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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 15
By Kristine Phillips, Kevin Johnson, Nicholas Wu USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison, a punishment that is likely to fuel criticism from the president and speculation that he'll pardon the flamboyant GOP operative. Though less than what prosecutors originally asked for, the sentence marks a stunning downfall for the longtime political consultant who has advised presidential campaigns stretching back to Richard Nixon. The 67-year-old was found guilty in November of repeatedly lying to the House Intelligence Committee and obstructing its investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential race. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone "took it upon himself to lie, to impede, to obstruct before the investigation was complete, in an endeavor to influence the result." She continued: "The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone insisted that it doesn’t." Stone stood expressionless next to his three defense attorneys. Jackson also sentenced Stone to two years of probation and ordered him to pay $20,000 in fines. Stone, wearing a dark pinstripe suit and blue tie, smiled briefly as he exited the courtroom. He declined to respond to questions shouted by a gauntlet of reporters.


By Mark Moore

President Trump on Thursday tweeted a clip of a Fox News host calling on him to pardon longtime ally Roger Stone. “Trump could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon and there are indications tonight that he will do that,” the clip showed Tucker Carlson saying Wednesday night. “Democrats will become unhinged if Trump pardons Stone, but they’re unhinged anyway,” Carlson added. Trump did not add any commentary in the posting. Stone, the 67-year-old self-described dirty trickster who was convicted last November of lying to Congress about the Russia collusion investigation and witness intimidation, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Washington, DC. Carlson called US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a President Barack Obama appointee who will sentence Stone, an “open Democratic partisan.” “What has happened to Roger Stone should never happen to anyone in this country of any political party,” Carlson said. “It’s completely immoral, it’s wrong. Fixing it is the right thing to do.” The president on Tuesday granted pardons and commuted the sentences of 11 people, including former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik, financier Michael Milken and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

By Rebecca Beitsch

President Trump on Wednesday signed an order in California to re-engineer the state’s water plans, completing a campaign promise to funnel water from the north to a thirsty agriculture industry and growing population further south. The ceremonial order comes after the Department of the Interior late last year reversed its opinion on scientific findings that for a decade extended endangered species protections to various types of fish — a review that had been spurred by the order from Trump. Trump said the changes to the “outdated scientific research and biological opinions” would now help direct “as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers.” “A major obstacle to providing water for the region's farmers has now been totally eliminated by the federal government,” Trump said Wednesday in Bakersfield, Calif., flanked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as well as Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who helped shepherd the changes to the state’s water policy. Trump's order comes as the state has taken several steps to deal with the water scarcity that has lasted for decades. "It would be different if you had a drought," Trump claimed, despite concerns the state may be headed into another drought. "You don't have a drought. You have tremendous amounts of water." The state is expected to fight the order. “California won’t allow the Trump Administration to destroy and deplete our natural resources,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said in a statement after the speech. “We’re prepared to challenge the Trump Administration’s harmful attack on our state’s critical ecosystems and environment.” Critics fear the new plan, which would allow large quantities of water to be diverted from the San Francisco Bay Delta to the Central Valley in order to irrigate farmland, would ultimately harm chinook salmon and the delta smelt, a finger-sized fish that for three decades has stood in the way of the diversion. Trump in October 2018 had ordered Interior to reconsider the scientific evidence that helped bar redistribution of the state’s water. In October of last year, Interior released a new biological opinion limiting the longtime protections for the fish.

The president’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of children are harassed in American classrooms, The Post found
By Hannah Natanson, John Woodrow Cox and Perry Stein Feb. 13, 2020

Two kindergartners in Utah told a Latino boy that President Trump would send him back to Mexico, and teenagers in Maine sneered "Ban Muslims" at a classmate wearing a hijab. In Tennessee, a group of middle-schoolers linked arms, imitating the president's proposed border wall as they refused to let nonwhite students pass. In Ohio, another group of middle-schoolers surrounded a mixed-race sixth-grader and, as she confided to her mother, told the girl: "This is Trump country." Since Trump's rise to the nation’s highest office, his inflammatory language — often condemned as racist and xenophobic — has seeped into schools across America. Many bullies now target other children differently than they used to, with kids as young as 6 mimicking the president’s insults and the cruel way he delivers them. Trump’s words, those chanted by his followers at campaign rallies and even his last name have been wielded by students and school staff members to harass children more than 300 times since the start of 2016, a Washington Post review of 28,000 news stories found. At least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black or Muslim, according to the analysis. Students have also been victimized because they support the president — more than 45 times during the same period. Although many hateful episodes garnered coverage just after the election, The Post found that Trump-connected persecution of children has never stopped. Even without the huge total from November 2016, an average of nearly two incidents per school week have been publicly reported over the past four years. Still, because so much of the bullying never appears in the news, The Post’s figure represents a small fraction of the actual total. It also doesn’t include the thousands of slurs, swastikas and racial epithets that aren’t directly linked to Trump but that the president’s detractors argue his behavior has exacerbated. “It’s gotten way worse since Trump got elected,” said Ashanty Bonilla, 17, a Mexican American high school junior in Idaho who faced so much ridicule from classmates last year that she transferred. “They hear it. They think it’s okay. The president says it. . . . Why can’t they?”

