Friday Night Half-Assed Massacre: The Attempted Firing of SDNY’s Berman

I’m not Marcy — I won’t do justice to this developing story the way she would especially after midnight. But I need to put something up to capture Attorney General Bill Barr’s bizarre Friday evening attempt to fire Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York.

Some background leading up to this evening’s half-assed Friday Night Massacre:

1990-1994 – Berman served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York while Rudy Giuliani was U.S. Attorney.

TBD – Berman became a partner at Greenberg Traurig; he ran their New Jersey office.

January 2016 – Giuliani joined Greenberg Traurig as global chair of cybersecurity and crisis management practices.

November 2016 – Trump asks SDNY’s then-USA Preet Bharara to stay on.

March 2017 – Attorney General Jeff Sessions asks all 46 holdover USAs from Obama administration to resign. Bharara declined; he also refused a phone call from Trump. He was fired the next day.

May 2017 – Giuliani supported Berman for U.S. Attorney though he was originally considered for New Jersey.

Who will be New Jersey’s next U.S. attorney?

President Donald Trump is deciding between one of Gov. Chris Christie’s criminal defense attorneys and another high-powered Jersey-based lawyer at a New York firm connected to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, according to a source with direct knowledge of the process.

Vying for the coveted job are Craig Carpenito, who defended the governor during the Bridgegate scandal and its fallout, and Geoffrey Berman, who runs the New Jersey office of the New York law firm Greenberg Traurig, where Giuliani is global chair of its cybersecurity and crisis management practices.

The candidates’ dueling mentors reveal an across-the-Hudson struggle for Trump’s ear.

Trump interviewed Berman and others for the USA-SDNY role.

January 2018 – Sessions announced Berman’s appointment to USA-SDNY.

April 2018 – Berman remained un-nominated by Trump, continuing to work as an interim acting USA; because the 120-day appointment period expired, the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York ordered Berman appointed as USA-SDNY under 28 U.S.C Section 546(d), until Trump nominated a USA-SDNY and they were approved by the Senate.

Which bring us to Friday evening’s drama…

At 9:15 p.m. ET, the Justice Department issued an announcement of appointment via press release over Twitter.

Associated Press and other media outlets immediately began reporting that Berman had been fired.

At 11:14 p.m. ET, Berman issued a statement via Twitter:

Berman’s status rests on the interpretation of 28 USC 546(d), the law says Berman remains until fired AND replaced by a Senate-approved nominee for USA>

How convenient that the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee had already called a hearing for next Wednesday June 24 about political influence on law enforcement, with Department of Justice employees John Elias and Aaron Zelinsky scheduled to appear as whistleblowers before the committee.

HJC’s committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler has already tweeted that Berman would be invited to appear before the same committee hearing.

It wouldn’t take much to move from this hearing to a vote for an impeachment inquiry inquiry into Bill Barr’s work as Attorney General — there was plenty of reason to pursue impeachment before Friday night’s half-assed massacre.

~ ~ ~

There’s a lot to unpack here. Have at it.

I’m publishing this now and will add some additional follow-up material here in the morning, including Berman’s recusal from the Cohen case, the investigation into Giuliani, and Berman’s effort to distance SDNY from the White House.


This is an open thread.

144 replies
  1. PeterS says:

    Politico notes:
    “a 1979 opinion by the Office of Legal Council determined that U.S. attorneys could be removed by the president even if they were appointed by a court.”

    I’m nowhere near clever enough to judge whether Berman is right or that opinion is right. How this plays out if Berman refuses to budge will be fascinating to watch.

    • arbusto says:

      Wonder when The Powers That Be will stop treating OLC as an all in one legislative, administrative and judicial entity and tell them to go fuck their opinions.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      If nothing else it will either force an embarrassing confirmation hearing, or require Trump to make it explicitly clear that Trump is firing him, rather than hiding behind Barr.

      Wonder if they have considered padlocking his office and posting a guard like Nixon did with Cox? BOP seems willing to be brownshirts for this admin.

    • Bloix says:

      Berman’s argument is “until the vacancy is filled” means “filled by a confirmed appointee and not otherwise.” And it’s fair to imply from the words that once an AG’s 120-day appointment expires, the AG can’t do it again by removing an appointee and putting in a new one – otherwise an administration could avoid ever submitting a nominee to the Senate for confirmation.

      The OLC opinion points to a different section, Sec. 541(c), which states that “[e]ach United States Attorney is subject to removal by the President.” It doesn’t say, “only when a new nominee is confirmed” or “except for court-appointed USAs.” So you can read this section to mean that the President can remove any USA no matter how appointed.

      The OLC reads the two provisions and concludes that either interpretation is a permissible reading of the words of the two statutes, but allowing the President to remove a court-appointed USA is more consistent with the Constitution – prosecutors are in the executive branch.

      The OLC opinion is right enough that a court of appeals will be hesitant to go the other way. It won’t want to side with a defiant prosecutor against the President if it doesn’t have to.

      But the OLC opinion also says that the AG can’t remove a court-appointed USA – only the President can.

    • Pete T says:

      Given the court appointed circumstances of Berman’s appointment, I think, but could be wrong, is that 28USC546 could be interpreted that Barr cannot fire Berman. But it is likely that Trump still could though I’d like to see that fought all the way to the SCOTUS. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Ravenclaw (formerly Stephen) says:

      I was distressed by the absence of any substantive discussion of the legal issue in the regular press until I thought to turn to this site, where even a past-midnight half-assed Rayne analysis went right to the heart of the matter. (Heck, even Politico can’t seem to tell the difference between a counsel and a council!)

      The 1979 opinion (on pages 448-450, authored by John M. Harmon, then Assistant Attorney General/Office of Legal Counsel) is nicely knotty, as would be expected. Harmon makes the cogent point that §541(c) grants the President the power to remove “each” U.S. attorney and mentions no exceptions. Of course one may argue that this is superseded by the contradictory statement in §546(d) to the effect that the court-appointed individual shall serve until the vacancy is filled. Not being a lawyer, I am unclear as to the weight carried by 40-year-old memoranda expressing opinions. There may be a miniature Constitutional crisis in the offing here, not to mention an interesting confrontation between two men each claiming the same office. But even Harmon states that the Attorney General does NOT have the power to remove such a U.S. Attorney – that this order must come from the President. In other words, Trumpelstilskin must take responsibility for ordering, without rationale, the removal of a U.S. Attorney he himself appointed while said attorney is investigating his (Trump’s) cronies. The delicious irony here is that the situation only became this difficult for the corrupt powers-that-be because they were too incompetent to nominate a candidate and have him/her ratified by the compliant Senate.

