Friday News Dump the First: Michael Cohen’s Tapes of Conversations with the President About Karen McDougal

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

The recording’s existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.

The former model, Karen McDougal, says she began a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump in 2006, shortly after Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son Barron. Ms. McDougal sold her story to The National Enquirer for $150,000 during the final months of the presidential campaign, but the tabloid sat on the story, which kept it from becoming public. The practice, known as “catch and kill,” effectively silenced Ms. McDougal for the remainder of the campaign.

David J. Pecker, the chairman of The Enquirer’s parent company, is a friend of Mr. Trump’s, and Ms. McDougal has accused Mr. Cohen of secretly taking part in the deal — an allegation that is now part of the F.B.I. investigation.

When The Wall Street Journal revealed the existence of the paymentdays before the election, Mr. Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said, “We have no knowledge of any of this.” She said Ms. McDougal’s claim of an affair was “totally untrue.”

More at the link.

Some reactions:

I’m guessing that right now Paul Campos over at LGM is reattacking his investigation into Elliott Broidy and another Playboy model Shera Bechard.

But the bigger takeaway here is that Michael Cohen is going to be the gift that keeps on giving for a variety of investigation into the President, his campaign, his businesses, and his personal life.

Given how the week went, it’s going to be a long day, so stay hydrated!

Open thread.

 

 



World Cup: The Grand Finale

Here we are folks – the final match!

Today at 11, France v Croatia.

I’m rooting for Les Bleus but have a place in my heart for Croatia. It will be an interesting match, and we’ll see how much endurance Croatia has after so much extra time playing in their previous matches. France is a young team, but they’ve managed to forge a group identity and are better rested, if not as experienced as Croatia.

Enjoy the match everyone!








Joint House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing with FBI Supervisory Special Agent in Charge Peter Strzok Live Feed

Here’s the live feed for Supervisory Special Agent in Charge Peter Strzok’s testimony before a joint committee of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees.

I’ve got it cued up to start just as Judiciary Committee Chair Goodlatte starts his opening remarks. Right now the committee chairs and ranking members are still making their statements and SSAC Strzok is waiting to give his. Here’s a transcript of Strzok’s prepared opening statement.

Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy, Ranking Members Nadler and Cummings. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committees again, this time in an open hearing.
I testify today with significant regret, recognizing that my texts have created confusion and caused pain for people I love. Certain private messages of mine have provided ammunition for misguided attacks against the FBI, an institution I love deeply and have served proudly for more than 20 years.

I am eager to answer your questions, but let me first directly address those much-talked about texts.

Like many people, I had and expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary Presidential election. Many contained expressions of concern for the security of our country — opinions that were not always expressed in terms I am proud of.

But having worked in national security for two decades and proudly served in the U.S. Army, those opinions were expressed out of deep patriotism and an unyielding belief in our great American democracy. At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it’s been characterized, it was not limited to one person or one party – I criticized various countries and politicians, including Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, then-candidate Trump and others.

But let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took.

This is true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference, and for every other investigation I’ve worked on. It is not who I am, and it is not something I would ever do. Period.

I understand that my sworn testimony will not be enough for some people. After all, Americans are skeptical of anything they hear out of Washington. But the fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.

There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI, and our lack of bias.

In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.

That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau. And I am particularly proud of the work that I, and many others, did on the Clinton email investigation. Our charge was to investigate it competently, honestly, and independently, and that is exactly what happened.

I’m also proud of our work on the Russian interference investigation. This is an investigation into a direct attack by a foreign adversary – and it is no less so simply because it was launched against our democratic process rather than against a military base. This is something that all Americans, of all political persuasions, should be alarmed by. In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American Presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America. This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.

I expect that during this hearing, I’ll be asked about that ongoing investigation. During my testimony before these Committees two weeks ago, I was asked a number of questions, including about the ongoing Russia investigation, that counsel for the FBI instructed me not to answer. Consistent with my obligations, I followed the instructions of agency counsel. However, these exchanges generated significant tension with the Majority Members and numerous time-consuming sidebars and discussions amongst counsel.

Earlier this week, my attorney asked the Committees and the FBI to confer and agree on ground rules about which topics the FBI would allow me to testify about, and which I could not. As recently as last night, the FBI and Congress were still negotiating about what questions I would be allowed to answer here today. My understanding is that the FBI’s Office of General Counsel has provided the Committee with a list of questions that I will be permitted to answer today; the list includes certain questions that I was asked but instructed not to answer during my previous interview by the Committees. I am happy to answer any questions for which I have authorization to answer and where the FBI has directed me not to answer, I will abide by the FBI’s instructions – but let me clear: this is not because I don’t want to answer your questions; if I were permitted to answer, I would. And the answers would doubtless be disappointing to the questioners and undermine the conspiracy narrative being told about the Russia investigation.

In addition, I will testify today as accurately as I can, and to the best of my recollection. Nevertheless, my testimony will necessarily be less accurate, less precise, and less complete than it would be had the Committees not insisted on this unreasonable and unprecedented schedule. Only 36 hours ago I received access to thousands of pages of documents that the Department of Justice turned over to the Committees last week. Unlike the Members questioning me today, I do not have the transcript from my eleven hours of testimony last week. The time available for preparation has been wholly inadequate, as has my access to documents necessary for my preparation.

I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. But the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful – sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.

As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.



