevented Patrick Fitzgerald from determining whether Bush had really ordered that outing or whether Cheney and Libby freelanced on it.
Libby risked prison, but didn’t flip on Cheney or Bush. He avoided prison time with a commutation, not a pardon. While PapaDick pushed hard for pardon, it didn’t happen, in large part because Bush had far better lawyers than Trump has.
Here’s some of the differences between Libby and Trump’s many firewalls:
- Manafort, Kushner, and Cohen are exposed to state charges, in addition to federal (even ignoring how the Russian mob may treat them).
- Libby was the bottleneck witness. You needed him to move further, or you got nowhere. Not so with Trump, because so many people know what a crook he is.
- Bush commuted but did not pardon Libby, then refused, against PapaDick’s plaints, because (smarter lawyer) his lawyer counseled that’d be obstruction [update, or counseled that Libby could still incriminate Bush]. Trump can’t fully pardon his firewall, for the same reason: bc these witnesses will lose Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination (which, as it happens, Cohen is invoking as we speak in a civil suit, which also can’t be dismissed by pardon).
- Di Genova and Toensing (who are not good lawyers but pound tables well) haven’t figured out that this won’t be a one-off: This won’t be one (Manafort) or two (Cohen) people Trump has to pardon. And THEY DON’T KNOW the full scope of who Trump would have to pardon here. There are too many moving parts to pull this off.
- And finally, because Trump is in a race. As I noted before, Mueller has already signaled he will label dangling pardons — as Trump has already done — as obstruction of justice. That presents far more risk for Trump, even assuming Mike Pence wants to go do the route of half-term infamy that Gerald Ford did by pardoning his boss.
All that’s before the fact that the crimes that Trump and his are facing are far, far uglier even than deliberately exposing the identity of a CIA officer to warn others off of exposing your war lies.
Maybe this will work? But I doubt it. There are just too many moving parts. And there is too little understanding among Trump’s closest advisors what they’re really facing.
So, congratulations to Scooter Libby at being a free man again. Condolences to Rod Rosenstein at being a free man again, if the firing does happen as predicted tomorrow.
But this is just a gambit, and there’s no reason to believe it will work.
#3 you mean Bush not trump right ?
And let’s presume that this will all be covered by the fog of “war” (flinging missiles into the bits of Syria that haven’t already been fucked over by the civil war).
It feels in a way like the Idiot is done with being president, other than that it provides some degree of sovereign immunity for now. Pence is busily assembling a neocon national security team with Haley as a putative Veep.
This may come down to a question of hours: if Rosenstein gets shitcanned at midnight, can Mueller release the
houndssealed/pending indictments before the courts open at Normal Court Opening time?
Friday 13th, y’all. It’s as if they want it to be memorialised.
I was actually wondering that. If the indictments are there, but sealed, who can unseal them if Mueller is fired. I assume if it’s just Rosenstein, Mueller can unseal his own banked indictments?
I’d incline to the lawyers among us, but I doubt that they’d know given that it’s really weird. On the one hand, judges seem okay with filings at 11.45pm for a midnight deadline, but I’ve no idea how one enacts things like unsealing sealed indictments quickly if Amy Berman Jackson is asleep.
Judges can unseal. US Attorneys can leak.
Ain’t no way, ain’t no how the Democrats allow any one to be appointed to fill the vacant VP Position if Pence becomes president
Next in such remains Speaker Of the House, who in January will be a Democrat
I don’t see a practical way to stop it. Can’t filibuster Executive Branch nominees any more, right? You’d need one Republican to vote no to get a tie, but I don’t think anyone’s going to flip in the hypothetical where Trump is gone.
Now, if impeachment drags out till January, all is relatively well.
This is exactly why we don’t want things to move too fast.
The Veep isn’t a typical executive branch “advice and consent” nominee. The 25th amendment sets out its own unique procedure:
So I’d say that it can’t be subject to a filibuster, but it is very much subject to the will of both houses in terms of holding hearings and scheduling a vote. It took Nelson Rockefeller four months from nomination to confirmation. (Ford took about two months.)
Is the referral to SDNY an attempt to graft part of the federal case into soil less reachable by Trump shenanigans? Where maybe it can regrow if the federal climate is poisoned?
Not sure I follow — SDNY is federal.
OTOH, the same could be said of Iran-Contra, and Bush 41 managed to pardon his way out of problems on Christmas Eve 1992. From the LA Times:
Sadly for Walsh, those appropriate actions went nowhere.
On the third hand, Bush did this on his way out the door. Trump has barely finished his first year, and I can’t help but think that the reaction to a bunch of self-serving pardons would truly be something to behold.
Mueller better managed Congress.
And Poppy was (even still is, in his aged state!) orders of magnitude smarter than anyone running Trump’s efforts.
I’m not saying this wasn’t beatable. I’m saying I see no evidence Trump has the team he needs to do so.
Yeah. Team Trump does seem to have a great deal of trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time.
See “Travel Ban”
I need to be quicker with my quibbles. As noted, Bush 41 arguably obstructed justice on his way out, with no follow up.
I would be surprised to learn that Bush 43 was advised that giving Libby a full pardon in late 2008 would be more obstructive than the commutation he did grant in July 2007. The parallel to Trumps situation (early first term, active investigation) isn’t there. For me, anyway.
As to points 1, 2, 4 and 5, yeah – Trump has too many people facing too many venues.
Most importantly, even though the law on pardons vis a vis obstruction lacks solid Presidential precedent, it doesn’t really matter since Mueller will be referring for impeachment, not indicting. Both Bush’s (at worst) killed zombie investigations. This does not seem to be that.
Well, fuck me.
The precedent of not shitting on the outgoing president is a bad precedent, but there’s also a political case that shitting on an outgoing president is not great. This is why strong presidencies are bad. Be rid of strong presidencies.
The argument vis à vis Libby is that the pardon power was there and not used, and that instead the commutation power was used: that Libby was guilty of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements but didn’t deserve to be imprisoned for his crimes. The assumption in that context would be that Libby would never be near that kind of power again so it didn’t massively matter, also he was a rich white guy who wrote sad dirty novels. If Notlob tugs him back into Neocon 2: Nuclear Annihilation Boogaloo we can reconsider that.
I’d disagree. The nature of the presidency is tons of fighting, always something that can be claimed illegal (invasion of Mexico? Tonkin Gulf incident? packing the court/half the New Deal). Having a relatively clean break every 4 or 8 years serves the public well, and they *do* generally vote the next needed outcome. Even with Nixon, I don’t think we needed him behind bars to understand he got his disgrace and come-uppance and move on, and we took out Ford to make it complete.
Yeah, Bush Jr deserves more shit than being seen as friend o’ Obama & Bill plus amateur painter, but that’s mostly because we just elected someone much worse to make Bush seem like a friendly old cat by now. So it goes.
RE: Nixon behind bars
The reality of symbolic political punishment that assumes pain of disgrace while building a presidential library and granting the honor & prestige of “former” president defies the idea of justice as practiced in other levels of society. The fact that political personalities (elected or appointed) can do grievous harm to thousands of humans & the body politic and suffer only comeuppance to their ego is an age old injustice. People are in solitary confinement in American prisons for 40 years or less! Forgiveness at the top is not granted for those below. If anyone claims my post WWII generation lost our zeal for American Justice, they need only look at what our political system makes us accept-halfway measures for the good of the “society”. Society never includes all Americans and while we don’t have royalty we do capitulate to royal rules. Royal merit defined by money, race & celebrity.
Hell, yes, Nixon should have gone to prison. (awareness of prison reform movement) Trump should have gone to prison the first time he swindled a contractor. Getting tough on all white-collar crime might work.
Sorry for a rant veering off topic
“I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
The Great Gatsby
F. Scot Fitzgerald
Trump has thrown out the precedent of not shitting on the former president and the precedent of not investigating your enemies. Both of those are Titanically stupid, considering he’s a crook of the highest order.
Who is more likely than the most dishonorable, to break unwritten rules most honor?
Mrs. Libby made clear in her then-contemporaneous statements, sotto voce, that if Scooter saw the inside of a cell for as much as one day, he’d be going to Fitz and Telling All. In other words, on her husband’s behalf she laid down a marker. A “red-line” marker.
If I and folks like me knew about this from the media, you can be sure the Bush 43 WH knew it in spades and took it very seriously.
Bush 43, unlike Trump, had competent counsel. Said counsel was independent of government employment and schooled in criminal defense. That lawyer explained to Bush – while Cheney was militating for a pardon (and this was well after the commutation, which short-stopped Scooter’s reporting to prison or even sentencing to prison) – that pardoning Libby meant he could be required to testify to all he knew about all the underlying events of outing Plame. Because of the pardon, Libby would have had no reason to believe he could be incriminated for the outing Plame events (except, of course, if he lied again, but that would have been a new crime) and therefore could not invoke the Fifth.
