September 22, 2017

According to FaceBook The Russian Trolling is WorseThan Anyone Thinks


Earlier this month, Facebook admitted that Russian-linked ad buyers had spent $150,000 on US political ads during the 2016 election campaign. But there could have been more ads bought than that, according to people briefed in recent days on the company’s closed-door testimony to Congress. And those ads probably also had more impact than previously assumed, because they led users to steady streams of other content.
Facebook executives appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election earlier this month and today (Sept. 21). Two people briefed on the testimony told Quartz that Facebook first started looking at whether Russian ad buyers had tried to influence the 2016 US election this spring.
Facebook’s initial search was for buyers who took out potentially political ads and either self-identified as Russian, had Russian set as their language, had a Russian IP address, or paid for the ad in Russian rubles. That search turned up 2,000 ads worth $50,000.
Afterwards, Facebook “dove in,” said one of the people briefed, further investigating the buyers it had identified in the initial search. That uncovered an additional 3,000 political ads worth $100,000, which were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm,” as Facebook disclosed this month.
Some Congress members, however, believe that the company has yet to quantify the full scope of the problem. “It is very likely there are other ads placed by Russians” that may have influenced the election, said a Congressional staffer briefed on the testimony. “It’s not that difficult to conceal your IP address by getting a VPN, and to use PayPal” to convert your payment from rubles. The $150,000 that Facebook has made public “is the low-hanging fruit,” the staffer said.
Facebook’s testimony also explained how the ads’ impact could have persisted long after the ads themselves stopped appearing. The ads weren’t all overtly anti-Hillary Clinton or pro-Donald Trump, the staffer said. Some touted gun rights, others championed secure borders, another was about liking dogs—and they all led readers who clicked on them to certain Facebook pages. If a user “liked” a page, it would send a regular stream of content onto that user’s Facebook feed.
Judging by US intelligence agencies’ January report (pdf) on what Russia was trying to do, Russia’s propaganda effort was focused on “denigrating” Hillary Clinton and harming her “electability and potential presidency.” But it is impossible for anyone outside Facebook to gauge whether that’s what these pages were doing, because Facebook has since taken the pages down. The company is sharing copies of the ads and of these pages with the Congressional committee and other investigators, say the people Quartz spoke to.
Facebook’s agreeing to hand over the ads marked a “shift in tone” from the company’s last testimony, said the staffer. Previously it had refused to allow Congress to keep the materials on privacy grounds.
In response to questions about the meetings, a Facebook spokesman pointed Quartz to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement today. “We will continue our investigation into what happened on Facebook in this election,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We may find more, and if we do, we will continue to work with the government.”
Quarts Media

Trump Plainly Lies About Pre-Existing Conditions Having Guarantee Coverage


President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to assure Americans their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers people with pre-existing conditions.

Both the president and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) is co-sponsoring the health care bill known as the "Graham-Cassidy plan," took to Twitter to defend the legislation, expected to be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week. "I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great bill," Trump wrote Wednesday night. "Repeal & Replace."  

Graham quoted the president’s tweet later Wednesday, adding that any claims his bill doesn’t cover those with pre-existing conditions should be called "#FakeNews on steroids!" 

Unlike former President Barack Obama's landmark health care law, however, the new Republican bill would not guarantee coverage for people living with pre-existing conditions. Instead, the Graham-Cassidy plan would disproportionately harm sick people and Americans living with a variety of medical factors, who could see their insurance costs soar if the legislation were to pass.

The bill would allow states to opt to waive Obamacare rules requiring basic health benefits, essentially cutting protections for sick people in an effort to keep premiums from rising. The waivers allow states to charge more for health insurance offered to people with pre-existing conditions—including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's (or dementia), cerebral palsy and even pregnancy, among other medical factors that could have resulted in denied coverage prior to Obamacare—while continuing to receive federal block grant funding.

Experts say the bill could raise health care costs for those with pre-existing conditions to a point where insurance would be virtually unaffordable for millions of people. 

