Pete Buttigieg Is Trump’s Kryptonite

https://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-why-pete-buttigieg-is-trumps-kryptonite

Mayor Pete’s campaign is about finally grabbing ‘freedom, security, and democracy’ back from the GOP, and dashing for higher, non-ideological ground.

Why is Pete Buttigieg suddenly everywhere? Why has he moved so quickly from obscure flavor of the month to serious contender for the Democratic nomination and the presidency? And why does a 37-year-old gay mayor of a small city in Indiana match up so well against President Trump?

The answers lie not only in his appeal as a fresh-faced, hand-crafted product of the heartland—a whip-smart artisanal candidate for the wine-and-brie part of the party; not only in his barrier-breaking age, sexual orientation, and unorthodox political experience, which have helped him stand out from the pack and allowed many Democrats to congratulate themselves for their open-mindedness; not only in his calm and, for a young guy, surprisingly authoritative comportment that can fairly be described as presidential.

Buttigieg is also going viral because in addition to Spanish, French, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Farsi, and Norwegian, he speaks a compelling form of English. He is fluent in the subtext of American politics—the ideas and phrases that tap into our deeper sense of who we are and what we owe each other and future generations. At least for now, his generational and aspirational themes are working at a more powerful level than policy proposals or ideological positioning, and they lift him above the cut and thrust of the tiresome news cycle.

Read more at the link above~~

Is the Michael Cohen ‘Prague’ Story True?

The reporters behind it are either the new Woodward and Bernstein—or the new Judith Miller.

Source: Is the Michael Cohen ‘Prague’ Story True?

Three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney was already trying to tie the horror to Iraq. He floated a bogus story that earlier in 2001, Mohammad Atta, ringleader of the terrorist attacks, had met in a Prague cafe with an Iraqi intelligence official.

Now another shadowy meeting in Prague that may or may not have taken place is in the news.

On Dec. 27,  McClatchy DC—a reputable news outlet that broke the most important stories about the Iraq War—reported that cell phone tower records obtained by foreign intelligence sources place Michael Cohen (or at least his phone) in Prague in the late summer of 2016. The story says this information, as well as the fruits of electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency that picked up discussion among Russians of Cohen’s presence in Prague, are now in the possession of the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

If the McClatchy story is true, it has huge implications for Donald Trump’s survival in the presidency. But that’s a major if; unlike many other scoops about the Mueller probe, no other outlet has been able to confirm McClatchy’s reporting. And the McClatchy reporters have made it clear that they have no corroborating evidence of their claims and that some of their sources are indirect at best.

The stakes are immense. If the McClatchy story is validated, it would strongly suggest that Mueller has evidence that in 2016 Trump sent his personal lawyer and fixer to Europe to meet with a high-ranking Kremlin official. The point of the meeting, if it occurred, was ostensibly to discuss Russian concerns that their intrusion in the presidential campaign on Trump’s behalf might be exposed. This would confirm an important section of the (in)famous “Steele dossier” and offer major evidence of Trump’s participation in a criminal conspiracy.

Paying off porn stars, obstruction of justice, corrupt Russian real estate deals—they’re all serious, even criminal, but not in the same league as “Prague” (or another place where Prague-like meetings might have taken place). A meeting or multiple meetings of this kind would be the crown jewels of what Mueller in court filings calls the “core” of his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

On the other hand, if the McClatchy story is false, it significantly lessens the odds that Mueller can prove a conspiracy case—the only case that is likely to lead to impeaching the president and removing him from office.

The Prague story is also critical for the reputations of reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, who say they have four sources confirming that Cohen’s cell phone briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area.

“If the foreign intelligence intercepts are accurate,” Stone and Gordon write, “the big questions now are whether Cohen has acknowledged to investigators that a meeting in Prague occurred, informed them what transpired and revealed what, if anything, he told Trump about it.”

Cohen, who has already cut plea deals with Mueller and other federal prosecutors, continues to deny he was in Prague.

Michael Cohen

@MichaelCohen212

I hear is beautiful in the summertime. I wouldn’t know as I have never been. knows everything!

Stone and Gordon are experienced and well-regarded national security reporters with several important scoops between them. (Stone broke important parts of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal in 2005). After this story plays out, they will either be latter-day Woodward and Bernsteins—far ahead of the pack on a scandal that could bring down a president—or another Judy Miller, The New York Times reporter manipulated by sources into publishing stories about the Iraq War that didn’t hold up. Even if the story doesn’t do damage, as Miller’s did, it would, if false, give the entire news media a black eye at a time Trump is trying to discredit any critical stories as “fake news.”

