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 21 
 on: May 04, 2018, 08:40:01 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

A sour smell of panic in the White House as the law closes in

There are several signs that the investigation of the president and the pushback
against it have entered a new, more acrimonious phase


By EUGENE ROBINSON | 8:19PM EDT — Thursday, May 03, 2018

Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani and President-elect Donald J. Trump meet at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in November 2016. — Photograph: Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani and President-elect Donald J. Trump meet at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in November 2016.
 — Photograph: Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


THAT UNPLEASANT ODOR wafting from the direction of the White House is the sour smell of panic, as the president's lies threaten to unravel — and the law closes in.

The new public face of President Trump's legal defense, Rudolph W. Giuliani, looked and sounded like a man in need of an intervention on Wednesday night as he went on Sean Hannity's Fox News show — the friendliest possible terrain — and revealed that what Trump has tried to make the nation believe about a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels is a total crock.

You will recall that last month, when asked aboard Air Force One if he knew about the payment, Trump emphatically said no. He added, “You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.” Trump gave the impression of having no idea where Cohen got the money to pay Daniels.

Not true, Giuliani told a puzzled Hannity: “That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation…. [It was] funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”

Just a suggestion, but if Giuliani wants to convince special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that there's nothing here to see, he probably should avoid using words like “funneled”.

In the Hannity interview, Giuliani said of the $130,000 payment that Trump “didn't know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this with my clients. I don't burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.’’

That makes me curious about Giuliani's client list. But I digress.

Trump offered elaboration but not clarification on Thursday morning on Twitter. The original story — I know nothing, go ask Michael — morphed into a three-tweet exercise in trying to thread a needle with a hunk of rope:

“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are … very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair, … despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction.”

So many words, so much squirming, so little truth.

One thing, and only one thing, is clear from this orchestrated attempt to change the narrative about Daniels. Trump is worried that the payment — which prevented a potential scandal just days before the 2016 election — might constitute an illegal campaign donation if Cohen used his own funds, as he has claimed, and was not reimbursed.

Some experts say there may have been a violation even if Trump's carefully worded (for him) tweetstorm is true. But if Cohen's “retainer” was really an attempt to hide the payment and structure the reimbursement so as not to rouse suspicion among banking regulators, Trump and Cohen may be in more legal jeopardy from the new story than from the old.

Nice work, Rudy.

This latest development on the Daniels front is just one of several signs that the investigation of Trump and the pushback against it have entered a new, more acrimonious phase.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, vowed this week that “the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted” by Republican House members who threaten to impeach him for not shutting Mueller down. It was revealed that Mueller has warned that he can serve the president with a grand jury subpoena if Trump does not agree to a voluntary interview. And the loudest voice on the president's legal team advocating a conciliatory approach, attorney Ty Cobb, announced on Wednesday that he is “retiring.” His replacement, Emmet Flood of the powerhouse Williams & Connolly firm, represented Bill Clinton in his battle against impeachment.

There is no reason to believe Mueller's investigation is anywhere near its end. But the ground rules have changed: From now on, it seems, biting and gouging are allowed.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture for The Washington Post, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's Style section.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Opinion | Giuliani's bombshell puts Trump on trial in two courts

 • VIDEO: Giuliani says Trump reimbursed Cohen for Stormy Daniels payment

 • Giuliani: Trump repaid attorney Cohen for Stormy Daniels settlement

 • Analysts: Giuliani's media blitz gives investigators new leads, new evidence

 • ‘I was going to get this over with’: Inside Giuliani's Stormy Daniels revelation

 • Joe Scarborough: Rudy Giuliani goes from ‘America’s Mayor’ to Trump's chump

 • Jennifer Rubin: Stormy Daniels already had a defamation claim against Trump. Now she has a splendid case.

 • Greg Sargent: Giuliani's other big admission may be even worse for Trump

 • Max Boot: Trump is a grifter, same as ever

 • Dana Milbank: The Trump team discovers facts are stubborn things


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-sour-smell-of-panic-in-the-white-house-as-the-law-closes-in/2018/05/03/73074804-4efb-11e8-84a0-458a1aa9ac0a_story.html

 22 
 on: May 04, 2018, 05:49:02 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Potential fallout from EPA's fuel economy rollback plan

Climate and air quality would suffer under the proposal, study shows.

By EVAN HALPER | Thursday, May 03, 2018

Emissions from transportation generate the most greenhouse gases, and would keep rising under the plan. — Photograph: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times.
Emissions from transportation generate the most greenhouse gases, and would keep rising under the plan. — Photograph: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times.

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump administration's plan to scrap vehicle fuel economy rules would lead to a surge of oil consumption that independent researchers warn threatens to paralyze the ability of the United States to make crucial progress in confronting climate change.

The administration's blueprint, as detailed in a confidential draft that was leaked to lawmakers and the media last week, would propel Americans to consume up to hundreds of thousands of barrels of additional oil daily and spend billions of dollars more on fuel, and leave cars and trucks sending more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than they do today, according to a study released on Thursday by Rhodium Group, a research firm that tracks the progress nations are making in meeting climate goals.

The dire projections about how the plan would hinder the ability of California and the rest of the nation to slow climate change comes as state research already shows that a retreat on the emissions rules would hamstring California's effort to reduce the air pollution choking the state's population centers.

As California this week launched a 17-state legal effort to block the administration's rollback of vehicle mileage-per-gallon targets, Rhodium assessed the potential fallout of scaling back the rules.

“The decisions we make today are going to have a long-term effect on total vehicle emissions,” said Kate Larsen, a director at the firm. “We were already going to have to do a lot more to meet our goals, even with the standards created in the Obama administration.”

