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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Bipartisan Senate Panel Referred Trump Family Members Over Suspected Lying

Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee last year notified the Department of Justice that members of President Donald Trump's family and close circle "might have presented misleading testimony" to the panel during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports.

According to the Post, then-Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) referred a list of individuals, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner to federal prosecutors after their accounts of a pre-election meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya "were contradicted by the president's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates" during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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Polls Indicate Trump Defectors Could Tip Texas For Biden

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

While the Cook Political Report still has Texas as a "lean red" state in its 2020 Electoral College Ratings, a Quinnipiac poll released last week showed former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump 45 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. And according to the Houston Chronicle, a decisive number of anti-Trump Republicans could be contributing to Biden's lead in the state.

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Bishop Says Cops Gassed Protesters ’So Trump Could Use Our Church As A Prop’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The bishop who overseas the Washington, DC church that Donald Trump visited following his speech on Monday admonished the president for using a place of worship as a "prop," noting the police deployed tear gas against peaceful protestors to clear a path for Trump's walk from the White House to St. John's Church.

As The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein reports, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde said she is "outraged" and had no idea the White House "would be clearing with tear gas" in order to use the church for Trump's photo op.

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WHO Official Says Coronavirus May (Or May Not) Go Pandemic

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Speaking at a media briefing last week, the executive director of the World Health Organization made it clear that things are simply not clear. The epidemic of 2019-novel coronavirus that has generated tens of thousands of cases around the city of Wuhan may become a broad global pandemic … or not. Meanwhile, officials at health agencies around the world are bracing for the possibility of a broader outbreak. That’s a good thing. But no one should be assuming that a global pandemic is a foregone conclusion. Because it’s not.

In the same way, no one should be dismissing the possible effects of a widespread pandemic as “like a cold” or “no worse than the flu,” because we have all the evidence we need to see that is not true. A worldwide pandemic of novel coronavirus would be devastating both in terms of the lives and economic effects.

Over and over again, from the television pundits to the comments on every Daily Kos post, we’ve been reminded that the flu affects millions of Americans and has already killed over 11,000 in this year alone. That’s absolutely true. Flu, in the best year, is simply a horror we’ve learned to live with, and which many people treat far too casually. This isn’t even one of the best years.

But the idea that should the virus between COVID-19 sweep the world it would be, at worst, like a new source of flu, is way, way off base. Yes, the official case fatality rate for those hospitalized with the flu is often quite high—above 7 percent. The official case fatality rate for COVID-19 is currently only between 2 percent and 3 percent.

The two things are not comparable. They’re not comparable because, to the extent that is possible, everyone who is determined to be infected with the virus behind COVID-19 is currently being counted as a case. Whether it’s the 50,000 people who have proven to have the virus through lab testing, or the additional 20,000 who are showing clinical signs, everyone who is suspected of having COVID-19 is part of that case count. You don’t have to be in serious or critical condition to be added to the case load for COVID-19.

In the United States alone, some 20 million people will have flu this season. The actual chances that a case of flu will result in death is something less than 0.1% — and it still generates tens of thousands of deaths. If even the broadest assumptions are taken about the relationship between the cases that we’re now counting and the actual pool of coronavirus out there, the numbers are at least 6 times worse than flu. If the case count is actually close to the total pool, then the number is more like 30 times worse.

And there are very good reasons to believe that the real effect of widespread cases of COVID-19 would be hugely worse than even those numbers suggest. Because we’re seeing what that looks like on the ground in Hubei province.

Outside Hubei, the outcome for those who have COVID-19 remains optimistic, with only 3 deaths compared to 130 people who have recovered. Inside Hubei, the outcomes are very different. On Sunday, the outcome mortality in Hubei remained close to 15%. That is the difference between dealing with this infection in a handful of cases, and dealing with it in huge numbers.

The biggest reason for that difference is likely one simple factor: Oxygen. About 25% of patients with the closely-related SARS virus require some form of respiratory assistance to make it through. The for those infected with the other member of this beta coronavirus triptych, MERS, that requirement is 80%. Why did MERS overwhelm a wealthy Saudi city and generate 600 deaths in just 2,000 cases? Because it quickly exceeded the ability of the system to provide the level of treatment that patients require to survive. That’s happening in Hubei right now with COVID-19.

