Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ben Carson claimed he was ‘shocked’ by $31,000 dining set, but emails show he knew all along
"Emails obtained by watchdog group American Oversight appear to catch the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a lie over Secretary Ben Carson’s involvement in the planned purchase of a $31,000 dining set for a dining room in his office. In a March 1 statement, Carson said that he was “shocked” by the dining set’s pricetag and “made it known that I was not happy about the prices being charged and that my preference would be to find something more reasonable.” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams denied that Ben or his wife Candy had any involvement in the purchase process at all, telling CNN at the time that “Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased.” But the newly released emails show that the Carsons in fact selected the furniture themselves."

Team of Sycophants
"The president will hear no forceful disagreements; he will not be contradicted; he will believe that his instincts and whims are invariably correct. Those around him may not be quite as honest in admitting their lack of integrity as Peter Navarro, the economic adviser who recently described his job as finding the data to support Trump’s instincts. To stay in favor, however, they will have to do as he does—and hope that the president will forget his really stupid or dangerous decisions while they undo the damage. The dangers of an executive branch run this way, with public groveling and private deceit the order of the day, are evident."

Vladimir Putin’s Black Box For President Donald Trump

More than one-half of births in rural America are covered by Medicaid
"If Republicans succeed in slashing Medicaid, they'll succeed in doing away with maternity care in much of rural America. Even now, about 45 percent of rural hospitals don’t have maternity care, with almost 1 in 10 rural counties losing hospital-based obstetrics programs between 2004 and 2014. "When rural hospitals are squeezed, they have to look at what fixed costs they can shed," Katy Kozhimannil, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health told KHN. She continued, "The fixed costs of providing obstetrics services are very clear, and very distinct." Obstetrics is expensive. And supposedly “pro-life” Republicans want to make childbirth not just more common, but more dangerous and more expensive by cutting Medicaid even further."

Here’s the One Part of the House GOP’s Russia Investigation Report That Proves It’s Total B.S.
"Then again, this whole process was led by Trump stooge Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), so it was never a legitimate “investigation.” It was nothing more than a Republican-led farce meant to give off the perception that they were truly trying to find out if this “president” was a traitor, but I’m sure every person reading this knew from the very beginning that they’d always conclude that they found “no evidence of collusion.” Luckily for all of us, not only is the Senate Intelligence Committee still wrapping up a separate investigation, but Robert Mueller’s investigation is still ongoing. You know, the one that’s already gotten 3 guilty pleas from Trump associates for lying to the FBI about their contact with Russians, and currently has Trump’s former campaign manager under indictment on so many charges he could very well spend the rest of his life in prison. That’s the investigation that Trump needs to worry about because it’s not being conducted by a bunch of spineless bureaucrats who weren’t legitimately looking for the truth about what happened because they’re terrified of ticking off his supporters — it’s being led by a professional law enforcement expert who couldn’t care less what Trump says about him or the fact that the majority of the GOP is too afraid to tell the truth about this “president"."

Trump's Brand is Ayn Rand

His name may be gone but Trump’s Panama hotel troubles are far from over
"President Donald Trump may have watched his name come down from his former property in Panama this month — but his troubles stemming from years of alleged cartel money laundering at the property aren’t yet over."

Director of offshore safety and environment bureau meets almost exclusively with industry
"Documents show that Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Scott Angelle has spent more than 98 hours meeting with oil and gas lobbyists and executives since he began the role last May. In contrast, during this same time he only spent 1.75 hours with NGOs. According to an analysis of Angelle’s calendar released by watchdog group Documented, the director has met with companies that have previously contributed more than $88 thousand to his failed 2012 and 2016 campaigns for elected office. This includes Targa Resources, LLOG, Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA), Chevron, Hilcorp, Arena Energy, Fieldwood Energy, and Taylor Energy. But the list of meetings goes well beyond previous campaign contributors. It includes other big names such as BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Halliburton, as well as the American Petroleum Institute. The news comes days after an investigation by the New York Times showed how the Trump administration, with help from Angelle, has been working to roll back Obama-era safety measures implemented following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster."

