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This is the Nancy Pelosi moment and Donald Trump should be very afraid | Sarah Churchwell | Opinion

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The Trump White House has frequently been called chaotic, wild, undisciplined, disorderly. But a better word might be “unruly,” because if there’s one thing Donald Trump can’t abide, it’s rules. Not only has the Trump administration signally failed to follow the rules, it’s not clear it ever bothered to learn them. But as the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives last week, that abruptly changed. Trump is about to get schooled in the rules of the game.
For two years, thanks to a Republican Congress that chose not to honor its constitutional duty to maintain oversight of the executive branch, the American political drama has centred on special counsel’s Robert Mueller’s investigation. But that focus is about to widen, as Nancy Pelosi, the once and future Speaker of the House, reclaimed the gavel, promising to show Americans its power: the picture of her smiling as she wielded it went viral, for good reason.
That the game has changed, significantly, was clear in the many stories and images circulating last week: as the first two Native American women sworn into Congress tearfully embraced; as Ilhan Omar became the first woman to wear the hijab in Congress and Rashida Tlaib was sworn in on Thomas Jefferson’s Quran; as Kyrsten Sinema became the first openly bisexual woman to join Congress, and swore her oath of office on the Constitutions of the United States and her home state of Arizona, rather than on a religious text; and as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to a failed attempt to shame her for once having danced on a rooftop in a tribute to The Breakfast Club by dancing into her congressional office.
Pelosi began by sending the president a brief letter, instructing him to deliver a State of the Union address on 29 January. It opened by reminding Trump of the rules that are about to be enforced: “The constitution established the legislative, executive, and judicial branches as co-equal branches of government.” Some commentators called this sentence gratuitous and for any other president it would have been. But this one has more than earned a civics lesson, given that he notoriously claimed as he entered office that Congress works for him. Certainly, the Congress he’s enjoyed until now, under Senator Mitch McConnell and former Speaker Paul Ryan (who just left office with a dismal 12% approval rating), gave him reason to think so, and McConnell continues to do so.
Pelosi’s first action was to summon Trump to Congress at her behest. The message was clear: this is her territory, and she’s in charge now. Refusing to fund Trump’s signature promise of a wall on the southern border, Pelosi called it a barrier not “between America and Mexico, but between reality and his constituents, his supporters”. Pelosi will reintroduce the Trump White House to reality, putting serious brakes on what is increasingly a runaway train. One way to do that is through non-partisan strengthening of the electoral process and Democrats introduced a bill that calls for automatic voter registration, nationwide early voting, ending congressional gerrymandering and the release of presidential tax returns.
But Pelosi is also asserting the power of her office, going so far as to claim in one interview that the constitution makes her office equal to the president’s. This is untrue: Congress in its entirety equals the presidency, while she only leads one of its two chambers. That said, Pelosi has just, not incidentally, become third in line to the Oval Office; should something occur that occasioned the removal of both the president and the vice president from office before 2020, Nancy Pelosi would by law assume the presidency.
But what might such a something be? Many Americans think Congress, which can remove the president, is spoiled for justifications. One freshman member of the 116th House, the most diverse in American history, lost no time in saying so. Palestinian-American Tlaib caused uproar when she celebrated her accession to Congress by telling advocacy group MoveOn that the House would “impeach the motherfucker.”
That is not currently the position of senior members of the House; Pelosi has made clear that she awaits the outcome of the Mueller investigation before deciding whether to bring impeachment proceedings. Nor would impeachment guarantee Trump’s removal: the House votes whether to impeach, but the Senate votes whether to expel and it’s hard to imagine McConnell’s Senate doing any such thing. Certainly not as matters stand.

