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Saturday, July 11, 2020

There have been more than 3,300 racial justice protests nationwide since late May, including hundreds in sparsely populated communities.... [It's] noted that many of the small-town protesters of George Floyd's death were white, a phenomenon ...partially explained by the growing diversity of their neighbors. (M)inorities make up nearly half of the under-30 population nationwide compared to just 27 percent of the over-55 population, signaling that the United States is on the brink of seismic changes in culture, politics and values. read more


Robert Mueller III served as special counsel for the Justice Department from 2017 to 2019. The work of the special counsel's office " its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions " should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so. read more


Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes: Roger Stone isn't just Trump's confidante or friend. According to newly unsealed material in the Mueller report, he's also a person who had the power to reveal to investigators that Trump likely lied to Mueller"and to whom Trump publicly dangled rewards if Stone refused to provide Mueller with that information. Now, it seems, the president is making good on that promise. read more


WaPost Editorial Board: There are no doubt thousands of people in federal prison who deserved a presidential commutation more than Roger Stone. But after President Trump's intervention on Friday, Mr. Stone will serve none of his prison sentence. The president may have had the power to help his longtime friend. But that does not make it any less a perversion of justice -- indeed, it is one of the most nauseating instances of corrupt government favoritism the United States has ever seen. read more


Friday, July 10, 2020

Callers on President Trump in recent weeks have come to expect what several allies and advisers describe as a "woe-is-me" preamble. The president rants about the deadly coronavirus destroying "the greatest economy," one he claims to have personally built. ... And he bemoans the "sick, twisted" police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests that have confounded the president. read more


Comments

Fort Dodge, Iowa - Jayden Johnson was 8 years old the first time someone hurled a racial slur at her, a biracial girl frolicking on a playground in this overwhelmingly white town. She was about 15 years old when a Family Dollar clerk wrongly assumed her black father was on welfare. And she's been pulled over by police several times when in cars with black friends but rarely when with white friends, she says.

Those memories were swirling in Johnson's mind as she read about George Floyd's death in Minneapolis several weeks ago. She pulled out her phone and opened Snapchat. "Everybody meet at the square at 8 p.m.," wrote Johnson, 19. "Be there or be square."

As people arrived at the downtown park, Johnson was astonished by the turnout. Instead of the 15 people she expected, about 100 teenagers and young adults " African American, Latino, white and mixed race " gathered to march through this farming and factory town of 25,000 residents.

"Let's get justice," Johnson recalls saying as the group began the first public protest that anyone in town can remember. "I saw people who looked like me and didn't look like me, and I started thinking, Something really is different now,'" Johnson said.

The number of young people of color living in the Midwest has surged over the past decade, as the older white population has nearly stalled. Forty percent of the nation's counties are experiencing such demographic transformations " a phenomenon fueling the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the country and forced racial reckonings in communities, colleges and corporations nationwide.

The horse has left the barn and it ain't coming back... ever.

Russia's actions were a threat to America's democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names " fronts for Russian military intelligence " also released Clinton campaign emails.

Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks' release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel " Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Consider the hornet's nest knocked over and upset. Mueller is not going to let Trump and Barr discredit his investigation of Russia's counterintelligence operation during the 2016 Presidential election. Looks like the gloves might finally be off due to Trump's blatant corruption in commuting Roger's sentence.

During the 2016 campaign, Mueller writes, Stone "made several attempts to contact WikiLeaks founder Assange, boasted of his access to Assange, and was in regular contact with Campaign officials about the releases that Assange made and was believed to be planning." He spoke repeatedly about his connections to Assange, witnesses told Mueller, and his ability to find out what new releases of information WikiLeaks was planning. Crucially, the unredacted information includes testimony from multiple witnesses who described Stone's conversations about upcoming WikiLeaks releases with high-level campaign officials"including Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort"and even Trump himself.

According to Manafort, Trump personally told the chairman that he should keep in touch with Stone about WikiLeaks. Another campaign official, Rick Gates, recalled an incident during the campaign in which Trump spoke by phone with Stone and then told Gates that, as Mueller paraphrases, "more releases of damaging information would be coming." Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen told Mueller about overhearing a phone call in which Stone told Trump that "he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and in a couple of days WikiLeaks would release information." Then, Mueller writes, once WikiLeaks began dumping material damaging to Clinton in July 2016, Trump "said to Cohen something to the effect of, I guess Roger was right.'"