“Feels like McClatchy is ***really*** out on a limb if they’re wrong about this Cohen/Prague stuff,” tweeted MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “They’re either right or they got massively snookered.”

Chris Hayes

@chrislhayes

Feels like McClatchy is ***really*** out on a limb if they’re wrong about this Cohen/Prague stuf

A number of major media outlets have attempted to stand up the allegation that Cohen visited Prague in 2016, but McClatchy remains the only outlet that has published evidence suggesting a meeting may have taken place. Multiple prominent national security reporters told The Daily Beast they were unconvinced by the story, noting its lack of detail and both reporters’ interviews, at times tortured, about their report on MSNBC.

At one point, Greg Gordon strongly implied to MSNBC’s Joy Reid that his sources were not in government circles and had only indirect knowledge of any sensitive intelligence about Cohen.

“The sources have—some of the sources have government sources, and some of the sources are—are people who have told us that they have trusted intelligence-type sources that they get information from,” Gordon said.

In other words, Gordon’s sources didn’t themselves know about these alleged cell phone tower pings around Prague; they talked to people who supposedly knew.

Asked if he had any corroborating evidence for this story, Gordon told Reid, “I wish we had.”

One prominent national security reporter pointed out a number of respected news outlets had attempted to confirm the story, and had failed to do so, adding that both McClatchy stories had not answered a number of key questions: Where else did Cohen’s phone ping from? Who did he meet with? When exactly did a meeting take place, and how did he get there? And if other intelligence agencies picked up on evidence about a meeting, why didn’t they share the intelligence with U.S. intelligence officials?

“There are all these basic facts that should be able to be answered, and they haven’t answered any of them,” they said. “They’re just generating more smoke.”

“So much is riding on us being right, and so many people want us to be fake news,” another prominent national security reporter skeptical of the story said. “The consequences of being wrong are so high that… I’d be curious to know what kind of stress tests they’ve done on it.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast on Friday, Kristin Roberts, who oversees McClatchy’s Eastern region, said she understood that many people following the Trump-Russia case had questioned their stories about Cohen’s potential visit to Prague. Her team, she said, had asked themselves many of the same questions. Roberts said they couldn’t know for sure why Cohen would continue to lie a this point, but “this is a man who is a convicted liar and any good journalist would tell you that throws into doubt his credibility as a source.”

Stone and Gordon’s reporting is an effort to substantiate at least part of the work of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence official whose dossier placed Cohen in Prague in meetings with powerful Russians. (The bundle of reports also passed along several bits of information that Steele himself has said he thinks are “fifty-fifty,” at best.) The dossier notes that a Kremlin intelligence asset identified as Konstantin Kosachev, “an important figure in the Trump campaign-Kremlin liaison operation,” was present at the meeting there with Cohen.

“So much is riding on us being right, and so many people want us to be fake news. The consequences of being wrong are so high that…I’d be curious to know what kind of stress tests they’ve done on it.”
— a prominent national security reporter skeptical of the story

Stone first reported in April that Mueller’s office had confirmed this part of the dossier. In the eight months since, other news organizations have tried and failed to confirm that story, which added to their skeptical reaction to the latest McClatchy account.

That skepticism deepened this week when Cohen, who has said his lying days are behind him, tweeted a firm denial:

“I hear #Prague #CzechRepublic is beautiful in the summertime. I wouldn’t know as I have never been. #Mueller knows everything!”

When pressed on Twitter over whether he could have been in the Prague area, Cohen tweeted “NO.”

This isn’t Cohen’s first denial. Before he flipped in the fall of 2018, Cohen offered a series of Prague alibis. He said he was in California that August with his children, and showed his passport, which contained no stamp of the Czech Republic, to Buzzfeed News. Reporters there explained that he could have a second passport and that he could easily enter the Czech Republic from other EU countries without a Czech stamp. But they also searched 45 Prague hotels and none had a Michael Cohen registered in the period when the dossier suggested he was in the city.