So, Bush was clearly advised, if you pardon Libby you can’t keep him quiet. If you don’t, you keep his mouth shut. Since Bush was interested in keeping Libby’s mouth shut, he left it at the commutation, which had satisfied Mrs. Libby’s interest (in keeping Scooter out of prison) and Bush’s own interest (in keeping Scooter quiet).
Frankly, I always thought Cheney’s fighting on Scooter’s behalf for the pardon was more kabuki than anything else. He was showing loyalty to Scooter but at the same time knowing that if he got what he was fighting for he’d wind up in a far worse pickle than merely having his name trashed. (Especially with a new administration of the opposite party coming in, one where its partisans held a deep, abiding hatred for Deadeye Dick and Bush 43.)
Oh, and by pardoning Libby, Trump will expose Libby, Bush and Cheney to having the whole Plame affair reopened, in public. That’ll really help the intra-party loyalty thing.
Is Libby now poised to pen “his” book?
You mean a different book that the The Apprentice where bears have sex with young humans that he already penned?
Is THAT what you are referring to?
For all intents and purposes, Dershowitz is one of Trump’s counsel. He gets to play a neutral pundit on TV, but in real life, he is a scheming F_face (yes, potty mouth2, worse than your “blowjob” quote), Bolton/neocon acolyte/promoter, and Netanyahu hard-right Likud/Zionist lobbyist. He is strategizing and helping Trump navigate the Constitutional constraints, stretching them out to the point where they may break. He does not care about the US, the consequences of his assist, or the danger Trump poses to democracy.
And no doubt advising on action in Syria… Convenient timing of Dershowitz’s dinner with Trump on Tuesday.
Yes, he’s about war. But keeping Trump in office is also,TO HIM, about the ME. That’s why I said he doesn’t care what happens to democracy, provided he gets out of Trump what he wants done for Israel.
Knowing what we know about Trump — not just as POTUS but his entire life — we know that he has continually walked very fine legal lines. Being a white, wealthy man that was born to money and power has allowed him to live his life with impunity.
That said, the big question in the back of my head, which I think relates to the near-impossibility of Trump coordinating a way out of this is — are there a lot of cases against Trump that have been pre-built, and are ready to fire against him the day he leaves the presidency? What else has SCO found that was perhaps outside of their mandate, but would be deeply interesting to the NY AG?
Who is reporting that Rosenstein will be fired?
Politico ponders the situation:
Similarly, The Hill weighs in:
CNN is reporting on the plan that is being carried out – not subtly – on Fox.
The introduction of infinite shamelessness into the equation is a new variable that throws off my calculations completely.
Surprised to learn Scooter, before any pardon, got back his law license and the right to vote. Were they special circumstances, or do all convicted felons eventually qualify for the same?
Also surprised Trump knows of Scooter. Couldn’t have been his idea.
PETER BAKER and MAGGIE HABERMAN’s 4/12/18 column at the NY Times mentions that John Bolton has been a Scooter booster before.
Maybe Bolton wants Scooter working again in the WH?
The story of Virginia felons’ voting rights being restored is a long one. In Scooter’s case, Bob McDonnell restored his right to vote.
This must happen one felon at a time, which McDonnell’s successor Terry McAuliffe was reminded by the Virginia legislature and Courts when he tried to restore felons’ rights en masse. One of the little-written successes of the McAuliffe governorship was the massive signing of individual restorations for felons who’d paid their dues that Terry signed, night after night, for most of his term in office, in response to the spiteful GOP opposition to his attempt to en masse restore rights.
From the post:
Whether Trump knew of Scooter before, DiG & T made sure he knew of him now. More importantly, this, again from the post:
I think DiG & T suggested it to Trump as a way to make a statement about overreaching special counsels (and thus help their old pal Scooter), but someone at the WH quickly realized how this would speak loudly to Manafort, Cohen, et al. Trump could care less about their pal, but protecting his own pals — and thus his own skin — is very much something Trump cares about.
How about DiG & T first marketing the Libby pardon as “speaking loudly to Manafort…” and then building the “overreaching special counsels” public statement rationale?
Am I giving DiG & T too much credit?
Given that Rosenstein apparently appointed Mueller pursuant to the AG powers to delegate (28 USC 510) rather than the special counsel regulations 28CFR 600.1 ,( but applied particular regulations 28 CFR 600.4 et seq to the appointment) is it possible that Rosenstein may have made creative use of the written authorisations he has given Mueller and otherwise used the s510 powers to insulate Mueller?
For example : arguably firing of Rosenstien before the completion of the investigation comes within the terms of reference relating to obstruction of the investigation, but could Rosenstien have for the avoidance of doubt expressly authorised Mueller to treat it as such? Or would that be an impermissible overreach of his powers?
Further, could Rosenstien delegate to some other person the supervision of Mueller? If so, could he do it purely in anticipation of his own recusal or removal? For example, could he ask for the next in line in succession to sign off in advance of his recusal removal etc to continue the investigation along the paths already authorised by him?
Even if Rosenstein did such a delegation, we have Mick Mulvaney in residence at CFPB proving that the palace will ignore black-letter law to get what the Kaiser wants. Don’t put too much faith into procedural and traditional protections.
On Libby, perhaps Plame would like to sue him for outing her, and forcing depositions from the players involved. I’ll agree however that this is a signal flare for the current crop of colluders on the Kaiser’s willingness to get them out of jail.
It is my fervent hope that Valerie Plame Wilson returns to the public square as it were after her self exile (from Twitter anyway). She made a mistake, owned it, and left herself – she was not hounded away.
I miss her insights.
As do I, but realize that females with brains they are not afraid to use are tarred with all sorts of nasty things, like Warren and HRC has been and starting in on Kamala Harris and Kristen Gillibrand. Plame has already been through this when she published her book, but then again, it might be time.
Perhaps #MeToo can help remove the political hatchet work.
So, does this mean that Steve Bannon really is Trump’s new legal strategy adviser, per your previous post? Also, maybe Bolton made a deal with Trump to pardon Libby, as favor to Cheney? Won’t a lot of this stuff then get turned over to Schneiderman? This is just crazypants stuff.
It means that Sticky Vicky and Schlubby Joe got something out of their meeting.
Trump is just exposed to so much more legal jeopardy than past presidents. Let’s take point (1) alone. It’s not just Manafort, Kushner, and Cohen who face possible state charges. The Trump Organization is by nearly all accounts reckless at best in its approach to compliance with criminal law. Reporting about Trump’s finances suggests he is highly leveraged. It seems likely that a Schneiderman asset freeze on the Trump Org could push the company to insolvency, even without a criminal conviction.
Trump’s children also likely face some level of exposure as well simply by virtue of their involvement in the Trump Org’s never-ending string of (apparently) crooked deals. Even if those cases would be a hard to prove, the inner circle must be feeling some anxiety about this. I’m a corporate, not criminal, lawyer, but I’ve been astonished by the reporting on the Trump Org’s willingness to accept extraordinary criminal legal risk for even minor business deals. These reports indicate a cavalier attitude to serious criminal penalties that is far, far, FAR beyond anything I’ve ever seen in practice.
I guess we don’t really know how much of an appetite Schneiderman has for a full-on brawl with Trump and the ensuing political shitstorm that would engulf him and his office, but it doesn’t seem to me like Trump bottlenecking the federal investigation (if that’s even possible) would do much to solve his problems.
I suppose the “best” case for Trump, which seems extremely unlikely, would be a zombie federal criminal investigation led by a justice-obstructing toady, an NY state criminal investigation that fails to bankrupt him, and an endless series of crippling DOJ leaks and salacious civil cases that graphically expose a pattern of philandering, hush payments, threats, and illegal business practices. Presidential pardons, even if executed with the finest legal advice, definitely won’t solve these problems. I don’t understand how a GOP congressperson in district that is even slightly competitive can look at this and not run for the hills.
Thanks for your comment. Could you do us a favor and use a pseudonym somewhat more unique than “Anon”? There are more than one who appear here and it makes it difficult to know which entity we’re communicating with. Given how different comments can be between any “Anon,” it can be like dealing with multiple personality disorder. Even adding a number like “Anon-100” would help.
With regard to Trump and Trump Org’s recklessness and vast exposure: I suspect he’s had just enough quality legal advice to help him navigate our system’s holes. After a lifetime of avoiding accountability, he probably feels invincible. It doesn’t help that the GOP has been little more than an enabler of corruption, systematically undermining efforts to rein in abuses (ex. recent changes to banking legislation undoing components of Dodd-Frank, and sadly abetted by some Democrats). We really need to look at these holes and fix them before another kleptocrat is elected to the White House. In the mean time I hope Team Mueller has planned adequate contingencies in cooperation with NYS AG Schneiderman and possibly other states.
Sure, I’ll go with Anon-103 if that helps.
