You know that part in the movie where it seems like everything is happening all at once and the world is in chaos—right before the heroes roar up, defeat the villains, and save the world?
This is what it feels like to live that. Buckle up—there’s a lot of progress to cover this week.
As you may have heard, the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, and Manhattan hotel room, confiscating, among other intriguing things, records relating to the Stormy Daniels payout the pussy grabber in chief allegedly knew nothing about, as well as records relating to the Access Hollywood tape. And recordings, y’all. (Is this sounding familiar?) Cohen is reported to be under investigation also for bank fraud and campaign finance violations and has been under federal investigation for months. And he is desperately trying to suppress the evidence seized. Despite Donald’s squawking about a witch-hunt and FOX fanning viewers into a frenzy against Bob Mueller, the search was approved by Donald’s own appointee, deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Here are all the due-process legal hoops the Mueller investigation had to jump through to get the warrant.
Mueller has also interviewed the former acting attorney general, who turned over notes that seem to indicate Mueller is investigating whether Donald obstructed justice in firing Comey.
Predictably, Donald is losing his tiny mind over all of it (as well as the release of James Comey’s already best-selling memoir, which is sending Sarah Huckabee Sanders nearly apoplectic), and making not so veiled threats of firing Rosenstein and thus Mueller, with ousted conspiracy theorist and anarchistSteve Bannon zombie-ing back into the spotlight to help architect ways to do it. In light of that the Senate finally agreed to a vote on bipartisan legislation to protect Mueller next week. And on the day he attacked James Comey as a “LEAKER & LIAR” on Twitter, Don John pardoned convicted leaker and liar Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff convicted of felonious obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI, whom George W. Bush declined to pardon—a seeming desperate hail-Mary play to reassure witnesses against him in the Mueller investigation that the colluder in chief has their backs.
Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support Robert Mueller being left unfettered to complete his investigation, according to this poll. If he is fired (or Rod Rosenstein is), or Donald pardons any of his associates under investigation, we all need to show up for “Nobody Is Above the Law” rallies, nationwide protests already organizing around the country. Here’s the Austin page. Indivisible national has also put out a playbook for what we’ll do next here. California Rep. Ted Lieu and a former FBI agent and lawyer have stated that the investigation will continue by career agents whose job is to protect their country no matter whom Donald fires.
There’s collateral fallout from the Cohen seizures so far as well—RNC deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy was found to have hired Cohen to orchestrate a $1.6 million payout to a former Playboy Playmate he’d extramaritally impregnated. A few hours later he resigned from the RNC.
In other news from the “family-values party,” Missouri governor Eric Greitens is under fresh fire to resign in the wake of further allegations of sexual abuse from his extramarital lover. And closer to home, the Statesman has revealed that in 2016, agriculture commissioner Sid Miller appointed a doctor to the Rural Health Task Force who has had his license revoked or suspended in three states—once in conjunction with his marriage to his own 15-year-old stepdaughter.
Paul Manafort can’t catch a break, despite apparently feeling he should be above the law. After a federal judge dismissed his request to throw out some of Mueller’s charges against him (after deputy AG Rod Rosenstein revealed he authorized Mueller to conduct the investigation into Manafort), now another judge has denied Manafort’s request to lower his $10 million bail terms. And Manafort has asked a judge to suppress key evidence found in one of his firm’s storage lockers.
Three GOP senators have added their voices to the chorus of Democrats objecting to EPA head Scott Pruitt’s abuses of his office, as the latest reports show that Pruitt spent nearly $3 million unprecedented taxpayer dollars for round-the-clock security. And the EPA’s inspector general is conducting at least five probes into Pruitt’s actions, including the hefty raises he authorized against policy for two aides, and then denied knowing about—only to have email trails show that he personally signed off on the raises he had asked for. Ed Henry of FOX News—FOX News!!—conducted a hard-hitting, damning interview with Pruitt that FOX is desperately ignoring on its other shows. An EPA staffer fired after revealing some of Pruitt’s misuses of office has written a letter detailing more violations by the EPA head. Meanwhile, the Senate just confirmed a former coal lobbyist as Pruitt’s second in command—the man who will take over the EPA if Pruitt is fired or leaves amid all this scandal.
And now Rick Perry’s Department of…something-or-other (he has trouble remembering) is also under the spotlight, after a whistleblower has alleged corruption based on Perry’s relationships with members of the coal industry whose interests his policies have been furthering.
As the White House continues to secrete staff like an infected wound being drained, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert, a John Kelly favorite, resigned—two days after National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton also resigned, and two days before the deputy national security adviser resigned.
And federal judges have indicated that they may remove Mick Mulvaney as acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a conflict with his role as White House Office of Management and Budget. Good to see you draining that swamp, Donny-boy.
