Floriduh Man! and Floriduh! Woman: Been a Busy Few Days in Pinellas County…

It’s been a while since we checked in with Floriduh! Man, or at least Floriduh! Man not trying to blow up a couple of dozen people, so let’s see what we’ve got cooking. Er, um…

Take it away Tampa Bay Times!

ST. PETERSBURG — It started with chicken wings, a beer and a burglar.

It went downhill from there.

A St. Petersburg police officer was investigating a Nov. 6 break-in at The Chattaway restaurant, reviewing surveillance video that shows the burglar devouring a plate of chicken wings and enjoying a beer inside the kitchen. But then the officer stumbled across another incident from the night before.

The video shows a man riding his bike up to the restaurant at 358 22nd Ave S, pedaling around the parking lot for 10 minutes, then slipping in through the back gate. After wandering around for a bit, he opens the door to a shed for storing odds and ends, and removes them one by one.

Then the man gains access to a restaurant bathroom. And exits without his clothes.

He proceeds to sit naked at one of the restaurant’s picnic tables and digs into a meal he brought with him — Maruchan Instant Lunch ramen. The video also shows him playing the bongos, also naked.

“He came in with pants on but he rode off on the bike without pants,” Chattaway server Chad Pearson said. “I’m not sure if he took his pants with him but we didn’t find them. We still don’t know where his pants are.”

He spray-painted a few chairs, the bongos and a pickle jar, but his handiwork was barely noticeable, manager Amanda Kitto said. Everything was put back so neatly, in fact, it was four hours before anyone noticed he had been there.

“We would not have known about the naked guy without the cop finding that video,” Kitto said.

Police identified the man, who is homeless, but did not release his name publicly. Kitto declined to give his name and said the restaurant will not press charges because he caused no harm.

“His goal was to not break in, his goal was to just hang out at The Chattaway.”

What about the first guy?

Police still are trying to catch him.

He enjoyed the plate of chicken wings and some beer, and stole an estimated $500 worth of stuff, including cash tips, a laptop, a tablet, and a grocery bag he filled with beer.

“He made himself at home,” Kitto said. “He spent over an hour just milling around going room to room and eating and drinking while he did it.”

The man also tried unsuccessfully to access the safe using his hands, a pot handle and tongs.

Kitto is confident that even though the two incidents happened back-to-back, they are not connected.

“I used to always joke and say that if you were going to break into The Chattaway to make sure to grab a beer. And it finally happened.”

I was hot, and I was hungry. Okay?

Also, given the Real Genius reference, this cannot be unseen!

Floriduh! Woman, however, also put in a strong showing.

Once again The Tampa Bay Times has got this story well in hand…

The lobster never saw it coming.

One second it was floating listlessly in a glass tank, vying against endless shrimp, the smell of Cheddar Bay Biscuits hanging hauntingly in the air. Then, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said, an apparently intoxicated St. Petersburg woman snatched the lobster from its crustaceous purgatory and ran.

The lobster was never seen again.

Kimberly Gabel was arrested Saturday on charges of disorderly intoxication and petit theft for causing a disturbance in the Red Lobster at 6151 34th St N . The restaurant had barely been open two hours.

It was just after 1:15 p.m., deputies said, when a manager at the restaurant asked Gabel to leave. The manager said she was disturbing customers and shouted obscenities as she made her way to the door. Before she could leave, though, the 42-year-old woman reached into the oft-familiar entryway lobster tank, grabbed a live lobster and bolted.

Deputies said they caught up with Gabel a “short distance later.” They said she smelled of alcohol and slurred her words as she continued cursing, telling deputies she didn’t know what she did with the lobster because she was “blacked out drunk” and that she “did not care because she did not do anything wrong.”

Deputies described Gabel as a homeless woman. According to Pinellas County Jail records, she has been arrested numerous times for charges ranging from public intoxication to multiple counts of burglary and theft. She is currently awaiting trial in Pinellas County Jail.