The Timeline Of Russian Contact And President Donald Trump's Associates

Trump is clearly not ‘the ultimate deal-maker and negotiator’
"Trump has struggled at deal-making because he doesn’t care to do the work necessary to reach agreements. To strike big deals, negotiators need to do their homework. They need to be able to listen to competing arguments. They need to be creative. They need to be consistent and show follow-through. They need patience and an appreciation for nuance. Whatever strengths Donald J. Trump may bring to the table, he has none of these qualities. It’s precisely why there’s reason for skepticism about our amateur president leading diplomatic talks with a nuclear-armed rogue dictator, and why it’s hard to take seriously the idea that the American president is “the ultimate negotiator and dealmaker when it comes to any type of conversation"."

Trump fires Tillerson aide who confirmed Tillerson learned of being fired via Twitter
"It is clear the White House lied about intending to fire Tillerson earlier. The plain facts are that Trump fired him this morning, less than one day after Tillerson delivered a harsh statement supporting the United Kingdom's assessment that the exposure of 500 Londoners to a Russian-developed nerve agent was a Russian act. The summary firing of Goldstein, immediately after he contradicted White House spin, suggests that Trump is extremely invested in the notion that Rex Tillerson was fired for reasons other than Tillerson's Russia comments. And for good reason: a president firing the nation's top diplomatic official for refusing to avert his eyes from an act of Russian terrorism would be an enormous story."

Pursuit Of Kremlin Link By Donald Trump Backer Eyed By Robert Mueller: WaPo

UK prime minister blames Kremlin for Russian spy poisoning
"The British government has officially blamed the Kremlin for the attempted murder of former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent. Sergei, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Julia remain in a critical condition after being found slumped on a bench in the town of Salisbury, Wiltshire, last Sunday. A police officer who was one of the first responders on the scene also remains seriously ill, although he is now described as stable and conscious."

Asked about U.S. election meddling, Putin resorts to an anti-Semitic smear
"Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly has denied meddling in the 2016 US election, suggested in a new interview that the massive cyber operation targeting the presidential vote might have been carried out by “Ukrainian, Tatars or Jews — but with Russian citizenship.” The Russian leader pointed the finger at Jews and ethnic minorities in his country during an interview broadcast late Friday on NBC television, in which he frostily dismissed any knowledge of the cyber-intrusions into the American electoral system. But Putin added that he “couldn’t care less” if operatives from his country were, in fact, found to have been responsible for operation."

Donald Trump Wanted WH Counsel McGahn To Deny Mueller Firing Story: NYT

A Brief Survey of Michael Cohen Doing Genius Lawyer Things
"When the story first broke, Cohen characterized the entire business as fake news. Then he admitted to The New York Times that he made the payment, but said Trump had no knowledge of the hush money agreement and he'd done it all on his own. The idea that a lawyer is running around without his client's knowledge, making six-figure payments on his client's behalf with no expectation of being paid back, is absurd—a point Daniels' lawyer is now making in the lawsuit recently filed. When the Times story hit, Daniels' manager responded by suggesting Cohen may have violated the terms of the NDA by saying publicly that he made the payment. Certainly, Cohen proved that he'd lied previously in public statements suggesting the WSJ story was entirely fabricated. Cohen then pursued and won a gag order on Daniels in arbitration, according to the terms of the original agreement. But Daniels has now filed suit against Donald Trump himself, alleging that since Trump never signed the original NDA, the entire agreement—including the arbitration procedure outlined in it, which Cohen used to secure the gag order—was invalid. Cohen's exploits have been examined as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election. He also must have missed the (many?) classes in law school that highlight the downsides of putting your shady business in writing. During the 2016 campaign, Cohen was working with Trump Organization executive Felix Sater—who himself has alleged ties to organized crime and Russian oligarchs—to secure a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow. When they ran into obstacles in securing permits, Cohen responded by reaching out to top Vladimir Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov. Except, being a genius brain working for one of the world's most prominent businessmen—with all the high-powered connections that offers—Cohen sent the email to a generic Kremlin email address"

Big Pharma Bro broke down in tears as he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud
"Shkreli got off lucky because the prosecutor was seeking a 15-year sentence. He’s also going to have to pay hefty penalties"

Lawrence Debunks Donald Trump's Claim Trade Wars Don't Hurt U.S.

