Devout Catholic Bill Barr Stakes the Credibility of His Institution on Shielding an Accused Rapist

Yesterday, Billy Barr had his DOJ intervene in E Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump.

In a filing submitted under the name of Director of DOJ’s Torts Branch, James Touhey, Jr., DOJ claimed that when President Trump accused Carroll last year of making up the rape to sell books and help Democrats, accused other men of rape, and called Carroll unattractive, he was acting in his official capacity as President of the United States.

6. James G. Touhey, Jr., the Director of the Torts Branch within the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, certified that the defendant employee,President Trump, was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the claim arose. The claim asserts defamation based on a written statement issued to the press and two statements the President made in interviews in June 2019 in which the President vehemently denied accusations made in Plaintiff’s then-forthcoming book. The President explained that these accusations were false and that the incident she alleged never happened. Acting pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 15.4(a),the Attorney General’s delegate certified that President Trump was acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States when he publicly denied as false the allegations made by Plaintiff.

As with other corrupt interventions by Barr’s DOJ, no SDNY attorney signed the filing.

If the move to replace Donald Trump with the US government as defendant succeeds, the entire suit will be dismissed, because the US government cannot be sued for defamation.

The move comes one month after the judge in the case, Verna Saunders, ruled Trump could not delay a deposition and DNA test in the lawsuit.

As I contemplated Barr’s decision to claim that accusing a credible alleged rape victim was all part of Trump’s job as President, I thought briefly about what it says of Bill Barr’s faith, that he would make it official DOJ policy to condone attacks on claimed rape victims like this.

But then I remembered that Bill Barr is of the generation of Catholics where that is the job of the official bureaucracy, to throw all the institutional weight of the Church into protecting alleged rapists and suppressing credible accusations, even to the point of attacking the victims.

And so Bill Barr will further degrade an institution that’s supposed to guard the interests of the less powerful in society, and instead use the power of the institution to corruptly hide how depraved those leading the institution really are.

Dead Flowers On Kentucky Derby Day

Hi there Trash Talk fans and fannettes, we are back. Personally, I think opening up B1G and SEC football is a declaration of pandemic war on society, especially in some seriously at high risk areas without the ICU resources to cover in a mass problem. Led by Trump, however, this seems to be the clarion call dopes cannot refuse.

Is it the move of voices like Trump, the flailing NCAA athletic departments, or the craven interests of Insta Sports betting interests like Fan Duel and Draft Kings who are desperate to make money now because their precarious and sick corporate lives depend on it? Don’t sleep on the latter, and pay attention as to the ever increasing Insta Sports Betting commercials soak up ad time on ESPN (and their chief shill, Mike Greenberg) and other sports channels. It is a full on push, and they cannot wait for the pandemic to end if they are to take over the gaming world. ESPN is all in on this garbage. Why? Because it is big advertising bucks, and money is their business. It is that simple.

Okay, on to the actual sports. First, today is, improbably, Kentucky Derby Day. As my family originally came from Kentucky before the cactus patch, the Derby is something special. Always has been and always will be. The Derby in September, without the people and hats in the stands, seems wrong. But the horses deserve to run in their time, so okay. F1, and even Indy, have proved that closed circuit courses with fast action are still compelling on TV. Frankly, so too has the NBA and NHL “bubbles”. So, it will still be interesting to see the Kentucky Derby.

One of our early partners and contributors here at Emptywheel, and even before the formal formation of the Emptywheel blog, was Mary. Mary lives on in our recollections and history, and her family, but will be forever known as the one that put horses in our bailiwick. Something Emptywheel Roving Reporter took to ground. So, when horses are up, the memory of Mary is as well. Today is an improbable, and weird day, for the Derby. But let it be run, for the horses. From CBS:

Though the NFL and Kentucky Derby are never mentioned in the same sentence, 2020 has been anything but usual. Even though the 2020 Kentucky Derby will go off Saturday, Sept. 5 on the brink of Week 1 in the NFL, all eyes will be on Churchill Downs, where 16 of the top three-year-old horses will load up for the 146th Run for the Roses. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes earlier this summer and is aiming to become just the 14th horse in history to win the Triple Crown and the first since Justify two years ago.

There is also the NBA, and the “embubblement” is working far better than thought possible. The games are great down the stretch.

NFL football, surprisingly, seems not far off. There is no more fascinating and competitive division than the NFC South. Couple of years ago that would have been shocking, now it is a fact. Bruce Arians, Brady and the Bucs are the most interesting story in the NFL this year. Can they really live up to that interest? I dunno about that. What a division to have to deal with, it is imposing. We shall see.

F1 is back again this weekend. Monza. There are a lot of famous historical races. Monza is very much at the top. This is not a normal year, and the front of the field has been more boring than ever in history by my eye. There is actually pretty decent racing behind the front markers and midfield. I will watch, but do not have much hopes for Monza being the nail biting theater it once was.

As summer starts to wane, today’s music will be by the Loving Spoonful. It was almost Donavan with images of the great Sue Lyon, but I think I already did that years ago. So, let’s have a good weekend folks. Rock on and chat about anything. Also, of course, Dead Flowers for Kentucky Derby Day, because there will be few Derby Days here without that.

185,963

Here’s the topic Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing everything they can to avoid:

It’s also the single biggest reason not to vote for Donald Trump.

I think Drew Gibson put it best in a tweet today:

The White House can put all the spin on their “Zapuder tape” they want. It won’t change the fact we can see they are killing us through police brutality and COVID-19.

It won’t change the fact Joe Biden was welcomed in Kenosha by community leaders, spoke with shooting victim Jacob Blake and met with Blake’s family — none of which insensitive racist Trump could bring himself to do.

It won’t change the fact Trump failed to boost U.S. manufacturing as he promised in 2016. Instead he set off an unnecessary trade war implementing tariffs which not only inflated consumer prices in the U.S., damaged demand for U.S. commodities, but encouraged the burning of Amazon rain forest for farmland in Brazil, which sold more soybeans to China.

It won’t change the fact that the Trump administration still has no effective response to COVID-19, allowing states to continue to fight on their own as more a thousand Americans die each day from the disease. At this rate 300,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 this year.