Donald himself may be in hot water for misusing his authority to benefit his business, when he asked the Panamanian president to intervene as he fought for control of a (former) Trump property in that country (former because the owners fought to remove Donald from the hotel and literally chiseled his name off the signs). On top of all that, his merchandising businesses he refused to divest himself of are tanking.
The GOP is hemorrhaging from every end, with lawmakers continuing to step down—most impactfully, House speaker Paul Ryan announced he will not seek reelection (after fervid denials of rumors of same just days earlier), as did Florida House Rep Dennis Ross just hours later.
Close to home, while it shouldn’t be about money (and I wish it weren’t), the truth is that it certainly helps win elections—and Beto O’Rourke has raised more than twice what Ted Cruz has raised this past year. Keep in mind Beto’s funds are grassroots donations that average $40 each, not Cruz’s payouts from superPACs and special interests. And Republican state rep Sarah Davis is countering attorney general Ken Paxton’s false claims on which he’s basing requests to regain control of federal funds for women’s health.
In triumphs for LGBTQ civil rights, Alaska voted down another discriminatory “bathroom bill,” and Trinidad decriminalized homosexuality.
In the sort-of-for-what-it’s-worth department, Facebook finally kicked white nationalist and hatemonger Richard Spencer off its site after asserting that it didn’t allow hate groups to operate on the site (at least, not since Zuckerberg’s testimony, anyway).
From the batshit-crazy-180 files, Donald, who once referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership as “the rape of our country” and said on his first day in office that the U.S. would quit the deal, has now instructed his economic team to rejoin the TPP.
John McCain sharply called out Don John for emboldening Syrian leader and human right violator Bashar al-Assad after he tweeted his intention to remove troops from Syria, just before Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.
In light of a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high—the Parkland school where 17 students were shot—leaving a LOADED GLOCK IN A BATHROOM(where it was found and fired by a drunk homeless man), here is a list of excellent rebuttals for those who argue for the unfettered right to own weapons.Vermont’s NRA A-rated governor flipped his pro-gun stance to sign into law much tougher gun laws, after police in his state thwarted a would-be shooter who intended to charge into a school and kill as many people as possible.
Sinclair’s news anchors are mortified after the revelations of propaganda scripts distributed from the highest levels of the broadcast company that they forced news anchors to read word for word.
A Sinclair exec met with Donald last year to pitch a new product to the White House— a system that would enable authorities to broadcast direct to any American’s phone (and if that sounds to you terrifyingly like Samuel L. Jackson’s mind-control phone device from Kingsman: Secret Service, you’re not alone)—and told him, “We’re here to deliver your message.”
Sinclair is seeking regulatory approval for a $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media, whose portfolio includes 42 stations. Regulatory limit is 39 percent; this would jump their market reach to a dangerous and unlawful 72 percent using a UHF/VHF loophole to try to take over American media. Contact the FCC and ask that they block Sinclair’s buy of Tribune media—and protect the regulations that prevent this kind of propaganda media from being disseminated over such a huge market share. Twelve senators—all Democrats and Bernie Sanders—asked for a review of Sinclair’s propaganda news dissemination and for a pause on approval of the merger with Tribune. FCC chairman Ajit Pai—he who bulled through the change in net neutrality rules—refused. But you can register your opposition on the site here. (They make it a little complicated—make sure you are filing under Docket 17-179, and click “+ New Filing” on the left under “Filters” where you see the docket number.)
Speaking of the FCC and Ajit Pai, the architect of retracting net neutrality laws that protected American consumers on the Internet, Oregon joined Washington this week as the second state to pass its own net neutrality laws despite the FCC’s and Congress’s abdication of responsibility. Twenty-two other state attorneys general are also suing to protect net neutrality rules.
Meanwhile, a Sinclair-station TV host is the latest to make appalling attacks on the Parkland shooting survivors, tweeting violent, obscene suggestions about student David Hogg that quickly resulted in a boycott from major advertisers and the cancellation of his show. Or maybe he resigned. Who can say? Not Sinclair.
The CBO says the GOP tax plan will skyrocket the deficit to $1 trillion by 2020.
Count on Donald and his minions trying desperately to survive as the walls close in, and doing everything they can to do it, including distractions, smear campaigns, desperate lies, evidence suppression, war (Syria/Russia), and yes, possibly throwing our country into a constitutional crisis. We’re in the final act now (as this marvelous article makes clear)—and the heroes are coming (and we are them). Be ready to show up and speak out loud and unremitting if Donald undermines the Russia investigation.
As the pressure mounts and tension increases for all of us, take care of yourself and those around you. (This image Donald tweeted and then quickly deleted that reveals John Kelly’s despairing face-palm might help cheer you.) And take heart: The progress we have made in this annus (and a half)horribilis is breathtaking.