Mueller Is Teaching This Country a Lesson on the Nature of Corruption
"Ah, we’re back in the Seychelles again with Erik Prince, mercenary, money-grubber, and brother of the current Secretary of Education. This episode had faded from my mind until the news about Mueller’s interviews with Nader brought things back around to it again. Here, from The Intercept, is a reminder of what that was all about. The Washington Post reported in April that the FBI was looking into the Seychelles meeting as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Prince is scheduled to testify on November 30 before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia investigation. During the same period in January when Dmitriev and Prince were in the Seychelles, Alexander Mashkevich, a Kazakh businessman linked to a shady Trump investment vehicle known as Bayrock, also arrived to meet with Zayed, who was “holding court” at his mansion on the island, a source familiar with the meetings said. Abdulrahman Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi billionaire whose grandfather founded the first Saudi private bank and whose father allegedly helped Al Qaeda, was also present. The meetings came several weeks after Zayed flew to New York to meet with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who is now a subject in the federal Russia probe. Once more, it’s clear that the working assumption of the Mueller investigation is that the entire Trump presidency*, and the Trump campaign that preceded it, is a vast corrupt empire, and that the roots of that empire are to be found in the Trump Organization, which was a slightly less vast, but no less corrupt, empire built on deceit and incompetence, bailed out by its lawyers. To understand the corruption of the administration*, Mueller is teaching the nation, you have to understand the corruption of the businesses. And to understand the corruption of the businesses, you have to understand the ability of the man to corrupt everything and everyone he touches."

Wednesday in Trumplandia: Back channels, witness tampering, and Betsy's bro is in trouble
"Prince told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that he did not plan to meet Dmitriev in Seychelles but that once he was there discussing possible business deals with UAE officials, they unexpectedly suggested that he visit the hotel bar and meet Dmitriev. In fact, Prince went on at some length about the trivial nature of his discussion with Dmitriev, which he claimed lasted no more than 30 minutes. Since Prince was under investigation by the FBI a year ago, it seems likely that all of those lies—including the idea that he wasn’t there to represent Trump—were repeated to FBI agents. Which is exactly the kind of thing that has generated a neat indictment for others in the investigation. That Seychelles meeting is also getting a look because of concerns that foreign contributions may have reached the Trump campaign."

Follow-The-Money Stories Plague Donald Trump Team With Scandals

Is Donald Trump Fueling a Mass Extinction of Democracy Across the Planet? @alternet

Is Donald Trump Fueling a Mass Extinction of Democracy Across the Planet? @alternet:

"Autocrats are learning that they can get away with more than they have in a decade."

Donald Trump Hits Landmark 100 Days At Golf Clubs As President

Making America Great Again by rolling back protections for Americans with disabilities
"Now the United States Congress, led by the fearless Paul Ryan (recipient of the $500,000 Koch go-fer award), has passed the ADA Education and Reform Act, or H.R. 620, which rolls back hard-won protections of the ADA. (Paul Ryan may claim Ayn Rand as his spiritual guide, but I am willing to bet that Orwell taught him his vocabulary.)"

Republicans Don’t Want to Stop Russia’s Meddling in Our Elections Because it Benefits Them
"Let’s face it, we have a good portion of the Republican party that couldn’t care less if Russia is trying to interfere in our elections, create chaos in this country, and undermine our democracy. While I’m sure there are still some who place more emphasis on putting the best interests of this country over their political party, the GOP’s embrace (and defense) of Trump proves that most of them place more loyalty with their political party than their country. To make matters worse, most of Trump’s supporters couldn’t care less if he colluded with Russia, either. As sad and disheartening as it is to think about, there are tens of millions of people in this country who would be perfectly fine with Trump stating publicly that he colluded with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election."

Are Jared Kushner's Businesses Tied To President Donald Trump Policies?