It won’t change the fact that no one in their right mind sees the Trump administration’s politicized hyper-speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine as anything more than a ploy for re-election purposes.

It won’t change the fact that +30% of college football players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 developed myocarditis which may inhibit their ability to play in college and professionally — and none of this had to happen had Trump done his job.

It won’t change the fact the Trump administration and the GOP senate are allowing children to go hungry, ignoring mounting food insecurity and growing numbers of  unemployed with 1.6 million new claims filed this week.

It won’t change the fact that evictions and foreclosures are creating another crisis surpassing that of 2007-2009.

But keep spinning, Kelly McEnany. Maybe you’ll survive the failed Trump years and earn yourself a gig spinning numbers for a TV game show as your next gig.

This is an open thread.
.
UPDATE-1 — 6:15 P.M. ET —

Wonder what the White House will do next to hide this?

This is bad. I wonder if they’ll care, though, since they’ve fucked up the U.S. Postal Service so badly overseas military votes may not get counted in a timely fashion.

We should be pounding on Esper to help active duty military to vote.

.
UPDATE-2 — 8:00 A.M. ET FRIDAY —

Oh, not good. Media have been arguing about sourcing behind Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic. AP verified some, and Washington Post followed up as well. But WaPo’s team published a piece which is just as blistering as Goldberg’s.

See Trump said U.S. soldiers injured and killed in war were ‘losers,’ magazine reports

We still aren’t told who the sources are but my money is on Jim Mattis being one of them. Goldberg wrote a piece on Mattis in June in which Mattis took a stick to Trump.

See James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

Twitter was flooded with condemnation of Trump after yesterday’s piece in The Atlantic; Team Trump sent out a horde of proxies like Sarah Huckabee Sanders to swat it down.

Not certain who’ll believe her.

It’s Not the Four Year Old Counterintelligence Investigation intro Trump We Need to Be Most Worried About — It’s the Ones Bill Barr May Have Killed

The other day, Mike Schmidt advertised a book by claiming that FBI never did any kind of counterintelligence investigation of Trump in parallel with the Mueller investigation. On Twitter, Andrew Weissmann debunked a key part (though not all) of that claim.

The aftermath has led to ongoing debates about what really happened. My guess is that Schmidt’s sources did not have visibility on the full scope of the Mueller investigation, and he didn’t read the Mueller Report, which would have helped him realize that. And while credible reports say Mueller didn’t investigate Trump’s historical financial ties to Russia (while I’ve read neither book yet, the excerpts of Jeff Toobin’s book adhere more closely to the public record than Schmidt’s), the public record also suggests Mueller obtained Trump-related records that most people don’t realize he obtained.

I reiterate that it is far more troubling that a co-equal branch of government — the one with impeachment power — chose not to pursue the same questions about Trump’s financial vulnerabilities to Russia. If you want to express outrage that no one has investigated whether Trump is beholden to Russia, focus some of it on Richard Burr, who suggested Trump’s financial vulnerability to Russia was irrelevant to a report specifically focused on counterintelligence threats.

Still, there’s something still more urgent, one that is getting lost in the debate about what happened three or four years ago.

There were, as of at least April, at least one and probably several investigations implicating counterintelligence tied to Trump, through his top associates. But they tie to the same cases that Billy Barr has undermined in systematic and unprecedented fashion in recent months. It is a far more pressing question whether Barr has undermined counterintelligence investigations implicating Trump’s ties to Russia by ensuring those who lied to protect him during the Mueller investigation face no consequences than what Rod Rosenstein did forty months ago.

Consider Mike Flynn. The most newsworthy thing Robert Mueller said — under oath — over the course of two congressional hearings is that “many elements of the FBI” were looking into the counterintelligence risks created by Mike Flynn’s lies about his communications with Russia.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Since it was outside the purview of your investigation your report did not address how Flynn’s false statements could pose a national security risk because the Russians knew the falsity of those statements, right?

MUELLER: I cannot get in to that, mainly because there are many elements of the FBI that are looking at different aspects of that issue.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Currently?

MUELLER: Currently.

As part of Mueller’s analysis about whether Trump fired Jim Comey to stop the investigation into Flynn, he weighed whether the Flynn investigation implicated Trump personally. But he found — largely because Flynn and KT McFarland, after first telling similar lies to investigators, later professed no memory that Trump was in the loop regarding Flynn’s efforts to undercut sanctions with Sergey Kislyak, and Steve Bannon repeated a White House script saying he wasn’t — that the evidence was inconclusive.

As part of our investigation, we examined whether the President had a personal stake in the outcome of an investigation into Flynn-for example, whether the President was aware of Flynn’s communications with Kislyak close in time to when they occurred, such that the President knew that Flynn had lied to senior White House officials and that those lies had been passed on to the public. Some evidence suggests that the President knew about the existence and content of Flynn’s calls when they occurred, but the evidence is inconclusive and could not be relied upon to establish the President’s knowledge.

[snip]

But McFarland did not recall providing the President-Elect with Flynn’s read-out of his calls with Kislyak, and Flynn does not have a specific recollection of telling the President-Elect directly about the calls. Bannon also said he did not recall hearing about the calls from Flynn. And in February 2017, the President asked Flynn what was discussed on the calls and whether he had lied to the Vice President, suggesting that he did not already know. Our investigation accordingly did not produce evidence that established that the President knew about Flynn’s discussions of sanctions before the Department of Justice notified the White House of those discussions in late January 2017.

We’ve since seen transcripts that show Mike Flynn telling Sergey Kislyak in real time that Trump was aware of the communications between the two (and John Ratcliffe is withholding at least one transcript of a call between the men).

FLYNN: and, you know, we are not going to agree on everything, you know that, but, but I think that we have a lot of things in common. A lot. And we have to figure out how, how to achieve those things, you know and, and be smart about it and, uh, uh, keep the temperature down globally, as well as not just, you know, here, here in the United States and also over in, in Russia.

KISLYAK: yeah.

FLYNN: But globally l want to keep the temperature down and we can do this ifwe are smart about it.

KISLYAK: You’re absolutely right.

FLYNN: I haven’t gotten, I haven’t gotten a, uh, confirmation on the, on the, uh, secure VTC yet, but the, but the boss is aware and so please convey that. [my emphasis]

Certainly, Russia would have reason to believe that Flynn’s efforts to undermine sanctions were directed by Trump.

