Powerful House Democrat Asks if 25th Amendment Solution Worth Considering

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Today this tweet popped up. Dear Cabinet Officials: Today’s #coronavirus briefing went from bad to worse. Deeply troubling. Some people are saying it may be time to invoke the #25thAmendment. Thoughts? — Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) April 18, 2020 So, why should we give a damn? This is probably the millionth time someone with sense has called for Trump’s ouster via the 25th Amendment. And Pence, who is the only one who can trigger it, will never, ever do it. Why is this important? For the simple reason that Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, one of the main players in the House impeachment proceedings, and a House Democrat close to both Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. He’s a rising star in Democratic politics, and a powerful voice in the black and progressive Democratic communities. And, most importantly, because Jeffries, a member of the House leadership, would have never issued such a damning tweet if Pelosi and the House Leadership weren’t behind it. I almost titled this “House Leadership Calls for 25th Amendment Invocation,” but that would be going further than Jeffries went. But not a lot further. In short: Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership are calling for the White House to consider kicking Trump’s ass to the curb via the 25th Amendment. So what in Bog’s name did the stupid son of a bitch say this time? Well, I didn’t watch it. I don’t watch any of his stunt “briefings.” The media pays people hazard pay to stick their heads in that rhetorical sewage pipe every day and extract…something…out of it. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from today’s Two-Minute Hate: I challenge you to try and make sense of this Trump rant pic.twitter.com/4umIOeHle2 — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 18, 2020 I tried. I really did try to listen to all 39 seconds of it. I felt a blood vessel over my eye start to throb about ten seconds in, and I ceased-and-desisted. He told a blizzard of lies. Nothing new here. CNN has a breakdown of Trump’s daily breakdown. Apparently he tried to claim that having less casualties to COVID-19 than we suffered during World War I is a good thing. Or something. Trump left the poduim at 6:16. (No one reported if he left a trail of diarrhea leakage behind him as he stalked off the stage.) Jeffries posted his tweet 33 minutes later. I have no idea what specifically prompted Jeffries to issue his call to consider a 25th Amendment remedy for Trump today. Maybe Pelosi just had as much of his vitrolic spew as she could handle. Maybe Jeffries just threw his hands up and said “Fuck it, let’s light this candle.” Whatever it was, I guarantee he ran it by Pelosi before posting it. Twitter is a truly ephemeral flavor of social media. 99% plus of all tweets sink without a trace within minutes. This one may well sink right along with the rest of them. But I think it may not. It is a shot fired across the White House’s bow by the House Democrats. For the first time that I’m aware of, a senior member of the House Democratic leadership publicly suggested that the 25th Amendment — the removal of the sitting president because he is mentally unfit for the job — […]
Kevin Burkett / Flickr Abraham Lincoln Memorial 3...

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Ally. For Now.

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Let’s acknowledge right up front that the people we’re welcoming to our bosom today are not our friends. George Conway III is a corporate lawyer and a proud member of the Federalist Society. Reed Galen is a veteran political consultant who helped inflict George W. Bush on the Oval Office. John Weaver is another political consultant who tried to give us John McCain and John Kasich as presidents. Steve Schmidt is the political consultant who thought the best choice for vice president in 2008 was Sarah Palin. Rick Wilson, another political consultant, gave us a truly brutal campaign ad that tried to tie war hero Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. In normal times, we would be pillorying them for the damage they helped inflict on our country. These are not normal times. These five are board members of The Lincoln Project, the “hive mind” of what the mainstream media has giddily dubbed the “Never Trumpers,” a loose coterie of Republicans who have taken what they say is a principled stance against the modern GOP, because it “has abdicated” the responsibility of serving the people and respecting the Constitution, “and instead pledged their loyalty to one person.” I agree completely, but damn, y’all. Sarah Palin? George W. Bush? Sarah Palin? Let’s let them explain a bit: Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character. … Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet. … [Between now and November], our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. Yes, indeed. I agree absolutely. And in normal times, I would continue with a “But” or a “However,” and qualify this new-found resistance to Republican criminality and excess with a reminder of how they were involved and complicit with the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush administration and other nests of GOP wrongdoing. I’m not going to do that for today. In fact, I’m not going to do it between now and November. Because these are not normal times. The five members of the Lincoln Project wrote an op-ed published on April 15 that reads in part: This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum. Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality. So they’ve taken a step unprecedented in modern American history. They, prominent Republican movers and shakers all, have turned their backs on their party and endorsed Joe Biden […]