Revelations since then about Russian interference in the election give at least speculative credence to a Prague meeting. By late summer 2016, the Trump campaign knew that the contacts Paul Manafort and Carter Page made with Russians were under FBI surveillance. Intercepts showed the Russians were so concerned about detection of their meddling that they recalled a key intelligence officer (later indicted) and showed other signs of needing to coordinate a cover-up in person. This might also explain the Inaugural-eve trip of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and a major Trump donor, to the Seychelles, where investigators believe he met with Russians under investigation by Mueller’s office.

Cohen’s lies and denials supposedly ended in September of 2018, when he met for the second time with Mueller’s team (He lied during their first meeting). In early December, the Mueller sentencing memo revealed that Cohen has now “accepted responsibility” for his lies regarding “what he knew about contacts between the Company [the Trump Organization] and Russian interests during the course of the campaign.” The sentencing memo goes on to explain that Cohen provided  the Mueller probe with “useful information” about matters “core to its investigation” of a Trump-Russian conspiracy. Left unsaid was that if Cohen testifies to Mueller’s satisfaction, the special counsel is entitled to argue in court for a further reduction in his sentence.

All of this lends credence to Cohen’s newest denials of a Prague trip.

Cohen is Mueller’s witness now and his still-adjustable sentence depends on his coming clean. Lying after flipping would be very hazardous to Cohen’s freedom, not to mention his credibility as a witness against Trump (who calls him a “rat”) or anyone else in court. He would also expose himself to another charge of lying to Congress.

Is Cohen still lying anyway? We don’t know. Did the reporters get misled by their shadowy sources? We don’t know that, either. Perhaps we’ll learn relevant details about “Prague” (and other possible evidence of collusion) if and when Mueller files his long-rumored report on Trump-Russia to the Attorney General.

Until then, the way the first “Prague” story played out may be instructive.  Shortly after 9/11, Cheney went on “Meet the Press” to say that it “has been pretty well confirmed” that Mohammad Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official in a Prague cafe just five months before he and 18 other terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the towers and the Pentagon. The Czech interior minister said the story was true.

The Bush White House flogged the Prague meeting hard to build support for the phony charge that Iraq was to blame for 9/11. But over time, the story looked less and less believable and in 2006, Cheney admitted there was no evidence for it. Of course by then the disastrous Iraq War—sold to the American public as a response to the 9/11 attacks—was in its fourth bloody year.

Both the Iraqi-Atta “Prague” story favored nearly two decades ago by the right and the Cohen “Prague” story favored today by the left (and anyone else who detests Trump) are essentially unsubstantiated intelligence reports converted, wrongly or rightly, for the use of propagandists and law enforcement. We’ll likely know by spring—“Prague Spring”—if this time that stunning city on the Vltava River helps shape the fate of an American president.

Censure the president – The Washington Post

An official reprimand would not be a substitute for impeachment but a possible precursor to it.

Source: Censure the president – The Washington Post

July 18 at 6:15 PM

Jonathan Alter is an MSNBC analyst and columnist for the Daily Beast.

Sixty-four years ago, the U.S. Senate censured the bullying demagogue Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin for conductthat “tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy lingered in the Senate for another 2 ½ years., but the censure essentially ended his early-1950s “Red Scare” reign of intimidation and character assassination.

Now President Trump, with his craven performance opposite Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, has brought his office into dishonor and disrepute. In doing so, Trump has presented a gift to congressional Democrats who dread campaigning on impeachment for the midterm election in the fall. The promise to censure Trump if Democrats retake the House would likely appeal more to voters than vowing to undo the 2016 election through impeachment.

For all the bipartisan condemnation of what has been called the “Helsinki humiliation,” censure isn’t part of the discussion. It should be.

The Senate will not be a fruitful place to look for it. Timid Senate Republicans remain too frightened of their constituents to sanction their president. Under the most common reading of the rules, censure in the Senate would take 60 votes — a high bar unless special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation turns up five-alarm evidence involving the president.

The House, by contrast, requires only a simple majority to approve a motion of censure. If Democrats take that chamber this fall, they could censure Trump as early as January. He would obviously use it to try to rally his base. But even if the vote were largely symbolic, a resolution officially condemning Trump on national security and other grounds would be worth the trouble.

 3:31
Democrat vets in Congress slam Trump’s Helsinki meeting

Several military veterans who now serve as Democrats in the House criticized President Trump on July 11 for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Censure would provide at least some measure of accountability for Trump, and it would be a repudiation-by-proxy of Putin. Along with strengthened sanctions against Russia, censure would send a strong message to the world that the U.S. president’s assault on NATO and capitulation to the Kremlin do not reflect the policy of the full U.S. government.