In January, a sentencing memo that was delayed so it could be approved by the entire chain of command at DOJ, explained why all this was significant.

Any effort to undermine the recently imposed sanctions, which were enacted to punish the Russian government for interfering in the 2016 election, could have been evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia. Accordingly, determining the extent of the defendant’s actions, why the defendant took such actions, and at whose direction he took those actions, were critical to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.

[snip]

It was material to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation to know the full extent of the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador, and why he lied to the FBI about those communications.

Flynn’s forgetfulness about whether Trump ordered him to undermine sanctions went to the core question of whether Trump worked with Russia in their efforts to throw him the election.

And that sentencing memo was the moment when Billy Barr threw two different lawyers — one a lifetime associate of his — into the project of creating a false excuse to undermine the prosecution of Flynn. More recently, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall told the DC Circuit that Barr had secret reasons for overturning the prosecution.

The Attorney General of course sees this in a context of non-public information from other investigations.

[snip]

I just want to make clear that it may be possible that the Attorney General had before him information that he was not able to share with the court and so what we put in front of the court were the reasons that we could, but it may not be the whole picture available to the Executive Branch.

[snip]

It’s just we gave three reasons; one of them was that the interests of justice were not longer served, in the Attorney General’s judgment, by the prosecution. The Attorney General made that decision, or that judgment, on the basis of lots of information, some of it is public and fleshed out in the motion, some of it is not.

This secret reason is why, Wall suggested, it would cause irreparable harm for DOJ to have to show up before Judge Emmet Sullivan and explain why DOJ blew up the prosecution.

Then there’s Roger Stone. Stone very loudly claimed (improbably) that he could have avoided prison had he not lied to protect Donald Trump. And Trump rewarded him for it, commuting his sentence to ensure he didn’t spend a day in prison.

But at least as of April, an investigation into whether Stone was part of a conspiracy with Russia and/or was a Russian agent — implicating 18 USC 951, not just FARA — was ongoing. Among the things Stone was involved in that Trump refused to answer Mueller questions about was a pardon for Julian Assange, one Stone started pursuing at least as early as November 15. While no sentencing memo has explained this (as it did with Mike Flynn), whether Trump and Stone used promises of a pardon to get Assange to optimize the WikiLeaks releases goes to the core question of whether there was a quid pro quo as part of 2016.

Finally, there’s Paul Manafort, whose close associates, the SSCI Report makes clear, were part of GRU and appear to have had a role in the hack-and-leak. After securing a cooperation deal, Manafort changed his story, and then shared details of what Mueller’s team knew with the President.

Yet, even with Manafort’s ties to the effort to steal our election, the Attorney General used COVID relief to ensure that Manafort would escape prison.

While it’s not clear whether John Ratcliffe, Barr, or the IC made the decision, the redaction process of the SSCI report denied voters the ability to know how closely tied Trump’s campaign manager is with the people who helped steal the election. What we do know is the effort Manafort started continues in Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine and spew Russian disinformation.

For all three of the Trump associates where we know Barr intervened (there’s good reason to suspect he intervened in an Erik Prince prosecution, too), those people implicate Trump directly in counterintelligence investigations that were, fairly recently, ongoing.

Whether or not there was a counterintelligence investigation implicating Trump on May 20, 2017, after Rod Rosenstein scoped the Mueller investigation, we know counterintelligence investigations have implicated him since. What we don’t know is whether, in an effort to help Trump get reelected, his fixer Billy Barr squelched those, too.

Update: In an appearance for his book, Schmidt said he considered writing it (in 2020) about just the first 26 days of his presidency. It’s a telling comment given that his description of what happened with counterintelligence doesn’t accord with what the Mueller Report itself said happened around 500 days into Trump’s presidency.

Trump Told One Key Truth at His Convention

CNN had a funny story the other day. It described how five different RNC speakers — it focuses on Natalie Harp (who lied about receiving treatment under the Right to Try Act), Mark and Patricia McCloskey (who threatened protestors with their guns), Abby Johnson (whose story about abortion and spousal voting fell apart), and Mary Ann Mendoza (who got cut after spewing an anti-semitic conspiracy theory) — were so crazy, it suggests the Republicans didn’t vet their speakers.

The appearances of several speakers at this week’s Republican National Convention have been surrounded by controversy over social media comments and actions from their past, raising questions about whether and how the RNC vetted its speakers before they were placed on national television.

The story is funny, in part, because it left out the bigger name controversial speakers, like Rudy Giuliani, whose conspiracy theories are every bit as baseless as Mendoza’s, and who is reportedly under criminal investigation for the circumstances behind them) or Eric Trump, who is currently defying a New York State subpoena on the grounds that testifying truthfully about Trump Organization’s accounting irregularities would incriminate him. Which makes the premise even funnier: One controversial speaker is a vetting problem, seven (the number is actually much higher) is an intentional choice.

And yet the press has interpreted Trump’s failures to play by norms they believe remain in place as a goof, simply poor execution of a known formula.

A more alarming example comes in this NYT story. It sums up what it views as the themes the two parties are using, along the way repeating Trump’s claimed theme of “law-and-order” five times.

COVID vs. Law and Order

[snip]

the President is hammering a law-and-order message

[snip]

The moves come as the presidential campaign barrels into the critical last 10 weeks. They represent a bet by Mr. Biden that a focus on Covid-19 will prevail over Mr. Trump’s “law and order” emphasis and his attempt to portray Mr. Biden as a tool of the “radical left.”

[snip]

Aides to Mr. Trump said on Friday that their line of attack would not change. They plan to repeatedly highlight Mr. Trump’s familiar “law and order” message, and are blunt in their assessment that they will benefit politically from violence erupting at some protests.

[snip]

Mr. Trump’s aides said he enjoyed the frustration and anger he caused by holding a political event on the South Lawn of the White House, shattering conventional norms and raising questions about ethics law violations. He relished the fact that no one could do anything to stop him, said the aides, who spoke anonymously to discuss internal conversations.