Mueller gathering evidence Team Trump sought secret back channel to Kremlin at Seychelles meeting
"The Washington Post is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller is gathering evidence that a Seychelles meeting in January 2017 involving a U.A.E. adviser and Trump-connected Erik Prince was aimed at creating a secret back channel between the incoming Trump administration and Russia. The U.A.E. adviser, George Nader, is now reportedly cooperating with Mueller. Prince had originally painted the meeting in a very different light during a Congressional interview last year."

Erik Prince Set Up Meeting In Seychelles For Trump-Putin Backchannel, Report Says

Erik Prince Set Up Meeting In Seychelles For Trump-Putin Backchannel, Report Says:

"Just about a year ago, news broke that Erik Prince had gone to the Seychelles to broker a secret communications channel for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to communicate. At the time of the report, Prince denied it vehemently before admitting that yes, he had a meeting but it was just incidental, nothing to see here. Indeed, it appears there was something to see there. The Washington Post reports that Robert Mueller is gathering evidence that the January, 2017 meeting in question was indeed intended to establish backchannel communications between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin before Trump was sworn into office."

Donald Trump Admin. Reverses Obama-Era Ban On Elephant Trophy Imports

Scott Pruitt's EPA Aide Has a Side Hustle in the Private Sector
"Scott Pruitt, the energy industry sockpuppet installed as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is one very small step from selling off the public lands from a card table on the sidewalk along Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan. We find that he’s also very broad-minded as regards his subordinates. From the AP via The Denver Post: The ethics official noted that Konkus’ outside contracts presented a “financial conflict of interest” and barred him from participating in matters at EPA that would have a “direct and predictable” financial benefit for his clients. Pruitt named Konkus, a Republican political consultant, to serve as the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs. His duties have included signing off on hundreds of millions in federal grants. The letter gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients. Those names were blacked out by the agency before a copy was provided to Congress, citing a privacy exemption more typically used to protect personnel records and medical files. The letter said Konkus was also expected to take on additional private clients, advising them about “strategy, mail and media production"."

Trump Appointee Ushers In Kleptocrat Golden Age

Break up the Intelligence Committee: Devin Nunes can’t be trusted with national secrets
"If ignorance is the key that opens the door for charlatans like Trump, improved education, whether in school or in the public square, would seem to provide an obvious solution. But here we confront the perverse Dunning-Kruger Effect identified by psychologists—essentially, the less we know, the more certain we become of our superior knowledge. We have also discovered that exposure to facts and evidence does not always have the expected impact. Many people, when confronted by irrefutable proof that some core belief is incorrect, don’t change their minds but dig in their heels. What feels right to them must be right and no amount logic and reasoning will dissuade them. Emotion trumps evidence."

The Problem Isn’t Just Trump. It’s Our Ignorant Electorate.
"If ignorance is the key that opens the door for charlatans like Trump, improved education, whether in school or in the public square, would seem to provide an obvious solution. But here we confront the perverse Dunning-Kruger Effect identified by psychologists—essentially, the less we know, the more certain we become of our superior knowledge. We have also discovered that exposure to facts and evidence does not always have the expected impact. Many people, when confronted by irrefutable proof that some core belief is incorrect, don’t change their minds but dig in their heels. What feels right to them must be right and no amount logic and reasoning will dissuade them. Emotion trumps evidence."

Republicans Struggle To Explain "Indisputable" Russia Election Interference

Stormy Daniels goes nuclear on Trump, reveals all in new lawsuit
"In a new lawsuit filed in a California court, the adult film star, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claims her agreement with Donald Trump to keep their alleged affair secret is not binding because Trump never signed it. The lawsuit provides embarrassing new details about the nature of her relationship with Trump and the elaborate effort to keep it under wraps. Attached to Daniels’ new lawsuit is the full “Hush Agreement” between Daniels, Trump, and a shell company created by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. The agreement refers to Daniels and Trump by special pseudonyms — Trump goes by David Dennison and Daniels by Peggy Peterson. Daniels also attached the “Side Letter Agreement” between the parties to the lawsuit, which discloses the true identities of the pseudonyms."