Last year, a small band of House liberals tried, with little notice, to censure Trump for blaming “both sides” after white supremacists sparked violence in Charlottesville. He deserved censure then, but today’s grounds are even stronger.

Censure, by either the Senate or the House, is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and it has no legal force. But its rare use — only two dozen or so times in the nation’s history — makes it an especially stinging reprimand. Among presidents, only Andrew Jackson has been censured (for withholding key documents about the Bank of the United States), though his censure was later expunged. In 1998, when President Clinton was embroiled in a sex scandal involving a White House intern, many Senate Democrats favored voting for censure and moving on. But the Republican-controlled House was hellbent on impeaching him, instead. Republicans paid a price for that overreach, as today’s Democrats may well note.

In Trump’s case, censure would not be a substitute for impeachment but a possible precursor to it. At a minimum, advocating censure would be a movement-building effort that would bring tone and focus to the amorphous “Check Trump” themes that Democratic candidates will use before the midterms. It would embed Helsinki in the campaign and help keep that ghastly episode fresh even after attention shifts elsewhere.

Some liberals may insist that impeachment must be part of Democratic campaigns in the fall. But most candidates know that moderate voters in flippable states and districts would prefer to see Mueller’s evidence first. Pushing impeachment now — without rock-solid evidence of the “treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors” necessary to win a two-thirds vote for conviction in the Senate — plays right into Trump’s hands.

Pushing censure doesn’t do that. An official reprimand of the president requires no evidence of collusion — beyond the sickening sight of two heads of state colluding on the world stage. Helsinki might become a useful wedge issue for Democrats. When asked what to do about Trump, they can say they favor censure now on national security grounds and want to wait for Mueller’s findings before considering what to do next. That answer would put Republican opponents on the spot. If GOP candidates oppose censure, they would be essentially saying they think the Helsinki humiliation was no big deal.

As Democrats prepare for possible control of one or both houses of Congress, they must develop their long-atrophied parliamentary muscles. That means planning hearings, investigations and bills to fix a multitude of Trump administration abuses. But they shouldn’t neglect the power of public shame, even for the most shameless man on the planet.

Democrats Are Primed to Win Big, Reclaim the House, and Save Our Democracy. Here’s How They Could Blow It.

This election will either legitimize Trump’s rule or upend it. There’s no time or money to waste on divisive primaries or contests far removed from competitive House seats.

Source: Democrats Are Primed to Win Big, Reclaim the House, and Save Our Democracy. Here’s How They Could Blow It.

PRAGMATISM AS MORAL IMPERATIVE
Democrats Are Primed to Win Big, Reclaim the House, and Save Our Democracy. Here’s How They Could Blow It.

This election will either legitimize Trump’s rule or upend it. There’s no time or money to waste on divisive primaries or contests far removed from competitive House seat.

Jonathan Alter
04.23.18 4:57 AM ET

GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania announced this month that he was resigning from Congress and told Republicans: “Big wave coming—get off the beach.”

Dent is probably right. A little more than six months before the midterms, predictive models point to Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives. A strong history of pick-ups by the party out of the White House, disgust with President Trump, good results in special elections, 46 Republican retirements (compared to 20 Democrats), and an energized Democratic base all augur well.

The question isn’t whether the odds favor flipping the House, but whether Democrats should bank on it. And the answer—for anyone who cares about protecting American democracy—is an obvious no.

Six months is a lifetime in politics. Trump’s popularity won’t recover by fall, but a deal with North Korea and a couple of other breaks could shift the momentum just enough to protect vulnerable Republican seats. And the recent history of midterms strongly favors Republicans, who took the House in 2010. In 2014, turnout fell to 37 percent, the lowest in 70 years, with the steepest falloff among Democrats.

Most Democrats get it; they’re focused and girded for battle, with a bumper crop of young and exciting candidates, including a record number of women. But too many others wring their hands watching cable news without educating themselves about which seats in their states are in play and what they can do to flip them. And a remnant of lefties are still living in Jill Steinland—acting as if the midterms are in the bag and they can indulge in expensive primary fights over minor policy differences that drain resources from the constitutionally critical task at hand.