The newly revealed comment is one of the former president’s strongest known critiques of his successor.
By Edward-Isaac Dovere

Barack Obama’s private assessment of Donald Trump: He’s a fascist. That is, at least, according to Tim Kaine, the Democratic senator from Virginia and a friend of the former president. In a video clip from October 2016, Kaine is seen relaying Obama’s comment to Hillary Clinton. The footage is part of the new Hulu documentary Hillary, which was obtained by The Atlantic ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival today. “President Obama called me last night and said, ‘Tim, this is no time to be a purist,’” Kaine tells his then–running mate. “‘You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House.’” Clinton replies: “I echo that sentiment.” A representative for Obama declined to comment on the conversation. A representative for Kaine did not respond to requests for comment. In an interview at Sundance today with Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Clinton elaborated on her exchange with Kaine. “If you look at the definition [of fascist], which I’ve had the occasion to read several times,” Clinton said, “I think we can agree on several things: One, he has authoritarian tendencies and he admires authoritarian leaders, [Vladimir] Putin being his favorite. He uses a form of really virulent nationalism. He identifies targets: immigrants, blacks, browns, gays, women, whoever the target of the day or week is … I think you see a lot of the characteristics of what we think of [as] nationalistic, fascistic kinds of tendencies and behaviors.”

Democratic presidential candidate made remark after recent homophobic comments from conservative radio host
By Oliver Milman in New York

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has again taken aim at Donald Trump over the issue of “family values” by pointing out that his marriage has never involved him paying “hush money to a porn star”.Buttigieg, who came out as gay in 2015 and married his husband, Chasten, in 2018, has been the subject of recent homophobic comments by Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host, who told his listeners were “still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president”. Limbaugh, who was controversially given the presidential medal of freedom by Trump, said the US president told him to “never apologize” for his comments. Asked during a CNN town hall in Las Vegas whether he believed Trump would not be opposed to a president coming from the LGBTQ+ community, Buttigieg said: “Well, not if he’s sending out his supporters to talk in this way. “And, look, I mean, the idea of the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump lecturing anybody on family values,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause. Buttigieg then made a pointed reference to the money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels by Trump via his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. “I mean, I’m sorry, but one thing about my marriage is it’s never involved me having to send hush money to a porn star after cheating on my spouse with him or her,” he said. “So they want to debate family values? Let’s debate family values. I’m ready.”

QUID PRO QUO
Lawyers acting for the WikiLeaks founder said Dana Rohrabacher, a former Republican congressman, had brought the message to London from Trump.
By Nico Hines London Editor

LONDON—A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives. The claim that Rohrabacher acted as an emissary for the White House came during a pre-extradition hearing in London. Assange has argued that he should not be extradited to the U.S. because the American case against him is politically motivated. He spent almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in Central London claiming that he would be jailed in the U.S. if he wasn’t granted asylum. He was kicked out of the embassy last year. His lawyers told the court that Trump’s alleged offer to pardon Assange proved that this was no ordinary criminal investigation. Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman. Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s personal lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, included a description of “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.” District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is presiding over the pre-trial hearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said the allegation would be admissible during the extradition hearing, which is due to begin next week.

By Dan Mangan

Your move, Mr. Attorney General. President Donald Trump on Wednesday retweeted claims that he is “the victim” of a Justice Department conspiracy, hours after reports that the department’s chief official has threatened to quit if the president continues such criticism. A tweet Trump promoted to his nearly 73 million followers also said that Attorney General William “Barr should clean house” at the Justice Department — and argued that Trump “can also appoint a special counsel directly” to investigate the purported conspiracy against him. That tweet was first posted by Tom Fitton, president of the right-wing advocacy group Judicial Watch, and included a link to a more than eight-minute-long appearance by Fitton on Fox News. Trump soon afterward retweeted another post by Fitton, who said Judicial Watch is “doing the heavy lifting exposing the worst corruption scandal in American history.” That post referenced so-called astonishing emails that show former Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein “had many Obama/Clinton and media friends” supporting him when he “infamously appointed” former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. Trump’s retweets Wednesday morning came after reports on Tuesday night that Barr — who is the head of the Justice Department — has told people close to the president that he might resign if Trump does not stop making public comments about cases lodged by federal prosecutors who report to the attorney general.

By Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Pentagon's top policy official who warned against withholding military aid to Ukraine last year resigned on Wednesday at the request of President Donald Trump, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN. John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, is the latest senior national security official involved in the Ukraine controversy to be forced out following Trump's acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial. but sources told CNN that he broke with the administration on several issues, in addition to the handling of aid to Ukraine, leading to a loss of support from leadership. "It is my understanding from Secretary Esper that you requested my resignation from serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Senior administration officials appointed by the President serve at the pleasure of the President, and therefore, as you have requested, I am providing my resignation effective February 28, 2020," Rood wrote in his letter to President Donald Trump, dated Wednesday. CNN was first to report Rood's impending departure which was confirmed by Trump in a tweet Wednesday. "I would like to thank John Rood for his service to our Country, and wish him well in his future endeavors!" Trump wrote, also sharing a story from Bloomberg News which indicated that Rood "faced pressure to resign from some who lost confidence in his ability to carry out Trump agenda." Defense Department press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement that "Dr. James Anderson, the current senior official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will take over the responsibilities of Undersecretary Rood until a permanent replacement is appointed by the President and confirmed."

