THE ROT IS NEVERENDING.
Bill Barr is the most dangerous man in DC. Maybe Trump is a demented aberration whose despotic demands result from a lethal cocktail of egomania and tertiary syphilis. But the attorney general, formerly known as a "serious person," insists that there is no law but the president, that the executive can defy both congressional and judicial oversight, and that he has the right to use the Justice Department to prosecute his enemies and to protect his friends. Which is such a gross insult to an independent legal system that former DOJ employees are slamming the fire alarm demanding Barr's resignation before he does any more damage to the department he leads.
This weekend, more than 1,100 former DOJ employees signed a letter demanding Barr's resignation and calling on current DOJ employees "to report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress; to refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to withdraw from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary, to resign and report publicly — in a manner consistent with professional ethics — to the American people the reasons for their resignation."
Donald Ayer, deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, authored an editorial demanding Barr's resignation or impeachment before his "root-and-branch attack on the core principles that have guided our justice system" turns us into "a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen." Not to put too fine a point on it, the people who know how the DOJ is supposed to work are freakin the fuck out.
And every day more news comes out about Barr's assault on our independent legal system. CNN reported Saturday that, in response to persistent lobbying by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump ordered Barr to disappear the case against Turkey's Halkbank for money laundering and violating US sanctions on Iran.
We guess it's better than Melania.
Ivanka Trump, whose greatest single accomplishment is standing upright, went on a tour of the Mideast where she stared poignantly at random objects. She also took time out of her never busy schedule to give a speech Sunday to women entrepreneurs and regional leaders in Dubai. She praised such countries as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates for their "significant reforms" in advancing women's rights. For instance, Saudi Arabia recently allowed women to get their own passports and leave the country without a male relative's permission, so ... yay!
Trump gave the keynote address at the two-day Global Women's Forum. She was qualified to do this because she is the president's daughter and a woman — often both at the same time!
TRUMP: I am delighted to be attending the Global Women's Forum Dubai to advance women's economic empowerment around the world and highlight the progress of the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. This initiative has impacted over 12 million women in its first year, well on its way towards our goal of economically empowering 50 million women by 2025.
The Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative is Trump's pet project. It's supposed to do great things for women while her father's administration works to roll back abortion rights. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen have teamed up to have Trump's initiative written into law. The proposed legislation would establish an Office of Women's Empowerment at the State Department and ensure something survives the Trump administration beyond the flaming dumpster fire of our democracy.
He is just saying.
John Kelly, Donald Trump's former chief of staff, got a lot of attention for his speech the other day in which he said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had simply been doing his duty by testifying to Congress about Donald Trump's shakedown call to the president of Ukraine. Yesterday, the Washington Post's Philip Bump focused on another part of Kelly's speech at Drew University, in which Kelly also said, in essence, that a steady diet of Fox News is bad for your brain.
Sure, that's pretty obvious, but it's always a little remarkable when a Republican admits it.
Who greenlighted this reunion special?
Let's go out on a limb and assume that Hicks's attempt to reinvent herself as a West Coast publicist wasn't exactly a smashing success. The last we'd heard of her was in a gauzy Vanity Fair profile largely focused on the former White House liar's shiny hair and dedication to her fitness routine. There were, however, already hints of clouds on the horizon because she'd immediately gotten caught lying to the LA trade press like they were a pack of common Maggie Habermans.
"The journalist-publicist relationship in this town is all about the trust in the exchange of information," the reporter explained. "I'll sit on a story about A-B-C in the short term in exchange for X-Y-Z down the line. It's all about the long-term gain, and I don't think that she got that."
Other reporters moved on. It was a fairly minor issue, they told me, that was probably blown out of proportion because most people didn't want to like her. But the media executive made clear: "You do not lie. Not here. You will be run out of town."
Your Wonkette has no idea what went down with Hope Hicks in California. But we're gonna take a wildass guess that the habit of breezily feeding bullshit to a press corp that will swallow it as long as they can maintain their access didn't translate to her new gig. Either that or Jared begged her to come back since he and Vanky can't ever get a sitter anymore and it's taking a toll on their marriage.
