securities attorney
Deputy attorney general appoints special counsel to oversee probe of Russian interference in election
Former FBI director Robert Mueller will over see the FBI probe, including any coordination between Trump associates and Russians.

Holy shit, this is awesome news.

(Mueller was widely endorsed by people from both sides of the aisle; he’s definitely not someone installed to handle this “conveniently.”)  (I hate that I’m living in a country where I have to clarify that.)
Trump's travel ban temporarily blocked nationwide by federal judge in Seattle
District judge granted temporary restraining order effective in all US states, the broadest ruling to date against the president’s immigration directive

A federal judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

US district judge James Robart granted a temporary restraining order Friday at the request of Washington state and Minnesota that’s effective nationwide.

Trump signed an executive order last week that sparked protests across the country and confusion at airports as some travelers were detained. The ruling is the broadest to date against Trump’s directive.

Lawyers for the US government argued that the states do not have standing to challenge the order and said Congress gave the president authority to make decisions on national security and admitting immigrants.

Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson had sued, saying the order is causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination. Minnesota joined the suit this week. Washington and Minnesota want a temporary restraining order while the court considers their lawsuit, which says key sections of the order are unconstitutional.

Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson says the state has a “profound interest” in protecting its citizens from the harms caused by what he called “the irrational discrimination” embodied in Trump’s order.

Continue Reading.
BREAKING: CNN Exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI's Russia investigation
Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's election, according to people familiar with the matter.
By Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, CNN

Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown at CNN:

Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

Robert Kelner, an attorney for Flynn, declined to comment. The US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, the Justice Department and the FBI also declined to comment.

The Flynn inquiry is one piece of the broader investigation, which FBI Director James Comey testified in a Senate hearing last week is led jointly by the Alexandria US Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Flynn was forced to resign as Trump’s national security advisor in February after failing to disclose the nature of phone discussions with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak.

Congressional investigators have also accused Flynn of possibly breaking the law by not properly disclosing a $45,000 payment for an appearance he made at an event in Moscow to celebrate Russia Today. The Russian government-funded news outlet that US intelligence agencies say played a key role in disseminating stolen emails intended to damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, has said that Flynn was not hiding anything, noting that he briefed the DIA on his trip to Russia.“

As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of DoD, extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings,” Kelner said in a statement.

In March, Flynn’s lobbying firm registered as a foreign agent for the Turkish government, under a $500,000 contract.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, emerged in 2015 as a strident critic of the Obama administration, which fired him. He built a close relationship last year with then-candidate Trump and became a frequent Trump campaign surrogate before assuming a brief tenure as national security advisor.

US Attorney Dana Boente, whose office issued the subpoenas, is also leading the investigation into WikiLeaks and the effort to bring possible charges against the group’s founder, Julian Assange. Boente is also acting as head of the Justice Department’s national security section.The FBI interviewed Flynn about the December calls with Kislyak and determined that he wasn’t intentionally trying to be deceptive about the nature of what was discussed, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. But investigators have been investigating Flynn’s business ties after he left the government and before he joined the Trump administration.

Flynn and his henchmen could be in big doo-doo. #TrumpRussia
Deputy attorney general appoints special counsel to oversee probe of Russian interference in election - The Washington Post

The Justice Department has decided to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian officials seeking to meddle in last year’s election, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Robert Mueller, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has agreed to serve in the role, Rosenstein said. The move marks a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independently of the Justice Department. Calls for a special counsel have increased since Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey last week.

Sessions’ pot-killing dreams go up in smoke (for now)

by Sean Williams

Last week the pot industry and marijuana stocks received some great news that’ll add a bit of near-term clarity to their operations.

With the threat of a government shutdown looming, Congress came together and passed a trillion-dollar budget bill that’ll fund the federal government through the end of September. Trump secured extra funding for military spending and border security, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn’t get a dime to go after states who’ve legalized marijuana.

The newly passed budget that Trump signed contains a provision known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which allows states to formulate medical marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention. There are 43 states specifically listed in the provision. In other words, at least throughout most of 2017, medical marijuana patients and established industries in more than two dozen states won’t have to fear federal intervention.


Democrats: ‘When they go low, you go lower’

Kathy Griffin already has with her Trump video on YouTube, “When you go low, I go lower”

Republican Congressman Michael McCall said about Hillary’s infamous private server, ‘In my opinion quite frankly it’s treason.’ See, they’re not afraid to say the T word about nothing. Her private server was treason? No, Trump being Putin’s private server, that’s treason.

For decades Republicans accused Democrats of being soft on Russia. Now we got a Republican president who wasn’t just soft on Russia, He is totally hard for it.

