Rachel Combs / Flickr Trump They are laughing their asses...
Rachel Combs / Flickr

Lots of good news today!  It really seems like the Trump/Russia stuff is coming to a head and we are going to see some action soon.  My vote is on some serious charges coming in April. Any guesses?

Check it out:

Russia Russia Russia

 Mueller pushed for Gates’ help on collusion

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last year made clear it wanted former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates’ help, not so much against his former business partner Paul Manafort, but with its central mission: investigating the Trump campaign’s contact with the Russians. New information disclosed in court filings and to CNN this week begin to show how they’re getting it.

Y’all, this is HUGE HUGE HUGE. Remember, the narrative around Gates flipping was that it was just to get Manafort to flip.  Gates was just going to get us Manafort who could get us Trump (maybe).  NOPE!  Gates had access to EVERYTHING.  

In a court filing earlier this week, the public saw the first signs of how the Mueller team plans to use information from Gates to tie Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, directly to a Russian intelligence agency. Mueller’s team alleges that Gates was in contact with a close colleague of Manafort’s who worked for a Russian intelligence agency — and that Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October 2016, while he worked on the Trump campaign. Gates would have to talk about the communication with the man if prosecutors wanted, according to his plea deal.

This also puts a huge amount of pressure on Manafort. They already have enough on him to bury him in a federal court AND in NYS (which Trump can’t do anything about). AND the story of his conspiracy and treason (allegedly) is already out there.  So Manafort’s only real options are JAIL or FLIPPING.  Boom!  AND it sounds like him flipping would just be to confirm and provide stronger evidence for what Mueller already knows.

Mueller probing Russia contacts at Republican convention

Investigators probing whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia have been questioning witnesses about events at the 2016 Republican National Convention

Mueller’s team has been asking about a convention-related event attended by both Russia’s U.S. ambassador and Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to support Trump and now his attorney general, said one source, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.

Another issue Mueller’s team has been asking about is how and why Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section of the document related to Ukraine

I know this was mentioned yesterday but I am bringing it up again because I think it is a BIG BIG DEAL.  SUPER BIG. 

Y’all I read about this Russia stuff all the time and it is often super confusing and hard to follow.  There are so many people and so many meetings and so much treason.  I can’t keep it all straight. Honestly.

But this story?  Super easy to understand: right around the time when Russia was releasing HRC’s emails to help Trump (allegedly) Trump’s group changed the RNC platform to be nicer to Russia.  Oh, and there were a lot of weird little meetings going on between the two groups around then.  Secrety ones.  

To me, that seems not only pretty suspicious conspiracy and treason wise, but also pretty easy to understand for the average jane and joe who will be trying to understand whatever dirt Mueller comes up with.  Its a tit for tat (allegedly) and a very treasony one (allegedly)

So I think it is GREAT GREAT GREAT news that Mueller is onto this.  Remember, we know that if he is asking questions, he already has ANSWERS from someone else and is looking for confirmation.  So…. BOOM!!!

Oh, and I know this has been a matter of debate, but Jeff Sessions is my LEAST favorite member of that cabal of evil so anything that takes his racist butt down is AWESOME.

Oh, and this is GREAT news too.  I’ll tell you why I think so after the description:

Trump tells aides not to talk publicly about Russia policy moves

President Donald Trump’s national security advisers spent months trying to convince him to sign off on a plan to supply new U.S. weapons to Ukraine to aid in the country’s fight against Russian-backed separatists, according to multiple senior administration officials.

Yet when the president finally authorized the major policy shift, he told his aides not to publicly tout his decision, officials said. Doing so, Trump argued, might agitate Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the officials.

“He doesn’t want us to bring it up,” one White House official said. “It is not something he wants to talk about.”

