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Rudy Giuliani Drops to Less Than Zero

Rudy Guiliani has been acting like he has a few screws loose for a few years now. The only art he seems to have mastered is the art of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

Nowhere is this more apparent than his remarks Sunday that there's nothing wrong with campaign officials accepting information from foreign nations. He even had the audacity to ponder aloud that maybe the hacking of DNC emails was a good thing because it alerted the country to Hillary's true nature.

Don't get sucked in. He's mimicking Donald Trump by trying to divert your attention from polls showing that Trump's approval ratings have sunk to their lowest level yet in the wake of the Mueller report.

And 68 percent said they were more likely to believe that the president or one of his cronies broke the law.

Donald Trump's most absurd claims come when he's about to face bad press -- it's his go-to diversion tactic. Rudy is just mimicking him.

There are 12 to 14 other federal and state criminal referrals from Mueller's office to other agencies who are considering whether Donald Trump, his children and others in his circle committed crimes. Some Dems are itching to start impeachment proceedings now. Diversion and distraction through outrageous comments is the new Trump game plan. I'm not playing Rudy's word games.

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Happy Passover and Open Thread

Passover begins tonight at sundown. Tomorrow is 4/20. Cochella is streaming live on You Tube this weekend. Sunday is Easter.

Monday night, La Reina del Sur 2 returns on Telemundo, with English subtitles and the terrific Kate del Castillo back in the lead role. It's been 8 years since season 1 and many of the cast members who survived Season 1 are returning. I've been waiting for months for the return, and I'm not going to miss a single minute. [More..]

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Cher: The Icon

Cher was the star guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. Towards the end of the show, the three singer-actresses who play her in the Broadway show "Cher" came on with her for a talking segment. After the commercial break, the three actresses were on stage singing "If I Could Turn Back Time." At one minute and 2 seconds in, Cher joined them.

After another commercial, the lead Cher actress was on stage singing "You Got Me Babe" with the Cher show cast member who plays Sonny(he is absolutely adorable.) About 1 minute and 3 seconds into the song, Cher comes out, dressed in an almost identicial outfit as the actress just singing and continues the duet with Sonny.

When Cher belted out the line "I got you to understand", I got chills up and down my arms that stayed for the rest of the song. It was just like watching them in 1965. Her voice remains incredibly strong and she is great physical shape -- even her skin has never looked better. [More...]

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Mick Jagger is OK After Heart Procedure

Mick Jagger has had a heart procedure performed at a New York hospital and is feeling fine. The show will go on, just at later dates, most likely beginning in July.

The procedure is called "transcatheter aortic valve replacement." (Is that a fancy name for a stent?) Billboard reports:

Doctors were able to access Jagger's heart valve through his femoral artery and are now monitoring the Rolling Stones frontman for any complications that could arise from the procedure, including excess bleeding.

Get well, Mick. And please reschedule Denver!

Update: Answer to my question: Yes, it is kind of like a stent.

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Charges Dropped Against Jussie Smollett

Prosecutors in Chicago today dropped all charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who had been charged with 16 felonies for allegedly directing a hate crime against himself.

Jussie continues to maintain his innocence. The AP has a curious statement in its article:

It was not immediately clear what prompted the decision to dismiss the case. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility.

That's obviously wrong. It suggests that cases are never dropped because police make mistakes and the defendant is innocent. Why would a person who has been falsely charged accept responsibility for anything? Shouldn't the police or DA be accepting responsibility for rushing to judgment and filing charges it decides a few weeks later it cannot prove? Innocence may or may not be why Smollet's charges were dropped, but it is a reason many other people's charges are dropped. Not everyone who is arrested and charged is guilty.

There is no statement by the DA's office that they dropped the case because Jussie is innocent. [More...]

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Barr's Letter on Mueller Report: Donnie Can't Read

We knew Donald Trump wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but who knew he can't even read?

Trump claimed today Mueller's report on the Special Counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice exonerates him. Attorney General Barr's four page letter contains this direct quote from Mueller's report: (link fixed)

The Special Counsel states that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Either Donnie can't read, or he didn't have the attention span to make it to page three of a four page letter. Take your pick.

[For those of you too young to remember the song, it's "Johnny Can't Read" which was released in 1982.]

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Mueller Delivers Report on Russia to Attorney General

Robert Mueller has turned in his report on Russia. What's in it? No one knows. Attorney General Robert Barr says he will update Congress this weekend.

Since there have been no announcements of new arrests, I assume D.Jr. skated on charges of lying to Congress. As soon as Trump announced it's okay with him if Mueller's report gets released, I figured that would be the anti-climatic ending.

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Trump Requests $100 Million for Ivanka's Project

Donald Trump's 2020 budget includes $100 million for a project created and led by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, named the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. (I wonder how much they paid for the spiffy website.) It will give $50 million to 50 million women in the developing world.

Do we have a math problem here? How is $1 per woman going to help empower anyone?

What exactly qualifies Ivanka Trump for this position? What does she know about women entrepreneurship in countries where working mothers don't have multiple nannies like she does?