Administration Tells Congress “Do Not Debate or Discuss Iran, Trust Us”

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Mike Lee is not nearly as smart as he thinks. But for today, he’s doing some smart and brave stuff. Senator Lee, the senior senator from Utah and (h/t Charlie Pierce) self-described “konstitooshunal skolar,” acted like someone who had read the document, and he saved his best in response to learning something we Democrats have long known: The Administration doesn’t recognize Congress’s role or rights in any real government decisions, and thus Congress will not be needed with respect to Iran. To fully understand what is happening here, you need to know that the meeting was led by Mike Pompeo, Esper, and the National Security Advisor. Trump’s people. Therefore, please know, it was the Trump administration itself, in person, in front of a congressional committee members themselves, for only 75 minutes. The administration was there to provide a briefing and answer questions. .@SenMikeLee: "It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government…to come in and tell us that we can't debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It's un-American. It's unconstitutional and it's wrong." pic.twitter.com/fVSE6b3EM0 — CSPAN (@cspan) January 8, 2020 The gang of 8 or gang of whomevers, met today with the administration. The congressional/senate side believed the meeting was unprofessional, “sophomoric,” “worst in 19 years,” or about what we’d expect after 3 years of attrition of the “good people” in the administration and rise of the vile and unprincipled. Congress had questions such as: “Why kill Suleimani now, what was the new threat you discussed? The attack saved lives, which ones?” The answers were nothing more than the “most general of generalizations.” Moreover, the elected officials from congress wanted to know if war with Iran was on the table, and they wanted to tell the Trumpers that war would require a congressional vote. After receiving nothing but “rope a dope” and “generalizations,” and “trust-us” for 75 minutes, the administration told Congress to not debate the Iran matter, nor take it up, or talk it up, because it would embolden the Iranians. Now having set forth the framework, here is Lee’s statement that should turn heads: “What I found so distressing is one of the messages was do not discuss, do not debate appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran.” One doesn’t have to be a konstitooshunal skolar to know that congress possesses the sole authority to declare war, and the sole authority to pay for anything anywhere, war or otherwise. This administration might want to rethink its “fuck-you, as two answers right off” approach in answering questions. Look at that quote, or go up and watch the video and look at Lee’s anger – real anger, he’s flustered. There is more going on here. Lee is scared. He just heard from an administration that didn’t believe he deserved their time. The administration certainly believes it has the ability, authority and rationale to tell Congress to “leave it to them,” while essentially ordering Congress to keep their mouths shut. Lee might well have had his first brief brush of fear as to where Trump could go, if unchecked. Lee’s anger is real. But anger is often used to cover fear. I have mastered its use as such. When I look at that man in the video, I see someone angry, but I see […]
Congressional Quarterly / Flickr Lindsay Graham...

Lindsey Graham Lashes Out Against Trump for Telling His “Biggest Lie” and Betraying the...