Not just Ukraine
Officials tell CNN that Rood has differed with the administration on a number of issues including Afghanistan and Ukraine. Officials have said Rood often was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted. One official said some examples of Rood's differing views from some of Trump's key policy stances included being skeptical about peace talks with the Taliban as well as the administration decision to scale down military exercises with South Korea during talks with North Korea and him pushing for a more aggressive approach to Russia by supporting Ukraine. Rood is the Pentagon's top policy official and oversees aspects of the Pentagon's relationship with US allies and partners. He was involved in certifying to Congress that Ukraine had embarked on significant reforms to justify its receipt of $250 million in security assistance.

By Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump wielded his powers of clemency Tuesday for convicted white-collar criminals and the former Illinois governor accused of attempting to sell a US senate seat. The wave of pardons and commutations, some of which Trump has been considering for years, came amid a post-impeachment flurry of presidential prerogative, from ridding his team of aides he deemed disloyal to flagrantly inserting himself into Justice Department matters. Trump announced midday he had commuted the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who has served eight years of a 14-year sentence for the pay-for-play charges. Trump had been weighing the move since at least since 2018. "He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don't know him," Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, suggesting the television appeals of Blagojevich's wife Patti helped cement his decision. Trump also announced pardons for former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik, convicted of tax fraud and lying to officials; Mike Milken, an investment banker known as the "Junk Bond King" who was convicted of felony charges that included securities fraud and conspiracy; and Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to failing to report a felony in a bribery case. In total, Trump granted clemency to 11 convicted criminals on Tuesday. The moves furthered the impression of a President unbound after the Senate acquitted him following impeachment charges he abused his power. Aides had worked to convince Trump against reducing Blagojevich's sentence, believing it would play poorly. And Republican members of Congress lobbied Trump to drop the idea. But aides say Trump feels newly emboldened after the Senate acquittal, and the steps he announced on Tuesday were long in the works. Trump publicly hinted he would use his clemency powers for Blagojevich, a Democrat, in August. But he faced sharp blowback from some conservative members of Congress, including from Illinois, as well as from some White House advisers who said it would undercut a message of draining Washington's swamp. On Tuesday, Trump linked Blagojevich's prosecution to a longtime foe, former FBI Director James Comey, a close friend of former US attorney in Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald, who led the prosecution against Blagojevich. "It was a prosecution by the same people -- Comey, Fitzpatrick -- the same group," Trump said, misstating the Illinois US attorney's surname. Trump has raged over the past week at what he says are prosecutors run amok, including in the case involving his friend Roger Stone, who is due to be sentenced this week.

The Trump administration’s attempt to kill one of America’s strongest climate policies has been a complete debacle.
by Robinson Meyer

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—On a drizzly day in January 2018, Jeff Alson, an engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency’s motor-vehicles office, gathered with his colleagues to make a video call to Washington, D.C. They had made the same call dozens of times before. For nearly a decade, the EPA team had worked closely with another group of engineers in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, pronounced nits-uh) to write the federal tailpipe-pollution standards, one of the most consequential climate protections in American history. The two teams had done virtually all the technical research—testing engines in a lab, interviewing scientists and automakers, and overseeing complex economic simulations—underpinning the rules, which have applied to every new car and light truck, including SUVs and vans, sold in the United States since 2012. Their collaboration was historic. Even as SUVs, crossovers, and pickups have gobbled up the new-car market, the rules have pushed the average fuel economy—the distance a vehicle can travel per gallon of gas—to record highs. They have saved Americans $500 billion at the pump, according to the nonpartisan Consumer Federation of America, and kept hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution out of the air. So as the call connected, Alson and the other EPA engineers thought it was time to get back to work. Donald Trump had recently ordered a review of the rules. Speaking from Washington, James Tamm, the NHTSA fuel-economy chief, greeted the EPA team, then put a spreadsheet on-screen. It showed an analysis of the tailpipe rules’ estimated costs and benefits. Alson had worked on this kind of study so many times that he could recall some of the key numbers “by heart,” he later told me. Yet as Alson looked closer, he realized that this study was like none he had seen before. For years, both NHTSA and the EPA had found that the tailpipe rules saved lives during car accidents because they reduced the weight—and, with it, the lethality—of the heaviest SUVs. In 2015, an outside panel of experts concurred with them. But this new study asserted the opposite: The Obama-era rules, it claimed, killed almost 1,000 people a year. “Oh my God,” Alson said upon seeing the numbers. The other EPA engineers in the room gasped and started to point out other shocking claims on Tamm’s slide. (Their line was muted.) It seemed as if every estimated cost had ballooned, while every estimated benefit had shrunk. Something in the study had gone deeply wrong.

QuickTake by Bloomberg

President Donald Trump has pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal. DeBartolo Jr., who built the San Francisco 49ers’ 1980s-’90s dynasty, was involved in one of the biggest owners’ scandals in the sport’s history. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony when he paid $400,000 to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in exchange for a riverboat gambling license. The White House announced the surprise decision to reporters on Tuesday, along with NFL greats Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley.

