And the response:
Yeah, he’s a Kennedy, dynasty, new blood, yadda yadda. It was a good speech in a tough spot.
Trump advisers aren’t the brightest bulbs in the ceiling.
Rod Rosenstein is in the eye of the storm.
Big Lies, Law Enforcement, and the Defense of Rod Rosenstein
In other words, to believe—as so many Trump defenders seem to—that there is something defective about the Mueller investigation, one has to believe not merely that the Obama administration conducted inappropriate surveillance against the Trump campaign based on laundered opposition research from the Democratic National Committee. You also have to believe that the Trump administration itself is still doing it. You have to believe—or have to choose to believe—that Rosenstein is a corrupt actor out to get the president.
That belief is a political choice. It is a political choice to accept a big lie that the president and his defenders have been peddling for months about federal law enforcement and intelligence.
From the “he’s guilty, so what? Nothing will happen” school of analysts, Paul Rozensweig/Atlantic:
There's No Way Mueller Will Indict Trump
Those hoping the special counsel will prosecute the president are engaging in fantasy.
Mueller will not indict Trump for obstruction of justice or for any other crime. Period. Full stop. End of story. Speculations to the contrary are just fantasy.
He won’t do it for the good and sufficient reason that the Department of Justice has a long-standing legal opinion that sitting presidents may not be indicted. First issued in 1973 during the Nixon era, the policy was reaffirmed in 2000, during the Clinton era. These rules bind all Department of Justice employees, and Mueller, in the end, is a Department of Justice employee. More to the point, if we know anything about Mueller, we think we know that he follows the rules—all of them. Even the ones that restrict him in ways he would prefer they not. And if he were to choose not to follow the rules, that, in turn, would be a reasonable justification for firing him. So … the special counsel will not indict the president…
So, every time you read about the threat to fire Mueller, remember this—the critical actor in most future scenarios is not Mueller, but Rosenstein. Knowing Rosenstein personally, I have high confidence that he will make what he thinks is the best decision for the country—the same may not be true of his replacement (or of the replacement attorney general, should Sessions be fired). That, of course, is why the highly dubious “secret memo” prepared by House Republicans reportedly targets Rosenstein—even though he is a Trump appointee who advocated firing Comey, Trump supporters fear he will follow the rule of law.
But what of the substance of the obstruction charge? Are pundits right that the case against Trump is becoming stronger—even if as a legal matter the president may not be charged?
Again, color me skeptical.
A lot of hand waving about Trump’s guilt or innocence, but an interesting read nonetheless.
THE REPUBLICAN PLAN FOR TRUMP IMPUNITY
The question of whether those Republicans are greasing the skids for Trump to fire Mueller, or trying to hobble his efforts, or merely helping to discredit his investigation, is a matter of intense speculation. But it seems much more likely that what they are really doing is creating latitude in each of these directions simultaneously so that, one way or another, Trump never faces accountability for any crimes he has committed.
It’s been lost to the ages of the past several months, but amid the tremendous backlash to Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last year, Republicans were relieved to learn that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had selected Mueller as a special counsel, and claimed to be committed to protecting the integrity of his investigation. If their praise for the Mueller appointment had been sincere, it would have prefigured a pattern of behavior wildly at odds from the one we’ve witnessed since last June. As Trump’s exposure has grown, Republicans have carved out a berth of impunity around him large enough to steer him through the biggest scandal in American political history.
Because power. It’s the Wisconsin way, the GOP way. And Paul Ryan especially, along with Mitch McConnell are part of it. Remember that Paul Ryan enables Devin Nunes. As the pundits say, period. Full stop.
WaPo with a useful guide:
Nine questions about President Trump’s businesses and possible conflicts of interest
9. Has President Trump released his tax returns?
9a. Would we be able to answer all of these questions more clearly if he did?
How Trump handles scandal: Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory
Does Trump believe this? Who knows? In this matter, sincerity is downright scary. It means we have a conspiracy-minded, 71-year-old Fox News viewer engaged in a strange feedback loop with conservative cable television — each encouraging the delusions of the other. In the process, Trump is further alienating an already-alienated segment of the population, making them more open to the suggestion that he is the victim — not of his own ineptness and corruption — but of sedition.