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Lindsey Graham displayed shockingly strong independence this morning when he tore into Trump about an evolving decision to abandon our Middle East allies, the Kurds, in their fight against ISIS and Turkish forces. Trump has ordered our troops in Northern Syria to stand down and allow Turkish troops to pour into the area, with the Kurds fearing they are about to become victims of the next regional genocide. You will recall that Trump ordered a withdrawal from Syria over a year ago, prompting Defense Sec. Jim Mattis’s resignation, stating that Trump will need to lose to ISIS with someone else as secretary of defense. Trump quickly reversed himself at the time, but not soon enough to keep Mattis. This time, however, the minders are gone, the betrayal seems imminent, and the implications horrific. According to former U.S. Special Envoy to the Islamic State Brett McGurk: “This appears to be another decision without any consultation, deliberation or process,” one that “will significantly increase the risk for our personnel who depend on the SDF for sustainment.” An International Crisis Group analyst said, ”For the U.S.’s regional allies, the lesson should be clear: This is a president and an administration that, in the breach, is not interested in fighting their battles for them.” If you recall the last time that Trump attempted to abandon the Kurds, we heard the same accusations, no one was consulted, no one knew it was coming, there was no plan for implementation. As always when we hear that Trump jumped to a secretive, unpopular decision – and Trump knew this would be controversial and unpopular – we look to alternative Trump motives, things beyond actual U.S. foreign policy. Turkish and/or Russian explanations will be examined in later columns, but for today’s purposes, know only that an appropriately massive pushback is coming Trump’s way. But Trump might not have anticipated the blowback coming from his most needed domestic allies. Lindsey Graham is heated enough to call out Trump’s rational, “ISIS is not defeated. This is the biggest lie being told by this administration.” Yes, Graham just referenced the administration as telling its “biggest lie,” and we’ll revisit the importance below. Graham wasn’t done: Lindsey Graham calls in to Fox & Friends & calls Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds "impulsive." "I hope I'm making myself clear how shortsighted & irresponsible this decision is in my view," he says. "This to me is just unnerving to its core." pic.twitter.com/URH0DVA1bo — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 7, 2019 And on his own: * Ensures ISIS comeback.* Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.* Destroys Turkey’s relationship with U.S. Congress.* Will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds. — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019 Graham’s response might be the only glimmer of hope if you are a Kurd right now. As we noted, Trump has reversed himself on this decision once before, and Trump simply cannot go forward as president without Graham solidly behind him in every way. There can be no dividing line between “foreign policy” and “impeachment” over which the two determine the scope of their alliance. Even if it were politically possible (dubious), it certainly isn’t possible with Trump, one is either “loyal,” or not. Graham’s characterization of the ISIS assurance as one of the “biggest lies” leaves only […]

Breaking: Trump Used Pence to Threaten Ukraine, Trump’s Defenses Coming Clear

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Trump’s defenses are all too predictable, and now threatened with the most massive scandal to ever rock the presidency, Trump has resorted to the “usual,” with ruthlessness. Defense one: Always have a fall guy, one big enough to make news, and shield Trump. Amazingly, this time, he may be the first president to ever bring a Vice President along with him in impeachment: Breaking news from the Washington Post, Trump “used” Vice President Mike Pence to convey the threat to Ukraine, i.e., both directly and indirectly: In one instance, Trump ordered Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration — despite the fact that other White House officials had lobbied hard for the event to be included on his calendar. This may have had the purpose of reinforcing to Zelensky that he had to work to earn allyship from Washington. In another instance, Pence was tasked with delivering the message to Zelensky that hundreds of millions in military aid to the country was being suspended — and that he needed to do more to fight “corruption.” Defense, the second: Attack whomever needed, use whomever needed. Not one single “good person” has ever said anything cross about Trump. Every single person who has ever uttered anything remotely critical of Trump is a “loser” – if they’re lucky, because others are called much worse. He has used this “defense strategy” from the beginning, but it is getting “tired” according to Washington insiders, from Rawstory, quoting Dana Bash on CNN: “He puts it right out there, and today, unfortunately for Republicans on the Hill and those in his staff, he had two events where he could let it all out and, boy, did he let it all out. Those were the personal attacks which are, even for him, pretty egregious …” “.. .That is just one example of how exhausting it is frankly to fact-check him, and how exhausted some of his fellow Republicans are getting on Capitol Hill, and probably why we haven’t heard from a lot of them,” added Bash. Defense three: Know your allies, and use them. Every single person who has ever flattered Trump is a “good person,” a “smart guy,” “beautiful,” “perfect,” you know the drill. This extends to known torturing murderers: Vladimir Putin, “Count Doo Ku” Kim, and Bonesaw-MBS, all great guys, because they love Trump, or at least “say” they do. The only “character trait” Trump admires is whether that person’s character submits to Trump. Witness the utter perfection of Mike Pompeo – in Trump’s eyes, the “First in Class at West Point,” who directly lied to the press earlier in the week. But, Pompeo is impeccable in his defense of Trump – “good guy.” Defense Four: Normalize lawbreaking, accuse others of doing what he himself did.  Trump committed the quintessential political crime, extorting a foreign country to bring down a political rival. Trump refers to it as the “perfect call.” Meanwhile, Trump accuses the person leading the investigation of treason, a crime punishable by death, for daring to paraphrase Trump’s message. Schiff is getting death threats. Congressman Adam Schiff should resign for the Crime of, after reading a transcript of my conversation with the President of Ukraine (it was perfect), fraudulently fabricating a statement of the President of the United States and reading it to Congress, as though mine! […]

