Monday, December 4, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Special @POTUS Edition): On the #Flynn Guilty Plea & #TaxCuts

The Week-End was quite nasty to Donald Trump & The GOP as epitomized by what Michael Moore Released on his Twitter Feed which we captured in the image above.  This is as Friday December 1 2017 saw a guilty plea by Lt. General Michael Flynn, US Army (Ret), the Former Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor in Federal Court in Washington .  The President sent out a very curious Tweet basically implicating himself (that his Counsel, John Dowd, claimed he wrote again denying and walking back the claim)--and as The Chair of the US House Intelligence Committee "Blew Up" as he demanded to hold contempt hearings on the Russia Probe: 

Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, US Army (Ret)  

Time Magazine's Ryan Teaague Beckwith  provided the clearest indication of the challenges faced by President Trump (as underscored by the Esquire's Charles Pierce)  in the aftermath of the indictment not withstanding the spin by the White House and the subsequent reaction by President Trump himself as there were apparent reports that Jared Kushner, the President's Son-in-Law and White House Senior Adviser directed General Flynn's contacts with Russians.    

By Ryan Teague Beckwith

When George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in October, President Trump blew off the news by calling him a "young, low level volunteer" who "few people knew."
Trump's attorney, Ty Cobb, attempted the same maneuver on Friday as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the transition.
In a statement, Cobb pointedly noted that Flynn was national security advisor "for 25 days" and slyly added that he was "a former Obama administration official."
"Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn," he said in the statement. "The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel's work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
But the official response — Trump's own response hasn't been tweeted yet — is simply a tougher sell this time around.
Unlike Papadaopoulos, a hapless figure who sort of chanced into the Trump campaign, Flynn was a central character. A campaign advisor on national security who regularly went out on the hustings, Flynn intrigued Trump enough to merit serious consideration as a running mate, according to multiple reports from July of 2016.
"The turn toward a military figure is being driven by Trump himself rather than by his advisers, the people said, and comes as the real estate mogul is telling his friends that national unrest may demand a 'tough and steady' presence alongside him on the ticket," noted one report in the Washington Post.
Flynn led a chant of "lock her up" from the stage of the Republican national convention, using his national security background as a cudgel against her private email server. "If I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today," he said, in a quote that he has had many occasions to regret.
And before his time as national security advisor, he served on the Trump transition team, where he admitted in the plea deal that a senior member of the transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December of 2016.
In his official statement, Trump's attorney also pointed out that Flynn pleaded guilty to "a single count of making a false statement to the FBI," another attempt to minimize the day's events.
But that's also a tough sell. It's fairly typical in complex cases like the Russia investigation for prosecutors to agree to drop more serious charges if a defendant agrees to cooperate with the investigation.
And, make no mistake, Flynn faced some serious charges. In addition to the false statements he pleaded guilty to making, he faced questions about his business dealings overseas (as did his son), possible involvement in a plot to remove a Muslim cleric (which Flynn's lawyer denied) and his failure to report $530,000 for lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government (which he later addressed in a filing), among other things.
Cobb's statement was also belied by Trump's own actions in the past.
When Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office to "let this go," it was about an investigation into Flynn, according to a memo that Comey wrote immediately after the meeting. And it was Comey's subsequent firing that led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.
All of which leads to the final part of Cobb's statement today.
"The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel's work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion," he said.
That mirrors reports that Cobb has told Trump and others in the White House that the investigation will be wrapping up soon and that Trump will be exonerated, and other reports that Trump himself — in a highly unusual move — pressed senior Senate Republicans to wrap up their own Russian investigation soon as well.
It's been a little over six months since Mueller was appointed — barely the amount of time that most low-level criminal cases take for completion. Flynn's guilty plea indicates that at least one member of the transition team — as yet unnamed — may face charges as well. A grand jury has already postponed some testimony in light of the plea.
Of all the tough sells in Cobb's statement, the idea that Mueller's investigation is almost over might be the hardest pitch.

