Court is in Session(s). Takeaways from the Sessions hearing

by Murfster35 – Well, another day, another hearing meant to “educate” the citizens of this country with all of the serious content of a car dealership ad. Little wonder this hearing wasn’t hyped with anywhere near the urgency that the Comey hearing was, because there was no urgency to this hearing. Comey came out with a serious and important story to tell, Sessions came out as the Trump branded, farm sized fertilizer spreader. But there were still a few takeaways. Republicans love wives as distractions —  Funny how that works. When James Comey showed up to testify, the Republicans on the dais suddenly developed tunnel vision, Preet Bharara in the 2nd row wasn’t even a hand print on the wall. But when Session’s wife sits down in the 1st row, the GOP Senators did everything but send out a cute little girl in a fluffy pink dress to give her a dozen roses. I...

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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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So Much for Masterminds and Up Guys

by Murfster35 – You know, for all of the striking similarities between Trump and Nixon, and the similarities between Watergate, and the current monster scandal, there are two striking differences, both coming into clearer focus more and more every day. First of all, The Watergate break in occurred in June of 1972, but Nixon was already almost done with his first term, he was cruising to reelection. And the scandal didn’t really break wide open until June of 1973 when John Dean spilled the beans that he had discussed the coverup 35 times with Nixon. With Trump, we’re already talking about immunity and it’s been what? Seventy days now? The second difference is the cast of characters. Nixon was surrounded by loyal aides. Dean only flipped on him when he came to realize that he was being set up by the White House to be the fall guy. And two of...

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20 Editorials (so far) Calling for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Trump-Russia Connections

by RandomNonviolence – Members of the Trump administration keep lying about their mysterious connections to Russia. Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns or the financial books for the Trump Organization that might provide clarity. And Republicans in Congress refuse to seriously investigate. Clearly something unsavory is going on, so a growing chorus of newspaper editorial boards are now calling for an independent investigation. Here are 20 of those editorials: New York Times, Editorial: When One President Smears Another … His accusation is so sensational — so explosive if it turned out to have some basis in fact and so corrosive if not — that Congress has no credible option but to convene a bipartisan select committee to investigate all questions related to Russian interference in the election. And if Mr. Trump has confidence in his claim, he should have no reluctance about the appointment of an independent counsel to get to...

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New York Times: FBI’s James Comey Requests the DOJ Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claims

by Leslie Salzillo – Michael S. Schmidt and Michael D. Shear with The New York Times reported Sunday afternoon, that James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject Donald Trump’s wiretapping claim. “The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.” The White House has shown no signs of backing down, saying an inquiry is needed. “In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the president, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, issued a statement on Sunday that said, ‘President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise...

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As the Wheels of the Trump Juggernaut Come Off

by TODD GITLIN – Cracks in Republican Senate servility are beginning to show, while right-wing media hang tough. Say this for Donald Trump: He sets records. It took more than a year of Warren G. Harding’s administration before the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921-22 brought down his Interior secretary for taking a massive oil company bribe. A half-century later, it took two years to expose the immensity of the Watergate crimes and force the conspirators out of their White House holes. It took almost that long for the Reagan administration Iran-Contra revelations to pour forth in the mid-‘80s, though that scandal left the enfeebled incumbent in place. Now, congressional Republicans’ marriage of convenience to the crackpot showman of Fifth Avenue shows signs of post-honeymoon stress. For in just four weeks, Trump has breathlessly caught up with his predecessors in power abuse. Having crashed into a big, beautiful wall, he is, by...

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How the Last “Voter Fraud” Investigation Took Down GOP Atty-Gen Alberto Gonzales. NYT “Must-read.”

by FischFry – A few days ago, I wrote a diary about the announcement of the investigation of so-called “voter fraud.” I was responding to some well-voiced concerns that the ‘investigation’ would lead to unprecedented voter suppression. My thesis was that I thought it was more likely that this would blow up in the GOP’s face — or, at most, end in a dull thud. That diary disappeared quickly with little comment. I won’t steer you there (really I won’t, but the link is here) but I do want you to check out a new piece in The New York Times, that reviews the “U.S. Attorney Firings” scandal, which recalls the last time a GOP President demanded an investigation into what were bogus voting fraud reports. In an Op-Ed piece — Voting Fraud Inquiry? The Investigators Got Burned Last Time — Michael Waldman traces the history of this hunt for voting unicorns. W’s first A-G, John Ashcroft,...

