Hot summer and politics is heating up as well

Longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed. Weisselberg has served as something of a jack-of-all-trades for Donald Trump. He worked for the Trump Organization and the Donald J. Trump Foundation, yes, but he also handled personal stuff – up to and including tax returns … and apparently consulting with Cohen on how to handle paying for the rights to a story about an alleged Trump affair with a Playboy Playmate, just two months before the 2016 election.

Weisselberg has now been tied to both the potential Karen McDougal payment (his name is also mentioned a released tape recording) and to the payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who has also claimed an affair with Trump, in which he set up Cohen’s reimbursements from Trump.

The probe has clearly expanded into Trump’s business, which constituted Trump’s previously expressed red line. It could also mean investigation into possible abuse of the organizational structure to serve Trump’s personal purposes.

A dozen audio recordings seized by the FBI from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, were forwarded to federal prosecutors after lawyers dropped challenges on attorney-client privilege grounds. The recordings were among millions of files taken from Cohen in April as part of a criminal probe of his business practices

Barbara Jones, a court-appointed lawyer and former Manhattan federal judge helping to decide which of the seized files are protected by privilege. She Jones notified US District Judge Kimba Wood, who appointed her, that Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization had designated 4,085 items seized from Cohen as privileged among the most recent items she reviewed.

She wrote that she agreed that 2,633 were privileged, in full or part, but that 1,452 items were not. She said lawyers for Cohen still disagreed about 22 of those items but said they would not pursue their objections. With that, Jones released them all to prosecutors.

In another audio tape, recorded by Cohen, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing how they would buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair she had with Trump years earlier, which Trump has denied since the subject first came up. So he lied [again].

Trump tweeted “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?” Again, is he that dumb that no lawyers record conversations with clients? I guess he never told Cohen not to record their conversations.

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis says the only people who use cash in large transactions are drug dealers and mobsters. Davis is a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

Cohen claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

If Cohen can show federal prosecutors credible evidence that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower Russia meeting of June 9, 2016 — as Cohen now reportedly claims — Donald Trump Jr. could be facing perjury charges. Trump has repeatedly denied being told about the meeting before it happened but apparently never to federal investigators or under oath.

Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.” “I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said. Giuliani lost his credibility since joining Trump.

Now special counsel Robert Mueller was also looking at Trump’s negative postings on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump asserted without evidence that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page “confirm with little doubt” that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. But lawmakers from both political parties said that the documents don’t show wrongdoing and that they even appear to undermine some previous claims by top Republicans on the basis for obtaining a warrant against Page.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said the documents detail “just why the FBI was so concerned that Carter Page might be acting as an agent of a foreign power… It was a solid application and renewals signed by four different judges appointed by three different Republican presidents.”

Page said “I’ve never been the agent of a foreign power” but had described himself as an “informal adviser” to the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he didn’t think the FBI did anything wrong in obtaining warrants against Page.

Members of Congress are pushing back against a floated White House idea of pulling the security clearances of top former intelligence officials in the Obama administration who have criticized Trump.

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that Trump is “exploring the mechanisms” to strip clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, along with former FBI director Jim Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper and others. Comey’s assist said his clearance was already pulled [as in didn’t they check?].

Simpleton said that Trump was considering revoking the clearance for their comments about Trump regarding “accusations of improper contact with Russia” or him “being influenced by Russia.” Doesn’t this sound like a dictatorship? If you can’t agree with the leader you get booted.

To make this happen at the agency level, Trump could follow the decades-old executive order in place, which provides a written explanation to the clearance holder and an opportunity to reply. Officials could also try to invoke the “interests of national security” clause, which is found in that section, and avoid the detailed procedures. Finally, Trump could decide he is revoking eligibility for the former intelligence officials unilaterally.

In a tweet, pro-Trump supporter Sen. Rand Paul claimed that Brennan could be “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media”. No proof of course but could it really be because Brennan harshly condemned Trump’s performance at the Poutine press conference calling it “nothing short of treasonous.” And yet several House Republicans have accused Brennan of political bias and not Paul for suggesting in pulling Comey’s clearance?

Trump tweeted “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!” With just the first sentence, you would think that Trump finally admits that Russia has done some hacking. But that second sentence throws that out the window. Is Russia going after the Democrats and not him or want the Democrats to win? [Scratch your head.]

Trump appeared to return to a previous position that Russia’s election interference was a story dreamed up by Democrats to excuse Hillary Clinton’s defeat — despite saying in a scripted statement recently that he held Vladimir Poutine personally responsible for it.

After Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was dumbfounded with his on-camera reaction at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, to the breaking news about the invitation to Poutine to the US, the day after he said “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President.” This after Trump wasn’t too happy with the way he acted.

After the Kremlin was only lukewarm on having Poutine visiting Washington [so soon after the Helsinki mess], the White House announced it was pushing off plans for a second Trump-Putin Summit in Washington, DC, scheduled for this fall – just a few weeks out from the 2018 Midterms. Now set for sometime in 2019. Of course why did it take over a week for the Kremlin to decide….

Did Poutine somehow signal to Trump that it probably wasn’t in their mutual self-interest to be seen in public together so soon after Helsinki — particularly after the trashing Trump received after returning to Washington? Multiple senior Republicans were against the idea of a visit.

But Poutine said he is ready to go to Washington and has invited Trump to Moscow, but there “has to be necessary conditions” [which weren’t mentioned]. Simpleton says no invitations received. Stuck in the Email.

The White House rejected a Poutine-backed effort to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the region’s future, distancing itself from the idea in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial summit with the Russian leader.

Poutine’s gift of a soccer ball to Trump last week set off a chorus of warnings – some of them only half in jest – that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even tweeted, “I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.” Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones. But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball.

Republican House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan escalated their fight with the Justice Department, introducing a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In a statement, Meadows said Rosenstein should be impeached because of the Justice Department’s stonewalling of congressional subpoenas and hiding information from Congress, and for signing one of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant renewals for Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended Rosenstein, saying he has “the highest confidence” in him one day after House conservatives introduced a resolution to impeach the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel Russia investigation. Of course “the highest confidence” with this administration means nothing.

A Russian anchor says that Trump is blaming US stupidity for bad US-Russian relations makes him smell like a Kremlin agent.

US District Judge Denise Casper denied the Trump administration’s bid to throw out a lawsuit that alleges its decision to end special protections shielding Haitian, Salvadoran and Honduran immigrants from deportation was racially motivated. She also rejected the administration’s request to remove Trump as a defendant in the case.

The Trump administration was warned State Department in October 2017 that ending US protections for more than 300,000 Central Americans would strengthen and grow MS-13 and gangs that President Donald Trump has called “animals”. They also warned that ending the “temporary protected status” program could also hurt US national security and economic interests, including by driving up illegal immigration.

Trump tweeted “Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate.” May if they are waiting in line they should rent some Port-o-Johns at the White House gates. So exactly who has stopped by?

According to a report, a week before Election Day in 2016, young men and teens in the [North] Macedonian town of Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported rump.

The “news agency” was not launched by teens but a well-known Macedonian media attorney, Trajche Arsov, who worked closely with two high-profile American partners for at least six months during a period that overlapped with Election Day. One of those Americans, Paris Wade, is now running for office in Nevada. Arsov also employed other American and British writers, including at least one who currently works for US right-wing conspiracy site the Gateway Pundit.

But now Macedonian security agencies are cooperating with law enforcement in the United States and at least two Western European countries to probe possible links between Russians, US citizens, and the pro-Trump “fake news” websites.

In an 86-9 vote, the United States Senate has confirmed Robert Wilkie as our new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Trump won something! And he can’t blame the Democrats for this.

Trump will end releasing summaries of conversations he has had with foreign leaders, a policy that has been used for decades.

Trump said that he and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work toward eliminating tariffs and barriers on trade, reducing tensions for now in a brewing trade war. “We agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said.

Trump claimed that he struck a deal with the European Union that has “opened up Europe” to American exporters, in particular farmers, even though a substantive deal has yet to be signed. The discussions with Juncker yielded only a commitment to broad parameters for future trade negotiations and EU pledges to increase imports from the US.

Trump claimed he has “ended” efforts by foreign countries to abuse the US in trade and steal American jobs, even as the trade feuds he has engaged in are still ongoing on several fronts. Trump argued that the US has been “abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before,” including by US allies. So how did he end it? Free trade with the world wasn’t announced.

The United States is taking the fight over steel and aluminum tariffs to the World Trade Organization, arguing retaliatory trade actions launched by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico and Turkey violate WTO rules. The U.S. imposed the so-called Section 232 tariffs earlier this year on national security grounds. The retaliatory tariffs were considered not excessive. If the other countries counter with the WTO, they could argue that the national security reason is flawed.

The Trump administration announced it is offering up to $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs stemming from the Trump’s widening trade feud with other countries. Numerous Republicans including Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul said “Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers. If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers – the answer is remove the tariffs.”.