The Graham-Cassidy plan would allow states to more easily gut protections for sick people than the previous Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as the House’s failed effort, the American Health Care Act. The earlier Senate bill would have let states request a reduction from the federal government in what was considered “essential health benefits," while the House bill would have allowed states to charge more for people living with certain pre-existing conditions when searching for insurance.

The new bill—seen by House Majority Leader Paul Ryan as "our best, last chance" to repeal Obamacare—has received criticism from the even health care industry, which said it would damage existing benefits and do little to reduce insurance premiums that continue to tick upward for millions of Americans.

"The Graham-Cassidy plan would take health insurance coverage away from millions of people, eliminate critical public health funding, devastate the Medicaid program, increase out-of-pocket costs and weaken or eliminate protections for people living with pre-existing conditions," Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Democrats are warning that if a sudden vote on the legislation is held before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can issue a full report on it, there could be serious implications for years to come.

"Thus far, every version of Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the ACA has meant higher health costs, millions of hard-working Americans pushed off coverage, and key protections gutted with devastating consequences for those with pre-existing conditions," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter Monday to CBO Director Keith Hall. "A comprehensive CBO analysis is essential before Republicans force a hasty, dangerous vote on what is an extreme and destructive repeal bill."

So, while those with pre-existing conditions wouldn't have their insurance suddenly ripped away, the Graham-Cassidy plan could make it increasingly difficult for sick Americans to afford any insurance at all. Until the CBO is able to fully assess the latest Republican-led attempt to overhaul the nation's health care system, the bill's total impact will remain unknown.

Chefs Show Free Speech as Court Decision Nears

[This is a page right of]

Bedecked in fondant and flowers, modern wedding cakes are the centerpiece of the marriage feast – an edible form of art. But are they also an expression of free speech?
This defiant creation by Tressa Wiles of Bayou Bakery features a fist.
Kelly Jo Smart/NPR
That's the question the Supreme Court will consider this fall, when it hears the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.
"You'd think cake would be apolitical, and yet here we are," muses baker Catherine George of Catherine George Cakes.
She was among the Washington, D.C.-area pastry chefs who crafted 18 elaborate, tiered wedding cakes to show their support for marriage equality. Their creations were on display Tuesday night at the sixth annual Chefs for Equality in D.C., a fundraiser hosted by the Human Rights Campaign. Some 140 chefs, pastry chefs and mixologists participated in this year's event. The theme: "Who Can Resist?"
George said her cake – three tiered and adorned with white fondant molding and columns meant to echo the neoclassical architecture of the Supreme Court building – was definitely intended as a political statement.
Catherine George of Catherine George Cakes crafted this Supreme Court-inspired design.
Kelly Jo Smart/NPR
"I wanted to reference the Supreme Court case that's coming up," George says. "Which is funny, because the idea of cakes as art is part of that." She adds: "[I] strongly believe that gay people shouldn't be discriminated against when buying their wedding cake."
Public accommodation laws in Colorado and elsewhere are designed to prevent discrimination by businesses that interact with the public. Five years ago, same-sex couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked Colorado baker Jack Phillips to make them a custom wedding cake. Phillips refused, saying he didn't want to be compelled to use his artistic talents — his cake creativity — to celebrate an event that violated his deeply held religious beliefs. So Mullins and Craig filed civil rights charges against the baker. 
The Justice Department, under President Trump, is backing the baker. In a brief filed with the court this month, it argues that the wedding cake case is at heart about the First Amendment and the right to free expression. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall wrote:
"The government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write."
A creation from Derkje Steenblik from Bourbon Steak to symbolize "love ascending."
Kelly Jo Smart/NPR
Some of the cakes on display Tuesday were overtly political. Tressa Wiles of Bayou Bakery crafted a blue and yellow cake – the colors of the Human Rights Campaign – with a giant fist sticking out of the top in defiance. "If you like cake and dessert and want to get married or celebrate anything, you should be able to get it — as long as you pay for it, right?" Wiles told The Washington Post. She told the paper she was 100 percent in support of the Colorado couple.
Others took a more romantic approach. Derkje Steenblik, pastry chef at Bourbon Steak, in D.C.'s Four Seasons hotel, says she spent two days crafting her white-tiered cake festooned with hearts, in the colors of the rainbow, ascending to the top. "The hearts ascending," she says, "symbolize love ascending" – and presumably, conquering all.
The wedding cake displays have been a part of Chefs for Equality since the first event was held in 2012, to benefit Maryland's Question 6, the state's same-sex marriage law. The cakes were such a hit that "we decided to do it every year and theme it," says Simone Rathle, who's on the event's host committee. "And this year, because of what was happening with the Supreme Court hearing, the cakes were much more important than anything."