In short, if 20,000,000 Americans were infected with COVID-19, somewhere between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 of those infected would probably require a hospital bed with respiratory assistance, or they would die. And guess what? The reason there are only 20,000,000 cases of flu is because many people do get flu shots and many people do have some latent resistance to the the type of flu circulating in any give year. So for COVID-19 take that 20,000,000, and multiply it by everyone.

Yes, endemic human coronaviruses cause about 15% of colds. This isn’t one them. Organizations like WHO and the CDC don’t keep novel beta coronaviruses at the top of their global pandemic threat lists because they’re worried about increasing the global need for Puffs plus lotion. They do it because these diseases are rat bastards that will kill millions if they get out.

Okay, let’s do numbers. Because those are looking pretty hopeful.

COVID-19: Total cases (including clinically diagnosed)

Several days later, it’s easy to see that the big and terrifying spike that happened when officials in Hubei province began reporting clinically-diagnosed cases wasn’t a harbinger of “Go to bunker, go immediately to bunker, do not pass grocery story for one last can of beans, just slam that door!” Instead, it was more of a cleaning of the books. Any upward movement is bad. But now it’s a helluva lot less bad.

Here’s out that looks on a daily basis.

COVID-19: New cases by day

This shows a disease that, once again, is very much on its way to being at least somewhat controlled. There are some concerns about the cases popping up outside China, and we’ll get to some of that shortly. But if you scrub the clinical cases off of those numbers, it shows numbers that peaked ten days ago and have been in a steady, if somewhat uneven, decline. Check the new chart that’s been added to the WHO dashboard if you want to see how things look with only the lab-tested cases on the books.

COVID-19: Case Fatality Rate

The case fatality rate (total deaths / total cases) took a tick down when the load of clinical cases were added. As we saw on previous days, that seems to be because the clinical cases are in general milder than those which have been lab confirmed. Considering the quarantine conditions that have been featured in some really shocking videos out of China, its likely that only a fraction of even lab-tested cases are in hospital beds. The decline in the number of clinical cases — from 13,000, to 4,000, to 2,000, to 1,000 — over just a few days hopefully indicates that health care workers have cleared up their backlog of cases. But we should all try to not get disheartened if there’s another spike of these cases ahead.

COVID-19: Outcomes

The number of deaths in reports on Sunday morning actually matches the worst total to date (144). But that number has been almost steady for four days (144, 125, 143, 144) while the number of recoveries has finally moved above 1,000 a day. That’s genuinely good news.

COVID-19: Outcome mortality

So even though the number of deaths per day has been more or less flat, the increasing number of cases reported as recovered is pushing outcome mortality ever lower. It’s not going down as fast as anyone would like, but today may be the first day where the number of active cases in Hubei was pretty much the same as it was yesterday. China is currently listing 11,000 cases as “severe” or “critical.” The odds of each of those severe cases receiving the treatment necessary to drastically improve outcomes could be just a few days away.

CHINA9,754 (+1,312)1,666 (+143)
OUTSIDE129 (+25)4 (+1)

In Singapore, another cluster of cases appears to be connected to Grace Assembly of God church, which has already been the source for almost half the cases in the nation. These also include some secondary cases where people who appear to have acquired an infection at the church have spread it to others. To all those people who have cancelled conferences large and small … thank you.

The single new death comes from Taiwan. It involves a taxi driver who had never left the country. There have also been a burst of cases in Japan in the last few days involving taxi drivers. Apparently that plastic shield (assuming they have one in Taiwan and Japan) is far from germ proof. Considering how many people may have hopped into a cab right after someone infected, or even shared a ride from the airport, this is certainly a concerning vector.

Speaking of Japan, they had six new cases — not counting the cases on board the Diamond Princess. Japan and Singapore continue to be sources of special concern when it comes to establishment of a second epicenter outside of China.