By Kevin Johnson USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – A national association of federal judges has called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address growing concerns about the intervention of Justice Department officials and President Donald Trump in politically sensitive cases, the group’s president said Monday. Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, said the group “could not wait” until its spring conference to weigh in on a deepening crisis that has enveloped the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr. “There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe told USA TODAY. “We’ll talk all of this through.” Rufe, nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush, said the group of more than 1,000 federal jurists called for the meeting last week after Trump criticized prosecutors' initial sentencing recommendation for his friend Roger Stone and the Department of Justice overruled them. Trump also took a swipe at the federal judge who is set to preside at Stone’s sentencing hearing Thursday. “Is this the judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?” Trump tweeted last week, referring to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!" Jackson jailed Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, prior to his convictions in two separate financial fraud cases after he sought to tamper with potential witnesses. Rufe said the judges' association is “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case,” but she voiced strong support for Jackson. “I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule,” Rufe said, praising Jackson's reputation. “We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.” The unusual concern voiced by the judges’ group comes in the wake of an equally unusual protest. More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called on Barr to resign Sunday, claiming his handling of the Stone case "openly and repeatedly flouted" the principle of equal justice.  

The attorney general is working to destroy the integrity and independence of the Justice Department, in order to make Donald Trump a president who can operate above the law.
By Donald Ayer

When Donald Trump chose Bill Barr to serve as attorney general in December 2018, even some moderates and liberals greeted the choice with optimism. One exuberant Democrat described him as “an excellent choice,” who could be counted on to “stand up for the department’s institutional prerogatives and … push back on any improper attempt to inject politics into its work.” At the end of his first year of service, Barr’s conduct has shown that such expectations were misplaced. Beginning in March with his public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report, which included powerful evidence of repeated obstruction of justice by the president, Barr has appeared to function much more as the president’s personal advocate than as an attorney general serving the people and government of the United States. Among the most widely reported and disturbing events have been Barr’s statements that a judicially authorized FBI investigation amounted to “spying” on the Trump campaign, and his public rejection in December of the inspector general’s considered conclusion that the Russia probe was properly initiated and overseen in an unbiased manner. Also quite unsettling was Trump’s explicit mention of Barr and Rudy Giuliani in the same breath in his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as individuals the Ukrainian president should speak with regarding the phony investigation that Ukraine was expected to publicly announce. When Donald Trump chose Bill Barr to serve as attorney general in December 2018, even some moderates and liberals greeted the choice with optimism. One exuberant Democrat described him as “an excellent choice,” who could be counted on to “stand up for the department’s institutional prerogatives and … push back on any improper attempt to inject politics into its work.” At the end of his first year of service, Barr’s conduct has shown that such expectations were misplaced. Beginning in March with his public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report, which included powerful evidence of repeated obstruction of justice by the president, Barr has appeared to function much more as the president’s personal advocate than as an attorney general serving the people and government of the United States. Among the most widely reported and disturbing events have been Barr’s statements that a judicially authorized FBI investigation amounted to “spying” on the Trump campaign, and his public rejection in December of the inspector general’s considered conclusion that the Russia probe was properly initiated and overseen in an unbiased manner. Also quite unsettling was Trump’s explicit mention of Barr and Rudy Giuliani in the same breath in his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as individuals the Ukrainian president should speak with regarding the phony investigation that Ukraine was expected to publicly announce.

By Kevin Johnson, Kristine Phillips, Dennis Wagner USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – With the end of the Russia investigation looming, William Barr went to Capitol Hill soon after taking office to assure anxious lawmakers he was fully engaged in “landing the plane” for the public rollout of Robert Mueller’s explosive 22-month inquiry. Barr’s ultimate intervention unleashed a political firestorm: He concluded in part that there was insufficient evidence to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. It was only the beginning. A year after his confirmation Feb. 14, 2019, Barr and his Justice Department have embraced the mantle of Trump’s defender-in-chief even if it risks sacrificing the department’s long-prized independence, former Justice officials and legal analysts said. His agency's decision to back away from a stiff prison sentence recommended for Trump confidant Roger Stone has brought fresh recriminations. Democrats have called for an investigation, and Barr has been summoned back to Capitol Hill to explain himself. From the White House, however, there was the requisite, warm acknowledgement from an appreciative president. Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought," Trump tweeted Wednesday, a day after four federal prosecutors assigned to Stone's case withdrew from the case in apparent protest. Indeed, Barr has stepped into the breach at virtually every opportunity to guide Trump to safe harbor and offer a muscular defense of the president's authority. The attorney general helped shield the president from the most damning of Mueller's findings. Barr's public summary of Mueller’s findings led the special counsel to complain that his report had been mischaracterized. Last spring, Barr startled lawmakers by declaring that federal authorities had spied on the president's campaign. Then he announced a new investigation into the origins of Mueller's inquiry. In August, the Justice Department delayed Congress from receiving a whistleblower's complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine. And in a stinging address in November before the Federalist Society, Barr endorsed a sweeping view of presidential authority and cast the myriad investigations that have shadowed his boss as "sabotage." Earlier this week, analysts said, the attorney general may have taken his most provocative step yet when top Justice Department officials backtracked on prosecutors' recommended sentence for Stone.