Thai Cave Rescue Live Feed

They’ve gotten the 8th boy out and have now stopped for the night. Here’s a live stream of the ongoing coverage from near the site:

For those wondering what this type of rescue entails, here’s a former certified cave and rescue diver from central Florida:

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Let Me Tell You ‘Bout Your Blood, Bamboo Kid

If I had been more on my game for Independence Day, I might have suggested Joe Strummer’s 1989 album Earthquake Weather. It was supposedly the product of a renewed sense of confidence in his powers which may indeed be true, but according to his biography by Chris Salewicz (a real ox-stunner at 600+ pages!) he was a habitual weed-smoker. While I am totally down to Legalize It, we can also be (ahem) clear-eyed about what it can do to one’s sense of motivation. Rock legends can work to whatever schedule pleases them, anyhow.

I would have recommended it because it is a very American-feeling album, in the same sense that Big Audio Dynamite feels European. It’s made with an all-American cast of musicians, apart from Joe, some of whom you might recognize from the film Repo Man. Strummer writes about American politics and cars and highways and diners and dive bars and jazz. The traditional stuff non-Americans gawk at. For someone with such a reputation of being a punk rock teller of hard truths, Strummer’s lyrics are quite dazzlingly poetic. They are beat-like, too, and don’t always make a lot of linear sense. Fine by me! They fit the music like a glove.

The music is Clash-level quality. It’s even got a reggae cover. Strummer’s later solo albums had great moments, but I don’t think he ever sustained as high a quality of songwriting subsequently. Every time I would teach a Jimmy Buffet song  to some grey-faced office worker, florescent-light-sick and lusting after some color, chaos, and sunshine, I would think of how Strummer’s Island Hopping captured everything Buffet had ever done more vividly and tunefully and in under three minutes. And the pity of the fact that, too late to cash in on Combat Rock and too early for Grunge which it resembles more than a little, this splendid album got overlooked.

Goal Thermometer








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Sorry for the late publish, folks. Have a great 4th!

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The Elders Have Authorized a Public Service Announcement for Alex Jones: There is No Civil War Planned for Independence Day 2018, Just the Global Conspiracy Round Robin Softball Tournament and Picnic!

On behalf of the Elders, I have been authorized to inform Alex Jones, using this platform, that there is no Civil War scheduled for Independence Day. Instead we have, as per tradition, scheduled the annual Global Conspiracy for World Domination round robin softball tournament and picnic.

The Elders would like Mr. Jones to know that his claim of a Civil War is #Fake News! And since he is not responding via the device we had his dentist implant in the filling in his left, front, bottom molar when he had his wisdom tooth removed, we have had to resort to this manner of communication. Also, Mr. Jones, please see your dentist soon so we can have that thing serviced. Thanks!

Anyhow, as we do every year, at the recreational facilities at our undisclosed location (because it’s part of the global conspiracy for world domination, duh!), we will be having our annual round robin softball tournament and picnic. And let me tell you what a pain in the tuchas that is. Every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, it’s the same thing. The Illuminati sign up to bring the sides. And every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, they screw them up. How hard is it to make decent cole slaw? All you’re doing is shredding red and white cabbage with carrots, salting and peppering to taste, mixing it all together with the good mayonnaise and cider vinegar, and then tying it together with celery salt. How hard is that? If you can’t make cole slaw, how can we expect you to run your part of the global conspiracy? Don’t even get me started on their potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese. How do you screw up baked beans? Open can, pour into baking pan. Mix with good stone ground mustard, brown sugar, and a shot or two of bourbon to taste. And make one batch without the fatback for those who don’t eat pork or meat. Nope, they just open the can, pour into a pot, and heat it up. Weak!!! SAD! Low Energy!!!!

As for the Bilderbergers. Masters of the Financial Universe my tuchas!!! Cheap bastards is more like it. They’re even worse than the Illuminati. I get it, if you splurge all the time, you’ll fritter away your fortunes, but these cheapskates sign up to bring the cups, plates, plastic flatware, and napkins every year. And they can’t even be bothered to get the solo cups and the decent plastic plates. No they get the styrofoam coffee cups and the flimsy, poorly wax treated paper plates. And sporks. I get the KFC connection, but really order some plastic flatware from Amazon for crying out loud!

The Trilateral Commission always brings the crappy, store bought chemical cake deserts! For Deity’s sake, every decent grocery store actually has a bakery if you can’t be bothered to go to a stand alone bakery. The good news is the Freemasons are good at setting up and running that nice brick grill every year. And we finally got the Romneys – all 300 of them including the Romney-McDaniels – to stop bringing the jello salad. We told them that the Pope was allergic to gelatin (Don’t tell anyone…) Also, he brings the good chiarascura and chimchurri. All Benedict every brought was sauerkraut. The Reptiloids just bring their own food because they have specific dietary restrictions…

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes: Attention Alex Jones! There is not a planned Civil War scheduled to kickoff on Wednesday. Please lie down in a cool dark room for a nap. And if that doesn’t help, please seek professional help before you get someone so worked up they decide to take the 2nd Amendment out for a walk and kill someone. Or lots of someones. And don’t forget to see your dentist soon, so we can get that receiver in your molar fixed. In fact we’re going to upgrade you and put one in the molar on the other side so you can receive our transmissions in stereo. For no extra charge. And have a nice day!

Stay suspicious.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing.

Open thread!