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Do Middle Fingers in New Zealand Portend New Global Trend for Trump Regime?


After giving the world a series of symbolic insulting gestures since taking office in January, the administration of President Donald Trump is now facing literal middle fingers as people around the world appear increasingly willing to show the U.S. leadership how they really feel about their agenda.

“I want Trump followed everywhere he goes with an array of cheeky placards and taunts; a chorus of kazoos… [and] a crowd of raised middle fingers.”
—Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on Tuesday, his motorcade was greeted by throngs of angered local residents protesting with their middle fingers up—many voicing their opposition to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.

“I’ve never seen so many people flip the bird at an American motorcade as I saw today,” said a New York Times reporter who was traveling in the press pool.

At a rally nearby, people threw objects, including shoes and water-filled condoms, at a paper maché puppet of Trump.

As Greenpeace activists dropped an enormous banner decrying Trump’s withdraw from Paris, one New Zealander said the middle finger was actually a gesture too weak to express his anger. “As a Kiwi I can say it’s my ‘go to’ form of displaying my discontent however we should come up with something more offensive for these dudes.”

Euronews reports:

Last year it was trendy. And last month, Democratic Party members in California were encouraged to give Trump the middle finger. But now, bird-flipping the president is going global.

Whether over his dismissal of human rights concerns, the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement last week, or the latest insults and lies hurled at the mayor of London in the wake of a violent attack in the city—the global populace seems increasingly ready to offer Trump their middle fingers.

As argued by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, writing for the Guardian on Tuesday, the British government should cancel a scheduled state visit by the U.S. president this summer. But if that doesn’t happen, she said, people in the U.K. should seize the opportunity of his arrival to give Trump the kind of unwelcome salute that Tillerson received in New Zealand.

“If the Trump state visit goes ahead, I recommend that we view it as an opportunity to show Trump what we are made of, as my colleague Gaby Hinsliff suggested. We are not cowed, we are not reeling, and we are supremely unimpressed by anyone who seeks to divide us at times of tragedy.”

She continued, “What better way to demonstrate this than through a festival of piss-taking, a jubilee of mockery that follows the president wherever he goes? One of the things that shone through on the women’s march was the hilarity of the signs and slogans. Consider that a benchmark to be beaten – I want Trump followed everywhere he goes with an array of cheeky placards and taunts; a chorus of kazoos… [and] a crowd of raised middle fingers.”

How Trump co-opted his kid’s cancer charity to line his own pockets

It seemed like Eric Trump actually started out with the best of intentions when founding his Eric Trump Foundation to support research into children’s cancer by raising lots of money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the leading pediatric cancer center. He threw huge annual golf events (at the family’s golf course, naturally), with all of the money raised going to the hospital because daddy didn’t charge anything to use the venue and all the other costs were comped.

While it might have started out with the best of intentions on Eric’s part, daddy then got ahold of him and reminded him that just looking good isn’t enough if you don’t profit directly. That’s the picture that emerges from a Forbes investigation by Dan Alexander.

In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.

In the first several years of Eric Trump’s foundation, the golf tournament seemed to be functioning relatively normally, with expenses averaging about $50,000—higher than you would think would be necessary if the golf course was being offered for nothing, but not out of bounds. Then in 2011, the foundation’s tax filings show the costs ballooned from $46,000 to $142,000. Why?

“In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]—the bills would just disappear,” says Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester during two stints from 2006 to 2015 and witnessed how Donald Trump reacted to the tournament’s economics. “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not—everybody gets billed.'”

Then there’s that $100,000 in outside donations that the Donald J. Trump Foundation collected to go to the Eric Trump Foundation, to cover the increased cost of using the Trump golf course—in other words, daddy’s foundation giving other people’s money to Eric so that Eric could give it to Trump’s private business. As Alexander describes it, “this maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation than a charity’s best-practices textbook.”

By 2015, the costs for the golf tournament ballooned to $322,000, with no clear explanation for why. Eric Trump insists that the golf course, the drinks, and the entertainment were all comped. It’s hard to imagine that the single event cost that much in terms of staff time, and those expenses—overhead and salaries—are included in other IRS filings.

Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more). Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester. “If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn’t imagine what we could do,” says Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015. “It certainly wasn’t done that way.”

Who knows where the money went? But it seems a likely bet that it’s somewhere in the private coffers of the Trump Organization—particularly since that huge explosion in costs for the annual tournament coincided with an influx of new board members to Eric’s foundation. In 2010, four of the original board members who were personal friends of Eric departed. The original seven-member board became a 14-member board made up mostly of Trump Organization employees including Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and executive vice president Dan Scavino Jr.

“They were wearing two hats,” says Langan, the former director of golf, who says he sat in on meetings where he couldn’t tell where the business ended and the charity began. “You’re dealing with people talking about the event and the charity who also at the same time are thinking about it as a corporation and as a business. It’s a for-profit club. You know, they’re trying to make money.”

The good news is, Eric Trump has actually raised a lot of money for St. Jude—$2.9 million just last year—and “the foundation’s money has funded research into a rare form of cancer.” The bad news is it could have raised even more if it wasn’t another vehicle for this family of grifters to line their own pockets, maybe illegally. Eric Trump isn’t doing the fundraising personally anymore and the foundation is now calling itself Curetivity.

And holding its golf events at the Trump National Golf Course.

Sen. Warner: Russian Hacking of U.S. Election Systems “Much Broader” than in Intercept Report


From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee told USA TODAY on Tuesday that Russian attacks on election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in an explosive intelligence report leaked to the website The Intercept.

Special Counsel Mueller puts an expert in the Mafia and fraud at the heart of his investigation


The biggest reason James Comey’s is likely to disappoint when he appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee is not because he doesn’t have a good story to tell, but because he’s concerned about getting in the way of the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It’s almost certain that Mueller and Comey have met to discuss the limits of what the former FBI director can say on Thursday. Comey’s silences may help to define the edges of Mueller’s investigation, but there is other information coming out that’s giving an even better glimpse into the special counsel’s thinking.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The diversity of Mueller’s hires reinforces early signs that the investigation is going to be broader than some expected. So far, indications are that Mueller has his eyes on Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s pro-Kremlin activities, former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s work as an unregistered foreign agent, as well as poking around Trump’s actions when it comes to Comey’s dismissal. There have also been indications that Mueller will look into business interests of Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, a prospect that may be the most daunting to the White House.

Mueller’s biggest hire to date was [Andrew] Weissmann, who is taking a leave from his current post leading the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section. The two men have a long history together at the FBI, where Weissmann served as both the bureau’s general counsel from 2011 to 2013 and as Mueller’s special counsel in 2005.

Weissmann was instrumental in going after Enron CEO Ken Lay and also in breaking up New York crime families. His position at the heart of Mueller’s team suggests what kind of case this is going to be.

Former Obama DOJ spokeswoman Emily Pierce called Weissmann “an inspired choice” to help Mueller lead the Russia probe.

“As a fraud and foreign bribery expert, he knows how to follow the money. Who knows what they will find, but if there is something to be found, he will find it,” she said.

Like most special counsels, Mueller can be expected to conduct his investigation in relative silence. There will be no public hearings and likely few, if any, updates on his progress. Instead, at some point weeks or months down the line, either the indictments will start to flow … or they won’t. If Mueller reaches a conclusion that charges aren’t warranted, the evidence developed in the investigation may never be brought forward.

But in the meantime, looking at how Mueller staffs his remaining positions could be the best clue to where his attention has turned. Will he bring in experts on money laundering? Real estate fraud? Investigators with a military background?

How those seats get filled could leave some people at the White House breathing a sigh of relief, and others shaking in their Guccis. 

Buy your popcorn now: Trump plans to personally livetweet his responses to Comey’s Senate testimony


On Thursday, now-fired FBI director James Comey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify about the circumstances of his firing. Unless the special counsel has asked him to remain silent, he is widely expected to confirm that Donald Trump pressured him to curtail the FBI investigation into the connections between Russian operatives and his own team before that firing.

