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Sep 20, 2019, 12:42 PM
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 1 
 on: Today at 05:07 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Consider: Trump and his Attorney General, mafioso Bill Barr, have both tried to block and deny the collusion between Trump and Russia to get Trump elected and, now, that same Barr has attempted to block the release of the whistlelblower's complaint to Congress detailing collusion between Trump and Ukraine in order to help him get reelected in 2020. This is what it has come to.

‘Game changer’: Morning Joe panel nails Giuliani’s confessional outburst as evidence for Trump impeachment

By Travis Gettys
Raw Story
9/20/2019

Panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” agreed President Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s president should be a “game changer” — and was clearly “impeachable.”

The July 25 call appears to have triggered a complaint from a whistleblower, after the president allegedly offered military and financial aid to Ukraine in exchange for pursuing an investigation into Joe Biden’s son doing business there.

“It does feel like a moment in time,” said MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch. “We’ve sat on this set after so many Trump’s snafus and this is it — this is a game changer. If the Democrats can’t smell this. I’ve been going all along, step away from impeachment because when it’s a process thing, when it’s campaign finance, this is the big one. If this is the case, this is the Super Bowl, and the Democrats need to pounce aggressively.”

Co-host Mika Brzezinski said details about the call likely would be revealed, and soon, and host Joe Scarborough said even Republicans — including the Senate majority leader, who finally caved on an election security bill — seemed to understand these allegations were explosive.

“I found it very telling that Moscow Mitch 'i have no soul, only a rancid abscess' McConnell caved yesterday,” Scarborough said, “very telling that after doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding over the past several years, and refusing to listen to all the intel chiefs that Donald Trump appointed to protect American democracy against what they call an imminent threat, that Moscow Mitch chose yesterday, as this story was exploding about other foreign interference in American democracy, that’s when he finally caved and stopped worrying about Vladimir Putin and started worrying about protecting and defending American democracy.”

Scarborough called the allegations against Trump impeachable, and former Bush White House aide Elise Jordan said they obviously called for impeachment.

“I don’t know what is an impeachable offense if this is not,” she said. “Like, basically there’s not anything that can get you impeached if the Democrats do not act on this, and I don’t want ever again Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's cumslut' Graham to lecture me about how, if I don’t want to send X number of troops to start a new land war, I’m not tough on national security, if this is what Republicans are willing to tolerate these days.”

Jordan pointed out that Trump’s call to Ukraine came the day after special counsel Robert Mueller testified, and the president was emboldened that he had escaped consequences for Russian efforts to get him elected — and his efforts to cover up those contacts.

“You almost have to wonder if President Trump thought, ‘Got away with it once, no consequences first go-round, let’s gear up for 2020, let’s see what we can do,” Jordan said, and then turned to Rudy Giuliani’s admissions to CNN about their new scheme. “It is just simply astounding to watch drunk grandpa last night, who needs to be just pulled off to hospice.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPgyMExMi9Q

**************

‘Urgent Concern’ About the President

A whistle-blower’s report has alarmed the intelligence agencies’ watchdog. Why won’t the administration share it with Congress?

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

Sept. 20, 2019
NY Times

It’s not every day that a whistle-blower in the intelligence community files a complaint about the president of the United States. But it seems to have happened last month, when an unidentified intelligence employee alerted the inspector general of the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, to multiple acts by President Trump, including a promise he is said to have made to a foreign leader during a phone call.

The complaint alarmed Mr. Atkinson enough that he considered it a matter of “urgent concern” and alerted the acting director of national intelligence, or D.N.I., Joseph Maguire.

Under federal law, the D.N.I. “shall” deliver an inspector general’s report about an “urgent concern” to Congress within a week of receiving it. But Mr. Maguire has so far refused to. Taking his marching orders from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, he has claimed that the whistle-blower’s complaint did not involve an “intelligence activity,” and that it contained “potentially privileged matters.”

So Mr. Atkinson reached out to Congress himself. In a letter dated Sept. 9, he informed Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of the existence of the complaint. On Tuesday, with the director of national intelligence still stonewalling, Mr. Atkinson followed up to say that the complaint “not only falls within the D.N.I.’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the D.N.I.’s responsibilities to the American people.”

On Thursday, Mr. Atkinson appeared before a meeting of the House Intelligence Committee that was closed to the public and the news media. Mr. Maguire is scheduled to appear before that committee in an open hearing next week. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said they expect him and Mr. Atkinson to brief them next week, too.

Maybe there’s not that much to the complaint; we can’t know yet. What we do know is there is an important principle at stake: that Congress is supposed to have oversight — through confidential hearings — of complaints like this. There’s a solid case to be made that Mr. Maguire, who has not invoked executive privilege as a reason for withholding the complaint, is ignoring the plain language of the law. While the lawyers battle over who is authorized to withhold what from whom, it’s worth making two observations: first, that the intelligence community’s watchdog — not some disgruntled denizen of the “deep state,” but a man appointed by Mr. Trump — was alarmed enough that he thought it necessary to inform Congress.

Second, that the administration is doing whatever it can to keep the complaint from becoming known, even behind closed doors.

Mr. Trump mocked the whole episode on Twitter, asking, “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” That’s a curious claim from a president who has gone to great lengths to hide from his own administration the details of his many conversations with President Vladimir Putin of Russia; who has casually revealed Israeli classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office; and whose defense secretary decided to quit after learning that Mr. Trump had told the president of Turkey over the phone that he was breaking with longstanding policy and withdrawing American troops from Syria.