Even assuming NYT describes these themes correctly (it doesn’t mention “competence,” for example), it totally misreads what happened at the Trump convention. It treats the RNC as a thematically organized event, rather than a raw display of power, power premised on dismantling any logic of themes.

While this extends to every logical claim Trump made at the RNC — from his claim that COVID is a thing of the past and his celebration of immigrants lured to participate in the RNC unwittingly — it was most visible in his claim to care in the least about law and order, the theme reporters claimed to be the central backbone of Trump’s campaign.

This is a man, after all, who has had two campaign managers and five other aides indicted or prosecuted, most in the service of protecting Trump. Two separate legal proceedings in New York State are pursuing financial crimes implicating Trump and his business (as noted, RNC speaker Eric Trump is currently defying subpoenas, claiming that his truthful testimony will implicate himself in crimes). And during his last campaign, Trump was implicated in two more crimes, the hush payments to his former sex partners and the misuse of his Foundation. There are active lawsuits from women credibly accusing Trump of sex crimes. It’s likely the only thing protecting Trump from prosecution for these crimes and obstruction of the Mueller probe is his success at winning another term. Meanwhile, the woman who shattered all prior norms about the Hatch Act, Kellyanne Conway, completed her service to Trump by admitting more violence would help Trump’s campaign.

And yet the NYT treats Trump’s “law and order” theme as a credible political claim.

The only mention from this purported news story that Trump’s convention was a televised crime spree of its own accord came in describing the glee with which Trump’s aides enjoyed watching Trump commit crimes, which the NYT instead describes as “raising questions about ethics law violations,” with impunity.

Mr. Trump’s aides said he enjoyed the frustration and anger he caused by holding a political event on the South Lawn of the White House, shattering conventional norms and raising questions about ethics law violations. He relished the fact that no one could do anything to stop him, said the aides, who spoke anonymously to discuss internal conversations.

This is not (as it would be in a minimally competent story) a fact check, a discussion of how absurd it was that the most criminally implicated President in history was instead running as the “law and order” candidate. It is, instead, an unexamined nugget of the key truth.

Trump’s aides are gleeful that his defiance of the law during a convention where he claimed to be the “law and order” candidate caused so much consternation. They relish the way he could commit crimes in broad daylight without anyone stopping him.

That is, the theme is not “law and order,” as NYT gullibly parroted. Trump’s campaign promise is the complete dismantlement of rule of law, where a candidate whose potential and confirmed crimes are too numerous to track could condemn the crimes and criminalized peaceful speech of his opponents, while failing to condemn murder committed by a supporter, all while claiming this selective enforcement amounted to “law and order.”

The point is not the theme. It’s partly that a small pack of NYT journalists might collectively repeat it as if it’s true, without instead describing the grave danger posed to democracy when a man who has systematically attacked rule of law rebrands that assault as law and order. Trump has successfully recruited those whose business is supposed to be truth-telling, and gotten them to instead reinforce his central lie, that his abuse of the law is something called “law and order.” And it is, more significantly, that while less negligent journalists were trying to push back on Trump’s deluge of lies, he was instead telling the key truth. Trump’s campaign message is not whatever theme some horse race journalists discern from ad buys. Rather, it is a promise — with his defiance of rule of law, his abdication of any platform save his own whims, his assault on the sanctity of the election, his incitement of violence — that in a second term Trump will forgo any past pretense he made to be engaged in democracy.

Trump’s convention was all designed to perform his utter contempt for democracy itself. And it succeeded, wildly, at telling that one key truth.

RNCC 2020: ‘Profoundly’ WTAF

I could expend a lot of time and effort on the disgusting spectacle which was the final night of the Republican National Committee’s Convention.

I could write more about media outlets which enabled this unlawful fascist excess by failing to note how in-our-face the Trump campaign and Trump administration were in their taking of public resources for a partisan campaign.

I could write about the maskless attendees who played ‘Rona Roulette sitting cheek and jowl on the White House lawn.

But no. I’m going to say this:

That’s how many Americans died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours. It’s likely an understatement since excess deaths have been running nearly 25% higher than those reported as COVID-19.

I’m going to say this:

recognizing all the Americans who have died because that tangerine hellbeast chose not to protect the American public because he thought it was better for his campaign to act as if the pandemic disappeared, because he listened to his incompetent Victorian doll-faced son-in-law that neglecting blue states would help his re-election.

It’ll just disappear, he’s said repeatedly about the pandemic. In his addled venal mind it already has because COVID-19 does nothing to fluff his ego. It’s just an annoyance to be brushed aside because it doesn’t help his TV ratings.

It’ll just disappear, like the tens of millions who’ve lost their jobs or are worried about losing them soon, the many who will lose their homes to eviction and foreclosure, the families struggling with food security, the children who don’t have access to internet to study from home or are in classrooms with teachers grappling with infection control with little help.

None of these Americans are visible to him because they are not his audience. They’re disrupters of his TV and approval ratings, inconveniences impeding his narcissistic supply — the fix he needs which he’ll never get from his father.

“Profoundly” he accepted his political party’s nomination tonight, unable to read the word “proudly” in his speech and really not caring about that detail. Somehow it fits.

Trump is profoundly wrong in so many ways, as is the party which owns his gross failings.

We have 67 days to work out how to safely vote this miserable waste of carbon out of office. If things continue as they have, losing 1100-1200 Americans a day to COVID-19, the death toll will increase by another 80,000 by Election Day.

If the rate remains unchanged, the total number of Americans lost to COVID-19 will nearly double by Inauguration Day.

I can’t begin to stomach the cost of human life if we do not remove him from office. The potential number of deaths is as profoundly wrong as he is.

Consider tonight’s profound farce conducted on the people’s lawn using taxpayer resources our marching orders.

It’s time to save our fellow Americans’ lives.

It’s time to take our democracy back.

Trump’s Destruction of Government Is Personal

I wanted to put up a longer post this morning addressing last night’s stream of Hatch Act violations and nepotistic displays ignored by criminal hypocrites passing for the GOP political party’s convention.

Unfortunately I have to be away from the desk for much of this morning, sorry. Feel free to use this open thread to share your observations about RNCC 2020: WTAF Round 2.

While you have at it without me I’m meeting with my elderly parents. My father has had some recent health events which have been under observation, aren’t getting better, and may need surgery.