Because Trump is now completely uncontrollable by his staff, he has now scrapped plans for a “war room” to spout the requisite propaganda rebutting the FBI director’s own charges against him and instead will be responding himself, live, on Twitter.

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa told MSNBC on Tuesday that the president would directly respond to Comey on Twitter as the testimony is underway.

“I was just talking to some White House officials this morning and their view is that the president himself wants to be the messenger, his own warrior, his own lawyer, his own spokesman,” Costa explained. “Some outside people, some surrogates will be available.”

“But the president is expected to be tweeting on Thursday in response to Comey, not to stay quiet during the testimony,” he added. “Because he himself wants to be the one driving the process.”

The odds that the sitting president will tweet something indictable are, and this is probably the first time in history this sentence has ever been used, nontrivial.

Daily Kos will be liveblogging both Comey’s testimony and the responses of the frothing madman in charge of America’s military on Thursday morning beginning at 10am Eastern. This presumes Trump has not been forcibly placed in a mental institution in the next 48 hours—again, after the last several days, a possibility that we can no longer preclude. If you plan to buy popcorn you’d better damn well hurry; national popcorn rationing rules are expected to apply.

Trump’s tweets expertly tilt the scales of justice against his Muslim ban


Lawyers on the left and right agree: The idiot in chief has really outdone himself with his latest Twitter rant concerning his flailing Muslim ban effort. Not only did he explicitly contradict his own communications team’s assertion that the order isn’t a “ban,” he castigated his Justice Department for rewriting the order, which he subsequently gave his imprimatur by signing it into law.

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Thanks, Donald, you’re really doing wonders for your case that’s pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In other tweets, he touted his administration’s “EXTREME VETTING” and threatened to seek a “much tougher version” of the order.

Even Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, once under consideration for a Justice Department post, advised Trump to shut the heck up, writes Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post:

“These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad,” he wrote, using abbreviations for Office of Solicitor General and the Supreme Court. […]

Omar C. Jadwat, the ACLU lawyer who argued the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, wrote that Trump’s tweets amounted to “a promise: let me do this and I’ll take it as license to do even worse.” In an interview, Jadwat said the president’s tweets “seem to undermine the picture the government’s been trying to paint.”

Of course, the whole point of rewriting the order was to make it seem more narrowly tailored and focused on safety rather than being broadly based on religious bias.

Nonetheless, Trump’s very pointed and incessant campaign statements targeting Muslims have, thus far, legally hobbled his orders in five major lower and appeals court decisions halting the ban.

His Monday morning rant removes any distance that had been created through the passage of time from his campaign statements. Monday’s tweets reaffirmed his preference for the “original Travel Ban,” which provided privileged treatment for Christians over Muslims, among other things.

He also offhandedly dismissed his own lawyers’ urgent request to the Supreme Court that the ban be reinstated by asserting that his administration was already performing “extreme vetting” in any case.

Neal Katyal, a former Obama Justice Department official and current lead attorney for Hawaii’s challenge to the ban, welcomed Trump’s input.

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From the briefing podium Monday, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed everyone getting caught up in the “semantics” of whether it’s a “ban.”

“Look, I don’t think the president cares what you call it, whether you call it a ban, whether you call it a restriction. He cares that we call it national security and that we take steps to protect the people of this country.”

Trump doesn’t care about much other than his own immediate gratification, but the courts might have something to say about all those tedious “semantics.”

NSA Director Mike Rogers poised to ‘drop a bomb’ on Trump admin during Wednesday testimony


That’s the headline from this article posted @ the Raw story by David Ferguson (with Ari Melber’s video segment @ the link — really worth a look see – imo)| June 4th, 2017

Looks like Comey is getting his Request answered


Careful what you daily ‘scheme for’ Republicans — because your ineptness is showing, day after day, after another Do Nothing day.   What was it that Comey wanted again …?

Mueller Investigation Already Expanding

by Ed Brayton, patheos.com — June 4, 2017

Reuters reports that newly named Special Counsel Robert Mueller is already expanding the scope of his investigation into the Trump campaign and possible Russian collusion during the election to include Michael Flynn’s undisclosed financial relationship with the government of Turkey.


