Bill Barr‘s secret appointment of a U.S. Attorney to investigate the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s influence on Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election has received a big blow. A lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign was just acquitted of a charge of lying to the FBI, leaving legal experts to wonder why John Durham, the former U.S. Attorney appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, just months before his resignation, is continuing in his role as special counsel, and why the investigation, now more two years old, hasn’t closed down.
“The first courtroom test for Special Counsel John Durham ended in defeat Tuesday as a federal jury found a Democratic attorney not guilty of making a false statement to the FBI about allegations of computer links between Donald Trump and Russia,” Politico reports. “The jury deliberated for about six hours before acquitting Michael Sussmann, 57, on the single felony charge he faced: that he lied when he allegedly denied he was acting on behalf of any client in alerting the FBI to claims that a secret server linked Trump and a Moscow bank with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Former U.S, Attorney Joyce Vance, who is now a law professor and an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, criticized the very existence of the Durham investigation after Sussman was acquitted.
“The failure to convict today, largely was a result, in my judgment, of the fact that the FBI has to establish that not only was Jim Baker – their general counsel – lied to, but the lie was material,” Vance told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in the noon hour Tuesday. “And of course, the defendant Mr. Sussman maintained that he never lied about who he represented or why he was there. And also the lie even if there was one wouldn’t have been material because the FBI would have still investigated this information.”
“So this entire situation smacks of sour grapes,” Vance continued, referring to the Durham investigation itself. “Perhaps, at best, an effort by former Attorney General Bill Barr to curry favor with the [Trump] White House. At worst an effort to appease Donald Trump and investigate one of his pet theories: what Trump always called ‘the Russia hoax.'”
Former SDNY federal prosecutor:
I hope that Michael Sussman sues Durham, Barr, DeFilippis, & others who were responsible for this completely political/frivolous prosecution. I recommend @lauferlaw.
— Richard Signorelli (@richsignorelli) May 31, 2022
Political scientist, editor for The Atlantic:
John Durham threw away his reputation to become a Trump lickspittle. He and Bill Barr just slapped down for their behavior. A three year witch hunt.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) May 31, 2022
Talking Points Memo founder and editor:
this was never a real investigation or prosecutorial effort. it was a political assignment from bill barr to create a phony story for Donald Trump. it would be best if Durham just walked away in shame because the level of corruption here is beyond belief.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 31, 2022
Noted conservative commentator:
Big blow to John Durham / Bill Barr project of punishing those who warned the country about Russia's support for Donald Trump https://t.co/NoB2szJmgn
— David Frum (@davidfrum) May 31, 2022
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‘Ain’t No Recession’: Economists Praise ‘Huge’ Employment Numbers – ‘We’re Back, Baby’
Employers in July hired more than double the number of people experts had predicted, 528,000, after many predicted the number to be just 258,000. Unemployment is now at the lowest level in half a century, at 3.5%.
CNBC calls today’s report from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics “far better than expected, defying signs that the economic recovery is losing steam.”
That was far from the only good news in Friday’s release.
“Wage growth also surged higher, as average hourly earnings jumped 0.5% for the month and 5.2% from the same time a year ago,” CNBC notes. “Despite downbeat expectations, the July gains were the best since February and well ahead of the 388,000 average job gain over the past four months.
“The bureau noted that private sector payrolls are now higher than the February 2020 level, just before the pandemic declaration,” a massive accomplishment, as economists are noting.
Economist Justin Wolfers, a professor at University of Michigan, New York Times contributor and a Senior Fellow at Brookings sums up today’s news.
“Put that recession talk away, and change the subject. A vibecession ain’t no recession: July payrolls came in at a huge +528k, and unemployment is down to 3.5%. A whap-bop-a-loopa-a-whap-bam-boo!”
Minutes later he added: “Hang on… I just-recalculated the unemployment rate (to extra decimal places), and at 3.46%, THIS IS THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN OVER HALF A CENTURY.”
Wolfers, continuing to examine the report, finds even more good news.
The number of people forced to work “part-time for economic reasons, — is also at the lowest rate ever recorded.”
