Early Morning Open Thread: Roy Moore — Take the Money & Sc(r)am?

Huntsville, Alabama news station WHNT:

The Republican Senate Nominee Roy Moore was the keynote speaker Thursday night at the Madison County Liberty Gala. It was his first major public appearance since several news stories broke this week involving his personal and campaign finances.

Most notably, the Washington Post ran a story about him taking more than a million dollars in undisclosed money from a charity, later run by Moore’s wife.

Moore was scheduled to speak to reporters after the speech, but we got word just about an hour before his address that Moore was not going to be taking any questions.

No reason was given for why that was canceled.

Moore did not directly address any of the controversies that surrounded his campaign but did say, he’s been accused of things he has not done…

Urban cynic that I am, I begin to suspect that ol’ Judge Moore had settled happily into a quasi-legitimate semi-retirement grift until the unexpected success of a certain Donald Trump roiled up the rubes all across thisyere great nation. What with a Godless fella like Trump getting his face and philosophy all over the tee-vee, suddenly doing a trickle of expense-account speaking gigs while his family cashed steady checks for their talent at being related to Judge Moore just didn’t seem… sufficient for God’s devoted servant.

Then the WaPo struck again — “Charity once led by Roy Moore has listed its headquarters for sale, a move that could bring him $540,000 windfall”:

The 1850s-era building was put on the market in April for nearly $1.9 million by Moore’s wife, Kayla, now president of the charity, said Ed Fleming, the listing agent for the property. Fleming said Kayla Moore and her husband were “thinking of moving and retiring” at the time.

“I deal with Kayla. She made the decision,” he said.

The circumstances of the listing add to questions swirling around the charity and more than $1 million in compensation for Roy Moore while he was working part time from 2007 to 2012. Kayla Moore took over as president in 2013, earning $65,000 a year.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post revealed that the nonprofit group, the Foundation for Moral Law, agreed to pay Moore $180,000 in annual salary, far more than the charity reported paying him in most of those years, and to honor the agreement even in years it did not have enough in contributions.

Moore was given a promissory note for back pay in 2011, tax filings and mortgage documents show, the first public indication that his annual compensation surpassed what had been reported. The note, backed by a second mortgage on the building that serves as the charity’s headquarters, was eventually worth $540,000, mortgage records show.

Kayla and Roy Moore declined multiple requests for interviews…
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We Have a Winner in the GOP Senatorial Runoff in Alabama

Here he is:

Ooops, sorry, that’s Mike TeaVee from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Here he is:

Your Alabama GOP senatorial runoff winner is cowboy cosplayer and teeny weeny wheel gun aficionado Judge Roy Moore – the Last Law West of Ashkelon.

PEW! PEW! PEW!

Open thread!



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Rooting for Injuries (But Not Describing Them)

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Since I am not by nature a nice person, I’ll admit that stories like this make me quietly gleeful. From the Washington Post, “Senate Republicans have tolerated Trump’s controversies. His treatment of Sessions is different”:

Cornyn is not alone in rallying to the defense of Sessions, who, despite sometimes having waged lonely battles as one of the chamber’s most staunch conservatives, still has many friends among Senate Republicans. Most have issued statements of support, and several are making private calls to reassure Sessions that they are behind him.

But the tension over Trump’s treatment of Sessions goes beyond the senators defending a friend.

Unlike any other controversial move that Trump has pondered in his six months as president, Senate Republicans are sending preemptive signals that firing the attorney general or pressuring him to resign would be a terrible move.

Some have warned high-level White House officials that it would look as though Trump were making the move solely to shut down an investigation of his campaign and the White House, now overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, while also making clear that they agree with Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.

Replacing Sessions would be difficult, and the idea of Trump making a recess appointment during the planned four-week break in August is foolhardy. Democrats can indefinitely stall a resolution to fully adjourn the Senate, having already forced minute-long periods during even shorter breaks to prevent Trump from having the authority to make temporary appointments while the Senate is away.

Democrats may have vehemently opposed Sessions’s nomination, but they have no intention of allowing Trump to fire him and name a new attorney general with a recess appointment, and frankly, Republicans do not seem to want to give Trump that power either…

What’s on the agenda, as we start another bound-to-be-beleagured day?

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Speaking of public schadenfreude: Having grown up in the sort of family where interactions tended to start with a challenge and escalate explosively, I’ve spent the past forty years learning that not every dark thought needs to be described exhaustively. Not only does such gleeful venting disturb those who come from less toughened environments, but it’s really quite stressful to keep up the paranoia level that’s essential when you know at a bone-deep level that talking the talk is liable to lead to walking a very unpleasant walk.

