Crime & Legal

Trump’s Business isn’t Keeping the Receipts From Foreign Governments

by Ned Resnikoff – The president vowed to donate all profits from foreign governments to the Treasury. But he can’t donate them if no one can find them. One month ago, the House Oversight Committee asked the Trump Organization to provide documents related to payments it had received from foreign governments — and outline a plan for donating profits to the U.S. Treasury Department, as President Donald Trump vowed he would. Now it appears that Trump’s business empire hasn’t been keeping track of those payments, making compliance with the president’s promise all but impossible. NBC obtained a Trump Organization pamphlet that says the business will not “attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity.” Instead, the Trump Organization puts the onus on foreign governments to make those disclosures, voluntarily and without prompting. The Trump Organization forwarded this pamphlet to members of the...

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Jared Kushner Marked by FBI as Having ‘significant information’ in Russia

by Hunter – The investigation into Russian election hacking and links to the Trump campaign has now reached the doorstep of Trump son-in-law and adviser for All The Things, Jared Kushner. Oops. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News. Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. It is not known whether Kushner has received any records requests from federal investigators. Kushner, like multiple other members of the Trump campaign, had meetings with prominent Russian figures during the campaign or transition, including a December meeting in Trump Tower. And while the FBI doesn’t appear to consider Kushner a target, they are “focusing” on his actions. Investigators are focusing on a series of...

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GOP Strategist Admits He Colluded With Russian Hackers to Hurt Hillary Clinton, Democrats

by Eyesbright – I’ll quote the first three paragraphs of the article and provide the link to the whole thing.  Note that it actually originated from the Wall Street Journal but is behind a paywall.  The quotes are from Salon: The U.S. intelligence community has long since concluded Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and it was reported shortly after the 2016 presidential election that a GOP SuperPAC linked to Paul Ryan used illegally hacked material to attack Democratic House candidates. But a bombshell report published on Thursday confirms that Republican political operatives were working with the Russian government to hurt Hillary Clinton and Democrats during the election — the first direct evidence of so-called collusion. The Wall Street Journal reported that hacked information was posted on a blog run by Aaron Nevins, the political operative, and then passed along to top Trump adviser Roger Stone during the campaign. The Republican...

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What Happens When States Go Hunting for Welfare Fraud?

by Jen Fifield – By the time Illinois decided to crack down on Medicaid fraud in 2012, state officials knew that many people enrolled in the program probably weren’t eligible. For years, caseworkers hadn’t had the time or resources to check. To catch up, the state hired a private contractor to identify people who might not be eligible for the low-income health program and to make recommendations for whose benefits should be canceled. Within about a year, Illinois had canceled benefits for nearly 150,000 people whose eligibility could not be verified — and saved an estimated $70 million. Now, faced with growing Medicaid enrollment and tight budgets, Republican lawmakers in several other states are taking similar steps to ensure that people receiving welfare benefits are eligible for them. Under their proposals, which are modeled on legislation drafted by a national conservative group, recipients would face tougher and more frequent eligibility checks....

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There’s New Evidence that President Trump Obstructed Russian Investigation

by Emily Q. Hazzard – Here’s the case for charging the president with obstruction of justice. President Donald Trump asked two high-ranking intelligence officials to publicly deny allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the election reports the Washington Post, citing “current and former officials.” According the Post’s sources, who were granted anonymity, the president asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, to publicly deny any evidence existed that the campaign colluded with Russia. The conversations apparently happened in March, after then–FBI director James Comey had told the House Intelligence Committee that officials were investigating links and alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Coats and Rogers apparently each rejected those request on the grounds it would be inappropriate. The sources also tell reporters that a senior NSA official kept a record of the conversation between Trump...

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A Court Just Blocked Trump’s Muslim Ban Because Trump Couldn’t Keep His Mouth Shut

by Ian Millhiser – Authoritarianism for Dummies. Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. At least, that’s the biggest takeaway from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an injunction against the most recent version of Trump’s Muslim ban. Ten of the thirteen judges who heard International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump ruled against Trump’s policy, although there was some disagreement as to why among the judges in the majority. As Chief Judge Roger Gregory explains in the court’s primary opinion, the court may have reached a different outcome had Trump and his aides simply kept their big mouths shut. As was the case in several other decisions halting the Muslim ban, Trump lost in large part because he spent months traveling around the country bragging about his plan to violate the Constitution. The primary tension in the Muslim ban cases is between the First Amendment’s prohibition...

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British Intelligence Shuts Out US After Information Leaks on Manchester

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump shared classified intelligence with Russian officials, putting Israeli assets at risk. Trump shared the location of two nuclear submarines with Rodrigo Duterte, putting US assets at risk. And now the Trump team has shared the name of the Manchester bomber along with other information, putting the investigation of the British terrorist attack at risk. High-ranking British officials, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, are speaking out against the US, after a number of confidential details in the ongoing investigation into Monday’s Manchester attack appeared in American media before the British authorities confirmed them. It’s all part of a pattern in which the Trump regime talks tough about leakers letting out the details of their own misdeeds, but dishes classified information like paparazzi. The result of the Trump regime’s loose lip is that the US is already getting cut out of further information coming from the Manchester investigation. According...

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First Advertiser Pulls Ads From Hannity

by Judd Legum – The decision follows Hannity relentlessly pushing a murder conspiracy theory about Seth Rich. The first advertiser has pulled their ads from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, following a week in which Hannity has stubbornly clung to a debunked conspiracy theory. Through his Fox show and social media platforms, Hannity has pushed theory that Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was murdered last summer, was the source of the emails released by Wikileaks. Hannity believes this theory would exonerate Russia and, therefore, Trump from interfering with the presidential campaign. Hannity relied on the claims of a private investigator and a report published on FoxNews.com. The investigator has since recanted and FoxNews.com retracted their story. Cars.com announced their decision to pull their ads in response to an inquiry from BuzzFeed News. Mary Georgantopoulos  ✔@marygeorgant .@carsdotcom is suspending its advertising on Sean Hannity’s Fox show 2:18 PM – 24 May...

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‘RussiaGate’ Has Become a Catastrophic Failure of Leadership — and a Debacle From Which the Trump Presidency Will Not Recover

by DOUGLAS BLACKMON – The Trump-Russia scandal has metastasized quickly and destructively. A little more than a week ago, I said on CNN and wrote on Facebook that — based on reporting I’d just completed in Washington DC — it was clear that the controversy surrounding Russian contacts with advisers to President Donald J. Trump and his campaign team was about to become much more serious and much more directly focused on the president himself, and would have deeply troubling consequences for our democracy. The revelations since then have confirmed all of that, and will be remembered as the point when an extraordinary but perhaps still manageable political embarrassment for the Trump administration mushroomed into the most serious controversy to engulf a presidency since Watergate. Based on what we know already, and new revelations that will soon illuminate more key events in this sequence, our country faces a dramatic constitutional exigency....