Rhodium's snapshot of how things would play out under the Trump administration's draft plan to freeze fuel efficiency targets at 42 miles per gallon — instead of pushing toward 55 miles per gallon by 2025, as the current law envisions — reflects a nation heading in a profoundly different direction than the world's other economic powerhouses.

The plan would have American vehicles consuming as many as 283,000 extra barrels of oil per day by 2025. By 2030, the amount of additional oil consumed could grow to as much as 644,000 barrels daily, the firm found. That is more fuel than is used each day in a large state such as New York or New Jersey. The increase could exceed the total annual oil production of Alaska.

As for greenhouse gases, by 2030 the increase from relaxed mileage targets could near the total emissions that Colorado sends into the atmosphere for everything it does, including from burning gas in car engines, producing electricity at power plants and releasing potent methane from drilling operations.

Transportation recently surpassed power plants as the area of the economy generating the most greenhouse gases. Its emissions need to be reduced dramatically to slow the pace of global warming. But under the administration's vision, they would keep going up.

The severity of the effects would depend on oil prices. If prices stay at current levels or drop, the impact in terms of air quality and climate change would be particularly acute. When gas prices are low, consumers buy more SUVs and pickups, which burn more gas.


The severity of the plan's effects would depend on oil prices, which influence which cars people buy. — Photograph: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times.
The severity of the plan's effects would depend on oil prices, which influence which cars people buy. — Photograph: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times.

Tougher fuel economy rules are particularly useful to efforts to reduce emissions in times of low prices at the pump, when consumers are less apt to turn to higher-efficiency vehicles to save money. Even when gas prices are low, according to federal data, the fuel economy rules still save consumers money over the long haul. The amount they add to the cost of a vehicle is dwarfed by the amount drivers save in fuel.

In the best-case scenario, drivers would spend some $90 billion more at the pump as a result of the plan drafted by President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation, according to the Rhodium Group. But the costs could pile up to more than $200 billion.

The plan, Larsen said, would also slow or halt key research and design developments by auto companies, creating a long-term ripple effect on the types of cars rolled out of factories. “These vehicles will stay on the road for a long time,” she said. “It would be a real loss not just for the vehicles that come off the assembly line in the next five years, but for that whole generation of vehicle technology that won't benefit from continually improved efficiency over those years.”

The administration's plan remains a draft, and it could change before becoming official. The draft goes further to relax mileage targets than even auto companies had been seeking. Some of the automakers are growing increasingly anxious that the administration is pushing too far, according to sources involved in negotiations. The companies worry the administration is inviting costly and protracted litigation with states like California, which could create years of uncertainty for the industry.

Or worse yet, it could leave the industry confronting two different mileage standards: one federal standard, and one set by California using its authority under the Clean Air Act and a waiver it was given by the federal government.

The Trump administration plan aims to revoke California's authority to stick to stricter emissions. Legal scholars are dubious that it would succeed.

“They are doing a retread of arguments that were made during the Geroge W. Bush administration,” said Jody Freeman, who was President Obama's advisor on climate change and now directs the environmental law program at Harvard. Two federal district courts rejected the arguments at that time, she said.

But before the administration even gets to the point of making its case, it will have to persuade the courts that any rollback at all is warranted. The lawsuit California and other states filed on Tuesday argues that the administration has yet to do the work required to justify even modest changes in the fuel targets. The Obama administration backed its rules with thousands of pages of research and data. The Trump administration has yet to offer anything close to an equally exhaustive scientific and economic review to back its plan.

“If you want to reverse a policy, you have to do so based on facts and data that is not arbitrary,” Freeman said. “They have yet to provide the level of specificity you need to do an about-face like that.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C. for the Los Angeles Times, with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the L.A. Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California's epic budget mess and political dysfunction.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=41bce9c6-3e73-4a52-aa0b-8f3b4d3c6d6d

 23 
 on: May 04, 2018, 05:48:52 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

EDITORIAL: California versus EPA, round 10

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

WORLD LEADERS may negotiate their climate change accords in foreign capitals, but the efforts to stem global warming may succeed or fail based on what happens in courtrooms here in the United States.

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that they have filed California's 10th, and potentially most consequential, lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Joined by 16 other states and the District of Columbia, California is defending a planned increase in vehicle fuel-economy standards against an attack by EPA head Scott Pruitt.

Adopted under the Obama administration, the clean-car regulations were a crucial piece of the national effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. And California, which has the unique authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, had agreed to forgo more stringent standards in favor of national regulations that would have a bigger impact on greenhouse gases.

Last month Pruitt announced the agency would abandon the stiffer fuel economy requirements, which were supposed to be phased in from 2022 to 2025. Pruitt is widely expected to weaken or even eliminate fuel standards, and he is reportedly looking to do so in a way that circumvents California's authority to adopt its own rules.

An attack on California's authority would not only hinder the Golden State's ability to clean up the air; it would stymie a dozen other states that have adopted California's vehicle emissions standards. And that would cripple efforts to combat climate change: Cars and trucks recently surpassed power plants as America's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The clean-car rules were slated to improve the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 50% by 2025, to almost 55 miles per gallon. To meet the new standards, automakers were expected to develop and sell more hybrid and electric models, gradually cutting smoggy tailpipe pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.

The states' lawsuit argues that the EPA acted arbitrarily to overturn the standards, violating its own rules and the Clean Air Act. Becerra said the federal government offered no evidence to support its decision.