The problem is the speed with which an elderly person with two residences — one in Florida, one in Michigan — can get the care they need during a pandemic if their health records are spread across north and south.

The physician who saw him yesterday wants records but they’re at a different location.

“Don’t mail them, whatever you have your care provider do,” they told my parents.

Now they have to wait for records in Florida, a state which is still wrestling with COVID-19 cases, to be sent to Michigan. Will they be transferred promptly and securely to this new physician in Michigan, where sorting machines have been removed and service slowed? Who knows?

My folks have been able to rely on mail to ship records back and forth for decades between residences, knowing they would arrive securely in a reasonable period of time.

But it’s not like it’s a cancer drug or insulin or some other medical resource needed expeditiously, one might think.

Imagine, though, it’s records of a heart ailment. Or a brain lesion. Or some other threat to health which if not treated appropriately might result in disability or death.

I won’t get any more specific but that’s what’s in these records which need to be shared between two entirely different, unconnected hospital systems.

U.S. Postal Service handling these records would have been just fine until this summer when Louis DeJoy took over as Postmaster General.

~ ~ ~

There’s an upside to this mess. It’s not much in that it won’t assure my dad’s health will improve.

But Donald Trump’s criminality and general fucked-up-edness has cost him two conservative voters.

My mother is FURIOUS about Trump. RABID. She makes me look like a goddamn fluffy kitten about Trump.

And this bullshit about COVID-19 being out of control was the capper for her. She’s a retired health care professional who knows all of this could have been prevented by one man had he done the job he was supposed to do.

Now, with this distrust of the mail system, at a time when she needs it most? Mom is LIVID.

I don’t dare discuss it with my dad because of his health.

I don’t dare get into detail with Mom about Trump because my god, her blood pressure.

If something worse should happen to my dad because of Trump’s screwing with government services we need, I wouldn’t put it past her to sue the ever-living fuck out of Trump appointees.

And I will help her, gladly. It’ll be the first time we’ve agreed on politics most of my adult lifetime.

~ ~ ~

This is supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. Not for banksters, not for cronies, not for foreign adversaries who’ve compromised elements of our leadership.

It’s time to take it back to save our own lives.

It’s time to do it for the memory of 178,410 COVID-19 victims our country has lost as of this morning because of Trump.

Again, this is an open thread.

RNCC 2020: Night of a Thousand WTAFs

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

I didn’t watch the first night of the Republican National Committee’s Convention. No way am I giving the RNC any traffic via broadcast or cable TV.

I did, however, like many of you, experience it vicariously and filtered via Twitter (do click through the date links in the tweets below for full effect).

All I can say is: Holy crap, WTAF?

And this, WTAF?

I think the Republican Party left the planet without leaving a forwarding address and the grifting squatters who remain are trying to con the public into believing the GOP is still here, large and in charge.

This is totally performative, mere playacting at politics. They don’t even have a platform.

Which is what really gets my goat: the Democratic Party is fielding candidates for POTUS and VP who went through the full primary process and a raftload of debates, only to run against people who are pretending to be a political party instead of a brand of grifters.

The left is flinging hurtful shit between factions over which policy is the most effective or most popular or most ethical, while these self-medicated fronts for a transnational crime syndicate go through the motions as if this were an English-language telenovela or a Turkish romance series centered on an election.

Nikki Haley and Tim Scott both spoke tonight. I can’t recall a thing they said after these two characters performed their brand of drama. It’s kind of sad.

I am trying to maintain my sense of humor about this mess. I could only laugh when I realized the photo I wanted of Donnie Jr.’s squeeze could be obtained by searching Twitter using the term, “evita.”

I am also amused at how Twitter’s algorithm has suppressed the word “cocaine” this evening to keep it from trending. “Coked,” however, slipped through.

.

One thing I had hoped would show up in my timeline tonight:

The gloves are off, it seems.

.

This is an open thread. Bring your varying degrees of disgust to air out in thread.

Place Your Bets: What’s Trump’s October Surprise? [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates will appear at the bottom of the post. / ~Rayne]

It’s become something of a American tradition — candidates pull something out of their asses in October which resets the calculus by which swing voters calibrate their darts before they aim at the board of presidential candidates.

Here are 180 years of surprises, though a few attempts aren’t squarely in October but rather late in the election season:

1840: Van Buren (D) vs. Harrison (W) — Van Buren’s fed prosecutors charged Whigs with voter fraud.

1880: Garfield (R) vs. Hancock (D) — The “Morey letter” purportedly written by Garfield implied Garfield favored Chines immigration.

1884: Cleveland (D) vs. Blaine (R) — Blaine said nothing in response to a popular bigoted preacher’s claim that Democrats promoted “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” costing him Catholic and southern sympathizers’ votes.

1912: Taft (R) vs. Wilson (D) — Taft’s VP died a week before election day.

1920: Harding (R) vs. Cox (D) — Rumor of Harding’s “negro blood”, Roosevelt’s gays in Navy investigation.

1940: Roosevelt (D) vs. Willkie (R) — Roosevelt promoted African-American Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Sr. to brigadier general.

1964: Johnson (D) vs. Goldwater (R) — Jenkins’ gay sex scandal, Khruschev’s ouster, PRC’s first nuke test, September “Daisy” TV ad.

1968: Nixon (R) vs. Johnson (withdrew)/Humphrey (D) — Nixon undermined Johnson’s peace talks with Vietnam.

1972: Nixon (R) vs. McGovern (D) — Henry Kissinger’s “peace is at hand” remarks referring to the Vietnam war.

1980: Carter (D) vs. Reagan (R) — American hostages remained in Iran.

1992: Bush (R) vs. Clinton (D) — Caspar Weinberger’s indictment (really in June).

2000: Gore (D) vs. Bush (R) — George Bush’s drunk driving charge.

2004: Kerry (D) vs. Bush (R) — missing explosives cache, OBL tape, Saudi oil price cut, terror alerts.

2006: midterm elections — Mark Foley scandal, Saddam Hussein trial verdict.

2008: McCain (R) vs. Obama (D) — Revelation of Obama’s “illegal immigrant half-aunt” made the news.