But that’s also where things get interesting. The Democrats now control oversight and investigations, with subpoena power. On her second day, Pelosi denounced the “culture of cronyism, corruption and incompetence” in the Trump administration, including, she specified, the personal enrichment of individual cabinet members. For two years, numerous ethics scandals have passed by a Congress that barely exerted itself to shrug; now, Democrats chair the committees of jurisdiction and have the power to jail those who defy subpoenas. That power has not been exercised in almost a century, but every weapon in the congressional arsenal may be needed to stop a president who weaponises reality itself.
House Democrats’ oversight and investigatory powers are much broader than Mueller’s very specific investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. They have announced their intention to follow the money and can rigorously investigate not only Russian electoral interference, but also the Trump family’s financial ties with foreign governments, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, and the possibility that those financial interests are influencing the administration’s policy; money laundering; ethics violations; abuses of power, including profiting from the presidency; and obstruction of justice. They can investigate Trump’s personal finances, and demand his tax returns; if he refuses, they can take it to the courts. In addition, they have promised to scrutinise the legality of some of the administration’s more controversial policies, including the separation of immigrant families at the border. Should the president fire Mueller, they can reappoint him as independent counsel. Any of these investigations might seriously change the picture regarding impeachment.
The House committees can also turn over evidence they uncover to the Department of Justice for prosecution, which may change the DOJ’s position on whether to indict a sitting president. The DOJ is obeying a directive – not a law, but an internal procedural memo – stating that, in general, a sitting president should not be indicted, for the simple (and good) reason that this could usurp congressional oversight. According to the directive’s logic, if a president breaks the law, Congress should impeach and remove and then the Justice Department can decide whether to indict an ordinary citizen. But these investigations raise significant questions about whether Trump became president illegally or thanks to criminal activity; in such circumstances, according to many legal experts, including the former US Solicitor General Neal Katyal, the Justice Department is not bound to follow this “general” directive.
Donald Trump has long believed that the rules don’t apply to him, but that’s only because they haven’t been applied to him. The likes of Omar, Tlaib, Sinema, Ocasio-Cortez, and their male freshmen colleagues, will hold Pelosi to account, as well as Donald Trump – about whom we can finally stop asking when the game will be on and start asking when the game will be up.
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Beethoven Silence - YouTube

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Duduk Meditation - Memories of Caucasus | Armenian Flute - YouTube

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Ukrainian church gains independence from Russia | Daily Telegraph

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Heavy snow in Germany, Austria causes chaos for travelers - The Washington Post

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Coral singer in traditional costumes walk through the snow in Eglingen, southern Germany, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Thomas Warnack/dpa via AP) (Associated Press)
BERLIN — Heavy snow caused travel chaos in parts of Germany and Austria as authorities closed roads and train routes because of avalanche danger and airports reported weather-related cancelations Saturday.

Germany - Google Search

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Today's Germany is the best Germany the world has seen

Washington Post-Jan 4, 2019
In 2015, Angela Merkel, the Federal Republic of Germany's first chancellor from what was East Germany, chose to welcome into Germany ...
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German cyber officials defend handling of mass data attack

BBC News-2 hours ago
Germany's cybersecurity authority has defended its handling of a mass data attack on hundreds of politicians, after criticism it did not tell the ...
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Germany's car capital sues Volkswagen hours ago
Volkswagen has forked out around $30 billion in compensation claims, mostly in the United States, and several of its executives have ended up ...
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Why American Jews are moving to Germany

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The Dark Arts of Foreign Influence-Peddling

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16 big questions on Robert Mueller's Russia investigation for 2019

CNN-6 hours ago
Washington (CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has left plenty of ...
Federal grand jury working in Mueller probe is extended
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There remains a real possibility that Mueller will come up empty, at least ... a damning report if only he is allowed to complete his investigation.
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Nadler told CNN that once the House Judiciary Committee receives Mueller's final report on his investigation into Russian interference in the ...
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Donald Trump Could Be Stopped From Pardoning Himself And His ...

<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>-Jan 4, 2019
... of their Congressional majority, and want to cut off any chance of Trump getting away with any consequences from the Mueller investigation.
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Here's What Could Be Ahead In The Russia Investigations In 2019

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That move fueled speculation that Mueller might be preparing to charge ... Barr has been a public skeptic about the Mueller investigation — at ...
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The Mueller investigation: What to watch for in 2019

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Here are five things to watch for as Mueller's investigation grinds forward. The potential for new charges. More than three dozen have been ...
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Prosecutors ramp up foreign lobbying probe in New York

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Spinning off from the special counsel’s Russia probe, prosecutors are ramping up their investigation into foreign lobbying by two major Washington firms that did work for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to people familiar with the matter.
Spinning off from the special counsel’s Russia probe, prosecutors are ramping up their investigation into foreign lobbying by two major Washington firms that did work for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation had been quiet for months since special counsel Robert Mueller referred it to authorities in Manhattan because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.

But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, the people familiar with the inquiry said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing work.

The New York work underscores the broad effects of Mueller’s investigation, extending well beyond the central question of President Donald Trump and collusion. Mueller has made clear he will not turn away if he discovers alleged crimes outside the scope of his inquiry; instead, he refers them out in investigations that may linger on even after the special counsel’s work concludes. Other Justice Department referrals from Mueller have ended in guilty pleas, including the hush money payment case of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

The investigation reflects how Mueller, in latching onto an obscure law, has shined a light on high-dollar lobbying practices that have helped foreign governments find powerful allies and advocates in Washington. It’s a practice that has spanned both parties and enriched countless former government officials, who have leveraged their connections to influence American politics.