California leaders rightly recognize the threat posed by Pruitt and the Climate Change Denier-in-Chief. Fortunately, the 17-state coalition formed to fight the EPA's clean-car rollback represents about 43% of the U.S. market for new cars and 44% of the U.S. population. That should make it abundantly clear to the administration and to the automakers lobbying for looser standards that Americans do not want to move backward on climate change and clean air.


http://enewspaper.latimes.com/desktop/latimes/default.aspx?&edid=4fe1eccc-e459-4dc6-ad3d-2b3cd8c9b7f4

 24 
 on: May 04, 2018, 05:48:35 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

California sues U.S. over car mileage rules

State joins 16 others in fight over vehicle emission rules as Brown levels attack on EPA head Pruitt.

By PATRICK McGREEVY and BEVAN HALPER | Tuesday, May 02, 2018

The California-led lawsuit seeks to block the EPA's effort to weaken rules requiring cars and SUVs to average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. — Photograph: Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press.
The California-led lawsuit seeks to block the EPA's effort to weaken rules requiring cars and SUVs to average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025.
 — Photograph: Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press.


SACRAMENTO — An angry Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday announced a lawsuit by California and 16 other states against the Trump administration to stop it from rolling back aggressive national fuel economy standards championed by the state.

In comments at the Capitol, Brown called actions of the Trump administration “so outrageous,” adding that “Trump is definitely running a one-man demolition derby on science, the Clean Air Act and a lot of things we are trying to do.”

Brown called Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt “Outlaw Pruitt,” and accused him of “breaking the law.”

“He's flouting the Clean Air Act and the legitimate needs and well-being of the American people,” the governor said.

The California-led lawsuit filed in federal court seeks to block the EPA's effort to weaken rules requiring cars and SUVs to average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

The rules are crucial to California and other states' ability to meet their climate action goals, as well as to fulfilling their vow to carry the country toward meeting its obligations under the Paris agreement on global warming. Under the Trump administration, the federal agency has said the standards are too onerous and need to be reconsidered.

While the administration has yet to announce how far it intends to roll back the mileage targets, a draft of its plan seen by lawmakers shows it is poised to significantly weaken them. The plan the EPA has drafted with the Department of Transportation would reduce the target from 55 miles per gallon to 42 miles per gallon.

It would also revoke the authority California and other states now have to keep in place the stricter targets.

The states argue that the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in trying to unravel the aggressive targets, failed to follow its own regulations and violated the Clean Air Act.

“The states joining today's lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars,” Brown said. “This phalanx of states will defend the nation's clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution.”

The lawsuit comes only days after Pruitt assured members of Congress that he was committed to compromise with California and would seek mileage targets the state could embrace. But soon after Pruitt made those assurances in congressional hearings, his agency's draft plan surfaced. It showed no intention of brokering a deal and instead strikes a hostile posture toward California and other states.

Trump was elected on the promise of reducing red tape and regulations for businesses, and the EPA has sought to scale back rules on several major industries. “Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” Pruitt said in a recent statement on the emission standards issue.

Even the auto industry has become unnerved at how aggressively the EPA is going after emissions standards. A Trump administration war on the issue with California, which Brown said on Tuesday is “sharpening,” threatens to tangle the regulations up in years of litigation, leaving car makers uncertain of what to plan for.

EPA officials declined on Tuesday to respond to the allegations in the lawsuit or the name-calling by the governor.

The administration did not respond directly to a question about why it has had such a heavy hand with states, despite the normal deference urged by conservatives.

“Certainly the administration supports state rights,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Monday's press briefing. “In regard to the specific lawsuit, we're reviewing that,” she added.

California has been at the forefront of environmental protections for decades and pioneered efforts to regulate tailpipe emissions in the 1970s, when it created the country's first standards for nitrogen oxide emissions from tailpipes.

Starting in 2010 during the Obama administration, the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California Air Resources Board established a single national program of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2012-25 vehicles.

That program permits automakers to design and manufacture to a single target, according to state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who filed the lawsuit.

The attorney general noted that last month the EPA reversed course and claimed that the clean car standards for model years 2022-25 should be scrapped. Becerra said the federal government offered no evidence to support the decision and the expected rules that may weaken the existing 2022-25 standards.

Becerra, who joined Brown at the Capitol to announce what is the state's 32nd legal challenge to the Trump administration, said the existing clean car standards are achievable, science-based and “a boon for hard-working American families.”

“Enough is enough,” Becerra said. “We're not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families' health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them.”

The lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and California was joined as a plaintiff by other states including Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania among others, as well as the District of Columbia.

The states that sued represent some 43% of the U.S. automobile market, Brown said.

Brown was in fighting form on Tuesday, pounding the podium and blasting Pruitt for “his expensive travel tastes and funny little redecorating plans,” a reference to Pruitt taking first-class airline flights and spending tens of thousands of dollars to remodel his office, including installation of a sound-proof telephone booth.

The governor said the changes would make the U.S. auto industry less competitive with China and other countries in providing cleaner, more efficient engines.

“This move by Pruitt with the help and encouragement of Trump is not going to make America great,” Brown said. “It's going to make America second-rate and probably will jeopardize America's auto industry.”

He noted the Obama administration agreed to the standards with states including California based on two years of study.

“You can't just like some tin-horn dictator say, ‘I'm tearing up a rule that is based on a two-year-determination process’,” Brown said.

The states' lawsuit was supported by members of Congress from California including Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-California) and Representative Doris Matsui (Democrat-Sacramento).

“The Trump administration cannot ignore the science and the law,” Feinstein said.

California has sued the Trump administration on environmental issues more than a dozen times and the state has won each case that has been decided, Becerra said.