September 21, 2017

Feds Wants Anthony Weiner in Jail As a Pedophile

 Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner is more than a serial digital philanderer -- he's a danger to the public who deserves two years in prison for encouraging a 15-year-old girl to engage in online sex acts, prosecutors told a judge Wednesday. 
A Manhattan judge is scheduled to sentence the New York Democrat on Monday for transferring obscene material to a minor. 
The government urged the judge to put Weiner's claims of a therapeutic awakening in a context of a man who made similar claims after embarrassing, widely publicized interactions with adult women before encountering the teenager online in January 2016. Prosecutors said his conduct "suggests a dangerous level of denial and lack of self-control." 
"This is not merely a 'sexting' case," prosecutors wrote. "The defendant did far more than exchange typed words on a lifeless cellphone screen with a faceless stranger. ... Transmitting obscenity to a minor to induce her to engage in sexually explicit conduct by video chat and photo - is far from mere 'sexting.' Weiner's criminal conduct was very serious, and the sentence imposed should reflect that seriousness." 
The young woman told "Inside Edition" that she was "disgusted" when she received a photo of Weiner with his young son, CBS New York reports. "That's part of the reason I came forward," she said. 
Weiner, 53, said in a submission last week that he's undergoing treatment and is profoundly sorry for subjecting the North Carolina high school student to what his lawyers called his "deep sickness." 
Prosecutors attacked some of Weiner's arguments for seeking leniency and noted his full awareness beforehand of his crime, citing his co-sponsorship in January 2007 of a bill to require sex offenders to register their email and instant message addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry. 
"While the government does not contend that Weiner engaged in inappropriate sexual exchanges with other minors or that he is a pedophile, his professed ambivalence toward the minor victim's age is belied by the defendant's own statements to the court-appointed evaluator during his evaluation," they said.  
Prosecutors said Weiner, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2005 and 2013, acknowledged to the evaluator an interest in legal, adult, teen-themed pornography. 
The government said Weiner's "widely-reported prior scandals" were not criminal in nature and did not involve minors but should be considered at sentencing because they reveal a familiar pattern. 
"He initially denied his conduct; he suffered personal and professional consequences; he publicly apologized and claimed reform. Yet, he has, on multiple occasions, continued to engage in the very conduct he swore off, progressing from that which is self-destructive to that which is also destructive to a teenage girl," prosecutors said. 
They added: "Weiner's demonstrated history of professed, yet failed, reform make it difficult to rely on his present claim of self-awareness and transformation." 
Defense lawyers had portrayed the girl as an aggressor, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election. 
Prosecutors responded that Weiner should be sentenced for what he did, and his victim's motives should not influence his punishment. A defense lawyer declined to comment Wednesday. 
In a plea bargain, Weiner has agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months. Prosecutors said the sentence should fall within that span, and they noted that Probation Office authorities had recommended a 27-month prison term.
After the 15-year-old came forward about Weiner's emails, prosecutors began an investigation into his laptop, which led to the discovery of a cache of emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to her aide Huma Abedin, Weiner's estranged wife. Then-FBI Director James Comey re-opened the investigation in Clinton's emails, just days before Election Day