And finally, most of the Americans on the Diamond Princess are coming home, with what seem to be pretty good precautions. Those patients already displaying symptoms, or who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, will remain in Japan— either on the ship, or in quarantine at a Japanese hospital. Other passengers are also being given the choice of being quarantined in Japan. Those that come back to the United States will do so on a charter flight where part of the plane is isolated to take any passengers who begin to show any symptoms in flight. All passengers will go into a 14-day quarantine when they land in the United States. It’s hard to find a lot of fault with that process.

So long as they’re careful. Because one of the cases in Japan is a quarantine officer who has been working outside the ship.


World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus information site.
World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus Dashboard.
2019-nCoV Global Cases from Johns Hopkins.
BNO News 2019 Novel Coronavirus tracking site.
Worldometer / Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak.

Some issues tackled on previous days

Why COVID-19 was not made in a bioweapon lab.
How Case Fatality Rate and other measures are calculated.
Looking at incidence in other Chinese provinces.
The death of whistleblowing Dr. Li Wenliang triggers calls for free speech.

Parnas Attorney Confirms He Has More Recordings Of Trump

A lawyer for Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who is now cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, on Saturday said his client has more recordings of the president.

The revelation comes after Parnas, who has been indicted on charges of campaign finance violations, released a recording this week of Trump calling for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanavitch’s ouster. The recording was made at the Trump International Hotel by Igor Fruman, another former associate of Giuliani who has likewise been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Trump recalled Yovanavitch as the Ukraine ambassador in April 2019.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Parnas’ lawyer Joseph A. Bondy confirmed there are more recordings beyond the one Parnas made public on Friday, and noted that “perhaps” Parnas will release the other audio.

“We’ve sent recordings to the House Intelligence Committee also,” Bondy told CNN.

Discussing the audio already released by his client, Bondy said the recording “certainly addresses the issue of the ambassador and we thought it was really important to get that recording out in public today.”

“There’s a few aspects [of the recording] that are important,” Bondy told Cooper. “First off, we hear the president himself saying, ‘Get rid of the ambassador, fire her, get her out of there.’ And this is one of the first occasions in which he attempts to remove the ambassador.”

“Lev Parnas … was shocked,” Bondy said.

The White House maintains Trump did nothing wrong in removing Yovanavitch. Responding to Parnas’ recording, originally reported by ABC News, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, ”every president in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his Administration.”

But Bondy suggested the president’s use of Parnas and Fruman to conduct diplomacy in Ukraine “makes no sense.”

“It’s still fascinating to me …” CNN’s Cooper told Bondy. “The fact that [Parnas] was the guy, and Igor Fruman, according the Lev Parnas, were the people on the ground in Ukraine, and they would literally go to a meeting with the former president [of Ukraine], with the man who is now heading the intelligence services in Ukraine, and hold up a phone and Rudy Giuliani would be on speakerphone saying, ‘Listen to these guys, they represent us, they represent the president, they represent me. Listen to what they have to say.”

“It’s unconventional,” Bondy agreed. “You wouldn’t expect diplomacy to be conducted that way. I can kind of wonder if there’s some reason to have Igor and Lev doing that bidding.”

Watch the video below:

New Evidence Troubles White House Because ‘Parnas Has Receipts’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Lev Parnas, a longtime associate of Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, is causing “concern” among White House officials after he publicly turned on the president and claimed “Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.”

Parnas, who has been cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee and handed over a “trove” of impeachment documents last week, was integral to Giuliani’s efforts to pressure a Ukrainian investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

While some senators, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), have downplayed the relevance of Giuliani and Parnas’ efforts in Ukraine as they pertain to Trump’s impeachment, CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang on Sunday said there’s “a recognition among sources who are being honest that even if [Parnas is] not an official witness, he’s already impacting this trial.”

“Unless senators are completely tuned out, they are absorbing what he is saying and they are seeing what he is dropping in these document dumps,” Jiang said on CBS “Face the Nation.”

“So, even though the president insists that he has no idea who Parnas is, the problem is Parnas has receipts,” she said.

“And selfies!” Host Margaret Brennan noted.

“Exactly!” Jiang replied. “Not one, not two, but a whole collection that tell a story of two men that know each other over the course of years. So the president has to add to his defense, he can’t just say, ‘I don’t know who he is.’”