So Trump clearly knew about and encouraged Stone's outreach to WikiLeaks, the unredacted report shows. Yet in written answers the president provided to Mueller's office in the course of the special counsel's investigation, Trump insisted that he did not recall "the specifics of any call [he] had" with Stone during the campaign or any discussions with Stone of WikiLeaks. And shortly after he submitted those answers, the unredacted report states, Trump began tweeting publicly in support of Stone"calling him "brave" and congratulating his "guts" for refusing to testify.

Trump's tweets were always suspicious, to say the least. And his answers to Mueller seemed less than entirely credible even when the redacted report was first released. But the newly revealed text makes clear Mueller's suspicions that Trump lied in his written answers"and then pushed Stone not to testify in order to prevent Mueller from discovering that lie. As Mueller put it dryly: "[T]he President's conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the President's denials and would link the President to Stone's efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks." The special counsel also writes that Trump's tweets to Stone"along with his tweets criticizing Cohen, who was by then cooperating with investigators " "support the inference that the President intended to communicate a message that witnesses could be rewarded for refusing to provide testimony adverse to the President and disparaged if they chose to cooperate."

Quid pro quo and it doesn't involve Joe. Trump's own people tell the story, not his opponents.

There is no doubt about Mr. Stone's guilt. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he tried to play intermediary between WikiLeaks, which had become a front for the Kremlin, and the Trump campaign, which reaped the benefits of WikiLeaks's publication of stolen Democratic emails. A jury concluded that Mr. Stone obstructed Congress, lied to investigators and tampered with a witness in the investigations that followed the 2016 race " "covering up for the president," as the judge in his case noted.

The United States is supposed to be a place in which laws apply equally to all. And while it never has " and never will " live up to that ideal in full, no modern president before Mr. Trump has so clearly renounced it. The president seems to be doing his best, within the confines of the U.S. constitutional system, to emulate the gangster leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man whose ruinous reign Mr. Trump has always admired. If the country needed any more evidence, Friday confirmed that the greatest threat to the Republic is the president himself.

Another viewpoint:
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose committee Stone lied to, said Friday that of Trump's "countless acts that are both self-serving and destructive to our democracy," the Stone commutation was "among the most offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice."

"With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else," Schiff said in the statement responding to the commutation news.

talkingpointsmemo.com

Trump often launches into a monologue placing himself at the center of the nation's turmoil. The president has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim " of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.

Barbara Res, a former executive at the Trump Organization, said that when she worked for Trump, he interpreted nearly everything in deeply personal terms. "Whatever bad happened, no matter what it was, it was always against him, always directed at him," Res said. "He would say, Why does everything always happen to me?'" She added: "It was as if the world revolved around him. Everything that happened had an effect on him, good or bad."

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University and author of the forthcoming book, "Strongmen," a history of authoritarian leaders, said Trump's victimization complex fits a pattern of authoritarian leaders past and present.

"They have no empathy, and they only see the world through how things affect them personally," Ben-Ghiat said. "They're not there to govern. They're there to enrich themselves, they're there to plunder the nation, and they're there to be world historical."

Needs to be repeated:
[Trump] ha(s) no empathy, and (has) only see(s) the world through how things affect (him) personally," Ben-Ghiat said. "(He's) not there to govern. (He"s) there to enrich themselves, (he"s) there to plunder the nation, and (he's) there to be world historical."

George Floyd's dying moments have played on an endless loop, horrifying the world and prompting a spasm of street protests, but newly released evidence reveals an even more desperate scene than previously known in the moments before an officer pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd's neck.

Even before he was on the ground, Mr. Floyd said he was in physical distress, telling officers who were trying to get him into a squad car that he was claustrophobic and could not breathe.

At one point, according to one transcript, he said: "Momma, I love you. Tell my kids I love them. I'm dead."

(T)he body camera transcripts, and Mr. Lane's interview with investigators, provide more details about Mr. Floyd's exchange with officers, and how vociferously and persistently he had pleaded with them that he was having a medical emergency.

Just when you thought a homicide couldn't possibly get more sickening, here comes the transcripts confirming a depraved indifference that no police officer should ever exhibit when a cuffed suspect in no way physically threatens him.

I've never heard of someone literally begging for their very life - repeatedly assuring the officer that they offered no threat whatsoever and that he was struggling to fully breathe - down to the multiple times of addressing his killer as 'sir'. The saddest part of this entire affair beyond George Floyd's murder is that almost every black American regardless of wealth, education, or status, viscerally understands that this same thing could happen to them at any time - and that they'd be equally helpless to change the outcome but for the humanity of the police that they've encountered.

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