HHS Sec Tells Senate Trump's Obamacare Replacement Is Not The Plan They're Looking For (Because He's Never Had One, Never Will)
Plan to replace the thing we're killing? Why?
At a Senate hearing today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration won't offer a plan to replace Obamacare until after it's struck down by the Supreme Court. In other words, if the Court does exactly what the administration has been asking for and overturns the Affordable Care Act while Trump's still in office, Americans won't find out until then what Trump has in mind to replace it (not like Trump or Republicans have ever had a real plan, ever). Heck, healthcare is only a sixth of the economy. It's not like it's complicated or anything.
Yes, it's tiresome but we should hold Trump's 'henchmen' accountable.
It's clear now that Bill Barr is Donald Trump's personal mob boss lawyer — Tom Hagen without style. Kamala Harris, who is a reputable attorney, isn't thrilled with this development. She demanded Tuesday that the Senate Judiciary Committee bring in Barr to account for how the Department of Justice skipped to Donald Trump's lou over Roger Stone's sentencing.
From a letter Harris sent to the chair of the Judiciary Committee:
The Justice Department's decision to overrule its career prosecutors, immediately after President Trump's tweet, calls into question the independence and integrity of our legal system. Failure to meet basic oversight responsibilities in the face of such alarming news would send a signal to this and future administrations that the Senate no longer conducts itself as a co-equal branch of government.
Unfortunately, the Senate Judiciary Chairman is Lindsey Graham, who is both corrupt and shameless. Graham said Wednesday that he had no intention of interrupting Barr's busy schedule of one-sided sentencing reform. Undaunted, Harris tweeted this message detailing in clear, concise legal terms why Bill Barr is an underhanded shady loser.
We're there, y'all.
Yesterday in the Oval Office, the alleged president again congratulated Bill Barr's Justice Department for intervening in the Roger Stone sentencing on his behalf, because the baby thinks it's unfaaaaaaaaaair. He also, as usual, said meaningless words about FISA warrants (that had nothing to do with Roger Stone) and whined about someone only receiving two months for leaking "highly classified information," even though his dumb ass leaked "highly classified information" to the Russians, our adversaries, the day after he fired James Comey, in that very same Oval Office. Oh, and of course he played cute with whether or not he's planning on pardoning Stone.
In other words, typical day in the hellscape that is now America.
The Trump White House swears, at least on record, that he's not retaliating and unleashing a campaign of revenge on all those he perceives to have slighted him, of course he's not doing that, HOW DARE YOU EVEN. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien huffed at a think tank event Tuesday that Trump's retaliatory firings of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny Vindman were totally normal, nothing to see here, they were "absolutely" not retaliated against, and also those guys were bad. O'Brien insisted, "We're not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States," and added that "we are not a banana republic," to which we reply OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR: Assumes facts not in evidence. We live in Donald Trump's fuckshow vision of America now. It's looking more and more like a banana republic every day.
Meanwhile, White House comms idiot
Keegan Gaygley Booger Whimsybottom Hogan Gidley told Fox News on Wednesday that it was just "ludicrous" to suggest Trump pressed Bill Barr to piss on the Justice Department and cause the resignations of four respected career prosecutors, by intervening to get Roger Stone's sentence reduced to a slap on the wrist, a pony ride and a free blowjob, HOW DARE YOU EVEN. Gidley said, of course, that Trump "has the right" to interfere with the Justice Department, because of how he is an unaccountable king, we guess, but he "just didn't" do that.
In other words, the gaslighting is in full effect.
But the truth is that of course Donald Trump is retaliating, and of course he's turned the Justice Department into a lawless organ for airing his grievances. He's firing everybody who ever went against him by refusing to commit crimes for him, and he's taking his revenge, because he's fucking unleashed. In the seemingly neuron-free zone that is Donald Trump's brain, he has really and truly been "acquitted" of all wrongdoing, or at least he now fully understands that as long as the Senate is controlled by Republicans, he really can do anything he wants. He literally says he won in the Senate on impeachment 52 to nothing. In the House he thinks he won 197 to nothing. In his mind, the Democrats are illegitimate and do not exist.