Watch the video below, via CBS:

Photo credit: Ruperto Miller

Secretary Esper Scorched Over Claim That Iran Targeted 4 US Embassies

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the morning show rounds on Sunday, ostensibly to provide cover for the Trump administration’s claim that Iranian General. Qassem Soleimani posed an “imminent threat” to United States personnel prior to his assassination. In doing so, however, Esper highlighted the administration’s evolving justifications for launching the strike that killed Soleimani, and contradicted President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim the Iranian commander was planning an attack on “four embassies” in the region.

Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Esper insisted Trump “never said there was specific intelligence to four different embassies.”

“What the president said was he believed it probably could have been,” Espert told Tapper. “He didn’t cite intelligence.”

In fact, in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Friday, Trump purported to be divulging intelligence to the contrary.

“I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” the president told Ingraham.

Asked about the president’s claim in a separate interview with CBS’ Margaret Brennan on Sunday, Esper admitted he “didn’t see” evidence showing a plan to attack 4 U.S. embassies.

The whiplash wasn’t lost on viewers, who took to Twitter to express disbelief over Esper’s performance — and questioned why anyone would believe the defense secretary in light of the Trump administration’s shifting cover for the attack.

Trump Admits Smugglers Are Sawing Through His Border Wall

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Shifting from previous claims that his signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would be “virtually impenetrable,” President Donald Trump on Saturday admitted “you can cut through anything,” even as he continues push for a structure that an internal Department of Homeland Security report says will cost $21.6 billion to complete

Trump was responding to a Washington Post report, published Saturday, that revealed smugglers have “repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools.”

“We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching,” Trump told reporters.

The president went on to claim “cutting is one thing, but it’s easily fixed,” insisting the design for the wall allows it to be “very easily fixed.”

Former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ronald Vitiello told the Post the breaches in Trump’s border wall amount to “poking and prodding” by cartel members who will continue to exploit structural weaknesses along the southern border.

“They’re not just going to leave San Diego because the wall gets better,” Vitiello told the Post. “That’s life on the border.”

Fox Reporter Stunned By Plan To Hold G-7 Session At Trump Doral

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Fox News journalist Chris Stirewalt on Thursday appeared stunned by Donald Trump’s decision to host the 2020 G-7 meeting at his Doral resort in Miami, FL, describing the decision as “an unnecessary problem to create for himself.”

Stirewalt spoke with host Harris Faulkner after the president’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters the the next G-7 summit will be held at a Trump property.

“I got to tell you, the idea that this administration, dealing with what this administration is dealing with, right? A lot. You’ve for the unraveling in Syria, you’ve got the march toward Trump impeachment here at home, breaking news story every day,” Stirewalt began. “The world is on fire.”

“Why?” He asked. “It is beyond my imagination why this administration thought that number 1, to do it at all, given the criticism that the president will receive for using one of his own properties for an event like this. That’s not necessary in the first place. That is an unnecessary problem to create for himself. But then the next step: today, to do it now and do it in this way. I just wish I could think of a good reason for it.
Faulkner tried to defend the decision, suggesting voters at home feel differently about the president his own property to host the G-7.

Watch the video below:


Rep. Waters: ‘I Have No Respect’ For ‘Spineless’ Republicans

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Sunday rained holy hell on Republicans in Congress who continue to support President Donald Trump, even after he openly invited foreign nations to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.

Waters has been a proponent of impeachment since Trump first took office, and on AM Joy, she laid out her distaste for Republican elected officials who refuse to stand up to Trump.

“The president is all about himself,” Waters explained. “Now, if you want to know something, I am disgusted with those spineless members of the Senate who don’t have the guts to stand up for this country. Many of them have defined themselves as patriotic. They’re not patriotic. They are spineless and they’re not willing to step up and do what needs to be done in recognizing the danger of this president.”

Zeroing in on Trump’s affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Waters said Republicans who support him are “willing to harm our country.”

Asked why she thinks GOP leaders won’t show political courage and stand up to the president, Waters repeated, “they are spineless.”

