Was that mean?
Deep State, FTW! Before Bill Barr's handpicked hacks at the Justice Department cooked up a facially ridiculous memo giving the Treasury Secretary the right to psychoanalyze a Ways and Means Committee request for tax documents and determine if Congress's motives are pure, career lawyers at the IRS had already produced a real legal opinion finding the exact opposite. Surprise! Apparently, there's no secret codicil to the law that says, "The IRS Commissioner has to hand 'em over, unless Donald Trump really doesn't wanna, in which case, fuck those guys!"
Unlike some other provisions of section 6103, the language in subsections 6103(f)(1) and (2) is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns and return information requested by the tax writing Chairs. On its face, the statute does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion to disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met.
Yeah, like we said, the statute is NON-DISCRETIONARY.
The memo goes on to state that the Ways and Means chair is under no obligation to provide a legislative justification for a requested return -- he just gets it.
Unlike section 6103(f)(3), subsections (f)(1) and (2) do not require the Ways and Means and Finance Chair or JCT Chief of Staff to include a reason or purpose for the request. Therefore, the Secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee or the JCT to state a reason for the request.
Womp womp. The lawyers sold you out, Munch!
It is the newest hottest game show!
This is a big fuckin' deal. After former White House counsel Don McGahn blew off a subpoena and decided not to show up for required testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, committee chair Jerry Nadler announced two more subpoenas were going out: one to Annie Donaldson, McGahn's deputy in the White House, and one to Hope Hicks, the former White House comms director who witnessed everything and was so close to Trump he called her "Hopey" and she steamed his pants while he was wearing them.
As per the terms of the subpoenas, the women are to submit documents by June 4, and then appear to testify on June 19 (Hicks) and June 24 (Donaldson). It's worth noting that THESE WOMEN DO NOT WORK FOR THE WHITE HOUSE ANYMORE. Therefore actually Donald Trump can't say shit about it, just like he technically can't say shit about Don McGahn testifying.
Does not get a cookie.
Tuesday was Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's first appearance before the Democrat-led House Financial Services Committee. When Republicans were running the show, these check-ins were as challenging as a college entrance exam for
Felicity Huffman's kid. This time the committee chair was Rep. Maxine Waters. Carson should've just sent his $31,000 dinette set in his place. It would've performed better.
Waters didn't waste much time before dragging Carson to the curb like it was trash pickup day at the Capitol. She accused Carson's department of "actively causing harm." (This was probably Donald Trump's personal directive, so Carson might get a free White House tote bag.) Waters called HUD's plan to reduce rental assistance "outrageous." She's also not thrilled with his "cruel proposal" to evict illegal immigrants (and their American-citizen children) from subsidized housing. HUD also sucked so badly at providing disaster assistance to Puerto Rico a senior official literally quit over it.
Then it was Rep. Ayanna Pressley's turn at the mic. She told Carson she'd "waited a long time for this moment." Yikes! Sister's serving serious notice. She's coming for "bloody satisfaction." Pressley said her district has "waited even longer" for Carson's agency to "do its job," and she "makes no apologies" for her passionate rebuke because the matter is "very personal." She concedes that Carson's an esteemed brain surgeon. (We think he performed the world's first successful brain removal on himself.) However, when it comes to all HUD-related activities, he's completely unqualified. Worse, he's perhaps perfectly qualified to further the Trump administration's total disregard for the poor and struggling.
Okay, we admit it. We skipped ahead and "live-blogged" in the night. After writing 4,000 words about Michael Cohen yesterday, we COULD. NOT. STOP. Lock us up in the cell next to Michael Cohen, we hear he's got JOKES. Seriously, here's Michael Cohen talking about Robert Costello, the attorney Rudy (allegedly) dispatched to dangle a pardon after Cohen flipped, without using his name.
LAWYER: Close to the President.
LAWYER: Employed by the White House?
COHEN: What, are we playing that game where you put it on your forehead?
LAWYER I'm grasping for straws here, Mr. Cohen. I'm just trying to figure out who the - not the intermediary. You don't have to talk about the intermediary.