Meet Utah's Chris Stewart all over again for the first time!
Remember last time Donald Trump decided it was time to find a new (acting) director of national intelligence, because the old one, Dan Coats, was just too American for his tastes? It. Was. Hilarious. He picked this paste-eating rube congressman from Texas, John Ratcliffe — known in Republican circles as one of the smart ones LOLOLOL — and everything was going swimmingly and nobody was making fun of Trump's decision, until it all went south when the news found out Ratcliffe had fabricated/embellished somewhere around half his prosecutorial record. DERP.
Trump still loves that guy, though. He loves all the moron Republican paint-huffers on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, who lie and obfuscate and yell and scream Kremlin conspiracy theories throughout the halls of Congress. They are his pals, because in Washington as in his earlier life in New York, Trump doesn't get to hang with the actual cool kids of society and has to settle for the leftovers.
Hell, Trump's original top choice for director of national INTELLIGENCE was Devin Fucking Nunes, the guy who was voted (ALLEGEDLY) by all the cows in America at his cow high school "Most Likely To Never Have The Word 'Intelligence' In His Job Title." Those cows were some real Heathers, if you know what we mean, and what we mean is they were all cows named Heather.
Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about the other DOJ news.
Welp, Donald Trump and Bill Barr are going after immigrants and the state and local governments that try to help them again.
In a trio of lawsuits filed Monday, the Department of Justice went after New Jersey, California, and King County, Washington, for laws and policies that seek to protect immigrants from the Nazis at the Department of Homeland Security.
Barr bragged about his xenophobic new lawsuits in remarks to the National Sheriffs' Association, making references to "criminal aliens" and claiming detaining immigrant families is "a vital part of how we keep our country safe."
Earwax Causes Hearing And Memory Loss. Here's The Best Way To Get Rid Of It. Tabs., Wed., Feb. 12, 2020
A Republic, if you can -- wait, whar it go?
Bill Barr isn't even trying to hide the corruption any more. Yesterday his own US attorney for the District of Columbia recommended 87-108 months (seven to nine years) of jail time for Roger Stone, a sentence squarely within the recommended sentencing guidelines, and now Barr is forcing those prosecutors to walk it back in the face of a Trump tweet.
In a 26-page sentencing memo detailing the seven counts for which Stone was convicted by a jury of his peers, his threats of violence to a witness, and his multiple attempts to tamper with the jury using social media during the trial, federal prosecutors made their case to Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Stone deserves substantial jail time. But according to Fox News, higher-ups at the DOJ were "shocked" to see Stone going to prison for simply lying to federal investigators and Congress and threatening a witness in a federal case. It's not like he committed dastardly EMAIL CRIMES!
All of them, Katie?
Roger Stone has already been convicted of multiple felonies. Now, it's time for the court to figure out how long he's going away for.
And really, it couldn't happen to a better person.
In November, Trump buddy Roger Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation, making numerous false statements to Congress, and witness tampering, all related to the congressional investigation of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia to defraud the American people out of a free and fair election. On Monday, federal prosecutors asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison, arguing a sentence of seven to nine years would "accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law."
As the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia so succinctly summarized it,
Roger Stone obstructed Congress's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law.
You know WHO ELSE banned modern art styles? Right! It was Hitler!
You might've missed this during all the other crap this week, but Donald Trump is now dabbling in architecture. He needs a hobby to help him wind down after a stressful day of treason. The president is preparing an executive order that would mandate a "classical style" for federal buildings in Washington DC and other parts of the country. This would discourage boring, elitist "modern" design, or boring, elitist "Art Deco," like the Bonwit Teller building whose friezes Trump famously (and illegally) demolished. The group that actively appealed to Trump's cultural resentment is the National Civic Art Society. The non-profit believes contemporary architecture has fostered an environment that's "degraded and dehumanizing." Degenerate, even. If that's true, Trump's prolonged presence in DC is the problem, but sure, let's blame the buildings.
