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4 Gov. Refuse To Send National Guard to Border

The Governors of four states have refused to send National Guard troops to the southwest border because of Trump's parent-child separation policy.

The states are Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Let's hope the list grows.

Nationwide protests are being scheduled around the country for June 30.

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At the Border: Families Torn Apart

From Texas Monthly: "What's Really Happening at the Border" -- an interview with Anne Chandler, "executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children, she has been traveling to the border and to detention centers, listening to the parents’ stories." What they do:

We run the Children’s Border Project, and we work with hundreds of kids that have been released from ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) care. We are not a legal service provider that does work when they’re in the shelters. To date, most of our work with that issue of family separation has been working with the parents in the days when they are being separated: when they’re in the federal courthouse being convicted; partnering with the federal public defenders; and then in the adult detention center, as they have no idea how to communicate or speak to their children or get them back before being deported.

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Rudy on the Prowl: Women First, Joe Biden Next

While third wife Judith insists Ruy is a "cheating liar" due to his relationship with Maria Ryan, which Rudy denies existed or occurred after their separation, Rudy is not deterred. In fact, Maria Ryan is so last week.

This week Rudy is pursuing yet another romance, with Jennifer LeBlanc, a Louisiana Republican fundraiser and former financial chair of Rudy's 2008 campaign. She is a widow, her husband died in a plane crash. At the time of her death, she and her husband were under criminal investigation. Neither were charged.

LeBlanc was the Louisiana finance chair for Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign. She is a partner at LeBlanc & Associates, where she and her partner provide fundraising and consulting advice to clients in the state as well as to some prominent Louisiana officeholders in D.C.

...LeBlanc inherited substantial business assets after the death of her husband, Pat LeBlanc, a Lafayette, Louisiana businessman. He died in a plane crash at 53 while under investigation for an alleged bribery scandal for a Leblanc company that provided concessions services to Texas prisons. They proclaimed their innocence and were never charged. (my emphasis)

Rudy, who I would bet hasn't seen the inside of a state court in decades, last month entered his appearance in an auto insurance fraud case in Ft. Lauderdale where the defendant is Maria Ryan's daughter, who he said is his personal assistant.[More...]

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Michael Cohen Denies Report He Expects Imminent Arrest

According to Vanity Fair, Michael Cohen is expecting to be arrested within days. Neither Cohen nor Trump filed objections to the Special Masters' Report as to which documents it agreed were protected by the attorney client privilege and should not be turned over to prosecutors. (No link due to autoplay video ad):

Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, “Your alleged source is wrong!”) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”

Cohen responded that VF's source was wrong.

CNBC has this summary with additional sources and a copy of the Special Master's Report.

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Trump Blames Jeff Sessions... Again

Donald Trump today blamed Jeff Sessions (yet again) for the Russia "witch hunt, writing on his Twitter account:

The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!

Trump is becoming predictable in his attempts to steer the headlines away from the alleged ongoing malfeasance of so many people connected to him. Paul Manafort is now accused of witness tampering while on bail for which the government is seeking to modify or revoke his release order. A hearing will be held next week. [More...]

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Trump Claims He Has Authority to Pardon Himself

The Trump and Giuliani show continues. Donald Trump today said he absolutely has the right to pardon himself, but he has no reason to do so because he has done nothing wrong.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)responded on Twitter, disagreeing and citing an Office of Legal Counsel memo written four days before Nixon resigned. He quotes from the memo:

“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself,”

His tweet continues:

I know you have attention span problems, but it’s the first sentence: [Memo link]

The memo further explains:[More...]

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Celebrity Pardon Store Now Open

Donald Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza. The New York Times editorial board asks, Really? (I asked, who? I've never heard of him.) The Times explains:

On Thursday, Mr. Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, the right-wing troll known for, among other things, posting racist tweets about President Barack Obama, spreading the lie that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator and writing that “the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”

Today Trump said Martha Stewart and Rod Blagojevich may be next. Yesterday, he took a celebrity photo at the White House with Kim Kardashian who was there to advise him on "prison reform". She learned of a single case of a 91 year old serving a long drug sentence via Twitter of all places, and now she's invited to the White House to opine? Does she really believe that Donald Trump, who is so anti-offender than he fired her sister Khloe Kardashian from the Apprentice because of a DUI (watch the video) gives a sh*t about any offender who isn't related to him? I certainly don't. [More...]

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Jared Kushner Gets Security Clearance Back

Jared Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer yesterday afternoon. I listened on the car radio. The full interview is here, and I highly recommend watching the whole thing. CNN's abbreviated and edited version is here.

Abbe is a terrific lawyer and I believe he is a straight-shooter. As to the interview, he was so articulate and confident, it was like he was interviewing himself. He took the reins right away -- Wolf seemed somewhat flummoxed at the beginning. In this short clip from the interview, Abbe castigates Wolf (and the media) for using prosecutor words like witness, subject and target, which appear in the U.S. Attorneys' manual but don't have a legal meaning of their own.

