G7 Open Thread: Good News (If We Can Keep Him to It)

More immediately:

If you’re in a paranoid mood (remember, even paranoids have real enemies!): It has been widely assumed that Trump’s ‘special guest nation’ at this G7 would be… Russia. What price a scenario where Putin rejects his puppet’s down-at-heels hotel, and tells him he’d prefer to introduce his own ‘security arrangements’ at Camp David?








Emoluments (Open Thread)

U.S. Constitution Emoluments Clause:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Breaking news from The Post:

President Trump has awarded the G-7 Summit of world leaders to his own private company, scheduling the massive gathering for next year at his Trump Doral resort outside Miami, the White House said Thursday.

That decision will bring hundreds of diplomats, media and security personnel to Trump’s financially struggling resort — where profits fell 70 percent after Trump entered politics. These events typically fill the host resort, bringing large payments for rooms and meals, and providing global publicity.

This appears to be the first time in American history that a president has given such a massive contract to himself. Trump still owns the Doral resort, and can draw profits from it, though his company has said they will not over-charge the government.

Can this be another article of impeachment? Trump on the site selection:

“They [Trump aides] went to places all over the country, and they came back and they said, ‘This is where we’d like to be.’ It’s not about me. It’s about getting the right location.”

Uh-huh. Everyone knows how pleasant inland Miami is during the summer, which is also hurricane season.

Open thread.








Under the Trump Bus Open Thread: Giuliani Edition, Part the First

NBC, this afternoon:

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Monday denied being involved with a Ukrainian oligarch whose ethical issues have dovetailed with the ongoing impeachment inquiry into the president.

Giuliani also told NBC News he was not planning on visiting Dmitry Firtash, who is currently wanted on corruption charges in the U.S., during a trip to Vienna he planned last week. He said he could not speak for his two Soviet-born business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last week on campaign-finance charges in Virginia as they were about to board one-way flights to Vienna. Giuliani has said their similarly timed Austrian trips were not in conjunction…

Giuliani also said he has “never” brought up Firtash’s extradition battle with Trump.

“I’m not even sure the president is aware of him,” Giuliani said. “I think if you asked the president ‘who is Dmitry Firtash?’ He would say ‘I don’t know.’ As far as I know, we’ve never discussed him.”…

Saturday, per the NYTimes:

President Trump had lunch on Saturday with Rudolph W. Giuliani amid revelations that prosecutors were investigating Mr. Giuliani for possible lobbying violations, and speculation that his position as the president’s personal lawyer was in jeopardy.

The lunch, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Sterling, Va., was among several shows of the president’s support for Mr. Giuliani on Saturday. They seemed meant to tamp down questions about Mr. Giuliani’s status with a client famous for distancing himself from advisers when they encounter legal problems of their own.

Mr. Trump, during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News, called Mr. Giuliani “a great gentleman” and said he is still his lawyer. “I know nothing about him being under investigation. I can’t imagine it,” he told the host Jeanine Pirro…

Mr. Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, was retained last year to help defend the president in the special counsel’s investigation.

But his efforts to undermine the investigation’s origins and its conclusions helped lead Mr. Trump into an impeachment inquiry. The inquiry focuses on whether Mr. Trump, with assistance from Mr. Giuliani, abused the presidency to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations for his political benefit, including into whether Ukrainians played a role in spurring the inquiry of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III…

Mr. Trump was not enamored with the negative publicity around Mr. Giuliani, people close to the president said, but he remains loyal because of his lawyer’s willingness to aggressively defend him during the special counsel’s inquiry.

It is not clear what was discussed at the lunch…


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Joe Biden vs The Swamp

I had some harsh words for Team Biden yesterday morning for its namby-pamby reaction to Trump’s smears, so for the sake of fairness, here’s a much better (IMO) response from Biden himself at an Iowa news conference yesterday afternoon:

Former Vice President Joe Biden today said if he’s elected president, he will build on what he called “the squeaky clean…environment” of the Obama White House and have a policy for his family’s work that’s different than President Trump’s.

“No one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they’re a cabinet, will in fact have any a business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or to a foreign country,” Biden said.

Not sure how it will work to regulate family members’ working relationships with all foreign entities, but kudos to Biden for drawing a clear contrast with the corrupt and nepotistic Trumps, which is necessary for every Democrat. Team Biden also published a page on the campaign website this morning that says “Trump has presided over the most corrupt administration in modern history” and lists proposals on how to “restore faith in American government.” Good for them.

During the news conference in Iowa, Biden reiterated that there’s no proof his son did anything wrong and asked listeners to consider the source:

“Everybody knows he’s a liar — the president — I mean, for real,” Biden told Radio Iowa. “…I’m the reason he’s being impeached. He’s indicted himself by calling in foreign powers to try to impact the election.”

True enough. Biden also said Trump’s accusations haven’t had a negative impact on his campaign, which appears to be true so far, at least as measured by Biden’s polling numbers, which haven’t budged. But as we know, Trump’s M.O. is to slime opponents repeatedly, not to make himself look better, but to break down any distinctions at all. The jury is out on how effective that tactic could be long term.

Biden also said if he’s elected, he wouldn’t pardon Trump:

“It wouldn’t unite the country,” Biden said. “You’d say: ‘Wait a minute. I get a parking ticket and I’ve got to pay it. This happens to me and I’ve got to go to jail. This guy does all these things that put us jeopardy and he gets off? I think this is of a different nature. And I think President Ford, God love him he’s a good guy, I knew him pretty well, I think if he had to do it over again he wouldn’t have done it…because he didn’t get re-elected.”

Ford-Nixon is an apples-to-oranges comparison since they were both of the same party, and pardoning Nixon was part of the deal to make Ford VP, wasn’t it? But the first part of Biden’s remarks on the topic were spot-on — I think people really are sick of the rich and powerful skating while regular people who commit lesser offenses are nailed to the wall.

I think people are sick of the lack of accountability and rigged systems across the board. It’s always been true that there are two justice systems, etc., one for the rich and powerful, and one for you and me. But egregious examples of this inequality seem to be rampant in the Trump era, and it’s a trend the Trumps exemplify in every respect.

Examples include creeps like Jeffrey Epstein, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Les Moonves, Harvey Weinstein using their money and prestige to cover up abusive and/or criminal behavior. It’s undocumented immigrant veterans separated from their families and deported while sketchy “Einstein visa” recipient Melania Trump uses the “chain migration” her husband rants about to get citizenship for her parents.

It’s those idiot Hollywood parents rigging college admissions in favor of their already wildly privileged offspring. It’s poor people going to jail over unpaid parking fines while mega-donor wingnut Robert Mercer remains free to purchases politicians who make tax policy despite his company owing $7 billion in back taxes.

I don’t know that Joe Biden would have selected fighting government corruption as a central campaign theme had it not been thrust on him by Trump’s baseless accusations against his son. But since there’s a good chance he’ll be our standard bearer in 2020, I’m glad he’s putting a marker down on the issue now. I think it’s a winning issue for Democrats, regardless of nominee.








Late Night Open Thread: Outta the Clown Car, CREEPsters!

There was a bumper crop of good post-Watergate books — I still have copies of a few, including The Friends of Richard Nixon and Trout Fishing in the Reflecting Pool — but the prospects for post-Ukranium-1 ‘excellent reads’ is almost stunning:


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