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Netanyahu’s Media Scandal: Who Bribed Whom? (VIDEOS)

by Jonathan Cook – The smell of scandal has swirled around the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for years. But only now is the smell starting to turn to a stench, say analysts. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have long been known for cultivating close relations with Israel’s leading business families. Those ties, many Israelis assumed, explained why the famously parsimonious couple managed to indulge such expensive tastes. Past investigations have looked into first-class transatlantic flights and stays at top hotels, but foundered on a lack of evidence that the Netanyahus had traded the high life for favours. Until recently, most of the Israeli public had been amused, rather than outraged, by stories of astronomical bills at the prime minister’s residence for wine, ice-cream and hairstyling. But the latest revelations have the potential to be far more damaging. This week one Israeli commentator suggested Netanyahu’s conduct risked being compared to the...

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The WaPo Really Loves Dem Some Trump-Bondi Scandal

by Murfster35   – Bless the Washington Post’s pea pickin’ little heart. They have got the Donald-Trump-Pam-Bondi_pay-for-play scandal bit well and truly between their teeth. And as long as they can get other people to talk about it, especially the television media, they’re not likely to give up on it anytime soon. Today’s ARTICLE went over yet again the tawdry details of the scandal, especially the timing between the receipt of the donation and the Florida Attorney General’s office declining to join the New York investigation into Trump U. They also very nicely rehashed Trump’s past statements in the primaries, basically boasting about his effective use of pay-for-play as his way of showing how he better than anyone knew how to fix it. Exactly the thing he’s running like a scalded cat from in the current Pam Bondi kerfuffle. But the real fun was farther down in the article. In...

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WADA Calls For Russian Ban From Rio Olympics After Report Confirms ‘Unprecedented’ Doping Scheme

by LINDSAY GIBBS – On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released the much-anticipated report on its investigation into Russia’s anti-doping efforts. The findings were damning, particularly for Russian athletes hoping to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio in a mere 18 days. According to the report, the Russian Ministry of Sport erased at least 312 positive doping tests between 2011 and 2015. WADA is requesting that Russia be banned from all international competitions, including the Rio Games. WADA commissioned Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer, to produce the report after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, acted as a whistle-blower and told the Times about the extensive nature of Russia’s cheating during the Sochi Games in 2014. Rodchenkov told the Times that Russia’s secret service figured out how to open up sealed urine samples months before the Sochi Games began, and during the Games samples from athletes...

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Latest Attempt at Police Transparency Fails In California

by A.C. Thompson – As police scandals swirl in Northern California, a legislative effort to make the disciplinary records of officers available to the public comes up short There are numerous law enforcement scandals unfolding in Northern California. Last month, San Francisco fired its police chief after a string of officer-involved shootings and two separate episodes involving officers sending racist text messages to one another. In Oakland, the mayor recently ousted two police chiefs in the span of five days amid a widening investigation into allegations that 14 city officers — as well as law enforcement agents from at least three other jurisdictions — had sex with a teenage prostitute. And sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers in San Francisco, Alameda County, and Santa Clara County are facing criminal charges ranging from assault to murder. While this collection of ugly incidents will continue to generate headlines for months to come, many of...

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3 Chiefs In 9 Days: Oakland Police Department In Scandal Meltdown

by CASEY QUINLAN – The Oakland Police Department is now under civilian control after a series of incidents of misconduct recently came to light. Multiple police chiefs stepped down after allegations that officers raped an underage sex trafficking victim, covered up crimes, and sent racist text messages. Oakland has gone through three police chiefs in the past nine days. The latest acting police chief, Paul Figueroa, resigned from his post on Friday but Mayor Libby Schaaf did not say why. She only said that Figueroa would take a leave of absence because he was “unable to fulfill the functions of the Acting Chief of Police,” according to CBS News. The department’s command staff now reports to Sabrina Landreth, the city administrator. The latest controversy is over racist text messages, such as a text obtained by NBC News that showed a picture of a Ku Klux Klan member on a cereal...

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Marco Rubio’s Credit Card Scandal, Explained

by JUDD LEGUM – At the third Republican debate, Marco Rubio was asked a question about his personal finances. CNBC moderator Becky Quick asked Rubio to respond, among other financial issues, to the fact that he “accidentally intermingled campaign money with your personal money.” Rubio bristled at the question, calling it “a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents.” But Quick’s question was actually a fairly generous gloss on financial issues that have plagued Rubio for a number of years. Recent attention has focused on his inappropriate use of an American Express card and his reticence to fully account for his spending with that card. Here’s what that controversy is all about. Where did Rubio get the credit card? Rubio was issued an American Express card from the Republican Party of Florida from 2005 to 2008. During that time, he was the Speaker of the Florida House...