Many of the Republicans whom blasted the Obama administration for bailouts during his first term have tough decisions. Handing out billions to the agriculture sector runs counter to conservative orthodoxy, but abandoning farmers who have struggled because of an escalating trade war may not be politically tenable with just months until the midterm elections.

The US Commerce Department sought feedback on Trump’s plans to consider taxing auto imports. It got an earful at an all-day hearing. Critics lined up to urge the administration to reject auto tariffs. They argued that the taxes would raise car prices, squeeze automakers by increasing the cost of imported components and invite retaliation from U.S. trading partners — and allies — like the European Union and Canada.

Auto tariffs would escalate global trade tension dramatically: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf last year’s $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer faced pointed questioning from a Senate committee Thursday about the decision, and at one point was asked directly if Canada was a national security threat to the United States. “In the case of steel, yes,” he said. Lighthizer couched his remarks by saying no one was declaring war on Canada, and called the country “one of America’s closest friends and trading partners.” You can’t have it both ways.

Coca-Cola has hiked prices on its carbonated drinks in cans because the recently enacted 10% tariff on imported aluminum has made Coke cans more expensive to produce. It will be up to the retailer to decide on the increase. [Pepsi will probably follow.] In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the aluminum tariffs is “a lot to do about nothing” and U.S. customers wouldn’t notice.

At one point, with 1 day left as many as 914 parents won’t be reunited with their children by the deadline imposed by US District Judge Dana Sabraw. Judge Sabraw had said “The government has to be commended for its efforts in that regard.”

191 parents can’t be have serious criminal records or declined to be reunified. In other cases, 463 parents have already been deported without their children. 217 parents have been released from federal custody. Some may be wearing ankle monitors as they await immigration hearing proceedings. A small number still haven’t been linked to children, let alone tracked down. 260 parents’ cases require further investigation [can’t be tracked or unsure if the children belong to the parents]. But 1,012 is the number of families the government has already reunited.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on its NATO ally Turkey if that country does not release an American Pastor Andrew Brunson, currently under house arrest. Brunson was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities, that followed an attempted coup. Question is why now and not in 2016 or last year? [For once they’d do something right. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a real dictator.]

Trump tweeted “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.” Sounds like “shadow banning” means to reduce the visibility of some accounts. In this case, certain prominent conservatives. This is because a report that found Twitter’s search feature did not return prominent conservatives as easily as their Democratic counterparts.

If it was any other media [think CNN, Washington Post] Trump would of roasted them. But this is Twitter. His livelihood.

Trump retweeted from Dan Scavino Jr. “Lockheed Martin will add 400 workers to boost production of the F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive in U.S. history, after making a good on an earlier promise to President @realDonaldTrump to increase the aircraft’s workforce by 1,800.” So in the meantime it is the most expensive jet in US history. I though Trump was trying to cut costs? Where is the art of the deal?

Trump’s military parade in Washington is likely to cost nearly as much [an estimated $12 million] as the now canceled military exercise with South Korea that Trump called “tremendously expensive”. One may be briefly good for morale. The other is training. Which one is more useful.

The parade would focus on celebrating veterans and involve US troops in period uniforms as well as US military aircraft but no heavy vehicles like tanks in order to prevent damage to infrastructure.

Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed by a man with a pickax early Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles police. A man is in custody and is being questioned. Police said a man turned himself in at the Beverly Hills Police Department Wednesday morning. They better have plenty of spares.

Trump was upset that Melania Trump’s Air Force One television tuned into CNN on a recent trip.

The Democratic National Committee tried and failed three times to serve Jared Kushner with a lawsuit at his Manhattan apartment and was turned away by a US Secret Service agent when it attempted to deliver the packet to his Washington home, according to court filings. The lawsuit alleges Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with the Russian government to disrupt the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted about Amazon again with “Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their “delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages….” Didn’t he whine months ago about this? He has done nothing. Another failure.

The Justice Department charged a Russian national, Mariia Butina, also known as Maria, with conspiring against the US as a secret agent as she infiltrated the Republican Party as well as the National Rifle Association and tried to access corporate leaders. This all occurred in 2015 through 2017. She had discussions of a possible pro-Russian conference that US members of Congress could attend. Wonder how Trump will respond.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has requested to return Butina. The Trump Administration denied the request.

In continuing their pettiness against CNN, the White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op. “They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,'” and she didn’t want to go anyways Collins said in an interview. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”

To add to the lies, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One that Collins was barred not because of the questions she asked but because of her refusal to leave the Oval Office during an earlier pool spray. Other reporters who were with her have sided with Collins saying she wasn’t shouting, ask anything inappropriate or refused to leave.

 

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About ebraiter
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