The Trump administration's pending plan to freeze the fuel economy targets at 42 miles per gallon and pre-empt California's ability to set its own emissions standards, meanwhile, drew a scolding on Tuesday by Sentor Tom Carper (Democrat-Delaware), the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Carper cited a leaked copy of the EPA proposal, which he said argues that “states may not adopt or enforce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions standards when such standards relate to fuel economy standards and are therefore preempted” by federal law.

“Such a proposal, if finalized, would harm U.S. national and economic security, undermine efforts to combat global warming pollution, create regulatory and manufacturing uncertainty for the automobile industry and unnecessary litigation, increase the amount of gasoline consumers would have to buy, and runs counter to statements that both of you have made to Members of Congress,” Carper wrote in a letter on Tuesday to Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.


__________________________________________________________________________

Los Angeles Times staff writer Noah Bierman contributed to this report. Bevan Halper and Bierman reported from Washington.

• Patrick McGreevy covers the California Legislature out of the Sacramento bureau. Since joining the Los Angeles Times in 1998, he has worked in the City Hall and San Fernando Valley bureaus, writing about subjects including Valley secession, LAPD reform and city government during the administrations of Mayors Richard Riordan, James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa. He is a native of San Diego and a graduate of San Jose State University.

• Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C. for the Los Angeles Times, with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the L.A. Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California's epic budget mess and political dysfunction.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=9ec05529-f8c1-405b-9f67-a466a65f0891

 25 
 on: May 04, 2018, 05:47:32 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Protests, not guns, to greet Trump

President will speak on Friday during NRA convention in Dallas.
Ban on firearms strikes some as hypocritical.


By MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE | Tuesday, May 01, 2018

President Donald J. Trump addresses the National Rifle Association's leadership conference in Atlanta last year. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.
President Donald J. Trump addresses the National Rifle Association's leadership conference in Atlanta last year. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.

HOUSTON — President Trump will address gun rights supporters on the first day of the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday, a White House official confirmed — a move likely to increase tension and protests at the annual gathering.

The convention, which rotates cities, drew more than 80,000 NRA members and other supporters last year in Atlanta. Attendees are permitted to carry firearms, except during the forum where Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to speak.

It's standard for the Secret Service to bar firearms in places visited by those they protect, regardless of state law. And guns were also banned during Trump's appearance at last year's convention. But some student victims of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed on February 14, criticized the policy as hypocritical.

“It's ironic that they feel they need to ban guns to protect themselves especially after their main philosophy has been ‘more guns = more protection’ yet they don't think they need to protect our kids in the same way,” David Hogg, 18, a Parkland senior who became an outspoken gun control advocate after surviving the shooting, said in a text to the Los Angeles Times.

Texas had the most guns registered of any state last year, more than 580,000, and the state's Republican-dominated Legislature is particularly gun-friendly.

The state has adopted laws in recent years allowing not only more people to carry concealed handguns, but also the “open carry” of handguns in plain sight and “campus carry” of handguns at colleges. After the Parkland shooting, Trump spoke in favor of arming teachers, a controversial stance nationwide but already a common practice at some schools outside Dallas.

But the urban core of Dallas, like other major cities in Texas, is largely Democratic, and some City Council members discouraged the NRA from even coming. County Judge Clay Jenkins is hosting a forum on Thursday for local students to “voice their concerns” about the convention. And a “die-in” is planned on Friday outside the downtown convention center with some Parkland survivors and relatives expected to participate, organizers said.

Manuel Oliver, who lost his 17-year-old son Joaquin in the Parkland shooting, plans to erect a mural in his honor in Dallas during the NRA convention and join protesters outside the convention center. He said Trump's decision to attend was a mistake.

“He decided to be in the wrong room with the wrong audience, especially if he's looking for votes and support,” Oliver said.

Pence had been slated to deliver the convention's keynote speech on Friday, which some family and friends of Parkland victims said upset them because he has yet to meet with them, something Trump did shortly after the shooting.

Javier Marin, a friend of Oliver's from Florida who plans to accompany him to Dallas, said Trump's appearance “is making our actions more important. This will be a real battleground.”

“He needs to go because he's seeing the other side gaining territory,” Marin said. “This is really a reflection of the division in this country.”

Much has changed in the American debate about guns since the last NRA convention in Texas in 2013, the largest in recent memory, which drew more than 81,000 people.

Almost two-thirds of those under 30 who plan to vote in the upcoming mid-term election believe gun control laws should be stricter, according to a recent poll by Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

The poll also found support for a ban on assault weapons among those voters had increased significantly in the last five years, climbing from 41% to 58%.

Trump was elected on a platform of staunch support for the 2nd Amendment, even as mass shootings increased in frequency and lethality. The largest to date, in Las Vegas last year, killed 58 people. There have also been more high-profile shootings involving police: The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014; the shootings of Alton Sterling and three Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers in 2015; and the killing of five Dallas police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2016.

The Reverend Dominique Alexander, who helped organize that Black Lives Matter protest, is also organizing against the NRA convention.

“We continue to see our president whenever the NRA comes; he stands with them and that's problematic to us,” Alexander said, calling the NRA's decision to come to Dallas “a slap in the face.”

“We're expecting in the thousands, and we're expecting our numbers to go up with him coming to town,” Alexander said of Trump.

C.J. Grisham, executive director of the Temple, Texas-based gun rights group Open Carry Texas, followed reports of gun control protests and organized at least 1,600 people for a pro-gun rally outside Dallas City Hall on Saturday.

“The anti-gun crowd has felt more emboldened to push their agenda, and the pro-gun crowd has pushed back even harder,” he said.

He said Trump's decision to attend was not a sign that he's afraid gun control advocates are gaining support.