      P.S. I list two monikers so as not to fall afoul of the Emptywheel powers; I have long envied the many cool names on the site and regretted using just my own common first name. Not that my choice can rival some of the others folks here!

    • Rugger9 says:

      OLC opinions are not court rulings or law, and it is long past time to stop treating them as such.

      It appears AG Barr said DJT did fire Berman, only to be contradicted by DJT who said he left it to Barr (which would therefore violate the OLC opinion even if one accepts it). It seems that a court fight will be needed to remove Berman if Berman chooses to challenge the termination. That will take time and adds discovery to the process which cannot be good for this WH.

      Popcorn, anyone?

  2. Mitch Neher says:

    In all fairness . . . a half-assed Friday-night massacre is the only kind of Friday-night massacre that any given Prosecutor General could have pulled off without that same P. G. having been fully-ass massacred by . . . You-Know-Who.

    That’s right. The Guy who pretended to be making a living of sorts for thirteen seasons of pretending to fire people who had been pretending to work for him. That Guy.

    Evidently, Geoffrey Berman seems to think that he really, really, truly, truly IS [was/had been] working for . . . “us”[?] Or “US”?

    I tell you, it’s just downright adorable the way even the fake real-people, like Berman [or Bolton), turn out to be the ones who are catching on all the time.

    P. G. FUBARr [a phony fake person if there ever was one] would never allow himself to be caught catching on like that (blinking for the TV cameras aside). Not even once . . . [yet].

    Unless Blinky Bill suspects [or knows] that Lev Parnas may have given [or did give] Berman’s Office a tape recording of a certain meeting at a White House Hanukkah party a few years back . . . [Cue The Comey “Prayer”]

    P. S. State secret privilege will not cover Lev and Igor’s Excellent Adventure. Because only The Congress has the power to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal. And only The President has the power to assert state secret privilege. Unless I’m wrong. Which I might be. Uh-oh.

  3. joel fisher says:

    At the end of the day, Berman will be gone; probably sooner rather than later. What’s to stop the slime in the US Senate from confirming the replacement without hearings? Tradition? The only real calculus in the White House is “How much does he know that can hurt us?” And the answer—like Bolton—“not too much”. The base’s loyalty has proven resilient in the face of outrage after outrage and, as everyone knows, that’s the only concern. Keep ’em happy, turn ’em out ( Covid-19 might have something to say about this) in a very few contested states in November, eke out an Electoral College tie or majority, and continue the current criminal path for another four. When lefties whine about all this, the base rejoices and the President basks in their warm glow because the base doesn’t need much–they’re kind of like an evil Dude, they abide–but they do need and enjoy the pain of everyone who isn’t as base as they are.

    • BobCon says:

      The problem with doom and gloom about Trump’s base has never been about the resiliancy of it. The problem with doom and gloom is overestimating its size.

      We are on year four of facile news analysis equating the Trump vote in 2016 with his base. That is not true. The base has always been a subset of a significantly larger number.

      What is more, there is a long running belief that votes for Trump equalled votes for his policies, which is also not true. Again, support for his policies has always been a subset of his larger number.

      Democrats will stumble if they fall for this trap and fail to realize the opportunities for breaking off large chunks of his vote. The way to do that will not be by playing things safe, or by trying to cobble together a platform of a thousand micropositions.

      The significant majority of the people wants a positive vision for America, and a commitment by leaders to make it happen. Democrats need to see this.

  4. dude says:

    Surely Berman is aware of OLC interpretations of the law or “guidance”. He must know where this headed if SDNY is reputedly so full of brainy, independent lawyers. I know nothing about the man or the law, but I recall reporting that he was at least fair-minded and not to be feared as unreasonably partisan as new caretaker when he assumed command at SDNY. I am curious about what the OLC itself does in a situation like this. I mean, does it act like a committee, promulgate a book of guidelines on various aspects of law, commit it to paper and never meet again until it’s time to update the book–or– is it an ongoing internal review agency looking at cases as they come along and issuing statements of ‘guidance’ (which then becomes a book of precedents people can resort to when a similar case arises)?

  5. Nehoa says:

    Barr’s corruption is somewhat breath-taking. Time for impeachment hearings Chairman Nadler!

    • bmaz says:

      Nadler is not the fulcrum, Pelosi is. And she is derelict. Pelosi will never sanction another impeachment action.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I doubt that Ms. Pelosi will sanction much opposition to this abuse either. It would interfere with her “agenda,” the excuse given progressives for much of 2009-20016, which seems to be to let Trump “implode” on his own, regardless of what else he takes with him. That approach worked only to obscure the crimes for which Trump should have been impeached. One might ask whether that was a feature or bug, given how the approach helps restrain the number of things a new Democratic president should attend to his first several months in office.

        If rumors of further investigations by SDNY into Trump and his associates are true, this would be an attempt to disrupt them until January 2017 – and permanently if Trump cheats enough to declare victory. One might call that obstruction. We will see much more of it between now and January 17th. If Biden wins, will he follow in his own footsteps and look forward, not back?

        • BobCon says:

          The point about how Pelosi’s approach will hobble Biden, if we are so lucky, is critical.

          The transition period between election day and inauguration is incredibly short. Waiting until then to think about fixing House processes, resources and procedures — and there is a lot to fix — will be too late.

          She needs to have already started, and instead of using Covid as an excuse for inaction she ought to be using it as a spur for reform. We are seeing a disaster of inaction unfolding before our eyes.

        • Ed Walker says:

          I’m with EoH: Pelosi refuses to exercise power whenever possible. In 2006-7 it was “keeping her powder dry”. The geriatric Democratic leadership is an embarrassment.

      • BobCon says:

        The key thing to understanding Pelosi’s policies is the old adage that personnel is policy.

        And when it comes to personnel for investigation and oversight, Pelosi has does nothing to meet the challenge of the Trump administration.

        I’ve said this before, but a year into her control of the Houseof Reps, the House Counsel’s office still only had nine attorneys, and one of them was working out of a closet.

        Long before the House began taking up Nixon’s impeachment, Speaker Albert had pushes through authorization for an investigative team that had over 100 full time staff.

        Meanwhile, there is no dedicated office under Pelosi, and Schiff, Nadler and Maloney have no significant staffing increase dedicated to Trump and Barr’s corruption — they have had to shuffle existing resources to the extent possible.

        Pelosi has a lot of power which she can use, both overtly and subtly. She won’t use it.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          With her power, experience and talent, I would assume she does exactly what she intends to do, neither more nor less, rather in the way Humpty Dumpty defined words.

  6. fishmanxxx says:

    As long as the OLC’s ultimate opinion, that the King is above the law, remains unchallenged, all other OLC opinions will be carried by the strength of that implicitly accepted position.