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White House Twists Bombshell Testimony About Russia Contacts

by Aaron Rupar – The Trump administration wants you to believe the CIA has no evidence of collusion, but that’s not what the former director said. During a House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan said the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia is “well founded.” He cited “information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals” as evidence. As Daily Beast editor Justin Miller pointed out, Brennan’s testimony represents the first time a U.S. official has publicly said they have direct knowledge of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia. Brennan didn’t come out and detail evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He explained during the hearing the evidence is classified information and not appropriate to discuss...

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Exxon Loses in Court and Must Turn Over Documents to NY AG Schneiderman

by DWG – Exxon must now submit to a document proctological exam conducted by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. From Reuters: May 23:  A New York state appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Exxon Mobil Corp should be compelled to turn over records in an investigation into how much the company knew about global warming as it continued to publicly downplay the effects it was expected to have on the fossil fuel industry. Exxon has been battling subpoenas from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is probing the company for fraud in its public statements about climate change. The appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision, rejecting Exxon’s argument that the court did not properly consider which state’s laws on turning over evidence in an investigation should apply in the case. The investigation is taking place in New York, but Exxon’s headquarters are in Texas. This is a big deal....

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Important New Ryan Lizza Piece on Sally Yates

by teacherken – just up at the website of The New Yorker, where it will appear in the May 29th issue.  It is titled Why Sally Yates Stood Up to Trump and has the subtitled “The former acting Attorney General reflects on the F.B.I., Michael Flynn, and how the President ended her career at the Justice Department..” It is the result of the first interview Yates has given since she was fired by the President.  Lizza conducted his interview of Yates the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired. There will be a lot of background about Yates — she is an impressive person. It is a well-written article, one that you should read. Let me offer a few selections to whet your appetites. Here’s the opening paragraph: It is hard to locate when President Trump first declared war on the government establishment, but the story may well begin on...

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How Do We Stop Trump? The Founding Fathers Gave Us a Tool for That (VIDEO)

by KRISTIN MILLER – Partisans’ failure to impeach previous administrations sent a signal that lawlessness could continue unabated. Almost 10 years ago Bill Moyers Journal hosted a freewheeling discussion about impeachment with conservative scholar (and Clinton impeachment article author) Bruce Fein and John Nichols of The Nation. The impetus was a newly released poll that showed some 45 percent of Americans favored starting the impeachment process for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the pair were accused of perpetrating were many related to civil liberties and obstruction of justice in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Of course, impeachment never proceeded against Bush and Cheney. Fein and Nichols were clear about the proper use of impeachment — not as a bludgeon or an axe striking off the head of state — but as a cure for what ails a very troubled executive. We...

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Trump & Co. Put Out a Call for Plumbers

by TODD GITLIN – With so many leaks in the White House and no one to stop them, the Trump administration and the right-wing media are stepping up attacks on the “fake news” mainstream media and whistleblowers. Trump’s blasts against the hated media flood out of his reptile brain like rising seas, for example: Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! 4:48 PM – 17 Feb 2017 and Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad! 10:09 PM – 24 Feb 2017 And so on. The New York Times (which seems to be fairly thriving, by the way) has counted 41 of these during the 100 days from his inauguration through April...

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At Least 22 Dead After Explosion at Ariana Grande Concert in England

by E.A. Crunden – Many of the show’s attendees were teens and young children. At least 22 people are dead and 59 are injured after an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester, England, according to multiple news reports. Concertgoers said they heard loud bangs at Manchester Arena around 10:30 p.m. local time, just as the concert was ending. Shortly after, Sky News reported that a bomb disposal team arrived at the scene and police cautioned people to avoid the area so that emergency responders could reach victims and those injured.  G M Police  ✔@gmpolice Police statement on incident at Manchester Arena 6:44 PM – 22 May 2017 More than 20,000 people were in the arena when the bomb went off, according to reporting from the Guardian. Many of the show’s attendees were teenagers and young children. A reporter from the Guardian on the scene tweeted that “small...

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Why the Moors Murders ‘should never be forgotten’

by Alasdair Soussi – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley may now both be dead but their deeds remain a critical part of British criminal history.   He met his death from ill health at a high-security psychiatric hospital in northwest England where he had been detained for the past three decades. The passing of Ian Brady, 79, on May 15 signalled not only the end of a life, but the end of a grim chapter in modern British history. Brady had been in jail since 1966, when he was given life in prison for the torture and murder of three children – 12-year-old John Kilbride, 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and 17-year-old Edward Evans. They were crimes that saw his accomplice and girlfriend Myra Hindley also jailed for life. In 1985, the Glasgow-born killer admitted to the murders of a further two children – 16-year-old Pauline Reade and 12-year-old Keith Bennett, whose...

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Supreme Court Strikes Down North Carolina’s Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Maps

by Ian Millhiser – A small victory, but better than the alternative. The Supreme Court held Monday that North Carolina’s congressional maps — or, at least, those of two congressional districts — are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. In an unusual move, Justice Clarence Thomas joined with the Court’s liberal bloc to produce a 5–3 decision. Yet, while Cooper v. Harris is a victory for voters who don’t want lawmakers manipulating districts to determine electoral outcomes, it is a small victory. And there is much in Justice Elena Kagan’s opinion for the Court that highlights how fundamentally broken the law governing gerrymandering will continue to be even after Monday’s decision. Harris involved two congressional districts, the First and the 12th, which the state’s Republican-controlled legislature packed with additional black voters — despite the fact that these districts routinely elected the candidate preferred by African-Americans. By cramming more black voters into district that already elected black-preferred candidates, the legislature prevented...

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Is Michael Flynn Trying to Confess?

by ReasonaBill – Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, reportedly will exercise a perfectly valid legal right today to not incriminate himself following his rejection of a subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Flynn previously sought immunity from the same committee for his testimony.  Did I miss something, did Michael Flynn just confess to a crime?  He told us in his own words, “when you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.” I guess it is foolish for me to point out the rampant hypocrisy of the current White House staff both current and former.  The head of this merry little band of hypocrites is the emperor with no clothes, Donald Trump. The tweeting thumb thug, or John Miller or John Barron or whatever name he is using to spread propaganda these days is facing truth and is scared http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-spokesman-impersonation_us_5735e7e9e4b08f96c182eedd.  Trump, one of the pioneers of...