Trump’s tariffs are a scary look at what happens when he actually tries to govern
"The bigger issue, though, is the window the proposal provides into the presidency of a man who has no idea what makes good policy. His policy ideas, again and again, have been disasters in theory and would be in execution."

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Panelist: Behavior of Trumps is more like that of a royal family

President Donald Trump "Unglued" Amid White House Chaos

Trump has done nothing to stop Russia from meddling in the 2018 midterms
"Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads US Cyber Command, told lawmakers on Tuesday that Trump has yet to direct him to strike Russia’s cyber operations where they start. That means Russian President Vladimir Putin — who directed the campaign to disrupt the last US presidential election — has yet to see any serious repercussions for his country’s actions.  Worse, there are almost no substantive measures in place to prevent Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections."

'Javanka' Faction Falling Apart As Hope Hicks, Others Quit W.H.

Analysis: Major Corporations Have Spent Just 6% of Tax Cut Windfall on Workers. Guess Where the Other 94% Went.
"Almost everyone—nonpartisan commentators, economists, and even President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser—predicted that corporate shareholders and CEOs, not workers, would be the primary beneficiaries of the Republican tax law, and several recent analyses have shown that prediction to be right on the money."

Trump’s Real Scandal Is Hiding in Plain Sight
"The scale of dishonesty and criminality that is now apparent is an enormous scandal in its own right."

Jared Kushner Eyed Over Foreign Contacts, Vulnerability To Manipulation

Saturday, March 3, 2018

'Truly Wicked': Trump EPA Dissolves Program That Studies Effects of Chemical Exposure on Children
"As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt moves to make it easier for big industry to dump dangerous chemicals into the nation's air and water, the agency announced late Monday that it is dissolving a program that funds studies on the effects of pollution and chemical exposure on America's children."

Congress has been a serious ally for Trump’s anti-environment agenda
"The Trump administration’s first year was marked by a barrage of environmental rollbacks, from announcing the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement to the repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would have set the nation’s first-ever emissions limits on carbon emissions from power plants. But on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda has found eager allies in Congressional Republicans. According to a new scorecard of environmental votes released today by the League of Conversation Voters, Congressional Republicans have done little to stand in the way of the administration’s anti-environmental policies. The League of Conversation Voters’ annual scorecard tracks how each member of Congress votes on key environmental legislation. As this year’s report shows, a majority of both Senate Republicans and House Republicans received an annual score of zero percent, meaning they voted against every piece of environmental legislation or nomination tracked by the scorecard. In the Senate, 46 Republicans received a score of zero, bringing the overall Republican Senate average to a historic low of just 1 percent. In the House, 124 representatives received a score of zero, bringing the overall Republican House average to just 5 percent. The overall average for both the House and the Senate in 2017 was 45 percent — a marked decline from 2009, when the scorecard tallied a record-high 60 percent for the House and 63 percent for the Senate. “When you’ve got 46 Republican Senators with a score of 0 percent … you very clearly show a party that has been completely captured by the polluting industries,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said on a press call announcing the scorecard’s release. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen that happen in the administration as well, with political appointees. Clearly, the polluters are now in charge at EPA"."

Hope Hicks Reportedly Admits Telling 'White Lies' For President Donald Trump

Trump’s EPA to close research center that protects public health
"Plan to end a program responsible for researching effects of chemicals on children is part of Trump's rollback of public health safeguards."

White House uses a lie to downplay latest Mueller indictment
"During the White House news briefing on Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if former Trump campaign official Rick Gates’ guilty plea for conspiring against the United States and making false statements to the FBI says “anything about the president’s judgment that three people linked to his campaign have now turned out to be criminals?” Sanders responded with a blatant lie."