I do not want my tax dollars going to any federally funded position led by a child of Donald Trump. Not a single one of them has been proven to have the experience or skill set to lead anything. It's pure nepotism and like everything Trump, just another branding exercise.

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Manafort Sentencing: 47 Months

Paul Manafort is in the courtroom. He is in a wheelchair. If you are following, let us know what happens. [Added: I returned just as the prosecution was wrapping up its argument. The updates below start with the latest and work backwards.

Update 5:23 p.m: Every prominent sentencing hearing in which the judge grants a downward variance from the advisory sentencing guideline is a good thing in that it will serve as a reminder to every other judge of their ability to do so, and that their job is not to impose a guideline sentence, but one that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of sentencing]. Chief among these factors is the nature of the offense and "the history and characteristics of the defendant."

Every judge must complete the "Judgment" form after sentencing. Part of that form is called a "Statement of Reasons." It lists a lot of factors and asks the Judge to check off the boxes that apply to their decision to impose a non-guideline sentence (called a variance -- a departure is something different.) When the judge completes and submits the Statement of Reasons, it does so under seal (sometimes available to counsel for the defendant). The form itself is not sealed and available on the U.S. Judiciary website. Here is the page with the non-exhaustive list of reasons a judge might choose to vary from and impose a non-guideline reason.

Update: 5:00 p.m. (MT): Manafort is sentenced to 47 months. Quite a departure from the guidelines, which reportedly were 19 to 24 years (according to the Government and Probation.) As a defense lawyer, I say good for Judge Ellis for so publicly recognizing that the advisory guidelines are just the starting point. Judges may not even presume the guidelines to be reasonable. [More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread

I had jury duty this morning in state court. They want you there by 7:30 a.m. That is really, really early. They don't start sending you to the courtroom till almost 10. There's virtually no parking so I took an Uber. But, I was late, and even though they had just started sending jurors to courtrooms, they said I have to do the whole thing again in two weeks. I don't mind, I just wish it were at 1:00 pm instead of 7:30 a.m.

I've been doing this periodically for decades and I've never been picked. What prosecutor is going to leave a practicing criminal defense lawyer on a jury? But Colorado has no occupational restrictions, so it's mandatory. (With a potential 6 month jail term if you fail to show up.)

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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CO Gov Jared Polis Says He'd Sign Bill to Repeal Death Penalty

Colorado Democrats have re-introduced a bill to repeal the state's death penalty law. If it passes, Colorado will be the 21st state to ban the death penalty.

Our new Governor, former Congressman Jared Polis, says he will sign the bill if it passes. (In a Denver Post article, he said he also might then grant clemency to the three men on Colorado's death row, all of whom were prosecuted in Arapahoe County and all of whom are African-American.)

The bill will get its first hearing Wednesday. If you are a Colorado voter, please email your Representative and Senator (find them here)and urge them to pass this bill. You can read the bill here and follow its progress. And send thanks to Gov. Jared Polis.

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Former CO Gov. Hickenlooper Enters Presidential Race

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. a moderate Democrat, today announced he will run for President.

“I think it’s probably the worst period of division we’ve had in this country since the Civil War,” he said. “Ultimately I’m running for president because I believe that not only can I beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person that can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done. The division is keeping us from addressing big issues like climate change and the soaring costs of health care.”

I think Hickenlooper did a very good job as Governor here. He works hard, listens to both sides, takes risks when he needs to, doesn't bow to pressure and isn't an egomaniac. I'd support him as the candidate if he gets that far. I also like his campaign logo.

In other 2020 news, Eric Holder is not running. That's a good thing because he is very polarizing - the right hates him. Whenever the race turns personal rather than focusing on differences on issues, the voters lose. We can't avoid that with one candidate (the carnival barker with the desk in the oval office) but we can with whoever opposes him. Don't dismiss Hickenlooper, he might be the one if primary voters split between the more well-known candidates and cancel each other out.

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Michael Cohen Under Oath

Michael Cohen is testifying before Congress. Here is a link to stream it live.

His prepared written statement is here.

His wife and daughter are with him. Also accompanying him (on the left) is his new attorney, a long-time friend and colleague, Michael Monico from Chicago. I've known Michael for 25 years and he is not only supremely ethical but highly skilled. Cohen made a great choice.

I'll be listening in the car as I head up to a jail in the mountains. Here'a a place to discuss it. Also, don't miss this story of IRS agent John Frye being charged in San Francisco for leaking Cohen's SARS (suspicious activity reports from banks) to Michael Avenati. (Case No. CR 3-19-70176 LB.) The Complaint is here, and it's got all the details on his deposits and withdrawals regarding Stormy Daniels, his reimbursement and monies flowing to and from other countries.

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Monday Night Open Thread

San Francisco erases 8,000 marijuana convictions, dating to 1975.

Also, San Francisco loses a crusader for justice -- Public Defender Jeff Adachi has died.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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The Host-less Oscars Thread

The Oscars are host-less this year. I think ratings, which haven't been good in recent years, will be even worse tonight.

Have any of you seen any of the movies that are up for awards?

Here's a place to discuss the Oscars if you're watching.

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