Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2019

Transcript: Trump’s Lawyer Floats Pardon to Flynn’s Lawyer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:52 pm



Those who have read the Mueller report, all three of you, already know that Donald Trump’s lawyer floated pardons to Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen to dissuade them from cooperating with the government. Now CNN reports:

The Justice Department on Friday released a more complete transcript of a voice mail from Donald Trump’s attorney John Dowd to Rob Kelner, the lawyer for Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, where he sought information about Flynn’s discussions with the special counsel on the eve of his cooperation deal.

. . . .

The release of the transcript — and lack of the other release of transcripts — came following Judge Emmet Sullivan’s unusual order last week seeking public disclosure of documents used in Flynn’s case as he heads toward sentencing Flynn for lying to investigators.

Overall, the voice mail highlights a call that special counsel Robert Mueller investigated as potential obstruction of justice by the President. Dowd had made the call on November 22, 2017, after Flynn’s team said it could no longer communicate with the White House, just before Flynn pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation.

In the voice mail transcript, most of which was previously documented in the Mueller report, Dowd said it “wouldn’t surprise me” if Flynn was about to make a deal, but if it “implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue, or … some issue … not only for the President, but for the country.” He then asked for a “heads up,” according to the transcript. Dowd also wanted to remind Flynn about “the President and his feelings towards Flynn.”

The call “could have had the potential to affect Flynn’s decision to cooperate, as well as the extent of that cooperation,” Mueller wrote in his report on potential obstruction of justice by the President during the investigation. “We do not have evidence establishing whether the President knew about or was involved in his counsel’s communications with Flynn’s counsel.” Mueller credited Flynn for turning over the voice mail to investigators so they could investigate possible obstruction of the probe, according to a previous court filing.

If you think Dowd did that on his own without talking to Trump, you are naive. Here’s the text of the voice mail:

Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again. Uh, maybe, I-I-I’m-I’m sympathetic; I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t … state it in … starker terms. If you have … and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with, and, uh, work with the government, uh … I understand that you can’t join the joint defense; so that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, we have, there’s information that. .. implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue, I don’t know … some issue, we got to-we got to deal with, not only for the President, but for the country. So … uh … you know, then-then, you know, we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of … protecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up any … confidential information. So, uhm, and if it’s the former, then, you know, remember what we’ve always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains, but-Well, in any event, uhm, let me know, and, uh, I appreciate your listening and taking the time. Thanks, Pal.

This is not subtle. An accurate paraphrase: if you’re thinking of making a deal, remember Trump still likes your client and could pardon him.

When Justin Amash said Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct” he was right. This is just one example of many.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Our Adorably Batty Socialist Niece and Her Uncle Ted Conspire to Curtail Freedoms

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:10 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Everyone’s favorite dizzy socialist niece is at it again. Since she seems to believe that there is no matter of concern in this great nation of ours that ought not to be addressed by Congressional legislation, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter yesterday to express her opinion about the predilection of some former members of Congress to immediately become well-paid lobbyists:

This is one of those AOC whims that ought to be allowed to quietly die in the intellectual mausoleum that is Twitter, yet her patently bad idea received a rather surprising endorsement:

Ted Cruz is clearly a very bright man and he generally understands the problems that big government causes through overregulation of just about everything, but it would seem that he jumped into this fray before stopping to think through exactly upon what Constitutional authority Congress could enact this ban. Sure, lobbyists are generally unsympathetic characters and there is something unavoidably sleazy about well-placed ex-members of Congress making big bucks peddling their connections and influence (I see you, Tom Daschle!), but where does a ban of this sort end?

I find the easy transition of political operatives to well-paid media gigs to be equally offensive, as well as the reverse in which career journalists suddenly become spokespeople for politicians. And given that the media isn’t all that much more trusted than Congress, why shouldn’t AOC and Ted also put an end to that cozy relationship? The answer of course is because it is none of their damn business who takes jobs doing what, and it is not an appropriate area for Congressional meddling.

I would support other, Constitutionally-sound methods to lessen the influence of former members turned lobbyists. For instance, ex-members of Congress are allowed on the floor of the legislative body they once served, they can obtain parking passes for Congressional lots, and they can use the House or Senate gym. But you know what? We already deny those privileges to ex-members who are registered lobbyists! In fact, the only thing I could see that might need to be tightened up is that ex-members who are registered as lobbyists should also be banned from the House and Senate dining rooms, even though the navy bean soup is supposed to be delicious.

