Trump Treason Long Read Open Thread: Why Matt Whitaker Was So Sweaty Under Questioning

As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away…

Mr. Trump’s public war on the inquiry has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Mr. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Mr. Mueller is on a “witch hunt” and has adopted the language of Mafia bosses by calling those who cooperate with the special counsel “rats.” His lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. The president’s allies in Congress and the conservative news media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to subvert a democratically elected president.

An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.
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Update: Ratfvcker Rog “Apologizes” (for What That’s Worth)

Grifters gonna… cover their flabby arses:

Gave the lawyers on twitter some cheap entertainment, at least…

Did you say ‘lawyers on twitter’?…
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Money Messaging Open Thread: Trump Stole Your Tax Refund & Gave It to His Rich Cronies

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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If that isn’t part of the Democratic messaging for 2020, shame on the campaigners. I know that financial planners advise that it’s best not to overpay one’s taxes, but lots of Americans (I’ve been among them) still prefer to treat an annual refund as a form of savings account. And the GOP’s ‘tax cut’ scam means that a lot of us are going to get smaller refunds — or be required to pay money we don’t have.

Eric Levitz, at NYMag, “Trump Tax Cuts Are (Probably) About to Become a Political Disaster”:

Even with (allegedly) light withholding, the the tax bill’s breaks for middle-class people weren’t large enough to attract much notice. Between changes in salaries, health-care premiums, and 401(k) contributions, most Americans didn’t detect much tax relief in their paychecks. The Trump tax cuts actually became less popular after they took effect. And, of course, Paul Ryan’s majority drowned in a blue wave.

Now, the bill for the GOP’s (reported) withholding shenanigans is coming due: The average American’s tax refund was 8.4 percent lower in the first week of 2019 than it was one year ago (under the pre-Trump tax code). And while Americans have trouble noticing tax changes when they’re dispersed across 12 to 24 separate paychecks, they do typically pay very close attention to the size of their refunds. About three-quarters of the country typically qualifies for a tax refund most years — and for many of those households, that check from the IRS is the largest lump sum they’ll receive all year…
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“Emergency” Open Thread: President #Flopsweat

And it was hardly a last-minute impulse decision! From the Washington Post, “How President Trump came to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall”:

President Trump knew that lawmakers were unlikely to ever give him the billions of dollars he wanted to build a wall on the southern border, so in early 2018, he gave aides a directive: Find a way to do it without Congress.

It was hardly an easy assignment. The White House had some flexibility to spend money the way it wanted, but could not move the necessary billions at will. Trump could declare a national emergency, but White House attorneys repeatedly warned him the risk of failure in court was high.

On Friday, Trump did it anyway. Stepping to a microphone in the Rose Garden, the president told reporters he was invoking his powers to declare a national emergency, then acknowledged what his lawyers had been warning him: He will get sued and, at least initially, will probably lose.

The remarkable moment, people familiar with the matter say, marked the culmination of months of heated internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, the Justice Department, the Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president over how to fund the wall…

Keep track of the rogues’ gallery here:

The tension came to a head in a March meeting in the White House residence, when Trump learned that his aides had secured only $1.6 billion for border fencing in an omnibus spending bill.

Trump fumed to then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the funding was a fraction of what he would need and threatened not to sign the measure, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation.

“We gave you what you wanted!” Ryan shot back, the people said.
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Trump Crime Cartel Open Thread: Roger Stone Update

Politico‘s take:

[T]he judge said [Stone] could keep talking about the case with the caveat that she could change her mind and amend her order “if necessary.”

She also lumped Stone in with all the parties in the case and potential witnesses when they are around the D.C. courthouse. In those circumstances, Jackson cautioned that any comments must not “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case” and cannot be “intended to influence any juror, potential juror, judge, witness or court officer or interfere with the administration of justice.”

Jackson concluded her ruling with a warning that Stone should consider that any excessive public comments may come back to bite him.

“While it is not up to the court to advise the defendant as to whether a succession of public statements would be in his best interest at this time, it notes that one factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself,” Jackson wrote…

To paraphrase comedian Ron White: Stone has the right to remain silent, but does he have the ability?

Related reading, from Jeffrey Toobin for the New Yorker, “Roger Stone’s and Jerome Corsi’s Time in the Barrel”:

The Stone indictment reads like a political black comedy. It stars a pair of mismatched operatives, Stone and the right-wing author Jerome Corsi, who, without formal connections to the Trump campaign, went on a transatlantic quest for dirt. Mueller’s indictment does not charge Stone with any involvement in the hacking, but accuses him of lying to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about his (and Corsi’s) efforts to pry loose the hacked e-mails from WikiLeaks. Read more