Paul Manafort Briefed Kremlin Billionaire on Trump's Campaign


Ten days before Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Paul Manafort, then his campaign chairman, offered private briefings on the campaign to a Kremlin-linked billionaire, the Washington Post reports.
From the July 7, 2016 email, sent to an intermediary: "If he needs private briefings we can accommodate."
The billionaire: Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, per the Post.
The key paragraph: "The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has sent the White House a request for documents pertaining to some of President Trump's most controversial moves in office, per a report from The New York Times. The news suggests that at least part of the Russia probe is focused directly on Trump's time as president.
What Mueller wants: Trump's meeting with high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after Comey's firing; the events leading to the firing of Michael Flynn; and the White House's response to questions from NYT about Donald Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials.
A Note on Capable workers:
Numerous startups in the tech hub of Toronto say they have had steady, double-digit increases in job applications from the United States since last year's presidential election. This is among the first concrete evidence that President Trump's hard line on immigration may be impacting the global race to attract the best minds.
What they're saying: "I've been in tech for over 20 years in Canada and in Silicon Valley, too. I've never seen candidates from the U.S. apply for Canadian positions from places like Silicon Valley," Roy Pereira, the CEO of, told Axios. "That's never happened."

Trump Bench Nominee Calls Transgender Children Part of Satan's Plan

To Scratch your head in disbelief at this nominne for a Federal Court does not require the person to be LGBT or associated in any way. It's common sense, separation of church and state and plain stupiddiy for someone who is suppose to be smart and have a clear head and non bias heart. adamfoxie


In a pair of 2015 speeches, President Donald Trump's nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of "Satan's plan," lamented that states were banning conversion therapy and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality.

Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. He faced criticism from LGBT rights groups for his work with the organization, such as opposing the expansion of nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the city of Plano. If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

In a May 2015 speech, titled "The Church and Homosexuality," Mateer discussed a Colorado lawsuit in which the parents of a transgender girl sued her school for preventing her from using the bathroom of her choice.

"In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she's a girl who thinks she's a boy or a boy who thinks she's a girl, it's probably that, a boy who thinks she's a girl," Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN's KFile. "And the school said, 'Well, she's not using the girl's restroom.' And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."

Mateer's nomination comes as the Trump administration has unveiled a series of actions aimed at rolling back advancements for gay and transgender rights. Trump vowed to fight for the LGBT community during his presidential campaign and said last April that people should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate." Since taking office, however, Trump has withdrawn an Obama administration directive that allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom of their choice and issued a directive banning transgender military recruits. 

In that same May 2015 speech, Mateer said that the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage could lead to what he called "disgusting" new forms of matrimony.

"I submit to you that there'll be no line there," he said. "And actually in the arguments Chief Justice Roberts, who's in the center there said, I mean, what is the limiting? Why couldn't four 4 people wanna get married? Why not one man and three women? Or three women and one man? And we're gonna spare you some of those slides. We actually have a presentation that we get into it. And I'll tell you, we say it's PG-13, it may be R, or what do they call the next one? NC-17 or whatever?"

He continued, "I mean, it's disgusting. I've learned words I didn't know. I mean, other assistants here, have you ever heard the word 'throuple'?'Throuple' so that's three people coming together of different sexes, maybe mixed sexes. Them coming together. There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It's just like -- you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, 'Oh, that's not going on in our community.' Oh yes it is. We're back to that time where debauchery rules."

Later that year in November 2015, Mateer lamented that states were banning gay conversion therapy at a conference hosted by controversial pastor Kevin Swanson, who preaches that the Biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.

"Biblical counselors and therapists, we've seen cases in New Jersey and in California where folks have gotten in trouble because they gave biblical counseling and, you know, the issue is always, it's same sex," Mateer says in audio obtained by CNN's KFile. "And if you're giving conversion therapy, that's been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas. So they're invading that area."
Groups like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Pediatric Association have condemned the practice as having no scientific basis and the potential to do mental harm.
Mateer did not respond to a request for comment. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on Mateer's remarks.

