Really, what does Putin have on Trump?

The intelligence community strikes back:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.


According to nearly a dozen people who either attended the meeting with the president-elect or were later briefed on it, the four primary intelligence officials described the streams of intelligence that convinced them of Mr. Putin’s role in the election interference.

They included stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee that had been seen in Russian military intelligence networks by the British, Dutch and American intelligence services. Officers of the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the G.R.U. had plotted with groups like WikiLeaks on how to release the email stash.

And ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role.

That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration, as the Russia investigation intensified.

So, Trump was shown almost incontrovertible evidence before his inauguration and yet he still continuously questions it. It really makes one wonder what Putin has on him.

And this makes one think about it even more:

At this week’s summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an “incredible offer” — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.

One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out the Kremlin’s request to question McFaul and other Americans. Asked during the daily press briefing whether Trump is open to the idea of having McFaul questioned by Russia, Sanders said President Trump is “going to meet with his team” to discuss the offer.

There are a bunch of comebacks here, including this one from John Kerry:

The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn’t be under consideration, period. Full stop,” adding that the proposal is “not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous.

This is what happens when you don’t prepare for a summit–you say stupid things because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or, at least, you can claim that so people are a bit less likely to wonder what Putin has on him.

President Trump: traitor or just Russian apologist?

President Trump thinks both the US and Russia are to blame for bad relations:

Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia. And we’re getting together. And we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping — because we have to do it. Ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore.

And he believes both Putin and the US intelligence agencies:

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.

Ok, I have to admit I’m not sure if he’s saying that he trusts them both or squirrel.

For fun Putin implied that Trump wants to help prop up oil and gas prices:

If I may, I’d throw in some two cents. We talked to Mr. President, including this subject as well. We are aware of the stance of President Trump. And I think that we, as a major oil and gas power — and the United States, as a major oil and gas power as well — we could work together on regulation of international markets, because neither of us is actually interested in the plummeting of the prices.

Trump administration: Criminal Banks shouldn’t get blamed

How friendly can the Trump administration be to banks? Pretty friendly:

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the nation’s main bank regulator, found “bank-specific instances of accounts being opened without proof of customer consent” as part of a review of more than 40 banks spurred by the Wells Fargo scandal, agency spokesman Bryan Hubbard told The Times in an email Friday.

However, the agency will not be naming the banks where it found potentially unauthorized accounts or providing details on banks’ specific conduct, he said.

Don’t worry, the spokesman for the OCC says it’s not a problem:

Though Hubbard said the agency would not release details of specific issues at specific banks, he did say that there were “isolated instances of employee misconduct with no clear connection to sales goals, incentives or quota programs.”

Hubbard said some banks showed they did not have proper controls in place while running short-term promotions, leading to cases where banks could not prove customers had authorized new accounts. In some cases, banks could not prove customers had given consent because of poor documentation, incomplete records or “technology issues,” he said.

Generally, Hubbard said the review did not find “systemic issues with bank employees opening accounts without the customer’s consent,” though most institutions did not take a “holistic” approach to managing risks associated with sales practices.

This is the same view that the police have for most criminals–if I only robbed one bank, they would give me a warning I assume.

And the Trump administration is just getting started:

Since taking over the OCC in November, Otting, a longtime commercial banker, has pushed to scale back rules and reporting requirements for banks, recently lifting restrictions — put in place by his predecessor — on banks offering small consumer loans. He’s also made it a priority for the OCC to rewrite federal rules that require banks to lend in low-income and minority communities.

A little history:

Before they reunited in Washington, Otting and Mnuchin were the chief executive and chairman, respectively, of Pasadena’s OneWest Bank, an institution built from the shell of failed mortgage lender IndyMac. Both Mnuchin and Otting faced questions about OneWest’s foreclosure practices during their confirmation hearings.

OneWest is the bank known for its foreclosures:

“Mr. Otting has no experience as a bank supervisor, but he has helped lead a bank that illegally foreclosed on working families and paid a multimillion dollar fine for defrauding the government,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement to POLITICO.


“Just like Mr. Mnuchin, Mr. Otting made a fortune profiting off of a foreclosure crisis that devastated millions of Americans, including countless Nevadans,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who hails from Otting’s home state, said in a statement.

Last month, a reverse mortgage subsidiary of OneWest, now owned by CIT Group, reached an $89 million settlement with the Justice Department for allegedly defrauding the government by seeking insurance payments from the Federal Housing Administration that it did not qualify for. The allegations cover the period between 2011 and 2016; Otting was CEO of OneWest from 2010 to 2015.

You can see why Otting doesn’t want to punish other banks. He’s just another Trump guy who cares more about big business than everyday Americans.