COHEN: Well, if you ask me any more questions, it's either the person or King Kong, right?
Mike Conaway (R-Irrelevance) got the ball rolling by reminding Cohen that he was still under oath -- "Typically, it finishes off with, 'So help me God,' some phrase like that." Not that he wanted Cohen to swear again, but Mike Conaway was just sayin'. Can Mike Conaway pour piss from a boot with instructions written on the heel? We would not swear to it!
Also, either Robert Costello's name is redacted all over this document because he's getting an award for excellence in legal ethics and they don't want to ruin the surprise, or he's in deep shit with SDNY. (Spoiler Alert ...)
Alright, whatcha got for us Mikey?
Boy is playing with FIRE.
This morning, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing that was supposed to star former White House counsel Don McGahn, whose testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller formed the lion's share of the Mueller Report's volume on Trump's obstruction of justice. The committee -- and the rest of us! -- would just love to hear McGahn tell Congress and the American public the stories he told Mueller, of how Donald Trump obstructed justice by ordering him to have Mueller fired, how McGahn threatened to resign because the president was asking him to do "crazy shit," and how, when that story became public, Trump obstructed justice again by asking McGahn to deny the press reports and create a fake paper trail denying the first obstruction of justice crime ever happened.
McGahn, of course, didn't show up at Congress today, because Donald Trump ordered McGahn, who is now a private citizen, to defy the subpoena sent by the committee.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler is pissed:
All these lawyers are INSANE.
We did not intend to write a liveblog today .... BUT, there are 641 pages of Michael Cohen testimony that just dropped. And they are so full of batshittery! Also, Jay Sekulow, call your lawyer! The pardon dangles, the unspoken agreements, the unpaid bills -- it's like a bad bar mitzvah, as Michael Cohen would say. As he did say, in fact!
VEY IZ MIR! Okay, kids let's get our Borscht Belt on. We've got a hot date with the House Intel Comittee for a bad bar mitzvah -- service on
February 28, 2019, with kiddush to follow on March 6. Bring a nosh in your purse, since the food is terrible. And the portions are so small!
Turns out NO SUBPOENA, NO SUBPOENA, YOU ARE THE SUBPOENA, wasn't a good legal strategy.
As expected, DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled against Donald Trump in the case of whether Trump's accounting firm Mazars USA LLP must comply with the House Oversight Committee's subpoena of his financial records. What perhaps wasn't quite so expected was just how swiftly Mehta ruled, and just how hard he smacked Trump and his dumbass lawyers down. It was a thing of beauty.
The ruling begins with a quote from James Buchanan, who is considered the worst president in American history, though we imagine once the Trump presidency is over, Buchanan's ghost will be relieved to find it's finally number two. Surprise, it was a quote of Buchanan whining like a common Donald Trump over the House of Representatives doing its job:
I do, therefore, . . . solemnly protest against these proceedings of the House of Representatives, because they are in violation of the rights of the coordinate executive branch of the Government, and subversive of its constitutional independence; because they are calculated to foster a band of interested parasites and informers, ever ready, for their own advantage, to swear before ex parte committees to pretended private conversations between the President and themselves, incapable, from their nature, of being disproved; thus furnishing material for harassing him, degrading him in the eyes of the country . . .
How dare the government force companies to not discriminate?
We are happy to see that ALL THE COOL KIDS running for the Democratic nomination are now releasing policy proposals, even if they'll never catch up with Elizabeth Warren, who's intent on being the Lisa Simpson of electoral extra credit. That IS TOO an apt political analysis! The latest one comes from Kamala Harris, who plans to end the wage gap for women by demanding that all employers over a certain size prove they're paying women the same as men for similar work, or face some damn consequences for once.
Share the joy!
Kris Kobach is the grift that keeps on giving. We have not lived a good enough life for this toxic dumpsterfire to take another run at statewide office in Kansas. Democrat Laura Kelly spanked Kobach in the 2018 governor's race, despite Republicans having a two-to-one voter registration advantage. Since then, Republicans told the White House in no uncertain terms not to nominate that unconfirmable jackass for Homeland Security chief. Given a choice between Kobach and Roy Moore, most voters would choose ... Hillary Clinton. This guy cannot possibly run again. AND YET, Republicans are shitting a brick at the prospect that their own voters might choose him as the Republican candidate to replace retiring Senator Pat Roberts.
Turns out, they looked the other way for Trump and Kush. This is your SHOCKED FACE!
Deutsche Bank shitcanned its own internal compliance reports to disappear suspicious Trump and Kushner transactions and make sure Treasury never got wind of them? You mean the bank that continued to make loans to Trump after every other lender tapped out, that accepted his overnight doubling of his "net worth" by claiming his brand was worth $4 billion, that continued to write him checks after he defaulted and then sued them claiming the 2008 financial crisis was an "act of God?" Those prudent beancounters cut corners to benefit their wealthy clients? FAM, WE ARE SHOOK.
No, not really. It would be shocking to find out that the private wealth managers let algorithms work their magic on high net worth individuals and turned the reports over to Treasury like they would for some guy making $75,000 who got a $19,000 wire from the Isle of Man. The rules for rich people are different, and Deutsche Bank did not get to be part of the "Global Laundromat" by taking all those anti-money laundering statutes literally. (And if you think the other big banks aren't doing the exact same thing, the Easter Bunny has a bridge to sell you. This is why Elizabeth Warren freaks the finance guys out -- she knows where all the bodies are buried.)
At the same time, this story in the New York Times about Deutsche Bank compliance officer Tammy McFadden getting fired for pointing out Trump and Kush's hinky transactions in 2016 -- including some with Russians, natch -- is pretty ridiculous. With regulators on two continents breathing down their necks for laundering Russian money, DB's private wealth bankers were allowed to swoop in and save their clients from any of that icky federal snooping into their questionable transactions.
Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake certain to tut-tut very seriously now.
On Saturday, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash became the first Republican in Congress to call for impeachment, or at the very least to say Donald Trump had "engaged in impeachable conduct." Amash, a hyperconservative libertarian and occasional Steve Carell impersonator, said in a Twitter thread he came to this conclusion after reading the entire redacted Mueller Report, which he said most members of Congress hadn't because they are lazy and partisan and probably criticize Ayn Rand without even reading her either.
While we aren't about to be sending his reelection campaign any contributions, it was nice to see a Tea Party Republican talking sense for once, at least for a moment.
Amash also came to the astonishing conclusion -- for a Republican, at least -- that
Trump defense Attorney General William Barr had deliberately misled the public about the contents of the Mueller Report in the near month between its completion and its release, noting that Barr had fed Americans a load of carefully cultivated bullshit.
We got our solar in. So our TV won't go out when the wind doesn't blow!!!!!
We don't know how to tell you this, but it's been kind of a non-suck week here at Wonkette HQ, and our feelings don't know what to do with that. We wrote two posts (now threeeee? someone call a doctor! something ain't right!), which I am pretty sure is illegal. We got new stickers in and they made us happy and also money. (Please buy more.) And thanks to, not kidding, the GOP Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads, we got a brand shiny spanky did I mention shiny and also spanky solar array! The inspector came out yesterday, said, "SHORE, YUP, turn it on!" and then an hour later it started to rain.
REGARDLESS, depending on where you live (sorry Oklahoma), I think if you're able that you should too.
Did I say thanks to the GOP Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads? I did. Somewhere on one of the hand-scrawled addenda as Paul Ryan was trying desperately to reduce the deficit lol I am #jokes, they put back in an alternative energy tax credit that had sunsetted in 2016. (And yes, it's the only good thing they did.) That's right: The feds will pay you back 30 percent of what you spend on solar, geothermal, or wind this year (then the credit starts dropping till it's only 10 percent in 2022, so do it now if you can!), even though Trump says windmills cause wind cancer, and his uncle was an MIT, so he knows science pretty terrific.
Do You LOVE THE LITTLE BABIES? How About The Moms? Lauren Underwood Forms Black Maternal Health Caucus
Looks like we've got a frontrunner for Legislative Badass of the Year!