In New York, Mueller’s referral prompted a fresh look at the lobbying firms of Washington insiders Tony Podesta and Vin Weber, who have faced scrutiny for their decisions not to register as foreign agents for Ukrainian lobbying work directed by Manafort.

Podesta is a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither man has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys.

Mueller’s referral also involved Greg Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama. Craig supervised a report authored on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and Mueller’s team has said Manafort helped Ukraine hide that it paid more than $4 million for the work. CNN reported in September that prosecutors were weighing charges against Craig.

It’s unclear if the renewed interest will produce charges or if prosecutors are merely following up on Mueller’s referral.

Lawyers for Weber and Craig and a spokeswoman for Podesta declined to comment. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan didn’t return an email seeking comment.

Mercury spokesman Michael McKeon said the firm has “always welcomed any inquiry since we acted appropriately at every step of the process, including hiring a top lawyer in Washington and following his advice. We’ll continue to cooperate as we have previously.”

Foreign lobbying work was central to Mueller’s case against Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, two high-profile Trump campaign officials who pleaded guilty earlier this year and have been interviewed extensively by prosecutors.

The Podestas have been frequent targets of Trump and his associates, who have repeatedly demanded to know why Tony Podesta has not been arrested and charged. Trump confidant Roger Stone, for instance, has insisted a 2016 tweet of his that appeared to predict the release by WikiLeaks of John Podesta’s emails — “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” — was instead a reference to the brothers’ foreign lobbying activities getting them into the hot seat.

In September, Manafort admitted to directing Mercury and the Podesta Group to lobby in the U.S. on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and Ukraine’s government then led by President Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort’s longtime political patron.

While carrying out the lobbying, neither the Podesta Group nor the Mercury Group registered as foreign agents under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.

The Justice Department has rarely prosecuted such cases, which carry up to five years in prison, but has taken a more aggressive tack lately.

To secretly fund the lobbying and to avoid registration with the Justice Department, Manafort said he along with unidentified “others” arranged for the firms to be hired by a Brussels-based nonprofit, the European Centre for Modern Ukraine, rather than the Ukrainian political interests directly.

Mercury and Podesta, which were paid a combined $2 million on the project, then registered under a less stringent lobbying law that doesn’t require as much public disclosure as FARA.

Both firms have said they registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, rather than FARA, on the advice of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig’s former firm.

Gates admitted in his plea deal that he lied to Mercury’s attorneys about the project, a fact the lobbying firm has publicly highlighted. The Podesta Group has said it was misled by the European Centre for Modern Ukraine, citing a written certification from the nonprofit stating it wasn’t directed or controlled by the Ukrainian Party of Regions, one of Manafort’s clients.

Both firms have since registered under FARA. But in court papers filed alongside Manafort’s plea agreement, Mueller’s prosecutors suggested the firms were aware they were working on Ukraine’s behalf.

Prosecutors say employees of both companies “referred to the client in ways that made clear they knew it was Ukraine.” One Mercury employee said the nonprofit was the client “in name only,” likening the situation to “Alice in Wonderland.” A Podesta employee referred to the nonprofit’s certification that it wasn’t related to the Ukrainian political party as a “fig leaf on a fig leaf.”

Mueller’s team also noted that “the head of” the Podesta Group, an apparent reference to Tony Podesta, told his team to think the President of Ukraine “is the client.
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manafort and germany - Google Search

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Feb 9, 2018 - German national appears prominently in the investigation into the possible Russian contacts made by Donald Trump's associates. Did she ...
Apr 5, 2018 - Exclusive: Paul Manafort authorised secret media operation that sought to discredit key opponent of then Ukrainian president.

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M.N.: Do not throw this cute Big Baby with a bath water! 

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M.N.: Do not throw this cute Big Baby with a bath water!  

Or, at least, not yet. He is still needed, to complete the process of De-Obamafication. And this is the will of the American people. They hired him, and it is up to them to fire him. At the appropriate and due time. Let him finish the job. Finish the job, Donald, baby!

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» This is the Nancy Pelosi moment and Donald Trump should be very afraid | Sarah Churchwell | Opinion
06/01/19 05:24 from Mike Nova's Shared Newslinks
Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The Guardian. T he Trump White House has frequently been called chaotic, wild, undisciplined, disorderly. But a better word might be “unruly,” because if there’s one thing Donald ...


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