February 12th, 2020

dara

Today's News (2020/2/12) Early Edition? Maybe. Probably more later.

Okay, so, very busy yesterday, didn't get around to a post, sorry for that. There's a lot! All of it _terrible_. Mostly Bill Barr is just being an enforcer now for Trumpkins and letting Trump's friends off and opening fake investigations into everybody, just like I said he would.

Also, the Republicans just blocked three more election security bills in the Senate.

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Elizabeth Warren [Senator]
twitter.com/ewarren

https://twitter.com/ewarren/status/1227642421762252800

Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General. Barr should resign or face impeachment. And Congress should use spending power to defund the AG’s authority to interfere with anything that affects Trump, his friends, or his elections.

[THREAD, up and down]

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Four prosecutors quit Roger Stone case after DOJ sentencing reversal
By John Kruzel - 02/11/20 04:11 PM EST

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/482618-three-prosecutors-quit-roger-stone-case

The four Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors who recommended Roger Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison left the case Tuesday after top officials sought to reduce their sentencing request.

Prosecutors Michael Marando, Adam Jed, Jonathan Kravis and Aaron Zelinsky all asked the judge in the case for permission to withdraw. Kravis left the DOJ entirely, announcing his resignation as an assistant U.S. attorney.

The four were involved in providing the initial sentencing guidance for Stone. But in a rebuke to the career prosecutors, the DOJ on Tuesday told the judge in the case to apply "far less" to Stone's sentence.

"The government respectfully submits that a sentence of incarceration far less than 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment would be reasonable under the circumstances," the DOJ wrote in a memo late Tuesday afternoon.

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Barr takes control of legal matters of interest to Trump, including Stone sentencing
Attorney General William Barr's intervention in Roger Stone's case wasn't the first time senior political appointees reached into a case involving an ex-Trump aide, officials say.
Feb. 11, 2020, 4:55 PM PST
By Carol E. Lee, Ken Dilanian and Peter Alexander

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/barr-takes-control-legal-matters-interest-trump-including-stone-sentencing-n1135231

WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney who had presided over an inconclusive criminal investigation into former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was abruptly removed from the job last month in one of several recent moves by Attorney General William Barr to take control of legal matters of personal interest to President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

A person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that Trump has rescinded the nomination of Jessie Liu, who had been the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for a job as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department.

Liu also supervised the case against Trump associate Roger Stone. On Tuesday, all four line prosecutors withdrew from the case — and one quit the Justice Department altogether — after Barr and his top aides intervened to reverse a stiff sentencing recommendation of up to nine years in prison that the line prosecutors had filed with the court Monday. (Liu left before the sentencing recommendation was made.)

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Trump Fires Defense Official for Refusing to Break the Law on His Behalf
New York Magazine / the national interest
Feb. 11, 2020

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/trump-fires-defense-official-refusing-to-break-law-elaine-mccusker.html

What’s especially chilling about this move is the reason for the retaliation. McCusker is losing her job because she attempted to follow the law. There’s no cover story to rationalize it. That is the cover story. “This administration needs people who are committed to implementing the president’s agenda, specifically on foreign policy, and not trying to thwart it,” a White House official tells the paper.

McCusker’s crime is quite literally having attempted to follow the law. Over the summer, the Office of Management and Budget was trying to hold up aid for Ukraine that Congress had passed into law, because it was trying to extort Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rivals. Defense Department officials, who were supposed to allocate the funds, attempted to implement the policy. Just Security obtained the email chain.

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The Justice Department becomes a political hit squad for an unleashed president
By Jennifer Rubin
Feb. 11, 2020 at 3:16 p.m. PST

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/11/justice-department-becomes-political-hit-squad-an-unleashed-president/

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation:

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Senate GOP blocks three election security bills
By Jordain Carney - 02/11/20

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/482569-senate-gop-blocks-three-election-security-bills

Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats to unanimously pass three election security-related bills Tuesday, marking the latest attempt to clear legislation ahead of the November elections

Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission (FEC) about foreign offers of assistance, as well as legislation to provide more election funding and ban voting machines from being connected to the internet.

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Judge Voids UNC's Controversial Settlement Over Confederate Statue 'Silent Sam'
February 12, 2020

https://www.npr.org/2020/02/12/805250903/judge-voids-uncs-controversial-settlement-over-confederate-statue-silent-sam

A judge has overturned a contentious settlement that the University of North Carolina system reached with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.

The November 2019 agreement required the UNC system to give Silent Sam to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, along with $2.5 million for its preservation and display. It was announced within minutes of a lawsuit filed by the group.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour — who originally signed off on that settlement — ruled Wednesday that the group lacked standing to bring its lawsuit in the first place.

The judge announced his decision at a hearing in Hillsborough, N.C., as five UNC students and a faculty member, represented by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, intervened to try to stop the settlement.

Silent Sam had stood in a prominent location on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill for more than a hundred years. The Confederate monument was toppled by protesters in August 2018, amid a wave of similar actions across the country.

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Trump Calls For End To Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Zack Friedman - February 11, 2020

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2020/02/11/trump-student-loans-forgiveness/

President Trump wants to end a popular student loan forgiveness program.

Here’s what you need to know.

End Student Loan Forgiveness

Trump’s new annual budget calls for several changes to student loans, which are part of a $5.6 billion cut in funding to the U.S. Education Department. As in previous years, Trump repeated his call to end public service loan forgiveness. Under Trump's proposed budget, if passed by Congress, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would be eliminated.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a federal program created in 2007 by President George W. Bush that forgives federal student loans for borrowers who are employed full-time (more than 30 hours per week) in an eligible federal, state or local public service job or 501(c)(3) nonprofit job who make 120 eligible on-time payments over ten years.

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Trump takes credit for McCain-Sanders veterans bill signed by Obama: “One of my greatest honors”
Trump falsely claims leaders "tried for decades" to pass the bill but "failed." Obama signed it into law in 2014

[NOTE: This was January 2nd, 2020. But it's just the kind of blatant, complete-reality-disconnect he'll be selling all campaign.]

https://www.salon.com/2020/01/02/trump-takes-credit-for-mccain-sanders-veterans-bill-signed-by-obama-one-of-my-greatest-honors/

President Donald Trump falsely claimed that one of his "greatest honors" was helping pass a veterans health bill, which was actually authored by the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and signed into law by former President Barack Obama.

"One of my greatest honors was to have gotten CHOICE approved for our great Veterans," Trump incorrectly claimed in New Year's Eve tweet. "Others have tried for decades, and failed!"

It is a lie which has been repeated in the past by Trump.

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Trump says supporters could 'demand' he not leave office after two terms
Nicholas Wu
USA TODAY
June 16, 2019

[NOTE THIS IS LAST SUMMER, but I don't think it's any less relevant]

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/16/trump-says-supporters-could-demand-he-not-leave-after-two-terms/1471915001/

WASHINGTON — In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms.

"The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT)," Trump wrote.

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them "both a disgrace."

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that "maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day," in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping's abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.

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