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The DoJ Temporarily Shut Down a Legal Services Group that Opposed the Muslim Ban

by Lauren C. Williams – A judge eventually issued a restraining order to prevent the Justice Department crackdown. The Justice Department temporarily shut down a non-profit group in Seattle that provides free pro se, or temporary, legal representation to immigrants for nearly a month on a technicality, the Nation reported. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), which offers legal services to upwards of 10,000 immigrants each year, helped immigrants at Seattle-Tacoma International airport avoid deportation under the Trump administration’s Muslim ban executive order earlier this year. But federal authorities shut down the group’s operations via a cease-and-desist letter in April, warning the group to close its asylum program and drop its clients or face disciplinary action. The NWIRP is accused of breaking an obscure law meant to punish fraudulent, predatory immigration lawyers, also known as “notarios” who will take on a case, collect a fee, and then drop it before seeing...

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View From the Left: Better Lawyer Up Team Trump

by Kerry Eleveld – Donald Trump gave us a glimpse into where the administration’s future is headed Thursday when he drew a clear distinction between himself and his campaign in regard to the FBI investigation into the Russia scandal. “There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign—but I can always speak for myself and the Russians, zero,” he said during a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. On paper that quote looks a little muddy, but to the ear it was clear that he meant he could “only” speak for himself. In other words, I can’t defend what the rest of my campaign did, nor will I. It’s the third time in two weeks actually that Trump has made overt efforts to separate his actions from that of his campaign. In his letter dismissing FBI director James Comey, Trump famously made sure to reference the “three separate occasions” on which Comey purportedly...

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‘Unconscionable’ Arms Deal Inked, Trump Delivers Remarks in Saudi Arabia

by Andrea Germanos – Trump says “We are not here to lecture” a day after he finalized a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that critics say will fuel possible war crimes. A day after finalizing an “unconscionable” $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump on Sunday gave a speech in Riyadh to leaders of dozens of Muslim-majority countries—a “vast congress of dictators and cut-throat autocrats,” as one analyst put it—in which he called on them to “drive out the terrorists and extremists” and isolate Iran. Trump—who previously declared, “We’re having problems with the Muslims” and pushed for a Muslim ban—spoke of “shared interests” and stamping out terrorism. “To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce,” he said. Of the weapons sale, described as...

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It’s Tougher Than it Should be to Impeach Donald Trump

by Ian Millhiser – Trump isn’t the disease. He’s the symptom. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump declared last year. He’s spent his entire time in the White House putting this theory of his enduring political popularity to the test — and so far, he’s proving himself mostly correct. Trump backed a health care bill that would strip coverage from 24 million people. He’s turned his top aides into punchlines who tout obvious falsehoods and are often immediately contradicted by Trump himself. He briefly removed the deeply damaging story of his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey from the headlines by replacing it with the even more damaging news that he’d leaked highly sensitive information to the Russians. And yet Trump’s numbers are remarkably constant among his core supporters. Although a Public Policy Polling poll released on Tuesday finds that...

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Why Sheriff Clarke Will be a Disaster in His New Job, According to His Predecessor

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – ‘Just plain awful’ Sheriff David Clarke Jr.— a controversial law enforcement official known for his outlandish remarks and fatal detention practices — announced Wednesday that he would be appointed as an Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in June. According to various media outlets, former DHS personnel, and Clarke himself, Clarke will oversee the Office of Partnership and Engagement, which functions as a liaison between the Department of Homeland Secretary and state and local officials. The official DHS Twitter handle, however, tweeted out that no official decisions have been announced. After news broke of Clarke’s new role, former DHS officials — who held the position he will soon take — strongly condemned the decision. Phil McNamara, who was appointed to the position between April 2013 until President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017, called Clarke’s potential appointment “just plain awful.” As the former assistant secretary of the...

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Trump Told Russians “Nut Job” Comey Was Fired to Ease Pressure: Report

by Common Dreams staff – “What’s worse: President admitting Comey was fired over Russia, or Spicer justifying it?” President Donald Trump characterized former FBI director James Comey, whom the president had fired just a day earlier, as a “nut job” to top Russian government officials during a recent Oval Office meeting, the New York Times reports on Friday citing an anonymous U.S. official who read from an internal document that purportedly summarized the exchange. Trump was meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the White House on May 10 when, according to the account reported by the Times, he made the derisive statements about Comey and also indicated possible motivations behind the director’s ouster. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the readout of the document provided to the Times. “I faced great...

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‘Wrong, Wrong, Wrong’: An Expert Assessment of Joe Lieberman as FBI Director

by Alan Pyke – “Why in the name of all the saints and stars would you appoint a politician to a 10-year statutory term in a post that is supposed to be above politics?” Just 10 days after he fired James Comey as Director of the FBI, Donald Trump reportedly views former Senator Joe Lieberman as the frontrunner to replace the man he fired for investigating Russia’s influence in the 2016 election too vigorously. Lieberman would be a concerning choice. He would break decades of precedent that FBI directors should come from the criminal justice realm. He holds Bill of Rights protections for American citizens in low regard. And his late-career embrace of the American political right — complete with a move into Trump’s own professional locker room after leaving the Senate — would make for a polarizing and potentially caustic tenure at the embattled domestic security agency. Lieberman has been a professional politician almost...

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The Birth of the Living Constitution

by Damon Root – Should we interpret the Constitution as a living document? What’s the proper method for interpreting the U.S. Constitution? Should it be viewed according to its original meaning? Or should the document be viewed in the light of contemporary conditions? If you answered no to the second question and yes to the third, you may be a living constitutionalist. As Georgetown law professor Larry Solum explains in a fascinating new article at his Legal Theory Blog, “living constitutionalism is the view that the legal content of constitutional doctrine does and should change in response to changing circumstances and values.” This view has been around for a long time. According to Solum, the phrase itself apparently dates back to a 1927 book titled The Living Constitution, though it was the influential progressive historian Charles Beard who first took the phrase and really ran with it. “Since most of the...

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Is Ignorance Trump’s Excuse for Obstructing Justice?

by Jacob Sullum – Maybe the president doesn’t know enough to break the law. The claim that Donald Trump is guilty of obstructing justice suddenly looks more plausible in light of the report that the president asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But it still would be hard to make that charge stick in federal court (although it would be easier in impeachment proceedings, where Congress decides how much evidence is enough). The chief obstacle might be that Trump is too ignorant to be guilty. The U.S. Code includes more than 20 provisions dealing with obstruction of justice. The most appropriate one in this context seems to be 18 USC 1505, which makes it a felony to “influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law,” either “corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter...