Three House committees are investigating whether Mr. Trump tried to get the Ukrainian government to investigate business dealings of the son of the former vice president and current presidential candidate Joseph Biden. They have asked for a transcript of a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

It may be no coincidence that Mr. Maguire, the man at the center of this particular storm, is serving in an acting capacity, having temporarily taken over the job of director of national intelligence after Dan Coats stepped down last month. That’s how Mr. Trump likes it. “Acting gives you great flexibility that you don’t have with permanent,” he said last month, referring to the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one of the many executive branch positions that have gone for months or longer without a Senate-confirmed leader. In other words, if the president can’t command abject loyalty, he’ll take temp workers who will depend on him moment to moment for their jobs.

The No. 1 task of America’s intelligence and law-enforcement communities is to identify and deal with threats to national security. The problem, as explained by Jack Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush, is that Mr. Trump’s behavior has repeatedly revealed “the extent to which our constitutional system assumes and relies on a president with a modicum of national fidelity, and decent judgment and reasonableness.”

In other words, the system isn’t designed to deal with a situation in which a hazard may come from the president himself.

*************

MSNBC’s Morning Joe darkly warns why Rudy Giuliani’s ‘lies and gibberish’ are no laughing matter

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough laughed uproariously at Rudy Giuliani’s careening denials and admissions to possible crimes involving Ukraine, and then darkly noted that his bizarre “gibberish” was straight out of the authoritarian handbook.

“Morning Joe” panelists cracked up at President Donald Trump’s attorney angrily denying that he sought election help from Ukraine’s government, only to even more angrily justify his reasons for doing what he had just denied.

“When it is going south you put gibberish on the air not to confuse people,” said panelist Donny Deutsch, “all of a sudden it’s just this noise that’s not as distracting that makes you lightheaded.”

Scarborough said dictators throw out “gibberish” to confuse and disorient the public, so they can gather more power.

“I could read you books of past governments, from decades past, that actually used this type of nonsense where you throw gibberish out at the population over and over again, nonsense, lies, then you admit, then you wrap it around a couple more lies,” he said, “and by the end the supporters of said public figure are so numb to the truth they do not recognize it.”

“There’s a certain regime where you go back and read — I’m not going to say,” he added. “Usually you get these writings from 1938, 1939, it wasn’t the early ’30s.”

Scarborough said recent autocrats use the same tactics to destroy truth and accountability.

“You could say this about Erdogan, you could say that about what’s happening across the globe, you know, in Russia, you could talk about what’s happening in Hungary, the Philippines, this is what strongmen, this what autocrats do,” Scarborough said. “They keep lying and shooting out gibberish, they admit, they deny until people are so numb to the truth that it just doesn’t matter. Rudy’s just admitted something outrageous. We’re laughing and supporters are going to (say) there’s nothing wrong with that, when, of course, any other president would be impeached that afternoon.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAU_bGCNGAQ

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CNN lays out damning timeline of Trump and Giuliani’s calls to Ukraine seeking dirt on Biden

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story
By Tom Boggioni

Following Rudy Giuliani’s extraordinary appearance on CNN on Thursday night, where he may have admitted the commission of a crime, the hosts of CNN’s “New Day” compiled a timeline linking the approximate date of Trump’s phone call that was flagged by a whistleblower to subsequent events involving Ukraine.

According to the timeline, presented by hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, Trump spoke with the president of Ukraine on July 25, with Giuliani meeting with him later that month.

What followed was the August 12 whistleblower complaint and then Trump blocking aide to Ukraine by the end of the month.

After three House committees opened up investigations into Giulini’s overtures to the Ukraine on Sept. 9, Trump lifted his embargo on Sept. 12.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ISDiUp95rM

 2 
 on: Today at 04:57 AM 
Started by Sunya - Last post by Helena
Hi Sunya,

What a joy to see this! Smiley
Thanks for sharing,
Helena

 3 
 on: Today at 04:04 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Trump whistleblower complaint: focus shifts to Ukraine amid Giuliani claims

Rumours over Trump’s reported promise to foreign leader mounts as his personal lawyer appears to admit to pressing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden

David Smith in Washington and Tom McCarthy in New York
Guardian
Fri 20 Sep 2019 05.32 BST

Speculation in Washington was at fever pitch on Thursday over reports Donald Trump’s promise to a foreign leader so troubled a US intelligence official that it prompted a whistleblower complaint, with the focus now shifting to Ukraine.

The whistleblower’s claim centered on Russia’s neighbour, according to reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times, noting that the complaint was filed weeks before Trump spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a testy interview on CNN on Thursday night, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, offered conflicting answers to questions on whether he had asked Ukraine to investigate the former vice-president, and 2020 presidential hopeful, Joe Biden. At one point he dismissed the claim as ridiculous before admitting it and saying he was proud of it.

    Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime)

    CNN's @ChrisCuomo: "Did you ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?"@RudyGiuliani: "Of course I did"

    President Trump's attorney says he had spoken with a Ukrainian official about Joe Biden's possible role in that government's dismissal of a prosecutor who investigated Biden's son. pic.twitter.com/hqmqtmx2VW
    September 20, 2019

The intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, determined that the whistleblower’s complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern”, a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.

The complaint’s existence was first reported on Wednesday night by the Post, which said a former official familiar with the matter said the communication it concerned was a phone call.

But further reporting by the New York Times, which also reported a possible connection to Ukraine, suggested the whistleblower’s intervention was prompted by multiple actions rather than a single conversation with a foreign leader.

