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Second Circuit Rules Against Trump OnTax Returns

Another loss for Donald Trump. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the subpoena for 8 years of tax returns to Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is enforceable and he is not entitled to a prelimary injunction. You can read the decision here. The Court emphasized the "narrowness" of its ruling:

We emphasize again the narrowness of the issue before us. This appeal does not require usto consider whether the President is immune from
indictment and prosecution while in office, nor to consider whether the President may lawfully be ordered to producedocuments for use in a state criminal proceeding. We accordingly do not address those issues. The only question before us is whether a state may lawfully demand production by a third party of the President' s personal financial record sfor use in a grand jury investigation while the President is in office.

With the benefit of the district court's well
articulated opinion, we hold that any preside ntial immunity from state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such a subpoena.

Trump will appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Mueller Secret Memos Revealed

Buzzfeed has obtained secret Mueller probe memos through several FOIA lawsuit. Saturday it published the first installment, which touch on "revelations about the Ukraine conspiracy theory, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and more."

The released documents are here.

The New York Times provides some analysis here.

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House Releases Some Impeachment Transcripts

The House released two transcripts of testimony in the impeachment probe. The witnesses were former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley. They testified in closed hearings before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees

You can read Yovanovitch's testimony here and Mike McKinley's testimony here.

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Donald Trump's Predictably Self-Aggrandizing Speech:

I like this OpEd by Sean O'Grady in the UK's Independent on Donald Trump's bizarre speech on the death of al-Baghdadi.

I will just add: From the first line of the Trump's announcement, it was clear he lacks comprehension of even the most fundamental concept of "justice." Donald Trump believes justice is done by the U.S. exercising the full power of its military to bring a single individual who has done bad things to his knees and killing him.

Memo to Drama Queen Donsld Trump: Justice is done when a suspect is captured and brought before a neutral court for trial. As O'Grady writes:

If America and the west believe in universal human rights, as Isis did not, then we could have set a new example to the world, demonstrating our superior, civilised standards. Instead, now the armed jihadists have another martyr.

[More...]

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Trump Insists He Captured ISIS

Donald Trump today insisted he is the one who wiped out ISIS.

“ISIS was all over the place … It was me…who captured them,” Trump told reporters at a cabinet meeting Monday in the White House. “I’m the one who did the capturing. I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits.”

ISIS was not captured by Trump. ISIS lost its geographic holdings. It remains a significant insurgent group. It will grow and return.

The New York Times today: Trump's order to withdraw troops from Syria provides a gain to ISIS. [More...]

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National Security Official: Spineless Trump Gets Rolled by Turkey

Donald Trump wouldn't know a winning hand if it fell in his lap. He is now alienating members of his own party, the military and the world with his decision to pull troops from Syria as Turkey prepares to invade. Via Newsweek:

Donald Trump got "rolled" by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a National Security Council source with direct knowledge of the discussions told Newsweek...

....President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something," the National Security Council source told Newsweek. "The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that's the bottom line."

On the Syrian Kurds:

Turkey has long considered the Kurdish militia in Syria to be a terrorist insurgency, despite the United States providing military and financial aid to the group in its fight against ISIS, the Islamic State militant group. A battle with the vastly superior military of Turkey, a NATO ally, could drive the Kurds into the arms of Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator that Washington wants ousted, and by extension into an alliance with Russia and Iran, two U.S. rivals with forces in Syria.

[More...]

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Trump Ordered to Turn Over Tax Returns

A federal judge in New York has ordered Donald Trump to turn over his tax returns to DA Cyrus Vance, rejecting Trump's argument that he is immune from criminal investigations.

The 75 page opinion is here

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It's Official: Pelosi Announces House Impeachment Inquiry

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced the House will launch an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump for trying to pressure the Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden.

The process is explained here.

Today, impeachment is a longshot that may or may not succeed, but tonight, no one cares. We're just dancing in the streets.

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Trump's Ukranian Mess

The case for impeaching Donald Trump got an uptick last week when news emerged that Trump tried to get the Ukranian President to investigate Joe Biden as he was considering whether to provide the Ukraine with a military aid package.

CNN reports:

[I]f Trump used his power to try to coerce a foreign leader into influencing US elections, it could precipitate the worst political crisis of a presidency that has been mired in notoriety from its first hours.

It would amount to a situation in which Trump's team, which according to the Mueller report expected to benefit from Russian election meddling in 2016, is now using the power of the presidency to incite collusion ahead of the 2020 election.

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Nadler: Formal Impeachment Proceedings Have Begun

Rep. Jerome Nadler says formal impeachment proceedings have begun. The House Judiciary Committee has initiated the inquiry, and will make a decision as to whether to forward the matter to the full house. He was on CNN yesterday explaining that they are not just considering whether to bring an impeachment proceeding, but one is already underway.

He also said it will the investigation will be broader than the Mueller Report and Russia. He said he expects witnesses who are not refusing to appear to testify in September or October.

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Trump and Blago, Sitting in a Tree?

San Antonio was a lot of criticism for Trump. As usual he reacted with a deflections. He said he is considering granting clemency to Rod Blagojevich who has done 7 of his 14 year sentence.

Mr. Trump disclosed his initial plans aboard Air Force One on Wednesday after a day of highly critical news coverage that focused on the reception toward the president as he traveled to the sites of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 dead.

The odd thing is that Blago's sentence was grossly excessive. I hope Trump does commute his sentence. Of course, since Blago is a Democrat, Republicans are pushing him not to commute the sentence.

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Jared's Most Excellent Middle East Adventures Continue On Our Dime

Jared Kushner and his team are traveling to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar this week. It's about trying to get support for what he calls a mideast peace plan, which has already been rejected by Palestinian leaders. This trip is just one month after a previous trip he took to Bahrain to sell interest in his plan.

Hani Abu Aker, a political analyst, told The Media Line from Gaza City that the Bahrain workshop failed to yield the results Kushner was hoping for, and the upcoming visit could be an attempt to keep whatever momentum the presidential adviser thinks he has going.

...The Palestinians boycotted the Bahrain conference and harshly criticized President Trump’s approach to the conflict....Fatah leader Rafaat Elyan told The Media Line that the US administration had no credibility and was “incapable” of conducting any mediations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

...Defense and government analyst Amir Oren told The Media Line... “Nothing is expected to come out of this mission, as [with] all others in this futile effort,” Oren said. ‘The only purpose is to show motion – even if without movement – and score political points with Donald Trump’s Evangelical base.”

[More...]

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The Choices According to Donald Trump

In a two-punch whammy this week, Donald Trump brought back the death penalty and then, by packing the Supreme Court with conservative judges, got approval to use billions of dollars awarded to the military for his useless border wall, even though Congress had refused to authorize the expenditure.

Donald Trump's message to the American people: "You can eat dirt, or you can eat sh!t."

This should be the final nail in Trump's political coffin, but the Democrats seem in disarray. Until some of the 20 or so Democrats who think they should be President realize they are too old, or don't have a chance or are in it only to bring attention to one or two of their pet issues, it will likely be another lost opportunity.

(Hat tip on the quote to Teresa Mendoza in the antepenultimate epidsode of the fictional La Reina del Sur 2, referring to a most corrupt DEA agent who will kill anyone who gets in the way of the DEA's plan to choose the next President of Mexico. The Finale is Monday night.)

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Mueller to Testify Wednesday

Robert Mueller will testify Wednesday. The New York Times has these questions for him.

But, it recommends, don't get your hopes up:

There is virtually no chance that will happen when he testifies for about five hours before two congressional committees this week. It took weeks of negotiations just to persuade him to show up. He has already said that his testimony won’t go beyond what is in the 448-page report he delivered, and he urged people to read it.

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Trump Cuts Aid to Central America, Ramps Up Surveillance in Ecuador

Donald Trump has cut foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be diverted.

With its other hand, the Trump Administration has made a deal with Ecuador to allow the U.S. to fly military surveillance aircraft from the airport on the Galapagos Islands to "fight drug trafficking". Legislators in Ecuador are quite unhappy and calling on the Government to explain.

The Galapagos Islands, 563 miles (906km) west of continental Ecuador, are a Unesco World Heritage site renowned worldwide for their unique array of plants and wildlife.

In addition, the plan is said to violate Ecuador's constitution:

....any presence of foreign armies in Ecuadorean territory is unconstitutional. According to article five of the 2008 Constitution, Ecuador declares itself as a territory of peace, where "the establishment of foreign military bases or foreign installations for military purposes will not be allowed. In addition, it is prohibited to cede national military bases to foreign armed or security forces."

The U.S. should stop militarizing the War on Drugs, and stop encroaching on the sovereignity of other nations in its futile attempt to end drug trafficking.

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