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Aug 30 2018

Chaos, Is A Ladder!

What is this Game of Thrones thing? Oh… well, you know, new episodes of American Pickers.

‘Winter is coming’: Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm
By Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker, Washington Post
August 29, 2018

President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges.

My goodness Mr. Howard. I do believe I have the vapors.

Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands, and there has been broad discussion about bringing on new lawyers experienced in white-collar defense and political scandals.

The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team if an impeachment battle or other fights with Congress emerge after the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump advisers also are discussing recruiting experienced legal firepower to the Office of White House Counsel, which is facing departures and has dwindled in size at a critical juncture. The office has about 25 lawyers now, down from roughly 35 earlier in the presidency, according to a White House official with direct knowledge.

Trump recently has consulted his personal attorneys about the likelihood of impeachment proceedings. And McGahn and other aides have invoked the prospect of impeachment to persuade the president not to take actions or behave in ways that they believe would hurt him, officials said.

Still, Trump has not directed his lawyers or his political aides to prepare an action plan, leaving allies to fret that the president does not appreciate the magnitude of what could be in store next year.

If Democrats control the House, the oversight committees likely would use their subpoena power as a weapon to assail the administration, investigating with a vengeance. The committees could hold hearings about policies such as the travel ban affecting majority-Muslim countries and “zero tolerance” family separation, as well as on possible ethical misconduct throughout the administration or the Trump family’s private businesses.

White House officials defended Trump’s lack of preparation by saying he is focused squarely on helping Republicans preserve their majorities in the Nov. 6 midterm elections rather than, in the words of one senior official, “panicking about something that could happen.”

Any Democratic salvos would not happen until new members take office in January, which Trump advisers said seems like eons away in an administration juggling so many immediate problems. As a result, preparing for possible impeachment proceedings is not at the top of Trump’s to-do list.

“I don’t know if he’s really thought about it in depth yet,” Giuliani said.

One source of growing anxiety among Trump allies is the worry that the president and some senior White House officials are not anxious enough. Although Trump sometimes talks about impeachment with his advisers, in other moments, he gets mad that “the i-word,” as he calls it, is raised, according to his associates.

“Winter is coming,” said one Trump ally in close communication with the White House. “Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”

Trump has told confidants that some of his aides have highly competent lawyers such as Lowell, who represents Kushner, and William A. Burck, who represents McGahn as well as former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

“He wonders why he doesn’t have lawyers like that,” said one person who has discussed the matter with Trump.

“The next White House counsel needs to be prepared for a lot of interactions on the Hill,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “If the Democrats do take back the House, you can expect the White House counsel to be center stage in answering subpoenas and really in the middle of it all.”

White House officials said Trump is working hard on the campaign trail to prevent Democrats from winning a majority in either the House or the Senate.

“We don’t expect Democrats to take over,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Democrats have no message other than to attack the president. . . . If they want to go backwards, they can vote for Democrats. If they want to continue moving forward under President Trump, they should vote for people that support his policies.”

One adviser recalled recently telling Trump, “They will crush you if they win. You don’t want them investigating every single thing you’ve done.”

Another concern is that the White House, which already has struggled in attracting top-caliber talent to staff positions, could face an exodus if Democrats take over the House, because aides fear their mere proximity to the president could place them in legal limbo and possibly result in hefty lawyers’ fees.

“It stops good people from potentially serving because nobody wants to inherit a $400,000 legal bill,” said another Trump adviser.

Trump allies privately worry that the West Wing staff is barely equipped to handle basic crisis communications functions, such as distributing robust talking points to key surrogates, and question how the operation could handle an impeachment trial or other potential battles.

“What he really has to get ready for is an onslaught from all of these committees,” Giuliani said of congressional inquiries. “Because what the Democrats want is death by a thousand cuts.”

I understand there’s now an electric razor designed to take off skin by the swipe. In China they’d wrap you in metal mesh tight enough the skin would puff out and use a straight steel. Deployed with sufficient restraint you might linger for years, even decades.

If G.O.P. Loses Hold on Congress, Trump Warns, Democrats Will Enact Change ‘Quickly and Violently’
By Michael D. Shear, The New York Times
Aug. 28, 2018

President Trump warned evangelical leaders Monday night that Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently” if Republicans lose control of Congress in the midterm elections.

Speaking to the group in the State Dining Room of the White House, Mr. Trump painted a stark picture of what losing the majority would mean for the administration’s conservative agenda, according to an audiotape of his remarks provided to The New York Times by someone who attended the event.

“They will end everything immediately,” Mr. Trump said. “When you look at antifa,” he added, a term that describes militant leftist groups, “and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.”