Earlier this year Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, canceled a trip to Ukraine over a perceived conflict of interest between his ties to the White House and his apparent partisan political mission to dig for dirt against Biden, whose son once had a role in a Ukrainian gas company.

After the news of a whistleblower alarmed at Trump’s “promise” emerged, Giuliani sent a cryptic tweet about defending “yourself from big fat bullies”.

In a closed-door meeting of the House intelligence committee, Atkinson, the inspector general, said the investigation touched on multiple contacts Trump had with his opposite parties.

Mike Quigley, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, said, according to the Hill: “He didn’t talk about anything about the allegations, where he was very protective. But he did mention that this complaint was based on a series of events, ‘more than one’ to get the exact wordage right.”

Letters from Atkinson to the committee, released on Thursday, said it was an “urgent” matter of “serious or flagrant abuse” that must be shared with members of Congress. But concerns grew on Capitol Hill that intelligence officials were striving to shield Trump from damaging revelations.

Last month the president named Joseph Maguire, a former navy official, as acting director of national intelligence after the departure of Dan Coats, who often clashed with Trump, and the retirement of Sue Gordon, a career professional in the number two position.

Now Maguire is refusing to share details about the whistleblower complaint with the House intelligence committee, asserting that its subject is beyond his jurisdiction.

The committee chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff, said this was an unprecedented departure from the law. “There is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress,” he told reporters.

Schiff added that Maguire, in a further departure from standard procedure, consulted with the justice department in deciding not to transmit the complaint to Congress. It is not clear whether the White House was also involved, he said.

Since the director is claiming privileged information, Schiff said he believes the whistleblower’s complaint “likely involves the president or people around him”. The chairman said he would go to court, if necessary, to try to force the administration to turn over the information in the complaint.

Jim Himes, a Democratic congressman from Connecticut, told the MSNBC network that Maguire “broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress”.

He added this has “never been done before in the history of inspector general reports to the Congress, and the American people should be worried about that”.

On Thursday Trump lashed out at the initial Washington Post report. “Another Fake News story out there - It never ends!” he wrote on Twitter. “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!”

He added: “...Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

Maguire has been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee and is expected to testify publicly about the whistleblower complaint next Thursday. Both Maguire and Atkins are also expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee.

The Trump administration has cut back on its predecessors’ longtime practice of issuing summaries of the president’s conversations with world leaders.

Trump reportedly spoke with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, and the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, in the weeks before the complaint was filed.

The Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe voiced concern in a post on Twitter that the action by Trump could be a breach of national security.

    Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw)

    To be troubling enough for the IG to classify as “a matter of urgent concern,” a “promise” by POTUS to any of the foreign leaders we know Trump spoke with in July or August (including Kim and Putin) would have to be one betraying our national security. This cannot stand.
    September 19, 2019

The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on 12 August, when a Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey, the Post reports.

Jon Cooper, a former aide to Barack Obama and prominent New York Democrat, speculated on Thursday that if the vice-president, Mike Pence, was aware of what had happened and, if it was serious, had not raised the alarm, it could spell trouble for him.

    Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets)

    What are the odds that @VP Mike Pence was aware of the “promise” Trump made to a foreign leader that was so alarming it led to an “urgent, credible” whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community? If Pence knew but covered it up, he may be in deep trouble himself.
    September 19, 2019

The California Democratic congressman Ted Lieu said on Twitter that intelligence officers must have been “freaked out” by Trump’s conduct, raised the alarm and alerted the press.

    Ted Lieu (@tedlieu)

    Why are we even reading this in the @washingtonpost? Because intel officers are freaked out by the conduct of @POTUS.

    Thanks to the free press for bringing critical information to the American people in the face of coverups & obstruction by the @realDonaldTrump Administration. https://t.co/I2baMas9ew
    September 19, 2019

**************

‘Where’s Miss Graham?’ MSNBC’s Morning Joe challenges ‘Moscow Mitch’ to confront whistleblower complaint against Trump

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough challenged Senate Republicans to get to the bottom of a highly unusual whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump now that new details have emerged.

Former U.S. officials told the Washington Post that the whistleblower filed a report with the intelligence community’s inspector general over a “promise” Trump made in a July 31 phone call to a foreign leader, and “Morning Joe” panelists grappled with the handling of the complaint by acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

“It looks to me as if the Trump administration is deliberately seeking to undo the rules that have bounded U.S. intelligence activities, basically since the Watergate and the intelligence scandals in the ’70s,” said Post columnist David Ignatius. “It’s a big deal.”

Scarborough accused Maguire of engaging in a “coverup” by refusing to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, but has agreed to testify before the panel next week.

“What are they covering up is the question?” Scarborough said. “It is a coverup.”

MSNBC contributor Steve Rattner agreed.

“It is totally a coverup,” he said. “I think the obvious issues of intelligence and what went on between Trump and this foreign leader are central to this, but so is the relationship between the White House and the Congress of which this is yet just another example of the White House essentially refusing to follow normal procedures, law, separation of powers, and the rights of Congress to know what’s going on here.”

Scarborough asked what congressional Republicans intended to do about the administration’s refusal to follow the law.

“Are the Republicans curious at all about the inspector general, an independent inspector general saying that what the president said was so deeply troubling that they need to be made aware of it?” he said.

Co-host Willie Geist said he wouldn’t be holding his breath while Republicans decided whether to confront this latest abuse, and Scarborough named and shamed GOP senators in hopes of spurring them into action.