  7. rosalind says:

    a tweet from former Federal prosecutor Jack Weiss: “Replying to @Popehat – Berman must be close to an inconvenient indictment, the clock is ticking on his being able to bring a politically-charged case and still be several months out from the election…”

    • Raven Eye says:

      Get ready for: “I barely know the guy. I don’t think I’ve even met him”. (Followed by photos from Mar-a-Lago.)

        • Honest Insincerity says:

          Having grown up in New York City and even attending day camp at Dalton during several summers in my youth, I can tell you how absolutely absurd it is that Bill Barr’s father, Donald, hired Jeffrey Epstein, a 20 year-old non-college graduate, to teach Physics and Math at Dalton. You can’t teach in New York City schools as a sub without a college degree, let alone a full time position at a tony private school.

          Now, you’d need not only a college degree, and a master’s degree in education including a special certification if you wanted to teach more than 60 or so days a year as a substitute in New York City public schools. So the idea that Epstein got the job from Donald Barr on the merits (and considering he had no familial connection to the school) at Dalton, is unfathomable. [I have checked with some real life acquaintances who taught in upper crust New York City schools at the same time as Epstein, and they find it equally absurd.]

          When Epstein was no longer a “potential witness,” my first thought was, “why are they looking at Trump or Clinton? It’s Barr playing hatchet-man again, this time for his father. Who knows what kind of teen grooming was going on that we’ll never know about?”

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

    So many cracks, such darkness
    So many firings, so many coverups

    Oh Dylan, my Dylan please play a song for me, in your arpeggio style, on Billie B

  9. Sonso says:

    Not Bobby D, but David B (chorus repeats removed):

    The sun shines on the living
    The sun shines on the dead
    The sun shines on you and me
    Wherever we lay our heads

    The sun shines on the evil
    The sun shines on the good
    It doesn’t favour righteousness
    Although you wish it would

    Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny
    Are you still awake?
    Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny
    I’m terribly scared

    And now I need an oasis
    A place to hide from the day
    I’d like a little dark tiny room
    Where the music plays
    Maybe you just lost somebody
    Maybe your whole world has changed
    The sun don’t really care about that
    It shines on anyway

    I’m going back in the box
    Back in the box
    Back in the box again
    Back in the box
    Back in the box
    Back in the box again

    And now love’s terrifying
    But I cannot hide what I want
    You cannot hear me or see me now
    Because I’ve gone back in the box

    If I don’t make no decisions
    Then I won’t make no mistakes
    But through all those tiny holes
    Well the light’s still getting in…

  10. Pete T says:

    Let’s not forget that with all the investigations that we think are ongoing in SDNY with characters from the Mueller Report there is the recently leaked references from Bolton’s book that Trump sought to interfere in a SDNY investigation into the Turkey’s Halkbank in order to cut deals with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

    Seems as if this is water under the bridge so am unsure if this is part of the Trump-Barr calculus.

    From the NYT:
    “Trump told Erdogan that Halkbank’s legal troubles for violating the administration’s sanctions on Iran would disappear once the “Obama people” who worked as prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were “replaced by his people,” Bolton writes, deeming it an ultimately empty promise. “It was as though Trump was trying to show he had as much arbitrary authority as Erdogan.”

    Note: Berman is not an “Obama person”.

  11. civil says:

    Steve Vladeck (UT Austin law prof, is one of the law profs I turn to when I want to understand a legal issue, assuming that he’s commenting on it, which he is here. An excerpt from his discussion:
    “To recap:
    “1) Berman was appointed under 28 U.S.C. § 546(d).
    “2) That statute contemplates that he keeps his job until a permanent successor is confirmed by the Senate.
    “3) 28 U.S.C. § 541(c) says U.S. Attorneys are subject to removal by the President.
    “So the statutes conflict. …
    “Because Berman was appointed under 546(d), even if the President can remove him, he can only be replaced by:
    “1) Someone nominated by the President & confirmed by the Senate; or
    “2) Someone *else* appointed by judges under 546(d).
    “Carpenito is neither of those. …
    “The government certainly has a good argument [that 541(c) overrides 546(d)]. I just don’t think it’s clear beyond peradventure that 541(c) overrides 546(d). But even if it does, there’s still the pesky matter of replacing a 546(d) appointee. Absent Senate confirmation, doesn’t it have to be the judges again? …
    “Here’s a helpful discussion from a 2001 @MinnesotaLawRev article of DOJ’s inconsistent positions as to how a U.S. Attorney appointed by a court under 28 U.S.C. § 546(d) can be replaced without a Senate-confirmed successor: (H/T: @marty_lederman.)”

    • Ravenclaw (formerly Stephen) says:

      The Minnesota Law Review piece makes interesting reading. In particular: “ambiguity exists concerning the Attorney General’s appointment authority when no U.S. Attorney has been confirmed by the Senate at the expiration of the 120-day limit imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 546(c). Because the statute limits the Attorney General-appointed U.S. Attorney’s term to 120 days, the position is legally “vacant” after the 120 days have expired. 174 The plain language of the statute appears to vest the Attorney General with the authority to appoint another U.S. Attorney. 7 5 The paltry legislative history on § 546, however, implies that such a subsequent appointment by the Attorney General was not what Congress intended. As Congressman Berman stated on the floor of the House of Representatives, “Once the appointment of an interim United States Attorney expires, the district court appoints a United States Attorney to serve until a presidentially appointed United States Attorney is qualified.” As such, while the statute envisions the court-appointed prosecutor serving “until a presidentially appointed United States Attorney is qualified,” it does not address the situation where the office becomes vacant after a court-appointed U.S. Attorney leaves or is removed by the President before a presidentially nominated U.S. Attorney has been confirmed by the Senate. The Justice Department has taken the position that a second appointment by the Attorney General would be inappropriate because “[t]he statutory plan discloses a [c]ongressional purpose that after the expiration of the 120-day period further interim appointments are to be made by the court rather than by the Attorney General.””

      There seems to have been debate on this score between the Office of Legal Counsel (arguing that the A.G. does have this power) and the Department of Justice Criminal Division (arguing the opposite). The article’s conclusion: this issue has never been tested.

      It is curious that the Member of Congress who presented the legislation (part of a series of “minor or technical amendments to the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984) on October 17, 1986 was, like the U.S. Attorney in the news today, named Berman – but I think it is purely coincidence; as far as I can tell, Congressman Howard Berman has no sons, let alone one serving as U.S. Attorney.

      Congressman Berman’s description of the law seems unequivocal: “a person appointed by the Attorney General serves only for 120 days, or until a person appointed to the office by the President has qualified, if that is earlier. Once the appointment of an interim United States Attorney expires, the district court appoints a United States Attorney to serve until a presidentially appointed United States Attorney is qualified.” See page 32806 of Volume 132 of the Congressional Record.