Last week Barr told ABC News, Trump's tweets make doing his job "impossible."
By Luke Barr

More than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign, according to the group Protect Democracy. "Political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department's core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law," according to the group, which has been critical of the administration in the past. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group said that the attorney general has "flouted" that fundamental principal. The former DOJ officials said it is "outrageous" the way Barr interfered in the Roger Stone case. "Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department's top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case," they wrote.

By David Brennan

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor has said that no officials at the State Department ever seriously considered conspiracy theories alleging that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential elections to undermine President Donald Trump. Taylor—who appeared as a witness during the House impeachment investigation into the president—told CBS News' 60 Minutes program he saw no merit in the conspiracy theory, which has been propagated by the president and his allies. In the interview, broadcast Sunday, Taylor told correspondent Scott Pelley he was frustrated by Trump's parallel Ukraine policy, in which top advisers worked to bolster the president's political fortunes. The president's attorney Rudy Giuliani was at the forefront of this effort, as he tried to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and find evidence that the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee was directed from Ukraine and blamed on Russia. The theory alleges that the DNC then gave a key server that might contain evidence to Ukrainian company CrowdStrike. The theory has been debunked, but this has not stopped the president peddling the allegations. Taylor told CBS News that no one at the State Department was told to investigate whether there was a DNC server in Ukraine because "no one took it seriously." Asked if this was something that anyone at the embassy in Kiev was concerned about, Taylor replied, "No." Newsweek has contacted the State Department to request comment on Taylor's remarks. Taylor headed up the U.S. embassy in Ukraine while Trump froze hundreds of millions of military aid earmarked to the country. The president was allegedly trying to extort the new government led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy into announcing an investigation into Biden. Trump and his allies accuse Biden and his son Hunter of corruption, related to Hunter's position on the board of the Burisma natural gas company during President Barack Obama's tenure. During his House testimony, Taylor warned that Trump's conduct damaged U.S. and Ukrainian national security, and undermined Kiev's fight against Russian-backed separatist militias in the east of the country. Taylor told Pelley, "Ukraine's security is important to our security and the reason I believe that is that Ukraine is on the front line." He explained that Russia is waging "a hybrid war against Ukraine, but it's not just about Ukraine, they are fighting a hybrid war against Europe and against the United States."

Analysis by Nic Robertson, International Diplomatic Editor, CNN

Munich, Germany (CNN) What will a second Donald Trump presidential term look like -- if it happens? That was the thought in many delegates' minds as they gathered over the weekend in the southern German city of Munich for a security conference. The official theme at the conference was "Westlessness," an intentional gripe at the impact of Trump's isolationist, America First policies. But what emerged at the event, attended by hundreds of world leaders and their top officials, was a soft-focus vision of the next four years if Trump wins reelection. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was a key speaker in Munich. Leaving Washington for Europe at the beginning of the week, one of his senior officials framed his mission to the MSC as, "China, China, China, Russia, China." He wasn't the only American official bringing that message. Attacking Trump has become something of a hobby at this annual Bavarian gathering. It is symptomatic of how many in Europe feel that America, and Trump in particular, is withdrawing from the post-World War II world order it built, leaving more than half a billion people this side of the Atlantic, and countless more around the planet without the deep pockets and security backing they have come to rely on. Germany in particular has drawn Trump's ire. Since his presidency began, the MSC has become a diplomatic skirmish and precursor to tougher battles to come. Only last year, host Chancellor Angela Merkel clashed with US Vice President Mike Pence over NATO, Iran and gas from Russia. This year's premise -- the West is weakening -- is an extension of those festering transatlantic differences. The working assumption here is that Trump is to blame for the loss of core values. Not for the first time in his two-year tenure as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo defended his boss. During his speech, which came shortly before Esper's on Saturday morning, Pompeo told the MSC audience of ministers and policy experts, "those statements don't reflect reality," he said. "I'm happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly exaggerated. The West is winning, and we're winning together." Doing it together emerged as another one of America's messages in Munich, but what has needed little communicating and where there was almost no argument is that Trump's world vision has traction and will continue. Few Westlessness believers doubt he will win a second term.

By David Lightman and Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

The Trump administration is proposing a cut in homeless assistance funding next year, frustrating advocates who say the crisis in Sacramento and other cities is worsening. The White House budget plan for fiscal 2021, which begins Oct. 1, proposes $2.773 billion for homeless assistance grants, slightly less than the current year. The administration also wants to cut funding for affordable housing programs as well as Community Development Block Grants, which help revive and improve neighborhoods. It’s part of a $4.8 trillion budget blueprint for the entire government includes deep cuts in environmental, health, education and housing programs. The Housing and Urban Development budget would be reduced by 15 percent. In Sacramento County, federal dollars go toward offering rental assistance or permanent housing that includes wrap-around services like employment training, education and other behavioral services. Cutting mainstay federal programs like housing vouchers and block grants for affordable housing will likely lead to more low income families sliding into homelessness, said Lisa Bates, CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward, the county’s main partner nonprofit on homeless services. “We definitely want to see an increase in federal support,” Bates said. “You’re seeing the state is having to come up with huge amounts of funding, providing billions of dollars, to address it in part because we haven’t seen a substantial increase to match our need from the federal government.” A new round of federal spending cuts could very well displace more people and force them into homelessness, critics said. “This budget is not really looking for solutions to the homeless problem,” said Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

With progressive district attorneys on the march, Attorney General William Barr delivered a blistering attack speech.
By Allan Smith

