President Donald Trump late Friday afternoon and evening ended the week by firing three administration and White House officials, he blames for his impeachment in a campaign of retribution that some experts are calling illegal.
Trump not only had Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman transferred out of the White House, he had him fired from his National Security Post and escorted out of the building. Vindman’s twin brother, who also works on the NSC, was summarily fired and escorted out as well, as The New York Times reports.
If that weren’t enough Trump then turned around and had his Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, fired as well.
Both Vindman and Sondland had testified before Congress, proving the whistleblower’s claims that the president engaged in disturbing behavior by extorting Ukraine. The General Accounting Office substantiated that claim, stating that Trump’s withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid was illegal.
The hashtag #FridayNightMasacre is trending on Twitter right now.
CNN Legal Analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig says Trump’s actions today are “criminal.”
I’m sounding this bell now. It is disgraceful and criminal to demote / fire witnesses – as we are seeing with Vindman, his brother, Sondland.
But this could get even worse – including bogus criminal charges against perceived Trump enemies in FBI and elsewhere. Watch for this.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) February 8, 2020
Calling it a “Friday Night Massacre,” professor of international relations and visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, journalist, and CEO of The Rothkopf Group, David Rothkopf also says Trump’s actions today are criminal.
Friday night massacre. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this wave of retribution is a crime. https://t.co/u8DhWRUCJb
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) February 7, 2020
MSNBC Political Analyst and Senior Director of Progressive Programming for SiriusXM Radio, Zerlina Maxwell suggested the same label:
Friday night massacre? https://t.co/0mCHObkCuv
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) February 7, 2020
So did resistance organization Indivisible’s Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Ezra Levin:
— Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) February 7, 2020
As did CNN’s Keith Boykin:
The Friday Night Massacre continues.
First Vindman. Now Sondland. Who’s next? https://t.co/9q4ZonG1lV
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 7, 2020
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Mueller Probe Never Investigated Trump’s Ties to Russia – DOJ Secretly Intervened to Make Sure It Couldn’t: NYT
“Rod J. Rosenstein curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere”
The Mueller probe was expected to unearth the full scope of President Donald Trump’s troublesome personal and financial ties to Russia. Many were concerned and disappointed when it did not. Some blamed Attorney General Bill Barr, whose infamous four-page letter he released as a supposed “summary” of the 22-month investigation falsely characterized its findings.
But The New York Times reveals that early into the Special Counsel investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein secretly and dramatically narrowed the scope of the investigation, blocking former FBI Director Robert Mueller from looking into what literally was the basis for the investigation.
“The former deputy attorney general maneuvered to keep investigators from completing an inquiry into whether the president’s personal and financial links to Russia posed a national security threat,” The Times reports.
The Times report reveals that “law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them.”
“Within days, the former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.”
Rosenstein ordered Mueller “to examine ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government’ and the Trump campaign. Many Democrats embraced the appointment as a sign that law enforcement would complete a full accounting of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.”
But privately, Mr. Rosenstein instructed Mr. Mueller to conduct only a criminal investigation into whether anyone broke the law in connection with Russia’s 2016 election interference, former law enforcement officials said.
Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Times, “We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia.”
“I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”
Read the entire Times report here.
1000 Supporters to Attend Trump’s Renomination Acceptance Speech at the White House Amid Possible Legal Violations
President Donald Trump for weeks hinted he would deliver his renomination acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House, but after the first two nights of the Republican National Convention Trump has far exceeded that claim. Already much of the RNC has been held at the White House, including a citizenship naturalization ceremony, an official presidential pardon, and First Lady Melania Trump’s speech.
Now The Washington Post reveals President Trump has invited and expects 1000 supporters to attend his renomination acceptance speech Thursday. It’s unknown if that many people have ever attended a White House event before. Also unknown is how the White House will handle coronavirus safety protocols. Experts have said the politicization of the White House could be illegal.
(Technically, this is a Republican National Committee event and all executive branch employees except the president and vice president are legally prohibited from assisting or participating.)
“On Tuesday, attendees seated ‘in the rows near the President and vice president’ were tested before Melania Trump’s speech, the first lady’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN.”
Fox News adds that “most House and Senate Republicans” have been invited to attend the speech, and there will be fireworks over the Washington Monument at the end. Such blatant partisan politicization of federal government properties is unprecedented, and again, some say, could be illegal.
USPS Employees Got an Email Today Telling Them Not to Talk to the Press Under Any Circumstances
While the U.S. Postal Service is under attack, everyone from letter carriers to union chairs and those working behind the doors in processing facilities has sounded the alarm about what they’re seeing from the top as part of the intentional mail slow down.
VICE News reported Thursday that USPS staff were sent a letter telling them that they can’t talk to the press under any circumstances.
The memo, dated Aug. 14, explains what staff should do if contacted, but it also says that if customers are asking questions, then employees should be “suspicious.”
Understandably, some employees have taken issue with the moves by the Trump administration to intentionally obstruct the passage of the mail, and quickly handed over to the media the memo saying not to talk to the press.
“The Postal Service continuously strives to project a positive image, protect its brand, and present a unified message to the customers and communities it serves,” the memo begins. “It is imperative that one person speaks on behalf of the Postal Service to deliver an appropriate, accurate, and consistent message to the media.”
“Avoid the temptation to ‘answer a few questions,’” it continues. “Keep in mind that, while most media representatives will identify themselves up front (sic), sometimes they do not. If you are dealing with a customer, especially one who asks a series of questions, it is perfectly appropriate to ask, ‘Are you a member of the media?’ Asking this specific question will help ensure your interaction is not used as the basis for any kind of ‘official’ Postal Service statement or position.”
The Trump administration has long been at war with the media and frequently twists the truth and spreads lies about them to his supporters.
It was reported earlier Thursday that the USPS processing staff was sent an email saying that regardless of what people read in the media, they are not to restart the sorting machines that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy took offline.
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