This has been one heck of a week and I truly believe that this we are now in the end stages of this particular kakistocracy. I am not saying it will end tomorrow. And a lot of how quickly and easily it ends will be determined by how we do in November. But this shit show is going to end for sure and we are in the last act.
It isn’t just one story that is bringing about the end to this dark time. It is story, after story, after story. Stories about the legal system stepping up. Stories about the states stepping up. Stories about the justice system, about the media, about the insiders who are turning and, mostly, stories about us. Stories about millions and millions of us who are not going to stand by and let this democracy crumble.
I was thinking about those stories at an event last weekend where they played the national anthem. I was thinking about them when I sang these lines:
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
I have never been super moved by the militaristic language of our anthem. I am more of a “this land is your land” kind of gal.
But last weekend, signing along to our anthem, I thought about those brave men fighting for freedom and seeing the sky lit up with each burst and realizing that each bright light in the sky meant that our flag was still there. Each light was a sign that the land of the free and brave still existed. Each light was a hope for democracy and freedom.
The stories we tell one another are out bursts of light.
Every court decision that goes our way.
Every protest on the streets (whether it is with thousands of people or just a dozen).
Every media story exposing the truth.
Every former trump disciple who joins our side.
Every new patriot running for office.
Every person sending postcards to voters and driving people to polls.
Those are our flashes of light in a dark sky, showing us that our flag is still there.
As long as we keep fighting, America lives.
And we will keep going until the collective light of our efforts fills the dark sky and this seemingly endless night is finally over.
We are going to save our democracy.
And this was a week full of stories lighting up the sky.
The Great Unraveling Has Begun
The tumult of August 2018 hasn’t finished off his presidency, but the endgame looks closer by the day. We know we’ve reached a nadir when the president’s lawyer is reduced to claiming that “truth isn’t truth” and even a lowlife crook like Michael Cohen can take the moral high road by professing he’d rather go to prison than be “dirtied” by a Trump pardon.
the more plausible scenario is that Trump, even if he has to be pushed kicking-and-screaming by Ivanka and the possible jailbirds Donald Jr. and Jared, gets out of Dodge. As with Nixon, his administration is most likely not to end with impeachment but with a self-pitying and self-justifying resignation in which Trump lashes out against both Republicans and Democrats, declares another ersatz “win,” and flees.
The exact timing remains unknown, and a little more perseverance and patience in the face of the torrent of Trump indignities will be required. But when this White House collapses, it will happen fast. As the Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew, who covered Watergate for The New Yorker, would conclude, “In retrospect, the denouement appeared inevitable, but it certainly didn’t feel like that at the time.”
President Donald Trump may no longer control his fate, a plight that helps explain his increasingly volcanic Twitter eruptions.
as a legal web closes around the President, he’s in a far weaker position than he would like
ya’all that article was from TUESDAY at 1am. BEFORE Cohen. BEFORE Manafort. BEFORE the plea deals. BEFORE his friends turned on him. Y’all, this man is in TROUBLE. It is coming from all sides and it is just a matter of time.
An inexorable decline is underway. Trump is learning about — and railing against — the limitations of his power. (He even had to cancel his proposed military parade.)
But he cannot control himself. His demeaning tweets, his rampant lying, his compulsive attacks on the news media and his breathtakingly bratty behavior might thrill his base, but the rest of Washington is growing sick of him. Republicans will use him to stock the courts with conservatives, repeal regulation and finally get back at Franklin D. Roosevelt, but as soon as Trump is shown to be politically weakened, they will throw him under the bus.
Once while visiting a military base, President Lyndon B. Johnson started to walk to the wrong helicopter. A soldier intervened, saying, “That’s your helicopter over there, sir.” Johnson replied, “Son, they are all my helicopters.” It was a pithy example both of presidential power and hubris. In the end, however, Johnson was forced to announce he would not run for reelection. It turned out that none of the helicopters were his.
Trump will soon learn the same lesson. It is not his government, it is ours. It is not his White House, it is ours. The deep state is very deep indeed. It booted Nixon from the White House and compelled Clinton to roll up his sleeve. To Trump, it looks like a monster rising from the swamp. To me, it looks like a shivering soldier at Valley Forge.
Donald Trump and the people around him made a wager: They thought they could beat the truth. They lied their way to wealth and power. For a long time, the bet paid off. But on Tuesday, reality roared back in the form of Paul Manafort’s conviction, Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, and Rep. Duncan Hunter’s indictment.