Progressive prosecutors, coming off one of the biggest years in their movement's short history, are looking to 2020 with hope of winning key district attorney offices around the nation and boosting their influence with an overhaul of the system from within. Attorney General William Barr is standing in their way. Tensions reached a peak last week after Barr eviscerated the movement in a speech before the Major County Sheriffs of America. He said the "self-styled 'social justice' reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law, including law against resisting police officers." "In so doing, these DAs are putting everyone in danger," Barr added, asserting that their "policies are pushing a number of America's cities back toward a more dangerous past." In a response signed by about 40 reform-minded prosecutors from around in the country, the progressives said they "spend every day trying to make our communities safer and healthier." "We hold our jobs because our communities put us in them after we promised a different and smarter approach to justice, one grounded in evidence-based policies that lift people up while prioritizing the cases that cause real harm," they wrote. "Sadly, we are perceived as a threat by some who are wedded to the status quo or, even worse, failed policies of past decades." They added: "This is the same attorney general who in the span of 24 hours attacked reform-minded, elected district attorneys for being soft on crime, while demanding his own federal prosecutors lighten the punishment for an ally of his boss. He touts the importance of the rule of law, yet undermines it in the same breath."

By Kara Scannell and Erica Orden, CNN

New York (CNN) Federal prosecutors are weighing new charges against associates of Rudy Giuliani in connection with a company that paid him $500,000, according to people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors with the US attorney's office for the Southern District of New York are considering whether to charge Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and at least one of his business partners with misleading potential investors for Fraud Guarantee, the Florida-based company that paid Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, these people say. Parnas co-founded Fraud Guarantee with the idea of providing insurance to companies to protect against fraud. The scrutiny of Fraud Guarantee brings the investigation closer to Giuliani, Trump's vocal defender, and raises questions about what role the former mayor played, if any, in the marketing of the company. A lawyer for Giuliani said his client never had any conversations about investor pitches or marketing with Parnas or his business partner David Correia. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan for months have been investigating Giuliani's actions, including his efforts to oust Marie Yovanovitch, then-US ambassador to Ukraine, and push for an investigation into the son of Trump's political rival Joe Biden. Giuliani has not been accused of wrongdoing. Yovanovitch was recalled early from her position in April 2019. In the case of Fraud Guarantee, investigators have focused on the marketing pitch, specifically examining whether the men duped investors about the value of the company and how they intended to use the proceeds, the people familiar with the investigation say. FBI agents and prosecutors interviewed investors who were pitched on the company, and through subpoenas have obtained text messages and other documents related to the effort. One person with knowledge of the company has said the men spent proceeds from investors on pricey personal expenses. The new charges, if they are brought, would significantly increase the legal pressure on Parnas and Correia. Those men, plus Igor Fruman, another Parnas business associate, and Andrey Kukushkin, an associate in a marijuana venture, have been charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with campaign finance violations relating to donations they made to US candidates. All four have pleaded not guilty.

When the CIA gave Trump a list of major terror leaders to kill, he said he'd never heard of them. Instead he focused on a target with a famous name.
By Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube and Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — When intelligence officials briefed President Donald Trump on the most worrisome terrorist threats during the first two years of his tenure, they regularly mentioned the names of the senior terror figures the CIA was working hardest to find and kill, including the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri. Trump would ultimately greenlight successful strikes on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Yemeni al Qaeda chief Qasim al-Rimi — perhaps the most significant names on the CIA list of potential U.S. targets. But he was more interested in a young and less influential figure much farther down the list, according to two people familiar with the briefings, because he recognized the name. "He would say, 'I've never heard of any of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'" one former official said. "That was the only name he knew," a Pentagon official added. Although Osama bin Laden's youngest son was not believed to be planning attacks, the U.S. ultimately carried out an airstrike that killed him in 2018, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. At first, officials weren't sure of his fate, but in July, NBC News was the first to report that U.S. officials believed he was dead.

By Chris Strohm

Attorney General William Barr threw his Justice Department into turmoil this week as he seized control of cases tied to Donald Trump, risking a rebellion within the ranks, and publicly criticized the president amid accusations both men have politicized America’s top law enforcement agency. In the span of five days, Barr revealed that he’s established a private channel for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to relay his allegations on Ukraine and ordered prosecutors to reduce their sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone. News also surfaced that Barr has moved to review the prosecution of Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser. At week’s end, the Justice Department’s reputation for independence was under siege in a way it hadn’t seen since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Barr had managed to take steps that seemed likely to anger everyone from Trump to Democrats and Justice Department career prosecutors. “The history of the department, when it’s written, will have two parts -- before Trump and after Trump,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor. “This is the hinge.” After the beleaguered tenure of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Barr will have the biggest hand in shaping that history. Having helped Trump navigate through a special counsel probe of Russian election interference and an impeachment crisis, Barr now faces the biggest test of his leadership since taking over one year ago. Critics, including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump weeks into his presidency, said the department’s reputation for independence built on the ashes of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s was being demolished.

