April 22, 2018

Rod Rosenstein and The Fights to Protect Mueller~~It Will Get Expensive!

 He has a reputation as a principled lawyer. He has worked for both Republican and Democratic attorneys general. He has a jugular instinct in courtroom battles but a distaste for political ones.
Now Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is confronting the political fight of his career. Amid sustained criticism by President Trump and rumors that he will be fired, Mr. Rosenstein is also maneuvering to defuse demands by Republicans in Congress that Democrats say are aimed at ousting him from his job — and from his role as protector of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
So far, he appears to be succeeding. But in trying to deflect those attacks, some say, Mr. Rosenstein has risked eroding the Justice Department’s historic independence from political meddling. The consequences could persist long after he and the rest of the Trump administration are out of power.
A small but influential group of House Republicans has demanded greater access to sensitive documents related to some of the F.B.I.’s most politically charged investigations into the Trump campaign and Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails. Should Mr. Rosenstein fail to comply, they have threatened to subpoena him, hold him in contempt of Congress or even impeach him.
The Republicans complain that Mr. Rosenstein and other Justice Department officials have slow-walked or outright stonewalled their requests for reams of documents and other information they need to conduct oversight. When they do receive documents, they say, too many are showing up with critical content blacked out. 
"This is serious stuff,” said Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Ohio Republican allied with Mr. Trump who voiced his complaints in a recent meeting with Mr. Rosenstein. “We as a separate and equal branch of government are entitled to get the information.”
Mr. Rosenstein, 53, has staved off his attackers on Capitol Hill largely by appeasing them. Two weeks ago, he allowed key Republican legislators to review an almost completely unredacted F.B.I. memo on the opening of a still active investigation of the Trump campaign, a rare step. He later summoned two other Republicans, Mr. Jordan and Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, to his office to pledge that the Justice Department would be more responsive to their requests.
And on Thursday, threatened with a subpoena, he gave a relatively large group of lawmakers access to memos written by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey about his interactions with Mr. Trump. The documents are considered to be important evidence in a potential obstruction of justice case against the president being weighed by Mr. Mueller.
But still other Republican demands remain unmet, and Democrats have warned that Mr. Rosenstein is being boxed into a corner where he has to choose between saving his job and setting disturbing precedents that chip away at the independence that the Justice Department has maintained since President Richard M. Nixon tried to thwart the Watergate investigation. “That independence keeps the country from sliding into a banana republic,” said Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Stephen E. Boyd, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, said, “The department is responding to what it believes to be good faith requests for information pursuant to Congress’s appropriate oversight function, and the department is doing so in a way that will not have any adverse impact on ongoing investigations.”
Others said they worried that in solving his short-term political problems, Mr. Rosenstein could expose the department to increasingly onerous congressional demands into continuing investigations — an area that has traditionally been off limits.
“It could become an exception that swallows the rule,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and a former federal prosecutor. “Every request by Congress can be made to seem exceptional.”
Resolving such dilemmas is but one of the challenges Mr. Rosenstein faces. Mr. Trump claimed this month, without offering evidence, that he suffers from conflicts of interest and has criticized him for signing a warrant application to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide. Every week seems to bring a new rumor that Mr. Trump plans to fire Mr. Rosenstein, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Mr. Mueller or all three.
In one of Washington’s odder embraces, their strongest defenders are congressional Democrats who abhor the Justice Department’s policies under the Trump administration but see Mr. Rosenstein as a firewall between the president and the special counsel.
Mr. Rosenstein declined requests for an interview, but supporters say he is well positioned to defend himself. A careful and conservative lawyer, he is unlikely to make missteps or overstep boundaries, they say. A high-ranking former Justice Department official described him as “the ultimate survivor.”
Early in his tenure, he stumbled when he wrote a memo to Mr. Sessions castigating Mr. Comey for speaking publicly about the F.B.I. investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information while secretary of state. Although Mr. Trump has repeatedly cited it as justification for firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Rosenstein told Congress that the memo was not meant to “justify a for-cause termination.” Even so, he acknowledged that he knew Mr. Comey’s job was in danger when he wrote it.
“Rod got suckered by the president in writing the memo,” said Philip B. Heymann, a former Justice Department official and one of Mr. Rosenstein’s mentors. “Trump marched his deputy attorney general way out on a limb and then left him there.”
He and others suggest that Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel partly to redeem himself. That was “the only way Rod could show he was not a lackey, that he was neutral,” Mr. Heymann said.  
Mr. Sessions has scant ability to provide his deputy cover. If the president is mulling Mr. Rosenstein’s fate, he holds a deeper animus toward Mr. Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Mr. Rosenstein addresses his own jeopardy with a blend of stoicism and black humor, according to friends. “I may need to talk to you about a job,” he jested to one Washington-area lawyer.