  12. civil says:

    Since this is an open thread, folks may be interested in other news from last night that BuzzFeed/EPIC won a major battle in their FOIA lawsuit, and the DOJ has released a less-redacted version of the Mueller Report. Docs at the bottom here: (Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Appendices files for #122)

    A couple of articles on different aspects of the newly-revealed info:
    “Roger Stone Told Trump Wikileaks Was Releasing Clinton Documents” –
    “Mueller raised possibility Trump lied to him, newly unsealed report reveals” –

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    28 USC 541 and 546 assume a functioning government, albeit one that occasionally misfires. The president is obligated to appoint several hundred USAs (and make over a thousand other appointments), with the advice and consent of the Senate (541). Section 546 fills a potential gap. In (a), allows the AG to make an interim (up to 120 day) appointment, in the event that the president fails to fill a vacancy in a timely manner. If 120 days is not enough time for the president to get his act together, the business of the United States Government will not be made to stand still until he does. In 546(d), Congress allows the federal district court to appoint a USA, “to serve until the vacancy is filled.” That is, in the ordinary course of presidential nomination and Senate approval.

    But Donald Trump is not running a functioning government. He’s running it as he did the Trump Organization – by whim and mayhem. Section 546 does not authorize AG Bill Barr to fire a USA appointed by the president. [He could remove his own interim appointments, made under 546(a).] 28 USC 541(c) authorizes the president to remove, “each United States attorney.” Arguably, that applies to attorneys appointed by him pursuant to 541(a) (which is why the language of (c) is in 541 and not elsewhere).

    There’s a better reading of the president’s powers. If the president fails in his duty to make mandatory appointments of US Attorneys – and let’s be clear, that is to do the people’s business and to enforce the laws – and forces the district court to do his job for him – then the cure for the president’s negligence or malfeasance is not to allow him to veto the district court’s appointment. It is to require him to nominate a USA and devote the necessary political capital to move that nomination through the Senate approval process. That’s called government. Donald Trump, on the other hand, wants the CEO’s title, pay, and parking space, but not his job – that’s for the hired help.

  14. BobCon says:

    Adam Goldman has this tweet showing NY Times headlines on Barr:

    He’s trying to show how bad Barr is, and also how seriously the NY Times has taken him. But any decent reader will tell you this is the equivalent of telegraph reports from the captain of the Titanic along the lines of “INDICATIONS OF ICE IN GENERAL AREA STOP CONSIDERING SUPPLYING BINOCULARS TO WATCH CREW STOP EXPECT MINOR CHANGE IN ARRIVAL TIME STOP”

    And the thing is, Goldman is on the better half of Times reporters. He doesn’t even write the headlines. But he clearly thinks the hackwork of Peter Baker and the rest of the Times DC crew is important, when his collection actually shows how miserably they have fallen behind the story in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    • FL Resister says:

      I am under the impression Peter Baker thinks he needs to kiss a generous portion of Trumpist ass to gain access to his sources. I don’t know how Susan Glasser tolerates him.

  15. vvv says:

    Something of a collateral issue, but to the extent that Carpenito is allegedly Christie’s guy, I have to wonder if that status is at all relevant in his “selection”.

  16. harpie says:

    Marcy retweeted this Harry Littman thread:
    10:02 AM · Jun 20, 2020

    Thread: here’s where I think we are. It’s pretty exquisite.
    Berman is court appointed and under 28 USC §546 his appointment lasts until there is a presidentially appointed and confirmed US Attorney. […]

    So for starters, needs to be Trump who issues the order. […] Assuming Trump does order, Berman will proffer 546. DOJ’s argument on behalf of Trump I think has to be 546 is unconstitutional as applied to extent prohibits Trump from firing someone. Myers v US. I actually think that this is a strong argument.

    But we’re back in the setting in which the law may be less important than the practical question of how long the court system takes, i.e the shoe may be really on the other foot […] But the pivotal point will be whether the first court that gains jurisdiction is persuaded to grant a preliminary injunction on behalf of Trump and disturb the status quo — Take Berman out while the case is pending.

    And now a factor has to be the DOJ’s and Trump’s massive bad faith over a range of cases and situations. The courts — and certainly SNDY — not likely to be well disposed, and for practical purpose all they need to do is / not oust Berman while they consider the legal actions. […] Legally speaking it’s like a 4-dimensional mobius strip — totally head bending —

    but in practice if Berman can hold on while court decides the constitutional claim, Trump loses. END

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Actually, Graham only said that he would honor the tradition of soliciting and receiving blue slips before proceeding – not that he would acquiesce in the tradition of dropping from consideration candidates who were rejected by their home state senators.

      • BobCon says:

        It may be a headfake to argue in the event of Dems flipping the Senate that they should honor the GOP on blue slips.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        My view is that the country has grown passed being able to afford allowing a Senator to have a veto over federal judicial appointments in his or her home state. Due consideration or some hurdle less than a full veto would be fine. The GOP gave up honoring Dem Senators’ objections long ago. It would be an own goal not to return the favor, especially given how many hundreds of FedSoc creatures now have lifetime appointment.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Another reason to ditch the blue slip “tradition” is that it keeps objections about nominees – substantive or political – off the table and in the smoke-filled room.

          If someone is not qualified, not competent, or a political stooge, let’s put it on the table. The committee and the full Senate should take accountability for their up or down vote – or no vote at all. “Tradition” is, in many ways, cover for secret power and no accountability.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Among the things at stake here are what will be left functioning in the US government when Trump departs. Trump and Putin must hope that’s as little as possible (especially at the DoJ, IRS, and State Dept.). But the pea the size of a log under Trump’s mattress, keeping him awake at night, must be the potential for civil and criminal liability after he leaves office. That would include potential exposure of his associates, because the famous ones, like Giuliani, probably have insurance policies on the boss.

    It’s not so much the likelihood that Get-Along-Joe’s gubmint would prosecute a former president. The thought must make the Democratic establishment shudder. It’s the potential for painful disclosures arising out of collateral federal prosecutions, and state and civil proceedings. They could expose the emptiness of Trump’s family and his pocketbook. (BTW, whatever happened to those suits relating to Trump’s tax returns?)

    Trump’s businesses seem to be built on air and false promises, he has a fraction of his claimed assets, and he rarely accounts for the liabilities that decimate their value. The usual wingnut welfare might be a little harder to come by for the worst president in American history. Where and who Trump’s money comes from, especially who is backstopping his loans, would probably make Brett Kavanaugh or a Panamanian lawyer blush. Speaking of which, I’d like to think that, in addition to that log-sized pea, the fates of Manuel Noriega and Ferdinand Marcos keep Trump awake at night, inhaling those burgers.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As luck would have it, Motherjones did a deep dive on some of these issues. But I don’t think this bit of academic understatement captures the moment: “In any scenario, Trump’s soon-to-be-due loans are an unprecedented ethical minefield, rife with potential conflicts of interest and the possibility of corruption.”