“This president is doing what he's always done: supporting gun rights,” Grisham said.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Molly Hennessy-Fiske is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she has spent a dozen years covering foreign, national, metro and business news, including reporting rotations in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. She won an Overseas Press Club award in 2015, a Dart award from Columbia University in 2014, was a finalist for the Livingston Awards and Casey Medal and won state awards for her work in California, Florida, New York and North Carolina. She completed a Thomson Reuters fellowship in Lebanon in 2006 and a Pew fellowship reporting from Mexico in 2004. She has reported for newspapers in Boston, Miami, Raleigh, Schenectady, Syracuse, Washington and West Palm Beach. Hennessy-Fiske grew up in Upstate New York before attending Harvard College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in social studies in 1999. She spent last year as L.A. Times Middle East bureau chief before returning to cover foreign/national news as the paper's Houston bureau chief.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=a5a3be2e-37d5-4745-8a66-1439496a1cec

 26 
 on: May 03, 2018, 02:23:26 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Why Talking to Mueller Could Be a Minefield for Trump

President Trump's lawyers have been trying to talk him out
of agreeing to be interviewed by the special counsel.
A list of questions shows why, legal experts said.


By CHARLIE SAVAGE | 11:09PM EDT — Tuesday, May 01, 2018

President Trump would need a detailed command of a range of issues to answer questions from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
President Trump would need a detailed command of a range of issues to answer questions from the special counsel,
Robert S. Mueller III. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


WASHINGTON — President Trump has insisted he is eager to make the case to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that he has done nothing wrong. But the questions that Mr. Mueller wants to ask show why the president's lawyers have countered that an interview would be a minefield for Mr. Trump.

It is not just that the president has a history of telling demonstrable falsehoods, while the special counsel has already won four guilty pleas for the crime of lying to investigators. The questions would pose additional challenges for Mr. Trump, legal experts said.

Many of Mr. Mueller's questions, obtained and published by The New York Times, are so broad that Mr. Trump would need a detailed command of a range of issues. And, complicating efforts to try to adequately prepare him for such an encounter, the president's lawyers do not know everything that the special counsel has learned.

“This list reinforces the notion that the president should not go in for an interview with Mueller,” said Sol Wisenberg, a white-collar defense lawyer who was a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. “Mueller knows all kinds of things — we don't know exactly what he knows — and these are both broad and detailed questions, making real land mines.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump denounced the publication of the questions in a pair of Twitter posts. He called it “disgraceful” and again pronounced Mr. Mueller's investigation a “witch hunt.” He also incorrectly declared both that none of the questions were about “collusion” — in fact, many centered on his campaign's ties to Russia — and that it would be “hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened.” (Efforts to obstruct an investigation can be prosecuted even if no underlying crime is found.)

Most of the dozens of questions are about now well-known events, like the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top Trump campaign officials and Russians promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. While a few touch on Mr. Trump's business dealings — in particular, campaign-era talks about a proposed real estate project in Moscow — they do not signal that Mr. Mueller is examining Trump Organization finances more broadly or contain other major surprises.

In many instances, Mr. Mueller wants Mr. Trump to explain his knowledge of, reactions to or communications about private events where there were other witnesses, such as his campaign's internal discussions of Russia-related matters and his conversations as president with and about James B. Comey, whom he fired as F.B.I. director.

The questions were drawn up in March and reflect no events since then, leaving open the possibility that they may have changed as the president's lawyers and the special counsel continued to negotiate over an interview.

The handover to the president's lawyers grew out of a tense moment early that month between Mr. Mueller and Mr. Trump's lead lawyer at the time, John Dowd. Mr. Dowd had argued that Mr. Trump was too busy running the country to sit for an interview, especially if he was not a target of the investigation, according to a person briefed on the encounter.

Mr. Mueller replied that he had to question Mr. Trump to determine whether he had criminal intent when he took actions like firing Mr. Comey and raised the possibility of subpoenaing Mr. Trump to appear before a grand jury, the person said. News of Mr. Mueller mentioning the subpoena was first reported by The Washington Post.

A few days later, a lawyer working for Mr. Mueller called Mr. Dowd to arrange a second meeting, in the hopes of persuading Mr. Dowd to allow Mr. Trump to sit for an interview. At that meeting, investigators for Mr. Mueller provided Mr. Dowd with the list of questions they had for the president. After reviewing the list, Mr. Dowd become even more convinced, the person said, that allowing the president to be interviewed would be a problem.

One major threat to Mr. Trump posed by such open-ended questions is that, as his Twitter diatribe showed, he has a history of saying things that are not true — especially when he rambles off the cuff. It is a felony to lie to law enforcement officials or to conceal a material fact during a proceeding like a formal interview.

Mr. Dowd quit in March after he advised Mr. Trump that sitting down with investigators would put him in too much jeopardy, but Mr. Trump signaled that he was prepared to ignore Mr. Dowd's advice.

Moreover, the list of questions is most likely a starting point for follow-ups as investigators try to iron out ambiguities. Paul Rosenzweig, another former Whitewater prosecutor and a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a conservative and libertarian research organization, said they could be seeking such details as: What was the source of your knowledge? When did you find out? Who told you and what exactly did they say?

“You don't just ask, ‘What did you know about the Trump Tower meeting?’ and he tells you the answer,” Mr. Rosenzweig said. “With 48 questions like that, that's honestly a two-day interview. That's 12 hours of questioning.”

And in part because former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty are cooperating with the inquiry, the White House does not know what evidence the special counsel has obtained that could contradict Mr. Trump, Mr. Wisenberg said. Because of that, he said, the president's lawyers were in a worse position to prepare their client for an interview than President Bill Clinton's team was in the Whitewater investigation.

“It's totally different than when President Clinton came into the grand jury room to talk to us,” he said. “He pretty much knew everything we knew. It was far less risky.”

