Comey Strikes Back!

Gonna be one of those Tuesdays!

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

In the same article The NY Times also reports the White House’s response to their breaking this news.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Much more at the link!

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Fascist Cosplay

Among the many news stories not getting the attention they deserve, because the man in the Oval Office is so godsdamned busy committing new crimes and misdemeanors all the time… The white-supremacy protestors in New Orleans are serious, and potentially dangerous. Richard Spencer, on the other hand?

Backstory: Some schmuck named Corey Stewart, the underdog GOP candidate for governor of Virginia, decided to carve out some special-interest votes by appealing to “Southern heritage”, aka hardcore racist, Virginians. He’s become a freak-show media draw, and a persistent embarrassment to Virginians in general as well as those Republicans who still have some vestigial sense of shame.

Now, Richard Spencer, self-proclaimed inventor of the term ‘alt right’, wasn’t about to show up in a city where he might get himself punched, again. But Charlottesville, within convenient commuting distance of the Beltway?

“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at an afternoon protest, the first of two rallies he led in the town where he once attended the University of Virginia.

At the second rally, dozens of torch-bearing protesters gathered in a city park Saturday evening and chanted “You will not replace us” and “Russia is our friend,” local television footage shows. Spencer was not shown addressing that gathering, but he tweeted a photo of himself standing in the crowd carrying what appeared to be a bamboo tiki torch.

The evening protest was short-lived. About 10 minutes in, an altercation between Spencer’s group and counterprotesters drew police to the scene, and the crowd quickly dispersed, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported…

Not soon enough to avoid the snarksters, though…


 

AG Jeff Sessions: The 21st Century Klan Grand Wizard Issues a Decree

NAZI garden gnome and all around evil prick Jeff Sessions has put out some truly awful guidance today:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

The reason for this is quite simple. He’s racist as fuck. Don’t confuse evil and racist with stupid, there is a reason he is doing this:

Harsh drug laws are clearly an important factor in the persistent racial and ethnic disparities observed in state prisons. For drug crimes disparities are especially severe, due largely to the fact that blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for drug offenses and 2.5 times as likely to be arrested for drug possession.29) This is despite the evidence that whites and blacks use drugs at roughly the same rate. From 1995 to 2005, African Americans comprised approximately 13 percent of drug users but 36% of drug arrests and 46% of those convicted for drug offenses.30)

Disparities are evident at the initial point of contact with police, especially through policies that target specific areas and/or people. A popular example of this is “stop, question, and frisk.” Broad discretion allowed to law enforcement can aggravate disparities. Though police stops alone are unlikely to result in a conviction that would lead to a prison sentence, the presence of a criminal record is associated with the decision to incarcerate for subsequent offenses, a sequence of events that disadvantages African Americans. Jeffrey Fagan’s work in this area found that police officers’ selection of who to stop in New York City’s high-profile policing program was dictated more by racial composition of the neighborhood than by actual crime in the area.31) The process of stopping, questioning and frisking individuals based on little more than suspicion (or on nebulous terms such as “furtive behavior,” which were the justification for many stops) has led to unnecessary criminal records for thousands. New York’s policy was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 with a court ruling in Floyd v. City of New York.

You can’t as easily get away with lynching anymore, so this is the next best thing for this stain on humanity. It’s that simple.

Pay No Attention to the Optics (Racist Motherfucking Republicans)

These guys can’t help themselves:

Last year, then-president Barack Obama vetoed a bill that would have curbed the pensions of former presidents if they took outside income of $400,000 or more.

So now that former president Barack Obama has decided to accept $400,000 for an upcoming Wall Street speech, the sponsors of that bill say they’ll reintroduce that bill in hopes that President Trump will sign it.

“The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and sponsor of the 2016 bill. “His veto was very self-serving.”

Chaffetz and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, the sponsor of the companion Senate bill, say they will re-introduce the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act this month. The bill would cap presidential pensions at $200,000, with another $200,000 for expenses. But those payments would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once their outside income exceeds $400,000.

It’s just a fucking coincidence this happened when we got a black President. It just fucking kills these guys he was President.

And the balls on Chaffetz, who just rushed to have government paid for surgery on a decades old injury before he leaves congress and tomorrow votes to remove pre-existing conditions protections for the rest of Americans.

Civil Wars, Trump Edition

Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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Salena Zito has been defending ‘President Trump’ since forever, so it’s not a big surprise he’d feel comfortable exposing his vast ignorance to her. The question remains: Shouldn’t someone on Trump’s staff, if not the reporter, thought twice about putting his comments out for all the world to see?