      According to MJ, Trump’s businesses have about half a billion dollars in loans coming due. Trump’s conduct as president make him less bankable than ever, reducing the odds of affordable refinancings. No one thinks his children could manage their way out of a paper bag. Covid-19 will have reduced the revenue AND property values of Trump’s signature properties, his major assets, including his US and foreign golf courses. The potential for litigation will reduce his ability to globetrot and generate the usual marketing storm of false promises that undergirded many of his projects.

      Reputable lenders will continue to shun him. Grey market lenders will shun him because his juice is drying up and because his notoriety means that once obscure deals will be front-page headlines. Normally friendly plutocrats and dictators will shy away. Some may back him to persuade him to keep schtum, but his leverage will rapidly decline, along with their backing. Even a tell-all book’s proceeds might get pissed away in litigation – or be captured by the USG, as might happen to John Bolton’s book proceeds – if Trump were to use classified data a successor government refuses to declassify. (What Faux Noise ghost writer would have the clearance to do it?)

      No, Trump’s financial health faces the same declining prospects as his mental and physical health – and deals are built on future prospects. Trump will need every penny of that gubmint pension he once derided as pocket change. I hope Melania forced Trump to pre-fund that marital golden parachute: Trump’s debtors never do well in bankruptcy.

      • Dave_MB says:

        When Trump’s power go, it will go all at once. People will abandon him and it will go in droves. That’s the way it goes with bullies.

      • posaune says:

        Wonder how long a fire sale of all the properties would take? And who would do the buying? Just a thought: how much life insurance does he carry?

    • civil says:

      WRT prosecuting Trump once he’s out of office, assuming that Biden wins, I hope he stays totally out of that and leaves the decision(s) to the DOJ.

      Re: “whatever happened to those suits relating to Trump’s tax returns?,” SCOTUS should be ruling on them any day.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        A DoJ that he puts Hillary Clinton in charge of! That would be fun to see. Give that a year or two, then I bet the whole country would be in favor of a constitutional amendment moving the DoJ out from under the thumb of the President like other sane countries do.

    • civil says:

      Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9): “Right on cue, the removal of the top federal prosecutor for Manhattan on a Friday night is ringing alarm bells. I’ve been calling for bill barr’s impeachment + the revocation of his law licenses since last year for good reason: barr is out of control. #ImpeachBarr #DisbarBarr” (the tweet has a copy of the letter Pascrell sent to the DC Bar last fall)

      I hope Berman takes Nadler up on the invitation to testify before the HJC.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        Just saw on Politico that Trump has officially fired Berman, and his deputy, Strauss, will become acting AG-SDNY. If Littman is correct (see above), Berman could still refuse to go. That means he won’t testify. If Strauss has been appointed as “acting,” does that mean she gets 120 days too (Oct. 16th)? Is the Senate likely to move forward on hearings on Carpentio?

    • dude says:

      At least the press can ask Barr what he thought he was doing when he made the announcement? He has made tv interviews part of his job, some to outlets other than Fox. I would love to see him answer.

  18. harpie says:

    1] Geoffrey Berman, Friday Night:

    >strong>Statement of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman on Announcement by Attorney General Barr
    “I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption. I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor – and intend to ensure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded.” [harpie emphasis]

    2] Geoffrey Berman, Saturday morning:
    11:44 AM · Jun 20, 2020

    Walking into his office this morning, Geoffrey Berman told reporters, “I issued a statement last night. I have nothing to add to that this morning. I’m just here to do my job.”

    • harpie says:

      3] BARR, Saturday
      [via “One Justice Department official, speaking [to WaPo] on the condition of anonymity due to the situation’s volatility”]:

      the change arose because Clayton was preparing to leave the SEC later this year and had also expressed interest in the New York prosecutor job. Barr liked Clayton and liked the idea […]

      Barr offered Berman the chance to become the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, but he declined


      Trump administration in standoff with Manhattan U.S. attorney who investigated the president’s associates June 19, 2020 at 1:15 p.m.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bwaahahaha is right. Barr’s working hard to make this look like a routine staffing decision. Horse puckey. Even the WaPo should have pushed back on that explanation.

        With potentially so little time left in this administration, you would not ordinarily disrupt SDNY’s office by flipping USA’s. You would not pick as its USA a political crony who has never been a prosecutor.

        Barr’s claim to have offered Berman the head of the civil division seems empty. It’s doing virtually no constructive work under Trump, Berman wouldn’t be allowed to start any, and he would be subject to Barr/Trump’s daily defensive and destructive whims. The federal government is being bent to aid Trump’s re-election. The DoJ would not be an exception to that rule; under Barr, it would be leading the way.

      • harpie says:

        Also BARR, SATURDAY:
        3:25 PM · Jun 20, 2020

        In a letter, AG Barr says that Trump has officially fired Berman.
        “You have chosen public spectacle over public service. Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so.” — Barr

      • BobCon says:

        That is not a good grant of anonymity. It would be a lot more illuminating for readers to go with the statement “nobody from DoJ was willing to go on the record.”

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice conundrum for Trump and Barr: An interim appointee cannot hold a temporary appointment as a USA, if the Senate considered and refused approval of the nominee for that post. (The president could resubmit that name.)

    If Trump’s aim were to have a qualified USA working in the most important USA office in the country, this is not how he would go about it. Nor would he nominate, even as an interim appointee, a political crony who has no experience as a prosecutor.

    If Trump’s aim, however, was his usual delay, obstruct, and create chaos, then he is going about this the right way. If his unqualified nominee is refused either an interim or Senate-approved appointment, he would have to start over. Plus, any refusal would allow him to pontificate endlessly. But regardless of objective, Trump seethes at any obstruction of His will. So, I expect Trump’s reaction will be to take Berman’s refusal to leave to court (even as he ignores adverse court rulings himself), using his patented, “Because I said so,” defense, an argument Bill Barr has been happy to sell for decades.

  20. DrFunguy says:

    Interesting note from Talking Points Memo (couldn’t read it all due to paywall).

    “An anonymous DOJ vet shares some key details about Geoff Berman’s unique legal status as US Attorney in the Southern District of New York.

    Many others weighing in about the SDNY fiasco, but I’m not seeing this point, which is worth considering.