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A New Meth Surge Gathers Momentum

by Christine Vestal – The opioid epidemic has killed tens of thousands over the last two years and driven major reforms in state and local law enforcement and public health policies for people with addiction. But another deadly but popular drug, methamphetamine, also has been surging in many parts of the country. And federal officials say that, based on what they learned as opioids swept the U.S., methamphetamine is likely to spread even further. “The beginning of the opioid epidemic was 2000 and we thought it was just localized,” said Kimberly Johnson, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Now we know that drug outbreaks aren’t likely to stay localized so we can start addressing them sooner and letting other states know of the potential for it spreading.” From Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma to Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota and...

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Republicans: It’s Time to Decide — Party or Country?

by ROBERT REICH – The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party. The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party. Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice — a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton. It’s worth recalling that the illegality underlying Nixon’s impeachment was a burglary at the Watergate complex, while the illegality underlying Clinton’s was lying to a grand jury about sex with an intern in the White House. Trump’s obstruction is potentially far more serious. It involves an...

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Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Make it Harder to Remove Confederate Monuments

by Aviva Shen – “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen done in this building.” They’ve lost in state, federal, and civil court. Two New Orleans statues have already been removed. But now, Confederate monument champions are escalating their appeals to the more conservative state government to intervene. On Monday, the Louisiana House passed a bill that would require an election before any war memorial is removed or even altered. The legislation was approved by a House committee earlier this month, after the first Confederate monument in New Orleans came down. The fraught debate over the bill quickly turned to its authors’ conception of Civil War history, or the “War Between the States,” as the bill calls it. After being questioned by Rep. Sam Jones (D), Rep. Thomas Carmody (R) said he did not believe slavery was the reason for the Civil War, and that the South had a legal...

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Trump Nixes Nixon: Where Watergate Goes to Die

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – Let’s you and I take a moment to square a few dented circles before we get so far down the rabbit hole that we start seeing invisible cats smiling at us in the dark. The corporate “news” media loves to create false narratives if doing so allows them to avoid working for a living, and the current “This is just like Watergate!” milieu we are enduring after the firing of FBI Director James Comey is a perfect example of the phenomenon. This is nothing like Watergate; it is its own pan-dimensional thing and must be dealt with on its own very specific terms, lest we veer off into a gibberish festival where potato is Fred because a vest has no sleeves. Nail this to your wall and festoon it with bunting: James Comey is no Archibald Cox. Archie Cox was a...

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We’re Demanding Records on Comey’s Dismissal. Here’s Why

by Patrick Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project – The ACLU on Monday submitted a request to the Department of Justice and the FBI asking for the release of all documents relating to President Donald Trump’s decision to remove FBI Director James Comey from office. The cloud of uncertainty swirling over Comey’s dismissal, along with indications that the president may have gravely abused his power, demands a public accounting. At the time of his dismissal, FBI Director Comey was responsible for overseeing an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. According to initial White House statements — by most accounts hastily assembled with little coordination — the president dismissed Comey on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The two, we learned, had prepared a pair of memoranda asserting...

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‘Comey Memo’: Trump Impeachment Could Rest on Obstruction of Justice

by Jon Queally – “Donald Trump wanted to stop the FBI investigation, which is the definition of obstruction of justice,” says Sen. Bernie Sanders. The possible existence of memorandum penned by former FBI Director James Comey in the immediate wake of a dinner he had with President Donald Trump earlier this year is being treated Tuesday night as an explosive development if its version of events, specifically that the president asked the chief of the bureau to drop the investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn, is verified. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. First reported by the New York Times, the memo—which journalist Michael S. Schmidt did not see himself but which a source, identified as a “one of Mr. Comey’s associates,” read aloud selected portions—is Comey’s account of the dinner meeting with Trump just a day after Flynn’s resignation in...

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The End of Trump

by Robert Reich – The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party. Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice – a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton. It’s worth recalling that the illegality underlying Nixon’s impeachment was a burglary at the Watergate complex, while the illegality underlying Clinton’s was lying to a grand jury about sex with an intern in the White House. Trump’s obstruction is potentially far more serious. It involves an investigation about whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia in rigging a presidential election – the most direct assault on American democracy in history, Last Thursday, in an interview with...

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What Kind of FBI Do We Want After Comey?

by Richard Eskow – The firing of James Comey as Director of the FBI gives the nation more evidence of Donald Trump’s lack of fitness for the presidency. Whatever you thought of Comey, his removal showed the nation that Trump is impulsive, vindictive, and given to abuses of power. But it’s also important to reflect right now on some of the more fundamental issues raised by Comey’s firing. Why do we have a federal police agency? How should its mission be defined? And, what kind of person should run it? The Birth of the FBI First, some background. President Theodore Roosevelt and Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte created the “Special Agents Force,” the forerunner to the FBI, in 1908, to enforce federal law. Both Roosevelt and Bonaparte were progressives who believed that government positions should not be exploited for partisan political purposes. Before this force was assembled, the only...

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US says Assad Using ‘Crematorium’ to Hide Mass Killings

Trump administration says it has evidence Syrian authorities are burning bodies at Saydnaya prison near Damascus. The US administration has accused the Syrian government of installing a crematorium in a military prison in order to destroy the remains of thousands of murdered prisoners. Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for the state department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, gave reporters satellite pictures apparently showing snow melting on the roof of the facility. “Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium,” he said, referring to a military jail north of Damascus. “Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of the mass murders taking place in Saydnaya.” Syrian government accused of mass prison executions Jones said the information came from credible humanitarian...

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After Seven Years in Custody, Chelsea Manning Will Soon Be Free

by Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project – Chelsea Manning almost died on our watch. She suffered at the hands of our government, and the toll of her incarceration nearly killed her. But she survived. Through long stretches of solitary confinement, the systemic denial of health care, relentless abuse, and a lifetime of consequences, she will have a chance to live. On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea’s 35-year prison sentence to time served plus 120 days. With the commutation, 28 years were cut from her sentence, and her life was saved. Instead of an anticipated release date in 2045, Chelsea’s prison term will end on May 17, 2017. When she steps out of prison this week, she will walk into a different world than the one she left behind when she was arrested in 2010. And she will walk as a different person than...

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Death Row Inmate Asks to be Executed by Firing Squad Instead of Lethal Injection

by E.A. Crunden – He argues the process would be less painful. An inmate on death row in Atlanta, Georgia has asked to be executed by firing squad rather than by lethal injection, arguing that being shot will be a less painful way to die. J.W. Ledford Jr. is scheduled to die on Tuesday and made the request via his lawyers. Ledford takes the drug gabapentin for nerve pain, which alters brain chemistry. Once the drug used for lethal injection kicks in, Ledford’s lawyers say, pain levels will be higher than normal. “Mr. Ledford proposes that the firing squad is a readily implemented and more reliable alternative method of execution that would eliminate the risks posed to him by lethal injection,” Ledford’s attorneys argued in court papers filed last week. Thirty-one states and the federal government allow for the death penalty, and all provide lethal injection as the primary execution method. But...