Like a vampire recoiling from daylight, Trump rages at every discovery.
Trump’s whole presidency has been a tower of lies: that Mexico would pay for a border wall, that man-made climate change is a hoax, that workers would get the money from corporate tax cuts, that trade wars are easy to win, that North Korea is dismantling its nuclear program. At a rally on Tuesday night, the president lied to West Virginians, telling them that the coal industry was coming back. Trump’s followers love these fantasies. But eventually, truth does to his lies what the ocean does to sandcastles.
Trump’s bigger lies can be falsified, and the falsification hurts.
Some people worry that Trump’s presidency, with its propaganda about “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and “truth isn’t truth,” has plunged us into a post-truth era. But it’s much more likely that truth will cruelly reassert itself. That’s not because the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. It’s because the amoral arc of the universe doesn’t bend toward hope. There’s a fabric of reality out there—evidence, witnesses, meteorology, economics—and you can’t hide it forever. It brought down Cohen and Manafort. It will bring down Trump, too
Michael Gerson, one of the most eloquent and principled critics of Donald Trump, insists that we are at June 1973, the moment when John Dean’s testimony broke the dam that a year later swept Richard Nixon off into disgrace.
To be sure, Trump could hang on until the 2020 election. It is even possible, if considerably less likely, that he could be reelected and march off into a glitzy retirement at Trump properties in Florida and New Jersey, his retreat from public life punctuated only by bursts of increasingly senile bombast. But it does seem more likely than it once was that he will go down in disgrace.
A tyrant is unloved, and although the laws and institutions of the United States have proven a brake on Trump, his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.
The normal course of events is sudden, epic desertion, in which an all-powerful political figure who loomed over everything is suddenly left shrunken and pitiful, a wretched little figure in gaudy robes absurdly too big for him, a figure of ridicule as much as, and even more than, hatred.
This is going to happen to Trump at some point.
For the moment, the Republicans will not turn on Trump. They fear a peasant revolt, many of them; they still crave favors; they may think his castle impregnable, although less so if they believe what the polls tell them about some of its tottering walls. But if they suffer a medieval-style slaughter on Election Day, the remnants of the knights of the GOP will know a greater fear than that of being primaried. And at the moment when they no longer fear being swept away in 2020, when the economy may be in recession and Robert Mueller’s probe is complete with revelations whose ghastliness would delight the three witches of the Scottish play, they will suddenly turn on Trump. Act V of this play will also have a nonlinear finish.
And so it will likely be, as Americans gaze back and wonder how on earth this rare monster, now deposed, ended up as their president.
A the Ship Goes Down, The Rats Are Turning on Trump
In the span of three days, President Trump appears to have lost or to be dangerously close to losing the loyalty of three people he used to be able to count on pretty much unconditionally.
First, Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer flipped on him in dramatic fashion: Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to breaking campaign finance laws and implicated the president in his crimes.
On Thursday, one of Trump’s oldest friends in media appears ready to walk that same path. The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and NBC News are reporting that David Pecker, president of the publisher of the conservative tabloid National Enquirer, has been granted immunity to share with prosecutors what he knows about a hush-money payment to a woman alleging an affair with Trump. It suggests Pecker has something prosecutors very much want to know.
On the same day, Trump’s attorney general publicly announced he’s had enough of the president attacking him. Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a defiant statement — while he was on his way to the White House — declaring the agency he runs would not be “improperly influenced by political considerations.”
This national enquirer guy turning is big. He helped hide the bodies.
Pecker’s apparent decision to corroborate Cohen’s account, and implicate Trump in a federal crime, is another vivid example of how isolated Trump is becoming as the walls close in and his former friends look for ways out. “Holy shit, I thought Pecker would be the last one to turn,” a Trump friend told me when I brought up the news. Trump and Pecker have been close for years. According to the Trump friend, Pecker regularly flew on Trump’s plane from New York to Florida. In July 2013, Trump tweeted that Pecker should become C.E.O. of Time magazine. “He’d make it exciting and win awards!”
Another guy who helped hide bodies has ALSO turned:
- Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
- Weisselberg’s ties to the president go back decades: He has overseen the Trump Organization’s finances, been involved in the Trump Foundation, the president’s charity, and has managed Trump’s private trust alongside his eldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
- Weisselberg was subpoenaed by prosecutors earlier this year to testify before a grand jury as part of that probe.