As to your point about corporate compliance, that was my assumption as well before I started reading about the Trump Org. However, the reporting that’s been done about Trump’s deals suggests that the business has not received, or at least hasn’t followed, mainstream legal advice about serious criminal risks in commercial dealmaking. For example, Adam Davidson did a hair-raising deep dive into certain legal aspects of Trump’s Baku deal in a 2017 New Yorker piece. As I don’t practice criminal law, I don’t have a precise sense of the level of criminal risk involved (for example, I don’t know what percentage of suspected violators actually get prosecuted), but I feel confident saying that the conventional wisdom among corporate lawyers is basically that the sort of deal described in Davidson’s article should be avoided at all costs because the risk of illegality is far too high. For example, the involvement of a sanctioned entity (i.e., an entity subject to Treasury Department sanctions) in the cash flows of a proposed commercial deal is a genuine five-alarm fire for a corporate lawyer conducting due diligence. Deal lawyers take this stuff really, really seriously because there is true criminal risk involved.
I wish I could give you a good analogy, but for now I’ll just say that the lack of due diligence and indifference to compliance with criminal law illustrated in the Davidson piece, or Newsweek’s reporting about Cuban embargo violations, or NBC’s reporting on Iran’s Bank Melli renting office space from the Trump Org, is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It leads me to believe that the Trump Org has likely committed significant violations of New York State criminal law in addition to the apparent violations of federal law described in those news articles.
This — “the lack of due diligence and indifference to compliance” — isn’t just a problem inherent to the Trump Org. What happened that the U.S. wasn’t on top of the involvement of a sanctioned entity? There are some serious holes in our governance and Trump has been able to use them. If the Baku project started in 2008, it shouldn’t have taken a seated senator two months into Trump’s term in office to demand an investigation. That states in which Trump has done business haven’t put the screws to him also says governance failure is wide and deep. We have a lot of needed repairs on this ship to keep it seaworthy once we throw this orange rat overboard.
I’ve had paranoid thoughts lurking in the back of my mind every time I think about the prospect of state based prosecutions.
1. Would Andrew Cuomo issue pardons, particularly to Trump’s children? Given his long standing tolerance of the IDC, and his belief that maintaining a bipartisan reputation is crucial for his own political advancement, I could easily see Cuomo decide that state investigations should only go so far, and enforce that line with pardons.
2. There’s an ugly primary underway between Cuomo and Nixon. While I personally am solidly on the side of Nixon, this race seems ripe for the intervention of Russian trolls. I could easily imagine Russians exploiting bad blood after a bruising primary and getting many progressives to stay home from the general if Cuomo wins the primary, thus possibly making a safe race more close than it should be. The prospect of a GOP NY governor is an existential threat to any state based prosecutions.
Are either of these things likely to happen? Probably not. But they are nagging thoughts I keep having.
It’d be political suicide for any state governor to issue a pardon to Trump and any member of his regime, especially in New York. And Nixon is pretty damned savvy — I think she knows she can push the Overton window left right now and remain very competitive. NYC voters HATE Trump passionately and she will play hard to them; any whiff of a pardon and she’ll be all over it like a pitbull. Cuomo also makes a bunch of unforced errors like inadequate response to NYC subway problems, which doesn’t help his case at all; if Nixon kicked his ass on the threat of pardons the way she’s kicking his ass on the subway, forget about it. He’s toast.
I’ll answer it for you. Andrew Cuomo will do the deed if paid the right price. After all, he did take a D majority and wink-winked the IDC into existence to hand the legislature back to the GOP, which probably would have had his father Mario rolling over in his grave like a turbine, ready for electrical loading (at ~10k rpm).
This is why Nixon’s primary challenge is so important: she is making him behave more like a Democrat, but he really doesn’t believe in progressive causes unless he needs to be re-elected for his WH push in 2020. Otherwise, Andrew is perfectly willing to use Mario’s well deserved progressive reputation to coast into office.
Oh, I think Schneiderman relishes a full-on brawl with Trump. He’s been parading a number of mafia busts of late, and I figure that’s warmup and warning for the Trump gang. #MobBossTrump as Comey notes.
I greatly doubt that tRump is about to fire Rosenstein. this crap is merely more of the creepy bassturd’s tireless dance of threats
Besides, Cornyn and McConnell have both said it won’t happen, and if you can’t trust them about Trump’s future behavior (the future being tomorrow….) who can you trust?
He seems to be shortening his dithering, though, as shown by Tillerson, McMaster and Shulkin.
Sessions is probably the most prominent case of him dancing around and around. I don’t know if it’s for some substantial reason or just because he gets too much of a kick out of torturing him.
1) Trump is a candidate, seemingly using campaign contributions for defense lawyers, et al. At some point, I’d guess his other antics will trip over enough FEC violations to add to his problems and offenses.
2) now that Scooter loses his 5th Amendment rights, will some federal agent or subcommittee Dem be calling him to set the record straight after these decades?
It’s an iffy bet that November won’t see a blue wave and January won’t see Democratic majorities in both House and Senate willing to revisit Plame’s outing let alone other topics the GOP majority refuses to tackle now.
One of the things about the House is that GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression (as well as Russian bots) all make it hard to actually vote them out. The differential has to be > 8 % to overcome the institutional advantages baked in by the 2010 redistricting process. However, if the GOP is too scared to hold special elections they keep losing (such as WI) that is a good sign. Just realize that the districts are not equitable.
As another example, the AL House districts are 6-1 GOP but Doug Jones won the Senate seat over Roy Moore (barely). If one looks at the map, the idea was to cram all of the Ds into one district and have 5-10% majority Rs elsewhere. The same thing occurred in PA, which is why the GOP there tried to impeach the justices that actually followed the PA constitution.
I think it might be enough of a wave, especially if the palace continues to behave like it has and the GOP continues to ignore the clear and present dangers to democracy to pass the balanced budget amendment (after blowing a 2.7 trillion dollar hole in it: goodbye Social Security and Medicare if this is pulled off) or go after HRC (again). The report if we are lucky will also detail the GOP use of hacked data and possible connivance with the Russian bots which may not be good news in Freeperville.
I live in Michigan, where Trump won by a mere 10K votes. I’m perfectly aware of the challenges; I worry the rise of evictions will offer a new version of “voter foreclosure” when we go to the polls. The other problem Democrats aren’t paying enough attention to besides gerrymandering and voter suppression is the threat of a Constitutional convention. It’s not enough this mid-term to simply vote Dem for House and Senate; we must vote Dem for governorships or risk having enough GOP govs to call the convention. This is the Kochs’ aim — to completely unmake the existing Constitution. The CNP folks who are well represented by cabinet members and Pence want a Christian fundamentalist Constitution. And if we end up with more GOP governors they will do even more damage to what remains of ACA. We have our work cut out for us.
I’ll agree about the Article 5 gambit. First things first, however. The GOP has to be voted out to force the changes needed.
It’s not a first-things-first situation. It’s concurrent. Both Congress and state govs offices must be taken at the same time. If we don’t win 2/3rds governorships we end up with state legislatures calling for a convention and governors hold office longer than House members do. I don’t see a mechanism by which a Democratic Congress can suppress this. And a Democratic Congress must happen to impeach and undo Trump’s damage.
Vote them out in the legislatures too. It’s what got Snotty’s attention in WI.
IIRC they are 4 legislatures away as of now. Did MI go for the convention yet?
As much as I’d love to see Scooter on the hot seat, I’m fairly sure you’re just going to get a bunch of “I don’t recall.”s. As to why Bush commuted his sentence rather than pardoning him, I think that the answer at the time really was an honest one: Bush asked his lawyer to look at the convictions and tell him if Scooter really was guilty, and his lawyer said yes. Bush is a pretty simple guy, black and white, and he didn’t want to tarnish his legacy by pardoning someone who was so obviously guilty.
As for why Poppy Bush was willing to taint HIS legacy when W wasn’t, Poppy was a one-termer. That’s his legacy. A bunch of pardons on the way out the door wasn’t going to make it any worse. And as EW notes, Poppy was a lot smarter than anyone on Team Trump. Remember, Poppy was a former CIA director. When it comes to Iran/Contra, Poppy was the guy who had the brains of Mueller and knew how to play the game. And he was probably guilty as hell, too. So he pretty much cleaned up the mess on his way out the door, and he calculated (correctly) that he wouldn’t get prosecuted after he did so.
Poppy’s pardons were about covering his Iran-Contra ass. As a former director of the CIA, he was covering its ass, too, after it spent years obstructing Walsh’s investigation. Poppy ended up also covering Reagan’s, which he would have regarded as fair precedent.