“Knowing that ‘Moscow Mitch’ McConnell is not even protecting American democracy from the Kremlin, when Republicans now, former conservatives like (Grover) Norquist are now coming out,” he said. “The Trumpists are coming out and saying you have to protect our democracy.”

Rattner asked whether any Republicans cared that the president allegedly made a promise to a foreign leader that prompted a formal whistleblower complaint.

“Put aside ‘Moscow Mitch, where is Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's cumslut' Graham?” Rattner said. “Where is Tom Cotton? Where are the people who say they’re most focused on the integrity of the U.S.?”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF92fuGN0SE

*************

‘This person has to be very senior’: Ambassador McFaul breaks down two possible whistleblower motivations

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story

America’s former ambassador to Russia on Thursday broke down what we know about the whistleblower alleging wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.

Ambassador Michael McFaul was interviewed by MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber on “The Beat.”

“In my understanding, have — having worked closely with the intelligence community, when I was in the government — nobody that I know would go to these steps unless there was something really serious. This is not about the inappropriate use of classified material,” McFaul noted. “It’s something much bigger.”

“We’re talking about someone who is at a senior enough level to have this level of access, who knows the rules and knows they can lose their job or worse,” Melber noted.

“Well, for starts, you said something really important there that I want to make sure your listeners heard. This person has to be very senior in the intelligence community. POTUS phone calls are not read out to the entire U.S. government and the entire CIA,” he explained. “I used to organize those phone calls for President Obama, that is a very small group of people that have access to that.”

“So if this was a phone call, it suggested somebody very senior and, second, I think it points to either criminal behavior — and again I’m speculating here — or some threat to a key asset to the intelligence community,” McFaul said.

“Wow,” Melber replied.

“To be so motivated to take this extraordinary act, it has to be something extraordinary — and in my mind, it’s in one of those two buckets,” McFaul said.

“Wow,” Melber repeated.

*************

‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story

Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump’s claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell.

The host played a notorious clip of Trump.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible,” Trump argued.

“And now he has gone beyond that,” O’Donnell noted. “Now the president is sayin, ‘I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'”

“In New York City today the president’s lawyers sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance,” O’Donnell explained. “And in filing the lawsuit, the president’s lawyers told the court ‘the president thus cannot be subject to criminal process for any conduct of any kind while he is serving as president.’ So according to the president’s lawyers, Donald Trump could commit murder — he could commit murder on Fifth Avenue with the whole world watching on TV and there is nothing law enforcement could do about that as long as Donald Trump is president.”

For analysis, O’Donnell interviewed Tribe, who has taught at Harvard Law School for fifty years and argued three-dozen cases before the United States Supreme Court.

“Can the president shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and the Manhattan district attorney simply has to look the other way?” O’Donnell asked.

“The answer is no,” Tribe replied. “We don’t have a constitution, thank goodness, in which the president is that much above the law.”

“But in fact, the position that his lawyers were taking today in the federal court filing is even more extreme than that. They have taken the position that the president’s company cannot be investigated, that those who may have conspired with him to commit financial and other crimes cannot be investigated, that the whole state proceeding must be stopped in its tracks,” he continued.

Tribe said Trump was “basically inviting the country to kick him out of office so he can be held accountable to the law.”

“That’s very kind of him, but I doubt that’s his intention,” he quipped.

“And it’s clear that his position now is ‘Nobody can do anything to me, they can’t touch me. I have Article Two on my side. You can do what I want. Congress can’t touch me, they can’t ask questions of anyone who has ever worked with me or anyone whose had anything to do with me, state courts can’t investigate me, the federal government can’t indict me and, you know, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach me, so I’m home free and I can get away with murder.’ That can’t be the law in the United States,” Tribe said.

“That’s not why we fought a revolution against a king just in order to get a tyrant. It’s astonishing and hopefully, this will finally wake people up and realize this guy has got to go,” he said.

“It’s treachery if not treason and it’s bribery and it’s unacceptable,” Tribe added.

***********

Anderson Cooper recounts devastating list of times Trump was ‘dumb enough’ to reveal secrets to foreign officials

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story

On Thursday’s edition of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Cooper slammed President Donald Trump with a list of occasions on which the president shared sensitive intelligence information with foreign officials, in light of the growing whistleblower scandal centering partly on a phone call he had with a foreign leader.

“As for the president, he tweeted this: ‘Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem! Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call,'” said Cooper. “Whether the president is in his own words, ‘dumb enough,’ that’s unclear. But his larger denial would certainly be easier to swallow if it weren’t for some of what we know he has done when he’s not surrounded by witnesses.”

“We know that he did reveal classified information to Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister in a conversation we only learned about through Russian media,” said Cooper. “We know on other occasions the president had spoken to Vladimir Putin without note-takers in the room, something no modern president has done before. We also know, in a story broken by CNN’s Jim Sciutto, that the U.S. intelligence has extracted a top Kremlin asset, in part reportedly out of concern the president might blow his cover. So there is that.”

“There is also the broader question of whether you can take what the president says at face value. He tells so many obvious and checkable untruths, including this,” said Cooper, playing a clip of Trump boasting, “I was the most transparent and am transparent president in history.”

“Well, all that said, the Constitution gives any president, truthful or not, transparent or not, broad authority to conduct foreign policy,” added Cooper. “The law gives a president almost unlimited authority to declassify intelligence if he or she wants to.”

**********

Maddow is visibly shocked Trump is claiming in court the president can’t even be investigated

on September 20, 2019
Raw Story

The host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC was flabbergasted by the latest court moves by President Donald Trump as he continues to hide his tax returns from investigators.