The scope of Allen WeisselbergÃ¢ÂÂs responsibilities:
Handled Trump Org. finances for decades
Been involved with the Trump Foundation
Managed Trump’s private trust
Has at times reviewed the Trump presidential campaign’s books https://t.co/CCQYnRuXEf
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2018
Y’all this is HUGE.
Cohen knew about the payoffs related to women and certain details. Weisselberg knows all the rest. https://t.co/bsjlAzQMKf
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 24, 2018
Timothy O’Brien agrees → Immunity for Trump CFO Is a Potential Game-Changer
Weisselberg’s cooperation is a potentially momentous turn of events for the president. Depending on how prosecutors proceed, it may take the federal tax- and bank-fraud investigation of Cohen — and, more important, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe involving Russian interference in the 2016 election — out of some of the relatively low-stakes legal issues in play so far and into the heart of the Trump Organization and the president’s business and financial dealings.
and this from the ghost writer of Art of the Deal who knows A LOT about the Trump org:
The other shoe has dropped — the smoking gun equivalent to Nixon’s tapes. Alan Weisselberg knows everything. Trump will resign as I always assumed. Only matter of time now.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) August 24, 2018
Not to be outdone, Cohen isn’t likely to stop just implicating Trump in the woman-pay-off illegality:
Lanny Davis, suggested on television — and in an interview with The Washington Post late Tuesday — that Cohen had knowledge “of interest” to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and that his client was “more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows.”
Davis said Cohen’s knowledge reached beyond “the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude” and included information on whether Trump participated in a “criminal conspiracy” to hack into the emails of Democratic officials during the 2016 election.
Michael Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, on Wednesday claimed Cohen witnessed a discussion between President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. that was apparently related to the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
Davis, who is a contributor to The Hill, was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” what evidence Cohen has, as he has claimed, that Trump knew in advance about the meeting.
“At this juncture, I can only say that he was present during a discussion with Jr. and dad,” Davis told CNN.
And Cohen’s conviction has other implications that are bad for Trump:
Michael Cohen’s admission today in federal court that he committed felonies at the direction of Donald Trump exposes the president to criminal prosecution in New York State, an angle the mainstream news organizations have all missed.
State prosecution is a critical concern because Trump has the constitutional authority to pardon Cohen, or commute his sentence, for federal crimes. Trump claims he can pardon himself and continue in office.
BREAKING: New York state investigators have issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen as part of Trump Foundation probe.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 22, 2018
Things have been so busy we have forgotten that Trump is getting hit from LOTS of sides this week. For example this guy:
Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office say President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not yet ready to be sentenced.
The joint filing with defense lawyers Tuesday is a sign that Flynn’s cooperation with investigators is continuing.
Poor Omarosa thought this would be her week in the spotlight. Good news is this will push her to bury him even deeper to get more attention:
“I have the truth on my side as well as a hundred emails and documents and other things,” said Newman in an interview with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery” released Friday, claiming she can testify about her knowledge of Russian ties to Trump’s campaign
the Clinton administration had a major weapon in their arsenal that the Trump administration does not: a first lady who was willing to fall on a sword for her husband, no matter what.Unlike Hillary Clinton, who passionately defended her husband throughout the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals, Melania Trump has stayed silent in the face of multiple allegations against her husband. That may be a good thing for future political spouses, who are unfairly expected to salve their partners’ public wounds, even when they are the ones being betrayed most. But it could not be more costly for Donald Trump, who faces a real risk of being removed from office.
Great Election News
Sabato made changes two days ago and 10 out of 12 were in our direction: House Update: 12 Ratings Changes. Boom!
We are making 12 ratings changes; 10 in favor of Democrats, two in favor of Republicans.
Cook made three more changes yesterday. All three in our directions: Double Boom!
— CookPoliticalReport (@CookPolitical) August 24, 2018
We have our first two polls of the general election for governor of Connecticut, and while they each give Democrat Ned Lamont a lead against Republican Bob Stefanowski, they disagree by quite a bit on how far Team Blue is ahead.
Quinnipiac, which is out with their first poll of their home state in two years, finds Lamont up 46-33 among registered voters, with independent Oz Griebel at 4; in a two-way matchup, Lamont’s edge expands to 53-37. However, Sacred Heart University’s survey for Hearst Connecticut Media has Lamont up by a small 41-37 margin among likely voters, while an unnamed “someone else” takes 6.