Brace Yourself: New Book Exposes Trump’s Ruthless, Insane, Lawlessness on Border

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On those occasions when you imagined what meetings within Trump’s White House must entail, and all the disjointed hell, the panic, the cringe-worthy insanity, all of it, whatever awfulness you conjured up? You fell short. Or, at least I did. Honestly, there is nothing that could have prepared me to read the latest New York Times article, excerpting portions of a new book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” by  Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. Zoomers, we engage in just the right amount of hyperbole around here, and sometimes we laugh because the alternative is to cry or scream in rage. But right now I want to say something with clinical clarity, and understate it. Our president, is mentally ill. Not only is he mentally ill, he is exhibiting symptoms that ought to be apparent to the steward in the room serving coffee. Our president is so mentally ill, that the head of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, having just accompanied Trump while Trump spoke to a room full of agents, having just heard Trump tell the agents to turn away every asylum seeker at the border, all of them, McAleenan – a patriot – made clear that the agents could not do what the president just ordered. After the president left the room, Mr. McAleenan told the agents to ignore the president. You absolutely do not have the authority to stop processing migrants altogether, he warned. That is chilling, because it was the exact right thing to do, and it was the right thing to do precisely because the nation doesn’t have a sane leader right now. Let us be perfectly clear on this, no one knows who is actually in charge. We only know that the man who thinks he is in charge is not mentally competent to execute the duties of the office. As is a recurring theme, the people within the White House not only ignore the law, but openly hate the idea of being under laws: Mr. Miller, meanwhile, saw an opportunity. It was his view that the president needed to completely overhaul the Homeland Security Department and get rid of senior officials who he believed were thwarting efforts to block immigrants. Although many were the president’s handpicked aides, Mr. Miller told him they had become part of the problem by constantly citing legal hurdles. “Constantly citing legal hurdles” translates as “people who repeatedly note that something cannot be done because it is illegal.” Miller and Trump don’t seek to change the law, they wonder why they can’t do what they want without regard to the “law.” When you merge reckless hatred for the idea of “laws” with abject insanity, you get meetings in which our “leader” advocates the unthinkable. Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. No more of my smug […]

The Curious Case of Mr. Barr, and What He Was Doing With Ukraine

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Perhaps the biggest surprise springing from this morning’s memo was Trump’s ongoing references to “upcoming” phone calls from Attorney General Barr to the Ukrainian president This comes out of left field, leaving many to wonder what the hell was really going on. Moreover, the fact that the “transcript” is now called a “memo-summary” leaves some believing that critical context, the part explaining why Barr might be involved, had been left out. Regardless, the DOJ was very quick to deny that Attorney General Barr did anything with respect to Ukraine, including make any calls. Moreover, the DOJ stated that Barr didn’t even know that his name had come up in Trump’s phone call. Odd. From Politico: In a statement Wednesday, the Justice Department said Barr was unaware of Trump invoking the attorney general in the matter until “several weeks after the call took place,” when it learned of the whistleblower complaint. DOJ said the intelligence community’s internal watchdog referred the matter to the department as a potential campaign finance violation. “The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son. The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine – on this or any other matter,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. “The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine – on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.” As Fletch would quip: “So what you’re trying to say is that Barr wasn’t involved?” Left unexplained is how Barr can be referenced so many times and yet have no idea why, or what Trump might have wanted at the time. The most sensible explanation that I have run across relates to the fact that Trump referenced Mueller, the “Crowdstrike” thing, Hillary, the last election, and Barr’s promise to “investigate the investigators.” “They say a lot of it started with Ukraine,” Trump said, alluding to a theory often pushed by Giuliani. He added: “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.” Barr has appointed a DOJ prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation, which Trump and his supporters have repeatedly claim stemmed from political bias. DOJ said Wednesday that team is looking into the role Ukraine played in any counterintelligence activities against Trump’s 2016 campaign, and that Barr had not reached out to Ukraine as part of that investigation but that “certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information” to the head of that probe. It appears to me that not only did Trump make aid contingent upon investigating Biden – whether he expressly made the “promise” or not, it was inferred – but, perhaps also made the aid contingent upon help in “investigating the investigators,” which Trump referenced as “many believing it started in the Ukraine.” Add it all up and Barr is uncomfortable today, because he has absolutely no business making any decision now having anything to do with the materials in this investigation, specifically, the Whistleblower complaint. This is a no-brainer in every other world. Obviously, “this” world, Trump-World, bears little relation to the real one, and we will see whether Barr feels any compulsion to recuse himself. We […]
Fox Business / YouTube Nancy Pelosi s days in Congress...