“I don’t know how they look their children and their wives, their community in the face coming to work in the United States Senate knowing what they know, seeing what they see,” Waters said. “And I can’t imagine how anybody who has had the nerve and the audacity to run for a United States Senate seat and they can’t stand up to this lying, dishonorable president.”

Noting they “may be frightened about losing their jobs,” Waters declared. “That’s not good enough excuse.”

“They don’t deserve to be elected by anything and anybody and serve this country if they have that kind of fear,” she said. “If you have that kind of fear, you’re not a good representative. You don’t know what it takes to make good public policy. You don’t stand up for the security of this country. And so I have no respect for any senator, any member of Congress, who is not willing to put themselves on the line for this country. And understand that our security is at stake.


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

‘Nothing To Defend’ As Republicans Avoid Ukraine Questions

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday revealed that in the middle of one of the defining scandals of Donald Trump’s administration, no one from the president’s administration or Republican leadership was willing to answer questions on “State of the Union.” And, according to former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, the reason is because “there is nothing to defend” of Trump’s actions.

“Confronted with the president’s own words prominent Republicans struggle to come up with ways to dismiss them,” Tapper explained. “After the president attacked one GOP critic will the bulk of his party toe the line?”

Detailing the president’s growing Ukraine scandal, Tapper told his audience “the lawyer for the first whistle-blower now tells me he is also representing a second whistle-blower who has spoken to the intelligence community inspector general,” noting the development “could play into the impeachment inquiry into President Trump” and “is the latest in a stream of new evidence this week backing up the original whistle-blower complaint against President Trump — including, notably, the president’s own public call for not only Ukraine, but for China, to investigate his potential 2020 rival.”

“But perhaps most damning, House Democrats have obtained text messages between three senior U.S. Officials discussing what looks like a quid pro quo, an offer of X in exchange for Y for Ukraine,” Tapper continued. “Including this exchange: ‘Heard from White House, assuming President [Volodymyr] Zelensky convinces Trump he will investigate — “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016,” we’ll nail down date for visit to Washington.’ “

“Or this text from a senior U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine,” Tapper added. “‘As I said on the phone, I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.’”

Then, Tapper laid out just how many Trump supporters declined interviews on “State of the Union” or flat-out refused to respond to requests.

“We invited the White House on to answer questions on the show this morning and they did not offer a guest,” Tapper said. “And we invited both of the president’s personal lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow and they declined to appear. We invited every member of Senate leadership and House Republicans and they all declined or did not respond. The Trump White House no longer holds regular press briefings or any press briefings at all.”

“And so, on one of the most critical news weeks of the last three years, here are just three of many questions that we feel need to be answered,” Tapper explained. “One, why did senior U.S. Diplomats believe that U.S. military aid was being withheld as a tool to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens and into attempts to undermine the Mueller investigation? Two, can this White House name another instance, just one, in which President Trump personally pushed a foreign leader to investigate an American citizen who was not one of his political opponents? Three, would you think it entirely appropriate for a democratic president to use the power of his or her office to demand foreign governments conduct investigations into Republicans and their families? As always, the invitation for an official to answer these questions stands.”

Walsh, who is challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, later told Tapper the reason people declined to speak with “State of the Union” is simple.

Then, Tapper laid out just how many Trump supporters declined interviews on “State of the Union” or flat-out refused to respond to requests.

“We invited the White House on to answer questions on the show this morning and they did not offer a guest,” Tapper said. “And we invited both of the president’s personal lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow and they declined to appear. We invited every member of Senate leadership and House Republicans and they all declined or did not respond. The Trump White House no longer holds regular press briefings or any press briefings at all.”

“And so, on one of the most critical news weeks of the last three years, here are just three of many questions that we feel need to be answered,” Tapper explained. “One, why did senior U.S. Diplomats believe that U.S. military aid was being withheld as a tool to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens and into attempts to undermine the Mueller investigation? Two, can this White House name another instance, just one, in which President Trump personally pushed a foreign leader to investigate an American citizen who was not one of his political opponents? Three, would you think it entirely appropriate for a democratic president to use the power of his or her office to demand foreign governments conduct investigations into Republicans and their families? As always, the invitation for an official to answer these questions stands.”