If Democrats pick up governorships and state legislatures in 2018 and 2020, they will be well positioned to use that newfound power to solidify their gains for the next decade. That’s why the party out of power is aggressively pursuing an array of efforts this year to overhaul the redistricting process — from ballot initiatives to legal challenges and down-ballot elections — that make the midterms even more consequential.
Key Democrats — such as Barack Obama and former attorney general Eric Holder — have waded deeper into the fight than they did in the past. Early last year, Holder launched the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Obama has endorsed the work of the NDRC and appeared at a fundraiser for the group, which has bankrolled a number of redistricting-related efforts, including legal challenges to allegedly partisan maps.
Democrats are in a strong position for the midterms, according to the latest Fox News poll.
Several findings point to the potential for a blue map in November:
– President Trump’s job rating remains underwater.
– Republicans alone say the economy is in positive shape.
– The GOP tax law is less popular (40 percent favorable) than Obamacare (51 percent favorable).
– The Republican Party is less popular (39 percent favorable) than the Democratic Party (50 percent favorable).
– Optimism about life for the next generation of Americans is down eight points from last year.
– There is greater enthusiasm to vote in the midterms among out-of-power Democrats.
Lyft will offer discounted and free rides to users who take advantage of the service to go to the polls on Election Day, the company said Thursday.
The ride-share company is teaming up with a host of voter turnout organizations to offer a 50 percent off promotion on Nov. 6. The company will also offer free rides to “underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation,” according to a statement.
An elections board in southwestern Georgia defeated a contentious proposal Friday to close seven rural voting locations before November’s election following overwhelming opposition to the idea.
The Randolph County Board of Elections voted 2-0 to save these precincts and preserve easy access to the polls for about 1,700 registered voters.
A crowd of civil rights leaders and voting rights advocates erupted in cheers after a one-minute meeting before the vote that ended consideration of closing polling places.
y’all this last one can be attributed 100% to the laser focus we all put on that decision in the last days. They thought they could slip this in without anyone noticing and we the people showed them they couldn’t!!!
Great Legal News
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin cannot sue the Kentuckians who are trying to stop him from adding work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program, a federal court said today.
The big picture: Bevin’s latest loss is not a surprise. But it compounds the setback of an earlier ruling, from a separate court, against his proposed work requirements.Show less
The intrigue: A group of 16 Kentuckians sued the federal Health and Human Services Department for approving Kentucky’s plan for work requirements, saying it violates Medicaid’s stated purpose.
- They won the first round of that challenge. A judge in Washington, D.C. blocked Kentucky’s rules from taking effect at the end of June.
- In addition to intervening in that case, Bevin also took the unusual step of countersuing those same constituents.
- A federal court in Kentucky dismissed Bevin’s countersuit today.
A judge in Washington, D.C., on Monday ruled in favor of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who authored a dossier of alleged ties between President Trump‘s campaign and Russia, in a libel suit.
In the ruling first reported by The Guardian, Judge Anthony Epstein upheld a decision to dismiss a case by three Russian oligarchs who had sued Steele and his firm for defamation for reports in the dossier. The judge said the men had not sufficiently proved that Steele knew any of the information in the document was false.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday reportedly upheld a lower court’s ruling barring Alabama from prohibiting a certain kind of abortion.
The ban, which was struck down by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in October, criminalized an abortion method that is the most common way of ending pregnancies after 15 weeks.
The court wrote Wednesday that existing Supreme Court decisions bar Alabama from entirely forbidding the “dilation and evacuation” method of abortion.
We’re lucky, as it turns out, that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III was so sharp in criticizing prosecutors in the Manafort case that an upset lead attorney, Greg Andres, protested at one point, “The court interrupts every single one of the government’s [direct questions], every single one.” After Ellis’s interjections, it will be difficult for Trump’s defenders to argue that the trial was biased in favor of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team.
We’re probably fortunate, too, that the jury reached a split verdict, convicting Manafort on eight of 18 counts. Reportedly because of one holdout juror, the panel was not unanimously convinced by the entire case presented by the government. For a divided America, this outcome ought to evoke our national icon of justice — blindfolded and holding a balance in her hand to weigh the evidence fairly.
Donald Trump has a lot more to worry about than just Robert Mueller. That much has been clear since April, when details began to emerge from public court filings regarding the FBI raid on Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a number of criminal charges, including some stemming from his work for Trump.