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What do Bullets Really do to Bodies? Changing the Conversation on Gun Violence

by Kelly Macias – How can we possibly talk about guns in a way that hasn’t been talked about before? If we didn’t change the debate after Sandy Hook when 20 children were killed, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever actually do it. That’s been my story and I’ve largely stuck to it for the last five years—until I read this piece about trauma surgeons at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia. As a country,” Goldberg said, “we lost our teachable moment.” She started talking about the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Goldberg said that if people had been shown the autopsy photos of the kids, the gun debate would have been transformed. “The fact that not a single one of those kids was able to be transported to a hospital, tells me that they were not just dead, but really really really really dead. Ten-year-old...

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Amid Rising Anti-Semitism, a Synagogue Burns in Manhattan

by Jack Jenkins – The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A historic synagogue in Manhattan’s Lowest East Side went up in flames over the weekend, possibly heightening anxiety among American Jews as they continue to wrestle with an uptick in anti-Semitism. According to NBC New York, the 120-year-old historic Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol succumbed to a three-alarm blaze that erupted at around 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening, burning late into the night. The 19th century synagogue once served as the oldest worship space for orthodox Russian Jews in the country, but has been vacant since 2007. Representatives from the New York Fire Department told ThinkProgress the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and it is unclear if the building was subject to arson or set aflame in another fashion. According to the Forward, the same building was also subject to a small blaze inside the walls earlier last week....

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America’s Worst Voter Suppression Law Dies in the Supreme Court

by Ian Millhiser – Sometimes, democracy wins. The most aggressive voter suppression law in the nation — possibly the most aggressive such law since Jim Crow — is dead. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would not hear North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a challenge to North Carolina’s omnibus voter suppression law. As the law was struck down by the lower court, that means this law is finally staked, dead, and buried. So that’s the good news for supporters of voting rights. The bad news is that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a brief opinion strongly implying that laws like this one could survive review before the Republican-controlled Supreme Court. Indeed, it is likely that the only reason why North Carolina’s law lies in the ground today is because the states’ voters elected a Democratic governor and a Democratic attorney general who maneuvered to kill this appeal to...

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20 AGs Demand Immediate Appointment of Special Prosecutor for Russia Probe

by Andrea Germanos – ‘We urge you to consider the damage to our democratic system of any attempts by the administration to derail and delegitimize the investigations,’ group writes. Following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, 20 state attorneys general have added their voices to the chorus and called for an independent special prosecutor to probe alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The letter (pdf), dated May 11 and addressed to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself), refers to Comey’s dismissal “in the middle of his investigation” of such interference “a violation of the public trust.” The letter reads: As the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, we view the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey in the middle of his investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election as a violation of the public trust....

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Fired and Smeared by Trump, Comey Wants to Talk Under Oath… and ‘In Public’

by Jon Queally – What consequences await the U.S. president if ousted FBI director gets ‘day in front of the entire political world to tell his story under oath in front of a congressional committee’? Though James Comey, the former director of the FBI whose firing by President Donald Trump sparked political uproar this week, has reportedly declined an invitation to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors about his controversial ouster, he is reportedly willing to answer lawmakers’ questions in open session if given the opportunity. The New York Times on Saturday, citing a close associate of Comey, reports the former director “is willing to testify, but wants it to be in public.” Comey’s version of events when it comes to meetings and conversations he had with Trump have now taken on new significance after the White House’s shifting narrative on the reason for his firing was compounded...

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Five Truths About Voter Suppression

by Connor Maxwell and Danielle Root – The United States has a troubled history of voter suppression. Prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many states used policies such as poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent African-Americans from voting. Even after the voting barriers of the Jim Crow era were removed more than 50 years ago, some lawmakers continue to pursue policies that would undermine our nation’s progress. Under the guise of tackling voter fraud, 14 states adopted measures to restrict voting ahead of the 2016 election. These measures, including strict voter ID requirements and reductions in early voting opportunities and polling places, created barriers for tens of thousands of low-income citizens and citizens of color. Alarmingly, five of the 14 states have a history of racial discrimination in voting and previously had to seek federal approval before changing their voting laws and procedures. Even though...

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Trump Wants Anti-immigrant Hardliner Kris Kobach to Prove His Lies About ‘Voter Fraud’

by Alan Pyke – He’s forming a commission to “investigate” his claim that he really won the popular vote because 3 million ballots were fraudulent. The notorious anti-immigration vote-suppression specialist Kris Kobach will join the President Donald Trumps’s new commission on election integrity, White House staff announced Thursday. The Kansas Secretary of State and longtime immigration consigliere to national Republicans will be second to Vice President Mike Pence, the panel’s official chairman. Trump has promised for months to create a standing body that will investigate his oft-repeated lie that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. The exact shape of that body and the identities of its members — save for Pence — have been a mystery until today. For a president bent on finding some kind of proof for his absurd, innumerate claims about voter fraud, Kobach is both a natural choice and a doomed one. Kobach has made similar claims himself,...

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WannaCry: What is Ransomware and How to Avoid it

What you need to know about ‘WannaCry’, the malicious software behind Friday’s worldwide hacking attack. Malicious software or “ransomware” has been used in a massive hacking attack, affecting tens of thousands of computers worldwide. Software security companies said a ransomware worm called “WannaCry” infected about 57,000 computer systems in 99 countries on Friday, with Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan being the top targets. The hack forced British hospitals to turn away patients, affected Spanish companies such as Telefonica, and threw other government agencies and businesses into chaos. Here is what you need to know about the software behind the global cyber-attack. How it works: WannaCry is a form of ransomware that locks up files on your computer and encrypts them in a way that you cannot access them anymore. It targets Microsoft’s widely used Windows operating system. When a system is infected, a pop-up window appears with instructions on how...

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National Pro-Choice Defenders ‘Terrified’ of This Latest Ploy to Attack Planned Parenthood

by Nika Knight – “We’re all terrified. This is really huge, if they let Texas do this.” Texas is moving forward with an unprecedented and bold request to the federal government: the state wants federal money to help it strip all public funding from Planned Parenthood. If Texas is successful, other states are likely to follow suit. “We’re all terrified,” Elizabeth Nash, senior state issue manager at the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, told the Guardian. “This is really huge, if they let Texas do this.” The state is requesting funds for its “Healthy Texas Women” program, a state-run health program created after the Obama administration withdrew federal family planning funds from Texas for its efforts to illegally block federal Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. Healthy Texas Women is a family planning program that doesn’t provide abortions, and critics have charged that it inadequately replaces other Planned Parenthood services as well. The Guardian...