This is good news for two reasons.  One it is more evidence that Trump is trying to keep on Vlad’s good side. Evidence of that is essential right now (Hi, Mueller! — no, I don’t think he really reads this, but if he does: get back to work).  The second is that SOMEONE LEAKED THIS.  Just like someone leaked the DO NOT CONGRATULATE. That means people on the inside are concerned about this and want people to know.  Remember, we don’t know who Mueller is working with and who he has interviewed on the inside.  It is GREAT news that some of them are sharing this stuff that we all KNOW is true but don’t have access to.

And another Trump associate is in trouble (and hopefully talking)  FBI questions Ted Malloch, Trump campaign figure and Farage ally

American once touted as possible ambassador to EU tells of being detained at Boston airport and subpoenaed by Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia inquiry

Ted Malloch, an American touted last year as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU, said he was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday following a flight from London and questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign.

In a statement sent to the Guardian, Malloch, who described himself as a policy wonk and defender of Trump, said the FBI also asked him about his relationship with Roger Stone, the Republican strategist, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has resided for nearly six years.

And remember the bromance of Stone and Nunberg?  Seems to have fallen apart which is good news too.  All those criminals should turn on each other…

Roger Stone: Sam Nunberg Is a ‘Lying Asshole’ and ‘Psycho’

Two former aides to Donald Trump waged a war of words against each other this week, using cable news and social media as their battlefields.

Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Trump’s, took to his personal Instagram page on Thursday to call fellow ex-aide Sam Nunberg, a man who once viewed Stone as a mentor, a “psycho” and a “lying asshole.

Stone posted another video of himself smoking a cigar late last night in which he went further to criticize his former friend.

“Sam Nunberg is a cocaine addict,” Stone said. “And any news organization that takes anything he said seriously is courting a serious lawsuit. Coke head,” he concluded taking another puff of the cigar.

OMG  If you wrote this all in a screenplay, no one would believe it.  LOL.

Why Robert Mueller could be considering bribery charges

President Trump’s now-former attorney John Dowd allegedly told lawyers representing Paul J. Manafort and Michael Flynn last year that the president would consider pardoning the two men if they got into legal trouble. (Dowd has denied the reports.) Much of the news coverage has focused on whether offering pardons to induce a witness not to cooperate in the special counsel’s investigation could constitute obstruction of justice. But there is another potential charge that could apply more directly and that prosecutors might have reason to favor: conspiracy to commit bribery.

10 legal experts on why Trump can’t pardon his way out of the Russia investigation

It may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done.

If the President issues a pardon in order to influence a witness and impede the investigation, that would also be a further act of obstruction.

11 legal experts on whether Trump’s lawyer obstructed justice

Julie O’Sullivan, law professor, Georgetown University

I am frankly gobsmacked. We don’t know if President Trump authorized this outreach, although according to news reports he was talking with advisers about pardoning Flynn at least. So I cannot say that this constitutes obstruction pure and simple, but if Trump authorized the outreach and his intention was to influence Flynn and Manafort’s cooperation, it sure looks like obstruction.

There are 11 more of these — they look similar.  and this one from Slate:

Dangling a Pardon Could Be Obstruction of Justice—Even if the Pardon Power Is Absolute

What’s more, if Trump actually pardoned Flynn and Manafort, then the two men could no longer assert their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because their pardons would erase their federal criminal liability, and therefore Mueller could call both to testify in the grand jury and in any subsequent trial. If they continued to assert their Fifth Amendment privilege on the basis of state criminal exposure, Mueller could obtain an order granting them “use immunity”—which would ensure that their testimony could not be used against them in any way in state court either. Manafort and Flynn would then be compelled to testify, or risk jail for contempt of court.

And don’t forget that Trump has terrible legal representation for this:

Trump desperately needs a crack legal team. But his lawyers are no match for Mueller, and no sane attorney would join them now.

Donald Trump has no real lawyers. Or, to put it more precisely, he has no lawyers capable of representing him as he navigates Robert Mueller’s ever more perilous Russia probe.