That raid wasn’t the work of Mueller. Instead, it was carried out by FBI agents acting in coordination with Robert S. Khuzami, a deputy U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Mueller had referred the Cohen case to Khuzami’s office, but that was as far as his involvement apparently went. As I wrote at the time, the distribution of the investigation to a second office served to “potentially inoculate [it] from Trump’s attacks against Mueller and potential meddling in the broader Russia investigation.” Samuel W. Buell, the former lead Enron prosecutor, told me that would make it much more difficult to kill the investigation with a Saturday Night Massacre–style firing spree. “The network of federal law enforcement professionals with experience and reputations, in different respected offices, involved in these matters makes it much harder to come up with a plausible way to surgically stop this,” he said at the time over email.
States Come Out Swinging
Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C., asked a federal court to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from repealing its 2015 net neutrality rules, arguing that the move would allow the agency to abdicate its responsibility to oversee internet service providers.
A ballot question will let Arizona voters decide if they want to raise taxes on the top 1 percent for the first time in 50 years.
Welcome to the Resistance
Another on-air reporter is leaving Fox News over frustrations with the direction and tone of the network, the second in the last three weeks to defect for those reasons.
Adam Housley, a Los Angeles-based reporter who joined Fox in 2001, felt there was diminished opportunity at the network for reporters and disapproved of tenor of its on-air discussion, according to two former Fox News employees with knowledge of his situation.
Housley believed that as the network’s focus on Trump has grown — and the number of talking-head panels during news shows proliferated — it had become difficult to get hard reporting on air, according to one of those former employees.
Housley’s objections to the Trump-era Fox News are widely shared within the network’s reporting corps, according to current and former employees of the network. Conor Powell, the former Fox News Jerusalem bureau reporter, left the network earlier this month for similar reasons, according to a person close to him.
“People are losing their minds,” one current Fox News personality said, adding that reporters have relayed in conversation that the climate for them is worse than ever before.
This guy continues to have good moments on Fox:
Check out Neil's latest Common Sense https://t.co/VYe1fr1ru7
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) August 23, 2018
Democrats Are Awesome
It is brutal to see how little Democrats can do without controlling either house. HOWEVER, it is amazing to see what they are trying to do. It gives me great hope because it is a window to what we can do if we take at least one house in November.
On Wednesday, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent letters to the Department of Justice and the the Drug Enforcement Administration requesting information on the respective agencies’ contact with Giuliani Partners. The letters, shared with Mother Jones, draw heavily on a recent New York Times investigation finding that federal prosecutors knew about OxyContin’s widespread abuse and originally recommended that Purdue executives be charged with felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush Administration pushed back—deciding instead to settle the case in 2007 rather than take it to trial.
All 10 Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are requesting that Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing be postponed. pic.twitter.com/ocoSILrw9v
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2018
and also this:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats are requesting relevant materials from the Helisinki summit including “all classified and unclassified cable traffic, memoranda of conversations, interpreterÃ¢ÂÂs notes and policy directives related to the meeting.” pic.twitter.com/k8JVBOlwXJ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2018
and finally this:
Every House Judiciary Democrat is calling on Chairman Goodlatte to call the Committee back into session to let members meet with DOJ about the implications of the Cohen probe; to respond to “possible abuse” of pardon power by Trump; and to take up legislation to protect Mueller. pic.twitter.com/S9i8RPAhTW
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2018
We have a party that actually cares about America and Americans. I am so proud to be a Democrat!
Other Good News
Infowars host Alex Jones is struggling to replace the audience he lost after being banned from YouTube, according to viewership totals published on the video sites still willing to host him.
Two weeks later, though, the Infowars app is set to slip out of the top 30 news apps, and Infowars is nowhere near replacing its lost YouTube viewership.
While Jones still has other ways to reach his viewers, including his website and his radio show, the dismal viewership figures suggest that the YouTube ban has seriously cut into his reach. Without access to his YouTube audience, Jones will find it harder both to spread his false claims, like his allegation that parents whose children were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting are crisis actors, and to sell the nutritional supplements that help fund his conspiracy empire.
When Politicon announced its 2018 lineup Wednesday, even the most casual observers noted a particularly strange booking: Milo Yiannopoulos.
But after an evening of public outcry and fellow guest speaker Cameron Esposito, a stand-up comic, withdrawing her appearance in outrage, Yiannopoulos had disappeared from the event’s website
That is it for today.
Remember, the MOST important thing right now is November, November, November.
Now is your time to change history!!
What can you do? Pod Save America launched Vote Save America and it has some great links, ideas, and activities. Other options: