Trump Does Not Understand What ‘Special Counsel’ Means

Trump Does Not Understand What ‘Special Counsel’ Means

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images Since the special counsel investigation began, President Trump has been regularly flinging a series of attacks. There is No Collusion, it is a Witch Hunt, the investigation costs too much, Robert Mueller is conflicted over a golf club membership dispute. Trump has not abandoned any of these arguments, but…

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Since the special counsel investigation began, President Trump has been regularly flinging a series of attacks. There is No Collusion, it is a Witch Hunt, the investigation costs too much, Robert Mueller is conflicted over a golf club membership dispute. Trump has not abandoned any of these arguments, but of late he has begun to emphasize a different one: Mueller is biased because he is not prosecuting Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Trump questioned yesterday why Mueller isn’t prosecuting the other side:

This morning he returned to the theme in an epic storm of rage tweets:

This claim is obviously nonsense on multiple levels. The Justice Department has investigated both the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s email use and declined to prosecute. Even if Clinton was guilty, it would have no bearing on Trump’s guilt. And even if a new investigation were required, Mueller would not be responsible for it.

The reason his job is called “special counsel” is not that Mueller is just considered a special person and the Justice Department wants him to feel good. It’s that he is tasked with the special role of investigating Russian interference in the election. He does not have the job of investigating all the famous politicians on television.

Trump seems to be settling on the line of defense that, because Mueller didn’t prosecute any Democrats, he is inherently biased and whatever charges he produces should be ignored. This is worth bearing in mind when noting Trump’s obsession with directing the Justice Department to gin up charges against various Trump antagonists. It is not only that Trump wants to smear and intimidate his opponents, but also that he sees accusations against the other side as an essential part of his own defense.

Trump Does Not Understand What ‘Special Counsel’ Means

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Northam Denies Yearbook Racism, Admits Blackface Racism — and Still Won’t Resign

ByChas Danner

The Virginia Democrat is trying to salvage his governorship by admitting he once won a dance contest by moonwalking in blackface.

Northam’s biggest allies, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, abandon him, citing today’s abysmal press conference

Northam has now lost every major Democrat in Virginia. And the folks who wired this statement from Kaine/Warner/Scott are at the highest levels of the state party – the Dems who were once his close allies.


Northam’s attempt at a face-saving press conference was the kind of disaster that other bad press conferences will be compared to from now on. Here’s just a taste of what happened and the reaction:

“Northam says he won the contest in which he dressed up like Michael Jackson for a skit. And he jokes about how it’s hard to get shoe polish of your face.” —Annie Linksey

“A reporter just asked Northam to moonwalk AND HIS WIFE HAD TO TELL HIM THAT WAS A BAD IDEA, if you’re wondering just how much of a trainwreck this press conference is.” —Angus Johnson

“‘I discussed this with a person of color’ are the words that somehow just dribbled out of Northam’s mouth.” —Ian Millhiser

“This is what happens when you think your casual racism won’t ever cost you anything.” —Jamil Smith

“Maybe Ralph Northam is caught in his own personal Groundhog Day loop that only ends when he learns to leave public office on Feb 2. But this is the part of the movie where he becomes a glutton.” —Jeff Singer

“At this point, on top of resigning because of the racism, Northam has to resign because he’s absolutely garbage at crisis management” —Intelligencer’s Ezekiel Kweku

“Not only should Northam resign, everyone who’s advising him right now should resign too.” —Intelligencer’s Sarah Jones

—Overheard on Twitter

Northam still refuses to resign, and denies he was in racist yearbook photo or was responsible for it — and the reason he is sure is because he does remember another time when hedidwear blackface

Northam admitted he once darkened his face for a Michael Jackson costume at a separate dance contest in San Antonio, Texas in 1984.


The impact of Northam’s yearbook scandal goes way beyond politics

Seriously, every time I see the picture from Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook I cringe and almost scream. These are future doctors who could be in charge of taking care of black mothers delivering black babies or black men dealing with medical conditions. It’s terrifying.

Yamiche Alcindor

PBSNewsHourWhite House correspondent

New poll finds that Green New Deal support holds even if it means higher taxes

American voters are narrowly supportive of a proposal to end fossil fuel use and create clean energy jobs by raising taxes, according to a poll sponsored by supporters of the proposal. Registered voters were, by 5 percentage points, more likely to support than oppose aGreen New Dealplan “paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions,” an online YouGov Blue survey of 1,282 voters taken Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 found. Among independents, the outcome was identical. Democratic voters were 48 percentage points more likely to support than oppose the plan, while Republicans were 50 points more likely to oppose than support it.