Stay hungry!

Open thread!



The Defenestration of Matthew Whitaker Has Begun

As expected the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have begun to strategically leak negative information about Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

From TPM (because I’m not subscribing to The Wall Street Journal):

The FBI is investigating a Miami-based company with ties to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that was shuttered in May 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Whitaker served on the company’s advisory board, appearing in promotional materials and, at one point, sending an email that appeared to threaten a disgruntled client.

The FTC, a civil regulatory body, called the company a “scam” in a press release, accusing it of persuading inventors to buy expensive marketing, patenting, and distribution packages and then blowing them off when they demanded fulfillment of their orders.

The WSJ reports that the FBI’s Miami field office is overseeing the criminal investigation along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, citing a letter sent by an FBI victim specialist. The report also states that the investigation began as early as June 2017.

Whitaker received $9,375 from the company, according to court documents.

A court-appointed receiver told the Wall Street Journal that while other advisory board members had given back fees that the company paid them, Whitaker had not yet replied to a demand notice.

From Murray Waas at Vox:

Matthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Voxhas learned.

Whitaker was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

Sources say that Whitaker presented himself as a sympathetic ear to both Sessions and Rosenstein — telling them he supported their efforts to prevent the president from politicizing the Justice Department. A person close to Whitaker suggested to me that the then-chief of staff was only attempting to diffuse the tension between the president and his attorney general and deputy attorney general, and facilitate an agreement between the two sides.

But two other people with firsthand information about the matter told me that Whitaker, in his conversations with the president, presented himself as a vigorous supporter of Trump’s position and “committed to extract as much as he could from the Justice Department on the president’s behalf.”

One administration official with knowledge of the matter told me: “Whitaker let it be known [in the White House] that he was on a team, and that was the president’s team.”

During this period, Whitaker frequently spoke by phone with both Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, this same official told me. On many of those phone calls, nobody else was on the phone except for the president and Whitaker, or only Kelly and Whitaker. As one senior law enforcement official told me, “Nobody else knew what was said on those calls except what Whitaker decided to tell others, and if he did, whether he was telling the truth. Who ever heard of a president barely speaking to his attorney general but on the phone constantly with a staff-level person?”

Whitaker also counseled the president in private on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to name a special counsel to investigate not only allegations of FBI wrongdoing but also Hillary Clinton. Trump wanted the Justice Department to investigate the role that Clinton purportedly played, as secretary of state, in approving the Russian nuclear energy agency’s (Rosatom) purchase of a US uranium mining company.

Yet Whitaker suggested to the White House that he personally was sympathetic to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate these matters, according to the two officials with knowledge of the matter. A Justice Department official told me: “You have to have a predicate to open an investigation, or to reopen a closed case. You have an even higher one, an extraordinary threshold, to appoint a special counsel. If you don’t, what you are doing is unethical as a lawyer.”

Much more at the link.

The President is out of the country for the next several days. Despite the fact that he’ll be tweeting, and barring a major diplomatic incident while in France, which, to be honest with the President is always a distinct possibility, he has limited ability to drive the news cycle through the weekend. Whitaker will continue to suffer a death of a thousand cuts until the DOJ and FBI gets what it wants, which is, at least a recusal, if not an outright resignation.

Open thread!



Let’s Check In and See What the Leader of the Free World Was Up to Today

Oh, and the President spent most of the day on Air Force 1 live tweeting Fox News conspiracy mongering about the ongoing counting of ballots in Florida and Arizona! Though the President, like Fox News employees and others can’t seem to get their heads around that they’re still counting ballots cast, not conducting recounts yet.