Both the right and the left are convulsed these days with populism, so much that I am assuming that pitchfork sales are at all-time highs. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing when citizens rise up against the ruling class and demand accountability and an end to the you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours mentality that pervades Washington, DC. But we are a country that rightly limits our leaders’ ability to order our lives according to their own whims, and as long as we still respect the Constitution we shouldn’t be allowing Congress to place arbitrary restrictions on what sorts of jobs a private citizen can hold.

– JVW

Blogger Temporarily Suspended For Tweet About Elizabeth Warren, Who ‘Sounds A Little Bit Like Rachel Dolezal’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:46 am



[guest post by Dana]

Conservative writer Erick Erickson received a temporary Twitter suspension for allegedly violating Twitter’s “hateful conduct” rules:

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Surely it was the clumsy use of “Wampum” in his joke that triggered a conduct violation because Twitter wouldn’t be so biased that Erickson’s actual point to mock Warren for *falsely claiming* to be Native American was intentionally misconstrued as mocking a real Native American, right?

Warren reiterated that she is not a Native American during a radio interview this morning, saying, “I am not a person of color”:

During the interview, Warren acknowledged that she should not have claimed to have been Native American (and blamed her family for the mistake). She then made every effort to change the subject and focus on the policies she would enact if elected President. Radio host Charlamagne Tha God continued to press Warren on the matter of her Native American claims by asking whether she had ever benefited (financially or professionally) as a result. Warren said she had not. Looking a bit mystified, Charlamagne, with furrowed brow, lowered the boom:

You sound like the original Rachel Dolezal a little bit.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

President Trump Starts Trade War With Mexico

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:47 am



[guest post by Dana]

President Trump has started another trade war. This time with Mexico. Tweeting late yesterday afternoon, the President said:

On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,..at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow.

Untitled

Additionally, the White House said in a statement:

The tariff on all goods by land, sea, and air from Mexico will hike to 10 percent on July 1 — and potentially increase substantially from there.

“If Mexico still has not taken action to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States, Tariffs will be increased to 15 percent on August 1, 2019, to 20 percent on September 1, 2019, and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019,” Trump said in a statement released later by the White House on Thursday. “Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.”

…”Thousands of innocent lives are taken every year as a result of this lawless chaos. It must end NOW! … Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States.”

Reporting that the Dow Jones futures hadn’t moved until the President’s tweet, Investors Business Daily reports on the downside:

This could undermine efforts to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the revision to Nafta, just as the three countries begin a push to approve it. The U.S. already is embroiled in an escalating China trade war and still mulling global auto tariffs.

GM stock fell 1.5% and Ford stock 2% in late trade. U.S. tariffs on Mexico would affect supply chains for General Motors and Ford. Mexico is a big producer of cars, trucks and parts.

GM, Ford and other automakers already are worried about looming global auto tariffs, though Trump recently delayed that trade-war decision by up to 180 days.

Further reaction to the announcement saw the “Dow Jones industrial average futures fall 200 points, or 0.8%, while Mexico’s peso tumbled 2% against the U.S. dollar.”

Here are the numbers :

Goods imports from Mexico totaled $346.5 billion in 2018 (ustr.gov/COUNTRIES-REGI…)

A 5% tariff on that flow of goods amounts to a $17 billion tax increase.

In 2018, we imported $93 billion of vehicles, $64 billion of electrical machinery, $63 billion of machinery, $16 billion of mineral fuels, and $15 billion of optical and medical instruments from Mexico.

Mexico was the second largest supplier of imports to the United States in 2018. So, we’re imposing a tax on *everything* Americans buy from one of our largest trading partners.

…Mexico is our largest supplier of agricultural products: fresh vegetables ($5.9 billion), other fresh fruit ($5.8 billion), wine and beer ($3.6 billion), snack foods ($2.2 billion), and processed fruit & vegetables ($1.7 billion).

And here is the outlook for California if the tariffs are imposed:

The state imported $44 billion in goods from Mexico in 2018, making it the third-largest importing state for goods from Mexico, according to the California Chamber of Commerce.

Mexico is also California’s number one export market, buying $30.7 billion in goods last year, 17% of all California exports.

Computers and electronic products remained the state’s largest exports, accounting for 25.8% of all California exports to Mexico.

The tariffs would reportedly apply to all Mexican imports.

If you recall, it was a little over a week ago that President Trump chided White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, advising him “not to worry about how tariffs would impact U.S. businesses.” This after Kudlow publicly (and rightfully) contradicted the President by admitting that, “yes, both sides [U.S. and China] will pay in these things.”

Even Trump’s supporters in Congress are having a hard time backing him in this, for good reason:

“This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “I support nearly every one of President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them. I urge the president to consider other options.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico is also imploring President Trump to reconsider this move, and to enter into negotiations instead.