The full question read: “Would you support or oppose a Green New Deal to end fossil fuel use in the United States and have the government create clean energy jobs? The plan would be paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions.”

Overall, 43 percent of voters supported the measure and 38 percent opposed, with 10 percent neither supporting nor opposing and 9 percent responding that they were “unsure of their opinion.” The findings ― commissioned by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress and shared with HuffPost ― show the Green New Deal’s popularity with Democrats and the extent to which its main advocates have electrified long-static debates on both climate and tax policy in the United States.

Intel officials say Trump isn’t just misinformed — he expects and tries to remain that way

[S]enior intelligence briefers are breaking two years of silence to warn that the President is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments. Citing multiple in-person episodes, these intelligence officials say Trump displays what one called “willful ignorance” when presented with analyses generated by America’s $81 billion-a-year intelligence services. The officials, who include analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves, describe futile attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, confining some briefing points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible.

What is most troubling, say these officials and others in government and on Capitol Hill who have been briefed on the episodes, are Trump’s angry reactions when he is given information that contradicts positions he has taken or beliefs he holds. Two intelligence officers even reported that they have been warned to avoid giving the President intelligence assessments that contradict stances he has taken in public. …

The danger, one former intelligence official said, is that those leaders and other intelligence briefers may eventually stop taking such risks in laying out the facts for the President.

Trump administration claims it doesn’t have the time or resources to reunite the migrant families it separated

In court filing last night [a Health and Human Services Department] official said any effort by Trump administration to locate and reunite potentially thousands of additional separated migrant kids identified by [the HHS inspector general] would be resource-and-time-consuming, if not impossible.

Jacob Soboroff


A Federal Defender toured theBrooklyn prison that has allegedly been without heat last for a week(where inmateswere banging on their windows to get the attention of people outside) and here’s what she encountered

The [Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail,] is running on emergency electrical power so inmates are being held in their cells instead of being let out into common areas. The cells are very cold and have no electrical power. Inmates say they have been locked in cells since Sunday. She saw, spoke to inmates through cracks in cell doors. “Their heads are wrapped in towels. They are in lots of layers.” “Everyone agreed no extra blankets had been handed out.” The common areas were warmer though corrections officers were bundled up.

Inmates said power problems began with a “blackout” ~two weeks ago. Power came back, was cut after a fire on Sunday. It was disturbing to be held in the dark for so long, they said. “The pitch black has made it significantly more agonizing for them.” They can’t even read.

Because power is down, inmates cannot use computers to request prescription refills, including psych meds. At least one man is a suicide risk. “There was a man who has been known to swallow razor blades.” Some men said they needed medical care, like one with an oozing wound on his leg and another with Crohn’s Disease who said he has lost several pounds since Sunday and looked “emaciated.”

Inmates said they got their first hot meal in nearly a week on Friday: rice and beans. People were banging on cell doors and asking to be let out to eat. “Can’t we just get out and eat at a table? We are like animals in here.”

Annie Correal

New York Times

Tulsi Gabbard obtains endorsement from influential 2016 lobbying group

An NBC News analysis of the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in its 2016 election meddling shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is set to make her formal announcement Saturday, has become a favorite of the sites Moscow used when it interfered in 2016.

Several experts who track websites and social media linked to the Kremlin have also seen what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard.

Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on Jan. 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government: RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and Russia Insider, a blog that experts say closely follows the Kremlin line. The CIA has called RT and Sputnik part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine.”

The president is now rehiring peopleunder active investigation for misconduct

In a Saturday news release, Trump says he will name Ronny Jackson, the nixed VA Secretary nominee, as his chief medical adviser. And he is pushing for him to get a promotion in the military.


TheTimesreported earlierthat senior Deutsche Bank executives hadn’t been aware of the company’s extensive dealings with Trump until 2016. Another concern:

After Trump Org asked for a loan in March 2016, Deutsche Bank—which since 1998 has helped loan $2.5 billion to companies affiliated w/Trump—raised questions internally about whether it had enough information about the ultimate use of the funding.

Rebecca Ballhaus

Wall StreetJournal

Now blaming the yearbook staff?

TheTimes’Jonathan Martin reports:

NEW: Northam told a senior Virginia Democrat this morning that he never selected the photos for the yearbook and, in conversations with med school classmates, he had been told some of the pictures were mixed up across the pages

Veteran Virginia politics operative Mo Elleithee responds:

That could be true. But last night he apologized for being in the photo. He will need to answer questions today about why he thought it plausible enough to apologize.

