Interesting Read: “Bob Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger—and Further Along—Than You Think”

I sincerely hope Garrett M. Graff is correct:

Last summer, I wrote an analysis exploring the “known unknowns” of the Russia investigation—unanswered but knowable questions regarding Mueller’s probe. Today, given a week that saw immense sturm und drang over Devin Nunes’ memo—a document that seems purposefully designed to obfuscate and muddy the waters around Mueller’s investigation—it seems worth asking the opposite question: What are the known knowns of the Mueller investigation, and where might it be heading?

The first thing we know is that we know it is large.

We speak about the “Mueller probe” as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office—some threads of these investigations may overlap or intersect, some may be completely free-standing, and some potential targets may be part of multiple threads. But it’s important to understand the different “buckets” of Mueller’s probe…

1. Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering. Business dealings and money laundering related to Trump campaign staff, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Rick Gates, are a major target of the inquiry. While this phase of the investigation has already led to the indictment of Gates and Manafort, it almost certainly will continue to bear further fruit…

2. Russian Information Operations. When we speak in shorthand about the “hacking of the election,” we are actually talking about unique and distinct efforts, with varying degrees of coordination, by different entities associated with the Russian government…
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Russiagate Open Thread: Nixon Wept

Not just ‘Stupid Watergate’, but ‘Incredibly Stupid Watergate’. To give it the proper Nixonian flavor, ‘Unable-to-Pass-the-NFL-Concussion-Protocol Watergate’….

Mr. Trump’s decision about whether to speak to prosecutors, expected in the coming weeks, will shape one of the most consequential moments of the investigation. Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would drastically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.

Rejecting an interview with Mr. Mueller also carries political consequences. It would be certain to prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as November’s midterm elections approach or beyond into the president’s re-election campaign.

But John Dowd, the longtime Washington defense lawyer hired last summer to represent Mr. Trump in the investigation, wants to rebuff an interview request, as do Mr. Dowd’s deputy, Jay Sekulow, and many West Wing advisers, according to the four people. The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that Mr. Mueller could lose in court…

Presidents have often agreed to speak with federal prosecutors who are investigating their actions or those close to them. But President Richard M. Nixon refused to turn over to the special prosecutor investigating him tapes of incriminating conversations with aides. The matter eventually went before the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1974 that the president, like every American, was not above the law and had to comply with the special prosecutor’s request.

“The upshot of the Nixon tapes case was that any president is going to have an extremely hard time resisting a request from a law enforcement officer,” said Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells.

“In general,” he added, “presidents do sit for interviews or respond to requests from prosecutors because they take their constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws seriously, and running away from a prosecutor isn’t consistent with faithfully executing the laws.”

Mr. Trump’s penchant for bravado has been a factor that his lawyers must contend with. The president has bragged to some aides that he would be able to clear himself if he talked to Mr. Mueller’s team.

“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House last month, though he added, almost as an afterthought, that an interview would be “subject to my lawyers, and all of that.”…

As NYMag phrases it, “Trump’s Lawyers Seem to Think He’s Incapable of Not Lying”

Aside from Trump’s well-documented penchant for lying, the president’s attorneys must also deal with the strong possibility that their client is not, like, really smart. According to the Times, he’s privately claimed he wouldn’t just survive an exchange with Mueller, he’d find a way to exonerate himself: “The president has bragged to some aides that he would be able to clear himself if he talked to Mr. Mueller’s team.”…
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Fiscal Conservatism Is Actually Robbing the Poor to Shower the Rich With Cash

Amazing:

It was another crazy news week, so it’s understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump’s first full year in charge of the budget.

That’s almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal year 2017.

Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to a documents released Wednesday. It’s the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.

Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.

And we all know what that means- we will suddenly become (and by we, I mean the Republicans and the media) with the debt and deficit, so something will have to be done. That something will not be getting rid of the newly enacted tax cut, the proximate cause of this mess:

Welfare hardly exists anymore in the United States. Yet in his ever-persistent war on the poor, Paul Ryan is pushing a proposal that “could include work requirements for welfare beneficiaries,” as Politico reports. And to do so, Ryan and other Republicans are trying out a shiny new rebrand.

According to Politico, at a GOP retreat, “Ryan urged congressional Republicans to tackle ‘workforce development.’ He messaged the somewhat amorphous phrase as a matter of ‘helping people[.]’” House Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker followed a similar tack, saying, “If you really want someone to get out there and find fulfillment… even though you’ve got to get the framing or the phrasing right, wouldn’t you want to see that person excel?” and that “When we talk about ‘Medicaid reform,’ that’s not a great buzz phrase.”

The exact details of Ryan’s plans are not clear (after all, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the current version of welfare, already imposes strict work requirements), but he has consistently advocated for cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps. And Donald Trump has already opened the door on tampering with Medicaid, allowing states to impose work requirements for the first time in the program’s 50-year history.

Winning the House and putting a dent in the Senate are national priorities.



Repub Venality Open Thread: Paul Ryan Is Not A Serious Person…

But he’s very much a serious threat to those of us not in the top 0.1%…



Saturday Cartoon Characters Open Thread: Bad Craziness

It’d be more entertaining if we knew for sure that the ending… well, that we’d be around to laugh about the clownishness of the current GOP Klown Kartel…



Another #Memo Open Thread: Trump’s Reverse-Midas Touch Remains Unrivaled

At least Carter Page, assuming he ever gets out of jail and the Russians don’t terminate him, will be able to support himself by taking his maniacal performance on the road. Devin Nunes, on the other hand…



Schadenfreude Open Thread: Actions Have Consequences (Eventually)


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If there were a bright side to this unfolding fustercluck, it would be that some small percentage of the most venal / incompetent / demented Republican parasites might be scraped out of their secure nests within the party…
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