The blunt warning — delivered to about 100 of the president’s most ardent supporters in the evangelical community — was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s attempts to use the specter of violence at the hands of his political opponents and to fan the flames of cultural divisions in the country.

In the wake of racial violence last year in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Trump said there was “blame on both sides” and equated liberal, anti-fascist protesters with Nazis and white supremacists. In spring 2016, the president warned of violence by his own supporters if he did not get the Republican presidential nomination, saying “I think you’d have riots.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged to the evangelical leadership that his conservative base may not turn out at the polls in big numbers for Republican congressional candidates because he is not on the ballot in November.

“I think we’re doing very well, and I think we’re popular, but there’s a real question as to whether people are going to vote if I’m not on the ballot,” he said. “And I’m not on the ballot.”

My Soy Latte Defies You! I shall not rest until Camembert, nay, Limburger, est le fromage de la terre!

Any news from the Titanic?

Trump falsely claims NBC’s Lester Holt ‘got caught’ faking interview where he admitted to firing Comey over Russia
by Brad Reed, Raw Story
30 Aug 2018

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a bizarre tweet in which he accused NBC’s Lester Holt of “fudging” an interview in which the president admitted he fired former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation.

“What’s going on at CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with NBC News being the worst,” the president wrote. “The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!”

During an interview with Holt in 2017, Trump said of his decision to fire Comey, “when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

Since Trump admitted to having the Russia probe on his mind when he fired Comey, many legal analysts have said that this could be used as evidence against him in an obstruction of justice charge.

Trump offered no evidence that Holt actually “fudged” this section of their discussion and it’s unclear why the president believes that Holt did anything to alter the contents of their conversation.

Oh. Icebergs. Winter Is Coming. It all makes sense now.

The walls are closing in. And Trump’s lawyers know it.
By Greg Sargent, Washington Post
August 30 2018

It is now becoming inescapably clear that President Trump and his lawyers firmly believe that he’s seriously vulnerable to the charge that he obstructed justice.

While the chances that Trump will be indicted are virtually nonexistent, should Mueller conclude that Trump did commit obstruction, it’s also becoming inescapably clear that many people around Trump firmly believe that he might well be impeached for it.

This morning, Trump appeared to suggest — for the first time, according to that storehouse of collective knowledge and reasoning otherwise known as political Twitter — that he believes NBC News’s Lester Holt somehow fudged the video of Trump admitting back in May 2017 that he fired James B. Comey as FBI director over anger at the Russia investigation.

Trump and his own lawyers have repeatedly argued that Trump cannot commit obstruction of justice by definition. As that memo from Trump’s team put it, Trump is the “chief law enforcement officer,” and as such, anything he does toward the investigation “could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction,” meaning that “he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry.” If so, firing Comey over the Russia probe would not constitute obstruction, either.

But Trump’s lawyers have now concluded that Mueller likely does not agree with this. Politico reports that Trump has been privately lobbying GOP senators to support him if he fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Previously, Trump’s lawyers had advised him that this could add to an obstruction case, since he’d be doing this to install a loyalist who would protect him from the probe. But now, Politico reports, his lawyers have changed their minds.

if this is an accurate depiction of the Trump legal team’s thinking, it means the team believes that Mueller already thinks he has a strong case, based on what Mueller already knows about Trump’s designs toward Sessions, that Trump committed obstruction of justice. (Which undermines the theory that he cannot do this by definition.) Otherwise you’d think Trump’s legal team would be wary of allowing Trump to give Mueller more fodder by firing his attorney general.

Meanwhile, The Post reports that Trump advisers and allies worry that the White House isn’t prepared for the legal onslaught that could hit Trump next year, if Democrats take the House. And one of their main worries is impeachment.

Put this all together, and here’s what you get. Trump’s own lawyers believe that Mueller thinks he has already got enough for a strong obstruction case. While there won’t be any indictment, they believe Mueller will issue a damning report to Congress, and given their own fears about obstruction, that (in their view) will likely be what makes the report potentially so damaging — helping to supply grounds for impeachment.

Trump may sense the rising likelihood of this as well, which might be why he’s suddenly distancing himself from the Holt interview. But even if so, while Trump has talked about impeachment with his advisers, they don’t believe he is sufficiently mindful of the danger all of this poses.

How does this end? All of it perhaps makes it more likely that Trump will fire Sessions. If Mueller already has enough for an obstruction case, and putting in a new attorney general could perhaps limit what Mueller investigates further or what he puts into his report, then why not? Even if so, it’s hard to see how that would derail the case for impeachment — it might add to it.

Provided, that is, that Democrats take back the House. But what if that does not happen? Then what?

“Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

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