The ongoing and increasingly worrying problem for Trump is that he has lived for so long in the world of rich-man business-mogul law that his conception of lawyers and lawyering is badly skewed. He genuinely believes that attorneys like Michael Cohen—who is now embroiled in a wrestling match with a pugnacious Stormy Daniels and her lawyer—and Marc Kasowitz—who has represented Trump in litigation ranging from his divorce and bankruptcy proceedings to the Trump University lawsuit—can handle any type of legal proceeding.

Perhaps that’s the simplest answer to the mystery of Trump’s missing lawyers. Work for the president, and you might soon wind up in front of a grand jury getting grilled by Bob Mueller. That might make for exceptional reality television. It doesn’t look so good on a résumé.

Honestly, this is all going to come down HARD on Trump and those around him and it is going to happen sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, our focus should still be on November, and there is good news there too:

Great Election News

The Trump effect: A lot of veterans are running as Democrats

the combination of having served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and seeing the rise of Trump at home, has created “deep reservations” about the direction of the country, prompting the veterans to try to get involved in public service. (The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee counts more than 40 candidates who are veterans, around 20 in top-tier contests.)

Importantly, many of these candidates are millennials, and in this sense, this trend may be part of a bigger story. A recent Pew study found that nearly 6 in 10 millennials now identify with the Democratic Party, more than any other age group. A solid majority of millennials have liberal views. Only 27 percent of millennials approve of Trump, and millennials have beliefs that are at oddswith key tenets of Trumpism: Large majorities of them say immigrants strengthen the country and believe that diplomacy, not military force, is the key to maintaining strength.

No worries for the GOP though, they have that great tax message to run on in November, right?! RIGHT?!?!?!  Well, now that you mention it….

GOP tax message hits a snag

More than three months after the passage of the GOP’s tax-cut law, new surveys suggest that many people don’t think they are getting bigger paychecks, which could cut into support for Republicans in this fall’s midterm elections.=

One reason is that many taxpayers won’t end up receiving a particularly large tax cut, especially if the benefit is spread out over the course of the year.

For example, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center has estimated that people with incomes between $48,600 and $86,100 will, on average, receive a tax cut of $930 for 2018, which is around $35 per pay period if divided equally among 26 pay periods. The group said that people with income of below $25,000 will, on average, get a tax cut of only $60 over the course of the whole year.

“The tax bill just doesn’t provide much benefit to most people,” said Vanessa Williamson, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

The CNBC survey seemed to confirm that result. It showed that people with higher incomes were more likely to notice an increase in take-home pay than low-income individuals — an outcome that Democrats could use against the GOP in their midterm campaign.

also good news (finally): Government doles out election security funds to states

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has specified the exact amount allocated to each state, according to a list posted late this week. California will receive the largest award — roughly $35 million — followed by Texas with $23 million and New York with $19 million.

States can use the funds to make technology and election security improvements in order to secure their voting infrastructure.

For example, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) recently told The Hill that his state may invest in additional penetration testing and implement two-factor authentication for town clerks who access portions of the voter registration database. The state of Vermont will receive $3 million of the election security funds, according to the EAC.

“We will look at how we can ramp up even more security,” Condos said. “We’ll look at maybe beefing up our firewalls.”

In addition to the new federal grants, states can also receive election security help from Homeland Security, which designated voting systems as critical infrastructure in early 2017.

Great Legal News

A judge just ruled a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the Constitution can go forward

A federal judge unexpectedly declined to dismiss a lawsuit Wednesday that argues President Donald Trump’s continued stake in the Trump Organization is unconstitutional. The litigation, which accuses Trump of violating a constitutional prohibition on accepting certain gifts or payments, can go forward.

Trump loses arbitration to win back control of Panama hotel

An international arbitration court ruled late Tuesday against the Trump Organization’s effort to win back control of a landmark luxury hotel in Panama after it was evicted by the owners earlier this month over allegations of “horrific” mismanagement.