The host noted the ongoing legal battle Trump is waging to keep his accounting firm, Mazars, from handing over eight years of his tax returns to New York state investigators.

The host was shocked by the headline on the front-page of The Washington Post website.

Headline in The New York Times: “Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated” screengrab.

The host read from Trump’s legal argument.

“The president cannot be ‘subject to the criminal process’ while in office,” read one quote. “Nor can he be investigated, indicted, or otherwise subjected to criminal process.”

“Nor can he be investigated? Wait a second,” Maddow said.

“Make no doubt about it, there’s a reason this is on the front page The New York Times right now. The president is not just claiming you can’t indict a sitting president, the president is now claiming you can’t investigate a sitting president,” Maddow explained.

“And now it’s the contention of the Trump Administration that not only can a president not be indicted, he can’t be investigated — at all — for anything. No matter what he does,” she explained.

“But it is a remarkable thing to see it in black and white. And that is just what they are claiming that the president really could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone in cold blood. Not only are they now claiming that he could not be indicted for doing that, they are now claiming he could not be investigated as to whether or not he did it — no matter how many people saw him do it in broad daylight,” Maddow noted.

***************

How the tyrant in the White House just took our government to a new depth of depravity

on September 20, 2019
By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport @ RawStory
- Commentary

To me, it feels ice-tinglingly creepy that the U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu in Washington wants to bring criminal charges against former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

The charge, basically that McCabe lied about a leak to a reporter, seems to come nowhere near close to supporting a criminal charge after 18 months of investigation, an expired grand jury and public humiliation for McCabe in firing him two days short of his professional resignation, killing off his pension. It seems that even a grand jury has decided not to react to the prosecution’s call for indictment.

But that’s not what’s wrong here. It is the White House squeezing the Justice Department to do its political bidding.

    This case is raw partisan political retribution by Donald Trump for the FBI to have launched the formal all-things-Russia investigation against Trump’s campaign.

Make no mistake about this: This case is raw partisan political retribution by Donald Trump for a subordinate at the FBI to have launched the formal all-things-Russia investigation against Trump’s campaign and cooperation with Russia to alter the 2016 election and to obstruct any probe by firing former FBI head James B. Comey Jr.

This is the stuff of tyrants and despots, not a democracy.

Worse, we’re seeing the same in other cases, including this week’s call for the Justice Department to come to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to new information about indecent partying years ago at Yale. Or in calling on Justice to keep former staffers to obey congressional subpoenas using a made-up version of immunity.

No Grand Jury Indictment

It is not clear where things actually stand with the McCabe case. The U.S. attorney recalled the expired grand jury, which met for a day. There are only a limited number of purposes to be served: The grand jury could be asking for more information, unlikely after 18 months of investigation into a case in which most of the naughty information was agreed to upfront. Or the grand jury was there to indict. Or, the grand jury refused to issue the indictment, believing it to be too political.

Here’s the legal stuff: McCabe’s legal team was notified that the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment against him for lying to investigators, the result of a failed appeal in the matter to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu had said she would seek an indictment. By yesterday, nothing more was heard other than the recall of the grand jury.

The non-legal background: McCabe was less than “candid” with Justice investigators after a leak to The Wall Street Journal about the handling of Hillary Clinton email information in response to a story that McCabe thought factually incorrect. Therein, the crime – lying to investigators.

Of course, it was McCabe who was left at the head of the FBI to review the disparate parts of the investigations into Trump’s campaign and contacts with Russians hoping to interfere with the election. From Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to every official review of the matters that had preceded it, people from almost all sides of the political world had concluded that even if they would not have opened a full investigation against Trump, doing so was within a band of reasonableness.

Trump Weakens the Case

McCabe lost his job, and his pension, and he and his wife, a one-time candidate for local office in Virginia, have been drubbed for years now by Trump tweets and statements. The prevalence of those Trump public attacks has been so much, including public calls of “treason,” that they could weaken any case against McCabe as abuse of power.

My feelings about the case have little to do with McCabe himself, of course. Rather I am gobsmacked again by the idea that we have a guy in the White House who so believes he is the State, that his word is enough to send perceived political enemies to jail on a whim.

This is the same president who dangles pardons to employees to encourage them to break the law, this is the same president who refuses to acknowledge congressional subpoenas in violation of law, this is the same president who refuses to stand to answer charges of being an unindicted co-conspirator in New York and who leaves unanswered at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice.

Yet, the only thing that matters is striking out against perceived enemies. McCabe and Comey hit him, says the Trump mind, so he hits them. Hard. Criminally.

Remember this moment.

 4 
 on: Today at 03:47 AM 
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Netanyahu struggles to hold on to power as Gantz claims victory

Blue and White leader rejects offer to serve under Likud after close-run Israeli election

Peter Beaumont and Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem
Guardian
20 Sep 2019 14.44 BST

Benjamin Netanyahu is furiously manoeuvring to cling to office after his rival Benny Gantz refused to serve under him in a government of national unity following an inconclusive election.

Gantz’s Blue and White alliance is two seats ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s Likud party, according to results published by Israeli media with 97% of the vote counted.

Neither bloc has an obvious path to form a majority coalition, and Netanyahu called for them to join together in a unity government, hinting that he might be willing to accept a power-sharing arrangement with Gantz, a precedent found in the rotation of the prime minister’s office between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres in the mid-1980s.

Gantz, a former military chief, said he should lead the next government because his alliance won the most seats.

