Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Judge orders DOJ to publish info redacted as privileged from Mueller report

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Department of Justice to publish information redacted from the Mueller report that had been designated as privileged.

District Court Judge Reggie Walton said that the Trump administration had failed to justify certain redactions from the report on the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

"Based on the Court's review of the unredacted version of the Mueller Report, the Court concludes that the Department has failed to satisfy its burden to demonstrate that the withheld material is protected by the deliberative process privilege," Walton, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote in his 40-page opinion.

The decision comes as a result of a pair of lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act brought by a journalist with Buzzfeed and the Electronic Privacy Information Center that sought to have the full, unredacted report released to the public.

Walton on Wednesday ruled that the DOJ could continue to withhold material it had redacted under FOIA exemptions allowing agencies to conceal information that would compromise law enforcement investigations or compromise the privacy of witnesses.

In March, Walton ordered the DOJ to give him access to an unredacted copy of the report so that he could review their withholdings.

"The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr's statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary," Walton wrote in March. 

James Comey on Obamagate: I Know Nothing

Well, one thing is clear again: ex-FBI Director James Comey has no idea what was going on in his department during the entirety of the counterintelligence probe into Russian collusion during the 2016 election.

Comey pretty much saying he can't remember anything and didn't know anything.

Mollie September 30, 2020 Comey is now claiming he doesn't know anything about the source of the Steele dossier claims he briefed to Trump and then had leaked to CNN, and that he definitely doesn't know anything about the sub-source telling the FBI in early 2017 that claims sourced to him were false.

Sean Davis September 30, 2020 Grassley notes that Comey was warned repeatedly by intelligence officials in early 2017 that the Steele dossier was false and riddled with Russian disinformation.

Sean Davis September 30, 2020 James Comey just said the FBI director has no responsibility, before signing a FISA application, to determine whether the allegations within it are true.

Sean Davis September 30, 2020 Comey has repeatedly claimed, against all evidence, that Carter Page wasn't working with the CIA and that Igor Danchenko-the Steele dossier's primary source-wasn't a Russian intelligence asset.

Here we have James Comey sitting here today pretty much saying he had no clue what was going on. 

Comey Backtracks on FISA Warrant Against Carter Page

Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning, fired FBI Director James Comey was asked about the validity of the FISA warrant application against former Trump campaign official Carter Page.

"Knowing then what you know now, would you still have signed the warrant application against Carter Page?" Chairman Lindsey Graham asked.

James Comey just said the FBI director has no responsibility, before signing a FISA application, to determine whether the allegations within it are true.

Sean Davis September 30, 2020 Graham: Knowing then what you know now, would you still have signed the FISA warrants to spy on Carter Page?

Comey: No. It's a strange claim for Comey to make given that he denies the actual facts about Steele and Page that led the FISA court to condemn the warrants.

By the way, the FBI knew the dirty Russian dossier was full of false accussations and used it anyway to obtain a FISA warrant against Page.

ComeyHearing: Lindsey just got Comey to admit that he would not have signed off on the FISA warrants that he certified if he knew then what the public knows now. 

Here Are The 11 Dumbest, Most Slanted Questions Asked By Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace has received negative marks for his constant interruptions of President Donald Trump, and for his poor time management, but the worst thing about his moderation of the first presidential debate on Wednesday were the questions he asked.

Wallace's framing of the issue here was factually false and designed to make Trump look racist.

Will you condemn white supremacists? "You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing extremist groups. But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia group and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we've seen in Portland?" Wallace asked.

'Why are you holding big rallies?' "Are you not worried about the disease issues, sir?" Wallace asked, minutes after Trump explained his COVID-19 vaccine plan.

Wallace felt the need to ask why a presidential candidate was campaigning on-the-ground and then insinuated that maybe he shouldn't be campaigning because of COVID-19.

Do you believe in climate change? "Mr. President, you said, 'I don't think the science knows.' Over your four years, you have pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. You have rolled back a number of Obama Environmental records, what do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?" Wallace clarified his leading question by asking if Trump really believed in climate change, why would he have made the policy changes he did.

As Andy McCarthy points out, it was not Wallace who pressed Biden on his support of the Green New Deal, but Trump.

Oh, well, did Wallace clarify what's parts of Green New Deal Biden is against? No, needed to move on - Andy McCarthy September 30, 2020 6.

Wallace chose to ask Trump if he is going to tell his voters "to take to the streets" if the election results are not as desired.

'We'll come back to Roe v. Wade.' Despite promises to circle back to discuss the topic of abortion that came up during the segment about Trump's Supreme Court nomination Amy Coney Barrett, Wallace never brought it up again, even when he decided to ask science questions.

In the end, it was Trump who continued to press Biden while Wallace moved on. 

Debate Summary: Trump's 47 Months v. Biden's 47 Years

Just as his Fox handlers, is obsessed with being "Fair and balanced" while simultaneously giving just enough extra edge to Joe Biden so as to persuade the Democrats to let Fox News host one of their debates in four years, and - more importantly - to persuade Biden personally to give Fox access to the White House if Biden gets elected.

Wallace likewise did not allow Trump the time to lay out the valid point that Biden simply is not smart, as documented by public records that exposed Biden years ago as finishing towards the bottom of his law school class, after Biden had lied about having excelled academically.

Trump has done more in 47 months than Biden did in 47 years.

Although Trump made the point briefly once, I would have liked Trump to have grabbed onto Biden's leg - figuratively! - and not to have let go all night long, no matter the topic at hand: "By the way, Joe, you still have not answered Chris Wallace's question. You can run, Joe, but you can't hide from the American people: Will you condemn - here and now - any suggestion that the Supreme Court should be packed?" And just keep on it all night.