Yoni Appelbaum, in the Atlantic:

The entirely uncontroversial consensus among professional historians is that slavery caused the war, although this conclusion has not reached much of the general public. Leaders like Jackson, then, only postponed the inevitable reckoning. It’s still tempting, though, to believe that the Civil War might have been avoided, the loss of three-quarters-of-a-million lives averted, the bloodiest conflict in our history forestalled. And for a century, many of America’s political leaders did everything in their power to turn a blind eye to the carnage of slavery, staving off sectional crises.
Continue reading “Civil Wars, Trump Edition”

Open Thread: LAW ‘NORDAH!!!!

A/k/a, “keeping those people in their place”

Cynical Ankh-Morpork NYC resident Harry Siegel, at the NY Daily News, on Atty-Gen Malevolent Leprechaun’s “Law & order, real & imaginary“:

It’s sports-talk hour at the Justice Department.

“Violent crime is surging in American cities,” drawls longtime-caller Jeff from Mobile, though that’s not, y’know, true. In fact, crime is up sharply in a handful of cities, most notably Chicago, and flat or down in many others. After a quarter century of fairly steady decline, the national murder rate remains near a 50-year low.

Yet American carnage can be averted, United States Attorney General Jefferson Sessions wrote this month, sounding a lot like someone telling Mad Dog “you can’t measure heart,” if we “avoid harmful federal intrusion in the daily work of local police.”

In the real world, cops basically police themselves, for better and for worse, despite feeble efforts from Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to pretend otherwise. The feds don’t pay for policing. Don’t set or even track local standards. Don’t know how many people cops kill, or how many cops who get fired from one department end up back on the job in another one…

Here’s how the attorney general said it, in case you think I’m putting words in his mouth. After his flat, false claim of an urban violent crime surge, he pointed to real rises in Chicago and Baltimore to declare that “amid this plague of violence, too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals. And too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.”

He didn’t even give lip service to the question of what the right level of focus of would be, just insisted a “small number” (whatever that means) of bad apples won’t spoil the whole barrel…

So instead of staying focused on actual violent criminals, he railed about “lawless” sanctuary cities, blamed the courts that have halted Trump’s executive orders for blood on the streets by “restricting crime tactics” and continued his bizarre on-and-off feud with New York City officials who vow to use discretion — something southern law-and-order types are traditionally all about — in dealing with the feds as ICE ramps up its efforts to round up people here without papers.

The idea that America’s capital for immigrants, legal and otherwise, is also its safest big city is more than he can wrap his head around…

“Crime tactics” instead of “crime control tactics”. I believe that’s what poker-table psychologists call a tell…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: No Sooner Than Time

I first saw the story in the Washington Post, but here’s how one of the local papers covered it. From the New Orleans Advocate:

The removal of New Orleans’ monument to the Battle of Liberty Place under the cover of darkness early Monday morning marks a turning point in the nearly two-year-old debate over the fate of four Jim Crow-era statues.

Three other monuments targeted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu — memorializing Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis — also are scheduled to come down, though the timing and other details of the removal are closely guarded secrets.

The dismantling of the Liberty Place obelisk came hours before a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by groups seeking to keep the four monuments in place. The case had held up the removal for more than a year before judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the city could proceed with its plans.

Of the four, the Liberty Place monument was widely seen as the most objectionable, and Landrieu explicitly described it that way. The 1891 monument commemorated a violent 1874 uprising by a local militia known as the White League, which fought with members of New Orleans’ biracial police force as it ousted the state’s “carpetbagger” Reconstruction-era government for several days before President Ulysses S. Grant sent in federal troops…

City officials said they were keeping details about the removals under wraps in light of threats and harassment reported by contractors who had previously been hired or expressed interest in the job. The Police Department’s SWAT team watched over the removal, with sharpshooters posted in a nearby parking garage and K-9 units checking the scene…

At one point, Joey Cargol, an opponent of taking down the statues who had been loudly criticizing the police and demanding to see a permit for the work, walked up to Suber. Acknowledging that they were on opposing sides, Cargol said he hoped they could agree the removal itself should have been handled more transparently.

“I know we’ve disagreed on a lot of things, but this is not the ways things should be handled,” Cargol said.

“They could have done this, announced it and let people show their opinion,” Suber said. “This is the coward’s way.”

“It’s hard to handle a defeat like this and hard to celebrate a victory like this,” Cargol replied.

With all due respect for those more immediately impacted, given the temper of the times, I can see why the Mayor chose this path. We’ve got quite enough would-be “heroes” wandering around armed and dangerously stupid, and too many martyrs already.

Apart from ongoing civic improvements, what’s on the agenda for the day?