TalkingPointsMemo.com is a very smart liberal blog that believes in analyzing each issue methodically and objectively rather than shouting from the rooftops. This blog has been ahead of the mainstream media on a number of occasions, such as when it reported on a US Justice Department scandal in which Assistant US Attorneys were fired for entirely political reasons.
The chants seemed to be a show of support in response to President Donald Trump’s rally, during which not only did Trump repeatedly attacked Omar but also his supporters chanted “send her home.” Trump did nothing to quell the racist chanting, only speaking after the chants had died down a full ten seconds later (Trump later claimed he “was not happy” with the chanting).
The day after the rally, Omar told reporters, “I believe he is fascist.”
“I want to remind people that this is what this President and his supporters have done to our country that is supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place,” she said.
Democratic leaders have expressed concern about Omar’s safety in wake of Trump’s escalating attacks against one of the first Muslim women to be elected in Congress (and the first woman to wear a hijab).
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) asked the state’s director of Health and Human Services to resign last month, but her office insists it definitely wasn’t because of his obsession with ’90s rapper Tupac.
“As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven,” Reynolds’ spokesman told the Des Moines Register on Thursday. “Of course, Tupac was not one of them.”
“Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction,” he continued.
Reynolds’ office was not immediately available for comment.
Considering the fact that Reynolds asked Foxhoven to resign the Monday after he sent an email announcing Tupac’s birthday to the entire agency of 4,300 employees on Friday the 14th, the timing seemed suspicious.
However, the Register found that Reynolds’ chief of staff had indeed sent Foxhoven an email on June 13 requesting a meeting. After they scheduled it for June 17th, Foxhoven sent the birthday email.
After meeting on that Monday, Reynolds announced that Foxhoven had resigned.
Foxhoven loved the late rapper, and he made sure the rest of the agency knew it: “Tupac Fridays,” Tupac-themed cookies, and emails to employees filled with Tupac lyrics that the 66-year-old official found inspiring were a regular occurrence during Foxhoven’s 2-year tenure.
House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) tore into acting secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan on Thursday for the Trump administration’s failure to properly care for the migrant children coming from the southern border.
In a caustic and at times emotional speech, Cummings excoriated McAleenan for the filthy detention facilities migrant children are forced to live in under President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, along with the aftereffects of Trump’s now-repealed family separation policy.
“I guess you feel like you’re doing a great job, right?” Cummings asked McAleenan witheringly.
“We’re doing our level best in a very challenging-” McAleenan responded before the Oversight chairman cut him off.
“What does that mean?” Cummings snapped. “What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can’t take a shower?”
“Come on, man. What’s that about?” he continued, his voice rising as McAleenan sat stone-faced. “None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings!”
Cummings told McAleenan furiously, “It’s not the deed that you do to a child, it’s the memory. It’s the memory.”
Watch Cummings below:
Rep. Elijah Cummings shreds the acting DHS chief Kevin McAleenan over migrant detention center conditions pic.twitter.com/T74QohYYdd
Swamp Creature Phone(d) Home — New emails obtained by Pacific Standard magazine illustrate the much-greater-than-we-knew level of communication between a Trump administration political staffer and his former employer, the right-wing advocacy group Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“Keep fighting,” the staffer, Doug Domenech told an old TPPF colleague at one point in 2017, referring to the group’s lawsuit against Domenech’s own agency, the Department of the Interior. In this case, TPPF was suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a DOI sub-agency, in an attempt to remove a rarely seen spider from the endangered species list. Another suit that Domenech and TPPF discussed at DOI headquarters was settled a few months later, in what TPPF called a “major win.”
Prior to these new emails, a DOI spokesperson described two back-to-back meetings Domenech held with TPPF’s Rob Henneke in 2017 as “primarily social in nature.” But the new emails — which among other things revealed that the DOI’s top lawyer attended the meetings, as did other high-ranking staffers — tell a completely different story. An internal investigation into potential ethics breaches is ongoing.
