Trump Crime Cartel Open Thread: The Cost of Obtaining Justice

Per the Washington Post:

The cost is not necessarily out of line with prior special investigations, and the documents note that Mueller is reporting what his work has caused other Justice Department components to spend — which previous special counsels have not. Mueller reported about $4.5 million in expenditures from October through March, and indicated his investigation caused other Justice Department components to spend about $5.5 million.

The money that Mueller spent directly came from an indefinite appropriation for independent counsels, which the Justice Department determined could be used to fund Mueller’s work. The department said the other money would have been spent by Justice Department components for the investigations “irrespective of the existence” of the special counsel’s office.

From October through March, Mueller, who has a team of 17 lawyers, spent $2.7 million on personnel costs, the new documents show. He also spent more than a half-million dollars on travel and more than $880,000 on rent, communications and utilities, the documents show.

By comparison, Lawrence E. Walsh, the prosecutor who investigated Reagan administration officials in the Iran-contra affair, spent $47.4 million during his eight-year investigation. Former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr spent more than $52 million investigating President Bill Clinton, and the five independent counsels appointed to look into various Clinton-related matters during the 1990s spent more than $100 million.

Speaking of Follow the Money, this widget is getting favorably reviewed:

Friday Morning Open Thread: Keep the Faith


Per Huffington Post:

Stone has long denied any involvement with the trove of hacked Democratic National Committee emails that WikiLeaks published during the 2016 campaign. He also testified before the House Intelligence Committee last year that he only “wanted confirmation” that Assange had information about Trump’s opponent.

But according to a series of emails The Wall Street Journal reviewed for its Thursday article, Stone did more than ask for confirmation. In September 2016, he apparently badgered radio personality Randy Credico to press Assange for emails related to Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal while she was secretary of state.

Credico reportedly emailed back that Stone should check the WikiLeaks website for the information he wanted, since WikiLeaks had already posted the hacked DNC emails that July. According to the Journal, Stone responded: “Why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have???”…
Read more

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Kicking Around the Sportsball… Players

I’ve written before about “extinction bursts”, where an organism that stops getting the expected response to an action will redouble its efforts in attempt to get its reward. The NFL seems to be in the middle of such an extinction burst — its TV revenues are dropping, and as a result, they’ve just doubled down on their worst authoritarian impulses. And Mike Pence is the GOP Extinction Burst made flesh, applauding the jingoism for the hardcore Deplorables…
Read more

Late Night Point & Mock Open Thread: Empty Forms for Hollow Men

Used to be, Proud Traditionalists (a/k/a Angry White Men) will tell you, that job interviews were based on obvious merit. In more honest terms, an interviewer could be certain at a glance that a prospect was (a) pale-skinned, and (b) probably in possession of a penis. More intense scrutiny (Brooks Brothers tailoring? the “right” tie & shoes?) plus a glance at the applicant’s credentials (approved school / fraternity / country club) would cement the bond — or dismiss a pretender.

Now that “political correctness” has diminished the value of such forms (i.e., made it possible for people of color and those of alternative genders to acquire ‘prestige’ educations or professional credentials) the Proud Traditionalists are reduced to seeking out identity documents forms that, however meaningless they may be, can be presented as proof that their holder is… the Right Sort. Like an expensive “professional” IQ test!

But srsly, guys…

Read more

Grifters Gonna Grift: NRA-Sponsored Tragedy Open Thread

(Jack Ohman via

(Mike Luckovich via

Read more

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Keep Fighting (It’s Worth It)

The first planks of the “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats introduced new anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.”

“Instead of delivering on his promise to drain the swamp, President Trump has become the swamp,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a rollout event on the Capitol steps.

While the new agenda was only sketched out in broad terms Monday, it includes proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge, allow big donors to influence the political process through unreported donations and to improve elections by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and implementing automatic voter registration.

The message, the Democrats said: Elect us in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.”…

Several of the Democrats who spoke Monday attempted to connect the corruption allegations to a Republican governing agenda that has delivered outsize tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and dismantled financial and environmental regulations that aimed to protect average taxpayers.

Democrats are also preparing to highlight an apparent atmosphere of rule-bending, if not rule-breaking, in the Trump administration. Several Trump Cabinet members — including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, as well as former Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin — have been subject to official investigations of questionable spending on travel and other expenses….

Russiagate Open Thread: Always Watch Out for the Sons-in-Law…

And here we were all assuming it would be Jared who proved the weakest link…

Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort, was divorced from Manafort’s daughter last August.

Yohai has not been specifically told how he will be called on to cooperate as part of his plea agreement, but the two people familiar with the matter say they consider it a possibility that he will be asked to assist with Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort…

Hilary Potashner, a public defender who is representing Yohai, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, declined to comment.

Andrew Brown, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, had been overseeing an investigation into Yohai’s real estate and bank dealings in California and New York several months before Mueller was appointed to his post in May 2017.

Yohai’s agreement, which was concluded early this year, included him pleading guilty to misusing construction loan funds and to a count related to a bank account overdraft.

While the deal was cut with Brown’s office, the federal government “can ask for help at any time,” said one of the people familiar with the matter…

As a close business partner, Yohai was privy to many of Manafort’s financial dealings, according to the two people familiar with the matter and court filings in the bankruptcies of four Los Angeles properties in 2016. In addition to co-investing in California real estate, the two cooperated in getting loans for property deals in New York, Manafort’s indictments show.

Mueller sent a team of prosecutors to interview Yohai last June, asking him about Manafort’s relationship with Trump, his ties to Russian oligarchs, and his borrowing of tens of millions of dollars against properties in New York, Reuters reported in February, citing people with knowledge of the matter…

Considering Yohai’s no longer married to Manafort’s daughter, and that he’s using a public defender, somehow I suspect he may not be guy’s biggest fan.

Probably not related, but surely timers will be set: