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Mueller Recommends No Incarceration for Michael Flynn

The Special Counsel's office has filed its Sentencing Memorandum for Michael Flynn. The memo recommends Flynn be spared a sentence of incarceration due to his timely plea, his years of service to the military, and his cooperation.

Mueller's office also filed a sealed supplement, outlining his cooperation and asking for a downward departure from his sentencing range because of it.
In the Sentencing Memo, Team Mueller writes:

The defendant’s record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged as part the SCO’s investigation.

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How Trump Weaseled Out of Live Mueller Interview and Limited His Written Responses

No, of course Donald Trump didn't answer all Robert Mueller's questions -- and of course he weaseled out of orally answering questions, notwithstanding the interview had been all set up. The Associated Press has all the details in Inside Trump’s refusal to testify in the Mueller probe.

A key breakthrough occurred earlier this fall when Mueller’s team said it would accept written answers on Russian election interference and collusion. The concession ensured that Mueller would get at least some on-the-record response from Trump. Prosecutors tabled questions about obstruction, reserving the right to return to that area later.

This sounds like he just capitulated to Trump's demands. I think Mueller should have at least insisted on one or the other: Either a live interview just on the Russia collusion issue or written questions to also encompass obstruction of justice -- both as to the firing of James Comey and his knowledge of Don Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer and her associates at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary. [More..]

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NYT: American Jews Opine on Jared and Ivanka

The New York Times examines whether Jared and Ivanka are "good for Jews." Shorter version: It depends which Jews you ask. The Orthodox Jews love them and Reform Jews hate Trump and criticize them.

The deep schism that exists between the two groups is expanding, and the Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group that Jared and Ivanka are members of, is experiencing rapid growth, while membership in liberal Reform synagogues has dropped substantially. The Times reports:

One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.

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Trump Issues Proclamation on Asylum

Donald Trump has followed through with his threat to limit asylum through executive action. Here is the Proclamation he issued today.

I am similarly acting to suspend, for a limited period, the entry of certain aliens in order to address the problem of large numbers of aliens traveling through Mexico to enter our country unlawfully or without proper documentation. I am tailoring the suspension to channel these aliens to ports of entry, so that, if they enter the United States, they do so in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully.

Under this suspension, aliens entering through the southern border, even those without proper documentation, may, consistent with this proclamation, avail themselves of our asylum system, provided that they properly present themselves for inspection at a port of entry.

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Trumpís Brazen Move to Stop Muellerís Russia Investigation

Jeff Sessions is out as Attorney General. At the request of John Kelly, he submitted this resignation letter. The most interesting sentence is the first, which states, "At your request, I am submitting my resignation." How is that different than being fired? In any event, there's no reason to feel badly about Sessions' exit. Goodbye and good riddance to him.

But what about Trump's appointment of Sessions' Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, to temporarily take Sessions' place as Acting Attorney General, a move intended to transfer oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation from Rod Rosenstein to Whitaker? Is Whitaker's appointment legal? [More…]

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Trump Says Military Troops at Border Could Increase to 15,000

Via NBC: Donald Trump today said the number of U.S. troops deployed to the southwestern border may increase to 15,000 -- in addition to border agents and ICE.

This is so obviously a political ploy intended to get more votes for Republicans in next week's elections. Not only is it partisan use of the military, it's a waste of expense. 15,000 is more than 3 times the number of troops authorized in Iraq, and roughly the same number sent to Afghanistan.

How many people are in the caravans? Far fewer than the 15,000 troops being sent to prevent their entry. [More...]

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Trump and 3 Children Sued in Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit was filed today against Donald Trump and his children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka. The case is Doe et al v. The Trump Corporation et al , SDNY, Case No. 18-cv-09936.

There are four Does (plaintiffs) so far, accusing the Trumpsters of investment fraud. They have sued under the civil RICO statute which allows for treble damages.

You can read the 164 page Complaint here.

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Muting Trump

Jack Shafer at Politico writes today about the need for the media to stop publishing everything Trump says as news. Very little of what he says is news.