Mo Elleithee

Northam’s fall from grace is unlikely to be graceful

Mr. Northam, who apologized on Friday night, was increasingly isolated, but in phone calls on Saturday morning he said he had no recollection of the yearbook image of two men, one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes. Late Saturday morning, his office announced that he would provide a statement to the news media at 2:30 p.m.

In addition to calling state Democratic officials, Mr. Northam has been calling former classmates at Eastern Virginia Medical School in an effort to determine more information about the picture — and to survive a crisis that is threatening his year-old governorship.

With the governor and his top advisers gathered in the executive residence next to the State Capitol in Richmond, the Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photographand was even considering using facial recognition software. The governor, this Democrat said, wanted to take responsibility on Friday night, which was why he apologized for appearing in the picture without acknowledging which person he was in the image.

NYT: Trump sought and was denied a loan from Deutsche Bank during the 2016 campaign

Two of the people familiar with the loan request said the Trump Organization had been seeking to borrow against its Miami resort to pay for work on a golf property in Turnberry, Scotland. A Trump Organization spokeswoman, Amanda Miller, denied that the company had needed outside funding for Turnberry. …

The failed loan request is an untold chapter in Mr. Trump’s long and tortured relationship with the banking industry — and is likely to attract scrutiny from Democrats on two House committees that are investigatinghis two-decade relationship with Deutsche Bank. …

The funding of Mr. Trump’s golf empire has been something of a mystery. In the decade before he was elected president, Mr. Trump’s company spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying or renovating about a dozen clubs and resorts around the world. Despite Mr. Trump’s self-proclaimed fondness for relying on debt, the Trump Organization has reported that it used its own money for most of the acquisitions and upgrades. A prominent golf journalist, James Dodson, said Mr. Trump’s son Eric had told him in 2013 that the company’s golf properties were funded by Russians. Eric Trump has denied making the comment.

The Democratic Party of Virginia is not interested in Northam’s excuses, officially calls for him to resign

We made the decision to let Governor Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning – we have gotten word he will not do so this morning. We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign. He no longer has our confidence or our support. Governor Northam must end this chapter immediately, step down, and let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax heal Virginia’s wounds and move us forward. We can think of no better person than Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to do so.

Virginia Democrats

Northam now denying he is either one of the people in racist costumes in the yearbook photo — a day after apologizing “for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo”

NEWS: Northam is calling Va Dems and telling them that’s *not* him in the yearbook photo and he will make a statement this afternoon to say the same. In other words, he is NOT quitting as of right now. …

The governor has also been calling his former med school classmates to jog their memories. He does NOT think he is the man in Klan hood or blackface and doesn’t want to resign before trying to determine who is in that photo.

Jonathan Martin

New York Times

The man who would replace Northam

If Virginia governor Ralph Northam resigns or is impeached, Justin Fairfax will take his place. Here’s a new primer on him from thePost:

Fairfax is [a 39-year-old] Ivy League-educated lawyer descended from slaves, who as lieutenant governor of Virginia was known mostly for sitting out tributes to Confederate leaders in the historic Capitol in Richmond. …

He would be the second African American governor of Virginia, following L. Douglas Wilder, who held the office from 1990 to 1994. Only two other African Americans have been governors in modern U.S. history. …

“He didn’t grow up with much, but with scholarships, a hard-working mom, he went to college and law school and chose public service to make sure other striving young kids could have the same opportunities,” former president Barack Obama said of Fairfax when stumping for Democratic candidates at a Richmond rally in 2017. …

During the 2017 campaign, Fairfax was a charismatic foil to Northam and Herring, both of whom are more low-key. He was embraced by progressives for his skepticism about natural-gas pipeline projects, among other issues.

The Root’s Jason Johnson on Fairfax’s repeated efforts to stymie Confederate revisionism in the state Senate:

Since being elected Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2017, Fairfax has served as the president of the state Senate and has quietly left the podium whenever state senators have attempted to honor Stonewall or Lee at the end of the session. He did it last Friday when a Republican senator stepped up to honor Robert E. Lee. The reasons are obvious. First, no one should be honoring American traitors in a government building, no matter where that traitor was born. Secondly, Justin Fairfax, a man who literally took his oath of office with his three-greats-ago grandfather’s Freedom papers in his pocket, knows history and knows power. …

On [Martin Luther King Day, which was also] Stonewall Jackson’s birthday, Fairfax knew that a random senator would likely try honor Jackson at the end of the session. So what did the Lt. Governor do? He brought two men, Dr. Warren Christian, the great great grandson of Stonewall Jackson, and the Reverend Robert W. Lee IV the great, great nephew of Robert E. Lee, to the Senate building. These two guests aren’t just related to the two confederate icons, they have argued for years that Virginia should stop honoring their ancestors.