Just how much of a decrease in border crossings would be necessary to signal the tariffs a success remains unclear:

“We are going to judge success here by the number of people crossing the border and that number needs to start coming down immediately in a significant and substantial number,” Mulvaney said.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

5/30/2019

Hillary and Chelsea Go Hollywood!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:54 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I thought this would be a suitable follow-up to JVW’s amusing all-time awesome troll job post. Because, as he asks at the end of his post, I too was compelled to ask: This is a parody, right?

Nope, it’s true:

Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea are forming a production company to pursue film and television projects, making a foray into Hollywood after decades in the public eye…

The family hopes to use film and television to influence culture and society now that Hillary Clinton is out of politics. They plan to focus on stories by and about women. The production company is one of many potential business opportunities that Hillary Clinton, 71, is considering.

Looks like the Lifetime channel may have some stiff competition in the near future.

Hollywood: They’ll Pay You a Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, and Fifty Cents for Your Soul. Yep, sounds like a pretty good fit for the Clintons.

Anyway, I also saw this, and given it’s a little bit too on the nose, thought for sure it was a parody.

Wrong again:

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–Dana

An All-Time Awesome Troll Job (Right?)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:40 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I don’t know about you, but I love a really well thought-out and executed troll job, in which the pretension and self-absorption of the modern social justice warrior is gleefully mocked, but with just enough plausibility to make one not entirely 100% sure that it is a put-on. From the hilarity of the Los Feliz Daycare Twitter account to the clever scholars who punk trendy postmodern academic piffle to the delightfully witty Professor Titania McGrath Twitter account, those who expose the charlatans and frauds who seek to rule the world of grievance mongering are truly doing important work.

So now (hat tip to a Titania McGrath tweet) comes a promising new entry in the let’s-parody-the-crybullies sweepstakes. Behold the Race2Dinner website whose mission, we are told, is to force white women (it goes without saying, progressive white women) to bear witness to their complicity in perpetuating racism in our society. The site creators propose that white women host dinner parties for two particular “women of color,” Regina and Saira, in which the hostess(es) will be instructed on the ways in which they “work to keep all things in place that support white supremacy.” Here are the exacting demands as made by the two site principles:

Please consider WHY you want to join a dinner with Regina and Saira. If it’s “to learn” or to feel better or to be a “good ally,” reconsider. This dinner is not for you or about you. The dinner will be painful, uncomfortable, maddening, and upsetting. But what you’ll experience listening to our stories doesn’t come close to the pain of living as a Brown or Black woman in America. Are you TRULY ready to join us?

This is parody at its finest, right down to the capitalization of “Brown” and “Black” and the intentional lower-casing of “white,” even when that word is the first word in a sentence. The broken dinner plate on the homepage with the button labeled “Click here to smash your white fragility” is also fantastic. I understand that Kristen Gillibrand has already scheduled her dinner with Regina and Saira; it’s naturally to be catered.

Anyway, thought that was good for the laugh of the day. I mean, it is a parody, isn’t it? (See what I mean about not being entirely 100% sure it’s a put-on?)

– JVW

The Point of Impeachment (Updated)

Filed under: Accepted Wisdom,Politics — DRJ @ 10:15 am



[Headlines from DRJ]

Andrew C. McCarthy @ National ReviewThe Point of Impeachment:

… the capacity of Congress to oust a lawless president is central to the Framers’ design of our governing system. Because executive power is awesome, and intended to be that way, certain abuses of it can be discouraged only by the credible threat that Congress will remove the president from power — or, if discouragement fails, can be remediated only by the president’s actual removal. That is why Madison believed that the inclusion of impeachment in Congress’s arsenal was “indispensible” to preserving the Constitution’s framework of liberty vouchsafed by divided power.
***
“[H]igh crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution’s trigger for impeachment, is a term of art for abuses of power that violate the president’s fiduciary obligations to the American people he serves, the constitutional system he takes an oath to preserve, and the laws whose faithful execution is his core duty. High crimes and misdemeanors are not — or at least, not necessarily — the same as “crimes” and “misdemeanors” prosecutable in the courts. Impeachment is a political remedy (i.e., the removal of political authority), not a legal one (i.e., the removal of liberty after criminal indictment and conviction). That is why Hamilton, in Federalist 65, described impeachable offenses as “political” in nature — as “proceed[ing] from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

UPDATE 6/1/2019: Andrew C. McCarthy today — The Mueller Investigation was always an Impeachment Probe.

— DRJ

AP Headlines: Trump, Trump, Pence

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:36 am



[Headlines from DRJ]

Trump lashes special counsel after he says no exoneration:

President Donald Trump blasted special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday, calling him a “never Trumper” who led a biased investigation on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and failed to investigate his opponents who didn’t want Trump to be president.