Everyone he knows has had secret meetings with the Russians and lied about it including the National Security Advisor, the Attorney General, and the royal son-in-law.

They hijacked an election and he invites them into the Oval Office gives them secret intel admits to obstruction of justice on TV.

when Republicans go low they get reelected!

Facts don’t count anymore. They’re disdained. They’re are pariahs. When they go low although we go high is a great applause line but as a tactic what country do you think you’re living in right now. Wake up and smell the a$$hole. Because it turns out when they go low they get reelected. They take the Congress, the Supreme Court, the presidency.

From now on the Democratic motto should be when they go low we kick them in the nuts. Democrats have to start actually winning elections. I want some candidates on my team who can at least metaphorically body slam the Republicans. 

New Rule: Get Low | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
Trump has fired the acting attorney general who ordered Justice Dept. not to defend president’s travel ban
The White House in a statement said Sally Yates has “betrayed” the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce the executive order and has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente said he will agree to enforce the order.

It has begun.  

So following the Constitution is a fireable offense in the Trump administration.  This will go well. 

The New America


If you’re a conservative politician,
You now have a free pass
To swing your truncheon
Kick with your jackboots
And punch media down
To the cold ground
And raise enough money
That might be diverted
To your attorney
To secure you a suspended sentence
And community service
So you won’t have to
Miss a minute of
Serving in Congress
Where you can raise more money
And perhaps threaten reporters
With more shoves, kicks and punches
If they don’t stop asking questions
Trump has fired the acting attorney general who ordered Justice Dept. not to defend president’s travel ban
The White House in a statement said Sally Yates has “betrayed” the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce the executive order and has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente said he will agree to enforce the order.

President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general.  Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote.  She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.

Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday.  The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions.  More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.

What will happen next is unclear.  A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so.  Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting.

A spokeswoman for Sessions declined to comment.  A White House spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

White House domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller said on MSNBC that Yates’s decision was “a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become.”

“It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws,” Miller said.

A Justice Department official familiar with the matter said Yates felt she was in an “impossible situation” and had been struggling with what to do about a measure she did not consider lawful.  A Justice official confirmed over the weekend that the department’s office of legal counsel had been asked to review the measure to determine if it was “on its face lawful and properly drafted.”

In her memo, though, Yates said her role was broader.  She wrote that an office of legal counsel review does “not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just,” nor does it “take account of statements made by an administration or its surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose.”

That could be a reference to Trump’s campaign trail comments about a “Muslim ban” or the recent assertion by Trump surrogate Rudolph W. Giuliani that the president had asked him “the right way to do it legally.”

Yates’s memo came as civil rights lawyers and others across the country increased the pressure on Trump on Monday to dial back the ban — filing or threatening to file legal challenges to the executive order as they worked to determine if people were still being improperly denied entry or detained.

The defiant legal conclusion from the country’s top law enforcement official will surely boost their arguments.  Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who worked on one of the legal challenges, said, “It sends a very strong message that there’s something very wrong with the Muslim ban.”

Just days after stepping down from office, former president Barack Obama weighed in through a spokesman, seeming to back those demonstrating against Trump’s decree and declaring his opposition to “discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Obama said that he was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country” — an apparent reference to protests at airports nationwide.  He also disputed Trump’s claim that his ban was based on Obama administration decisions.

Separately, more than 100 former Cabinet secretaries and senior national security and military officials from the Obama, George W. Bush and other administrations called on the current and acting heads of the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security to dial back enforcement of the order.

But George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, said Yates’s memo was a “foolish, naked political move by what appears to be an ambitious holdover official” that would only create “unnecessary disorder.”

“She has to be asked to resign immediately,” Terwilliger said.  “Look, the executive branch of our government is unitary.  There’s only one boss, and that boss has spoken.   If some subordinate official thinks that his direction is illegal, than the choice is to resign.”

Even as Yates issued her memo, civil rights advocates said they still had significant questions about how the executive order was being enforced and even who it might be affecting.

A lawsuit in Virginia claimed that dozens of people may have been forced to give up their green cards by Customs and Border Protection agents, though that figure could not immediately be substantiated.  Lawyers in Los Angeles said they had received similar reports, though they were still exploring them.

Lawyers were also working to determine if anyone might still be in custody.

The ACLU’s Gelernt said that lawyers were “having trouble independently verifying anything because the government will not provide full access to all the detainees.”  Of particular concern, he said, was that the government had not turned over a list of detainees, as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge in New York.  He said lawyers might be back in federal court in the next day or so to forcibly get access to it.