Pelosi Warns Trump “Stop!” as Trump Sends Troops, Arms to Saudi

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While the Ukrainian matter dominated the news cycle over the last 48 hours, Trump edged the country closer to conflict in the Middle East, sending troops and arms to Saudi Arabia. From the Financial Times: The Pentagon is preparing to send weapons and hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia to help the nation boost its military defences following the alleged Iranian attack last weekend that knocked out half of the kingdom’s crude oil production. General Joe Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs, and Mark Esper, defence secretary, said Donald Trump ordered the deployments after requests from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Maybe I am getting a little paranoid, but I find it highly odd that both the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would note that Trump granted an order “requested by” Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Trump congratulated himself for granting Saudi Arabia’s request so perfectly: “The thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Mr Trump said, before adding: “Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.” Speaking alongside Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, the US president rejected criticisms that he was being weak: “Going into Iran would be a very easy decision . . . most people thought I would go in within two seconds . . . I’m showing great restraint.” Yes, “great restraint.” You did exactly as Saudi Arabia asked, and by that you showed “great restraint”? Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi was not interested in answering requests from the Saudis, and let Trump know that he was in violation of yet another American law. “President Trump’s plan to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and UAE, and to deploy additional U.S. forces to the region is the latest outrageous attempt by the Trump Administration to circumvent the bipartisan, bicameral will of Congress.  These unacceptable actions are cause for alarm. … “Once again, President Trump is turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continued violence against innocent Yemenis, as well as its horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its gross abuses of human rights, which represent a moral and humanitarian crisis.  The United States cannot enable more brutality and bloodshed.” I do not mean to sound defeatist, because I certainly am not admitting defeat. Nor am I stating that Pelosi is wrong in her strongly-worded statement. It all just seems “quaint” to be discussing “laws” and “restraint” when we suspect that Trump is following Saudi Arabia’s “requests” to the letter. Because that is what Trump does. He puts U.S. foreign policy up for sale to the highest bidder and few can beat Saudi purchasing power. This coming week will be the most consequential yet in Trump’s presidency. We are on the edge of war, and the edge of fascism. We need our leaders to show leadership, and move resolutely. I do not know the “best” plan, I only know that they best have a plan. Because if this coming week shrinks back into accepting Trump’s actions from last week, the Ukrainian matter and ignoring the law to edge the U.S. closer to war, if it sounds like this last week was “just another scandal,” then it will be “just another scandal,” and we will have learned nothing with respect to controlling or checking Trump’s abuse of power. “Following […]

