After a week of explosive new details about the President Donald Trump and his family’s ties to Russia, we learned that Trump and his legal team are discussing his authority to grant pardons and potential ways to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling, according to a Washington Post report late Thursday. The Post said Trump has asked about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself.
A president has never tried to pardon himself, and the legal implications of that could be explosive. The Washington Post also reported Trump’s legal team is trying to keep Mueller’s probe from expanding to include the president’s finances, and are collecting potential alleged conflicts of interest they see coming from his office — which could potentially be used to remove Mueller from his position.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was under investigation from multiple fronts, including Mueller, for possible money laundering.
Stephen Colbert poked fun at Trump during Russia Week, and his monologue on the ever-growing list of Russians at the meeting with Don Jr. contained one of the week’s best one-liners:
“This is the first time a Trump has lied about having a smaller crowd size.’’
President Trump’s aversion to the truth prompted this rebuke from the right-leaning Wall Street Journal:
“Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling. Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.”
Trump’s troubles continued when reporters discovered he had a second, hour-long meeting with Putin and a Russian interpreter. Trump’s legal team has a strategy that mirrors his personal bombast, often simply yelling louder than whomever they are talking to.
And in a long, rambling interview with the New York Times, Trump signaled a belief that he is above the law by saying he wouldn’t have chosen Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he “had known [Sessions] would recuse himself” from the Russia probe. Trump also hinted that he’d fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller if he began investigating Trump family business dealings. Mueller is looking into the family’s vast ties with Russia, reports CNBC.
In other Swamp news, a new book chronicling Steve Bannon’s influence on the President released a quote in which Bannon referred to Speaker Paul Ryan as “a limp-d*** mother****** who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.”
Jared Kushner’s status as a top aide to Trump was used to lure Chinese investors to his family’s New Jersey development, even after his family’s company apologized for mentioning his name during a sales pitch in May, CNN has found.
Trump Says ‘Let Obamacare Fail,’ McCain Wants Bipartisan Solution, Portman’s Position Unclear
Regarding the GOP’s inability to pass a simultaneous “repeal and replacement” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump told reporters at a luncheon at the White House on Tuesday to instead “let Obamacare fail.” Translation: Let people die.
“It will be a lot easier. And I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it,” Trump said.
Many Republicans disagree. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio expressed concern over the idea of a repeal-only health care bill, saying:
“I have to look and see what the so-called repeal bill entails, but if it is a bill that simply repeals, I believe that will add to more uncertainty, and the potential for Ohioans to pay even higher premiums, higher deductibles.”
After surgery to remove a blood clot and a subsequent diagnosis of brain cancer, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, ever the fighter, urged the Upper Chamber to work in a bipartisan manner to find a better plan to address the ACA.
There are two Senate bills in play. Neither has the necessary votes, one would lead to 22 million fewer people with insurance. The other: 32 million. Vox has a good overview under the headline “A clear guide to what the hell is going on with the Senate health care bill.’’
A Look at Kentucky Lawyer John Bush: Trump’s Newly Confirmed Sixth Circuit Judge
The U.S. Senate confirmed Kentucky Judge John K. Bush on a party-line vote with Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown voting against him and reliable Republican Sen. Rob Portman voting for him.
Among the top reasons many view him as a dangerous choice for the court:
#1 He has openly made homophobic comments
Bush was quoted as saying: “Let me tell you one thing I’ve learned—this is no town to be giving people the impression you’re some kind of faggot.”
#2 He is anti-LGBTQ rights
Bush publicly denounced the change in passport forms which accounted for same-sex parents.
#3 He has equated abortion with slavery
On his blog, Bush recently stated his belief that “the two greatest tragedies in our country are slavery and abortion.” He believes that these two issues have played a similarly significant role in having “divided our country.”
Read Ms. Magazine for Seven Reasons Feminists Should Resist John Bush’s Appointment to a Federal Bench.
As Cleveland Residents Suffer, Cleveland Clinic Prospers
The Cleveland Clinic, the second-biggest employer in Ohio and one of the nation’s greatest hospitals, is headquartered in a neighborhood that is poor, unhealthy and — in the words of one national neighborhood-ranking website — “barely livable.” According to a recent Politico story, more than one-third of residents in the census tract around the Clinic have diabetes, the worst rate in the city.