This is John Cole’s blog, and it will never be mistaken for an Oberlin drum circle. But rest assured, no matter how inventive your torture scenarios for those public officials who most absolutely deserve them, there is no membership requirement that those scenarios be shared in the comments.

Venting is important, especially in this Trump era, but not everybody here has the same tolerance for violence porn. Wish all the bad cess on Republicans and other miscreants that they deserve, but try to keep in mind that it’s not a competition to see which of us can produce the most disturbing rant.



Russiagate Open Thread: Trump Is Really Angry At “His” Government

Yeah, he’d be just about as terrible to everyone-not-a-rich-Republican as the Malevolent Leprechaun, but I’m not sure Cruz could even get confirmed, given how much his colleagues do not love him.

And it could be argued that, while his intentions are equally horrible, Cruz doesn’t have Jefferson Beauregard Session III’s lifelong bone-deep Confederate indoctrination to help him disguise his deep-seated racism.

Props to the CBC, though:

I wanna do a Jared ‘Simple Tootsie from the Country’ Kushner post, but there’s TOO MUCH BREAKING NEWS. How do the paid professionals keep up? (answer: they’re paid to do so!)



Repub Venality Open Thread: Sessions / Rosenstein — SHIFTY! SHIFTY! SHIFTY!

This part of the NYTimes interview has been getting attention, for good reason. But now I’m curious about the Washington Post‘s report on an interview with the guy who’s taken over that part of Sessions’ job at Justice:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in an interview that aired Wednesday that neither the president nor the White House had asked him for an update on the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, and that he was “not doing any micromanagement” of that probe.

The comments came during a wide ranging conversation with Fox News’s Martha MacCallum about the Justice Department’s new asset forfeiture policy, his recommendation to fire FBI Director James B. Comey and his appointment of a special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.

Rosenstein sought to assure people that the special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, was operating with some degree of independence from the Justice Department, though he also was getting the cooperation he needed.

But Rosenstein did not go to great pains to defend the special counsel team when pressed about whether he was bothered that several people on it had donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign…

Asked by The Washington Post at an unrelated briefing earlier Wednesday on how he could maintain his authority over Mueller when he might become a witness, Rosenstein declined to say.
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Open Thread: A Pussycat May Laugh At A Judge (for Now)

A D.C. judge has tossed out a jury’s conviction of a protester who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, finding on Friday that the government had improperly argued during the trial that her laughter was enough to merit a guilty verdict. The judge ordered a new trial in the case, setting a court date for Sept. 1.

Desiree Fairooz, 61, who was associated with the group Code Pink, had been convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. Fairooz was taken into custody during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January after she laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” (The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s over concerns about his views on race.)

But Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia tossed out the guilty verdict on Friday because the government had argued that the laugh alone was enough to warrant the verdict…

Methinks “a spokesman for Jeff Sessions” is waiting to see whether the Malevolent Leprechaun still has a job six weeks from now, because nobody wants to get stained by your bad boss’s dumb comments when you’re shopping around your resume.



Team Sauron Shoots, Scores

Bad news from the Supreme Court, via WaPo:

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raised fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.

The court made an important exception: it said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The court also said in the ruling that it would consider whether the case will be moot by the time it hears it; the ban is supposed to be a temporary one while the government reviews its vetting procedures.

The action means that the administration may impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the United States, with the exceptions noted by the court.

Team Trump said the 90-day ban was necessary to allow the administration to put its “extreme vetting” policies in place. At this point, 156 days have elapsed since the shitgibbon was sworn in, so it makes no sense logically to impose the ban now.

But this was never about logic or sound security policy; it was about codifying anti-Muslim bigotry to please Trump and his xenophobic, anti-Muslim base. Mission accomplished.

The Supreme Court will also hear a public accommodation case in the fall. Again, WaPo:

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider next term whether a Denver baker unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.

Lower courts had ruled that Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, which prohibits refusing service to customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

There are similar lawsuits from florists, calligraphers and others who say their religious beliefs won’t allow them to provide services for same-sex weddings. But they have found little success in the courts, which have ruled that public businesses must comply with state anti-discrimination laws.

I’m not a lawyer, but the fact that the Supreme Court will hear this case at all strikes me as ominous. It’s an opportunity for people who use religion to justify their bigotry to get cover of law to exercise their prejudice. Of course, in the best case scenario, gay folks’ full equality could be upheld, but why is it in question?

Interested to hear from our legal beagles on these issues.