“The country has chosen unity. The country has chosen Israel first,” Gantz said on Thursday. “Blue and White, headed by me, has won the election … I am interested in and intend to form a broad and liberal unity government, under my leadership. A government that will convey the will of the people. A paralysed national government does not benefit the people.”

Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Blue and White figure, was blunt, telling reporters: “We will not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu.”

Netanyahu said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the rejection.

Bolstering his opponents’ case that the election was a referendum on the prime minister, polling suggested that Netanyahu and Likud had lost support in its former strongholds.

While the struggle to form coalition governments has long been a feature of Israel’s fractious politics, it has been further complicated by the presence of the deeply polarising figure of Netanyahu.

In two weeks’ time he will face pre-trial hearings for three corruption cases against him. A majority in the 120-seat parliament could help grant the 69-year-old – who denies any wrongdoing – immunity from prosecution.

Netanyahu has worked hard to make sure that blame for the failure of a deal with Gantz – which would raise the prospects of an unprecedented third round of elections – is apportioned to his rival.

While weeks of negotiations to form a coalition government lay ahead, conditions set by the parties could hobble the task within the allotted time, prompting a third election.

Neither side appeared to be able to form a government of at least 61 seats without the support of the election’s apparent kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu party.

His insistence on a secular government would force out Netanyahu’s traditional allies, the country’s two ultra-Orthodox parties and another nationalist-religious party.

Reuven Rivlin, the country’s president, promised on Thursday to do everything in his power to prevent a third election.

The deadlock follows the second Israeli elections this year, which were called because Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition after the April vote. Israelis endured a caustic campaign with a combative Netanyahu fighting for his political survival.

This week’s vote was largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who this summer surpassed Israel’s founding prime minister to become the country’s longest-serving leader. During the campaign, Netanyahu cast himself as a seasoned statesman who was the only candidate able to steer Israel through a sea of challenges.

Gantz, a former army chief, tried to paint Netanyahu as divisive and scandal-plagued, offering himself as a calming influence and honest alternative.

 5 
 on: Today at 03:43 AM 
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Mass protests in Spain after 19 women murdered by partners

‘Feminist emergency’ demonstrations follow series of high-profile rape cases

Sam Jones in Madrid
Guardian
Fri 20 Sep 2019 10.39 BST

Protesters will take to the streets of more than 250 towns and cities across Spain on Friday to declare a “feminist emergency” after a series of high-profile rape cases and a summer in which 19 women were murdered by current or former partners.

Organisers are aiming to “turn the night purple” – the colour of the feminist movement – to raise the alarm and protest against apathy, indifference and a lack of attention from politicians and the media.

So far this year, 42 women have been murdered in domestic violence attacks and 32 children left motherless. Since the government began recording such murders in 2003, 1,017 women have been killed by their current or former partners.

The demonstrations come three years after the notorious gang-rape of a woman at the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona and amid the trial of seven men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in Catalonia.

“This has been a summer dominated by barbarity, murders, rapes, assault, paedophilia and gang attacks,” said the protests’ organisers, Feminist Emergency.

“The gender-based violence of the summer has led to the worst figures in more than a decade. We can’t let another school or parliamentary term begin as if nothing has happened. To do so would be to tolerate the intolerable … This is an emergency.”

The organisers are urging people to assemble with candles, lanterns, torches and mobile phones to let “feminism fill the night”.

The Pamplona attack – known as the “wolf pack” case after the name the rapists gave themselves – shocked Spain and provoked a fierce debate over the country’s sexual offences legislation.

There were furious protests around the country after the judges presiding over the original trial cleared the five of gang-rape and convicted them only of the lesser charge of sexual abuse.

In June, Spain’s supreme court overturned the regional court’s verdict, ruled that the men had committed rape, and raised their sentences from nine to 15 years each.

Parallels have been drawn between that case and the trial of the six men who are alleged to have raped the 14-year-old girl in the Catalan town of Manresa.

While prosecutors had initially argued the defendants should face charges of sexual assault rather than rape because the girl was drunk, under the influence of drugs and did not fight back, they upgraded the charges to rape on Monday.

Despite the outcry and anger provoked by such cases, Spain’s far-right Vox party has called for the repeal of domestic violence laws and attacked “psychopathic feminazis”.

On Thursday, the party boycotted the minute’s silence that Madrid city council had called to mark the murder of the latest victim of domestic violence, Adaliz Villagra.

Villagra, 31, was stabbed to death in front of her two children in the capital on Tuesday.

Vox’s decision to boycott the event and instead turn up with a sign reading: “Violence has no gender” prompted a public row between Madrid’s conservative mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and Javier Ortega Smith, Vox’s general secretary.

 6 
 on: Today at 03:41 AM 
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Indonesian president postpones plans to outlaw extramarital sex

Apparent climbdown follows wave of anger and criticism over draconian draft laws

Kate Lamb in Jakarta
Guardian
Fri 20 Sep 2019 10.36 BST

Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has ordered his government to postpone the ratification of a deeply controversial criminal code that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president.

The apparent climbdown came in a surprise address at the state palace on Friday afternoon, and follows an outpouring of anger and criticism about the draconian draft laws.

“I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” the president, better known as Jokowi, told a televised news conference. He said he had decided the bill needed further review after taking into account input from various groups who objected to parts of it.

The Indonesian parliament has spent decades revising its colonial-era criminal code, creating a 628-article draft bill that it was due to be put to a vote on Tuesday.

More than 300,000 people had signed a petition calling for Jokowi to step in and stop the bill from being passed.