By Chris Massie and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN

September 20, 2017

Mile Pence Might be Quieter Than Trump But Not with Less Impeaching Conduct

First today's the Quieter one opens his mouth to the GOP Congress on killing ACA, again. We know he is full and Christian love because he is a Christian and closes his eyes when he prays, even at the dinner table, which I find impossible for me but then I don't go around saying how Christian I am.
I can't see how he want to leave most of the American Citizens, particularly the older and infirm*(*biblical word) to make his boss happy. He really believes Trump will last the full term and he is bucking to be asked for a second run. It's been fun for him! His lying and picking up the Boss's manures has been no problem what so ever with him. He is said more than once he worked with manure as a kid working in the far.

Vice President Mike Pence is throwing the Trump administration’s weight behind the latest Affordable Care Act repeal bill — and against a bipartisan effort to stabilize the marketplaces. In an interview on Air Force Two, Pence told me he’ll call on all Senate Republicans to support the bill by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy at a lunch meeting this afternoon, saying, "this is the moment. Now is the time.”

Now if we could just go back a couple of months to review what's been publicly out about Mike Pence:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) could barely contain his frustration over the weekend. “[T]here is real evil in the epidemic rate of lying that is going on right now,” the Connecticut senator wrote, pointing to the latest comments from Vice President Mike Pence. “This is not normal.”

False denials from Mike Pence continue to stack up

We’ve unfortunately reached a point in contemporary politics where a quote like that, in isolation, needs some clarification – because Mike Pence says untrue things about a great many things.
The far-right vice president, for example, has been caught making all kinds of demonstrably false claims about Donald Trump and the Russia scandal, but the latest controversy surrounds Pence’s mendacious rhetoric on health care, starting with a speech to the National Governors Association. The Washington Post reported that Pence singled out Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), arguing that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act in the Buckeye State has caused widespread problems.

“I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years,” said Pence.

The waiting lists Pence referred to apply to Medicaid’s home and community-based services, and have not been affected by the program’s expansion under the ACA. States have long had waiting lists for these services, and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s executive vice president, Diane Rowland, noted that waiting lists in non-expansion states are often longer than in expansion states, which currently receive a 95 percent federal match for their newly covered beneficiaries.

Kasich’s office explained that the vice president’s claims are “not accurate,” and are “the opposite of what actually happened.” The governor’s press secretary added, “That’s what we call #fakenews.”

Pence’s office said in response that he wasn’t trying to connect Medicaid expansion and the waiting lists, but that, too, wasn’t true.

But that’s not even the falsehood that rankled Chris Murphy. Rather, when the Democratic senator complained about the “epidemic rate of lying,” he was pointing to a separate Pence claim: “The Senate health-care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.”

Every independent analysis of the Senate proposal suggests the exact opposite is true: the Republican bill guts the Medicaid system, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade, and leaving the most vulnerable Americans facing new peril.

These health care falsehoods, alas, aren’t isolated incidents. Pence has been making claims about health care for months that fall apart under modest scrutiny.

We’ve grown accustomed to the vice president making bogus claims about the Russia scandal, but let’s not forget his record in the health care debate is arguably worse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~More from the Maddow Blog:

Donald Trump was supposed to travel to Kentucky on Saturday to defend the Republican health care plan, which some have begun calling “Trumpcare,” but the president canceled without explanation. (Trump instead went golfing for the ninth time since Inauguration Day.)[This is July]

Kentuckians were not, however, left empty-handed. As the conservative Washington Times noted, the vice president went instead.
Traveling to the home state of a Republican critic of the administration-backed health care bill, Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that Obamacare is falling apart and must be replaced.

“Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky,” Mr. Pence told an audience in Louisville. “It’s failed the people of America, and Obamacare must go.” […] Mr. Pence called Kentucky “a textbook example of Obamacare’s failures.”
Even by 2017 standards, this is bizarre. To the extent that reality still matters, Kentucky is actually a textbook example of the Affordable Care Act succeeding. As regular readers know, under Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) leadership, the state’s success story has served as a national model, watching its uninsured rate drop from 20.4% to just 7.5%. In terms of state-by-state improvement, the Bluegrass State is tied for first as the greatest percentage improvement in the nation.

Pence pointed to increases in premiums, but (a) premium hikes were common before “Obamacare” became law; (b) the vast majority of consumers aren’t seeing sharp spikes; and (c) the Republican plan Pence was in Kentucky to promote will very likely push premiums even higher.

All of which suggests Pence was trying to deceive his audience with rhetoric he should’ve recognized as false. Have you noticed how common this is becoming with the vice president?

Usually, when we think about the Trump White House and dishonesty, we immediately think of Donald Trump, who lies with such unnerving frequency that some have questioned his mental stability. By comparison, Mike Pence may look like a Boy Scout.

But looking past the Trump comparison, Pence’s recent departures from the truth are starting to pile up. Pence’s claims about when he learned about Michael Flynn’s work as a foreign agent, for example, clearly aren’t true. This followed related claims from Pence about Flynn’s communications with Russia that have already proven to be false. (The vice president believes he was the victim in this case of someone else’s lies.)

Pence said no one from Team Trump spoke with Russian officials before Election Day, and that was untrue. The V.P. recently made claims about job creation that were also false.

Under the circumstances, if you’re looking at the White House’s motley crew and assuming that Mike Pence is the honest one of the bunch, you may be grading on an overly generous curve.
The Maddow Blog, Kentucky and Mike Pence

The media does not seem to be paying much attention to Mike Pence. They are all focus on where Trump is golfing next or where is going to give a speech to his supporters saying basically the same thing (the good stuff from Trump comes in tweets not audible words). Rachel Maddow is the only one who is following the smell and I hope she inspires others besides me to be on the look out because if trump deserves Impeachment, Pence has been behind him and sometimes side by side with him. They are a pair and the only difference is style and tone.

Jason Zengerle 
on GQ writes:
"And now, as each new day seems to bring with it a revelation, or a poll, or a tweet that feels as if it nudges the vice president—perhaps the most unexamined major political figure in modern America—ever closer to the Oval Office, the powerful and the plugged-in across Washington are beginning to form answers to a suddenly more urgent question: What happens when Mike Pence becomes president?"

Adam Gonzalez
Adamfoxie Blog

NO Moore Money! Secret Service Dropping Donald Trump Jr and Kellyanne

Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan declined to comment on whether Trump Jr. and his wife and five children will continue to be protected. “To ensure the safety and security of our protectees and their families, we will not confirm who is currently receiving Secret Service protection,” Milhoan told the Times.

Trump Jr. heads the Trump Organization with his brother Eric Trump, and the two have received Secret Service protection as they travel the world brokering real estate deals in far-flung places. The two traveled together for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Trump-branded golf course in Dubai this spring and later to the opening of a new Trump hotel in Vancouver, Canada. 

Eric Trump has also visited Uruguay and the Dominican Republic. His trip to Uruguay cost the Secret Service close to $100,000 for hotel rooms alone.

By law, the Secret Service must protect the president’s extended family. But the size of Trump’s family and their responsibilities as top executives have stretched that budget. President Trump has around-the-clock protection for 42 people—including 18 family members—compared with 31 under Barack Obama.

At the end of August, Secret Service director Randolph Alles told USA Today that more than 1,000 of his agents have hit federally mandated caps on their salary and overtime. The funds were supposed to last the entire year.

It’s not only Trump’s children but the president himself who has taken a big bite out of the Secret Service’s resources. During his first seven months in office, Trump took multiple trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, as well as a trip to Trump Tower in New York City. Trump’s seven trips to Florida cost about $3 million each, making his combined travel costs nearly on par with what Obama spent during eight years in office.