    Even if Trump can ultimately dislodge Berman (under 28 USC 541 he, though not Barr, can likely fire him), he can’t pick the temporary replacement. Until the Senate confirms someone, that choice plainly belongs exclusively to the SDNY judges under 18 USC 846. If Trump tries to ignore that and install his own pick anyway he faces two problems he can’t easily overcome. First, there would be a staff revolt. Second, every criminal defendant indicted under the bogus US Attorney would have standing to seek dismissal because the indictment was not authorized or signed by the lawful US Attorney — and those motions would be decided by the same SDNY judges whose authority Trump is trying to usurp.”

  21. DrFunguy says:

    Since this is an open thread, I’d like to ask the folk here on the Smartest Blog on the Internet ™ what their top three or four sites, besides EW, are for news and analysis of the on-going calamity that is the US government.
    Mine are Pierce, TPM and Lawyers Guns and Money (the latter as much for the erudite humor in the comments as anything).

    • BobCon says:

      Dave Weigel of the Washington Post and Astead Herndon of the NY Times are very possibly the most honest political reporters out there for any major outlet, the ones who cover events on the ground freer from the political spin that is the default for most other reporters. They skip the dial-a-quotes and prewritten narratives that infect 95% of the stuff you read and hear.

    • Raven Eye says:

      And Trump is going hammer and tongs with regard for his big July 4th event on the National Mall…A super-spreader event that would push the Tulsa thing way back in the ratings.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Maybe Vlad could lend Don some tanks and rockets. Last year, DC would not let him bring his own toys onto the Mall. Bad precedent aside, they would have torn up the roads that workers and tourists rely on every day, without Trump putting up a dime to rebuild them.

  22. P J Evans says:

    Barr has sent a letter to Berman saying that Trmp has fired Berman. (Tweet contains image)
    It’s been noted that this is not actually a letter from Trmp firing Berman – it’s second-hand, at best.
    And, as it’s from Barr, if I were Berman, I’d definitely want an official letter from Trmp, with his own sig on it.

  23. harpie says:

    Here’s Zoe Tillman with BARR’s letter:
    3:24 PM · Jun 20, 2020

    NOW: AG Barr says in a letter to Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman that Trump has now officially fired him, and that’s that, rejecting any argument by Berman that a judicial appointment means he can’t be removed. [screenshot]


    Barr to Berman: “Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service.”

    Note that Barr’s letter changes the succession plan from last night — deputy US atty Audrey Strauss will take over as acting US atty

    Berman’s statement last night 100% ruled out any kind of voluntary departure, but wasn’t totally clear on what Berman would do if Trump directly fired him. He said: “I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”

    • harpie says:


      […] Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so. […]

      And we are supposed to believe it because Barr says it?
      Bwahahaha, again.

      • harpie says:

        He also asks for a cite for Barr’s claim about why the Court’s appointment power has been upheld: “only because the Executive retains the authority to supervise and remove the officer.”

        Though Barr’s use of the word “whom” is correct.

        • P J Evans says:

          “Whom” sounds off in that sentence, to me.
          And whoever did it used typewriter spacing for sentences – two spaces. That sounds like an old-school secretary.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Never let it be said that Bill Barr – former telecom general counsel that he is – does not know how to staff a good defense team. But the serendipity of the attempted to remove Berman just caught my eye.

    It seems that Barr/Trump’s pick to replace him is Jay Clayton. In private practice, he represented a slew of Wall Street firms, including Deutsche Bank. He defended them in a “massive” money laundering scandal. (DB in the past has paid billions in fines for its alleged fraudulent banking practices.) SDNY apparently has an ongoing investigation into DB, which happens to be Donald Trump’s biggest lender.

    Clayton has both engineering (summa) and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and a good degree in economics from Cambridge University. (Lord Keynes’s alma mater, perhaps the top economics faculty in the UK and one of the best in the world.) He made partner at Sullivan & Cromwell in six years (shorter than usual), and has about twenty years with the firm. Clayton has been head of the SEC since May 2017. (His last year at Sullivan, he made about $7.6 million.) He has never been on the government side of a prosecution. But having directed and seen its work from the inside would produce no end of benefits for his corporate clients.

    No conflicts of interest here, folks, no defensive lawyering by a DoJ acting as defense counsel for a rogue president. Just happenstance staffing and routine musical cheers in an administration settling in for the long haul. Move along, now. Throw away your masks, Trust in the Lord and his Servant, Donald Trump, and enjoy the close-contact gathering in Tulsa, a few good five iron strokes away from the Greenwood district.

  25. Doug Fir says:

    Are we getting sucked into watching their hands, again? This “retiring” of Berman has so many loose ends that it just seems hinky. What are they doing behind the screen while we’re busy watching the flaming shitshow?

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Barr, ever the slippery one scratching his back against a paw-paw, has changed his tune. Instead of extolling the benefits of the bare necessities, he has decided that Berman has chosen “public spectacle” over “public service.” The bon mot is perhaps designed to hide Barr’s change of tack, which is to appoint Berman’s no. 2 – white collar crime specialist, Audrey Strauss – as acting AG, the usual staffing choice when legitimately replacing a sitting USA. Strauss, a former Fried, Frank partner, was named no. 2 about a year ago, and has apparently been in charge of Trump-related matters at SDNY.

    I don’t know whether that means the Clayton pick is out or just delayed, but then probably neither do Trump and Barr. My bet is that the more chaos, dysfunction, and distraction, the better. What Covid-19, you might ask.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “I’ll go with Death & Dysfunction for $1000, Alex.”

      Gilding the lily of chaos, Donald Trump claims it’s up to Bill Barr – “I’m not involved” – with the attempt to fire Berman and replace him with Clayton and/or Strauss.

      As Mandy Rice-Davies put it, about another politician’s attempt to deny his corruption: “Well, he would, wouldn’t he.” Her casual dismissal of Lord Astor’s truthfulness helped bring him and his Conservative government down over the sex-drugs-spying scandal known as the Profumo Affair. Well, Trump would deny his involvement in the Berman affair, were he trying to avoid another obstruction charge, wouldn’t he.

  27. Dana says:

    If someone in Berman’s position were investigating any of Obama’s associates on even less probable cause, the people who are now Trump supporters would dance in the streets. If Obama fired the investigator, they would be protesting in the streets. How many different protests can WE sustain. We cannot let weariness and the gish gallop of Trump’s corrupt actions exhaust us.

  28. harpie says:

    This is for you, BobCon:
    4:39 PM · Jun 20, 2020

    There it is [screenshot and link to change in NYT coverage]

    So NYT edited the analysis piece before the news item, which still treats Barr’s assertion as fact [link]

    Anyways this stuff is important. It’s the president, the attorney general, and the most powerful federal prosecutor in the country, and two of them are massive liars who don’t know how to do their jobs. It’d be good not to cut corners in your coverage on their behalf.

    • BobCon says:

      That’s a work of art. Thanks.

      The looming idiocy in the management response to anger in the newsrooms is that they are treating it as a numbers game – hire a few more minorities and women, create a few more beats for them to cover.