The draft penal code applied to everyone in Indonesia, including foreigners, although it was not clear how it would be enforced in holiday hotspots such as Bali. Australia updated its travel advice to warn its citizens of the possible changes.

Activists said it would usher in sweeping changes to Indonesian law that would be disastrous for women, religious and sexual minorities in particular, as well as for press freedom.

“This is a moment he will be remembered for,” the petition’s author and women’s rights activist Tunggal Pawestri said before Jokowi’s statement on Friday. “What legacy does Jokowi want to have? As a president who is remembered for including a dictatorial and anti-human rights agenda in the penal code? If he really cares about his image as a president of the people then he needs to follow the voice of the people.”

Among the provisions in the draft code are articles that would outlaw de-facto relationships and extramarital sex , which activists fear would in effect criminalise same-sex relations. Insulting the president would become a criminal offence punishable by three and a half years in prison.

Using the hashtag #semuabisakena, meaning “this effects everyone”, the petition highlights problematic articles, including those that would also criminalise buskers, beggars and sex workers.

The petition also notes an article in the proposed code that refers to “living law”, which Human Rights Watch says could be interpreted to legitimise hundreds of discriminatory sharia bylaws already in place at the local level.

“This petition has attracted the attention of a lot of people who have realised, this is the situation that we will have if this bill is passed,” said Pawestri.

Pawestri first started the petition in January 2018 to focus on how the draft penal code – which has been decades in the making – would negatively affect women and LGBT people, but in recent months it has morphed into a more broad critique, garnering more than 440,000 signatures.

The bill exposed the fault line between liberals and an increasingly socially conservative society in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Rights groups said the proposals underscored a growing shift towards fundamentalism in a country long hailed for its religious tolerance.

Indonesia’s Aceh province already imposes Islamic law, and whipping is a common punishment for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.

The proposals call for a wider interpretation of Indonesia’s blasphemy law, under which members of religious minority groups, including Christians and Buddhists, have been prosecuted in the past.

Civil society groups said they submitted comprehensive recommendations and revisions to the draft code that were largely ignored.

On Thursday, hundreds protested outside the parliament, rejecting not only the draft penal code, but also a controversial law passed this week on an anti-corruption commission, which is widely expected to weaken the body’s investigative powers.

The parliament – the source of more than 20 corruption suspects in recent years – has been derided for passing that law in secrecy and in record time.

Critics also pointed out that the draft penal code halves the sentence of those convicted of corruption or those “unlawfully enriching themselves” from four to two years.

 7 
 on: Today at 03:39 AM 
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Explosions may be responsible for the bizarre lakes on Saturn’s Titan

Mike Wehner
BGR
9/20/2019

Scientists have learned a lot about Saturn’s moon Titan thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which orbited the planet for well over a decade before NASA, and the ESA had to pull the plug in 2017. The mission was a massive success, and it’s still yielding new discoveries today.

Titan, which is the only other world that we know of in our solar system that supports liquid on its surface, is well known for its colossal lakes that are filled with hydrocarbons, but it’s the towering structures on the shores of those lakes that are the subject of a new research effort published in Nature Geoscience.

In contrast to most lakes here on Earth, many of the lakes found on Titan’s surface are surrounded by steep ridges stretching hundreds of feet into the sky. Exactly how those structures formed is a question scientists are eager to answer, a new model suggests a possible explanation.

Using radar data from Cassini, scientists have built computer simulations that show how explosions of warming nitrogen within Titan’s crust could have formed such basins. It’s possible, the researchers say, that liquid nitrogen, enduring periods of cooling and heating thanks to the greenhouse effect from Titan’s atmosphere, could have heated rapidly enough that, when it vaporized, it caused an explosion in the crust and formed craters.

In this hypothetical scenario, the craters became the perfect places for raining hydrocarbons to pool, laying the groundwork for the lakes we see covering the moon today.

“This is a completely different explanation for the steep rims around those small lakes, which has been a tremendous puzzle,” Linda Spilker of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains. “As scientists continue to mine the treasure trove of Cassini data, we’ll keep putting more and more pieces of the puzzle together. Over the next decades, we will come to understand the Saturn system better and better.”

 8 
 on: Today at 03:37 AM 
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Tiny penguin released back into wild after swimming from New Zealand to Australia

Fiordland penguin found 170km west of Melbourne recuperates for eight weeks after 2,500km swim

Calla Wahlquist
20 Sep 2019 03.28 BST
Guardian

A New Zealand penguin that washed up on a beach in Victoria has been released back to the wild to complete a 2,500km swim home.

The emaciated Fiordland penguin was found struggling against rocks in the shallows at Kennett River, 170km west of Melbourne, on 10 July.

It was taken to Melbourne Zoo by the marine response unit and given a balance of fluids and nutrients until it was well enough to eat. Once it felt better, said Melbourne Zoo’s head of veterinary services, Dr Michael Lynch, it began to eat with gusto.

“Once it got going it really stacked on the weight, a huge appetite,” Lynch said. “It was eating 20-25% of its own bodyweight per day. That would be like an 80kg person eating 20kg of food a day. It’s quite amazing how much food it could pack down.”

Once the penguin had returned to a healthy weight – they are usually about 3.5kg – it was sent to Phillip Island Nature Parks to build up its swimming muscles in their larger pools, ready for the journey home to New Zealand.

It was released this month after eight weeks’ recuperation.

“We are hoping that it will get back to New Zealand and breed,” Lynch said. “We put a microchip into the bird so if it does turn up back in New Zealand one day and someone reads that microchip we will be very happy.”