Even so, Mr. Clinton perjured himself by falsely denying that he had had a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. That became part of the referral to Congress by Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel, that led to Mr. Clinton's impeachment.

As part of those proceedings, the videotape of Mr. Clinton's false testimony became public, taking its place in his legacy. It is far from clear, however, that any transcript or recording of Mr. Trump's interview — if he gives one — would similarly become public. Mr. Rosenzweig said the interview would be covered by investigative secrecy rules, and there was no clear mechanism for it to be disclosed under Mr. Mueller, who has less power than Mr. Starr enjoyed.

Mr. Mueller's authorities remain uncertain; it is not clear that he could charge Mr. Trump with a crime or send an impeachment referral report directly to Congress. That has left his potential end-game unclear if he does conclude the president committed some kind of wrong-doing.

But the list of questions indicates that the investigation remains a significant threat to Mr. Trump even if he were to be honest about everything in any interview.

The questions zero in on Mr. Trump's possible liability — and little else, noted Samuel W. Buell, a Duke University criminal law professor and a former federal prosecutor who helped lead the Enron investigation.

“‘What did you know and think?’ and ‘When did you know it and think it?’ are not questions you ask someone to determine whether they have information about someone else's commission of a crime,” Mr. Buell said. “They are questions you ask to determine whether the person you are questioning had the guilty mind required to break the law.”

Mr. Wisenberg said he was struck by Mr. Mueller's focus on establishing the president's mind-set when he weighed whether to fire Mr. Comey, and potential steps like whether to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, pardon people charged by Mr. Mueller or force the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel.

No Supreme Court precedent exists to guide Mr. Mueller on whether obstruction of justice can occur if a president exercises a constitutional power with a bad motive, like firing a subordinate to cover up a crime; Mr. Wisenberg counted himself among those who do not think it can. But Mr. Mueller's questions, he said, suggest the special counsel has adopted a broader interpretation of the law.

Some of the questions may present an opportunity for Mr. Trump, however. Asking him to explain what he meant when he told NBC News that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire Mr. Comey, for example, would permit Mr. Trump to backpedal on the remark or explain it away, perhaps by saying he did not really mean it.

Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School criminal law professor who has frequently defended Mr. Trump on television and is informally consulting with him, told CNN on Monday that he thought Mr. Trump could invoke executive privilege to refuse to answer questions about his thinking when he decided to exercise constitutional powers.

But the problem for Mr. Trump is that those questions, Mr. Dershowitz said, were the “easy” ones. By contrast, Mr. Trump could not invoke the privilege about events that took place before he became president, like his business dealings.

Several legal experts said it was unusual for prosecutors to give Mr. Trump a preview of the questions, speculating that Mr. Mueller was bending over backward to defang any accusations of overreach. Mr. Buell said the move might also be aimed at uncovering any disputes over executive privilege now so they do not disrupt an interview.

But he predicted that despite all the “posturing,” Mr. Trump would allow his lawyers to talk him out of sitting down with Mr. Mueller.

“The game,” he said, “is to appear to be interested and cooperating without doing so.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting to this story.

• The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage is a Washington correspondent for The New York Times. He is also the author of Power Wars: The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy, published in 2015, an investigative history of national-security legal policymaking in the Obama administration, and Takeover, published in 2007, which chronicles the Bush-Cheney administration's efforts to expand presidential power. Mr. Savage has been covering post-9/11 issues — including national security, individual rights and the rule of law — since 2003, when he was a reporter for the Miami Herald. Later that year, he joined the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe; he moved to the Washington bureau of The New York Times in 2008. He has also co-taught a seminar on national security and the Constitution at Georgetown University. Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mr. Savage graduated from Harvard College and earned a master's degree from Yale Law School as part of a Knight Foundation journalism fellowship. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Luiza Chwialkowska Savage, the editorial director of events for Politico, and their children, William and Peter Savage. His other journalism honors include the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency, the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Constitution Project's Award for Constitutional Commentary.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Trump Calls Disclosure of Mueller Questions in Russia Investigation ‘Disgraceful’

 • Justice Department Won't Be Extorted, Rosenstein Warns Republicans

 • Trump's Former Doctor Says Office Was Raided and Files Seized

 • Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction

 • The Questions Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction, and What They Mean

 • Can Presidents Obstruct Justice? The Latest Trump Fight, Explained


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/us/politics/trump-mueller-interview-questions.html

 27 
 on: May 03, 2018, 02:23:08 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

EDITORIAL: What Robert Mueller Knows

Donald Trump's former lawyer didn't want him to speak with the special counsel.
The questions published on Monday explain why this is so.


By THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD | Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Illustration: Jasjyot Singh Hans.
Illustration: Jasjyot Singh Hans.

THE 49 questions that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, hopes to ask President Trump as part of the year-long Russia investigation suggest that Mr. Mueller knows a great deal more than he's letting on — and he hasn't even gotten to the follow-ups yet.

After the questions, which were published by The New York Times on Monday, were provided to Mr. Trump's legal team in March, John Dowd, the president's lead personal lawyer at the time, urged him to avoid sitting for an interview with Mr. Mueller. When Mr. Trump said he intended to anyway, Mr. Dowd resigned.

Reading through the list, it's clear why Mr. Dowd was so concerned. Federal investigators don't like being lied to, and Mr. Trump has a marked tendency to say things that aren't true. If he agrees to speak with Mr. Mueller's team, he will have to answer some very basic questions about what he knew, when he knew it and what motivated some of his most shocking and inexplicable actions over the past year.