      The senior editors don’t realize how much of the anger has to do with the entire approach to covering stories. They also don’t get that the reporters who are angry aren’t naive about how the game is played. They’re reporters, after all. Poking holes in flimsy cover stories is what they’re supposed to do.

  29. x174 says:

    friday night half-assed massacre, indeed!
    the prompt and instinctive reflexivity with which trump threw barr under the bus had always been in the cards. trump is without doubt the muthafuckin’ princess. how will barr respond to this blatant contradiction of his written statement that trump decided? wow! how could this have unfolded as more of a “public spectacle”?

  30. x174 says:

    the latest development is that berman now agrees to step down to be replaced by deputy us atty audrey strauss. still barr has to explain whether or not he or the president made the decision. considering that barr sought to replace berman with Jay Clayton provides a large clue as to what it was that trump was most concerned: the sdny’s investigation into deutsche bank, you know, trump’s only lender, the one who lost his financial records…yeah those guys.

    • Yohei72 says:

      “barr has to explain whether or not he or the president made the decision.”

      I don’t see why. Or rather, these people are already in the habit of not doing things they “have to.”

  31. milestogo says:

    So Berman has left expressing confidence in his lieutenant Strauss. Can Barr fire Strauss more easily than Berman or do the same supposed restrictions apply?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Barr could fire interim USAs he hired. Normal USAs are hired by the president, with Senate approval; only he can fire them. Still others, such as Berman, are appointed by district courts, also for temporary appointments. Normally, these are stopgap appointments made pending Senate approval of a permanent hire. (Nothing is normal for Trump.) The district court could terminate them. It’s an open question whether Trump could also terminate them. My opinion is not, because they were hired by the court, in a circumstance where the president had not fulfilled his obligation to hire them in the ordinary course. Interpreting the statute to allow Trump to fire them would allow the president to perpetuate his own maladministration.

  32. BobCon says:

    Dave Weigel is reporting that Trump has cancelled his planned address to the overflow crowd — there wasn’t enough flow to go very much over.

    Meanwhile, Astead Herndon is reporting that attendance inside is also not impressive:

    There is an obvious question whether this means lower enthusiasm overall for Trump, or just greater respect for social distancing among his supporters. But in the heart of Trump country, this isn’t the event he wanted.

    • P J Evans says:

      The pics I saw show no visible overflow – it was a dozen or so – and the arena no more than half full (lots of empty seats in the upper deck).

  33. CD54 says:

    @earlofhuntingdon at 12:44 pm: I think you are forgetting Jared’s fluffer loan for 666 — and now they can pay directly at the POTUS cashier window.

    P.S. Anybody got an over/under line on Confederate flags in Tulsa tonight?

    • BobCon says:

      Not nearly as many as they wanted. Despite crowing about tickets ordered in advance, there are huge unfilled open areas in the arena.

        • Tom says:

          I’ll bet Trump is pissed the police arrested the woman outside the arena who had a ticket for his rally and charged her with trespassing. She would have been one more audience member for his poorly attended show.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’m seeing tweets about how Kpop fan twitter was pushing them to sign up for tickets for the lulz. (Which, if true, would be even better: teenagers snapping up tickets for a political rally they weren’t about to go to. Which is resulting in the campaign lying about why the turnout is low, blaming it on protestors blocking the entrances.)

        • Eureka says:

          While not speaking to the specifics of this situation, I’ve noted that there’s a lot of “foreign interference” this time around *masquerading* as K-pop/Kpop accounts — whether originating from offices in St. Petersburg, Beijing, Seoul, Parscale’s basement, or many other elsewheres.

          If we were to have DNI/SSCI Reports re 2020, appropriated +/- infiltrated (via) “Kpop” personae would make the list. Kpop-marked accounts were involved with that fake anon bullshit a couple weeks ago, lots of fake protest-related trends [stirring the pot (not like much is needed there), vacuous conspiratorial content (low-rent non-right-wing qanon-type)], and of course some commercial topics.

          It’s like the nightly (US time zones) music fan-fests were (exploited as) a Trojan horse +/- familiarizer to their ubiquitous presence in US trending topics come dawn across the land.

          So whether “friendly” psy-ops (those crazy kids!) from a US ally the Trump regime has abandoned, a coopted messenger, scapegoat (I’m sure the IRA-redux would be glad to point blame, direct Trump’s ire, and help thin the bandwidth of their competition), or recombinations: something is up.

          If we’re still here two, three years yonder, we can peruse the screenshots and laugh. Or cry.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          From the NYT:
          “Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, said she had been watching black TikTok users express their frustration about Mr. Trump’s hosting his rally on Juneteenth. (The rally was later moved to June 20.) She “vented” her own anger in a late-night TikTok video on June 11 — and provided a call to action.

          “I recommend all of those of us that want to see this 19,000-seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now, and leave him standing there alone on the stage,” Ms. Laupp said in the video.

          When she checked her phone the next morning, Ms. Laupp said, the video was starting to go viral. It has more than 700,000 likes, she added, and more than two million views.”

        • Eureka says:

          Another funny thing: in the last couple-few hours, Brad (or who tf ever) is having to expend the more costly MAGA trolls who have to _actually read_ comments to attempt to warp the conversation: as folks describe on twitter in misc threads how they, too –or their cats– ordered tons of tickets, they are getting peppered with replies like ~ “Thanks for confessing to a felony” (at least three mentions of “felony”; at least another mentioned “wire fraud”).

          Law and Order trolls, that is too rich, too rich.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You’re forgetting that Kushner refinanced 666 at the start of the Trump presidency, when Trump had lots of juice and less notoriety for his viciousness, cruelty, and rank incompetence. It was Jared who apparently monetized Trump’s earlier reputation, to save that building and his family’s business.

      Out of office, with reporters and lawyers sniping at his heels and everything he touches making front-page news or turning to stone, deals and wingnut welfare for the Don will be harder to come by. Few will revere him the way many revere Ronald Reagan. Plus, Trump’s personality has the hallmarks of someone whose health will spiral down quickly after he leaves office and success behind him.

      As for 666 providing capital to support Trump, I suspect daddy will find out that what goes around comes around. Loyalty and support flow in only one direction: toward power, not to those in trouble, like the Don. As for Jared’s maneuvering to get chunks of secret Mnuchin money, I suspect that’s one area the Dems might investigate.

  34. Doug Fir says:

    Personnel management pro-tip for AG Barr: Talk to HR before you fire someone.

    Earlier I thought all the loose ends were intentional obfuscation, now it turns out they were just… Loose ends…

    • Raven Eye says:

      That old line about not attributing to conspiracy that which can be better explained by incompetence?