In response, Congress is looking at bumping up overtime pay caps for Secret Service agents this year and in 2018.

Conway will also lose protection from the Secret Service. This, however, is in response to changing threat assessments, an official briefed on the decision told the Times. Conway, who is a counselor to President Trump, received several threats after the inauguration.

The Secret Service has said it will run out of money to cover the cost of protecting the president and his family by the end of September.

The agency will be tested this week as its agents are being flown to New York City from across the country to protect nearly 150 foreign heads of state at the United Nations General Assembly.


Mueller Going For The Kill ~~Who is Going Down First?

Steve Bannon provoked lots of chatter for telling Charlie Rose on "60 Minutes" that President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey may have been the worst mistake in "modern political history."
What's intriguing is the reason he said it: the belief of some close White House allies that special counsel Bob Mueller, whose appointment was triggered by Comey's ouster, could use events surrounding the firing to make an obstruction of justice case against Trump.
There's a good reason that Vice President Pence has hired a lawyer, Bannon freaked out about the decision, and Mueller plans to interview a slew of current and former West Wing aides: They were with Trump during those frantic days, and know what he was saying and what was on his mind.
White House aides with legal exposure to these events have quickly reached four conclusions, according to conversations with Jonathan Swan and me:
  1. Mueller is burrowing in hard on the obstruction of justice angle.
  2. The "angry, meanderingdraft White House justification for firing Comey — which was never released, but obtained by Mueller — could be used as evidence of Trump's unvarnished thinking when venting to staff.
  3. Legal fees, with white-collar attorneys charging $1,000 an hour, get cripplingly expensive pretty quick. Watch for outside legal defense funds to pop up quickly.
  4. The investigation's financial dimensions are worrisome. The focus on Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer and confidant whose business dealings are intertwined with the president's, has been particularly troubling for those in Trump's close orbit. Cohen dealt with some colorful characters. And when plans for the Trump Tower in Moscow are fully picked apart, other questionable Russian characters may be drawn in.
Republicans close to the White House say every sign by Mueller — from his hiring of Mafia and money-laundering experts to his aggressive pursuit of witnesses and evidence — is that he's going for the kill.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports on the front page today that outside Trump lawyers "earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down ... because of possible legal complications ... and aired concerns about him to the president." Kushner has since defended himself on Capitol Hill.
Be smart: Trump allies fret that the White House is ill-prepared for the public showdown with Mueller that will eventually come, and should be making legal, political and constitutional arguments for the president's right to fire Comey. Statements by Trump lawyers tend to rattle, rather than reassure, White House allies.
  • Trump associates tell me Trump mused about firing Mueller. But now, one associate said, the damage would be as horrendous as "firing the Pope."
P.S. Russian politician Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Duma (ruling assembly), said on live TVthat U.S. "intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States."
  • Hillary Clinton, out today with "What Happened," tells USA Today's Susan Page she's "convinced" Trump associates colluded with Russia: "There certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort."
  • A little more:
  • Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was wiretapped by the FBI due to concerns about his links with Moscow, US media reports say.
    The reported surveillance, granted under a court warrant, occurred both before and after the 2016 election.
    Investigators wanted to know if he had sought Russian help with the campaign.
    It is not known if the wiretap, which began in 2014, included conversations with President Trump. Mr. Manafort is said to be facing an indictment.
    The former political consultant, who had worked for Ukraine's former ruling party, was chairman of the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. He has not commented on the reports.
    FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election.
    However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants were granted before his investigation started, and were first authorized as part of an investigation into Washington consulting firms working for Ukraine, CNN reported.
    After the 2014 warrant ended, it was renewed again until earlier this year, in order to allow the FBI to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.
    Communications collected with the Manafort wiretaps sparked concerns among investigators that he had encouraged the Russians to help with the election campaign, CNN cited three sources as saying - although two of the sources said the evidence had not been conclusive.
    The FBI, as well as several congressional committees, are investigating whether Russia attempted to interfere in the US election in order to help Donald Trump.
    FBI agents raided Mr. Manafort's suburban Washington DC home on 26 July, according to the New York Times.
    Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Mr. Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported.
    Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who lost the election to Mr Trump, said Monday that she "wouldn't rule out" questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election if evidence emerged of Russian interference.