By Laura Jarrett, CNN

(CNN) More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials who served in Republican as well as Democratic administrations posted a statement Sunday calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign. "Mr. Barr's actions in doing the President's personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice's reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department's career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice," the officials wrote in a statement. The rare statement from the officials -- mostly former career prosecutors, but also some former political appointees -- came in the wake of an extraordinary week at the Justice Department. In just one week, career prosecutors withdrew from a case after Barr overruled their sentencing, the attorney general pushed back against the President in an unusual interview and separately ordered an examination of politically charged cases involving those close to President Donald Trump. The statement went on to say career attorneys should report any troubling actions they see to the department's Inspector General. CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment. Barr has so far not given any indication that he is considering stepping down from his current role. The upheaval at the Justice Department began when all four federal prosecutors who took the case against Roger Stone to trial withdrew from the case Tuesday afternoon after Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation hours after the President criticized it on Twitter.

by Robert Reich

After Watergate, we worked for impartiality. Trump, Roger Stone and William Barr have dragged us back to the swamp. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said. My first job after law school was as an attorney at the Department of Justice (DoJ). I reported for work September 1974, weeks after Richard Nixon resigned. In the years leading up to his resignation, Nixon turned the justice department and FBI into his personal fiefdom, enlisting his appointees to reward his friends and penalize his enemies. He brought conspiracy charges against critics of the Vietnam war, for example, and ordered the department to drop an antitrust case against ITT after the conglomerate donated money for the 1972 Republican convention. During the Senate Watergate investigation, Nixon’s stooges kept him informed. Reports about how compromised the justice department had become generated enough public outrage to force the appointment of the first Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Before Nixon’s mayhem was over, his first two attorneys general were deep in legal trouble – John Mitchell eventually served 19 months in prison – and his third resigned rather than carry out the demand to fire Cox. Watergate also ushered into politics a young man named Roger Stone – who, as it happens, also graduated from my small rural high school in Lewisboro, New York, although I didn’t know him. Stone’s first job was on Nixon’s 1972 campaign, working for the Committee to Re-elect the President, known then, and forevermore, as Creep. Stone joined some two dozen dirty tricksters hired to lie about, harass and dig up dirt on Democrats. After Nixon resigned, the entire slimy mess of Watergate spawned a series of reforms designed to insulate the administration of justice from politics. During the years I worked at the justice department, officials teamed up with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders with the goal of making justice the most independent part of the executive branch.

Agents with military-style training will help Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a move decried by rights groups.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has announced plans to deploy highly trained tactical border control agents to so-called "sanctuary cities" across the country to boost arrests of undocumented immigrants. Members of the US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) will be among the officers deployed to cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Officers will also be sent to San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey, CBP spokesman Lawrence Payne said in a statement on Friday. The move is the latest escalation in the administration's pressure campaign against cities and towns that have enacted "sanctuary" policies in which local law enforcement do not coordinate with federal immigration officers. "ICE is utilizing CBP to supplement enforcement activity in response to the resource challenges stemming from sanctuary city policies," ICE acting Director Matthew T Albence said in a statement. "As we have noted for years, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers are forced to make at-large arrests of criminal aliens who have been released into communities." BORTAC's members undergo a "grueling" training program designed to "mirror aspects" of US Special Operation Forces courses, according to details about the programme published on the CBP website.

‘A MESS’
“I think as a government and as a society we’re going to pay a price at some point for this,” Judge Reggie Barnett Walton told DOJ attorneys.
By Betsy Swan, Adam Rawnsley

Justice Department attorneys struggled with mounting frustration and skepticism from a federal judge about producing documents related to the investigation of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, according to transcripts of closed-door conversations released in response to a lawsuit from a government watchdog group. The McCabe case—and President Donald Trump’s personal involvement in it—prompted federal judge Reggie Barnett Walton to call the government’s handling of it “disturbing,” a “mess,” and veering close to a “banana republic.” “I think it’s very unfortunate,” Judge Walton told prosecutors as the case hung in limbo in late September. “And I think as a government and as a society we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.” The comments were made in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against the Justice Department. Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for CREW, said the eventual release of the court transcripts on Friday, after a lengthy court battle, showed that the government was “trying to cover up the fact that they were stringing this [lawsuit] along while looking for a reason to indict McCabe.”

One of EPA’s first Trump appointees, Mandy Gunasekara, has run a ‘pro-Trump nonprofit’ since leaving the agency a year ago
By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis

Mandy Gunasekara, who pressed for President Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement as the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air-policy adviser, is poised to return to the agency as its next chief of staff, according to two individuals briefed on the matter. Gunasekara left the EPA a year ago to start what she called a “pro-Trump nonprofit” in her home state of Mississippi. As head of the advocacy group Energy 45, she has argued on behalf of the president’s support for fossil fuels and other energy policies, writing that his approach “has brought both economic prosperity and cleaner air and water.” After joining the EPA in March 2017, Gunasekara oversaw the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation on an acting basis for nearly eight months under then-Administrator Scott Pruitt. Trained as a lawyer, she played a key role in working to scale back federal rules aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution, including replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and federal gas-mileage standards.