To name just a few: When and why did you decide to fire James Comey, the F.B.I. director, who was leading the Russia investigation at the time? What did you mean when you told NBC's Lester Holt that you fired Mr. Comey because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story”? Did you try to persuade the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to protect you from the investigation? Did you secretly promise to pardon Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his communications with the Russian ambassador?

The questions are a reminder of just how aberrant this White House has been. No prior president so openly assaulted the rule of law or undermined the integrity of the law enforcement community. In that light, Mr. Mueller's questions also provide a measure of comfort that, amid all the chaos and tumult of this administration, career public servants in law enforcement continue to do their jobs, investigating crimes and pursuing justice. It may unnerve Mr. Trump, who has spent his life skirting the law and avoiding full accountability, but this is how the law works. Without saying a word publicly, Mr. Mueller and his team of experienced investigators are showing America how a government premised on the rule of law is supposed to function. The process may seem slow, but that is out of diligence and caution. Its fundamental purpose is truth-seeking — unlike, say, the embarrassing obfuscations of the Republican leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, who last week absolved Mr. Trump and his campaign of any wrongdoing in a 250-page report that reads more like a work of fantasy than a government investigation.

Early on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted that the leak of Mr. Mueller's questions was “disgraceful” and that “it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened!”

Wrong. Obstruction of justice is itself a federal crime — see, for example, Section 1505 of Title 18 of the United States Code — regardless of whether prosecutors can establish an underlying offense. Mr. Trump and his defenders mock it as a “process crime,” but the rule of law breaks down if people can interfere, with impunity, in law enforcement's efforts to do justice. Don't forget that both presidents who have faced impeachment proceedings in the past few decades, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, were accused of obstructing justice.

Anyway, Mr. Mueller appears to have at least some evidence of an underlying offense. That is the implication of about a dozen of his questions, including the most surprising of all: Was Mr. Trump aware of any efforts by his campaign, and specifically by his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to seek Russia's help in winning the 2016 election?

We don't know exactly what is leading Mr. Mueller to want to ask this question of Mr. Trump, but it's worth noting that as far back as August 2017, CNN reported that American intelligence services had intercepted communications among suspected Russian operatives discussing conversations they claimed to have had with Mr. Manafort, in which he requested their help in damaging Hillary Clinton's election prospects. Mr. Mueller has already secured an indictment of Mr. Manafort on federal charges, including money laundering, tax fraud and making false statements, and has extracted a guilty plea from Mr. Manafort's top aide, Rick Gates, on related charges. Mr. Manafort is fighting the charges while Mr. Gates is now cooperating with investigators.

Whatever information he has, Mr. Mueller, like any seasoned prosecutor, does not ask questions unless he already knows the answers. Whether or not Mr. Trump decides to talk to him, the rest of us will know, too, soon enough.


__________________________________________________________________________

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/opinion/robert-mueller-russia-investigation.html

 28 
 on: May 02, 2018, 06:49:50 pm 
Started by Im2Sexy4MyPants - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants
 Grin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NUFpAxeDJU&list=PLWoK5GLSB2zCAiQtKMaNp1BSY1NiYqsV_&index=49

 29 
 on: May 01, 2018, 04:35:25 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in
Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction


The questions provide the most detailed look yet at the special counsel
investigation and show an effort to learn about the president's thinking.


By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT | 8:46PM EDT — Monday, April 30, 2018

Robert S. Mueller III is said to be trying to determine whether the president had criminal intent when he fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director. — Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press.
Robert S. Mueller III is said to be trying to determine whether the president had criminal intent when he fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director.
 — Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press.


WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia's election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself, according to a list of the questions obtained by The New York Times.

The open-ended queries appear to be an attempt to penetrate the president's thinking, to get at the motivation behind some of his most combative Twitter posts and to examine his relationships with his family and his closest advisers. They deal chiefly with the president's high-profile firings of the F.B.I. director and his first national security adviser, his treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.

But they also touch on the president's businesses; any discussions with his long-time personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition; any contacts he had with Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser who claimed to have inside information about Democratic email hackings; and what happened during Mr. Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

The questions provide the most detailed look yet inside Mr. Mueller's investigation, which has been shrouded in secrecy since he was appointed nearly a year ago. The majority relate to possible obstruction of justice, demonstrating how an investigation into Russia's election meddling grew to include an examination of the president's conduct in office. Among them are queries on any discussions Mr. Trump had about his attempts to fire Mr. Mueller himself and what the president knew about possible pardon offers to Mr. Flynn.

“What efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?” Mr. Mueller planned to ask, according to questions read by the special counsel investigators to the president's lawyers, who compiled them into a list. That document was provided to The New York Times by a person outside Mr. Trump's legal team.

A few questions reveal that Mr. Mueller is still investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. In one of the more tantalizing inquiries, Mr. Mueller asks what Mr. Trump knew about campaign aides, including the former chairman Paul Manafort, seeking assistance from Moscow: “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” No such outreach has been revealed publicly.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, declined to comment. A spokesman for the special counsel's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The questions serve as a reminder of the chaotic first 15 months of the Trump presidency and the transition and campaign before that. Mr. Mueller wanted to inquire about public threats the president made, conflicting statements from Mr. Trump and White House aides, the president's private admissions to Russian officials, a secret meetings at an island resort, WikiLeaks, salacious accusations and dramatic congressional testimony.

The special counsel also sought information from the president about his relationship with Russia. Mr. Mueller would like to ask Mr. Trump whether he had any discussions during the campaign about any meetings with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and whether he spoke to others about either American sanctions against Russia or meeting with Mr. Putin.

Through his questions, Mr. Mueller also tries to tease out Mr. Trump's views on law enforcement officials and whether he sees them as independent investigators or people who should loyally protect him.