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Did Donald Trump Just Write His Own Articles of Impeachment? (VIDEO)

by Judd Legum – A moment of radical honesty. President Donald Trump had the legal authority to fire FBI director James Comey. But if Trump’s intention in so doing was to impede the investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia then it could constitute obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense, legal experts told ThinkProgress earlier this week. But establishing that Comey’s firing was obstruction of justice involves proving Trump’s state of mind. That’s very difficult to do. If, as Trump claimed in his letter, he fired Comey because of his misconduct during the Clinton email investigation, that would be perfectly legal. If Trump really was trying to protect himself or his allies, that would be a “corrupt purpose.” That’s why Trump’s interview with NBC’s Lester Holt is so extraordinary. Trump told Holt that “when I decided to do it, I said to myself… this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is...

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James Clapper Destroys Trump’s Favorite Talking Point About the Russia Investigation

by Aaron Rupar – Correcting the record, once and for all. On Friday morning, as President Trump faced withering scrutiny for his decision to fire the FBI director while his campaign is under FBI investigation, Trump took to Twitter to reiterate the talking point he deploys whenever the topic of his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia comes up. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end? 8:54 AM – 12 May 2017 This talking point — that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was “no evidence” of Trump campaign-Russia collusion — was debunked during a Senate hearing on Monday featuring testimony from Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Trump should’ve known better by Friday. But early Friday afternoon, MSNBC had Clapper on to explain, once and for all, why Trump’s tweet is...

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In a Time of Madness, Sally Yates Is a Profile in Courage

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – The fired acting attorney general proved this week that there are still a few in Washington who believe in truth and the law. Let us now praise a class act. Amidst the turmoil of another chaotic week in Trump world, the Comey firing and a pandemic of Washington spinelessness, there was a certain righteous symmetry that occurred Sunday night and Monday afternoon. On Sunday, former President Barack Obama received the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation. In his acceptance speech, Obama reflected on those public servants who, in the face of opposition, hold onto their principles and somehow keep alive their resolve, he said: “… To maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than a desire to maintain office, a conscience, personal standard of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval or party...

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Sessions Strips Federal Prosecutors of Flexibility, Demands Harshest Sentences in All Drug Cases

by Alan Pyke – The move puts prosecutors back in a straitjacket they had only just begun to loosen. Federal prosecutors should resume the old practice of pursuing the sternest possible charges and longest available sentences for all drug crime suspects, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered on Friday. The new instructions reverse a memo issued in 2013 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder which sought to radically change America’s prison problem through simple changes to prosecutor behavior. Holder had ordered U.S. attorneys to drop the across-the-board tough-guy act Sessions is reviving and instead reserve the harshest sentencing enhancements and multi-layered indictments available in the law for offenders with clear links to violent crime and organized criminal syndicates. The aim was to end a common absurdity in American law enforcement: small-time drug busts that lead to decades-long prison terms for people who do not fit the profile of a dangerous, hardened criminal. The old...

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Deputy Attorney General Pissed; Trump Ordered Him To Find Reason To Fire Comey

by Sarah – Just when you think you’re starting to figure out what happened with James Comey getting fired from the FBI, another tidbit of information comes out and turns the whole thing on its head once again. In a new twist, Donald Trump knew that Comey reported directly to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. So, in an effort to move things along with Comey, he had them come to the White House. According to The Washington Post: “The president already had decided to fire Comey, according to this person. But in the meeting, several White House officials said Trump gave Sessions and Rosenstein a directive: to explain in writing the case against Comey.” And we all know what happened next. The memos were written by all parties and made public pretty fast. Faster than Comey could even become aware he was fired. Here’s the...

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Comey’s Dismissal Shows Trump Is Really Bad at Cover-Ups

by Jacob Sullum – The president’s ham-handed efforts to stifle interest in Russia’s election meddling have only drawn more attention to it. Donald Trump’s official reason for dismissing FBI Director James Comey is transparently phony, and there is strong circumstantial evidence that the real reason had something to do with the FBI’s investigation of Russian attempts to influence the presidential election. That likelihood should trouble anyone who values the rule of law, since it looks like Trump is trying to impede an investigation that could prove embarrassing, politically damaging, or even legally perilous for him. But talk of a “constitutional crisis” is more than a little premature. So far Trump has acted within his legal authority, albeit with questionable motives, and he cannot unilaterally block inquiries into Russia’s election meddling. To the contrary, he has only succeeded at stimulating interest in the issue. Based on the accounts of unnamed administration insiders...

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Sessions’ History Proves Corruption, Chaos—and That He Shouldn’t be Allowed Anywhere Near the DOJ

by Kelly Macias – If what he did in Alabama is any indication of the future, we should all be really and truly terrified about what Attorney General Jeff Sessions is about to do at the Department of Justice. We already know that when he was a U.S. attorney, he brought a case against the “Marion Three,” black activists that he charged with election fraud for assisting elderly black citizens with absentee voting ballots—along with trying to impose a sentence for that “crime” of nearly 200 years in prison. And we also know that he fought against equitable school funding for poor school children. And then, of course, there’s his obvious racism and blatant disdain for anything related to civil rights. But evidence also demonstrates that he’s also incredibly unethical and corrupt—and completely unapologetic about it. Sessions presented himself as a crusader against graft, frequently prosecuting Mobile officials, often Democrats, who were still dominant in the 1980s.  But the flimsy...

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Millions for New York Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder

by Joaquin Sapien – The award of $4.5 million by New York state is just part of a claim by a man who spent more than two decades in prison based on a dishonest prosecution. Ruddy Quezada, a 54-year-old man wrongfully convicted of a deadly drive-by shooting in 1993, has won a $4.5 million settlement from New York state, according to court papers. Quezada spent 24 years in prison for murder before winning his freedom in 2015 when, after decades of failed appeals, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office conceded that prosecutors involved in his case had withheld critical evidence during his trial. At issue was the testimony of the case’s single eyewitness, a man named Sixto Salcedo. Salcedo recanted his testimony after defense lawyers tracked him down in the Dominican Republic in 2001. In a sworn affidavit, Salcedo said he had been coerced into testifying falsely against Quezada when a New...