He is not, however, trying to whip up political support for himself. He “doesn’t do the self-preservation game,” said James M. Trusty, a friend who worked with him in Maryland. “He’s very grounded and fatalistic. He plays it by the book.”
Mr. Rosenstein is proceeding as though he will not be fired. On Monday, he is arguing a sentencing guidelines case on behalf of the federal government before the Supreme Court.
Mr. Rosenstein grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1989. He became a trial lawyer in the Justice Department’s public integrity section in Washington and eventually worked with Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton’s business dealings. In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed him the United States attorney for Maryland. President Barack Obama kept him on.
The office he ran had been torn apart by political infighting and had a weak relationship with local law enforcement. In his first few months, Mr. Rosenstein gathered information from employees about what had gone wrong, then restructured the office. He reached out to state prosecutors and encouraged his staff members to work with them to fight violent crime. His ability to transcend politics gave him credibility, according to many who worked with him.
“I never heard a political word escape from his lips,” said Brian E. Frosh, the Democratic Maryland attorney general. “He was smart, honest, fair, tough — everything you want in a prosecutor.”
Mr. Sessions barely knew Mr. Rosenstein when he became his deputy, and Mr. Rosenstein had no obvious political patron. He was not expecting to become a household name: When his daughter asked whether his new job meant that he was now famous, he told her that few people know or care who served as deputy attorney general.
He and Mr. Sessions had little in common beyond their lengthy tenures as federal prosecutors and shared views on gangs, drugs and violent crime. And the tensions that almost always exist between attorneys general and their deputies have been exacerbated by the special counsel investigation and the resulting political pressures.
But associates say the men have bonded in the face of attacks from the White House.
After Mr. Trump publicly exploded against Mr. Rosenstein this month, Mr. Sessions called Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to warn that firing the deputy attorney general would have damaging consequences, including the possible resignation of Mr. Sessions himself, according to a person briefed on the conversation.
Mr. Sessions told Mr. McGahn that the president needed to know that he believed that firing Mr. Rosenstein would be a misstep and that he had done nothing to justify such an ouster.
Mr. Rosenstein’s oversight of the special counsel’s office gives him broad powers to approve or veto Mr. Mueller’s investigative requests. Democrats and some Republicans worry that the president could fire Mr. Rosenstein and install a replacement who would use that power to narrow the scope of the special counsel’s inquiry.
Democratic senators have circulated a document arguing that a new deputy attorney general could deny Mr. Mueller the power to take investigative steps and decline to sign off on staff or resources, essentially undermining the investigation without officially ending it or prompting the kind of Republican backlash on Capitol Hill that firing Mr. Mueller almost certainly would. A new appointee could also refuse to publicly release a report when Mr. Mueller’s investigation concludes.
Mr. Rosenstein has made efforts to head off conflicts with the White House. Soon after the F.B.I. raided the office, home and hotel room of the president’s lawyer Michael D. Cohen this month, infuriating the president, Mr. Rosenstein, and Mr. Trump met. Mr. Trump emerged telling people that Mr. Rosenstein had said he was not a target of the investigation into Mr. Cohen’s activities, according to two people with knowledge of the president’s account. Justice Department officials declined to comment on the meeting.
At the same time, the president’s staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill have put themselves in one standoff after another with Mr. Rosenstein. Among others, he has faced escalating demands and complaints from three committee chairmen: Representatives Robert W. Goodlatte of the Judiciary Committee, Devin Nunes of the Intelligence Committee and Trey Gowdy of the Oversight Committee.
In an interview this month on Fox News, Mr. Nunes threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt or even impeach him if he failed to turn over the complete copy of the F.B.I. memo justifying the initiation of the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Mr. Rosenstein called him to the Justice Department and gave him and other Intelligence Committee members access the next day to a version of the memo that satisfied their concerns.
In a separate request, Mr. Goodlatte and others have issued a subpoena for hundreds of thousands of documents — an extraordinary number even for Congress — related to the Clinton inquiry, the firing of the F.B.I.’s former deputy director and other matters. When the lawmakers began complaining that the documents were coming slowly and with too much content blacked out, the Justice Department appointed a United States attorney in Illinois to oversee document review and production. The F.B.I. doubled the number of employees working on responses to a request for materials the Justice Department’s inspector general was used to 54 people working two shifts a day, from 8 a.m. to midnight.
But some Republicans are still unsatisfied and have said a contempt citation or even impeachment — exceedingly rare steps that would require votes in the House — are still possibilities. Democrats fear that taken together, the Republican requests are meant to offer Mr. Trump cover or even cause to fire Mr. Rosenstein.
In a meeting with Mr. Rosenstein in recent days, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Meadows tried to impress upon him that they needed the documents they sought. Otherwise, Mr. Meadows said later, lawmakers would be left with no choice but to begin building a case to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or to try to impeach him.
“Contempt is obviously still on the horizon,” Mr. Meadows said, “if there is not a substantial change.”