Defense Sec Nominee Won’t Recuse From Raytheon Issues — Trump’s pick to lead the Defense Department was, not so long ago, the weapons maker Raytheon’s top lobbyist. Mark Esper replaced the ex-Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan atop the Pentagon.
But while Shanahan voluntarily extended his recusal from Boeing-related matters past the two year mark required by ethics rules, Esper refused to make that commitment this week.
That recusal period is set to expire in just four months, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reminded Esper at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. Would he follow Shanahan’s lead and voluntarily extend it?
“No, the recommendation is not to,” Esper responded. Nor would he commit to not seeking a waiver for the ethics rules he is still obliged to follow. Nor would he commit to following the rules of a bill Warren has proposed, by pledging to avoid working for a Defense contractor for four years after his government service.
“No senator, I won’t.”
‘Sweatshop Economy’ Lobbyist Now Acting Labor Secretary — Mother Jones highlighted this week that with Alex Acosta having exited stage left in light of the new charges against Jeffrey Epstein, we’re left with this guy: Patrick Pizzella.
The magazine’s 2017 story on the swamp creature began, “There’s lobbying, and then there’s working with Jack Abramoff to promote the sweatshop economy on remote Pacific islands.” The rest of it’s worth a read. The central aspect of Pizzella’s work promoting the Northern Mariana Islands as a “laboratory of liberty,” in Abramoff’s words, was organizing dozens of trips for members of Congress and others, including the then-pollster and consultant Kellyanne Fitzpatrick. She’s now known by her married name, Conway.
Speaking of Kellyanne Conway… She’s apparently not too concerned about subpoenas, treating the one she recently ignored more like a “no walking” sign and less like the flexed muscle of the legislative branch.
Newly revealed search warrant applications from the federal investigation of Michael Cohen contain a range of bizarre, surprising moments, as Trumpworld scrambled to cover up an affair that then-candidate Donald Trump had with a porn star.
The documents reveal frantic moves by Cohen and others, including Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, to buy Stormy Daniels’s silence. The FBI’s allegations are new, and paint a picture of high-level involvement from Trump himself and his close associates as they struggled – and ultimately failed – to contain the story of Trump’s affair with a porn star.
The warrant applications also shed new light on elements of how the FBI approached an incredibly sensitive investigation into the President’s inner circle, including executives at his closely held company.
Below are a series of highlights from the documents.
It was the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016 that set off alarm bells in the Trump campaign regarding the potential that Daniels would go to the press, the FBI alleged.
The Access Hollywood tape was very obviously damaging to Trump and his presidential bid, though not fatal.
But in the FBI’s portrayal, the release of the tape injected a sense of urgency within the Trump campaign to resolve the Stormy Daniels situation, spurring them to seek a way to buy her silence.
One of the overarching questions about the probe remains how the FBI approached an investigation that touched a sitting President, and his eponymous, closely held company: the Trump Organization.
The documents offer real insight into that question, suggesting that federal investigators – at least at the probe’s beginning – appeared to keep their distance from steps that would have taken them within the Trump Organization itself.
At one point, for example, the FBI cited a Washington Post report when referring to an internal Trump Organization email with Davidson.
In a footnote, the FBI explained why it had not obtained the email itself. “The USAO has not requested documents from the Trump Organization or Davidson, and thus does not possess the email referenced in this article.” The FBI wrote that it hadn’t made the request “due to the partially cover nature of the investigation.”
In another application for a warrant that would authorize the government to search hard drives obtained from April 2018 raids on Cohen’s apartment, the FBI laid out the topics it was interested in reviewing from the contents of the hard drives.
From that application, it does not appear that prosecutors were focused on delving deep within the Trump Organization itself, instead tailoring the areas of their search to cover the campaign finance violation at issue.
Lingering questions about Hope Hicks
One big reveal was the role of Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, who spoke with Cohen multiple times as the Trump fixer tried to arrange the hush money payment to Daniels, the FBI alleged.