For example, when the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was fired, the White House said he broke with Justice Department policy and spoke publicly about the investigation into Mrs. Clinton's email server. Mr. Mueller's questions put that statement to the test. He wants to ask why, time and again, Mr. Trump expressed no concerns with whether Mr. Comey had abided by policy. Rather, in statements in private and on national television, Mr. Trump suggested that Mr. Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation.

Many of the questions surround Mr. Trump's relationship with Mr. Sessions, including the attorney general's decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation and whether Mr. Trump told Mr. Sessions he needed him in place for protection.

Mr. Mueller appears to be investigating how Mr. Trump took steps last year to fire Mr. Mueller himself. The president relented after the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, threatened to resign, an episode that the special counsel wants to ask about.

“What consideration and discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel in June of 2017?” Mr. Mueller planned to ask, according to the list of questions. “What did you think and do in reaction to January 25, 2018, story about the termination of the special counsel and Don McGahn backing you off the termination?” he planned to ask, referring to The New York Times article that broke the news of the confrontation.

Mr. Mueller has sought for months to question the president, who has in turn expressed a desire, at times, to be interviewed, viewing it as an avenue to end the inquiry more quickly. His lawyers have been negotiating terms of an interview out of concern that their client — whose exaggerations, half-truths and outright falsehoods are well documented — could provide false statements or easily become distracted. Four people, including Mr. Flynn, have pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry.

The list of questions grew out of those negotiations. In January, Mr. Trump's lawyers gave Mr. Mueller several pages of written explanations about the president's role in the matters the special counsel is investigating. Concerned about putting the president in legal jeopardy, his lead lawyer, John Dowd, was trying to convince Mr. Mueller he did not need to interview Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Mueller was apparently unsatisfied. He told Mr. Dowd in early March that he needed to question the president directly to determine whether he had criminal intent when he fired Mr. Comey, the people said.

But Mr. Dowd held firm, and investigators for Mr. Mueller agreed days later to share during a meeting with Mr. Dowd the questions they wanted to ask Mr. Trump.

When Mr. Mueller's team relayed the questions, their tone and detailed nature cemented Mr. Dowd's view that the president should not sit for an interview. Despite Mr. Dowd's misgivings, Mr. Trump remained firm in his insistence that he meet with Mr. Mueller. About a week and a half after receiving the questions, Mr. Dowd resigned, concluding that his client was ignoring his advice.

Mr. Trump's new lawyer in the investigation and his long-time confidant, Rudolph W. Giuliani, met with Mr. Mueller last week and said he was trying to determine whether the special counsel and his staff were going to be “truly objective.”

Mr. Mueller's end-game remains a mystery, even if he determines the president broke the law. A longstanding Justice Department legal finding says presidents cannot be charged with a crime while they are in office. The special counsel told Mr. Dowd in March that though the president's conduct is under scrutiny, he is not a target of the investigation, meaning Mr. Mueller does not expect to charge him.

The prospect of pardons is also among Mr. Mueller's inquiries, and whether Mr. Trump offered them to a pair of former top aides to influence their decisions about whether to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

Mr. Dowd broached the idea with lawyers for both of the advisers, Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty on charges of money laundering and other financial crimes related to his work for the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was ousted from the White House in February 2017 amid revelations about contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, ultimately pleaded guilty last December to lying to federal authorities and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

“After General Flynn resigned, what calls or efforts were made by people associated with you to reach out to General Flynn or to discuss Flynn seeking immunity or possible pardon?” Mr. Mueller planned to ask.


__________________________________________________________________________

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

• Michael S. Schmidt is an American journalist and correspondent for The New York Times in Washington, D.C. and national security contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • What Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction, and What It Means


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/us/politics/robert-mueller-questions-trump.html

 30 
 on: May 01, 2018, 04:06:56 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Stormy Daniels files defamation lawsuit against Trump

The porn star accuses the president of defaming her by dismissing as a “con job” her claim
that she was threatened in 2011 after giving an interview about their alleged affair.


By BETH REINHARD | 3:26PM EDT — Monday, April 30, 2018

In this file photo taken on April 16, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti in New York. — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
In this file photo taken on April 16, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti in New York.
 — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


PORN STAR Stormy Daniels on Monday filed another lawsuit against President Trump, accusing him of defaming her by dismissing as a “con job” her claim that she was threatened in 2011 after giving an interview about their alleged affair.

Daniels, who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, said in a televised interview in March that she was threatened after she gave In Touch magazine an interview about Trump. She said she was with her infant daughter when a man approached her in a Las Vegas parking lot, told her to “leave Trump alone” and said it would be “a shame if something happened” to her.

Daniels never reported the incident to police. But after she talked about the parking lot encounter in a widely watched “60 Minutes” interview, she released a sketch of the man two weeks ago.

Trump responded on Twitter: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Daniels's lawsuit, filed on Monday in the federal court in the Southern District of New York, said Trump's tweet is “false and defamatory.”

Charles Harder, an attorney representing Trump, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Daniels first sued Trump in early March, seeking to void a deal she signed shortly before the 2016 election in which she received $130,000 in exchange for keeping quiet about their alleged relationship. That suit also named Essential Consultants, a company that Trump attorney Michael Cohen set up as a vehicle for the $130,000 payment. Daniels later amended that suit to add Cohen as a defendant and to accuse him of defamation.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Beth Reinhard is a reporter on the investigative team at The Washington Post. She previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, National Journal, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/stormy-daniels-files-defamation-lawsuit-against-trump/2018/04/30/5c6a7298-4ca2-11e8-b966-bfb0da2dad62_story.html

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