The Politico report comes amid a new study ranking Cleveland as the third most stressed city in the United States. The results were based on poverty and divorce rates, percentage of healthy adults, job security, and average hours of sleep per night. Cleveland has the highest divorce rate and the second highest poverty rate among the cities surveyed.
Yet as the Cleveland Clinic grows and lures wealthier patients from around the world, many of its own residents who receive Medicaid benefits from CareSource will no longer be able to receive care from the Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic announced this week that it is no longer contracted with CareSource.
Let’s recap: in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the state, and $8 billion hospital system is creating further barriers for its own neighbors to receive the world-class care it prides itself on.
Cities across Ohio continue to suffer because the Republicans that dominate the Ohio Statehouse have redirected money from local government and gerrymandering marginalizes urban representation in at the Statehouse and Congress.
On Thursday, the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio and the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition announced that in the past month redistricting reformers from all over Ohio collected more than 100,000 signatures.
“The Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio ballot committee now has more than 100,000 signatures in hand,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “This is a testament to the hard work of volunteers who are committed to fair elections and improving representational democracy. Voters know they deserve fair districts and fair elections, and many of our volunteers report that voters are thanking them for collecting signatures to stop gerrymandering.”
What do elephant ears & democracy have in common? Sign up to collect signatures at the State Fair.
#BlackPride4 Take Over Stonewall Columbus Meeting; Showdown Comes After ACLU Sues Columbus Cops Over Their Arrests
A community conversation hosted by Stonewall Columbus was shut down by protestors earlier this week. Member of the #BlackPride4 and nearly 100 protestors took over the meeting and reiterated their demands, which include the resignation of the entire volunteer board and leadership.
After Two Mistrials, Prosecutor Won’t Try Again To Convict White Cop Who Shot Unarmed Black Man
Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing will not face a third trial for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man during a traffic stop in 2015. Both of Tensing’s previous hearings ended in a mistrial.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said, “After two trials and a million dollars, the best lawyers I could come up with were unsuccessful at conviction. I’ve concluded we cannot win a trial on this case in these facts.”
GOP Candidates for Governor & Senate Defy Conventional Wisdom; Cordray Signals He’ll Jump in a Crowded Primary
The We the People Convention held a candidates’ event outside of Columbus and announced the results of their straw-poll for the GOP gubernatorial primary. Results show that Trump-loving Congressman Jim Renacci was the overwhelming winner among the attendees, with 61.74 percent of those voting saying that if the primary election were held today, he would get their vote.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was second with 23.48 percent of the vote, while Attorney General Mike DeWine – considered the frontrunner by many establishment Republicans – received support from just 14.78 percent of the voters, according to the Highland County Press.
In other 2018 updates, Treasurer Josh Mandel raised only half of what Senator Sherrod Brown raised for their re-match. Mandel also raised eyebrows when he accused the Anti-Defamation League of a “partisan witch hunt” for calling out folks who insist date rape does not exist and insisting that “diversity is code for white genocide.’’
Speculation continues to mount as to whether or not Rich Cordray will enter the race for Ohio Governor; a formal announcement is expected soon. As head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Cordray serves as the nation’s top consumer watchdog. Republicans who rule Washington, D.C., have been gunning for the Obama-created Bureau.
Yet Another Setback for Abortion Access in Ohio
An Akron abortion center that was one of Ohio’s nine remaining full-service clinics quietly closed last month.
Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the Akron Beacon Journal, “The posture of Gov. Kasich’s Department of Health has been to persecute abortion providers and to abuse their regulatory authority to close safe, legal clinics because of politics and ideology and not because of health concerns.”
Secret Panel Dismisses Ethics Complaint Against Supreme Court Justice – and Its Reasons are Secret Too
A three-judge panel has dismissed a grievance filed against Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy for speaking before a Toledo fund raiser for abortion opponents while the court considers a case that could close Toledo’s last abortion clinics.
A coalition of 51 groups and individuals, many physicians, called for a professional misconduct investigation of Kennedy, alleging she crossed an ethical line with the March 17 speech.
“This dismissal shows that Ohio’s most powerful state court is also its least accountable. Those handling the complaint refused to even identify the judges who cleared Kennedy,” said ProgressOhio’s Sandy Theis, who filed the complaint.
Progressive Action Calendar Alerts
7/22: Rally Against Portman & Pence
7/25: Rally to Save Our Care (Protest Trump)
7/29: “Our Lives on the Line” Events:
Columbus Flash Mob