Hicks was involved with Trump and Cohen from the start of the scheme’s development, according to the FBI. On Oct. 8, when Cohen began to speak with Daniels’s attorney and AMI executives about the scheme, he first had a phone call with Trump and Hicks.
The FBI described in a footnote to the search warrant application its process for determining who was on the call.
It’s not clear what was discussed on the call; only that a phone call took place. At the end of the footnote, the FBI wrote that in a separate interview with federal investigators, “Hicks stated, in substance, that to the best of her recollection, she did not learn about the allegations made by Clifford [Daniels] until early November 2016. Hicks was not specifically asked about this three-way call.”
Hicks certainly learned of the allegations of an affair by Nov. 4, when the Wall Street Journal published an article about Daniels and the attempt to buy her silence. She gave a statement to the Journal in her capacity as campaign press secretary, saying it was “absolutely, unequivocally” untrue that Daniels had had a relationship with Trump.
After the article was released to relatively muted reception, the FBI alleged, Hicks and Cohen rejoiced. “Keep praying!! It’s working!” Hicks wrote.
Going to the vault
Cohen stored various documents related to the hush money scheme in a bank vault.
The FBI alleged that Cohen visited the vault at various points after the scheme concluded, but with suspicious timing. The government made note of this in an application for a warrant to raid Cohen’s apartment, hotel room, and office, saying that his visits were evidence that he may have moved important records to another location.
The first vault visit allegedly occurred in November 2017, with Cohen speaking with Davidson after leaving the bank. The second visit is alleged to have taken place in February 2018, as news reports about the Daniels story mounted.
It’s not clear from the filing what happened to the documents in question. The warrant applications only offer a snapshot of the government’s investigation at the time that the documents were written.
Reacting to the WSJ story
The Wall Street Journal story that Hicks denied was published on the evening of Nov. 4.
The warrant applications show how all of the people who arranged the Daniels payoff scheme panicked and scrambled as news of the impending story reached them.
Dylan Howard, AMI’s chief content officer, wrote to Cohen saying “I think it’ll be ok pal.”
Cohen replied saying “He’s pissed.” The FBI alleged that Cohen was referring to Trump.
Howard replied to that with the text equivalent of a shrug. “I’m pissed! You’re pissed. Pecker is pissed. Keith is pissed. Not much we can do.”
But, knowing that the story was about to drop, Cohen sprung into action.
The FBI alleged that Cohen perceived the situation as serious enough to warrant speaking on two different cell phones at the same time, using the move to allegedly negotiate with Davidson and Hicks simultaneously.
Newly unredacted documents released on Thursday reveal just how in the loop President Trump was as his then-personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen tried to keep an alleged affair between Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels under wraps ahead of the 2016 election.
FBI search warrant applications show several phone calls and text messages that appear to link Trump to Cohen’s efforts to pay off Stormy Daniels.
Here are the four key moments:
Cohen was in contact with Trump as Cohen made initial calls to kill Stormy Daniels’ story
Around the same time the Washington Post published video of Trump bragging about assaulting women on the set of NBC’s “Access Hollywood” on Oct. 7, 2016, the FBI alleged, Stormy Daniels was in talks with media outlets to tell her story “about her alleged relationship with Trump.” Michael Cohen also recalled hearing from Daniels’ counsel around this time that news outlets were pursuing the story.
This prompted a flurry of phone calls from Cohen to others in Trump’s orbit, Daniels’ attorney and David Pecker and Dylan Howard, executives at American Media Inc., as he attempted to squash Daniels’ story, the FBI alleged in the newly unredacted documents.
The day after that story was published, Trump allegedly spoke on the phone with Cohen and campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks for over four minutes.
After Cohen made several other calls to Hicks and executives at American Media Inc. — the notoriously pro-Trump media company that allegedly worked with Trump to kill negative stories about him — Cohen and Trump allegedly spoke on the phone for nearly eight minutes.