Are Democrats in danger of once again forming a circular firing squad? The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is so worried that it’s pressuring weaker candidates in some districts to drop out in favor of well-funded moderates with a better chance of winning in November. California, where a half dozen seats are flippable (one quarter of those needed to gain control), is a particular concern because the state’s “top two” primary system means a large field of Democrats could split the vote and leave two Republicans running against each other in the general election.

Liberal activists say pressure from the DCCC and other Washington types is exactly what they dislike about the Democratic establishment. It’s the same thinking, they claim, that forced the party to nominate Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Their message: Don’t ram moderates down our throats!

Read more at the link above…

Trump-Russia Isn’t About the Cover-Up. It’s About the Crime.

In Watergate, it was the cover-up, not the crime. But in Russiagate, that stands to be turned on its head. We already know a lot—and we can be sure Mueller knows more.

Source: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-russia-isnt-about-the-cover-up-its-about-the-crime

OPINION

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH BROCKWAY/THE DAILY BEAST

Recall the Watergate cliché that the cover-up is worse than the crime. That may have been true then. While it was never established that President Nixon knew in advance about the break-in at the Watergate complex, he was forced to resign after proof emerged that he used the CIA to obstruct the FBI investigation.

In the Russia scandal, special counsel Robert Mueller has credible proof of obstruction of justice—i.e., the cover-up. But in a highly politicized climate, where “memos” and insults are weapons of distraction, that won’t likely be enough. Even if Democrats take control of Congress in November, most Republicans—like most juries in run-of-the-mill criminal cases—will demand significant evidence of an underlying crime as a motive for the obstruction before turning on President Trump, much less voting in the Senate to remove him from office.

While Mueller and his team don’t leak, signs that such evidence exists are clear from news reports, which contain only a tiny portion of what the special counsel’s office possesses. The fragmentary and often disconnected nature of those reports obscures the reasonable supposition that Mueller is well on his way to detailing conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal foreign campaign contributions, or all three. During Watergate, the special prosecutor had most of the evidence that doomed Nixon at least nine months before his August 9, 1974 resignation. Mueller, too, likely has the goods already, even without “smoking gun” tapes.

One tip-off was in Michael Flynn’s December 1 “allocution”—his signed submission to the court as part of his guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI on January 24, 2017. It received almost no media attention but suggested the nature of the criminal conspiracy that would likely be at the heart of Mueller’s prosecution.

Flynn didn’t just vaguely admit he lied. The law doesn’t allow that. He admitted in writing that his lie “had a material impact” on the FBI’s probe “into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the [Trump] Campaign and Russia’s efforts to intervene in the 2016 election.”

The conspiracy case–the heart of Mueller’s efforts– almost certainly boils down to an old-fashioned quid pro quo. Flynn’s “quid”—the substance of his recorded conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak— was lifting the sanctions that President Obama imposed on Russia in late 2016 and the earlier sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. The “quo” was collusion (“conspiracy” in legal terms) with Russians to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, which Flynn effectively admitted was “material” to his lies after the election. Anyone associated with this deal is in deep legal trouble.

The conspiracy started with Russians violating the federal computer crime statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, by hacking into the computers at the Democratic National Committee and stealing emails that were then distributed publicly by Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks—both linked to Russians— in ways that hurt Clinton. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Russia also tried to penetrate the voting systems of 21 states.

“The conspiracy charges that arise from it will likely send some of Trump’s friends and relatives to jail. And they won’t look so good for the president, either, if presented next year at his impeachment trial in the Senate.”

These actions would also violate the federal criminal statute that bars foreign nationals from offering anything of value in a presidential campaign. Every party to such illegal acts is criminally liable.

There are also potential violations of the federal wire fraud statute. The evidence of a scheme to defraud? We know that Russia’s “active measures” included creating thousands of fictitious Twitter and Facebook accounts to generate fake news targeted to suppress the Clinton vote. Campaign officials are criminally liable if Mueller and his team prove an overlap between the illegal Russian fake news posts and the Trump campaign’s routine micro-targeted negative messages–a painstaking but manageable set of data comparisons.

In addition, the special counsel is examining whether a Russian politician with connections to organized crime, Alexander Torshin, routed an illegal campaign contribution to Trump through the NRA, which is relatively easy to trace. While not his primary assignment, Mueller might also uncover evidence of money laundering or other business-related corruption on the part of the Trump Organization. You can bet he has examined Trump’s tax returns.