We’re now well past viable cable serial drama plot cred, with:
– The Door Man Cometh
– Yet Another Funny Hat Hits the Screens on Cable TV News
– Porn Star To Win ($omething) Via Mob Consigliere’s Own Goal
– Mob Consigliere Recorded Everything, and Everything’s Been Seized,
– Total BS-Spouting POTUS Declines To Talk To Attorney in Own Admin
– PlameGate Cross-Streams With Don John’s Crime Wave,
– Two Consecutive FBI Directors (Each A Candidate for Most Boring Straight-Laced White Dude Federal Civil Servant Of The 21st Century) To Publish NYTimes Best Selling Books Within One Month,
– Same B.S. POTUS & Allies Crank Right Wing Noise Machine Up To Eleven and Trains Same on Said Two Boring Former FBIDs Plus Current Boring White Dude Assistant AG,
yet no one – not Garry Kasparov nor any other chessmaster, nor any attorney pundit in or out of a funny hat – can possibly foresee the endgame.
Haha, I love it, well done. :)
(Sometimes I feel like a jerk thinking about the humor in all this, but damn if it isn’t so absurd not to be laughed in in some respects.)
It’s a circus, alright… Amy Goodman made the point to her Syrian guest on Democracy Now that serious talk of a road ahead in Syria, Yemen, and Iran is totally clouded by this last weeks unreal sensational news cycle. Americans have, what a 30 second attention span… with boobs and trash talk being top of mind.
I am puzzled why it seems to be a given that firing Muller would totally or functionally close the SC? Without him are the doors locked? End of story?
Since there seems to be questions if a Rosenstein replacement could actually fire Muller then Muller with his appellate expert superstars on board might take his dismissal to court. Imagine that shitstorm.
And Sessions just sits in the corner twiddling his thumbs?
As far as I understand the scheme, if Rosenstein is fired, and a toady installed, Toady will have the authority to approve or constrict avenues of investigations by Mueller, or any Mueller replacement. Toady can kill ongoing investigations. Toady can restrict reportage thereof. And so on. Toady can direct efforts of deflection.
How far any of Muelller’s already accomplished work carries on through other prosecutors’ offices remains to be seen. This is the concern, whether justified or not.
Sessions does sit and twiddle his thumbs, or he jumps on the bandwagon. Mr-I’m-recused-except -when-I-decide-I’m-not, is not to be trusted.
Oh, it is most certainly a justified concern.
If there is a switchover in Hill committees in January, you will see a major effort to dig as many details as possible out of DOJ about stonewalling post Rosenstein.There will be a ton of further stonewalling, but I think it’s likely some very ugly details will come out which could support the reopening of closed investigations, although this will be a very hard fight.
If the Senate goes Democratic, this puts extra pressure on DOJ because nominees will have to bow and scrape — in order to replace John Mitchell as AG, the GOP had to agree to replace Cox with Jaworski as the top Watergate investigator. I’m still not sold that the Democrats will flip the Senate though.
If Rosenstein is fired and others go with him, it’s going to be very hard for the Trumpies to stop them from talking to the Hill. They obviously won’t be able to reveal classified or Grand Jury info, but that still leaves a lot that they would be jumping to spill once they had the cover of testifying to the Hill.
There’s the obvious issue that this would all be next year, and I think Trump’s time frame is measured at this point in whether it’s Egg McMuffin o’clock or Quarter Pounder o’clock. I’m sure people are warning him that the more people he fires like Comey, the more people will be writing books like Comey, but I just can’t see him acting with any kind of longterm strategy.
Flipping the Senate is not likely given the number of seats the GOP must defend vs. the D defense list. However, AL was flipped and these are statewide elections which will help. This is a year where it is possible if not totally likely.
If one believes the political groupies, the GOP is focusing on the Senate for the easier lift and for the confirming of judges in terms of where the political spending will go. Following the money might be the best indication of the plan.
GOP increasingly fears loss of House, focuses on saving Senate majority
I live in hope Parkland’s teens and angry women will pull this off.
Fron WaPo’s latest, Trump is down significantly with FOP base women wanting a Stormy investigation, and yeah, a new influx of Gen Z kids voting can shift significantly from the last round of Bernie purity – results may come in vogue. Calling out Ingraham in terms of cold calculated sponsors was pretty inspiring – “screw the chit-chat, we’re here for blood”
“Mueller …. might take his dismissal to court”
My understanding is that by virtue of 28 CFR 600.10 Mueller cannot have his firing reviewed by a court.
That is why Steve Vladek has argued on Lawfare and elsewhere that Congress needs to pass legislation to create such a right of judicial review.
This is intriguing:
In last 18 mos, Mr. Cohen negotiated yet another hush NDA, this time on behalf of a prominent GOP donor who had a relationship with a LA woman, impregnated her and then made sure she had an abortion. The deal provided for multiple payments across many months. #basta
Replying to @MichaelAvenatti
And to be clear, the GOP donor is also LA based.
A considerable amount of electronic data has been obtained by federal law enforcement in connection with the investigation of Mr. Cohen. Some might describe it as a “mountain of evidence”. And I’m not just talking about a few days ago on Monday … #basta
I will preemptively state (on behalf of the hard-right evangelicals), that all is already forgiven, and sanctified. Sometimes you have to support, get and/or pay for an abortion in order to carry on your good work of stopping abortions…or something, something, cognitive dissonance, and pretzel logic rationalizations. Everything is good when not done by liberals, amen.
…and to hell with the children after they are born, “illegal” children, and children not born in Gods’ country…
According to CNN, Broidy’s resignation from RNC finance was accepted today.
Laura Rozen @lrozen: “Does Cohen hang on as RNC dep. finance chair after SDNY today reveals he is target of months long criminal investigation by it and the FBI? / oh, and he coincidentally reached out to Broidy to propose he make the $1.6 million payment to the playmate”
Also, from 4/9/18:
Joyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVance Sessions turned to non-lawyer, convicted felon, GOP fundraiser Broidy for advice on US Atty appointments. I’m in favor of helping people who’ve been incarcerated rehabilitate, but given Broidy’s lack of any relevant expertise, this looks like worse than just a lapse in judgment.
Re: “Who is reporting that Rosenstein will be fired?”
Rosenkrantz and Guldenstern are dead. Old news.
Please tell me that you’re not intending on becoming a regular here again.
Maguire is only here to rescue the shards of his reputation. Good luck with that.
No worries, I’m like Beetlejuice – don’t say “Libby” three times and we’re all good.
OMFG–can’t a person even get just a little sleep anymore?
John Santucci [ABC News] says, this pardon is something Trumpus Corruptus “has been considering for several months”, sources told @ABC News”
and Joyce Alene@JoyceWhiteVance mentions that
…and this happens just as Comey begins his book tour.
Maybe it’s just me, but so much has transpired since Comey was fired, I have found none of the excerpts from his book truly revelatory. And it seems to have reached a saturation point before the first interview even airs. If it is driving Trump nutso, I guess that could be good or bad, depending on whether he only emits twitter farts or conversely if he starts bombing everything.
If? Read Trumpus Corruptus‘ 8:01am ET Tweet. [20 minutes ago]
As Marcy tweets: Wondering if Trump will be so distracted by Comey and his book tour that he’ll forget to fire Rosenstein?
It might be one salutary side of this damned thing, if it happened.
Her lips to Dog’s ear.
The fact that Libby outed NOC agent Plame to JudyJudyJudy (whether Aspen was involved I do not know) is not disputed, and was a crime all by itself. Armitage tried to run cover, but everyone knows Libby did it, and PatFitz was equally careful about connecting the dots. Once again Caesar Disgustus pardoned a person that (if it occurred in actual wartime) committed treason in the Constitutional sense. However, Darth Cheney needed cover.
Re the Side Note, especially “Side note: For those who claim Richard Armitage outed Plame, let’s just agree that you have no familiarity with the actual record and leave it there for now. …
Since Woodward, Novak and Armitage all agree that Armitage DID leak a bit about Ms. Plame, some will be puzzled by this. I try to learn something new every day, and learning that my memory is an unreliable servant no longer comes anywhere near “new”.
Our hostess is far too busy or modest to engage in shameless self-promotion but fortunately her thoughts are summarized here back in 2007.
The gist – Armitage’s source material didn’t cover the full scope of the Plame leak (last name and CIA status weren’t in key memo Armitage referenced) so others were clearly talking to Novak (and Woodward?) as well.
OK, fair enough. My view doubly implicates Cheney and Libby but clears Bush. IMHO it is worth putting the Fitzgerald appointment and , hmm, “investigation” into a context that only came clear later – the moderate Republicans at DoJ and elsewhere were in rebellion against Cheney, whose spot on the ticket in 2004 was not assured (Bush may have wanted to position a likely successor for 2008 and Dick ‘The Ticker’ Cheney was never going to be that guy (or gal!)).
Anyway – Jack Goldsmith took over at OLC in Oct 2003, replacing Yoo. (Yeah, and you, too – it’s Hu on first). Shortly thereafter the torture memos were reviewed and withdrawn and the warrantless surveillance program was reviewed and tossed up in the air. Comey appointed Fitzgerald in late Dec 2003; the famous hospital room showdown over the warrantless program with a recused Ashcroft (why are the key players always recused?) was March 10, 2004.