Why The Rich Love Destroying Unions

Janus and fair share fees: The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers

Janus and fair share fees: The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers:

"Many of the organizations financing the legal challenges to workers’ rights have also been funding legislative battles focused on limiting workers’ rights. How do these groups benefit by limiting workers’ rights? Anti-worker policies shift a greater share of economic gains to corporate players and away from ordinary workers. This is evident in the relationship between declining union membership and rising inequality. As union membership has fallen over the last few decades, the share of income going to the top 10 percent has steadily increased. When union membership was at its peak (33.4 percent in 1945) the share of income going to the top 10 percent was only 32.6 percent. In 2015, union membership was 11.1 percent, while the share of income going to the top 10 percent was 47.8 percent—the largest share going to the top 10 percent since 1917 (the earliest year data are available). The erosion of collective bargaining is a core part of our nation’s problems of wage stagnation and rising inequality. Workers who are not in a union have much less power to negotiate with their employers for higher pay (or more hours, or better working conditions). Further, the erosion of union coverage hurts workers who aren’t in a union; research shows that when the share of workers who are union members falls, wages of nonunion workers are lower. For example, wages of nonunion male workers in 2013 would have been 5 percent higher (that’s an additional $2,704 in earnings for year-round workers) had union density remained at its 1979 levels. The decline in union membership rates does not reflect a declining desire to organize in the workplace and collectively bargain. In fact, surveys show that nearly half of nonunion, nonmanagerial workers would vote for union representation if they could. Furthermore, a majority of Americans support the right of workers to join a union."

Trump on Parkland: “I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon”
"Donald Trump was a multiple-deferment draft dodger, claiming “bone spurs” kept him from serving heroically in the military. Decades later, the president divides much of his time between watching television and playing golf. But in Trump’s mind, he’s effectively an action star. We’re supposed to believe the 71-year-old president when he boasts to a room full of people that he’d run into a mass-shooting crisis, where he’d confront a teen armed with an assault rifle, carrying with him nothing but his wits and his bare hands. Obviously, it’s difficult to take such delusions of grandeur seriously, but I wonder, do Trump’s loyalists actually believe such boasts? Do the president’s supporters in uniform find such ridiculous chest-thumping compelling? How is it, exactly, that Trump’s toughness never emerges when it matters, but he’s eager to tell us how tough he is when his boasts cannot be tested and come with no consequences?"

Did Vladimir Putin Want To Get Caught? Kremlin TV Offers Clues

A Democratic governor confronted Trump on arming teachers and Trump was not happy
"During an event at the White House on Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) challenged President Trump on his plan to arm teachers — to his face. And the president was visibly not happy about it."

Trump (aka Cadet Bone Spurs) Brags: "I'd Run in There Even If I Didn't Have Weapon"
"President Donald Trump, who famously ducked the draft during the Vietnam War by receiving multiple medical deferments, bragged on Monday that if he was given the opportunity to stop a school shooting he would do so even if he was unarmed. "You don't know until you're tested, but I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon," the president announced during remarks at a luncheon with state governors at the White House."

Lawrence: President Donald Trump's Superhero Fantasy World

Trump is tearing up the system that protects ordinary Americans from financial scams
"Donald Trump ran for office promising to protect the “forgotten man and woman” and to Make America Great Again for Americans who feel left behind. “It’s not just the political system that’s rigged, it’s the whole economy,” he told supporters during a 2016 speech on the campaign trail. But now in office, Trump isn’t doing much to “un-rig” the system. His administration has systematically dismantled consumer protections for ordinary Americans and compromised protections for everyday investors as well. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the guide of interim director Mick Mulvaney has moved to rein in many of the consumer protection and enforcement actions taken by his predecessor, Richard Cordray. The bureau has dropped cases against predatory payday lenders, reportedly rolled back its investigation of the Equifax data breach, and reformulated its mission to scale back its reach. Federal regulators in September released AIG from special government oversight mandated after the financial crisis and set aside a legal fight with MetLife. Enforcement actions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Wall Street’s top regulators, have declined, meaning they appear to be going after fewer bad actors and imposing less fines. Mulvaney over at the CFPB hasn’t taken any enforcement actions since taking over at the CFPB in November. “The top line is that the Trump administration is probably the most anti-investor and consumer protection administration in decades, if not ever,” said Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a watchdog group that advocates for stricter financial regulations. “It’s hard not to concede that investor and consumer protections are not a priority for this administration"."