How Betsy Devos studies violence in schools

Well, this is just surreal:

“Will your commission look at the role of firearms as it relates to gun violence in the schools?” Leahy asked.

“That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” DeVos replied.

“I see. So you’re studying gun violence and not considering the role of guns,” Leahy said.

“We are actually studying school safety and how we can ensure the students are safe at school,” DeVos said.

And they’re not doing much studying of school safety either (bold added):

DeVos’s commission has never met, but she has hosted listening sessions at Education Department headquarters and last week visited a Maryland elementary school that employs a strategy that teaches students interpersonal skills and encourages them to connect with one another. Gun restrictions were not discussed during the session, which lasted nearly five hours.

The Education Department is set to host a forum Thursday, allowing members of the public to share their suggestions on reducing school violence with the commission. DeVos, who is traveling to Switzerland to learn about Swiss-style apprenticeships, will not be in attendance.

She’s one of the best, Trump hired only the best.

Trump will pardon convicted felon D’Souza

Donald Trump has tweeted that he will pardon convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza:

Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!

Let’s go back and see what D’Souza was convicted of:

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.

and what he said at the time:

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said, according to Newsday. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

and let’s remember how he did it:

Evidence disclosed in pre-trial motions indicated that two of the illegal donations were routed through D’Souza’s mistress, Denise Joseph, and her husband, Louis Joseph.

In 2012, D’ Souza resigned from his post as president of evangelical King’s College in New York following reports that he attended a South Carolina conference on Christian values accompanied by Denise Joseph and introduced her as his fiancee despite the fact that he was still married at the time to another woman.

I can see why Trump pardoned him, he probably reminds him of himself.

Here’s how Trump protects workers

The Supreme Court ruled that workers can’t bring action collectively if they have an arbitration clause in their contracts:

The Supreme Court has sharply restricted the rights of American workers to join with others to challenge their company for allegedly violating federal laws on wages, overtime pay or civil rights.

The justices by a 5-4 vote Monday agreed with Trump administration lawyers and ruled employers may require workers give up their rights to join together in complaining if they are denied overtime pay or a minimum wage.

So, if your employer underpays all their workers by $10 a week they will have to push their claim individually. Good luck with that.

Now look which side each of the political parties were on:

Obama lawyers agreed with Democratic appointees on the National Labor Relations Board that labor laws from the New Deal era gave workers the right to join together to protect themselves. They pointed to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which said workers may join a union or “engage in other concerted efforts” to protect themselves.

Based on that law, they said companies may not enforce arbitration clauses that bar workers from joining together to challenge a company’s policies or work rules.

By contrast, Trump administration lawyers joined with pro-business advocates in favor of binding arbitration. They relied on the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, which said contracts that call for setting disputes through arbitration “shall be valid, irrevocable and enforceable.”

And who is it most likely to affect?

Labor law experts say that denying group claims will hurt low-wage workers in particular. They will have no practical way to challenge employers who fail to pay them overtime or a minimum wage, they said.

There’s the President, on the side of the common worker like always. As long as you define the common worker as rich business owners.

Justice Ginsburg dissented highlighting part of the NLRA:

Relevant here, §7 of the NLRA guarantees employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectivelythrough representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

The conservative justices twist the words to pretend that the highlighted part can’t possibly apply to arbitration because ‘reasons’. Good old-fashioned judicial activism is alive and well.

The Second Amendment causes illegal immigration

This is an interesting proposition for conservatives:

It’s estimated that some two hundred thousand American guns are smuggled across the southern border each year. The region that’s been hit the hardest is Central America, where gun laws are relatively strict yet homicide rates are among the highest on earth. Gang wars, massive state corruption, and murderous criminal syndicates are to blame for the violence, but American firepower facilitates it. “Unlike other forms of contraband, American weapons don’t just pass through Central America but engulf it in storms of violence,” Mark Ungar, a political-science professor at Brooklyn College and an expert in the region’s gun violence, told me. This violence, in turn, has fuelled a refugee crisis. Since 2014, more than a hundred and fifty thousand unaccompanied immigrant children from countries in the region have fled to the U.S. seeking some form of asylum.

If you don’t like people from Central America trying to get into the US, you need to cut down on gun sales. US guns are the cause of much of the violence:

Seventy per cent of guns recovered by authorities in Mexico, for instance, were originally sold in the U.S.—most of them in Texas, California, and Arizona, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Forty-nine per cent of weapons recovered in El Salvador came from the U.S., compared to forty-six per cent in Honduras and twenty-nine per cent in Guatemala.

So, gangs in Central America make money by selling drugs to the US and then use the money to buy guns in the US. It sounds like the US is directly at fault and needs to take responsibility. I’m sure Republicans will be all over that–haha, sorry I made a funny.

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