Before listening to the interview, on hearing the news that Jared Kushner was interviewed again by Mueller for 7 hours in April and that he just got his security clearance restored I was thinking that his interview in April was a proffer session, that he passed the Special Counsel's test for telling "the truth", and that not only did he get immunity from prosecution but that Mueller's team agreed to inform the intelligence division that in the Special Counsel's view, Jared is not a security threat, has cleared up all his filing lapses and is cleared of any wrongdoing.

But according to Abbe, that's not the case. As to the security clearance, he said it was totally separate, proceeded through regular channels and there was no politics involved. [More..]

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Judiciary Committee Releases Hearing Testimony on Russia Meeting

The Senate Judiciary Committee released 2,500 pages of congressional testimony today including testimony concerning Donald Trump's 2016 "Russia Meeting" in which he hoped for dirt on Hillary.

WAPO analyzes what it all means.

A question: Who did Trump, Jr. call or get a call from after the meeting? The four minute call is to or from a blocked number. Did he talk to his father? He testified he doesn't know (or remember.)

As to alleged efforts to cover-up the real reason of the meeting and protect Don Jr., I think the account in Michael Wolff's book sounds pretty plausible.

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Trump's Financial Disclosure: Cohen Payments

Donald Trump has filed new financial disclosures.

“In 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen,” Trump reported in a footnote of his official Personal Financial Disclosure report, required of top federal officials. “Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001 — $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.”

The disclosure is here. The Office of Government Ethics says in a footnote that Trump is required to disclose the payment/liability.

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52 Dead in Gaza Protests as US Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

Whatever Donald Trump does, he stirs up a hornest's nest. He's like the bull in the China shop. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, is no different.

52 protesters have been killed (some were reportedly putting bombs on the street)

Palestinians now make up 38% of Jerusalem,

The new embassy hasn't even been built.

A small interim embassy will start operating from Monday inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem. A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.

Palestinean leaders say the move dooms any peace prospect: [More...]

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Rudy Strikes Out with Law Firm

Rudy Giuliani and his law firm have parted ways. Rudy says it is because he needs to devote all his time to Donald Trump and the Russia investigation.
His law firm, Greenberg Taurig (once home to Jack Abramoff) adds another reason. It disagrees that using law firm funds to pay off an adult entertainment star who claims to have had an affair with a client is routine procedure, when the client has not approved it. (Trump has publicly said he didn't know of the payment beforehand.) Not only isn't it routine, the firm announced in a statement, it isn't acceptable.

“Speaking for ourselves, we would not condone payments of the nature alleged to have been made or otherwise without the knowledge and direction of a client.”

What does "or otherwise" mean in this context?

The only person striking out more than Rudy this month is Michael Cohen.

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Mueller Questions Russian Oligarch About Cohen Payments

I've been waiting for Rudy Giulani and Donald Trump's lawyer troubles to recede from the headlines. I can't think of two people I dislike more.

Today, CNN reports Mueller's team questioned Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg who heads an asset management company called the Renova Group. Vekselberg is reportedly close to Vladimir Putin and made payments to Michael Cohen after the election. According to Stormy Daniels lawyer, $500,000 in payments from a group controlled by Vekselberg were deposited into Cohen's account for his "shell business", Essential Consultants -- the same account he set up to pay Stormy Daniels, between January and August, 2017. [More...]

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Melania's "Be Best" Copies FTC Guide from Obama-Era

Melania Trump had a big to-do yesterday announcing her kids' project called "Be Best". Aside from not understanding what that means (why not "Be the Best" or "Be Your Best Self" or something that made grammatical sense) it turns out her project isn't even about empowering kids or encouraging them to strive and succeed -- it's a guide book for parents on ways to restrict their kids' online activity.

But putting all that aside, there's this: New allegations of plagiarism.

Compare Melania's 17 page pamphlet called "Talking with Kids About Being Online"to this 15 page pamphlet written in 2013, NET CETERA: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. Here is the Net Cetera web page which is still up. It's also available on another government website here, from 2014.

So Melania added a page with her photo and a handwritten note, changed the word "chatting" to "talking", and takes credit for a new program on how parents can restrict their kids internet and social media use.

Sorry, Melania, I'm not impressed. [More...]

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"We Had That Thing, You Know.”

The New York Times obtained a list of the questions Robert Mueller wants to ask Donald Trump. NPR reports:

Most of the questions The Times printed focus on whether Trump may have obstructed justice or tried to frustrate the FBI's Russia investigation, including whether he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to lay off then-national security adviser Mike Flynn; leaned on others to pressure Comey; why he fired Comey and more.

I like the question about his calls to James Comey in March, 2017: [More...]

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