So in my mind Fitzgerald was one more torpedo in the water aimed at the USS Cheney. Just as an example, Armitage ‘fessed up very early that he had talked to Novak (seemingly with less info than Novak published, as MW explains in the linked piece). Yet Fitzgerald’s diligent detectives never even checked his desk calendar – a few years later, the AP gets that with an FOIA request, sees Woodward on it in June, and – oops. Red faces all around.
I find the idea that a serious investigation missed that to be problematic. Water under the bridge at this point.
Who would have guessed this would all be raising its head again? Anyway, good to see you.
Because these situations tend to emerge when someone outside of the usual structure has to step in, and the system’s adjustment to this change of players is not always simple. Folks with temporary positions in the structure tend to ask the questions that the others would rather not ask, or have simply not thought to ask — and that stirs up the waters.
I claim that Armitage outed Plame. I knew that the word “outing” was questionable when I wrote that. But it was also considered.
Right. The “Fitgerald … hmm, ‘investigation'”.
Par for the course. But let’s fawn over this guy like we used to do.
Jeezuzz, Tom, if it were really w”ater under the bridge at this point” to YOU, YOU wouldn’t still be going on about it. I don’t know how many trips I made over to your site to fight the good fight with all the twisted sisters (Clarice) and bent brothers who flock to it to crow like a murderers’ row.
Now you want to pick AGAIN, over a decade later, over that Carthage? You worked at playing nice enough at Fearless Leader’s site, & apparently that plus not being the most ruthless of your bent plus idunnowot nostalgia gains tolerance from bmaz. But don’t for a moment imagine folks don’t retain a vivid memory of what a slippery carnivorous eel’s lair reeking of sulphur, racism & confabulosity your site was, thru all 4 years of its service as Clarice’s blog destination of choice to spread her deeply dishonest long pieces at The American Stinker.
“You worked at playing nice enough at Fearless Leader’s site …”
Indeed. Two-faced enough around the right audience to somehow acquire the label as “the rational” rank Cheney-Admin apologist.
Was always entertaining to see how much his sensitive ego chafed at the “reality-based community” label. It burned like Elvish rope around his flaccid neck.
It’s Groundhog Day on Friday the 13th.
Thank you bmaz, and where is the Like button for the Bill Murray/Jason Voorjees reference?
yeah, we need better function buttons.
Did no one see Zuck’s congressional testimony?
If a reader likes something, I suggest saying so in a comment.
Libby will be counseled to refuse the symbolic pardon, to avoid the evil Dr. Bunsen GFY Honeydew from lighting him on fire and throwing him in the man sized safe again.
…after shooting him in the face. =:-o
Ryan J. Reilly @ryanjreilly Lots of new FBI leadership announcements this morning, including a new deputy director.
Chris Geidner @chrisgeidner: Update: There is no petition seeking a pardon for Scooter Libby on file with the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney, a DOJ spokesperson tells me. This means that if it is being considered, it is not going through the normal process.
Of course it was not lodged with the pardon office.
WTF is “normal” anymore, anyway?
Your old neighbor Joe Arpaio never filed a petition with the pardon office either, and that didn’t stop Trump from pardoning him.
Better to check the tweet storm. This is Donald we’re talking about.
Yea sure. Like don Corleone filed a order with the Mob Execution Department when he ordered a hit.
Don’t be surprised if Trump tweets Rosenstein has resigned.
Nice interview on MSNBC with Valerie Plame about the Libby pardon. Not much value in the after-interview commentary from other guests. Plame brought out the symbolism of the pardon for Manafort and others. A tad direct for MSNBC, she said that Trump’s message to them is that if they take a hit for Trump, and Trump feels they’ve earned it, he might pardon them. (Why anyone facing years in the federal pen would bank on that is impossible for me to understand.) SAD for Donald that Cohen, Manafort and others are not Libby and he’s not Dick Cheney.
I’m surprised that Plame did not mention that Bush refused to pardon Libby- in a rare refusal to follow Cheney’s insistent demand – in part so that Libby remained in technical jeopardy and could use that to legitimately plead the Fifth.
She said exactly that about Bush in an earlier in the morning interview on MSNBC
Thanks. I forgot that you’re up before the crack of dawn.
While we have one new puppy, we also have one rather old large dog who is slightly incontinent now. There are duties in that regard, and I very often am up and awake at all kinds of hours. Trust me, I’d rather not be.
Have just been through several months of that with a beloved Golden. Lots to clean up, usually at the oddest hours. Sadly, that’s not a problem any more.
Condolences. Funny thing is, other than that, she is doing surprisingly well. And a truly great dog. So that is just how it will be for now. I may be here any time, day or night!
Have been through this with four elder family dogs now long passed. An honor to take care of them until the time came…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfWEYin-u54
Thank you so much. It is sleep consuming, but not hard. She is still such a joy. But when people wonder when I may be carping at any hour, day or night, it may be why. Once I am up, I am up until can force sleep, and I am not good at that.
“That presents far more risk for Trump, even assuming Mike Pence wants to go do the route of half-term infamy that Gerald Ford did by pardoning his boss.”
Frankly, I would prefer the current pathological A$$ to the prospect of Pence in the Oval Office, I consider that man even less stable and sane than Trumpsky and that is saying a lot.
I am pretty sure there is enough dirt on him sitting on Mr. Mueller’s desk (granted that is speculation though not too far out on a limb here) to make sure he never puts his hand on a bible other than to maybe throw it at a gay person. It is sort of crucial that his indictment is unsealed and carried out just prior to the events that will be intended to bring down the Orange spy. Because as VP he does not have that much debated protection against arrest that a sitting president has. The office would be vacant while our mafia Don’s fate is decided. Of course that would leave Ryan as prez if he will take the job, or Hatch who also wants to quit politics he claims. That means John Sullivan, acting Secretary of State would be next in line and wouldn’t THAT be interesting?
I don’t know that I buy that. Trump is able to suck up all the oxygen in the room/country, for years even. Pence was already non grata in Indiana. Sure, there are dangers, but if the camera turns to him, he’s on the ropes and not leaving there. His only angle is to make himself scarce, an oxymoron as prez.
Is there anything specific that makes you think Pence is exposed?
It’s been questioned if he lied about Flynn and what he knew, but he’s wise enough to know better. If he did it will be hard to prove.
It was reported that Mueller was interested in a meeting where Comey’s firing was discussed, but it’s unlikely Pence acted inappropriately.
He seemed to be missing on all the key dates looked at during the investigations, sometimes conspicuously so. He came on late in the campaign, and RNC could’ve already known Trump was dirty and told him to keep an arm’s length.
He honestly believes it’s God’s plan for him to be president, and he does carry himself that way. If he has concerns it doesn’t show.
Pie-in-the-sky Question: Could ryan’s announcement to resign in 2019 be a careful pronouncement/preparation for a possible succession to the presidency, should both trump and pence fall under the weight of GOP involvement with all this wrong-doing (i.e. settling the issue of House GOP leadership ahead of time)? An attempt to appear clean and look like an “accidental” president? Or is this just a silly thought?
No, not silly. That was my wife’s first reaction when he announced he was leaving. She said “he wants to distance himself for a run at President.”
LOL It’s crossed my mind. I say bring it. If the wave this November is a tsunami, Pence will not want any part of it and Ryan would be crushed by it should he end up the successor. More likely he’s gotten polling numbers and finally figured out his brand is completely worthless; he’s getting out before he ends up trapped inside the Capitol while the streets fill with pitchforks and torches.
He’s a Koch bro’s star politician- they’ve invested too much in him and he’s too young to be put out to pasture. Maybe he’s betting on Trumps impeachment and a tap by Pence for VP? God help us.
I’m with Rayne, but with less emphasis on the pitchforks. I’d say, aside from John Dickerson — and all other Beltway media personalities convinced that the U.S. is intrinsically a “centre-right nation” and that David Broder had his finger on the pulse of “Real America”, that are fans of all things Snoopy-Snoopy Poop Dog & Erskine Bowles, and that live in eternal expectancy of the next Great White Hope, Ryan’s shtick is pretty much dead. The Romney 2012 presidential run damaged Ryan’s “brand” pretty badly, and pretty publicly. His time as Speaker has only driven a stake through what’s left of the rotting corpse. It’s hard to emphasise how much he is despised by the Republican base, and how automatic and total a death-knell his manifest cowardice and multiple humiliations at the hands of Trump — even before Trump had won the presidency — represent for the prospects of any support from the Fox-News crowd.
Check out the Freeperati column at First Draft, which also has some fine post-mortems of Ryan:
That’s almost certainly what’s happening, except I don’t think Pence will go down. Ryan would be his VP pick and they’re looking ahead to confirmation hearings. A House Speaker participating in impeachment would raise some uncomfortable questions.
