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Trump Now Talking Presidential Pardons as He Targets, Tries to Block Special Counsel Robert Mueller

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Obama Attorney General Holder Warns Trump

President Donald Trump is now inquiring about the scope of his power to pardon people, including himself, and he is targeting Robert Mueller, attempting to discredit the special prosecutor and constrain his investigation.

“Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe,” according to the Washington Post. “A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.”

The Post cautioned that Trump isn’t actively looking to pardon himself.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

And Mueller is under the microscope, with the Trump team wanting to limit his powers. That follows Trump’s direct threat during his Wednesday New York Times interview, in which he cautioned Mueller to not look into the Trump family’s business finances. (Mueller is looking into the Trump family’s business finances.)

“Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort,” the Post adds.

The Trump team is looking for ways to discredit one of this nation’s most respected law enforcement officers, former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.”

Maddow gives a breakdown:

Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in overnight:

One of America’s least credible politicians, Newt Gingrich, a strong Trump ally and the attack dog the Trump team trots out when they are in crisis mode, went after Mueller overnight, serivng up an inane argument:

Apparently, this latest rage from the President all comes down to money. His money. His businesses. His financial dealings with Russia, or Russians. Which seems now to be why he has always refused to release his tax returns. But what he didn’t know is Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the authority to investigate Trump’s tax returns and all his finances, and doesn’t even need to notify Trump.

“The president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances, advisers said,” th Washington Post continues, noting that “Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face.”

“His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.”

Trump’s private attorney, who has his own possible financial improprieties, told the Post they are looking to constrict the scope of Mueller’s investigation.

“The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object,” Jay Sekulow said.

And he then tried to turn the tables on Mueller.

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation.”

Many legal experts are now concerned Trump will fire Mueller. That would lead to a constitutional crisis.

Fomer U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell weighed in also:

 

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr 

 

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TRUMP LIES PEOPLE DIE

FDA Chief Cornered on CNN Over Trump’s False Claim That ’99 Percent of COVID Cases Are Completely Harmless’

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Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, fill-in host Dana Bash put FDA head Dr. Stephen Hahn on the hot seat as she confronted him with Donald Trump’s claim on Saturday night that 99 percent of the COVID-19 cases are harmless, telling the administration official that it was a provable lie.

The CNN host cut right to the chase in her interview, asking about Tump’s dismissive assertion that there is nothing for people to fear about getting the coronavirus.

Referring to the president’s claim, Bash asked, “99 percent of coronavirus cases are, quote, ‘completely harmless.’ No health expert that we have found can back that up, can you?”

“So, we know that cases are surging in the country, we’ve all seen the graphs associated with that. It’s too early and I’m not going to speculate on what the causation is there,” Hahn replied before moving on to telling Americans to follow CDC guidelines of health safety.

“Dr. Hahn, I think it’s important to stick to the question about the 99 percent that the president threw out there. I can tell you it’s not true, and that’s obviously not my opinion. It is fact-based on CDC estimates. Only a third of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic. the WHO, World Health Organization says 20 percent of people who die of coronavirus need oxygen or hospital care,” the CNN host lectured. “This is really important, probably one of the most important misclaims or, frankly, lies the president has put out there. It really affects people’s health if they hear the president saying 99 percent of people are fine. They’re going to change their behavior, potentially get sick and infect other people. how does that make you feel as a member of his own task force?”

“I totally support the CDC and the information that they’re putting out with respect to this pandemic,” the doctor demurred. “I think it’s, again, really important. the guidelines that we’ve emphasized, the data that we have — again, it’s a rapidly evolving situation and we’re going to have more data.”

“Dr. Hahn, I realize this is not easy for you. You are working really hard to protect Americans. I have to ask you flatly to that end, to protect Americans, is the president wrong?” Bash pressed.

“So, I’m not going to get into who is right and who is wrong,” Hahn replied. “What I’ve going to say, Dana, is what I’ve said before. It’s a serious problem that we have, we’ve seen the surge in cases, we must do something to stem the tied tide, and we have this in our power to do this by following the guidance from the task force and the CDC.”