The society's chair, Marion Smith, texted -- yeah, really -- this statement to the New York Times:
For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive, and inefficient buildings. This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent — the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building.
The classical style is influenced by Greek and Roman architecture. The most famous (or at least my favorite) examples in DC include the US Treasury Building, the National Gallery of Art, the US Capitol, and the White House, where Trump currently squats. I enjoy buildings in that style as much as the next person, especially if that person is my wife. Neither of us are that pissed over any buildings not constructed in the classical style. We also don't trust the man who willingly lived in this room to make aesthetic appraisals.
I mean ... damn.
Is there a lifetime achievement award for heroic bravery? If so, Susan Collins definitely should get that.
It was a Friday Night Massacre, except for the part where nobody was resigning because they refused to carry out dictator-like orders from a criminal president, they were just like "AYE AYE, KING SIR!" and firing all the motherfuckers who done hurt Donald Trump's feelings and made his orange face even orangier.
First Trump ordered the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an American hero with a Purple Heart who witnessed some of Trump's Ukraine crimes up close, including his treason phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Just to be super-fascist dicks, they fired Vindman's twin brother Yevgeny too. Minutes later, it was Gordon Sondland, who was out as ambassador to the European Union.
Let's pause for a second to dwell on the differences between Sondland and Vindman. Vindman, whose family escaped the Soviet Union when he was a small child, got a Purple Heart fighting America's wars. According to Fiona Hill, who was his boss, he's "a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service." Sondland, meanwhile, is a douchebag who donated a million dollars to the Trump inaugural and was allowed to be ambassador to the EU, an actual real job, as a token of Trump's appreciation. Of course, the thing that unites the two men is that they told the truth about Trump, though it took Sondland several-eleventy tries to get his testimony straight. Sondland eventually admitted that not only was there a quid pro quo, but "everyone was in the loop," and oh yeah, he just remembered, he personally delivered that quid pro quo to the Ukrainians. And the yelly shitmouth in the White House is upset and out for blood, so of course they both had to go.
But the New York Times is reporting that heroic Republican senators tried to stop it! (The Sondland firing, not the Vindman firing. Republicans are acting like literal traitors to America over Vindman, because that's how threatening he is to them.) Oh, golly, they tried! After voting in the impeachment trial to cosign any crimes Trump has committed or might want to commit in the future, they used all that pull they obviously have with Trump, and they tried!
We don't know what your favorite hero song is, but the proper soundtrack for this blog post is the Mariah Carey song.
It's your Sunday show rundown!
This week marked Lindsey Graham's first Sunday show appearance since the Senate
failed finished their no witnesses impartial Impeachment Trial of Donnie Trumps. Graham seemed more subdued (or sober) than before the impeachment.
Of course, before Lindsey could even utter a word, Trump had to try to direct him like an overeager stage mom.
Margaret Brennan immediately asked Graham about this and he had to try to spin it to sound less ... power abusey:
BRENNAN: The President's up. He's watching, apparently, because he sent out a tweet this morning about you appearing on this program. He said, "DeFace the nation will tell Lindsey Graham they must start up the Judiciary and not stop." I'm not exactly sure quite what that means, but it sounds like he's giving you marching orders.
GRAHAM: I think what he's talking about is oversight of the FISA warrant system that failed. I can promise the President and your viewers that I'm going to call witnesses about--
BRENNAN: Foreign surveillance warrants--the Horowitz report.
If only everyone had been nicer to Donald Trump. What a missed opportunity. So sad.
Now that Republicans in the Senate have formally endorsed Donald Trump's Ukraine fuckery and made it clear he can do anything he wants, America's Greatest Moderate, David Brooks, has thoughts. No doubt he'll flesh them out in a full column for the New York Times tomorrow, but it will pretty much be this tweet, again and again and again:
We are left wondering yet again what version of Earth David Brooks resides on. Particularly as we've been trying to write this while the very reasonable Donald Trump ranted very presidentially on live TV about the need to exact vengeance on all his enemies.
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