Laws Banning Being LGBT Need To Be Banned~~List of Commonwealth Countries Banning Being Gay

Gay rights activists from Commonwealth countries are demanding that laws banning homosexuality should be overturned.
Campaigner Peter Tatchell has said people face violence and imprisonment just because they are gay.
The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, promised the Olympic diver Tom Daley that he would raise the issue at the Commonwealth summit. 
So, where is homosexuality still outlawed?
There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth and most of them are former British colonies.
Out of those, 37 have laws that criminalize homosexuality.
That number will fall by one after a court ruling in Trinidad and Tobago this month found that laws banning gay sex were unconstitutional
Tom Daley poses with two medal he won at the the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 22, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.However, there may be an appeal.  Many of the laws criminalizing homosexual relations originate from British colonial times. 
And in many places, breaking these laws could be punishable by long prison sentences.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (Ilga) monitors the progress of laws relating to homosexuality around the world. 
According to its research, there have been arrests for homosexual acts in 15 Commonwealth countries in the last three years.
For instance, in 2017 the BBC reported that 40 men in Nigeria had been arrested during one weekend for performing homosexual acts.
Some observers note that the risk of prosecution in some places is minimal. 
For example, a 2017 report on Jamaica by the UK Home Office said that Jamaica was regarded as a homophobic society but that the "authorities do not actively seek to prosecute LGBT persons". 
On the other hand, some countries' existing laws have been tightened, including Nigeria and Uganda. 
Countries that criminalize homosexuality today include criminal penalties against women who have sex with women, although the original British laws applied only to men.
An Indian gay rights activist protests a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2013 that upheld a law which criminalises gay sex.Meanwhile, activist groups say the ability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) organizations to carry out advocacy work is being restricted.
A spokesperson from the Commonwealth Secretariat said: "We work with national human rights commissions to help encourage national dialogue when it comes to LGBT rights. 
"They are in the unique position of being able to advise government and parliament." There is a global trend toward decriminalizing same-sex acts and some Commonwealth countries have taken similar steps in the last few years. 
Despite many differences among Commonwealth countries, similar legal frameworks and a shared language make advocacy and initiatives for reform easier, says Tea Braun, director of the Human Dignity Trust, which advises on gay rights legal cases.
For instance, in Belize, laws that criminalize same-sex acts were struck down by the court in 2016 and in the same year, the parliaments in the Seychelles and Nauru voted to decriminalize homosexuality. 
The year before, Mozambique dropped a colonial-era clause outlawing "vices against nature". 

What next?

Campaigners around the world are involved in a number of legal cases and some high profile ones may come to a conclusion in the near future. 
This year the high court in Kenya is due to announce a judgment on whether it will remove sections of its penal code that criminalize homosexuality. 
A decriminalization case has been started in Botswana.
Judges in the Supreme Court in India said they will review a colonial-era law that was reinstated in 2013
The Indian law that banned gay sex was initially overturned in 2009.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has included references to sexual orientation and gender identity in its revised draft constitution.

The full list of countries where homosexuality is outlawed:

Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, 
Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Brunei Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda Barbados Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Kiribati, Papua, New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon, IslandsTonga, Tuvalu.

April 21, 2018

Gay Gooners and Supporters’ Helping Change LGBT Attitudes in the UK

Joe White

Football was an escape for Joe White until he stopped feeling welcome at matches. But the campaigning group Pride In Football has helped change attitudes, transforming his experience of the beautiful game