Trump’s eruption came a day after Mueller pointedly rejected his repeated claims that he was cleared of obstruction of justice allegations and that the two-year inquiry was merely a “witch hunt.”

The president also offered mixed messages on Russia’s efforts to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, first tweeting that he had “nothing to do with Russia helping me get elected,” then minutes later, telling reporters: “Russia did not help me get elected.

Trump says not involved in keeping McCain ship out of sight:

President Donald Trump said Thursday he had nothing to with directing the U.S. Navy to keep a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain out of sight during his visit to Japan this week.

Speaking to reporters as he left the White House, Trump acknowledged that he “was not a big fan” of the late senator “in any way, shape or form,” but said: “I would never do a thing like that.”

“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say,” he added, while insisting he was kept in the dark.

Pence in Canada as he looks to build momentum on trade deal:

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Canada as he looks to build momentum to get a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico passed.

The visit comes after President Donald Trump removed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, clearing a key roadblock to a North American trade pact Trump’s team negotiated last year.

The new trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement , was signed in November by Trump and the leaders of Canada and Mexico and is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. It needs approval from legislatures in the three nations. Several key U.S. lawmakers and Canada were threatening to reject the pact unless the tariffs were removed.

— DRJ

5/29/2019

AP: Mueller to make 1st public statement on Russia probe

Filed under: Government,Law,Politics — DRJ @ 7:30 am



[Headline from DRJ]

APMueller to make 1st public statement on Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller is set to make his first public statement on the Russia investigation Wednesday, the Justice Department said.

Mueller will speak at the Justice Department at 11 a.m. and won’t take any questions.

Should be an interesting day to read @RealDonaldTrump.

Update: Various media are live-streaming this. Here is a link to The Hill TV.

— DRJ

5/28/2019

Notre Dame Cathedral: French Senate Says No To “Experimental” Spire Replacement

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:42 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I say hear, hear for honoring the historical, and for treasuring the exquisite.

A 300-foot-tall flame sculpture, a shooting beam of light, and a tower that resembles a spaceship are among the outlandish proposals put forth by architects to replace Notre Dame’s legendary spire, which collapsed during the cathedral’s devastating fire in April. But, in the end, none of these architectural follies is likely to become reality. On Monday, the French Senate voted that the cathedral must be restored to resemble as closely as possible its appearance before the blaze.

There has been a vigorous argument about the design of a new spire. Demands that it be rebuilt to look as it did before the April fire stood in direct opposition to the push for modernization. The decision to regulate the renovation explicitly mandates that any renovation of the cathedral must preserve the “last-known visual condition” of the monument, including the spire.

Given that “two days after the fire, France’s Prime Minster Édouard Philippe announced an international architectural competition to reconstruct the spire, this week’s vote by the French Senate underscores the belief in preserving tradition. While Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris voiced a preference for a replication of the original design, President Macron said he was open to “a contemporary architectural gesture” that could make Notre Dame Cathedral “even more beautiful.” Oh, please. As if.

Here are a few examples of how architects and artists, and even landscape architects, imagined a new Notre Dame Cathedral spire:

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spire2

spire

Oh, and yes, this is a cross-shaped swimming pool on top of the cathedral:

notre dame

Make this more beautiful, President Macron? I don’t think so:

notre dame

Here is a brief overview of the spire:

The cathedral’s flèche (or spire), which was destroyed in the April 2019 fire,[81] was located over the transept. The original spire was constructed in the 13th century, probably between 1220 and 1230. It was battered, weakened and bent by the wind over five centuries, and finally was removed in 1786. During the 19th-century restoration, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc decided to recreate it, making a new version of oak covered with lead. The entire spire weighed 750 tons.

Following Viollet-le-Duc’s plans, the spire was surrounded by copper statues of the twelve Apostles‍—‌a group of three at each point of the compass. In front of each group is an animal symbolising one of the four evangelists: a steer for Saint Luke, a lion for Saint Mark, an eagle for Saint John and an angel for Saint Matthew. Just days prior to the fire, the statues were removed for restoration.[82] While in place, they had faced outwards towards Paris, except one; the statue of Saint Thomas, the patron saint of architects, which faced the spire, and had the features of Viollet-le-Duc.

The rooster weathervane atop the spire contained three relics: a tiny piece from the Crown of Thorns in the cathedral treasury, and relics of Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve, patron saints of Paris. They were placed there in 1935 by Archbishop Jean Verdier, to protect the congregation from lightning or other harm. The rooster with relics intact was recovered in the rubble shortly after the 2019 fire.[83]

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

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