After hanging up and speaking to AMI executive Howard again, Cohen allegedly received a text message at 9:13 p.m. from that executive, presumably referring to a hush money deal to be brokered with Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson: “Keith will do it.”
Cohen spoke with Trump shortly before finalizing payments to Daniels
Later that month on Oct. 26, 2016, the morning after Davidson allegedly warned Cohen that Daniels “deems her settlement agreement canceled and void,” Cohen called Trump at 8:26 a.m. and spoke to him for approximately three minutes, according to the documents. At 8:34 a.m., Cohen allegedly called Trump again and connected for a minute and a half. After getting his accounts in order and letting Davidson know the hush money was ready, Cohen paid Davidson the next morning.
This series of events means Cohen and Trump were in touch at a crucial point: Before the call — and with just weeks before Election Day — there was allegedly a discussion about the risk of Daniels going public with her story.
After his call with Trump, the next morning, Cohen made moves to assure Daniels’ lawyer that the money was on its way.
With the deal done, Cohen and Trump spoke for five minutes
On Oct. 28, 2016, after having finalized the funds transfer to Davidson, Cohen allegedly spoke to Trump for approximately five minutes at 11:48 a.m.
From then on, at least for a few days, it was smooth sailing: “We are very good,” Davidson allegedly texted Cohen, referring to the settlement of the deal.
Later, Cohen allegedly spoke to Hicks again.
Trump allegedly spoke to AMI executive about Karen McDougal story
The smooth sailing didn’t last long. On Nov. 4, 2016, as word spread of an impending Wall Street Journal article on AMI’s payment to kill a story on Trump’s alleged affair with Karen McDougal, Cohen allegedly told AMI’s Howard at 8:58 p.m., presumably referring to Trump: “He’s Pissed.”
Later that night, as Cohen tried to reach AMI’s Pecker, he allegedly asked, “The boss just tried calling you. Are you free?” He also allegedly texted AMI’s Howard, “Is there a way to find David quickly?”
On Nov. 5, the FBI alleged, “Based on a text message from Hicks to Cohen, I believe that later that morning, Pecker spoke to Trump.”
A few days later, Trump became the President-elect.
A number of Democratic leaders in the House are worried about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) safety after President Donald Trump’s rant about her at a rally led racist chants of “send her back” from the crowd.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Thursday that she’d spoken to the House sergeant-at-arms about Omar’s even before the rally, possibly referring to her announcement in April after Trump tweeted 9/11 footage to attack Omar.
House Assistant Democratic Leader Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the fourth ranking Democrat, told Politico that Trump was “instilling fear.”
“It’s going to instill violence,” he said.
“We need to make sure that every single member of the House Democratic caucus, particularly those who have been viciously targeted by Donald Trump, including at the rally last night, are safe and have the protection that they need,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said.
“I want to remind people that this is what this President and his supporters have done to our country that is supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place,” she said.
Read Politico’s interviews with other Democratic lawmakers here.
Newly unsealed documents from the investigation into Michael Cohen give a tick-tock of who Cohen was allegedly calling and messaging as he scrambled to pay off a porn star who claimed to have slept with Donald Trump. And one document, a warrant application, explicitly names the individuals whom the FBI believed were in contact with Cohen as the pay off was arranged.
The flurry of activity started after the Washington Post, on Oct. 7, 2016, released a 2005 tape of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Cohen has since pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations associated with the payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels, while the Justice Department has concluded its investigation into who else was involved in the scheme.
The unsealed docs note that Hope Hicks — the Trump campaign’s national press secretary — was on early October phone calls with Trump and Cohen, as Cohen put in motion the hush money payout scheme. The warrant stops short of saying whether the payoffs were discussed on any of the October calls Hicks specifically was on.
According to the warrant application, Cohen received a phone call from Hicks on October 8 — the first call between Cohen and Hicks in multiple weeks, the FBI said — and the FBI believed that Trump was patched in for a roughly four minute conversation. Cohen and Hicks spoke briefly on the phone again, the FBI alleged. Right after that call ended, Cohen spoke on the phone with other individuals — including AMI head David Pecker — who were key to the scheme to conceal Trump’s alleged affair with Daniels.