People like him don’t leave politics, he’s invested way too much to leave before the payoff. He probably has a deal with the GOP, and since Cohen looks like Mueller’s coup de grace they can start putting it in motion. He’ll go home to the family for a year and come back for his reward, probably acting like he’s making a big sacrifice but he just loves this great country so much he’ll do it for the American people.
Does anyone here who has actually worked on a Mueller-type Investigation of this scope where there seems to be significant Fed as well as state exposure, or who has studied them carefully and exhaustively have a sense of
1) whether Mueller would have put a high priority from the outset on developing a detailed strategy (either as Massacre backup or for load sharing) for state involvement,
2) if so what would it look like e.g., as to specific persons and charges, and classes of charges,
3) how advanced would its implementation be at this point given what we know and can reasonably infer,
4) how would it be rolled out, and
5) when would you expect to see some really painful state indictments a) if this weren’t Trumpworld and b) given that this is Trumpworld?
Sometimes I feel some folks really ought to consider surfing porn sites if all they’re after is self-amusement.
I assume that was an insult or a go-away or both.
If not I misunderstood and I apologize.
I lived through Watergate in real time, watched Tricky Dick resign live, and I’ve been around too long to insult people so all I will say is that I was serious.
I have done a fair amount of intel work (all Open Source) and was simply asking for some expert input on what I believe would be useful questions to address to help me/us 1) interpret intel as it emerges and 2) predict what might be coming.
But feel free to insult me if it makes you feel better…
I’ll give you a fair shake on your questions: Nobody knows the answer to them, even those of us who do it for a living. Mueller’s shop is pretty much a black box. There are a LOT of possibilities, and several journalists speculate about them, but they don’t know either.
Bmaz may give people well-deserved shit, but that’s righteous. Good on u “B”.
Trump’s attorneys at Cohen’s hearing trying to claim privilege.
I think the big news here is that Trump has a competent attorney. Joanna Hendon has argued real criminal cases and had been an attorney with the SDNY.
Looking her up, I’m not sure how long she’ll last. She’s used the strategy of arguing in court that her client did some bad things and looks pretty awful, but didn’t cross the line to illegal behavior. That’s not going to go over well with Trump for long.
I didn’t know who went, thanks for the update.
Of course they will try, but as our Legal Beagles have noted, A-C privilege doesn’t extend to commission of crimes, and as a “personal” attorney, there is no executive privilege either. But I’m sure I’ll get corrected on this.
We should also note that Poppy’s transgression was over a valid foreign policy dispute; Scooter/Cheney’s was lying to Congress and the world over a non-justified/fraudulently justified (multiple times) foreign policy move; Trump’s is over illegal deeds to get himself elected in violation of existing congressionally- and presidentially- approved foreign policy statutes.
Have so much respect for you Marcy (refer to your investigative work on many websites) however this comment really had me holding my breath for a few seconds. EW “All that’s before the fact that the crimes Trump and his are facing are far, far uglier even than deliberately exposing the identity of a CIA officer to warn others off of exposing your war lies”
Sorry but the value of the efforts of Joe Wilson to expose the Bush/Cheney war lies was extremely important. The purposeful exposing of Plame to “warn others off of exposing your war lies” was horrendously destructive. Just ask the people in Iraq still alive and uninjured. Ask American’s who lost family members in Iraq. I think Cheney, Libby, crimes are even more serious than the Trump mafia crimes.
One thing for sure there are plenty of reasons why the American public has little to no faith in our justice system or the executive branch.
Joe Wilson was just on MSNBC’s Katy Tur. His comments were so crisp and clear about the Libby pardon. He really nailed Trump on bringing on the Iraq war neocons. Although he did say “fucking” at one point and they did not bleep it on time. Reminded me of when you said more Americans are concerned about a President lying about a “fucking blow job” VS being concerned about the Iraq WMD snow job on an MSNBC program. Forget the host name…he was later canned
The Joe Wilson interview worthwhile listen
“I think Cheney, Libby, crimes are even more serious than the Trump mafia crimes.”
At any rate, the Cheney-Rove gang was far more genuinely dangerous, though in very different ways. And no Bush Admin, no Trump. “Norm erosion”?? I prefer digby’s term for the Bush Admin: deliberate, provocative, systematic exercises in “taboo-shattering”.
If Tom Maguire hankers for yesteryear, I’d love for him to intervene on the subject of Wilson and the Bush Admin on WMD. Please, oh please, do school us on “sought” vs. “bought” and other details of uranium in Africa.
I sense sarcasm, thereby rebutting folks who think I have learned nothing in ten years.
As to hankering for yesteryear, its an interesting question about Bush and Trump. Bush brought in a seasoned team of Washington veterans, ran a tight ship, and sailed it into Iraq. Not Good.
Trump is both personally and politically the most reprehensible, unqualified President in my lifetime (yes, young ‘uns, that includes LBJ and Nixon; technically, even JFK and Ike). On the other hand, I don’t think he has the organization and focus to lead us into a war the public actually supports. Maybe he could turn a missile strike against Syria into a Turkey/US/Russia free-for-all but, his people might not let him.
So how do we rate the relative predictability and discipline of the Bush years with this somewhat motion-free thrashing and chaos?
Maybe THESE are the good old days!
Yeah, have a nice day. One of us ought to.
Trump is compressed time. He won’t retire painting and be a nice guy, but he might kill us all within his first 18 months and his policies are Bush Dada vengeance conservatism to the 5th.power.there were massive atrocities in Iraq et al under Bush. Yet Trump makes him look sane. (Cheney fits Trump’s angry old dude meme). So let’s just make it out of the woods – seen too many “Saw” spinoffs.
It’s probably too early to weigh the value of the Plame outing as a crime against the crimes of Trump’s regime. We didn’t know in 2003-2004 the fraudulent Iraq War would cost at least 6 trillion dollars and a million-plus lives. We don’t know what the costs of Trump’s presidency are now, let alone what the cost will be fifteen years out if we don’t put the brakes on his ‘Manchurian’ occupation. The tax reform bill alone combined with deaths resulting from his gross negligence and malignance are already pretty pricey; if we don’t stop him within the next year, the cost will be the loss of the most powerful democratic republic, catastrophic failure to halt climate change, and it’s hard to put a price on these unrealized threats.
I’m not a fan of pseudo-quantitative “measurements” of things that are fundamentally non-quantitative, nor of pseudo-economistic attempts to “price” things that aren’t measurable in any genuine sense. And I’m not talking about the Plame outing alone, but of the entire Administration.
It’s probably important at this point to note I am a contributor and editor here, have been for 10 years, spent one hell of a lot of time digging through the morass that was the Plame Affair and the cascade of crap that followed. You may not be a fan of “measurements” or “price” but after 10 years digging into Bush/Cheney, Obama, and now Trump, there’s still a very different weight between the Bush admin’s evils which still respected law (though it fought hard to change them) and the Trump admin’s evils which clearly has no respect for law whatsoever (it utterly ignores rule of law let alone ethics).
Did the Bush admin erode norms/break taboos? Some — but it was Movement conservatism’s application of the Overton window which brought us Bush, sabotaged Obama’s potential for rebound, and ensured Trump took the White House. It wasn’t Bush alone but something bigger which brought us to this pass, and it’s now been co-opted and weaponized not as a force to create a conservative U.S. but a thoroughly demoralized U.S.
Or demoralizatsiya, as the Russians call it. Its price is incalculable.
Really, Rayne? Are we reduced to making these kinds of arguments from online … seniority? And website role?
Or rather is there some underlying annoyance going on at me having openly called out Tom Maguire?
Not that this matters one whit, but I was a sometime contributor (and everyday lurker) on EW’s original Next Hurrah website, well before FDL. Hence my historical references. You can check it out if you like.
I have what I believe are deep and excellent reasons for such scepticism, and I’ve been thinking about efforts to quantify the intrinsically qualitative in mainstream social “science” for a long time. I’m very, very happy to discuss this in greater depth if you have any inclination to go there.
Come on. I think it’s pretty obvious I’ve been around at least that long as well. None of us are specially qualified. I am happy to defend in detail my relative judgement about Bush v. Trump any time.
Oh my. Are you seriously going to make this argument? And I wonder: would EW herself agree?
LOL John Yoo wouldn’t have spent so much time on pixie dust if the Bushies weren’t fundamentally worried about the law; that was the entire point of the pixie dust as Marcy called it. Millions of emails wouldn’t have gone missing if Team Cheney wasn’t worried about the law. Old Man Cheney is probably gnashing his teeth at the effrontery of Trump simply ignoring the law instead of building all manner of constructs to hide law breaking — like throwing a staffer under the Fitzgerald bus or fighting in court to create a vice presidential claim to executive privilege over the Energy Task Force documents.