Conspiracy is a much broader crime than is generally understood. The guidelines for judges who instruct juries say that the prosecution need only prove that there was “a mutual understanding, either spoken or unspoken, [Emphasis added] between two or more people to cooperate with each other to accomplish an unlawful act.”

It doesn’t matter whether the “mutual understanding” was before, during or after the crime was committed. “It is not necessary that a defendant be fully informed of all the details of the conspiracy, or all of its participants,” the model jury instructions continue. “You need not find that the alleged members of the conspiracy met together and entered into any express or formal agreement.”

Under the so-called “doctrine of willful blindness,” reinforced by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a majority opinion in 2011, juries are instructed to “consider whether the defendant deliberately closed his eyes to what would otherwise be obvious to him.”

“The key question,” the jury instruction concludes, “is whether the defendant joined the conspiracy with an awareness of at least some of the basic aims and purposes of the unlawful agreement.” Don Jr.’s excitement over receiving Russian dirt on Clinton, Jared Kushner’s interactions with Cambridge Analytica and thus with Wikileaks, and Trump’s knowledge of these or other ties to Russians and his use of that knowledge in the campaign, all suggest such “awareness.”

Two other legal concepts are relevant. Much of the obstruction case—from Trump interfering with the FBI probe to re-writing his son’s statement aboard Air Force One after revelations about Don Jr.’s meeting with the Russians–revolves around the president’s concern that he had something to hide, also known as “consciousness of guilt.” He also might be charged as “an accessory after the fact,” which requires only that the defendant “receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension.”

Now consider just a bit of what has emerged about “mutual understanding,” “willful blindness,” “awareness,” “assists” and “consciousness of guilt” in the Trump-Russia case, which is in turn a fraction of what Mueller knows. As in any criminal case, the timeline is critical:

April 26, 2016: George Papadopoulos, whom Trump named as one of his “top five” foreign policy advisers, learns that the Russians had possession of the DNC emails. He passes word of this to others in the campaign. Because of a “mutual understanding,” no one calls the FBI.

Mid-May: Papadopoulos tells an Australian diplomat in London that the Russians have compromising emails on Clinton. The diplomat properly informs his superiors, who–unlike Trump campaign officials–recognizes his legal responsibilities under American law to notify U.S. authorities.

June 9: At a meeting at Trump Tower previewed for the campaign as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. listens as well-connected Russians offer damaging information about Clinton. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort both say they left early, suggesting “awareness” of, or “willful blindness” to, crimes that were underway. Again, no one contacts the FBI.

Mid-June: Kushner—assuming control of the campaign’s digital operations— hires Cambridge Analytica, which coordinates with Wikileaks, suggesting a possible “mutual understanding” of what Wikileaks will do.

July 14: At the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign deletes a plank in the party platform that condemns Russia for invading Ukraine, and rejects a proposal for increased sanctions, bolstering the case for the quid pro quo that is the crux of the case.

July 22: On the eve of the Democratic Convention, Wikileaks releases damaging Democratic emails received from the Russians, implicating Wikileaks in the criminal conspiracy.

July 27: In a speech, Trump says, “By the way, if they [Russians] hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do.” Trump later said he was joking but it reinforces his “awareness” of an unlawful act.

August 21: Roger Stone, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, shows knowledge of the conspiracy by tweeting, “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary,” in reference to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and Stone admits having communicated with both Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks in July, all elements of the conspiracy.

October 7: Within hours of the release of the Access Hollywood tape, which dealt a serious blow to the Trump campaign, Wikileaks releases the first in a series of 60,000 emails belonging to Podesta. Wikileaks effectively acts as an arm of the Trump campaign in a “mutual understanding” to deflect attention away from the sex scandal.

December 29: Deputy National Security Adviser-designate K.T. McFarland emails a colleague about the aftermath of outgoing President Obama’s implementation of sanctions: “If there is a tit-for-tat escalation, Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown USA election to him.” (emphasis added) The same day, Flynn tells Kislyak not to escalate because Trump is coming into office with a new, much friendlier policy, thereby fulfilling Trump’s end of the corrupt deal.

Even without knowing any of what Mueller has learned from the many witnesses he has secretly brought before the grand jury, this timeline—and the jury instructions that would accompany it at trial— already offer a strong roadmap for prosecutors. The conspiracy charges that arise from it will likely send some of Trump’s friends and relatives to jail. And they won’t look so good for the president, either, if presented next year at his impeachment trial in the Senate.