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Dan Rather: Future Generations May Mark Today as One of the Darkest Days in American History

by Leslie Salzillo – Legendary journalist, author and newsman Dan Rather covered former President Richard Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal back in the 70s. Over the last couple of years, Rather has become quite vocal on social media, specifically on Facebook. Once reality show host Donald Trump cast himself as a Republican presidential candidate, Rather became even more prolific in his commentary and in voicing his apprehension about the dangers he saw in Trump. Rather has often expressed the belief that the American people are now witnessing another political scandal with Trump that could very well supersede Nixon/Watergate. After Tuesday afternoon’s announcement by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, stating the FBI Director James Comey had been fired by Trump, there has been great speculation about the motives behind the action, especially given that James Comey was heavily investigating Donald Trump for Russian collusion and corruption during the 2016 election year. The question now is, where will that investigation...

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We Must Have a Special Prosecutor

by Bill Moyers, Michael Winship – The firing of FBI Director James Comey makes an independent investigation of Trump and Russia more important than ever. So Donald Trump fired James Comey because the FBI director mistreated Hillary Clinton last summer over her use of private emails. Stop laughing. Trump takes us for chumps. The Republic is nothing to him but a crap game. And he loads the dice. In this case, he signs the letter dismissing Comey and hands it to his personal bodyguard to take over to the FBI office. But Comey isn’t there. He’s in Los Angeles, where he will hear on television that he has been dumped — and at first think it’s a practical joke. We are not making this up. Hardly 24 hours has passed since Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general who in late January also was fired by Trump, testified before a...

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“Corruption, Plain and Simple”: Kushner Visa Scandal Snowballs

by Lauren McCauley – While the White House hides behind more alternative facts, the outrage has seemingly multiplied. The latest White House scandal over the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner benefiting from the recent extension of the so-called “golden visa” program continues to dog the administration, despite its best efforts to brush it aside. The New York Times on Monday revealed that buried deep (pdf) into the spending package signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday was “one sentence that brought a potential benefit to the president’s extended family: renewal of a program offering permanent residence in the United States to affluent foreigners investing money in real estate projects here.” The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, also known as the “golden visa,” was part of the controversial sales pitch made by Kushner’s family over the weekend to Chinese business people, who were asked to invest $500,000 in the...

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Reporter Arrested for Asking Tom Price if Domestic Violence is a Pre-existing Condition

by Alan Pyke – A $5,000 bond and potential six-month jail term await, just like the First Amendment says. A reporter has been arrested for pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to say whether or not the Trump health care bill would make it harder for domestic violence survivors to obtain insurance. West Virginia police arrested Dan Heyman at the state capitol Tuesday as he walked with Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, holding a recorder out and asking Price repeatedly about claims that insurers could refuse to serve survivors of familial abuse. That claim is based on inference from the bill’s provision allowing states to abandon consumer protections from Obamacare with federal permission. Heyman had sought out Price on his way into the capitol. “At some point, I think decided I was too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job, so they...

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The Two Things You Need to Know About the Comey Firing

by Ian Millhiser – Trump is an authoritarian. But Comey is a rank incompetent. There are two things you need to know about Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. The first is that Trump has authoritarian tendencies and little regard for the Constitution or for constitutional governance in general. His stated reasons for firing Comey are almost certainly a pretext. Trump is now likely to name a replacement who will shut down the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. The other thing you need to know is that Comey was an egregiously incompetent FBI Director. The official chain of events that led to Comey’s firing are that, sometime on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sent a memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions laying out the case against the former FBI Director. Sessions then wrote Trump endorsing Rosenstein’s conclusions and recommending Comey’s removal. Trump then sent...

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Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate

by Peter Elkind, special to ProPublica – The FBI hasn’t decided how to correct the director’s false claim that she forwarded thousands of Clinton emails to the laptop computer of her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner. FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his “incredibly painful” decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner’s laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report...

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Republican Senator Calls for Scrutiny of Trump’s Business Dealings in Russia

by Aaron Rupar – The former director of national intelligence’s comments during a hearing suggest they might already be under investigation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says an exchange he had with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during a hearing on Monday stoked his curiosity about President Trump’s shady business dealings in Russia. At one point during the hearing featuring Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Graham asked Clapper if he ever encountered a situation where “a Trump business interest in Russia gave you concern.” “Not in the course of the intelligence community assessment,” Clapper replied, referring to the assessment he helped put together that detailed how Russian officials worked to help Trump get elected. “Since?” Graham followed up. “At all. Anytime.” Clapper’s response was definitely not a no. “Senator Graham, I can’t comment on that, because that impacts an investigation,” he said. Clapper’s response suggests there could...

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Jordan Edwards’ Shooter Has Been Charged. How Likely Is a Conviction?

by Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – Texas Police Officer Roy Oliver has been fired and charged with murder for fatally shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in the head with a rifle, following intense public pressure. The warrant for Oliver’s arrest and the speed with which it came — only six days after Oliver shot into a car full of teens as they were leaving a Saturday-night party this month — is extremely unusual for a police officer in the state of Texas and nationally. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department issued the warrant Friday for Oliver’s arrest, saying evidence “suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of the individual.” Oliver turned himself in that night at the Parker County Jail, posted a bond of $300,000 and was released before 10 pm. If convicted, he faces up...

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Sally Yates was Brilliant, Admirable, and Honest—but Will it Make a Difference

by Mark Sumner – After having originally being scheduled to speak in March, before Devin Nunes led the House Intelligence Committee down in flames, Sally Yates finally got the chance to appear before the public in a Senate hearing on Tuesday afternoon. Yates delivered a level of calm precision usually limited to surgical instruments as she laid out, step by step, the warnings she delivered to White House counsel Don McGahn concerning Michael Flynn. With Democrats providing on-topic questions, it became obvious that far from the casual “heads up” on the matter that the Trump regime had indicated, Yates and the Justice Department had provided a thorough and extensive briefing both on then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s activities regarding Russia and the conflict between what Flynn had actually done and what was being said in public. In fact, the biggest actual news delivered during the testimony was the extent of Yates’...

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Flynn Never Received Level of Security Clearance Required for National Security Adviser

by Mark Sumner – In today’s press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed the issue of President Obama providing a timely warning to Donald Trump against hiring Michael Flynn. Spicer denied knowing the details of the discussion, but repeatedly put it off as President Obama making it clear he “wasn’t exactly a fan of General Flynn.” Spicer defended Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, saying that President Obama’s reason for warning Trump against Flynn was because he was “outspoken about Obama’s lack of strategy” on ISIS. And Spicer retreated frequently to the standard position of the Trump regime over the last week: It’s Obama’s fault for giving Flynn a high level of security clearance, a level that Spicer insisted was equal to that Flynn would require as NSA, saying that the DNI and NSA had the same level of clearance. Except that’s not true. Peter Alexander ✔@PeterAlexander NEW: Flynn never received broader security...