Meanwhile, Trump just slapped up an executive order that essentially said No Muslims Allowed without any Congressional approval, judicial, or even Department of Justice review. Opened national parklands for mining without review. He’s weaseling a border wall piecemeal without a budget.
Utterly and completely ignores bipartisan sanctions against Russia while Congress stands around looking stupid. He’s met with Russians including Putin, giving up classified information on another country. Trump and his minions simply don’t respect the law whatsoever.
I can wait for Bolton to do his bit to make the point this administration has zero respect for the law, because people will die in that demonstration. I’ve already had a family member permanently disabled by the guys who feared the law; I don’t care to send another family member to do the work of those who ignore the law altogether.
Well, there was that Iraq thingy, and that we’re still in Afghanistan. Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
That aside, Trump – with the entire GOP behind him – has made an unprecedented assault on the law and law enforcement, including immigration perversions, on the presidency and on all forms of due process. Not even Nixon’s press apologists lied so often, so insincerely, so crudely as Sarah Sanders.
All presidents lie. Some lie with restraint or a purpose or to hide specific crimes. Trump lies because the truth is irrelevant and usually harmful to him.
He lies about everything: money, sex, wealth. He lies about lying. He lies about what appears to have been a life of broken promises, broken commitments, and potentially crimes.
He lies because getting away with it, making money doing it, and saying “Fuck you!” to his partners, employees, customers, suppliers, tenants, most of all to the government is his greatest thrill. Self-dealing, keeping and making profit from the presidency, is part of the con.
No one wants Mike Pence as president. But we can no longer afford the Liar-in-Chief.
LOL But seriously about Pence — he is one creepy motherfucker. And I’m not certain he actually fucks Mother.
“Bush admin’s evil which still respected law”
“a lot of time digging through the morass”
Somehow you may have missed the Bush administrations disregard for
international law . The Geneva Convention etc.
Rayne “We didn’t know in 2003-2004 the fraudulent Iraq War would cost at least 6 trillion dollars and a million plus lives” Millions of us had a sneaking suspicion in 2002-2003 when we heard former head of the IAEA weapons inspection team in Iraq Scott Ritter along with El Baradei, Ray McGovern and man other experts questioning the validity of Cheney, Bush, Wolfowitz etc so called intelligence. It is looks like an upcoming disastrous war, smells like an upcoming disastrous war then it is an upcoming disastrous war.
Millions across the nation and the world protested before the invasion. We knew then and spent hundreds of futile moments, days, weeks trying to stop the Bush/Cheney hell bent on war train. So fucking sad…so fucking sad.
You are right we don’t know what the cost of the Trump presidency will be in fifteen years. However we knew the cost of the Bush/Cheney presidency before the invasion. It smelled and looked like a deadly war long before they invaded. So far both the Bush and Obama administrations have caused more loss of life and suffering than Trump. Hopefully Mueller has Trump by the cajones and he will resign before he can do anymore damage
You know what the Iraq War looked and smelled like to me? Like Vietnam in the sand.
But Trump’s administration looks and smells like Germany in 1933.
i agree. until trump actually starts wars that last for a decade or two, i don’t think that his administration is anywhere near as heinous as the detestable cheney-bush maladministration.
i also appreciate the sobering perspective in which your comments put the never ending trump imbroglio: a constitutional crisis of epic proportions seems imminent but with far, far less deaths, mutilations and long-term debt (iraq and afghanistan cost over $5 trillion, and counting).
it’s hard to compare the present administration with the bush ii maladministration: the trump adm appears made up of clueless low-level gangsters while the latter were veteran statesmen who wielded immense power and had the know-how to undermine the normal functioning of the government through their decades of experience working in government at the highest levels. the cheney-bush crew acted with way more evil banality than trump–thus far. trump seems little more than of a wanna be tabloid fraudster who somehow wandered onto the national and international stage.
cheney, rummy and wolfowitz were/are evil men who used the levers of power to game the system in promotion of war for profit at the price of generational horror.
nevertheless, i enjoyed the post and all of the extremely interesting cogitations on possible future scenarios and possible motives as we make our way though this execrable twitter-age of trump.
If you’re going to count anyway, the Trump tax reform bill cost $1 trillion. Trump’s failure to provide adequate disaster relief to Puerto Rico has cost +1K American lives on Puerto Rico alone. We don’t yet know how many people have died because of the shortages caused by damage to pharmaceutical industry as yet unrepaired. We don’t know how many people have died of flu since Trump took office because CDC and NIH response was impeded. We don’t know how much lost economic growth was incurred by Trump’s inadequate response to wildfire in CA and multiple hurricanes. Headcount of persons who died after losing health care as ACA has been hollowed out is not yet available. Mass and school shootings after Las Vegas and zero action by the White House — lost count. The number of refugees who died because they couldn’t enter the U.S. to flee persecution? Untallied to date. Murders by white nationalists doubled in 2017 to 18 known deaths. Let’s not forget the nickel-and-dime expenses the Trump administration has cost by ethical lapses, from Mnuchin’s taxpayer-paid honeymoon trip by military plane to Carson’s failed dining room set purchase, to Pruitt’s excessive security detail and so on, running into millions. The costs to businesses from cyberattacks by foreign nation-states because Trump has issued no orders to protect them. And so on…
The biggest difference in cost — besides looking back over 15 years since the Iraq War started, and 14 months post-Trump inauguration — is that the price isn’t being paid overseas as much as it is here at home, and by people who are already most marginalized and most invisible even to people who have time to comment and publish online. And again, we have only just past one year under Trump.
No doubt that Trump has and will cause more pain and suffering domestically although you can’t blame the hurricane’s on Trump. You can question and point at his response. Although again the death and destruction caused by the invasion of Iraq and then Obama and Clinton’s push for interventions in Libya and arming unknown rebels in Syria…demanding “Assad must go Assad must go” has caused or fueled massive amounts of horrific death and destruction in those countries.
Just because Rachel Maddow and team etc do not report in details about the abominable results of those wars and interventions does not mean it does not exist.
Yes Trump is a despicable President but in death and destruction numbers overseas Bush and Obama are out ahead of him.
I agree with Rayne that Trump has caused a lot of damage. However, NO POLITICAL CABAL in American history will compare to the influence of Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, Rummy, and Bush(s) THROUGH FOUR PRESIDENCIES (22 years!) of corruption and war.
Iran/Contra, Regan tax cuts, S&L debacle, Iraq War I, Afgan War, Enron, Iraq War II, Great Recession… these are just the headlines under which are thousands of financial and foreign policy evils that have degraded the modern world and will have ramifications for decades to come. Trump is an accidental King for a day. All the while, the neo-con snakes heads are rearing up again to usurp power within or after this ridiculous presidency.
I’d like to know whether MSNBC’s apparent new policy of tolerating potty mouths means Fearless Leader can look forward to a peacock “Libby Pardon” (i.e. a pardon where admission of wrong doing is not expected, sought or at all necessary).
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Thanks bmaz. I’ve read and listened to lots of the speculation as well.
Most of the things I’ve seen are just sound bite or 1 or 2 page stuff for today’s attention span e.g., JustSecurity/Lawfareblog. If you know of any extensive assessments, please point me to them.
I have wondered, for example, whether Schneiderman (or the Kings County or New York County prosecutor) c/would indict e.g., Manafort on state money laundering charges to send a go-ahead-and-pardon-him-for-all-the-good-it-will-do-you-two message back to Trump and Manafort.
If that were to happen (with others as well, for example those doing funny-money stuff or receiving stolen electronic property) it seems it might turn the Trump “Nuke The DOJ and Issue Blanket Pardons” calculation into “What’s the point” not to mention the possible optics/November fallout.
It also could send Trump the message that, if you’ve done anything bad (which of course you have and we know all about it) and the limitations clock hasn’t run out, we’ll get you as soon as you leave the Oval Office and e.g., Pence won’t be able to help you.
Also, New York state has campaign finance laws that “…govern the conduct of all elections at which voters of the state of New York may cast a ballot for the purpose of electing an individual to any party position or nominating or electing an individual to any FEDERAL, state, county, …” (my CAPS).
And the NY law says “ONLY CITIZENS of the United States, or permanent legal residents (green card holders in permanent status) may contribute to your political campaign… ” (my CAPS).
There are also corp and individual donation limit totals and in-kinds e.g., Mercer-subsidized CA software “discounts” are included in the total.
That’s the sort of stuff I wanted to try to get some understanding of: potential Fed charges with parallel +/- word-for-word potential state charges and whether/how Mueller might be thinking about it as, I noted, Massacre Backup or load sharing.
I hate to say this, but I think the likelihood of state action is wrapped up in politics. I think if Trump overtly attacks Mueller, the political pressure on elected Democratic AGs will be too much to withstand. And I think that will mean at the local level as well as the state level – you will see pressure on people like Vance in NYC to go through their files for anything they can find.