Walsh, who is challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, later told Tapper the reason people declined to speak with “State of the Union” is simple.


Dayton Mayor On 24-Hour Security After Threats From Trump Backers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley has been assigned a security detail after President Donald Trump turned his ire on the grieving local leader in the wake of a massacre in her city earlier this month that killed nine.

“Get the hell out of this country you disrespectful trash,” reads one message Whaley received, according to the Dayton Daily News. “Treason is death.”

Others “[contained] extremely abusive language and expletive-laced insults,” the paper reported.

Trump and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Dayton on August 7, after a gunman opened fire at the popular downtown Oregon Historic District early Saturday morning on August 4. During a press conference following the president’s visit, Brown and Whaley said they had urged Trump to push gun legislation, including background checks, in the wake of the shooting.

Inexplicably, Trump later took to Twitter to claim the pair “misrepresented” his reception at the hospital, despite Brown and Whaley both acknowledging that victims and first responders were grateful for the president’s visit. In an interview with CNN, Whaley said she was “at a loss” for why Trump was angered by their statements.

“I respected the president and the office of the president” she later told the Dayton Daily News. “But I strongly want him to do something and the people of Dayton want him to do something, and so it’s my job to say that.”

As the Dayton Daily News reports, the decision to give Whaley around-the-clock security detail came from city law director Barbara Doseck and city commission office director Ariel Walker. It has since been “scaled back,” according to the report, but a police spokesman declined to “reveal what type of security has been or will be provided.”

As for Whaley, she said the detail is “the most extensive security I’ve ever had.”

“They are here for my safety, and if they think it’s important, then I think it’s important,” she told the newspaper.

Former Prosecutor: Barr Runs Prison Where Epstein Died

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Elie Honig, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, on Monday demanded

Attorney General William Barr answer for Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide. The financier, who was awaiting trial for a host of federal charges including sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, died in his jail cell on Saturday. Details of his autopsy have yet to be released.

Speaking with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, Honig explained that the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), where Epstein was held, is run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of Barr’s Department of Justice.

“Everything that goes into that prison comes out of that prison, moves within the prison is documented somehow … So there really should be a lot of clear answers that DOJ and the Office of Inspector General can and should get,” the former federal prosecutor said. “And if we don’t have answers, we should ask why not.”

Baldwin noted there are several “key questions” around Epstein’s death, including why he was taken off suicide watch before his death. “Why would the guards not have discovered this sooner?”

“Those are questions I would have for Bill Barr,” Honig replied, noting that the attorney general promised to carry out the case against “anyone who was complicit” in Epstein’s crimes.

“Bill Barr, this is on you!” Honig said. “This is your house. The Bureau of Prisons is part of your of the U.S. Department of Justice. So those are questions that Bill Barr and DOJ need to answer.”

Watch the video below, via CNN:

Epstein Suicide Astonishes Former SDNY Prosecutors

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

News of Jeffrey Epstein’s death by apparent suicide on Saturday sparked a wave of conspiracy theories — including one amplified by President Donald Trump that attempted to link Epstein’s death to former President Bill Clinton (without evidence, of course).

But while the conspiracy theories are just those, legal experts — from former federal prosecutors to law scholars — are likewise “dumbfounded” by Epstein’s death, particularly after it was revealed Epstein was not on suicide watch during his apparent suicide.

Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst who served as the assistant attorney general for the South District of New York, said he “can’t recall any suicides” at the [Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York]” during his time as a prosecutor.

Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor for the SDNY, couldn’t “recall one either.”

Harvard legal scholar Laurence Tribe said it’s “inexcusable that [Epstein] was taken off suicide watch.” He also demanded Attorney General Bill Barr recuse himself from the investigation into why Epstein was removed from suicide watch.

“We have to ask who stood to gain from his permanent silence?” Tribe added. “Whom could he have incriminated in an effort to win favorable treatment from the Trump Justice Department?”

Lawyer Harry Litman, in an article for the Washington Post, called Epstein’s suicide “unfathomable.”