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With Muslim Ban 2.0 in Court, Trump Campaign Website Scrubs Call for Ban

by Deirdre Fulton – Statement calling for “total and complete shutdown on Muslims” entering U.S. removed from Trump campaign website Monday afternoon. Minutes after a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why President Donald Trump’s campaign website still broadcast his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” that page went blank, according to reports on Monday afternoon. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban figures prominently in arguments against his second executive order blocking entry to the United States for people from six majority-Muslim countries. Opponents like Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, say statements like that one “made absolutely clear that wanted to target Muslims.” Lawyers for both sides argued their cases “en banc” on Monday afternoon, before a panel of all active and eligible judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers...

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Kushner Family Tells Wealthy Chinese: Invest With Us and You Can Immigrate

by Common Dreams staff – ‘We heard that there are rumors that he is the most likely to be impeached president in American history.’ White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family business  encouraged wealthy Chinese citizens to “invest $500,000″ in their real estate empire and then be allowed to immigrate to the United States. That was the message for an event held Saturday in a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors at the Ritz-Carlton in Beijing, The Washington Post reported. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, encouraged those in the ballroom to invest in her family’s New Jersey real estate project and get an investor visa in return. The visa, known as the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, gives foreign investors the opportunity to invest in projects in the U.S and then lets them apply to immigrate to the U.S. The program has been used by both the Trump and Kushner family businesses....

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Trump Gets Sued by Atheists Over Religious Liberty Executive Order; Heralded “Triumph of Fake News.”

by ursulafaw – Trump’s recently signed Religious Liberty Executive Order is yet one more step along the cobble stoned path towards a gate marked “Erosion Of Church And State.”  How did we get there from an order whose purported use was merely to loosen restrictions on political activity by religious groups? Daily Beast is heralding it as a “triumph of fake news.” Take a look: But what the order does do is solves two problems that simply do not exist. First, the order effectively nullifies the 1954 law called the Johnson Amendment, by directing the IRS to not enforce it.  The law forbids all tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, from engaging in political campaigns, endorse candidates, or collect contributions to a political campaign. According to the Christian Right’s fake news machine, this common-sense law has muzzled the free speech rights of pastors, who can’t say anything political from the pulpit.  Actually,...

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The World Will Be Watching as Muslim Ban 2.0 Goes to Court

by Cody Wofsy – Monday marks a critical next stage in the legal battle against President Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, will hear legal arguments in a case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, brought by the ACLU and National Immigration Law Center (NILC). This will be the first argument in front of a court of appeals, which reviews orders from trial courts, addressing the revised executive order (also known as Muslim Ban 2.0). The stakes are enormous — for the plaintiffs, for Muslim and immigrant communities around the country, and for vital constitutional principles. A quick refresher on where things stand: The president rolled out the original Muslim Ban 1.0 on January 27. The impact was immediate and devastating, as families across the country were separated from their loved ones and thousands of people flooded the airports with messages of...

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‘Kratom Is the Cure for the Opioid Epidemic.’ Q&A With Filmmaker Chris Bell (VIDEO)

by Justin Monticello – Yet the DEA wants to ban it. “I think kratom is the cure for the opioid epidemic,” says Chris Bell, the acclaimed documentary filmmaker behind 2008’s Bigger, Stronger, Faster and 2015’s Prescription Thugs. A plant native to Southeast Asia, kratom can relieve pain and provide a caffeine-like boost. Its most exciting application, however, is weaning addicts off heroin and prescription painkillers. Though the scientific literature is thin, users have been safely ingesting the plant for centuries. Despite kratom’s promise, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) claims that it poses an “imminent hazard to public safety” and tried to prohibit most clinical research on it. In August 2016, the DEA sought to ban the plant without public input by listing it as Schedule I drug alongside the likes of heroin, though it backed off after the community rose up in protest, apparently taking the agency by surprise. Chris Bell...

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The Russia Investigation Could Finally Unlock Trump’s Tax Returns (VIDEOS)

by Aaron Rupar – It was a recurring theme during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing with FBI Director James Comey. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Democrats drew a connection between the tax returns President Donald Trump steadfastly refuses to release and the FBI’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. At one point during the hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) noted that Russians “have a history of using financial investments to gain leverage over influential people and then calling in favors — we know that.” “We know that the Russians interference in our election and they did it to benefit President Trump — the intelligence agencies confirmed that,” he added. “But what I want to know is why they favored President Trump, and it seems to me that in order to answer that question, any investigation into whether the Trump campaign or Trump operation colluded with Russian operative would require a...

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Jeff Sessions’ Department of Injustice

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Report – Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons. Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.” Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration fearmongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low:...

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A Timeline: Russia and President Trump

by STEVEN HARPER –   This timeline has been updated. 1979: Roger Stone is introduced to Donald Trump by notorious attorney Roy Cohn. 1980: Roger Stone founds a lobbying practice with Paul Manafort; Trump becomes one of Stone’s first clients. In the 1980s, Trump hires Manafort as his lawyer on gambling and real estate issues. By 1988, Stone is one of Trump’s closest advisers. Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applies for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declares, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” August 1998: Russia defaults on its debt and its stock market collapses. As the value of the ruble plummets, Russian millionaires scramble to get money out of their country and into New York City, where real estate provides a safe haven for...

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Judge Orders Georgia to Re-Open Voter Registration Ahead of Major Runoff

by Nadia Prupis – Democrat Jon Ossoff will face off with Republican Karen Handel, and voters will now have until May 21 to register. A federal judge on Thursday ordered the state of Georgia to temporarily re-open early voter registration as a tense special election approaches. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten ruled in favor of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group that accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the registration period ahead of the 6th District congressional runoff on June 20. Voters will now have until May 21 to sign up, after the state tried to cut off registration after March 20. “Would-be voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District were denied a full and fair opportunity to register and vote under the prior law,” said the committee’s president and executive director, Kristen Clarke, in a statement following the ruling. “Today’s decision extending the voter...

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Jared Kushner Left Some Things off His Disclosure Form—Like a Company with $1 Billion in Loans

by Mark Sumner – Just because Jared Kushner doesn’t talk doesn’t mean he’s marshaling great thoughts. He may simply have nothing to say. And the more time passes, the more Donald Trump’s son-in-law seems to be nothing but what he appears to be: a rich kid whose biggest achievement was being born into the right family. However, there are times when Kushner really is failing to speak up about something he knows. Like how he just forgot to mention his involvement with a real estate startup with ties to, who else, Goldman Sachs and real-life vampire Peter Thiel. Kushner turns out to be co-founder of Cadre, a start-up company that is meant to attract investors for high-budget real estate projects. The other two founders are Jared’s brother and a 29-year-old friend. Being one of three founding partners in a firm might not amount to much if Cadre was nothing more than a hobby business or...

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