This is as the Tax Cut plan was passed by the United States Senate and this was released by the team at the Guardian--and as Vox.Com noted over its' Twitter Feed over the Weekend that, "..
A person in the bottom 10 % gets a $50 tax cut; A person in the top 1 % gets a $34,000 tax cut....": 
The Resistance Now

Senate Republicans feel force of protest … but pass tax bill anyway

Activists targeted key senators over tax, with sit-ins, phone calls and other lobbying efforts, while net neutrality campaigners have Verizon in their sights
A person participating in a rally holds a sign in protest of a Republican-crafted tax cut plan, outside the US Capitol Building after sunset in Washington DC.
 A person participating in a rally holds a sign in protest of a Republican-crafted tax cut plan, outside the US Capitol Building after sunset in Washington DC. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Adam Gabbatt

Tax bill passes Senate … but only after activists make their voices heard

Senate Republicans finally managed to pass some legislation on Friday night, in the form of their much-criticized tax bill … but only after a remarkable effort from activists to thwart the bill.
In Arizona activists had protested through Thursday night outside John McCain’s office, while people did the same outside Susan Collins’ office in Bangor, Maine. Both had been seen as potential no votes before committing to the bill this week.
Even on Friday morning, progressive group Indivisible had been urgingactivists to spend the day making calls to senators, providing phone numbers and suggested scripts to urge elected officials to vote against the legislation.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell: wealthcare victory.
 The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell: wealthcare victory. Photograph: Edelman/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

It wasn’t just activists who launched desperate efforts. The DNC urged supporters to make calls, while the editorial board of the New York Times took over the @nytopinion Twitter feed on Wednesday “to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation’s fiscal health”.
This morning, The New York Times Editorial Board is tweeting here to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation's fiscal health. #thetaxbillhurts
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 29, 2017
On Monday thousands of activists across the country had launched sit-ins at senators’ offices. In the end all the effort wasn’t enough. But there will be more battles to come.

Verizon focus of last ditch net neutrality protest

Hundreds of protests are planned outside Verizon stores on Thursday 7 December, to demonstrate against the upcoming Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality.
Activists say they have chosen to target Verizon as the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a former lawyer for Verizon. The company has lobbied for current regulations – designed to protect an open internet – to be overturned.
The FCC is due to vote on defanging those regulations on 14 December – potentially allowing internet service providers like Verizon to charge for different levels of web access.
Some cables
 It’s really hard to illustrate net neutrality. Photograph: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

A group of coalitions including Fight for the Future and Team Internet are organizing the demonstrations.
“We’ll demand that our members of Congress take action to stop Verizon’s puppet FCC from killing net neutrality,” said a message on the groups’ Verizon Protests website, which has a tool for people to find their nearest protests.

Broken musical instruments for children

Grammy award-winning composer David Lang is launching his Symphony for a Broken Orchestra in Philadelphia this weekend – a novel attempt to draw attention to the more than $1.2m that has been slashed from the city’s musical instrument repair fund.
Lang – who won a Grammy in 2010 for his composition The Little Match Girl Passion and the Pulitzer prize for music in 2008 – sourced 1,500 broken musical instruments the School District of Philadelphia for the performance.
A trombone
 This is a photo of a trombone. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

“If there are 1,500 broken musical instruments, that’s 1,500 children who should be playing these instruments and whose lives could be changed,” said Lang. “There is something heartbreaking about it.”
Lang hopes people will donate to repair instruments through the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra website – those instruments will then be put “back into the hands of a child”.

We’re reading

• “I’m a multimillionaire so Trump’s tax plan is great for me,” writes Morris Pearl for Time. “It’s a disaster for everyone else.” Pearl is chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy people who believe millionaires, billionaires and corporations should be taxed more. The idea that the Senate tax plan “is going to help anyone beside the ultra-rich is ludicrous”, Pearl says.
• More than 20,000 people have signed a petition urging the justice department to investigate “claims of sexual assault against Donald J Trump”. “We request that the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to open an investigation into the years of accusations against Donald Trump,” wrote Susan O’Connor, who started the petition. More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct – he has denied all the allegations. The Guardian has compiled a list of all the accusations against the president. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

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