Russiagate Open Thread: The Manafort Jury Is Out

Who’s betting on a particularly busy / toxic Friday News Dump?…



The West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee has drafted 14 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The articles were presented to the committee at about 9:25 a.m. Tuesday morning with mention of all four justices – Margaret Workman, Robin Jean Davis, Allen Loughry and Beth Walker.

Justice Loughry faces six charges, and Chief Justice Margaret Workman faces five charges.

Justices Robin Jean Davis and Beth Walker each face six charges.

Let’s clean house of this bunch of crooks and replace them with some more coal and gas company stooges and religious fanatics.

C.R.E.A.M. Open Thread: Manafort Trial, Day Two

Prosecutors have countered that the evidence about Manafort’s lifestyle is relevant because it goes toward showing how much income he was bringing in during the years in question — income that Manafort is charged with underreporting in his income tax returns.

Manafort is facing 18 counts in Virginia, including filing false income tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud. He is separately facing charges in the US District Court for the District of Columbia; that trial is scheduled to start in September.

On Wednesday morning, the jury heard from Daniel Rabin, a political media consultant who testified that he worked with Manafort in Ukraine to produce dozens of television ads. Before Rabin took the stand, Ellis questioned how much evidence prosecutors needed to put into the record to establish that Manafort did, in fact, do a lot of work in Ukraine — that wasn’t contested, the judge said. Ellis on Tuesday also questioned the amount of evidence prosecutors were asking to put before the jury detailing the extent of Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

The jury heard from FBI Special Agent Matthew Mikuska, who was involved in the search of Manafort’s condo in Alexandria. The judge appeared agitated as Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye asked Mikuska to read the contents of documents that agents seized, saying the agent didn’t know anything about the substance of the documents, only that they were found in Manafort’s home.

Mikuska described Manafort’s property as a “luxury” unit, estimating it was about 2,000 square feet. Asonye highlighted a series of documents agents seized from the condo, including financial statements with the names of accounts in Cyprus that prosecutors claim Manafort controlled and failed to report to US authorities, and invoices for home renovations at properties Manafort owned in New York and Florida.

As Asonye had Mikuska describe documents that referred to Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates, Ellis questioned why that was necessary, since Gates was expected to testify. (Gates was originally charged with Manafort last fall, but later pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s office.) Asonye said there was a chance Gates wouldn’t testify, prompting a stir in the courtroom — much of Manafort’s defense is about blaming Gates for any financial issues, per the opening statement Tuesday from Manafort’s team.

Asonye clarified that as evidence came in, the government was evaluating all of its witnesses, not just Gates…

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Shiny-Faced Authoritarians Open Thread: Judge Kavanaugh, Amid A Hail of Brooks Brothers Wingtips

The ever-sensitive weathervanes at Politico:

Partisan tensions over records on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh boiled over on Tuesday, as Democrats insisted on access to all communications from his five years in the George W. Bush White House while Republicans tried to narrow the scope of the massive document release.

Amid the back-and-forth over records, a final confirmation vote on Kavanaugh could end up slipping past the GOP goal of getting President Donald Trump’s pick seated in time for the early-October start of the Supreme Court term. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for Kavanaugh, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed only that the chamber would “finish this nomination” before the midterm elections…

Democrats counter that they are seeking to impose the same standard for document releases that Justice Elena Kagan received during her Supreme Court confirmation process, including emails she received but did not author as solicitor general in the Obama administration. Applying the same logic to Kavanaugh, Republicans said, is unwarranted because of his 12 years on the federal bench — in contrast to Kagan’s lack of previous judicial service.

“We could have up to five times as many pages from his time in the White House than we got from Justice Kagan,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on the floor. “And we will have those documents despite the fact that they’re less necessary now than they were for Justice Kagan.”

[Man’s a good Republican; what more do we need to know?]

Kavanaugh, for his part, described his time as staff secretary as “in many ways among the most instructive” for his future career as a judge, in 2010 remarks that he submitted to the Judiciary panel ahead of his pending hearing.

“When it comes to documents, people say: If we can’t apply the Kagan rule to this, then all bets are off,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday….

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag, last Friday:

This is both a stalling tactic and fishing expedition: Before allowing Republicans to confirm a fifth anti-choice justice, Chuck Schumer’s caucus want to check each and every one of the great carpool dad’s closets for a skeleton.

But now, Mitch McConnell is warning his Democratic colleagues that, should they persist in their demands for transparency, they will hurt no one but themselves…

And yet, if McConnell truly believed his own threat — if the majority leader was entirely confident that a delayed Kavanaugh confirmation would redound to his party’s electoral benefit — then he would ostensibly be planning to do so, no matter what records the Democrats did or did not request.

The longer the Kavanaugh fight wears on, the more time progressive activists in Maine and Alaska have to mobilize pressure on the (putatively) pro-choice senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. What’s more, if some late-breaking revelation were to sink Kavanaugh in October, it is at least conceivable that the confirmation of his replacement could drag out into the next Congress. And there is a small — but not entirely negligible — chance that Democrats could control the upper chamber next January…

Kilgore’s NYMag colleague Benjamin Hart (in an essay that would deserve its own post in a less-newsy era) points out that Red State Democrats Have No Good Reason to Vote for Brett Kavanaugh” — he’s not popular, his policies are distinctly unpopular, and there’s no reason to believe doing so would help even in deep-red states. (Also: Merrick Garland, plus it’s the right thing to do.)

Buzzfeed has posted Kavanaugh’s extremely comprehensive Senate Questionnaire, which has no doubt raised new questions about his past rulings and future bent…

I’m actually a little bit hopeful that professional political staffer Dana Houle may be right:

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Repub Venality Open Thread: Hey, Remember That ‘Judge Kavanaugh’ Guy?…

Of course the Repubs are just a leeeetle bit busy at this point in time, what with trying to avoid getting further caught up in the exposure of their Dear Leaders’ foreign-affairs scandals. But never doubt they’re still working behind the scenes to put Brett ‘Dismemberment by Orca Is Just Another Job Risk’ Kavanaugh on the only SCOTUS we’ve got…

In related news, chickenshit Repubs hope to evade future responsibility…

Late Night SCOTUS Scrotes Open Thread: “Baseball Tickets”…

… Is that what the kidz are calling it, these days?

Trench Lawfare Open Thread: Of Course Kavanaugh’s A Pig-Fellator, and We Should Also Make The GOP Deny It