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Federal prosecutors in New York have advanced their investigation into President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, pursuing more documents and witness testimonies while the Justice Department simultaneously accepts information from the former New York mayor on Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. Citing people familiar with prosecutors' activities, the paper reported Friday that the department has been looking into Giuliani's business dealings as well as those of his indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman throughout the final steps of Trump's Senate impeachment trial earlier this month, including witness interviews as recently as last week. Attorney General William Barr on Monday confirmed that the Justice Department has been receiving information from Giuliani on Ukraine, saying the department has an "obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant." He added there's skepticism about anything coming from Ukraine, which has prompted the department to establish an "intake process in the field" so the department and intelligence community can scrutinize Ukraine information. The Ukraine allegations that Giuliani is providing to the Justice Department are being vetted by investigators in the US Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh, two US law enforcement officials told CNN on Tuesday. The officials told CNN that the Pittsburgh office has expertise on Russia and its cyber operations, including the 2016 disinformation campaign the Russians carried out. Meanwhile, prosecutors in the investigation into Giuliani have pursued details on Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine who Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman conspired to have removed, a person familiar with the request told the Post. A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Yovanovitch's name has appeared on a recent subpoena from Southern District of New York prosecutors that inquires about Giuliani and Parnas. Over the last few weeks, they have also looked into Giuliani in relation to his consulting firm Giuliani Partners, the paper reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. People familiar with the matter told the Post that Barr had been informed of the New York investigation into Giuliani's associates not long after becoming attorney general last year -- though whether or how much he is involved remains unconfirmed.

By Zachary Cohen and Sam Fossum, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted that its decision to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was justified because he posed an "imminent threat" to American lives, but that phrase was notably absent in an official White House report sent to Congress that outlines the legal and policy rationale for conducting last month's strike. A copy of the report -- released by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel Friday -- is an unclassified version of what is called a 1264 notification, which the White House is required to send to Congress if it changes its view on the legal framework for using military force. In this case, the notice not only outlines the administration's legal justification for killing Soleimani, but acknowledges that the White House expanded its interpretation of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force to include military action against Iran. "Iran's past and recent activities, coupled with intelligence at the time of the air strike, indicated that Iran's Qods Force posed a threat to the United States in Iraq, and the air strike against Soleimani was intended to protect United States personnel and deter future Iranian attack plans," the report reads. Washington (CNN)The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted that its decision to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was justified because he posed an "imminent threat" to American lives, but that phrase was notably absent in an official White House report sent to Congress that outlines the legal and policy rationale for conducting last month's strike. A copy of the report -- released by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel Friday -- is an unclassified version of what is called a 1264 notification, which the White House is required to send to Congress if it changes its view on the legal framework for using military force. In this case, the notice not only outlines the administration's legal justification for killing Soleimani, but acknowledges that the White House expanded its interpretation of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force to include military action against Iran. "Iran's past and recent activities, coupled with intelligence at the time of the air strike, indicated that Iran's Qods Force posed a threat to the United States in Iraq, and the air strike against Soleimani was intended to protect United States personnel and deter future Iranian attack plans," the report reads.


By Laurel Wamsley

The U.S. says it has reached a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan that lays out what could be the first steps toward ending America's longest-running war. Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity at the Munich Security Conference, say there will be a seven-day "reduction in violence," but did not specify when it would start. The seven days are meant as an initial confidence-building measure. The next step would involve the signing of an agreement between the U.S and the Taliban. That would pave the way for intra-Afghan talks to determine the future of Afghanistan and the role the Taliban could play in it. The U.S. military will monitor the reduction in violence, according to a senior administration official. A weeklong decline in violence would be an abrupt shift from one of the most violent years of the 18-year conflict. An overall deal with the Taliban would lay-out a four-and-a-half month timetable to 8,600 from around 12,000. This initial agreement was worked out by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban over months of negotiations in Doha, Qatar. The U.S. and Taliban had reached an agreement last summer, but President Trump walked away from that near-deal in September after a U.S. service member was killed in a car bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Amid turmoil in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the attorney general has also sent outside prosecutors to review other politically sensitive cases.
By Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter. The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors. Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen. Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations. The Justice Department declined to comment. The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries. This week, four line prosecutors quit the case against Roger Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s close adviser, after Mr. Barr overruled their recommendation that a judge sentence him within sentencing guidelines. Mr. Barr’s intervention was preceded by criticism of the original sentencing recommendation by Mr. Trump and praised by him afterward, and Mr. Barr on Thursday publicly asked Mr. Trump to stop commenting about the Justice Department.

How are Republicans feeling right about now?
By Bess Levin

Years after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he wrote a book called If I Did It, in which he basically explained exactly how the two were killed with a level of detail that only someone who participated in the murders could possibly have been privy to. Now that Donald Trump has been acquitted by Republicans for extorting Ukraine for personal gain, he’s kind of doing the same thing, except (1) he freely admitted to many of the details of the alleged crime even before his Senate trial, and (2) he’s not even doing the people who let him get away with it the courtesy of throwing an “if” in there for plausible deniability’s sake. In a podcast interview with Geraldo Rivera that aired on Thursday, Trump was asked, “Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?” Rather than stick with his previous denials of ever having dispatched Giuliani to Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in the first place, Trump happily copped to it all, responding: “No, not at all...I deal with the Comeys of the world or I deal with Rudy,” the former of whom, per the president, left “a very bad taste” in his mouth due to the whole Russia investigation. “So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor,” Trump said. “But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.” FDR and Eisenhower didn’t use their personal lawyers to uncover nonexistent dirt on their political rivals, but, sure, great history lesson.

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