Jonathan Alter is a best-selling author and a columnist for the Daily Beast. Nick Akerman, a partner at Dorsey and Whitney, is a former Watergate prosecutor.

It’s Time to Censure Trump for ‘Conduct Unbecoming’ of a President

There is a way to punish President Trump for his ignorant, racist words without resorting to impeachment. He should be censured by Congress.

Source:  https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-epitomizes-conduct-unbecoming-a-presidentwill-congress-step-up-and-say-so

On Dec. 28, Army Pvt. Emmanuel Mensah rushed twice into a burning building in the Bronxand rescued four people. On his third trip in, he died. Mensah was from Ghana, one of President Trump’s “shithole countries.”

Trump’s comment was racist: He was referring only to countries with dark-skinned people. That makes the Fox News blowhards who endorse it racists, too. 

It was stupid: We need the help of those nations to fight terrorism and pursue other national interests. Trump just did another huge favor for China, which is already moving aggressively in Africa.

And it was un-American: Immigrants from dysfunctional countries, including those like Trump’s grandfather, who came from impoverished Germany in 1886, built the United States. You can look it up.

Another thing to research: Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. All senior U.S. military personnel—including women— are subject to a court martial for “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” Such conduct includes dishonest, indecent, cruel and dishonorable acts. Article 133 charges require no proof of law-breaking. They can be brought for merely “indecorous” behavior, which means acting like an asinine ignoramus.

If the commander in chief were down a few rungs in the chain of command, he would have been court-martialed months ago for “conduct unbecoming,” just as President Clinton would have been court-martialed in 1998 for having sex with a White House intern. It goes without saying that if either president were a mere CEO of a publicly traded corporation, he would have been tossed out on his ear.

But just because the president can’t be impeached (at least not yet), court-martialed or fired doesn’t mean he can’t be punished. It’s time to stop wringing our hands. There are remedies that lie between removal from office and doing nothing.

The best short-term remedy is censure by both Houses of Congress, a move that would begin the essential process of checking Trump.

Andrew Jackson—whose painting Steve Bannon told Trump to hang in the Oval Office—is the only president ever censured (for not turning over certain bank documents). Senator Joe McCarthy was censured in 1954 for dishonoring the Senate with his anti-Communist character assassination, which was engineered by Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohn. Censure is what I and a lot of other people argued was the right punishment for Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky case. It wasn’t enough for Republicans who backed impeachment—some of the same Republicans (I’m looking at you, Orrin Hatch) who today think Trump is “one of the best” presidents.

So why would those Trump enablers censure him over this? They probably won’t. They didn’t when three House Democrats introduced a censure motion after Trump said “both sides” were to blame after neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August. 

But some big things have changed since Charlottesville. The implications of another international incident for our standing in the world are clearer now. And GOP incumbents are running scared, with 31 members so far announcing they’re leaving their House seats. That’s seven more than the 24 seats Democrats need to take control in November. Even Republicans know that bigotry is not a good look in an election year.

Could Trump walk back his line? Not likely. Roy Cohn gave him two pieces of advice: Retaliate against your enemies times 10 and never say you’re sorry. The only time on record when he apologized was for the Access Hollywood tape—and he rescinded it late last year with the claim that it wasn’t his voice on the tape with Billy Bush. Even his fanboys couldn’t swallow that one. 

With no apology forthcoming, every Republican member of Congress will (or at least should) be asked by their local reporters whether the president owes one. It will be hard for many of them to say no, or to explain to their constituents why the remark was OK. The issue would be further crystallized if Democrats threaten to boycott the Jan. 30 State of the Union Address—a possibility, I’m told by congressional staffers, should no other remedy materialize.

White House aides are apparently already claiming that “shithole countries” is playing well with Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-PC base. But it’s bound to play horribly with the much larger combination of Democrats and independents. For that not-so-Silent Majority, failure to pursue this matter in some fashion is not an option.

Even so, passing a censure resolution obviously requires at least some bipartisanship. That’s why the language of the rebuke should come from Article 133. Keeping it in military terms—terms, by the way, that even Trump would understand—puts pressure on Speaker Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, to at least let their chambers decide. Members wouldn’t have to debate immigration or foreign policy or even racism, merely vote that the president’s conduct was… unbecoming. Who can argue with that?