As the UEFA Champions League nears its conclusion, we are celebrating “what football has done for me”, how the beautiful game has broken down barriers and changed people’s and communities’ lives for the better. Here is Joe White’s story...
“When I started realising I was gay and started closing myself off to a lot of the social situations in life, football was an opportunity to have an escape. Whether it was watching Final Score, live football on the TV or going to Shrewsbury Town, it was always a release.
Joe White Pride in Football
Changing attitudes: Pride in Football campaigns on issues of inclusivity for LGBT fans
“I'm an Arsenal fan since birth, I don’t think I’d have been allowed to be a fan of any other team. We’re an Arsenal family but I grew up near Shrewsbury Town, so I’ve a soft spot for them. I used to go to Shrewsbury with my dad – it was one of the few times we had proper father-son bonding.
“I remember not feeling welcome at football and I stopped going. When I came out at 15 years old the response wasn’t fully supportive from friends – and they were the ones I went to football with.
“I’m the head of campaigns for Pride In Football (PIF) and on the committee of Gay Gooners, the Arsenal LGBT supporters’ group. Pride In Football is the umbrella LGBT organisation for fans’ groups across the UK. PIF campaigns on issues of inclusivity for LGBT fans so we have meetings with the Football Association, FIFA, UEFA, clubs that want to start a fan group, the Premier League and the Football League. It’s about ensuring football is a place where LGBT fans feel welcome.
Joe White and Arsenal fans
Red and white army: Joe and fellow Gooners before the 2017 FA Cup semi-final
“Arsenal’s media department is brilliant. As an official supporters’ group we were picked for VIP treatment at the Everton game. After the game we went pitchside and had a picture with Shkodran Mustafi. It was a game Rihanna was at so there were all these gay football fans in their element!
“For a lot of LGBT fans, when we start realising our sexuality we have an internal process of thinking and worrying about everything, so many will go away from the game because we fear we’ll not be welcomed. There is that stigma that, “you’re gay, so you can’t like football”. You can’t be camp and like football – it’s almost, “how dare you!”.
Joe White
Fighting fear: Joe wants to make football more welcoming and inclusive
“You look at the women’s game. There are so many brilliant role models just being openly LGBT and it’s wonderful. The men’s game could learn a lot.
“My first game was when I was eight or nine. I went with my dad, my friend from primary school and his dad, who was the most quiet, polite man... until you took him to football and it was Jekyll and Hyde. It was hilarious, I just remember my dad being absolutely shocked. He was the local postman, quiet but when you got him to Shrewsbury Town he’d be loud, swearing. I thought it was brilliant!
Pride in football at Arsenal
Spreading the word: Joe and fellow Pride in Football campaigners at The Emirates Stadium
“When I came out in 2008, there were no LGBT fans’ groups. There was no visibility at all. In 2012 I met a friend of a friend in London who also happened to be a massive Gooner. He said, if you’re ever down again, I’ll try to get a ticket to Arsenal for you. So I went back to the game, and through that I met people from the Gay Gooners and then I found out about PIF.
“From the age of 16 I’ve been an LGBT campaigner. I set up Shropshire’s only LGBT youth group, I used to advise West Mercia police on LGBT issues, at university I was the LGBT rep for a year.
Joe White and friend at Pride
Growing movement: until recently there were few LGBT fans’ groups
“LGBT people have to think about things on a day-to-day basis that other people don’t. Take the Russia and Qatar World Cups – are we safe to go? Will we face abuse from other fans, or from our own fans? Will we hear homophobic chanting? All we want is for our presence to become obsolete as a social group.
“Crystal Palace ran a brilliant campaign this season called Proud and Palace. They got a wide range of fans’ groups to sign up to a pledge saying, “there are 99 reasons to hate Brighton but homophobia ain’t one”, because of their massive rivalry with them.
“Arsenal are one of the best clubs for all issues of equality and diversity. I equally must say that Spurs are very good – which is difficult for me to say!
“The approach of general fans is changing. Gay Gooners started in 2013 and in that five-year period we’ve come so far. Matt Lucas is our patron. The general football community is realising that we wouldn’t accept racism in the stands so we shouldn’t accept homophobia. We had people in Gay Gooners who stopped going in the 1980s because of homophobia but have started going again.
Greg Clarke
Understanding the issues: FA chairman Greg Clarke realises there needs to be change CREDIT: GETTY
“One person I’ll give a huge amount of credit to is [FA chairman] Greg Clarke . He says what he thinks and that can get him into trouble but he acknowledges that there needs to be a different approach to inclusivity to make sure fans feel welcome. The FA meet with us every couple of months – having that support is a huge shift in approach.
“Football has given me a lot of confidence – I’d never have thought I’d have done live TV but I went on to Sky talking about Qatar. It’s opened doors that I’d have never even considered before, it’s given me lifelong friendships. There are absolutely wonderful people who I wouldn’t have met had I not come back to the game. For me, football is only as beautiful a game as the people who watch it.
Priceless experiences with Mastercard
Mastercard is a long-standing sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious club football competition in the world.
The Telegraph and Mastercard are celebrating how something priceless can start with a football for individuals, families and communities.
Does your child want to be a mascot at a UEFA Champions League match? Enter the competition at mstr.cd/UCL
Player escort spots are courtesy of Mastercard, official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.
The Telegraph