Director of National Intelligence Thinks Trump is Higher Authority than the Law

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Yesterday, we covered the snowballing and serious scandal to suppress a whistleblower complaint originating within the intelligence community. Whistleblower complaints go directly to the inspector general of the agency in question, in this case, the office of the Director of National Intelligence. If the inspector general’s office finds the complaint to be credible, it is referred directly to congress. In this case, the inspector general determined that the complaint was both “credible” and “urgent.” The law could not possibly be clearer. The Director of National Intelligence must pass the complaint to congress. The law may be silent upon what else might be done with it, but the law mandates one thing only. It must be passed to congress. Today on Face the Nation, Rep. Adam Schiff said that Acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire told Rep. Schiff that he had been told by a “higher authority” to not turn the complaint over. This is almost hard to believe, except with this administration. The fact that someone sitting in such a position, the acting Director of National Intelligence, believes there exists a “higher authority” than the clear law, is an issue with national security ramifications. The entire reason we have “whistleblower” statutes is precisely because higher authorities may damn well want the complaint suppressed! The law specifically contemplates situations where even a president orders someone within the executive branch to do something that helps the president, but hurts the nation. Situations like this, where we protected the person from the president, allowed us to believe we were a “nation of laws, not men.” Have absolutely no doubt that this man, Joseph Maguire, has attorneys working for his office that would tell him; “The law says you must pass this along. If you pass it along, and it angers the president, the president may fire you, rightly or wrongly. If you do not pass it along, and it comes out that you wrongly suppressed it, you could be imprisoned. Those are your choices.” Something caused this director, Joseph Maguire to choose option “A.” At this point in time in our nation, someone at this level of government, believes it is best for him to take his chances on breaking the law, rather than simply passing on a complaint to Congress. He is doing this, even though it certainly is not his problem (presumably) if someone “higher-up” broke the law. Something has made it “his problem” if he turns over documents implicating some “higher authority.” We know that Trump demands total loyalty from anyone who works “for him.” (The people in government do not work for Trump, but for the American people, but you know what Trump believes. They all work “for him.”) Unless you are fairly steeped in government and law, it is truly difficult to relate the seriousness of this suppression, and that’s before we even know what’s in the complaint! For all we know, the complaint contains proof that “President” Trump sold U.S. secrets for cold cash, costing American lives. It probably isn’t that blatant, but the point is, we don’t even know what might be within the “urgent” complaint. Here is someone “fairly steeped” in government and law, professor Lawrence Tribe, perhaps the most respect constitutional law scholar, ever. A “higher authority” than the Supreme Law of the Land?! The Acting DNI must think he has divine permission to defy […]

Official U.S. Middle East Coordinater 30 Yr-Old Former Coffee Guy

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And you thought tapping Jared Kushner as chief of Middle-East policy indicated a lack of professionalism and care about international relations. You didn’t use enough imagination, nor did I. Meet Avi Berkowitz, former assistant to Jared Kushner, described as the guy who handled Jared’s messages, now new coordinator for U.S. Middle-East policy. “Mr.” Berkowitz is, well, “new to the scene,” to put it with extreme understatement. Trump's new Middle East coordinator is Jared's assistant Avi Berkowitz. He's 28. He graduated from law school in 2016. — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 5, 2019 To be fair, Politico states that Berkowitz is thirty, not twenty-eight, and, of course, we all mature a great deal and learn a tremendous amount of Israeli-Palestinian history and policy in those two years, so it is far less a concern if he is thirty years old versus just twenty-eight. In fairness, we should note that Berkowitz has the academic prowess and background one would expect in someone charged with handling such a critical position. He graduated from Harvard law, as noted above, just three years ago. Here is where I will note that I graduated from law school in 1997, and though I do precious little law nowadays, but when I do I am far more experienced in handling various matters and do so much more effectively. I can also state without equivocation that my experience in life, including academics, writing, research, and this column, in no way prepared me to enact U.S. policy in the Middle East. I would not appoint myself to this position, and I would question the sanity of anyone who would appoint me. I do, however, believe I am qualified to be president of the United States, if the only alternative is the current one. I would at least appoint a shitload of experienced, smart, and patriotic people. I would then listen to as much of their advice as I could get. I would not appoint this guy. But, there are more details to the story, right Politico? “Avi Berkowitz cannot fulfill Jason Greenblatt’s role in this situation,” said Aaron David Miller, who worked on Bill Clinton’s attempts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict as a top member of the president’s negotiating team. “My takeaway from this is that I’m not sure frankly that anyone on this team, including Avi Berkowitz, believes that this initiative has any chance of actually creating a framework that would allow Israelis and Palestinains to negotiate, let alone reach any type of agreement. Ironic, because I didn’t lead Bill Clinton’s team in this particular area, yet I came to the same conclusion. Some of the naysayers come from within Trump’s own camp. “People will walk past his desk and he constantly has the Drudge Report and Twitter up. No one thinks of him as a policy person,” said an administration official, who noted another of Berkowitz’s duties: handling Kushner’s press relations in the aftermath of former Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel’s departure from the White House early last year. “He is in the service of Jared, not Trump,” this person said. “Some people are scratching their heads to watch this guy go from keeping Jared’s schedule and secrets to brokering peace in the Middle East. It’s a big leap.” God help us all. This guy went from essentially being […]