Why is this a danger to democracy? People who believe conspiracy theories cease to believe in the possibility of discourse and deliberation. When the whole game is rigged, debates can only be decided by power. At stake in our political moment is respect for the rule of law itself. A president who doesn’t like being subject to the rules is attempting to discredit the enforcers of the rules. It has been tried before, but seldom with a heavier hand.
NBC had a piece on head injury in youth football and why this concerned mom wouldn‘t let her son play.
Preet Bharara and Christine Todd Whitman/USA Today
Trump abuses show we must turn traditions into laws
Today, we’re launching an independent democracy task force at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law to holistically review these informal rules, which ones should remain guidelines, and perhaps which ones should be enshrined into law. We’ll examine norms surrounding financial conflicts, political interference with law enforcement, the use of government data and science, the appointment of public officials and any other issues that may arise in the coming months. We will be joined by experts and former officials from both parties. The goal is to issue a set of recommendations, policies that can be enacted that mend the gaps in our system and ensure we have a government that functions ably, competently and with the trust of the American people.
That’s how Americans have responded in other instances when norms have been breached. For example, George Washington’s decision to limit himself to two terms seemed like as solid a precedent as ever existed in American political life. Then Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for and won a third and then a fourth term, and we amended the Constitution to enshrine the two-term norm. After John F. Kennedy appointed his brother to lead the Justice Department, Congress passed an anti-nepotism law.
Richard Nixon’s many abuses, of course, led to a wide array of new laws, ranging from the special prosecutor law (now expired), to the Budget and Impoundment Control Actand the War Powers Act. Some of these were enacted after he left office. But others, such as the federal campaign finance law, were passed while he was still serving, with broad bipartisan support, over his veto.
The GOP’s new tactic to protect Trump from Mueller is a transparent ruse
“I’m under no illusion that there’s much probability at all that the Democratic memo ever sees the light of day,” Himes told me. “It is an extraordinarily detailed, point-by-point rebuttal of unbelievably shoddy allegations on the Republican side. If it were to get voted out of committee for public release, I would be very surprised if Trump didn’t block its release.”
This sets up a very interesting test for Republicans and Trump that will reveal the depths of bad faith around this Nunes effort — and around the broader alt-narrative Republicans have created to delegitimize the Russia investigation. As Himes indicates above, it is the Democratic position that the Nunes memo, to put it delicately, is a pile of steaming crap. If Republicans are going to insist that the memo is valid, then will they allow Democrats to release their rebuttal to it? If so, will Trump allow its release?
Asha Rangappa/Just Security:
Five Questions the Nunes Memo Better Answer
The House Intelligence Committee has voted to release the Nunes Memo, which allegedly outlines widespread abuses by the DOJ and FBI in obtaining a surveillance order against former national security advisor to the Trump Campaign, Carter Page. As a former FBI agent who has been through the process of obtaining these kinds of warrants under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), I know that such an allegation, if true, would require a vast number of people – across two branches of government – to be on board and willing to put their careers on the line for a conspiracy. To that end, in advance of the memo being released, I want to highlight five questions that the Nunes Memo must clearly address in order for its allegations of abuse to be substantiated and credible.
Instead of changing men’s behavior, why not just lock all women underground?
EVERYWHERE, United States of America — Good news! The #MeToo movement has penetrated the national consciousness, and changes are being made.
“We figured there were two possible outcomes,” said Ellen Harph, a feminist activist. “The first option was that in the private sphere, men would be willing to sit down and do the difficult work of understanding why for many women, sex — even when consensual — can be kind of an unpleasant experience, and then we would all work together to guarantee a much better time for everyone involved. And in the public sphere, workplaces would just have some very simple conversations about what not to do and then everyone would continue as usual, but feeling more confident they could complain if there were problems. This just seemed like an obvious win for everyone. The second option was that men would decide it would be easier if they just arranged never to have to talk to a woman again and ignored all feedback suggesting that they were not the love gods they had previously anticipated.”
“I don’t know why I expected them to take the first option,” Ellen continued. “I think I’d been reading too many books with male characters written by women.”
All Signs Point to Big Democratic Wins in 2018
History, demographics and the national mood are pointing to one conclusion about the 2018 congressional races: Democrats are well-positioned to bring one-party government in Washington under Donald Trump’s presidency to a screeching halt.
There’s a confluence of evidence indicating a so-called wave election may be building that would allow Democrats to wrest the House of Representatives from Republican control. A Democratic takeover of the Senate will be harder to achieve.
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