      • Doug Fir says:

        A corollary of Hanlon’s Razor?

        From Wikipedia: ‘Hanlon’s razor is an aphorism “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”…’

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Donald Trump has amply demonstrated his pervasive criminal intent. He knows nothing but the con. Cheating is his nature, not cheating he would consider stupid beyond belief. He has not an ounce of good faith, good will, or good feeling.

          Promises, laws, rules, ethics have no purpose but to hamstring opponents, or to persuade the gullible he is worthy of trust. Ask any former wife, mistress, partner, employee, customer, supplier, creditor, or investor. The media cannot or will not recognize or adapt to that reality.

        • P J Evans says:

          See also his statement tonight about telling people to slow down testing for the virus, to lower the numbers.

          ! Trump says testing is a “double-edged sword” because you find even lots of minor cases, then adds, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'” He has never before said he asked anyone to slow down testing — this has been an allegation by his opponents.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Exactly. The reporting and commentary is wrong when it calls Trump stupid, ignorant, or misguided because he refused to test Americans for Covid-19. Trump chose not to test his fellow Americans. He did not want them to know how many were sick, dying, and spreading disease, because the results would not fit his marketing plan.

          Nor would he devote resources to the problem (or demonstrate he was incapable of it), or allow the topic to compete with his lies for nightly news coverage. That, too, would interfere with his marketing plan. That is informed conduct. It is ghoulish and a form of homicide.

        • P J Evans says:

          He displays a remarkable lack of understanding (and curiosity) about so many things that most of us have at least a basic understanding of by the time we get to junior high.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump is a goldfish in a glass bowl in a hall of mirrors. He thinks the world is there to reflect him. It takes an enormous level of ignorance, denial, deception, and destructiveness to maintain that illusion after about age two.

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          ‘Trump is a goldfish in a glass bowl in a hall of mirrors. He thinks the world is there to reflect him.’

          That’s a strangely beautiful image.

          You’ve almost got me feeling sorry for the orange sociopath.


        • Tom says:

          Another thing about a goldfish is that when the fun is done you can just flush it down the toilet.

        • posaune says:

          I’ve wondered if he is actually FASD — it would explain the origins of LDs, cognitive limitations, a portion of the long-held behavior, etc. In any case, he is frozen at an emotional age of about 36-42 months. Up to this age point, children confabulate (i.e., caught with chocolate smeared all over the face, the kid says, “I didn’t eat the chocolate.”). Older children “learn” how to lie more effectively through cognitive development — theory of mind acquisition, understanding what others think or feel (“what answer does mommy WANT to hear?). The don never made it that far emotionally. He’s stuck in toddlerhood.

  35. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne.
    Is this corruption “up close and personal” being played out in the open?
    Barr says Berman “stepping down.” Berman says, “I have not resigned and have no intention of resigning position.” Barr gets Trump to fire Berman. Trump’s claims not involved in firing Berman but Barr said Trump was.
    Did Barr get Trump to commit obstruction of justice? Or did Trump get Barr to obstruct justice?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  36. CD54 says:

    @EOH at 8:10:

    “As for Jared’s maneuvering to get chunks of secret Mnuchin money, I suspect that’s one area the Dems might investigate.”

    I wish, but I’d bet on white collar justice:

    “Seems Like Old Times”(1980)

    – Glenda: If you’re innocent, they’ll never send you to jail.
    – Nick: Is that how it works, Chester?
    – Chester: Not in my neighborhood.

  37. Eureka says:

    Attempting to restrain myself from comment besides the good news that lives will be saved by this (I do wonder if Brad’s bragging scared away some people fearing impossibly long lines and COVID):

    Josh Jordan: “Just last year Nickelback played a sold out show at the BOK in Tulsa. Tonight Donald Trump couldn’t even fill it with free tickets. [photographic evidence of Tulsans’ great relative taste and good sense]”

    Andrew Solender: “SCOOP: A Tulsa Fire Dept spox confirmed to @Forbes that they clocked turnout at Trump’s rally at just under 6,200, far less than the BOK Center’s 19,200 capacity. The campaign had expected enough to warrant a second speech to the overflow section.[link]”

    • Tom says:

      Brad Parscale should invest in a few thousand or so department store mannequins, crash test dummies, cardboard cutouts, or inflatable sex dolls to fill up some of those empty seats at the next Trump rally.

      • Eureka says:

        I thought the next one was in Phoenix- maybe they can lure some javelinas. Then everything will be a BLUR. Brad might need to save his money; that unemployment payment boost ends next month.

        Easy odds are someone is rage-fired ASAP, with Parscale a top contender. But he might be spared if another face-saver/scapegoat can be found. This will be a real test of how much Trump remains in thrall to the idea that Parscale possesses some voodoo magic (Hint: it was probably moreso Zuck’s shitty CA-boosted platform and the Russians, as far as that corner of the op. Parscale may be as much of a “genius” as was Paul Ryan in his respective role, House Speaker with the “fiscals”). The fake rally ticket interest was no secret online, nor to anyone with common sense. The Player got played by a better version of his own game.

        I also wonder if his publicly announced mask-wearing relates to any specific concern of his for COVID exposure, given the diagnosed campaign staffers (that we know of). Like is mask-wearing (to the MAGA inners) a step-wise concession in lieu of self-quarantine/isolation? Do any of them regularly, properly, wear masks?

        • Tom says:

          I’d like to think that Trump’s requirement that his rally attendees sign off on a waiver of liability made thousands of people pause and think and then decide to take a pass on this event.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump’s use of another waiver is troublesome, yes. It represents another attempt to privatize and to hide the workings of the nation’s highest public office. It’s probably not enforceable. It sets a terrible precedent for the American president. His message to Americans and the world is, “I cannot keep you safe – in fact, I wouldn’t even allow you into one of my properties – but come support me and risk your own lives.”

          Most importantly, the move is a model for this administration and large institutions everywhere. It also happens to describe contemporary capital in America: “I can’t be bothered to protect the people most important to me. I will not spend a dime on them unless someone puts me in jail first. So, I will subvert the legal system to protect myself.”

    • vvv says:

      Lemme just say that I think Nicklebag is just as bad in their lane as Trump is in his, but obviously far less dangerous to the country at large.

      But Tulsa, I really gotta wonder some about OK, altho’ I did spend a week there once with now ex in-laws –
      great venison chili – but then the ex bro-in-law got arrested and put away for sexual assault and I never went back.

      On the other hand, the Trump campaign now looks very silly, as well as malevolently foolish in the first instance.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve been through OK – it’s a pretty state. (Some people have a fine sense of humor: the three watertanks on Adams next to US75 in Bartlesville, labelled “Hot”, “Cold”, and “Warm”. “Warm” is in the middle.)

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