Putting another economic overview on the data, Wolfers explains: “We’re back, baby.”
David Rothkopf, who wears many hats including professor of international relations, political scientist, journalist, CEO, podcast host, author, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations also summed up the news.
“To recap,” he writes. “More jobs created during Biden presidency than the net of the preceding 8 yrs added up. More jobs created during Biden presidency than the last 3 GOP admins added up. More jobs created last month than the net total of the entire Trump presidency. In short: Lotta jobs.”
Economist David Rothschild takes a moment to examine how the negativism of the media is affecting the economy.
“Disconnect between reality of healthy US economy and negative mainstream media narrative is startling: beyond demonstrating a Republican bias in trying to undermine Democrats, it is an actual serious source of harm to the an economy where confidence & expectations matter.”
He adds: “Mainstream Media/Republicans will argue that ‘numbers’ don’t tell real story of how working class (obviously for them they mean white working class) families are hurt by inflation: but reality is jobs are plenty & wage growth is keeping pace w/ inflation.”
Rothschild also preempts any talk of recession.
“Amazing job growth, strong & sustainable wage growth, and slowing inflation: WE ARE NOT IN A RECESSION.”
And economist Danny Blanchflower, an economics professor at Dartmouth, has a word of advice for workers: ask for a raise.
“Workers should definitely not refrain from asking/demanding inflation adjusted pay increases. They can tell the bosses it is their turn to show up.”
This is a breaking news and developing story.
Trump’s Legal Team Now in ‘Direct Communication’ With DOJ Officials About J6 Criminal Investigation: Report
Attorneys for Donald Trump, the former president, are now in direct talks with officials from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
CNN in its breaking news exclusive calls it “the first sign of talks between the two sides as the criminal probe into January 6, 2021, accelerates.”
“The talks revolve around whether Trump would be able to shield conversations he had while he was president from federal investigators,” including “whether any communications that witnesses from the Trump West Wing had with the former president can be kept from a federal criminal grand jury under Trump’s claims of executive privilege.”
Legal experts generally default to executive privilege resting with the sitting U.S. president, but DOJ has also not prosecuted former top Trump officials, including Mark Meadows, after Congress voted to convict him on contempt charges for not cooperating with the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack’s investigation.
“Mark Meadows could be a key witness,” CNN reveals.
“Trump has specifically been counseled to cut contact with his former White House chief of staff,” CNN adds, “whose actions leading up to and on the day of the US Capitol insurrection have been deeply scrutinized by the House panel.”
“In recent months,” CNN states, “the former President has ignored advice from some of his advisers to avoid speaking with former and current aides who have become entangled in the House select committee’s probe into January 6 and may become part of the criminal investigation, people familiar with the matter told CNN.”
NYU professor of law and former Special Counsel at the Dept. of Defense, Ryan Goodman, pointing to the Meadows news offered this insight: “Sounds like Trump team worried Meadows will flip and cooperate with DOJ.”
Authoritarian Orban at CPAC Texas Delivers Anti-LGBTQ Attack on Marriage to Standing Ovation: ‘Leave Our Kids Alone’
Authoritarian dictator Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, was invited to speak to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. On Thursday he delivered an anti-LGBTQ attack on same-sex marriage and same-sex families, echoing the false “groomer” claims increasingly prevalent on the right by demanding same-sex couples must “leave our kids alone.”
“Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as a union of one man and one woman,” he decreed, to cheers.
“Family ties shall be based on marriage or the relationship between parents and children. To sum up, the mother is a woman. The father is a man. And leave our kids alone. Full stop. End of discussion,” he declared, as the crowd roared with applause and gave him a standing ovation.
CPAC, run by Matt Schlapp, will also host top Republicans during this week’s conference, including Donald Trump. It is among the more far-right of the many conservative conferences but not the only one.
NPR notes that Orbán delivered a speech last week that was “widely decried as racist, even by one of his top aides. She resigned in protest.”
Watch Orbán at CPAC below or at this link:
Viktor Orbán receives a standing ovation at CPAC for expressing his country’s bigoted anti-gay marriage policies. pic.twitter.com/ldPjwQidoc
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) August 4, 2022
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