2012: Romney (R) vs. Obama (D) — Romney’s “47%” tape was released.

2016: Clinton (D) vs. Trump (R) — “pussy grabber” tape + Wikileaks’ Podesta emails, Comey letter.

2018: midterm elections —  A “migrant caravan” materialized in Central America.

My gosh, October surprises going back as far as the Whig Party. Trump will be in good company if he aims beyond his sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct Americans’ votes by throwing a late wrench in the works.

But what will that wrench be?

~ ~ ~

There’s already been some speculation as to what kinds of ratfucking Trump will pull at the last moment. Two topics which some suggest may be used to generate October Surprises are the Durham investigation and a vaccine for COVID-19.

I don’t have a feel for the former. Marcy or bmaz might have a better sense of the likelihood. Can’t rule out there being more than one surprise, either. I put my money on the latter, though.

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, we’re already seeing jockeying around this issue, including the news about Putin’s daughter having been a test subject for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Unfortunately, Dr. Anthony Fauci has naively set up expectations for a vaccine by the end of the year.

… “From everything we’ve seen now — in the animal data, as well as the human data — we feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I don’t think it’s dreaming.” …

The problem is that he’s offered inadequate qualifications when asked for comment, though to be fair, this excerpt is from that awful hearing with Rep. Jim “Killer Clown” Jordan being an asshole to him.

It’s extremely doubtful there will be a safe and effective vaccine ready for nationwide or global deployment by the end of the year. There may be one or more candidates which are ready for varying stages of testing, trials, or regulatory approvals.

While there are numerous vaccines in development around the world, American pharma company Pfizer has a candidate nearing a benchmark:

… Pfizer has said repeatedly since June that it was targeting October for its application and the companies started a large late-stage study last month of the candidate vaccine, one of the few globally in later stages of development.

On Thursday they reported data from previous early-stage trials of the vaccine, BNT162b2, that showed it induced similar immune responses and had milder side effects than prior data on another candidate. …

October. Huh. What a coincidence. How odd its timing also syncs up with anticipated roll-out of Russia’s vaccine.

Do pay careful attention to that “milder side effects” bit. There’s a lot in these three words without enough explanation.

Trump’s veep-minion is singing a hopeful refrain, invoking some religious happy talk with the word “miracle”:

But this morning Trump had another temper tantrum via Twitter about the vaccine approval process:

No, you great tangerine dipshit. Speed should NOT be the focus unless you’re worried about re-election and need a Hail Mary pass delivered in October.

For the American public, the vaccine must be safe and effective. There are no shortcuts to these two deliverables, especially since this vaccine will be rolled out to the entire population, from children to elderly. We don’t want a vaccine which causes more problems than the disease it’s supposed to prevent.

Which is why the Food and Drug Administration needs to do its job thoroughly and with as much openness as the process and partners permit. But not with such speed that safety and efficacy are threatened.

What I can’t say is whether Trump’s temper tantrum is meant to pressure the FDA, or if it’s meant to condition the public to believe he is responsible for making the shortened vaccine development timeline happen, so when the FDA does get around to completing regulatory review, Trump can crow he alone can fix COVID-19.

Which is bullshit after 175,695 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of 11:00 p.m. ET today.

~ ~ ~

So what’s your take? What will be the October surprise Trump will attempt to save his ass this November?

This is an open thread.

 . . .

UPDATE-1 — 11:50 P.M. ET —

Son of a gun, just when I was going to log off and go to bed this crap pops up in my feed.

Great. We’re going to hear narcissistic dementia babble with some faux authoritative affirmation from a goddamned ONCOLOGIST and not an epidemiologist/virologist/public health MD about whatever dog-and-pony White House Coronavirus Taskforce stuff this is.

Where will the far-more-trusted Dr. Fauci be during this crap?

We all know the real point of this last minute lob into Saturday night’s dark is a means to change the subject of tomorrow morning’s Sunday talk shows.

The White House doesn’t want the punditocracy to talk about

1) The Democrats’ convention this past week and Joe Biden’s acceptance in particular;
2) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s appearance before the Senate and Steve Mnuchin’s role in the USPS crisis;
3) The Delivering for America Act, H.R. 8015 which passed the House today and now heads to the Senate;
4) The lack of action in the Senate on reconciling the House’s HEROES Act with the Senate’s awful HEALS Act;
5) The beginning of a massive eviction/foreclosure/homelessness crisis;
6) The failures of schools both K-12 and universities to safely relaunch;
7) Mary Trump’s audiotape of Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry in which much tea is spilled about Trump;

and lastly, the ongoing mass death event costing 1200 American lives each day because Donald Trump is such an abjectly corrupt fuckup.

Add that to your predictions — of which item is Trump most afraid of that Team Trump had to manufacture a breakthrough to derail Sunday morning talk shows?

 . . .

UPDATE-2 — 7:15 P.M. ET —

Trump’s 6:00 p.m. presser has come and gone — a quickly slapped together sandwich of a racist anti-China dig, nonsensical back-patting and a ridiculous announcement, with a side of exactly three questions allotted to Fox News (2) and OAN (1) before fleeing the scene like a criminal.

What’s the likelihood the questions were pre-approved?

I am so fucking glad I didn’t turn on my television to watch this laughable circle jerk.

Politico published a story earlier this afternoon about the subject of this announcement: the use of plasma from COVID-19 survivors as pharmaceutical therapy for patients in severe condition, hospitalized with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is NOT a preventative therapy.

Experts like former CDC director Dr. Tom Friedan aren’t rah-rah about this therapy or announcement:

The one thing no one was able to ask Trump was whether he’s received this therapy. It’s possible he received a prophylactic dose; I can think of one occasion when it may have happened, three days after Herman Cain died.

Maybe this is the surprise which hasn’t yet been sprung on us yet?

Crowdsourced Timeline: Torching the USPS [Work in Progress, UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Well now. This has been a day to beat all days, hasn’t it?

Who would ever have guessed — during the middle of a scandal in which a Trump donor+appointee engaged in dismantling the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct a general election and a Census — that U.S. Postal Agents with U.S. Coast Guard assistance would arrest a Trump advisor on a boat with a Chinese dissident business person?

It’s mind boggling and delicious at the same time.