Semi Break

A number of folks are expressing concern that a second Brooks Brothers Riot could take place again in south Florida. Aside from the fact that Matt Schlapp now has to shop at the Big & Tall store, which takes Brooks Brothers out of play, I don’t expect a bunch of MAGA hatted nuts having much impact this time around. The Democrats learned the lessons of 2000 well. Marc Elias, who is the top elections lawyer in the country, is working for Senator Nelson, as well as Congresswoman Sinema in Arizona, to ensure that every ballot is counted and that any recount necessary is completed properly. Barry Richards, who was the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign’s election attorney in and from Florida during the 2000 recounts and is the in the state of Florida equivalent to Marc Elias, is working for Mayor Gillum’s campaign. This is the A-Team of election attorneys.

Additionally, this isn’t 2000. Almost everyone has a smart phone. We have social media (for good and ill). People that try to shut down the actual counting of ballots, let alone recounts, by force will have their faces broadcast to the world. They’ll be identified. They’ll face actual consequences because unlike in 2000, these folks don’t work for members of Congress, the Republican National Committee, and/or the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign.

(Matt Schlapp is at #6 in the green shirt)

The local supervisors of election aren’t having any of the President’s or anyone else’s crap either:

And the Florida Department of Law Enforcement isn’t having any of Governor Scott’s conspiracy mongering either:

It’s going to be a wild few days. But I wouldn’t bet against either Marc Elias or Barry Richards. They will ensure that every vote that is eligible to be counted is counted and that the recounts are done correctly.

Open thread.



I Hate Illinois NAZIs!

From The Chicago Tribune:

The long-shot candidacy of a Holocaust denier’s Republican bid for Congress was defeated Tuesday, but not before the neo-Nazi received more than 56,000 votes in Illinois’ 3rd District.

As expected, incumbent U.S Rep. Dan Lipinski cruised to victory with just under 75 percent of the unofficial vote tally in the Democratic stronghold that stretches from the city’s Southwest Side to the west and south suburbs.

With a little over 99 percent of precincts reporting, Lipinski received 155,940 votes compared with Jones’ 56,350 The results may not include all early voting tallies.

Obligatory!

Open thread!



Recounts!

Here’s a nice, fresh thread for you all. Some recount news:

Updated at 9:00 PM EST

And my two favorites, one each from Arizona and Florida:

It ain’t over till it’s over. Also, the manner in which we conduct elections is a global embarrassment! MAKE AN EFFORT!

And in honor of that, here’s Al Murray who will, at some point in this part of his routine, yell MAKE AN EFFORT!

Open thread!



The Mueller Investigation: A Few Thoughts

 

I’ve been watching and reading the coverage of this all evening and here’s what I think is likely to happen:

  1. Whitaker will be read on to all or part of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
  2. Specifically either Rosenstein and/or Mueller will read him on to the material that shows his op-ed and remarks on CNN were pure fabrication because he has no actual idea what Mueller is doing, nor what the counterintelligence information is.
  3. They’ll also include in this whatever info they have on or got from Sam Clovis, who Whitaker used to work for and with.
  4. At that point:
    a) Whitaker will, himself, either seek a DOJ ethics section opinion on recusal and follow it or he’ll let things alone for the time being.
    b) Whitaker will do whatever he’s going to do to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

I think it is important for everyone to remember that Special Counsel Mueller has been planning for something like this to happen. As such he has contingency plans in place and for each contingency plan he has multiple sequels (to use DOD planning terminology). I would expect to see a bunch of indictments, either previously sealed ones or ones prepared and waiting to go, to be dropped in short order. I would also expect that whatever could be farmed out to the Federal prosecutorial districts, such as the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as to the state level, such as NY state, Maryland, Virginia, and DC will be handed off to them. Whitaker will have limited ability to interfere with anything Mueller hands off or farms out to the Federal prosecutorial districts and no ability at all to interfere with state or DC prosecutions. I’m in agreement with Cheryl that the President’s response here isn’t strategic, rather it’s reflexive.