Trump’s EPA head says his proudest moment was undermining a landmark environmental pact
"Pruitt cited President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement as the proudest moment in his first year as EPA administrator. Any other EPA administrator — aside from President Ronald Reagan’s controversial EPA chief Anne Gorsuch Burford — would have used this softball question to highlight an actual environmental achievement. But Pruitt views his mission as doing whatever it takes to weaken the EPA in the shortest time possible."

President Trump Admin A Cautionary Tale Of Nepotism For Future Generations

Donald Trump’s CPAC speech is a reminder that he’s not really in charge of his White House
"Whether it’s because he’s a liar or just because he’s ineffectual, this rhetoric has nothing to do with the actual conduct of the Trump administration."

The Worst News For Trump Yet - Mueller Researching Manafort's Russia Ties

The Worst News For Trump Yet - Mueller Researching Manafort's Russia Ties:

"And watch the video to the end if you don't know that Manafort moved money through Bank of Cyprus which had Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the board, etc. etc. etc."

Jennifer Rubin: President Donald Trump An 'Empty, Damaged Soul' — Not A Hero

The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
"When Donald Trump was running for the presidency, he promised that, if he was elected, “American worker[s] will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” Today, though, safely ensconced in the White House, President Trump is waging a fierce campaign against American workers His appointments to federal positions created to defend workers’ rights provide an indication of his priorities. For Secretary of Labor, Trump nominated Andrew Puzder, the CEO of a major fast food chain. When Puzder’s nomination was withdrawn amid allegations of labor law violations, Trump turned to Alexander Acosta, a figure with a long history of aligning with rightwing and corporate interests. As the new Labor Secretary, Acosta served as one of the stars at the annual gathering of the militantly anti-labor American Legislative Exchange Council. For Deputy Secretary of Labor, Trump chose Patrick Pizzella, a former employee of the rabidly anti-union National Right to Work Committee who had lobbied against raising sweatshop-level wages.  Other administration appointments had the same orientation. For Assistant Secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Trump nominated David Zatezalo, a former CEO of a coal mining operation with serious mining violations. The Trump administration also took control of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by appointing members with a record of opposing workers’ right to organize. Furthermore, Trump helped ensure an unsympathetic hearing for American workers in the courts by appointing new federal judges known for their deeply-ingrained rightwing views. Assisted by these and other pro-corporate officials, the administration quickly attacked worker health and safety provisions."

Mueller Just Made Many More People Much More Nervous
"It’s pretty much assured that Manafort is securely on a spit right now and that this latest indictment is just another slow turn over the fire. And Manafort is the man who knows all the secrets. One plea at a time, Mueller is establishing that the president* is inherently corrupt and that his candidacy and election were just two unusually successful operations in a continuing criminal enterprise."

Rep. Ted Lieu: Devin Nunes Was Trying To Mislead American People

It’s Been One Year of Amazing Scott Pruitt Accomplishments, All of Them Horrible
"It’s been one year since Scott Pruitt took control of the Environmental Protection Agency. In that time, he’s undermined dozens of regulations on air and water pollution, made major cuts to agency staff, and curtailed enforcement of environmental rules. Here’s a look at his disturbing record so far"

Why Are More Cities Divesting From Big Oil? It's Moral -- and Practical
"The global financial and insurance industries are starting to recognize that fossil fuel investments don't make moral or economic sense."

Rick Gates Guilty Plea Rounds Out A Busy Week Of Indictments For Mueller

Razing Arizona: Republican lawmakers assault independent redistricting commission—AGAIN
"If there’s one thing Arizona Republicans LOVE to hate, it’s their state’s Independent Redistricting Commission. After years of trying to control it and impeach its members and even have it declared unconstitutional, they’re attacking it it yet again. This time, they’re attempting to undermine both the commission’s independent nature and bring both it and the maps it draws under the legislature’s control."