Watch below:

 

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'BUCKLE UP'

U.S. government vividly shows the danger of fireworks in literally mind-blowing video

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Fireworks safety video, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

It’s the Fourth of July, American Independence Day, a holiday where Americans buy nearly $1 billion worth of fireworks (literally tens of thousands of tons of explosive material) to light up the night sky in a celebration-slash-commemoration of the firearms our colonizers gleefully discharged in open revolt against the Brits who first sent them there.

While our resentments against the British have (mostly) receded, the danger of explosives hasn’t entirely. That’s why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released this literally head-exploding video demonstrating the numerous ways that fireworks can blow your brain, children and limbs to bits.

Luckily, the video uses mannequins, but it gets its message across quite vividly.

They’ve even published this following list of helpful firework safety tips:

– Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.

– Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.

– Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.

– Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

– Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

– Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.

– After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

– Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.

Happy Fourth, everyone!

 

 

 

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'DANGEROUS FOOLS'

Trump is making a move to endanger LGBTQ and civil rights activists around the world

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The Open Technology Fund (OTF), “a U.S. government-funded nonprofit that provides encryption technologies to journalists and activists living under repressive regimes,” is under threat from Michael Pack, an appointee of President Donald Trump who now heads the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the group that oversees the OTF.

Pack is pressuring the OTF to change its funding allocation in a way that could endanger LGBTQ activists and others strategizing for civil rights in countries like China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, leaving them subject harassment, arrest, violence, and death.

According to Vice News, Pack has packed USAGM’s board with Trump loyalists who are working to funnel tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to closed-source technologies. Closed-source technologies are privately developed apps that could contain backdoor and security vulnerabilities allowing repressive regimes to track users and monitor their online communications.

Pack’s shift to closed-source technology is a fundamental change to the OTF’s long-running investment in “open-source technology,” tech whose publicly available source code can be studied and tested to ensure others can’t access user data.

Pack’s USAGM is currently pushing for OTF to invest in Freegate and Ultrasurf, two closed-source apps that purport to get around the Great Firewall of China, a censorious and domestically controlled internet that blocks activists from any sites critical of the Chinese government.

Open-source software experts that spoke to Vice said, “[Ultrasurf’s] code is out of date, dangerously vulnerable to compromise, and lacks the user base to allow it to effectively scale even if they secured government funding.”

Laura Cunningham and Libby Liu, who very recently served as OTF’s president and CEO respectively, told Vice News that in March 2020 (shortly after Trump installed Pack), Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation Human Rights and Justice (one of the groups pushing Ultrasurf) threatened them to fund the app or else risk being ousted by Pack and his board.

On June 13, 2020, Michael Horowitz, former director of the Project for International Religious Liberty (another group pushing Ultrasurf), then went on the radio show of white supremacist-enabler and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and called for Pack to fire Liu — four days later, he did. A day later, Pack fired Cunningham without providing any reason whatsoever.

Current and former OTF staff members told Vice they’re worried about the OTF’s direction under Pack. Longtime open-source technology advocate Cory Doctorow summed up the worry in a Twitter thread that linked to a petition urging Congress to intervene:

The Trump admin wants to nuke the OTF and give all its money to a bunch of grifty, closed-source privacy and firewall-circumvention tools. These tools are NOT auditable, and the companied that make them stand to make BANK from the move… If i was a Uyghur in Xinjiang or a dissident in Tehran, I would NOT trust my life to these tools. No goddamned way.

OTF’s ironclad rule of funding open, free code isn’t just a way to allay suspicions about the tools’ true purpose – it’s also a preventative against corruption, because the projects OTF funds CAN’T insert spy code without being caught right away… Based on this administration’s track record, I’m about 70-30 that this is just a bro deal that lets some cronies suck up millions in corporate welfare while hanging out tools used by vulnerable people around the world to dry.

Remember, Congress allocated this money for the OTF, not as pork for a bunch of connected insiders. This money built the tools that #BlackLivesMatter protesters use, to say nothing of the #HongKongProtests and many other movements around the world.

It will be a genuine, deep, widespread tragedy if this move isn’t stopped.

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