Melbourne is at the outer edge of the normal range for the IUCN red-listed species, which has breeding grounds on New Zealand’s south island and surrounding smaller islands.

The global wild population of the penguins, which are listed as vulnerable, is estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,600.

Lynch said the penguins had previously been very rare in Australia but had been turning up more in recent years, for reasons as yet unknown.

“The species is known to forage over thousands of kilometres and we are within the edge of the range of this bird,” he said. “So it is not out of the question that we would see the birds here, but they are certainly a long way from home.”

Other penguin species have also embarked on unlikely trans-Tasman trips.

In 2014, a Snares penguin dubbed “Miss Simpson” was found on a Tasmanian beach some 2,000km from its home grounds of the Snares Islands, south of New Zealand, and spent nine months in recovery before being released.

Scientists in New Zealand recently discovered that a little penguin colony near Otago in the South Island was made up of Australian invaders, little blue penguins that had colonised the area and replaced a similar local species 500 years ago.

 9 
 on: Today at 03:34 AM 
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California family find mountain lion lounging in their bathroom

The big cat wandered into the home in the Sierra Nevada foothills and took refuge in the bathroom before being coaxed out

Vivian Ho in San Francisco
Guardian
20 Sep 2019 21.15 BST

In the photo, the lounging mountain lion looks almost shocked, as if caught mid-exclamation while yelling, “Get out!” Given the setting – a bathroom in a northern California home – no one could blame the big cat for wanting some privacy.

But in this case, it was the lion that was the unwanted guest. On Monday night it wandered into a family home in the Sierra Nevada foothills, about 50 miles outside of Yosemite National Park.

The mountain lion banged through the front screen door of the home in Sonora, breezing past both the home’s residents before fully comprehending what it had done, said Andrea Benson, a sergeant with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s office.

The lion ran deeper into the house once it spotted the residents, ending up in a bathroom, and the residents quickly shut the door behind it, Benson said.

They went into the basement and called for help, while the mountain lion appeared to take the opportunity to knock around toiletries. The sheriff’s department and the state department of fish and wildlife responded, using a ladder to get a peek – and a photo – of the mountain lion in the second-story bathroom.

With the residents’ permission, the sheriff’s deputies broke the window and worked with the wildlife department to coax the animal out.

“The officers were pounding on the wall to get his attention, and shining the light on the window area to show that there was a path to escape,” Benson said. “He finally was able to jump out the window.”

The mountain lion took off into the wilderness after making its escape from the bathroom, said Patrick Foy, a captain with the wildlife service’s law enforcement division. “He did get a stern warning about the break-in before being released,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.

More than half of California is mountain lion habitat, and Sonora is in the heart of mountain lion country, Foy said. However, human and mountain lion interactions are rare.

“Most lions stay away from people,” Foy said. “The lions, they’re always looking for food, but not in someone’s house. There’s just no way to surmise why the lion actually ran into the person’s house.”

Foy can recall just two other times in his more than two decades of experience of mountain lions running into homes. In 2017, a mountain lion snuck into a home in the hills of San Mateo county, just south of San Francisco, and snatched a dog off a sleeping woman’s bed. A few months later, a mountain lion crashed through an apartment window and on to a woman’s bed in Colusa, north of Sacramento.

Though mountain lions are always looking for prey, they rarely harm humans. The last mountain lion fatality in California was in 2004.

 10 
 on: Today at 03:33 AM 
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Outrage in China as giant panda on loan to Thailand zoo dies

Chuang Chuang reportedly collapsed after eating bamboo in Chiang Mai Zoo

Erin Hale in Hong Kong
Guardian
20 Sep 2019 13.44 BST

The sudden death of a giant panda on loan to a zoo in Thailand has sparked outrage in China and calls for no more of the bears to be lent to the country.

Chuang Chuang, a 19-year-old male, reportedly collapsed on Monday afternoon after eating bamboo in Chiang Mai zoo in northern Thailand, according to Thai media.

While the death will be investigated by experts from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, according to Chinese state media, the news has not placated social media.

Many in the online community say they still have questions about Chuang Chuang’s death and the quality of food and facilities at the Chiang Mai zoo, with his death a top trending topic on the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo.

One user wrote: “Please don’t rent any more pandas to Thailand! No! Chuang Chuang is probably the most bitter panda in the world! What kind of bamboo he was given eat? If you can’t afford [a panda], don’t rent it.”

“You must take good care of our national treasures loaned to you, Thailand,” another user wrote. “Now Chuang Chuang is gone. It’s no use saying anything. If you can’t take care of our national treasures, don’t borrow them. I’m so sad.”

Many questioned China’s programme of loaning its endangered giant pandas abroad, part of its “panda diplomacy” in which zoos outside of China pay millions to host the animals.

Chuang Chuang had been on loan to the Chiang Mai zoo since 2003, along with his mate, Lin Hui.

“I hope they cancel the panda lease contract with Thailand, they are not as kind to animals as we think,” one user wrote. Another urged authorities to investigate the death, saying: “We don’t have to rent to countries that don’t take good care of [our pandas]”.

While Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui failed to mate while living in captivity together, Lin Hui gave birth to a cub in 2009 via artificial insemination.

A Sina Weibo user asked for Lin Hui to be returned home following Chuang Chuang’s death. “If you are unable to look after them, please return them,” they wrote. “Chuang Chuang has already lost [his] life. Please send Lin Hui home.”

Pandas live 14-20 years on average in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but they can live up to 30 in captivity.

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