In another prong of what's clearly a bid to win Wonkette's coveted Legislative Badass of the Year award, Rep. Lauren Underwood, the freshman Democratic congresswoman from Illinois, has taken a major step toward addressing what might be America's most horrifying public health crisis. Deaths from pregnancy complications for black women occur at four times the rate among white mothers, which is why, in April, Underwood launched a new congressional group, the Black Maternal Health Caucus, to focus attention and legislative action on the problem. Her co-chair in the caucus is Rep. Alma Adams (D-North Carolina); the two also introduced a resolution to declare a second annual Black Maternal Health Week.
The issue is a personal one for Underwood. In 2017, she lost a close friend, Dr. Shalon Irving, who died just three weeks after giving birth, at the age of 36. Irving was an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control whose death was featured in a major ProPublica/NPR report. She had studied the Third-World level of healthcare faced by many women right here in America; her death proved that the culprits you might assume -- poverty and lack of access to care -- didn't matter. It could happen to the woman whose profession it was to study it. It's damned unhealthy just to exist as a black woman in the Greatest Nation On Earth.
'Madam Speaker ... DID YOU BRING YOUR HANDCUFFS?'
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, Attorney General CoverUp McJokes got some jokes!
Attorney General William Barr tried out a little contempt humor on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with interesting results.
He's been working on it, for his stand-up set.
The setting was the National Peace Officers Memorial Day service Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Barr and Pelosi were in the crowd waiting for President Donald Trump to arrive.
Barr approached Pelosi, shook her hand and said loud enough to be overheard, "Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?"
Who knew he was into that kind of thing? Oh well, even attorneys general who do cover-ups for criminal presidents gotta get their rocks off, and who are we to judge!
That's a reference to Barr's refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas related to special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Yes, Associated Press, we got it.
A smiling Pelosi let Barr know the House Sergeant at Arms was present at the ceremony, should any arrest be necessary, according to a person who witnessed the exchange and described it on the condition of anonymity.
We think Pelosi won that round, don't you think?
Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren just keep making us love them more and more, what with being terrible mean nasty women, the way all good Americans should be. Yr Wonkette is ready for a Warren/Harris or Harris/Warren ticket RIGHT GODDAMN NOW, please and thank you!
Oh, we suppose you want to know what they did, huh? Well, fine, though really if you all just paid closer attention we wouldn't have to spell it out for you. But then we wouldn't be paid to write political fart noises, either, so you just keep not having already heard stuff, OK?
For starters, Kamala Harris had this perfect reply to Daily Mail reporter Emily Goodin, when Goodin asked whether Harris was tired of being talked about as a great VP choice:
Knock you over with a feather!
No sooner had we published our second-to-last piece, on Adam Schiff's House Intelligence Committee requesting documents from Trump lawyers and lawyers representing Trump's fucked up family, than the White House had fired off yet another letter, this time to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, telling him to take all his investigations and fuck right off.
Not only does White House Counsel Pat Cipollone -- yet another real lawyer who's decided his own professional reputation can fuck right off, because everything Donald Trump touches turns into a gaping hole of sadness and failure -- write that Judiciary doesn't have the right to investigate Trump's crimes, because its investigation is "duplicative" of what Robert Mueller investigated, and laughably assert that Mueller's investigation cleared Trump of all Russian and obstruction crimes based on the legal standard of "Because Bill Barr Said So," Cipollone also asserts something we've heard approximately 1,000 times in the last 24 hours. (Emphasis ours in all forthcoming block quotes.)
Lost in the Committee's legally indefensible rush to recommend a contempt citation is the reality that the Committee has not articulated any proper legislative purpose for pursuing inquiries that duplicate matters that were the subject of the Special Counsel's inquiry. Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized "do-over" of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice.
Under the circumstances, the appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry discussed in the March 4 letter.
LOLOLOLOLOL, what lawyerly bluster for a letter full of such dogshit! (Worth noting that Jerry Nadler's reaction was approximately the same, though he said it nicer.)
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