Lawsuit Against Trump’s DACA Policy Can Proceed, Judge Says

  • Judge says ‘plausible inference’ of racially biased policy
  • Ruling narrows claims but allows litigation to proceed

The Future is Bright/The Kids are alright

Facing boycott, Laura Ingraham apologizes for taunting Parkland teen over college rejections

The swift results showcase the power that the Parkland survivors have, not just in organizing rallies but in spurring corporate America to act. Brands, too, have become quicker to distance themselves from controversy, whether by denouncing white supremacy after neo-Nazis praise their products or by pulling their sponsorship after another Fox News personality, Bill O’Reilly, was accused of sexual harassment.

AP-NORC/MTV Poll: Young people run from Trump

A majority of young people believe President Donald Trump is racist, dishonest and “mentally unfit” for office, according to a new survey that finds the nation’s youngest potential voters are more concerned about the Republican’s performance in the White House than older Americans.

We Have Great Allies

Planned Parenthood receives $9 million gift to open new clinics in West Texas

An unnamed Texas donor has promised $9 million to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to help construct two new health centers in West Texas within the next year, the nonprofit confirmed this week. The group has not said whether the new clinics would be abortion providers.

Stormy Daniels lawyer rejects settling with Trump: It’s not about money, it’s about truth

Stormy Daniels’s lawyer walked back his earlier statement that the adult-film star would consider a settlement against President Trump, saying that no amount of money could cover up the truth of their alleged affair.

“No amount of money,” Avenatti said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this, my client is committed to it. I’m committed to it. This really isn’t about the money.”

Red-state teacher rebellion hits Oklahoma, grows in Arizona

A teacher rebellion that started in the hills of West Virginia spread like a prairie fire to Oklahoma this week and now threatens to reach the desert in Arizona.

In the deep red state of Oklahoma, the Republican-led Legislature approved money for teacher raises and more school funding, even hiking taxes on the vaunted oil and gas industry to do it. Republican Governor Mary Fallin rushed to sign the measures into law Thursday.

remember this story?  HAPPY ENDING!!!   Army veteran deported to Mexico can return home, become U.S. citizen

Hector Barajas, who became the face and voice of deported veterans after his own deportation, will be allowed to return to the place he considers home and become a U.S. citizen.

Barajas burst into joyous tears seated on a couch Thursday afternoon in front of a large U.S. flag as he read a document informing him that he would be sworn in as a citizen on April 13 in San Diego.

“I’m coming home, Mom!” he added.

Nathan Fletcher, a candidate for county supervisor who has championed the deported veterans’ cause, sat beside Barajas on the couch, his hand rubbing Barajas’ shoulder in congratulations. Norma Chávez-Peterson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, sat on the other side of Barajas, telling him that an ACLU attorney had already arranged how he would get back home.

That is it for today. 

I worked on this on and off all day yesterday as I cooked our Passover meal.  These past couple of years the lessons of Passover seem especially salient to me. 

These are difficult times, but they remind me of how very grateful I am for so many things: the ability to make a meal for friends and family; my family and friends and community  — including this community of people striving for hope and working for action; and the hope of freedom that we remember every year at this time. 

I don’t see a Moses coming and saving us all, but I do see millions and millions of brave women and men and children coming forward to lead us out of these times. And that seems at least as amazing to me.

No, we aren’t slaves like we were, but freedom has become more fragile and at risk and has been taken from too many of our brothers and sisters. 

And on this holiday we remember how precious freedom is and how we were all strangers in a strange land and so our hearts and our minds and our action must go toward helping and aiding the stranger amongst us.

Like we say at the end of every Passover meal at our house: Next year, may everyone, everywhere, be free!*  

Happy Passover!  And happy Easter too!  And happy spring!  And may it be a very happy impeachment season as well!  ???? 

*unless you committed treason, in which case, good luck in prison!

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