Trump did a good job getting Biden on the record, unequivocally denying that Hunter got paid $3.5 million by that wife of the mayor of Moscow, and zillions more by Burisma and China.

Biden could not have been more unequivocal: lies, all lies, Biden assured us; Hunter never got a dime from the Chinese or the Russian.

Not One Police Endorsement - But No Silence by the Moderator to Allow That to Seep In. Trump got one "Deer in the Headlights" moment out of Biden when Trump conveyed all the law-enforcement endorsements he has and then challenged Biden to name just one that he has.

It worked out even better when Trump challenged Biden to name even one, and Joe could not name a single one.

Trump briefly extracted from Biden a hint that a Democrat win will close down the nation's economy.

In all, the debate probably was a draw, and it may even have helped Biden a bit.

In sum, Trump was better prepared, had more facts, better arguments, but Biden held on with Wallace enabling him to get off the ropes. 

The Wealth Gap Shrinks

The report provides a snapshot of American household debt, income and wealth across demographic groups.

Median real incomes grew 5% from 2016 to 2019, the Fed reports, but it buries the lead. Lo, "Families at the top of the income and wealth distributions experienced very little, if any, growth" in net worth between 2016 and 2019 "After experiencing large gains between 2013 and 2016," while "Families near the bottom of the income and wealth distributions generally continued to experience substantial gains." That's a long way of saying wealth inequality declined.

As a comparison, between 2010 and 2016 Americans under age 35 saw a 5.8% increase in median incomes and those without a high-school degree only 1.7%. Employment and wages after the 2008-2009 recession rebounded faster for professionals than for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

From 2001 to 2004, incomes for Americans without a high-school degree increased 11.2%. The Fed also reports growing wealth among lower-income Americans.

About 14.5% of Americans in the lowest income quintile owned corporate stocks in 2019, up from 11.5% in 2016 and 12.3% in 2010.

Surely it's important that before the pandemic less affluent Americans were sharing more in the country's growing wealth.

That's the economy Americans should want to return to, not the slow growth and widening wealth gap of the Obama years. 

Joe Biden's ObamaCare Tax Avoidance

Joe Biden slammed President Trump at Tuesday's debate for both his tax policies and his personal tax management: "The tax code that put him in a position that he pays less tax than on the money a schoolteacher makes," Mr. Biden said, "Is because of him." The reference was to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Mr. Trump signed in 2017.

"ObamaCare is personal to me," Mr. Biden declares in a campaign ad. Yet Mr. Biden has taken advantage of the tax code to avoid paying the taxes that fund ObamaCare.

I reported in August that in 2017 and 2018 Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, characterized large amounts of book and speaking income as corporate profits rather than taxable wages, allowing them to circumvent Medicare and ObamaCare payroll taxes, of 2.9% and 0.9% respectively, on that income.

The Bidens released their 2019 tax return before the debate, and again they use this dodge.

In a 2019 report, the liberal Center for American Progress complained that "The current tax code allows many high-income individuals to avoid Medicare taxes on their business income." Another CAP report said that closing such "Loopholes" would "Raise close to $300 billion over 10 years."

Mr. Biden stretched the truth in attributing Mr. Trump's tax maneuvers to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The act did repeal ObamaCare's individual-mandate penalty, a regressive tax on the uninsured. 

Europe has suddenly realized that China's rhetoric about international cooperation was just hot air. You don't say.

US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a work session in the Casino of Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

President Trump used the World Economic Forum meeting to woo investors and business leaders by reassuring them that "America first does not mean America alone." But it was clear in Davos, Switzerland, this past week that geopolitical momentum lay with Beijing, not Washington.

National leaders seemed to vie with one another in Davos in calling for closer cooperation with China.

Chinese officials used Davos as another opportunity to speak out against protectionism, in what analysts have described as an effort to take advantage of global concerns about the Trump administration and its warnings that it would pursue a more aggressive trade policy.

In country after country, China is facing rising anger over its policies and its behavior - from trade to human rights - a major setback on a continent that Beijing has viewed as a more pragmatic, and thus more willing, partner to provide ballast against sharply deteriorating relations with the United States.

Donald Trump understood this and decided to call it out for what it was.

I'm no fan of Trump's foreign policy in practice, nor even of his antagonizing needed allies like Germany. 

SCOTUS Could Use More Skeptics Like Amy Coney Barrett

Democrats worry that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, an originalist and textualist who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in the late 1990s, will emulate him if she is confirmed by the Senate.

In a 2018 opinion, Barrett concluded that an anonymous tip did not provide reasonable suspicion for police to stop a car in which they found a man with a felony record who illegally possessed a gun.

In another Fourth Amendment case, decided in 2019, Barrett concluded that federal drug agents violated the Constitution when they searched a suspected heroin dealer's apartment based on the consent of a woman who answered the door but did not live there.

In a 2018 opinion for a unanimous 7th circuit panel, by contrast, Barrett said it did not matter whether the warrant authorizing tracking software that identified users of a child pornography website was valid.

Another Barrett opinion that may give pause to civil libertarians is her 2019 dissent from a decision in which the majority held that state and federal courts had erred by rejecting a defendant's claim that prosecutors improperly withheld exculpatory evidence when they tried him for attempted murder.

While Barrett agreed that prosecutors should have revealed that the victim, whose testimony was crucial in obtaining a conviction, had undergone hypnosis prior to the trial, she thought the issue was not clear enough to override the determination of an Indiana appeals court.

When it comes to federal sentencing, an area where Scalia's Sixth Amendment views had a major impact, Barrett has repeatedly sided with criminal defendants who argued that their punishment was more severe than the law allowed.