The threshold for what constitutes news from Trump’s mouth should be reset. Unless his statements are true or his proposals have some chance of advancing, Trump’s loose talk belongs in concise and dismissive stories in the middle pages of the newspaper where we can skim them and move on. The press corps’ new motto should read: “Just because the president said it doesn’t mean it’s news.” Put the president’s boombox on mute.

I'd go a step further. If his statements are neither true nor likely to advance realistic proposals, don't print them at all. Not only aren't his mumblings and musings news, just reading about them, seeing his face and hearing that miserable voice puts most of us in a bad mood -- just mute him and don't publish it at all.

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Trump: Believes Saudis Lied But Still Supports Crown Prince

Donald Trump continues his occasional and arbitrary support for the presumption of innocence. In an interview with the Washington Post, he acknowledges the Saudi's lied about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death, but still says he supports Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, because neither Trump nor anyone in his administration has personally heard any evidence (including the reported tapes) implicating him.

Trump does, however, wittingly or unwittingly, seem to implicate the Crown Prince in a Saudi effort to kidnap Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia. [More...]

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Nikki Haley Resigns

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley resigned today. Lots of people are asking why. And some think Trump will name Ivanka as her replacement.

Haley said she will not be a candidate in 2020. Is she looking towards 2024?

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Sen. Collins and Manchin Announce Support for Kavanaugh Nomination

The Senate voted today on the motion to invoke cloture on Judge Brett Kavanaugh and it passed by a vote of 51 to 49. It appears he now has the votes to be confirmed.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me) and Joe Manchin (D-WVA) both announced their intention to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Manchin's statement is here. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)announced her intent to vote against him. Murkowski is the only Republican to vote against Kavanaugh

Senator Susan Collins went on and on in a speech on the Senate floor. Highlights (from my listening to it live): [More...]

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New FBI Report on Kavanaugh: Back to Square One

Republicans assert the new FBI background report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh adds no new details or confirmation of the improper sexual conduct claims against him that would disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court. They say it's time to vote. Indeed, a vote will likely occur Saturday.

The Democrats and accusers are angry, claiming the FBI didn't interview enough people -- i.e., those supporting the accusers' character and other high school and college classmates of Kavanaugh. However, the people Christine Ford said were present at the party where she was attacked were interviewed and none confirmed her account or even remembered such a gathering at which both Kavanaugh and Ford were present.

This was entirely predictable. [More...]

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Trump Orders Supplemental FBI Investigation re: Kavenaugh

Donald Trump today ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, which is to completed within 1 week and limited to existing accusations.

Mark Judge sent this letter (signed under penalty of felony) to the Committee yesterday. In it he says he never saw Kavanaugh "act in the manner Dr. Ford describes."

Today his lawyer said he will cooperate with the FBI or any confidential law enforcement agency in the probe (she did not say he would testify before any committee.)

Also today, Judge submitted this letter, again under penalty of felony, denying all the allegations in Julie Swetnick's claim.

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Senate Committee Passes Kavenaugh, Flake Calls for FBI Investigation

1:51 pm: Sen. Flake says he has agreed with Democrats that the full Senate vote should be delayed for one week for the FBI to do "due diligence" by investigating existing accusations against Kavanaugh. But he's not saying the Kavanaugh committee vote should be delayed. The press is flummoxed, thinking they didn't vote. They did vote. They passed Kavanaugh on to the full Senate by a vote of 11 to 10. All Flake did was say he wants more information before the full Senate vote. If he changes his mind when the full Senate votes, Kavanaugh would not prevail. But today he votes with other Republicans to pass Kavanaugh's confirmation on to the full Senate.

The committee is now out of jurisdictional control. It's up to the full Senate now. All Flake has done is agree with Democrats that the full Senate vote should be delayed a week so the FBI can investigate pending (not future)allegations of accusers.

Original Post

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court at 1:30 pm ET. You can watch the vote live here or here.

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Senate Hearing Today With Ford and Kavanaugh

The Senate Hearing on Christine Ford's allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins at 10:00 am. I will be in court by 8 am MT, so I'm putting the thread up early. It's meant to be a live thread for your comments as the hearing is happening and your thoughts on it afterwards.

The Judiciary Committee has posted these items:

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