I also expect, just as we saw with Sessions, that a selected leak or two from the intel community will be quickly released as warning shots across Whitaker’s bow. You’ll recall that the intel community leaked very quickly to force Sessions to recuse himself. And it then leaked a second time regarding Sessions when it looked like he might be trying to, if not interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation, then peer into it and see what was going on with the investigation. Both of these were warnings. Sessions recognized them as such and quickly adjusted his behavior accordingly. I expect that whatever there is on Whitaker, most likely from the fraudulent Miami patents company that he was involved with and that was fined by the US government, is being weaponized now and lined up for a quick release if a warning is needed to get Whitaker in line.

Finally, if Whitaker decides to seriously interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation I expect that our allied and partner’s intelligence communities will start to strategically leak. A lot of them have provided the Special Counsel with the information he needs for the counterintelligence portion of his investigation, they are very, very, very worried about Putin, his intentions, his capabilities, and his behavior, as well as the apparent connections between Putin and the President’s businesses, his campaign, and his administration. They will do what they need to do to protect themselves.

So strap in, buckle up, and hold on as it’s going to be a crazy ride for the next few days. And remember that while things seem dire, every previous time it seems that the President and his catspaws were coming for Bob Mueller they failed to stop his investigation. That doesn’t mean it is safe this time, but it does mean that Special Counsel Mueller has been paying attention, has his plans in place, and will respond accordingly when he needs to do so. And, as with everything else the Special Counsel does, we won’t really know what those responses are until he makes them. He’s rigged for silent running, he has his targets selected, he’s got his firing solutions dialed in, and he will prosecute those targets on his schedule.

And if you don’t want to believe me, believe former Special Agent Asha Rangappa, who was a counterintelligence specialist at the FBI and is also an attorney.

Twelve more tweets after the jump.

Read more



Disinformation Operation Incoming!!!!!!! Special Counsel Edition

This is pretty clearly a coordinated disinformation operation intended to both shift the news cycle going into the last weekend before the election and to influence attitudes in advance of, as well as set the conditions to diminish and negate the next round of indictments that everyone expects the Special Counsel’s Office to bring shortly after the mid-term elections. You have your pick of who is involved, let alone bankrolling this insanity. Charles Johnson of LGF has been wondering what his sociopathic namesake and stalker, popularly known as the Rage Furby, has been up to recently as he’s been very quiet. This is the type of thing he’d be involved in. Especially if someone was paying him!

I also am in complete agreement with Rick Wilson, the GOP campaign strategist and campaign communication specialist who is one of the leading NeverTrumpers.

Updated at 1:40 PM (hat tip to Cheryl Rofer in the comments)

Natasha Bertrand is reporting that the Special Counsel’s Office has already reported this to the FBI for investigation.

An alleged scheme to pay off women to fabricate sexual assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been referred to the FBI for further investigation, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, Peter Carr. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” Carr said in a statement on Tuesday.

The special counsel’s attention to this scheme—which was brought to the office by a woman claiming she herself had been offered money to make up sexual harassment claims against Mueller—and its decision to release a rare statement about it to reporters indicates the seriousness with which the office is taking the purported scheme to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation.

The special counsel’s office confirmed that the scheme was brought to its attention by several journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging  that she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.” The woman told journalists that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974. The firm has not returned a request for comment about whether the woman actually worked there.

He “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do one thing,” the woman wrote to the journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained. “In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’”

The woman was not willing to speak to the reporters by phone, so portions of her story have gone uncorroborated.  Around the time that the journalists began receiving the email, Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.”  On Tuesday, the day the special counsel revealed that it had referred the woman’s claims to the FBI,  Burkman tweeted a similar allegation.In a statement, Burkman denied knowing the woman who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme. But he told me in an email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN  we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false. Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistleblowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election.

Updated at 1:55 PM EDT (hat tip to Cheryl Rofer in the comments)

Updated at 3:55 PM EDT (hat tip to germy in the comments)

Forewarned is forearmed!

Open thread!