From a 2017 RichmondTimes-Dispatchprofile of Fairfax:

Fairfax is politically ambitious. When asked about his reason for running, he said it’s personal — he’s been blessed with successes, and now he wants to repay what he calls a “spiritual debt.”…

His policy priorities include focusing on college affordability, reforming the criminal justice system and protecting civil rights and voting rights. He railed against President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to pollution cleanup in the Chesapeake Bay, and on International Women’s Day referred to himself as “a proud feminist and the vice-chair of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington Action Fund.” Like other statewide candidates, he also puts a focus on the economy.

It’s now mutually assured destruction of the nonproliferation treaty

President Vladimir Putin announced Russia is pulling out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty just one day after the Trump administration announced the U.S. would do the same. Putin now says Russia will begin developing new missiles but won’t deploy them unless the U.S. does.


More undocumented workers are fired from Trump properties, almost as if there was a pattern to the hiring process

President Trump’s family business has employed undocumented workers more broadly than it was previously believed, with multiple workers losing their jobs last month at a Trump golf club in southern New Jersey.

The club in Pine Hill, N.J., known as the Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia, was the third Trump property where undocumented workers have been fired since The New York Times reported in December that the Trump club in Bedminster, N.J., for years employed immigrants who were in the country unlawfully.

The firings at the Pine Hill golf club were the result of a broader audit that the Trump Organization is conducting at its properties across the country, according to people briefed on the review. Although the organization has conducted similar reviews in prior years, this is the largest effort yet to ensure that the company’s employees are authorized to work in the country.

A temporary win for reproductive rights in a state where 63 percent of women live in a county without an abortion provider

The Supreme Court put on hold Friday night a Louisiana law that would have shut down any abortion provider in the state that does not have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away.

Abortion providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, had petitioned the court for an emergency stay, saying the law, due to take effect Monday, would leave just one qualified abortion provider to practice in the state. The state contended there was no need for an emergency stay since the law would be implemented over time and not shut down facilities overnight.

The court’s stay, ordered by Justice Samuel Alito, noted that it was not a sign of any of the justices’ views on the merits of the law, and merely a means of giving them more time to consider it.

Lou Dobbs’s chyron tonight isn’t wrong

Photo: Fox Business Network

Erik Prince appears to be lending his neo-mercenary services to the Chinese government’s effort to restrict Uighur Muslims

Frontier Services Group, the security contractor led by Erik Prince, who created the controversial Blackwater company, will build a training base in Xinjiang, the western Chinese region where as many as 1 million Muslims have been put into extrajudicial detention camps. 

Over the past two years, the Chinese government has been running a sweeping campaign to “sinicize” the Xinjiang area, which is home to a large Muslim population belonging to the ethnic Uighur minority. It has created “vocational training camps” to “de-radicalize” people it calls Islamic extremists.

Frontier Services Group signed a deal on Jan. 11 to build a training center in the Caohu industrial park in the Xinjiang city of Tumxuk, the company said in a Chinese-language statement on its website. 

Spotify is getting serious about podcasting

Spotify is in talks to acquire Gimlet Media, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, as it sets its sights on becoming a bigger player in the podcasting space. 

Under the leadership of studios head Courtney Holt, Spotify has spent the better part of the last year developing its podcasting strategy. It has struck deals to carry a number of shows on its platform as a competitor to Apple’s Podcasts app and has also commissioned a handful of originals including Amy Schumer’s 3 Girls, 1 Keith and Jemele Hill’s upcoming Unbothered. It even cut a deal with Gimlet in 2018 to be the exclusive home of Crimetown’s second season. 

There have been questions about how large the podcast industry, which relies heavily on advertising, can grow, especially after decisions by BuzzFeed and Slate last year to step back from producing original podcast programming. The interactive advertising bureau reported in June that the podcast industry’s revenue brought in an estimated $314 million in 2017, up 86 percent from the year before. While that’s a significant jump, it’s still tiny compared to the size of the radio or video industries. The industry is expected to grow to $659 million in advertising revenue by 2020. 

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