The ACLU’s suit in New York is perhaps the most significant of a growing number of legal challenges to the order.  The Council on American-Islamic Relations also filed a sweeping challenge Monday, alleging that the order is meant “to initiate the mass expulsion of immigrant and non-immigrant Muslims lawfully residing in the United States.”  The lawsuit lists 27 plaintiffs, many of them lawful permanent residents and refugees who allege that Trump’s order will deny them citizenship or prevent them from traveling abroad and returning home.   Lawyers with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed a similar challenge in Washington state.

Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general, said Monday that he, too, plans to file a federal lawsuit seeking an immediate halt to the order’s implementation — making him the first state official to do so.  That lawsuit has the support of Microsoft and Amazon, two companies based in Washington state.  (Amazon owner Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post in his personal capacity and has voiced Amazon’s opposition to the order personally).

The White House, meanwhile, continued to defend Trump’s executive order.   White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that one lawsuit “doesn’t make any sense” and sought to minimize the action as simply subjecting 109 people to more rigorous screening.

According to State Department statistics, about 90,000 people received nonimmigrant or immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015 from the seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order.

[Some international passengers entering the U.S. more easily, but members of Congress say they’re still not getting answers]

Ed O’Keefe, Rachel Weiner, Ellen Nakashima, Juliet Eilperin, John Wagner and Carol Morello contributed to this report.

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants.  He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.  Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.  Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.  To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.  Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.  But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”  ― Theodore Roosevelt, The Kansas City Star, 18 May 1918

“If you’re not with me, you’re fired.” – Donald Trump, 30 January 2017

Justice Department: Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance

(Attorney General Jeff Sessions.Getty/Mark Wilson)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly did not disclose his meeting with Russian officials last year when he applied for his security clearance, according to a Justice Department official Wednesday.

Sessions did not note on his security clearance forms that he had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice that year, according to a CNN report. The form required Sessions to include any contact he or his family made with a foreign government or its representatives during a span of seven years, the report said.

Although Sessions had included meetings with foreign officials that took place in one year, a Justice Department spokesperson said that an FBI employee who was assisting in the process told Sessions and his staff that he did not need to include the dozens of meetings that were held during his time in the Senate.

After CNN published its report, the Justice Department’s public affairs office released the following statement:

“As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds—if not thousands—of foreign dignitaries and their staff. In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

However, Mark Zaid, an attorney who deals with national security law, poured cold water on the Justice Department’s assertion and indicated that Sessions still needed to annotate his meetings on the form. He previously advised an official in Congress to include all foreign contacts, including those that were made while conducting official US business.

“My interpretation is that a member of Congress would still have to reveal the appropriate foreign government contacts notwithstanding it was on official business,” Zaid said in CNN’s report.

Federal officials are not required to include meetings on the security form if it was for a foreign conference that they attended in their official capacity; however, Sessions’ meetings may not meet that standard for exclusion because the meetings in question do not appear to be related to foreign conferences, CNN reported.

During Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearings in January, Sessions failed to disclose meeting Kislyak, testifying that he “did not have communications” with Russian officials during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

One day after a Washington Post report revealed that Sessions had two meetings with Kislyak — meetings he did not disclose — Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. He later amended his Senate confirmation testimony to include the two meetings with Kislyak.

“Let me be clear,” Sessions said before making his recusal announcement in March, “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”

NOW WATCH: WATCH: Putin reacts to Trump firing FBI Director James Comey

More From Business Insider

Because of social networking platforms like tumblr and twitter, ‘regular people’ can become the focus of parasocial relationships. Tumblr makes it especially wild to watch this shit unfold, because of call out culture and whatnot. People who aren’t trying to be like. Famous or a role model or what have you get put up on a pedestal. Then when they err, or even apropos of nothing in particular, it will be decided that they are undeserving of the attention they get and now they must be set down and know their place.

It’s hard enough to watch everybody tear into a celebrity, but at least celebrities have like. PR teams and attorneys and security and assistants to filter this shit for them. Regular folks who have become an object of ire on tumblr or w/e have to deal with it themselves. It’s so fucking hard to watch. I can’t imagine dealing with it personally and coming through it okay.

One thing that’s crazy to me is how much of a step back Trump’s team and plan are from even George W. Bush. There were several domestic policies pushed by Bush that were poor attempts at making positive change through federal mandate (e.g. the well-intentioned dumpster fire that is NCLB). He had the most diverse cabinet in history in terms of race and gender.