Feds Investigate El Paso Massacre As Possible Hate Crime

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

John Bash, the United States Attorney for the western district of Texas, on Sunday told reporters the federal government is conducting an investigation into Saturday’s mass shooting at an El Paso, TX Walmart with “a view toward bringing federal hate crimes charges and federal firearms charges” against the accused gunman, noting authorities are treating the attack as a domestic terrorist case. Jaime Esparza, the El Paso district attorney, likewise said the state is bringing capital murder charges against the man accused of killing 20 people and wounding at least 26 others.

21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, TX opened fire Saturday morning at a crowded Walmart. As the New York Times reports, 19 minutes before the attack, an anti-immigrant manifesto that lamented the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” appeared on 8chan, a message board described by the Washington Post as “the more-lawless, more-libertarian, more ‘free’ follow-up to 4chan.” Authorities believe Crusius wrote the manifesto.

In a Saturday night press briefing, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state was “going to aggressively prosecute [the attack] both as capital murder, but also as a hate crime, which is what it appears to be.” Sunday, the El Paso DA confirmed the state of Texas will seek the death penalty.

“With a heavy heart I talk to you but we are in the process of working together with all law enforcement especially the El Paso police department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI, also with the U.S. Attorney’s office we will proceed with the investigation,” Esparza said. “I can tell you from the outsets, the state charge is capital murder and so he is eligible for the death penalty, we will seek the death penalty.”

Esparza stressed that the violent attack is not indicative of the community as a whole. “We are a very good and loving community but we will hold him accountable,” Esparza said.

Bash, the US attorney, added that “in close consultation with Attorney General [Bill] Barr, we are conducting a methodical investigation, careful investigation, but with a view toward bringing federal hate crimes charges and federal firearms charges which carry a penalty of death. We are seriously considering those charges. We will conduct a methodical internal investigation with those charges. We are also treating this as a domestic terrorist case.”

“We will do what we do in terrorists in this country: deliver swift and certain justice,” Bash said.

Watch the video below:

Mueller: Prosecutors Can Charge Trump After Presidency

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former special counsel Robert Mueller, in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, informed Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) that the president can be charged with a crime after leaving office, a moment that appeared to stun the Republican representative.

Buck was in the middle of a line of questioning designed to criticize Mueller’s refusal to indict or exonerate President Trump for alleged obstruction of justice.

“You made the decision on the Russian interference,” Buck said. “You couldn’t have indicted the president on that and you made the decision on that. But when it came to obstruction you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what would stick. That is fundamentally unfair.”

“I would not agree to that characterization at all,” Mueller replied. “What we did was provide to the Attorney general in the form of a confidential memorandum our understanding of the case. Those cases that were brought, those cases that were declined. And that one case where the president cannot be charged with a crime.”

“Okay,” Buck replied. “But could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?”

“Yes,” Mueller said.

Watch the exchange below:


In ABC Interview, Trump Says Article II ‘Allows Me To Do Whatever I Want’

In a combative interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Donald Trump brought up special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on links between his campaign and Russia in a bizarre effort to explain why he’s angered by internal polling that shows him trailing Joe Biden in 2020 battleground states.

During the interview, Trump accused former White House counsel Don McGahn of lying under oath about the president’s efforts to fire Mueller, “because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.” Trump then brought up Article II of the Constitution, which he claimed gave him the authority to fire the special counsel.

“Article II allows me to do whatever I want,” Trump insisted.

Pressed on his argument that Article II of the Constitution grants him broad powers to obstruct justice, Trump told Stephanopolous to “read” Article II

“I’m just saying a president under Article II — it’s very strong,” Trump said. “Read it. Do you have Article II? Read it.” (Actually, Article II, Section 3 says that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”)

Later in the interview, Trump accused Stephanopoulos of “being a little wise guy” for asking about the president’s refusal to sit for questioning with Mueller.

“There was no crime,” Trump said. “There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup. In my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”

Trump then stated, without evidence, that former President Barack Obama “must have known” about the so-called set-up.

“I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet,” Trump said. “But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”

You can read a transcript of the interview here, and watch a portion of the interview below, via ABC News.