Allies abroad urged to ignore Trump’s intemperate tweets
"During a tour of Latin America last summer, Vice President Mike Pence boasted that the world recognizes Donald Trump as “a leader who says what he means and means what he says.” It’s a nice sentiment, which was wholly at odds with reality. I’m not just referring to the Republican president’s penchant for breathtaking dishonesty; I’m also referring to the fact that the world has learned no such thing. In fact, the Washington Post reported over the weekend that U.S. policymakers continue to travel abroad and assure allies that Trump’s bizarre messages are better left ignored. Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message for a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain. U.S. lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: The United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program. Or put another way, the position of the United States on key international issues is not what the president of the United States says it is. The result, predictably, is widespread confusion. Even our European allies aren’t sure whether to believe the words that come directly from Trump or the reassurances from U.S. officials who insist Trump’s rhetoric is better left ignored."

Robert Mueller Adds New Piece To Plot With New Manafort Gates Indictment

Despite reality, Trump insists he’s been ‘tough’ on Russia
"Hmm. The president wants us to “just look at the facts.” Perhaps that’s a good idea. It’s a fact, for example, that Trump hasn’t implemented congressionally approved sanctions punishing Russia for its attack on American elections. Similarly, it’s a fact that Trump not only has failed to criticize Russia for the attack, he’s also endorsed Vladimir Putin’s denials of responsibility. It’s a fact that when the Russian government moved against U.S. diplomats, Trump thanked Putin. It’s a fact that when Congress approved sanctions against Russia, Trump blamed American lawmakers, not Putin, for undermining relations between the two countries. It’s a fact that Trump has repeatedly and publicly praised Putin’s authoritarian leadership style. It’s a fact that Trump’s political operation weakened the Republican Party’s platform in ways that made Moscow happy. It’s a fact that three weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Trump complained that Hillary Clinton was being too “tough” on Putin. It’s a fact that Trump welcomed Russian officials in the Oval Office, at Putin’s request, and during the chat, the American president shared highly sensitive, classified information with his Russian guests in exchange for nothing. It’s also a fact that Barack Obama, after the 2016 election, imposed tough sanctions on Russia – sanctions that Trump’s incoming White House national security advisor told Russian officials not to worry about. (Trump’s aide later lied to the FBI about the conversations.) So, when Trump says he’s “been much tougher on Russia than Obama,” we’re left with two possibilities: (1) Trump is lying; or (2) Trump is confused about the meaning of “tough"."

Mitt Romney said he wouldn’t accept an endorsement from Trump. Monday night, he did.
"Observers online were quick to point out that Romney’s thanks and endorsement acceptance is quite a turnaround, given that he was a prominent anti-Trump voice in the 2016 election. Romney conjectured that Trump was hiding a “bombshell of unusual size” in his tax returns and called him a “phony” and a “fraud"."

Americans Google Alex Van Der Zwaan As Robert Mueller Issues New Charges

Mueller Corners Trump

Mueller Corners Trump:

"Trump and his family relied on massive bailouts of his failing business enterprises from Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin. When he became a presidential candidate, the Russians treated him as an asset—a useful idiot, as Stalinists used to put it. And when the campaign finalists turned out to be Trump versus the hard-line Clinton, the Russians sought to destroy her and elect Trump. Trump, meanwhile, became the most pro-Russia president in U.S. history, refusing to breathe a word of criticism of Putin, behaving like the head of a client state. This much of the story is hidden in plain view. The details—Russian financing of Trump’s businesses, more campaign contacts—will be spelled out in further indictments. They will almost surely include members of Trump’s family. Mueller’s final report will look very much like a bill of impeachment. What’s astonishing is that this detailed report on Russian manipulation of a U.S. presidential election had to come from a special counsel. Under a normal administration, evidence of a foreign power meddling in a U.S. election would have prompted a presidential order for a full investigation, and retaliation. Instead, Trump mocked the whole idea and used his influence to block such inquiries by House and Senate panels, as well as resisting retaliation. Rather than looking deeply into Russian interference, the president redefined election integrity. He created a commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state best known for voter suppression, to investigate alleged voter fraud by immigrants and others not qualified to vote had helped Clinton win the national popular vote. This red herring was so preposterous that the commission collapsed of its own weight."