Two Florida Deputies Shot Through The Window While They Ate-Shooter Found Shot to Death

Sgt. Noel Ramirez, left, and Deputy Sheriff Taylor Lindsey were shot and killed after sitting down to eat at a Chinese restaurant in Gilchrist County, Fla.
Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office
A gunman shot and killed two sheriff's deputies in a restaurant in Gilchrist County, Fla., on Thursday, in an attack that seems to have come with no warning.
Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Sheriff Taylor Lindsey, 25. were shot through the window. The gunman was later found dead nearby.
Sheriff Bobby Schultz called the two deputies "the best of the best," adding, "They're men of integrity, they're men of loyalty. They're God-fearing, and they loved what they did. And we're very proud of them."
The deputies were on duty and had sat down to eat at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton around 3 p.m. when a gunman started firing at them from outside, the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office said.
"Both our heroes had simply sat down to eat while on duty," the sheriff's office said. "There was no crime in progress, no disturbance. The suspect appears to have walked to the front of the business and shot both men without warning. Two holes in the window are visible tonight."
Deputies and other who responded to an emergency call about the shooting found the gunman nearby, dead from a gunshot wound. He was identified as 59-year-old John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, Fla. — a nearby town in the northern Florida county.

When a reporter asked Schultz to confirm whether Highnote had committed suicide in his car near the restaurant, the sheriff declined to comment, citing both an ongoing state investigation into the killings and his own perspective.
"I want this to be about those deputy sheriffs, I think that you can respect that," Schultz said at a media gathering late Thursday afternoon. He added, "The world's full of cowards, and the world's full of heroes. We need to highlight those heroes, and what they gave."
Ramirez was a 7-year veteran of law enforcement who had a wife and two young children. Lindsey had worked with the force for a total of more than three years; he had recently returned to working at the sheriff's office.
"It was just surreal" to get the call about the attack on the deputies, Schultz said.
He added, "Whether you're a large agency or a small agency, it hits you like a ton of bricks."
A possible motive for the shooting has not been released. Twice during his media briefing on Thursday, Sheriff Schultz mentioned negative public attitudes about law enforcement officers.
"What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent that it's been demonized?" he asked at one point.
Schultz added, "The only thing these men were guilty of was wanting to protect you and me. They just wanted to go get something to eat. And they just wanted to do their job."
The department has received numerous condolences and messages of support, including from President Trump, who said, "My thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues" of the slain deputies.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, "My wife, Ann, and I are heartbroken by the loss of two law enforcement officers in Trenton," adding that he has committed state resources to help the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.
Scott added, "It is true evil for anyone to hurt a law enforcement officer, and in Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence, especially against the police."
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Forbes Fmer Reporter Tells Of How Trump Lied to Get Into the Forbes 400 List

Washington (CNN)A former Forbes reporter claims that Donald Trump, before he was president, pretended to be a Trump Organization executive speaking on Trump's behalf and then lied about his wealth in order to crack the Forbes 400 list.
"He figured out what he had to do in order to deceive me and get onto that list. And he did it very well. And he maintained that persona of just sort of talking about his assets without any sense of debt and lying about it," Jonathan Greenberg said in an interview Friday on CNN's "New Day."
Greenberg broke the news in a Washington Post story. He wrote that when he was compiling the magazine's list of the richest people in America in the 80s, Trump had called him posing as "John Barron," a purported executive with The Trump Organization.
Greenberg said Trump's actual net worth at the time was less than $5 million, though the magazine had listed it as $100 million for its first-ever Forbes 400 list.
    "He should never have been there in the first place," said Greenberg, who provided an audio recording of the phone call between him and "Barron" to CNN. 
    CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. The Washington Post reports that the White House declined to comment, and The Trump Organization did not respond to the Post's request for comment.
    similar recording of a man who sounds like Trump posing as his spokesman surfaced during the 2016 campaign.
    The Washington Post reported in May 2016 that Trump routinely made calls to reporters in the 1970s, '80s and '90s posing as a publicist named John Miller or John Barron. Following the report, Trump denied it was him on the phone or that it sounded like him in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.

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    Rod Rosenstein and The Fights to Protect Mueller~~It Will Get Expensive!

       He has a reputation as a principled lawyer. He has worked for both Republican and Democratic attorneys general. He has...