Special Counsel’s Investigation Expands, May Look Into Jeff Sessions

Mueller Investigating Firing of FBI Director Comey, Could Lead to Obstruction of Justice Charges

by David Badash, ncrm.com — June 02, 2017

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has expanded to include Paul Manafort, but it may grow further, encompassing the actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Associated Press first reported Mueller “has assumed oversight of an ongoing investigation involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”



Report: Mueller Investigation Expands to Grand-Jury Probe of Flynn’s Turkey Ties

by The Daily Beast — June 02, 2017

The federal investigation of possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials now includes a grand-jury investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. According to Reuters, three sources said the investigation—led by newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller—will expand to look into Flynn’s paid work as a lobbyist for Turkish business magnate Ekim Alptekin in 2016, in addition to the highly scrutinized contacts between Flynn and Russian officials before Election Day. […]

Comey’s request to the DOJ, that scared the stupid out of into to Trump — enough to promptly fire him — was this:


Comey Asked for More Prosecutor Resources for Russia Probe

by Tom Winter and Ken Dilanian, nbcnews.com — May 11, 2017

What Comey said he asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for, the officials said, was more attention, focus and labor hours from Justice Department prosecutors.

Looks like James Comey’s request, is plowing ahead at full steam, and then some.

Unless Trump has another “stupid attack” — another tantrum that screams Cover-up — and he tries to Fire Robert Mueller, too?

Unfortunately for Trump, the U.S. system of checks and balances, doesn’t act like an episode of The Apprentice — where his decision, however lame it may have be, is the Final Answer.

Thankfully for us too, who must endure his stupidity day after day, after another Jack-assery day.

Comey bad, Putin good, according to North Carolina Republicans


Being a good Republican in this day and age means that you like who Donald Trump likes and his enemies are your enemies. U.S. intelligence is bad, Vladimir Putin is good. McClatchy found that attitude fully on display at the weekend’s North Carolina Republican Convention:

“There’s nothing about Jim Comey that I trust,” said state Sen. Ron Rabin. “There’s nothing consistent about what he says.”

Asked whether Comey has any credibility, he offered a view shared by many Republican activists gathered at this airy waterfront convention center: “None. Zero.”

Comey may have handed Trump the election, but he wasn’t a loyal foot soldier, so screw that guy. Putin’s Russia, on the other hand …

“Putin suggested Russia’s being made a scapegoat for hacking,” [secretary of the Union County GOP] said. “That’s what I think too.” […]

Others didn’t go that far, but a number of people questioned whether Russia had really sought to interfere with the U.S. election.

“We need to do everything we can to become allies with Russia,” said T.J. Johnson, the vice president of the North Carolina Federation of Republican Men. “As for election meddling, I don’t think they really had anything to do with it.”

Loyalty to Dear Leader is all that matters here. 

The good news is, Trump’s base is shrinking. The bad news—the very, very bad news—is, these people still control the Republican Party, and the Republican Party still controls most of American government, and they’ve shown they’re willing to do just about anything to keep that control.

Acting US ambassador to China resigns in protest over Paris Accord decision

David Rank, the acting US ambassador to China has resigned in protest over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.

There isn’t a whole lot more to this story, which is on CNN and The Hill.

“Mr. Rank made a personal decision,” a senior State Department official told CNN, stopping short of citing the climate deal developments as the reason. “We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department.”
But sources familiar with the decision indicated that Rank’s departure is directly tied to Trump’s controversial move to pull out of the accord.

CNN also reports that Rank, who has been a career foreign service officer since 1990, isn’t the only acting ambassador to break with Trump in the last few days.
Rank becomes the second US diplomat serving at one of the largest embassies in the world to publicly split with Trump in recent days.
The acting US ambassador to the United Kingdom, Lewis Lukens, issued a statement on Twitter singling out London Mayor Sadiq Khan for praise after Trump attacked him on Twitter in the wake of the terror attacks which killed at least seven people.