Also today: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, arguing changes made to the USPS system violate federal law, disrupting mail delivery and may cause voter disenfranchisement this November.

I wrote that DeJoy’s “equipment reductions” and staffing changes may have violated 18 U.S. Code § 1701.Obstruction of mails generally, as well as 18 U.S. Code § 371 Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S., and possibly 18 U.S. Code § 1346 Honest Services Fraud.

NAACP and Public Citizen argue DeJoy’s changes violate 39 U.S. Code § 3661 – Postal services by failing to obtain public comment first before finalizing and implementing changes, as well as 39 U.S. Code § 101(e) – Postal policy by failing to “give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail.”

There’s a tidbit in the complaint which I hope the court addresses when it addresses relief:

17. The PAEA in 2006 established the Postal Regulatory Commission as “an independent establishment of the executive branch.” Id. § 501. “The Postal Regulatory Commission is composed of 5 Commissioners, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commissioners shall be chosen solely on the basis of their technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated expertise in economics, accounting, law, or public administration, and may be removed by the President only for cause. Each individual appointed to the Commission shall have the qualifications and expertise necessary to carry out the enhanced responsibilities accorded Commissioners under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” Id. § 502(a). “No Commissioner shall be financially interested in any enterprise in the private sector of the economy engaged in the delivery of mail matter.” Id. § 502(b).

Emphasis mine. DeJoy isn’t qualified to be a commissioner and should be removed.

And more today: nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against DeJoy today, asking for an investigation into DeJoy’s actions which will undermine voting by mail for Trump’s political benefit. CREW’s concerned that DeJoy did more than violate the Hatch Act:

Criminal law (18 U.S.C. § 610) [Hatch Act] prohibits anyone from commanding any employee of the federal government to engage in political activity. Another provision (18 U.S.C § 595) bars anyone “employed in any administrative position by the United States” from using, in connection with any federally-funded activity, their “official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President.”

I’m waiting for an entity to sue the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for interfering with the delivery of Census forms which may yet be in circulation.

Senator Gary Peters has requested DeJoy appear before a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee tomorrow. Let’s hope both ballots and Census forms come up in the hearing.

What might be helpful to both persons following the hearing tomorrow and the House Oversight Committee hearing on Monday, August 24, is a timeline of relevant events related to Louis DeJoy’s installment as U.S. Postmaster General, the appointments of the current USPS Board of Governors, and the changes DeJoy as ordered.

Here’s a partially constructed timeline. If there’s an event or item you believe is key, please share it in comments and I’ll insert it in chronological order.

~ ~ ~

October 16, 2016 — DeJoy donation: $25,000 to to American Crossroads, pro-Trump super PAC run by Robert Duncan, chair of USPS Board of Governors which appointed DeJoy. DeJoy was the Republican National Committee’s national deputy chairman and was North Carolina State Chair for Trump Victory during the 2016 campaign.

Early January 2017 — According to The Charlotte Observer, “DeJoy was one of Trump’s biggest N.C. donors and fundraisers. Records show he gave $111,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that split money between the campaign and party groups. He gave the Republican National Committee another $273,000 to help elect Trump.”

October 7, 2017 — DeJoy hosted a $25,000 minimum donation fundraising dinner for Trump at his home in Greensboro, NC.

October 2019 — Then-Postmaster General Marge Brennan announced her impending retirement.

December 10, 2019 — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with David Abney, chairman and CEO of UPS, a competitor of USPS.

March 27, 2020 — Before COVID-19, a fundraising event was scheduled. The event hosted by DeJoy in Greenboro NC was intended to benefit Trump’s re-election campaign, the RNC and several state Republican parties, including North Carolina’s.

April 9, 2020 — Then-Postmaster General Brennan warned of a $13 billion revenue shortfall due “directly to COVID-19” and an additional $54.3 billion in losses over 10 years. USPS could “run out of cash this fiscal year” on September 30 if it did not receive federal funding.

May 23, 2020 — On or about this date, DeJoy was named national finance chairman for CLT Host 2020, the local organizing committee for the Republican National Convention. At the time the convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC.

January 15, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $150,000 to Trump’s campaign; $217,800 to the Republican National Committee.

January 16, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $10,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

February 7, 2020 — AG Bill Barr freezes campaign finance investigations.

February 12, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $35,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

February 19, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $210,600 to Trump’s campaign.

April 1, 2020 — USPS Board of Governors adopts new mission statement.

April 2020 (date TBD) — DeJoy’s and spouse Wos’ joint charity helped found the Burr Center at Wake Forest University

April 9, 2020 — DeJoy donations: $35,000 to help re-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in November; $27,200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $5,000 to the Majority Committee PAC, which says on Facebook its goal is “holding Nancy Pelosi accountable and helping Republicans take back the House of Representatives.”

May 6, 2020 — DeJoy sworn in as Postmaster General and CEO.

May 14, 2020 — NC Senator Burr steps down as SSCI chair due to FBI investigation of his trade.

May 15, 2020 — House passed the HEROES Act containing $25 billion in funding for the USPS.

May 15, 2020 — USPS presentation, “Equipment Reduction” proposed plan.

June 15, 2020 — First day on the job at USPS according to DeJoy.

June 15, 2020 — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the USPS Board of Governors asking them for their communication with the White House about DeJoy’s appointment.

June 17, 2020 — American Postal Workers Union was told of plans to remove 671 automated mail sorters — more than 10 percent of the total — from operation throughout the country.

July 10, 2020 — USPS circulated to employees a document entitled “PMGs expectations and plan” outlining changes DeJoy would order, including elimination of overtime, letter carriers would limit the time and scope of their delivery routes, and certain customer service windows would close during lunchtime. A document also circulated reviewing the changes, entitled, “Mandatory Stand-Up Talk: All Employees,” subtitled, “Pivoting For Our Future” (Pivot Instructions).

July 13, 2020 — DeJoy announced a prohibition to overtime and any other measures local postmasters use to alleviate shortages of staff hours.

Mid-July 2020 — USPS Board of Governors responded to Sen. Schumer’s request; Schumer said they told him “much of the information I requested was confidential.” The board had used an executive search firm which refused to waive a nondisclosure agreement.