For his many, many, many, many faults in principle and policy, he did have:

  • The first black Secretary of State (Colin Powell)
  • The first black woman Secretary of State, who was also the second black Secretary of State (Condoleeza Rice), which also makes his administration the first to have two consecutive black Secretaries of State and to only have black people in those positions. She was also the first woman altogether and black woman specifically to be the National Security Advisor.
  • The first Latino Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales).
  • The first Asian-American woman to ever serve on a US President’s cabinet (Elaine Chao)

And on and on and on. This is, once again, not defense or praise of one of the most horrific disasters of a Presidential administration this country has ever seen. It’s just pointing out how far we’ve fallen when Trump and his team are only suggesting white (and almost exclusively male) candidates for positions in the hypothetical administration because anything else would be “pandering.”

When George W. Bush looks About That Life™ on anti-racism held up next to his party’s candidate a mere eight years after he left office, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Like holy shit, Trump is bad enough to make fucking Dubya look good by comparison (only by comparison).
BREAKING: Mexican Government Declares All 43 Missing Students Dead, Only One Student's Remains Have Been Identified

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam declared the missing students dead, citing confessions and forensic evidence. The remains of only one student have been identified.

The 42 remaining students missing since September are dead, Mexican officials declared Tuesday, concluding a four-month investigation into a case that has shocked the violence-weary country, exhibited the close ties between criminal organizations and local authorities and forced the government to shift its discourse from the progressive reforms it has enacted to issues of security.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam cited 39 confessions and forensic testing as evidence of the students’ death, even though only the remains of one student have been identified by a forensic lab in Austria. Several of the confessions Murillo Karam cited Tuesday had been made public during a conference in November.

“This is the historic truth of the events, based on evidence provided for by science,” said Murillo Karam. “The trainee students were deprived of their liberty, deprived of their lives, incinerated and thrown into the San Juan River. In that order,” he added.

The case has slashed President Enrique Pena Nieto’s approval ratings, setting a new low for any Mexican leader in two decades. While many in Mexico are unlikely to accept the findings, Pena Nieto on Tuesday called on the country to not “remain stopped, paralyzed, stagnant,” and later Tweeted “It’s painful to accept it. We have been through moments of profound sadness. Ayotzinapa is painful for all of us.”

A carefully edited 26-minute video, uploaded to YouTube by the attorney general’s office Tuesday, weaves together suspect confessions, maps of the route taken by police holding the students, photographs of the trucks used to transport the men and re-enactments of the moment when the victims are pulled from vehicles and onto on a garbage dump.

According to the video, the students from a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa travelled to Iguala, in Guerrero State, on September 26 to steal passenger buses that would take them to Mexico City. There, they planned to attend a march commemorating the 1968 student massacre. As the students made their way to Tixtla, a gang lookout alerted the member of the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization as to the buses’ whereabouts.

On instructions from Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, whose wife was giving a speech nearby, police intercepted the students shortly after, the attorney general stated. Students threw rocks at the officers, who responded with gunfire, killing two students and injuring one. Several students managed to flee and others were able to hide. According to the latter group, police officers detained about 25 of their classmates and stopped to pick up shells.

Police attacked another bus nearby, which turned out to be transporting members of a local soccer team. They killed two athletes and a civilian.

At 11 p.m., Patricio Reyes Landa of the Guerreros Unidos, received a call instructing him to gather his gang. They traveled to meet a group of police officers keeping watch over a white truck carrying about 40 people, piled on top of each other. The gang drove the vehicles to a garbage dump in Cocula.

In the video, suspects held by the police re-enacted the scene, pulling imaginary bodies from the trucks, dumping them on a pile face down — some had asphyxiated en route — and then lighting a pyre to incinerate them. Using tires and plastic bottles, the gang members say they kept the fire going for about 12 hours.

Then, the suspects say they gathered the bone fragments and ashes into eight plastic bags and threw them into a river.

Murillo Karam said the suspects believed some of the students were members of a rival gang.

Last week, forensic experts at the Innsbruck Medical University in Austria said they had been unable to obtain any more usable DNA from the samples provided by the Mexican government. They said results from the last possible forensic test, which could destroy the samples, would take up to three months.

Monday marked four months since the students disappeared and protestors gathered in Mexico City to demand they be returned alive.

Murillo Karam has been criticised for his handling of the case, including his unsympathetic treatment of the students’ families. He ended a press conference related to the case in November by saying, “Enough, I am tired,” which became the rallying cry for thousands of protesters.

The case has also forced Pena Nieto to shift attention from his package of overhauls and address security problems.

Ninety-nine people have been taken into custody in connection to the mass murder, including Abarca and his wife, who went into hiding shortly after the students’ disappearance, and the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre, stepped down. According to Murillo Karam, the government has gathered 386 testimonies.

Source: Karla Zabludovsky for Buzzfeed News