Hicks told investigators, according to a footnote in the application, that she was not aware of the affair allegations until November 2016. The footnote also says she was not specifically asked about the call the FBI believed included both Cohen and Trump.
Hicks made her next appearance in the documents on Nov. 4, as the Wall Street Journal was preparing a story on allegations of a payoff to Playboy model Karen McDougal, another woman who was rumored to have slept with Trump. McDougal, the Journal reported, was given a lucrative deal with the National Inquirer, which sat on her story.
Cohen and Hicks had several contacts in the lead-up to and after the Journal story’s publication, including a text exchange celebrating its lack of pick-up by other news outlets. Cohen told Hicks he was prepared to release a statement from Daniels contradicting “the other porn stars statement” if necessary.
American Media Inc. Execs
The FBI told the judge that executives at American Media Inc. — the parent company for National Enquirer — were in contact with Cohen as the scramble to pay off Daniels for her silence began.
Minutes after an Oct. 8 call with Hicks, Cohen called David Pecker, the chief executive of AMI, and they spoke repeatedly as Cohen was also contacted by AMI’s chief content officer Dylan Howard, according to the warrant application.
Howard and Cohen’s text exchanges continued in the following days, the FBI alleged, as Howard put Cohen in touch with Keith Davidson, the lawyer representing Daniels.
Cohen got in touch with Howard a week later, when Davidson allegedly threatened to blow up the pay-off agreement, according to the warrant application.
The FBI agent told the judge that he interpreted these messages to mean that Howard had tried to contact Davidson, but Davidson wasn’t taking Howard’s calls. Howard and Cohen stayed in touch, as word of Daniel’s alleged affair was leaked to TheSmokingGun.com on Oct. 18, according to the application.
Pecker was brought back into the fold around Oct. 25, as they tried to get the deal with Daniels back on track, according to the application
On Oct. 28, after the $130,00 payment had apparently gone through, according to the FBI, Cohen tried repeatedly to reach Pecker and Howard. He eventually heard back from Howard, who confirmed Davidson was “good,” according to the application.
That wasn’t the end of it for Pecker and Howard, who were contacted by Cohen in November, after the Wall Street Journal reached out about claims of a payoff to McDougal. McDougal, according to the FBI’s interpretation of the texts being cited, was being “difficult” about giving Davidson a statement.
The FBI interpreted a message from Cohen to Howard to mean that Trump was “pissed” about the forthcoming Journal story. Cohen later messaged Pecker that the “boss” had tried to call him, according to the application.
Then-Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was not directly implicated by the FBI in Cohen’s contacts that appeared explicitly related to the payoffs. However, the warrant application noted a call from Cohen to Conway on Nov. 1. Cohen had received a statement, in the form of an audio recording, from Daniels disputing claims from another adult film star that the other star had had an affair with Trump, the FBI alleged. His call to Conway went unanswered, the FBI believed, but she called him back him back about 40 minutes later and they spoke for about six minutes, according to the application.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him a “fascist” in wake of his rally attendees chanting “send her back” while Trump ranted about the Muslim congresswoman’s so-called “anti-Semitism.”
“We have said this President is racist. We have condemned his racist remarks,” Omar told reporters. “I believe he is fascist.”
“I want to remind people that this is what this President and his supporters have done to our country that is supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place,” she added. “And so this is not about me. This is about us fighting for what this country truly should be.”
During Trump’s reelection rally on Wednesday night, the crowd responded to his rant about Omar with racist chants of “send her back!”
Though Trump claimed on Thursday that he “was not happy” with the chants and that he tried to stop the chants by “speaking very quickly,” in reality the President stood silently and let the chants continue for 10 seconds until they died down.
Omar initially responded to the chants shortly after the rally via Twitter, posting a photo of herself presiding over the House floor captioned “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” and a quote by Maya Angelou.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.