July 27, 2020 — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced HEALS Act as counter to House bill HEROES Act; the senate bill contains no funding for the USPS.

July 29, 2020 — The Washington Post reported that in consideration for a $10 billion loan, DeJoy gave Mnuchin proprietary information about USPS’s private-sector contracts including Amazon, FedEx and UPS.

Late July, 2020 — Thomas J. Marshall, USPS’s general counsel and executive vice president, sent a letter to 46 states “warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted,” according to a report by the Washington Post on August 14.

August 4, 2020 — U.S. mail delays contributed to ballots arriving too late to be completed or mailed back in
time to be counted Missouri’s August 4, 2020 primary election.

August 4, 2020 — Trump lied about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 5, 2020 — Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi met DeJoy, along with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to negotiate both funding and the Pivot changes implemented by DeJoy.

August 6, 2020 — Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) launched investigation into USPS delivery delays.

August 7, 2020 — First meeting of  USPS Board of Governors DeJoy attended; results of third quarter, ended June 30, released. DeJoy also announced he had reassigned or displaced 23 senior USPS officials.

August 9, 2020 — Trump lied again about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 10, 2020 — DeJoy acknowledged in a USPS-wide memo that the Pivot Instructions “impacted our overall service levels.”

August 12, 2020 — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Delivering for America Act.

August 13, 2020 — Photos of removed postal equipment appeared online.

August 13, 2020 — DeJoy sent a memo acknowledging recent changes have “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.” No effort was made to halt or reverse the changes set in motion, however.

August 13, 2020 — Trump admitted in an interview that “he opposes a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the U.S. Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding to the states,” according to the Washington Post. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” said Trump.

August 16, 2020 — Speaker Pelosi called for an emergency session of House to address the USPS crisis.

August 16, 2020 — Senator Gary Peters, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, called for an emergency hearing.

~ ~ ~

One thing that bothers me which hasn’t gotten much attention is DeJoy’s continuing relationship with XPO Logistics. Yes, it’s a conflict of interest that he continues to own a chunk of XPO’s stock while he is Postmaster and CEO of USPS since XPO is a USPS contractor and a competitor since it also carries shipments for USPS competitors.

CREW’s complaint is in no small part focused on this conflict as well as DeJoy’s marital assets tied up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in UPS and J.B. Hunt trucking company in addition to the tens of millions in XPO Logistics from which DeJoy had not divested.

But logistics services, especially freight haulers, have long been prone to corruption.

Take for example an indictment last October:

According to court documents, Leonid Teyf, 57, was part of a scheme where several trucking companies paid more than $1 million in bribes to the Utah FedEx ground hub manager.

Teyf, you’ll recall, is a Russian national and a business crony of Yevgeny “Putin’s Chef” Prigozhin; he was arrested in late 2018 because of a murder-for-hire plot. He had two homes in the Raleigh, NC area which were raided by the feds.

At the time of Teyf’s original arrest there was no indication in local news reporting there was anything more to Teyf’s offenses besides the murder-for-hire accusation and immigration law violations.

How did Teyf end up involved in logistics in Utah, connected with USPS competitor FedEx?

DeJoy may have zero relationship with Teyf, but DeJoy had been the CEO of New Breed Logistics (NBL) for decades. NBL customers included USPS.

DeJoy’s company was acquired by XPO Logistics in 2014 for $600 million; DeJoy continued after the acquisition on NBL’s executive management and board of directors until May 2018. XPO Logistics’ competitors included DHL, FedEx, UPS, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services — and surely must have included USPS to some extent, considering the expedited package handling companies are USPS’s competitors.

Did DeJoy’s business ever cross with Teyf’s, considering they were both in logistics, were both living in North Carolina less than two hours apart (DeJoy in Greenboro and Teyf in Raleigh)?

Are there other possible corrupt entities which have their fingers in the mix with DeJoy’s wrecking crew management style? Can you think of ways in which corrupt entities could manipulate this situation for their benefit?

~ ~ ~

Let’s try to keep this thread focused on the USPS.

.
UPDATE-1 — 9:05 A.M. ET —

The Senate hearing was scheduled for 9:00 am but the start appears to be running late. You can watch the video conference at:

CSPAN https://www.c-span.org/video/?474940-1/senate-hearing-us-postal-service#

NPR (embedded video at this link, scroll down) https://www.npr.org/2020/08/21/904366258/postmaster-general-faces-senate-as-controversy-persists-over-usps-cuts

It’s also being carried on some broadcast and cable networks.

A couple new items related to NC’s Senator Richard Burr have been added to the timeline. Was his vote for approval persuaded by contributions or contributions-in-kind?

UPDATE-2 — 10:30 A.M. ET —

One of our community members, Vicks, shared a link to an article in Supply Chain News about XPO Logistics. As I noted in comments, this company in which DeJoy retains a substantive investment interest had suffered from a downturn in business in late 2018-early 2019. The loss of business volume was sizable enough to warrant evaluating restructuring of the firm into smaller entities for divestment.

This may suggest why Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is involved in the USPS scandal:

… XPO said it has hired high powered investment and legal firms to execute the processes. Those include Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as financial advisers and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as its legal adviser in the review process. …

Amazon’s own logistics company cut into XPO’s business at the same time Trump’s tariffs increased retail prices, reducing consumer demand. Rather than cutting costs and riding it out, or trying to find ways to spin off to Amazon, or trying to partner with Amazon’s competitors Target/Walmart/other, XPO looked at breaking up, thereby getting investment bankers involved.

Investment banks want to shake more cash out of XPO and its subs; they need to improve its prospects to do so. They want to find more business for XPO or its future spinoffs so they lean on Mnuchin to get dirt on competitor USPS which is a vendor to Amazon. UPS is involved because it wants to maintain its share of the market and it’s willing to help lean on USPS by providing its own take on expense allocation.

It’s corrupt as fuck. Mnuchin is favoring Wall Street investment banks and a Trump donor over a Constitutionally-mandated service. Fuck him.

Another question comes to mind about the drivers behind XPO’s fortunes: were companies which were adversely affected by the tariffs “picked off” by investment banks, possibly with Mnuchin’s help, to increase short selling opportunities and other forms of vulture capitalism?

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