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Second Chances Are as American as Baseball

by John Kiriakou – Just as Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, non-violent drug offenders belong at home with their families I love baseball. I have since I was a kid. And I’m lucky to be married to a woman who loves the game as much as I do. We recently attended the 86th annual Major League All Star Game in Cincinnati. As part of the opening ceremonies, the Cincinnati Reds honored what they called the Franchise Four, the four greatest players in the team’s history: Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin, and Pete Rose. Bench, Morgan, and Larkin are members of professional baseball’s Hall of Fame. Rose, on the other hand, is banned from baseball for life. Despite being one of the greatest hitters and toughest players in the game’s history, he may never get this distinction. Why? Because he gambled. Rose admitted in the late 1980s that...

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Former Exxon Scientist says Exxon Knew About Climate Change and Fossil Fuels in 1981

by Walter Einenkel – Those are the claims made by Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, Lenny Bernstein, in an email recently unearthed and reported by the Guardian: The email from Exxon’s in-house climate expert provides evidence the company was aware of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, and the potential for carbon-cutting regulations that could hurt its bottom line, over a generation ago – factoring that knowledge into its decision about an enormous gas field in south-east Asia. The field, off the coast of Indonesia, would have been the single largest source of global warming pollution at the time.“Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia,” Lenny Bernstein, a 30-year industry veteran and Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, wrote in the email. “This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70% CO2”, or...

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Today’s Phony Hillary ‘Scandal’: Clinton Foundation Misfiled Tax Returns, Outrage To Follow

by LEFT WING NATION – Might as well buckle in because we’re going to be hearing about this one for weeks and weeks and weeks. Someone at the Clinton Foundation did an incredibly sloppy job of filing the Foundation’s taxes, so of course it must be a nefarious plot by the Clintons to do… something nefarious?: NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors…. The charities’ errors generally take the form of under-reporting or over-reporting, by millions of dollars, donations from foreign governments, or in other instances omitting to break out government donations entirely when reporting revenue, the charities confirmed to Reuters. I can already hear the screams of “Tax fraud!” Any minute now, House...

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Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report

by Frederick Clarkson – One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and covered-up. What’s more, it is clear that the problem is not limited to the Catholic Church, where the problem is of such extraordinary depth and breadth. It is deeply ingrained in more of society than most of us who were not affected by these things can easily believe. In the past year, I have written a bit about the difficulties the Southern Baptist Convention has had contending with its problems. (Here, here, and here.)  Now comes an investigative report on the ongoing scandal at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina, where Republican candidates for president used to have to make a pilgrimage as part of their courtship of voters in the South Carolina primary. The report focused on how the...

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Widescale Corruption Scandal Rocks South Carolina’s GOP Statehouse

by Randa Morris – Just over a month ago, South Carolina’s republican Speaker of the House, Bobby Harrell, was indicted on multiple criminal charges, including misconduct in office, misuse of power, using campaign donations for personal gain and falsifying financial reports. The nine count criminal indictment against Harrell appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Post and Courier, state and federal investigators have now widened the probe to include several other lawmakers. Authorities are looking into allegations that range from elected officials selling votes, to state lawmakers funneling money from South Carolina’s budget into their own pockets. A large part of the investigation involves a PAC which was directly connected to Harrell, known as The Palmetto Leadership Council. According to Ashley Landess, President of the SC Policy Council, which first raised concerns with the state’s attorney general over improper conduct by Harrell: “There was rumored...

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Chris Christie’s outside legal bills come to $50 million in 2 years

by HoundDog – Terrence Dopp of Bloomberg News reveals that Christie spending on outside lawyers tops $50 million in 2 years TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent more than $50 million since the start of 2013 on lawyers outside his administration — largely because of costs related to the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal. The administration has billed $22 million this year, according to a person familiar with the costs who wasn’t authorized to provide the information. Spending on outside counsel last year reached $29 million, the most since at least 2005, the earliest information available, according to Lee Moore, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office. Billings related directly to the bridge scandal exceeded $7 million as of mid-August, according to information released at that time by acting Attorney General John Hoffman’s office. How many other social service programs receiving less than $50 million...

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Another Phony Scandal Blows Up in Issa’s Face

by ericlewis0 – From politicususa.com: Rep. Darrell Issa suffered a crushing defeat in his crusade to bring down President Obama when investigators concluded that top Obama aide David Simas did not violate the law by using taxpayer dollars for political activities. Bloomberg reported, “A special investigator’s office says it has found no evidence that David Simas, a top political aide to the president, violated a law that prohibits federal workers from engaging in partisan political activities. The White House Office of Political Outreach and Strategy “appears to be operating in a manner that is consistent with the Hatch Act,” said Carolyn Lerner, a lawyer at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, whose job is to enforce that law and protect whistle-blowers.” … The investigator’s findings are a death blow to Darrell Issa’s claim that two members of the president’s cabinet violated the Hatch Act by using taxpayer dollars for partisan...

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