That has obvious implications for any future president – you could easily imagine 2021 criminal cases against a Democratic president coming out of Oklahoma and Idaho and Mississippi on completely bogus charges, even if NY State brings a completely legitimate case against Trump.
That’s not to say NY shouldn’t bring a case if they have a good one. If there is good evidence of a major crime, it should be prosecuted. And it’s certainly possible that even if no state charges are brought against Trump, the GOP in some state won’t make a go of it anyway against a Democrat.
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Yes, I think the Mueller Massacre Backup slice may well be at least partially about using state politics to procure state indictments – which could be withdrawn in favor of Fed if Fed has to come 2nd – that can be positioned as to who/what/when to change the calculations of various obvious, mostly adversarial, players.
This is political warfare so I wondered about the state crime option as a part of Mueller’s strategy for establishing the futility of wasting resources and moreover self-harming by attacking directly or issuing pardons. Probably a few good state indictments where the fact bases read like the Papadopoulos (or Manafort) indictment OMG fact base, would force the pardon and Nuke DOJ Option conversation volume to go way down.
So I wondered what role state indictments might play in Mueller’s Massacre Backup (and load sharing as well) strategy and who/what/when/how(/if?) we’d begin to see.
Interesting you should mention Vance. Ivanka very very very narrowly escaped catastrophe on the Trump SOHO deal because someone (Kasowitz) had an “important conversation” with Vance on her behalf and Vance then spiked the prosecution.
As to the other main point you made – a good one – which was more or less that we would see some real witch hunts come from random directions: they will probably anyway and anything – and I mean anything – that even begins to nudge things back onto the rule of law course Trump’s working hard at forcing us off will be helpful when those LOCK HER UP! things inevitably happen.
Note for site IT: I too have problems with the inline reply button – about half the time – maybe more – nothing happens when I left-click on the button (and I do mean nothing).
A work-around that works for me (my laptop / desktop, browser, OS, window manager, blah blah blah) is to right-click on the unresponsive reply button, and from the popup menu open a new (browser) window, which puts me (IIRC) at the master “Leave A Reply” panel (in the new browser window).
In the new browser window I then scroll back to the specific inline reply button (unresponsive in the old browser window); the specific reply button in the new window almost always works.
Much less frequently I get a “Leave A Reply” panel without the text formatting menu (B, I, U, quote, etc); no workaround for that, though.
@david_l: Cristian Farias at NYMag put up a ‘splainer a couple of hours ago:
Not deep, but a couple of points that I wasn’t aware of. But IANAL, so YMMV.
For all the people with formatting/ reply in comment problems- I have to refresh the EW page 3-6 times before it works….
How about DiG & T first marketing the Libby pardon as “speaking loudly to Manafort…” and then building the “overreaching special counsels” public statement rationale?
Am I giving DiG & T too much credit?
Apologies if this has already been mentioned in comments; I don’t remember seeing it if so.
Cohen is under criminal investigation:
I know this has been assumed to be the case, and everyone’s factored it into their calculations, but DoJ made it real today. Perhaps the real news is that it’s been an “on-going” “months-long investigation”, which AFAIK hadn’t been mooted.
Given his background (and the Kaiser’s) I would be more surprised if he hadn’t turned up on a few wiretaps of Russian and AMerican mobsters. However, about those tapes he allegedly had, if the Feebs are able to use them, is that when Manafort and Cohen throw in the towel?
What else would have a chance of success (outside of the deus ex machina pardon) to limit the damage to their upcoming prosecutions? Could our lawyers help us here? It might put an effective timeline on when Trump needs to do his firings.
I expressed my uncertainty a few days ago to someone who was suggesting that a separate investigation into Cohen had been launched, and I suggested the possibility that he had just been caught because he was sloppy.
I guess that just goes to show you should never discount the scope of what’s going on under the hood.
If you haven’t already seen it, this excerpt is good background for probably partly why there was a Cohen investigation.
You’ll see Cohen and Felix Sater – who is cooperating with Mueller – more or less grew up together and did lots of cash-oriented business together.
And it doesn’t take much between-the-lines reading of just this short excerpt to show why Trump went ape—- on the Cohen raid and why he got an actual attorney to try to suppress.
One of the ongoing perceptual problems I have with this case is that it’s just too damn big. I realize that it’s not just Mueller and the dozen and half prosecutors, and he has a bunch of FBI agents and support staff and technical help, but even then I don’t see how even the most obvious things can be investigated. It seems like just getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with Manafort would take a ton of time — add to that Page, Papadopoulos and Stone, Flynn, now Cohen, and then think about what might be going on with Deutsche Bank, the IRS, the Azerbaijan and Panama Trump Towers, the Trump boys, Kushner, who knows what Bannon might be into, Cambridge Analytica, that weird data transmission from the Trump Tower and Russia — is he also getting into the RNC with Broidy? Is he digging into the NRA? Are Trump Steaks actually horsemeat and Trump water actually straight from the tap in Flint?
I have to assume that he can only get to the tip of the iceberg, and if he recommends that DOJ open separate investigations into areas he didn’t have time to address, I don’t see how there are enough prosecutors in the country to handle it all.
I’ll probably get flamed (or ignored) for this (especially 2) but:
1) I don’t have any reason not to believe that there aren’t already a “bunch” of closely related formal investigations underway that we don’t know about like we didn’t know about Cohen (e.g., think Broidy/Nader/Mercer/Ryan/… as just one example [or Kushner]) already spawned by Mueller’s work and more being generated, resource/impact prioritized, and parceled out to DOJ teams around the country as the contours of the iceberg become clearer.
2) I have the feeling that what might even have been on the plate going in given it was about Trump, and I don’t see how the opportunity couldn’t be there now (matters arising), is for Mueller’s work to be setting the stage for a massive task force, probably international, to do major damage to international money laundering, especially as it fuels organized criminal activity.
Money laundering is estimated to be $5T annually of which apparently less than 1% is even thwarted, let alone recaptured.
There really aren’t that many big originators, a few waystations and servicers, and maybe a few more good sized ($1+ B) integrators, so a really serious money laundering crackdown and claw back would be possible.
Mueller has probably got GPS coordinates on maybe 5% or even 10% of the money and it would make a lot of sense to keep squeezing e.g., Deutsche Bank and other major financial institutions and servicers – Skadden Arps? – and make it a lot harder to do what’s been going on virtually without impediment for years.
Maybe just fantasy but it sure would be great if, in addition to knocking off The Trump Organization for money laundering, Mueller’s work set some major pieces in place to do real damage to the international money laundering scourge.
Plus, Trump won’t shut up:
Trump is a moth to the prosecutorial flame. He employs hack lawyers, refuses good advice when he does get it, won’t shut up, and endlessly tampers with witnesses.
Cohen was a fool to take the call, but hope for a pardon springs eternal, even if it would do nothing for his state problems.
If one had a well indexed, searchable database of all his tweets, facebook postings, “off the cuff” remarks, bragging, denials, and things people said he told them, you could probably kill most of any A-C privilege he might have otherwise had if he had kept his mouth shut and his fingers off his phone.
Re the Trump backlash against Comey, Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne are precious. Sarah says the WH isn’t bothered by Comey’s book, then reads page after page of prepared remarks attempting to torch Comey’s reputation. She attacks the messenger, she wouldn’t dare address the substance.
Kellyanne resorts to the garden variety corporate epithet aimed at every whistleblower: “disgruntled former employee”. It’s the average CEOs worst nightmare. Second, that is, to the divorcing spouse who knows where too many of the bodies are buried and would rather shout about it than forget about the latest mistress.
The irony is most delicious when Trump’s defenders cry that Comey is only trying to sell a book. This from the first president in the modern era not to release his tax returns and not to divest his businesses and investments and put them in a blind trust. Rather than avoid conflicts of interest, Trump revels in them, in making money from the conflicts, and in getting away with it. He’s proud of it. They mystery is why he’s still president, not that he and his closest colleagues have been under federal investigation since he took the oath of office that he so blithely ignores.
The Comey book really burns his ass. I say let’s start a collection and buy thousands of Bigmacs (sp?) and jumbo fries, adorned with photos of Comey and McCabe, and send them to the WH. Then he can binge, get more angry, binge and so on.
Since Trump is an approved interested party to the Cohen case now, does that mean he can be asked to testify? Or is his (counsel’s) involvement limited to just looking over papers (from taint team)? Sorry, if this is really dumb.
Prague Spring, er ah…Prague Summer!
From McClatchy: “Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier.”
Also, why would the palace want to join in on Cohen’s court case if it wasn’t involved in the 130 k$ payout to Stormy? Doesn’t this make it more likely that Avenatti would be able to force the Kaiser into a deposition?
For Tom McGuire, etc. For some reason unable to reply directly under your comment above.
So if Fitz”was one more torpedo pointed at the USS Cheney” why was it that Fitz never put Cheney on the public stand under oath? Or in private under oath? I just don’t get that.