Late Night Open Thread: SPEAKING OF FOOLS…

These were the least competent political criminals since… well, thinking about it, neither the Watergate burglars nor Ollie North’s merry band of mercenaries were exactly masterminds, either. And as cynical political observers keep pointing out, no halfway successful lawbreaker would be dumb enough to work for the sundowning narcissist currently occupying the Oval Office — it’s all nitwits, has-beens and wanna-bes.








Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Round ‘Em Up








Russiagate Open Thread: Don McGahn, Smarter Than the Average Trump Hire

Which, admittedly, not a high bar!

NBC, this afternoon:

The House Judiciary Committee has set May 21 as the date for former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify, although McGahn has not yet confirmed his attendance.

The committee wants McGahn to address the report by special counsel Robert Mueller, in particular, the part of the report that says that President Trump asked McGahn to fire Mueller, a request McGahn refused to carry out. Mr. Trump has indicated that he will not allow McGahn to testify before Congress because he already spent about 30 hours speaking to Mueller’s investigators…

House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler also threatened Tuesday to hold McGahn in contempt if he didn’t respond to a congressional subpoena for Mueller’s documents.

CBS News also confirmed last week that the White House asked McGahn to publicly state after the release of the Mueller report that Mr. Trump had not obstructed justice. A source familiar with the matter told CBS News that White House lawyer Emmet Flood made the request, which McGahn did not comply with.

“We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister,” said McGahn’s attorney, William Burck. “It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”…

McGahn and Trump go way ‘back — here’s an early 2016 profile from the Washington Post reporter who broke the Aaron Schock story:

McGahn is one of the top election lawyers in the country, a job so highly specialized that its practitioners are almost unavoidably “Washington insiders” by definition. He is credited as one of the people most responsible for loosening regulations on campaign spending, an enabler of the corporate electioneering against which Trump has defined his candidacy. His wife, Shannon McGahn, is staff director for the House Financial Services Committee, a role that makes her a magnet for the very lobbyists that Trump regularly pillories…

Terris goes on to report that McGahn’s uncle was Trump’s long-time fixer in Atlantic City; that McGahn had worked for Nixon’s old law firm, and spent ten years as counsel for National Republican Convention Committee; that he’s “reported to be a bit of an iconoclast.” And then, also…
Read more








Small Consolations Open Thread (Russia Edition)

At least Betsy deVos hasn’t been responsible for any Amway-branded outbreaks of dysentery in America’s charter schools… that we know of. Yet:

Yaroslav was one of 127 children aged 3 to 7 who were diagnosed with dysentery after eating food at seven state-run day care centers and kindergartens in Moscow in mid-December.

While reports of dysentery are not new in Russia, they mostly have struck provincial areas far from the capital and in much smaller outbreaks. Even more unusual is that the catering firm blamed by opposition activists for the outbreak at six of the seven Moscow sites is owned by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin, who has won $2 billion in contracts for supplying food to Moscow schools since 2009, built an empire on catering and maintenance contracts for the army and has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for serving Kremlin functions. He also has been reported to run a private military company known as Wagner that sends Russian contractors to Syria and other countries.

The magnate was among the Russians indicted last year by a U.S. grand jury in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging he funded the internet trolls involved in interfering with the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The U.S. also imposed sanctions on Prigozhin and two of his companies, Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting. Prigozhin has denied any involvement, and Putin said last year that while he knew the businessman, he “doesn’t count him” among his friends.[*]

Prigozhin’s company has denied it is to blame for the dysentery outbreak. The cases have caused an outcry, thanks to a lawyer who has turned a spotlight on the caterers and has mounted a campaign to help the parents whose children fell ill…

The Federal Consumer Oversight Agency confirmed 127 cases of dysentery. At public hearings in March, the capital’s chief sanitary official, Yelena Andreyeva, denied early reports that blamed it on cottage cheese supplied by a company from southern Russia. Health and education officials would not say whether the outbreak would make them reconsider signing new contracts with Concord.

Six companies that are either directly owned by Prigozhin or affiliated with him have controlled almost all school and kindergarten catering in Moscow since 2011, providing prepared meals that can be reheated at school kitchens, according to public filings and the Spark-Interfax database…

Or, y’know, we could treat this as a warning of what happens when the Dear Leader’s cronies are allowed to turn government agencies into for-profit opportunities. Even if “science is a Democrat thing“.

[*] Seems like Prigozhin may have to be sacrificed for the good of the Russian-American Oligarchs Friendship Pact, but I’m no for-pol expert…








Russiagate Open Thread: Is Donny Jr Going Under the Bus?

I trust Richard Burr not at all, but unlike the Squatter-in-Chief, he’s a party professional. Preliminary reports this week suggest he may have decided somebody will need to be sacrificed to protect the GOP oligarchy, and it might as well be the guy whose own father doesn’t like or care about him…

Digby (Heather Digby Parton) at Salon:

It’s clear that Trump is… probably unaware that Burr also acted as a back channel during the investigation, speaking to former White House counsel Don McGahn about whom the committee had interviewed. But Trump mentioned that Burr had said publicly that his committee had found no evidence of collusion and seemed confused since he had obviously considered Burr to be among his loyal henchmen.

Burr is a strange figure in all this. He has gone out of his way to avoid appearing publicly with Trump, supposedly to avoid the appearance of a conflict even as he shared info with the White House and intervened with the press on Trump’s behalf. He has managed to work congenially with Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s ranking Democrat, and by all accounts the committee investigation itself has not been compromised…

Burr’s back-channel activities with the White House are reminiscent of Sen. Howard Baker of Watergate fame, the Tennessee Republican known for his repeated question, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” It was later learned that Baker had secretly provided the Nixon White House with information about the Watergate committee’s investigation; his question was designed to protect Richard Nixon, under the assumption that Nixon hadn’t known anything about the criminal cover-up. When it could no longer be denied that Nixon knew everything, Baker changed sides and sealed his reputation as a man of integrity, even though the truth was much murkier than that.
Read more