September 19, 2017

Trump's "Idiot" AG Wants to Terminate a Project That Builds Trust Between Cops-Community

"Idiot" is what Trump called Sessions when he was about to fire him but was convinced not to do it since he (Trump)
 had just fired the FBI Chief who also worked for Sessions.

The US Justice Department said Friday it is significantly repurposing a program that was designed to help local police departments rebuild trust with their communities after controversial incidents — particularly in cases where officers had shot black civilians.

Instead of investigating police departments and offering suggestions for reforms, the Justice Department will provide technical assistance grants for more traditional law enforcement tactics: arresting violent criminals, breaking up gangs, and making drug busts.

“This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. A background document supplied by the Justice Department on Friday claimed the collaborative reform efforts created an adversarial relationship with local officials.

But Ron Davis, a former Justice Department official who had overseen the program during the Obama administration, rebuffed Sessions' comments, arguing that the collaborations were voluntary and that some tensions are inevitable when fixing entrenched problems.

"The hard truth tells you how to improve community relations and make departments great," Davis, a former police chief, told BuzzFeed News. “It is counter-productive to say you will focus on crime reduction and think it would not include building trust and systemic reforms — these are the foundations of public safety."

Under former president Obama, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS Office) started the Collaborative Reform program in 2011.

Entirely voluntary, the partnerships with local jurisdictions typically began with a one-year investigation by federal officials, punctuated by an assessment that gave police departments pointers — such as how to de-escalate confrontations and when to use force. Those assessments were followed by two progress reports. Local leaders, meanwhile, would furnish records and hold town halls in an effort to mend frayed communities relationships.

But Sessions halted part of the program's progress when he issued a March 31 memorandum that called on officials to review the federal government’s relationship with state, local, and tribal law enforcement.

The announcement Friday cemented that the review was complete and the COPS Office would abandon efforts toward the collaborative investigations, accountability, and systemic changes.

As BuzzFeed News reported in August, the COPS Office hasn't published a single assessment or follow-up report for any of the police departments it agreed to help with its collaborative reform program since President Trump took office. Several jurisdictions appear overdue for reports — including Calexico, California; Chester, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee; Salinas, California; St. Anthony, Minnesota; and St. Louis County.

City leaders in North Charleston, South Carolina, have become particularly frustrated this year that the COPS Office failed to issue an assessment report, which would provide a guide to enact reforms. That city initiated the collaboration in 2016 after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man — and city leaders looked for outside help.

“Our city needs to hear from DOJ as promised. I hope with the new administration that it was not pulled.” Virginia Jamison, a city council member, told BuzzFeed News at the time, saying she was concerned with the dead air.

As envisioned on its website, the Collaborative Reform project said it endeavored to “improve trust between police agencies and the communities they serve” using a “long-term, holistic strategy that identifies issues within an agency that may affect public trust.”

But the Justice Department's background document on Friday said federal officials now want to focus on technical grants to improve best practices, crime reduction, officer training, and outreach.

Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that "ending the program is a big mistake that will adversely impact communities of color.”

The move Friday reflects a broader trend of destroying chunks of Obama's legacy in the Justice Department, including avoiding court-supervised settlements to stop alleged civil rights violations.

Sessions have also reinstated certain property forfeitures and enacted a policy to once again seek long mandatory prison terms.

"They want to round people up in mass arrests and put them in jail or deport them," said Davis, who was a police chief East Palo Alto, California, and spent 20 years in the Oakland Police Department. 

"This is a dramatic turn that will not be beneficial in the field. It’s a disservice to the entire law enforcement profession that will compromise public safety.”

Dominic Holden
Dominic Holden

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