San Antonio Spurs coach nails it

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first NBA playoff game, but coach Gregg Popovich seemed more frustrated by President Donald Trump than by basketball.

While sports is often the place Americans turn for non-political activity, every sport from football to basketball and even tennis has become more and more political in the last few years. Popovich has been an outspoken critic of the new president, but when a reporter asked him how the outside world distracts from work, the coach unloaded.

“There’s a cloud, a pall over the whole country, in a paranoid, surreal sort of way,”​ Popovich said. “It’​s got to do with the way one person conducts himself and it’​s embarrassing. It’​s dangerous to our institutions and what we all stand for and what we expect this country to be. But for this individual, he’s in a game show.”

According to Good Sports, following the election, Popovich spoke out against those he felt were unwilling to be empathetic and tolerant toward another “group’s situations.”

“I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it,” he said. “I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is—my big fear is—we are Rome.”

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is as big a POS as Trump

President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen tweeted a photo of his “Ivy League daughter” Sunday night in her underwear and called her beautiful and smart.

Let’s see — Trump wants to date his own daughter; VP Pence calls his wife “Mother'” and now Trump’s attorney posts soft porn of his daughter.  Meanwhile, the good Christians at Liberty University just love these people.  PUKE!!!!!

We are closing in on the End of Trump . . . he’s a walking, talking shell, soon to be dumped

From Robert Reich:

The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party.

Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice – a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.

It’s worth recalling that the illegality underlying Nixon’s impeachment was a burglary at the Watergate complex, while the illegality underlying Clinton’s was lying to a grand jury about sex with an intern in the White House.

Trump’s obstruction is potentially far more serious. It involves an investigation about whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia in rigging a presidential election – the most direct assault on American democracy in history,

Last Thursday, in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt about his firing of Comey, Trump said: “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.” Trump also said that he had pressed Comey during a private dinner to tell him if he was under investigation.

Trump conceded that the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election, which includes a probe into the possibility that Moscow was coordinating with the Trump campaign, was one of the factors Trump considered before firing Comey.

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’ ” Trump said.

The law is reasonably clear. If Trump removed Comey to avoid being investigated, that’s an obstruction of justice – an impeachable offense.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Here, the law is also clear. Seeking to silence, intimidate or even influence someone who is likely to offer evidence in a congressional or criminal proceeding is also an obstruction of justice – and an impeachable offense.

As a practical matter, though, nothing will happen until a majority of the House decides on bringing a bill of impeachment. Which means, under the present congress, twenty-two Republicans would have to join with House Democrats to put enough pressure on the Speaker of the House to allow such a bill to be considered.

The odds of this occurring in this Congress, under present circumstances, are approximately zero.

So – barring a “smoking gun” that shows Trump’s complicity with Russian operatives in interfering in the 2016 election – Trump’s fate seems to hinge on the midterm elections of 2018.

Those elections are less than eighteen months away. That’s a long time in American politics. Under a Trump presidency, that’s an eternity.

But there’s another possibility.

In my experience, most elected politicians have two goals – to do what they consider to be the right things for the American public, and to be reelected (not necessarily in that order).

If Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet – particularly among Republicans and Independents – twenty-two House Republicans may well decide their chances for being reelected are better if they abandon him before the 2018 midterms.

Paul Ryan and the House Republican leadership might make a similar calculation, at least enough to put a bill of impeachment on the table.

Most House Republicans prefer Vice President Mike Pence to Donald Trump anyway. As one said to me several months ago, “Pence is a predictable conservative. Trump is an unpredictable egomaniac. Most of us are more comfortable with the former.”

There’s a good chance Trump’s polls will continue to fall. First, he’s shown to be his own worst enemy. Even when things are going reasonably well, he seems bizarrely intent on stirring controversy – and saying or tweeting things that get him into trouble.

There’s also a matter of the economy. The expansion that began in 2009 is getting long in the tooth. If history is any guide, we’re due for a slowdown or recession. And justified or not, presidents get blamed when Americans lose jobs.

Donald Trump doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president of the United States. But this obvious fact isn’t enough to get him fired.

He’ll be fired when enough Americans decide they can’t abide him anymore.

Then, maybe in an impeachment proceeding, it will come out that Trump did something incredibly stupid – like give a nod of approval to one of his campaign bottom feeders like Roger Stone to tell a Russian operative to go ahead with their plan to interfere in the 2016 election.

The House impeaches. The Senate convicts. That’s the end of Trump.

With Trump, it’s always someone else’s fault

Donald Trump is mad because he is failing as president, and he is considering firing his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, White House counsel Don McGahn,  press secretary Sean Spicer and anyone else he can find. Trump is also angry at his own cabinet.

Axios reported:

At the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, most of whom he consults after dark, President Trump is considering a “huge reboot” that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer, White House sources tell me.

Trump is also irritated with several Cabinet members, the sources said.

“He’s frustrated, and angry at everyone,” said one of the confidants.

Trump is also angry at his own cabinet because he thinks his cabinet secretaries are tooting their own horns too much and not praising him enough. Trump is mad at Jeff Sessions for stepping on son in law Jared Kushner’s toes on criminal justice reform. He blames HHS Secretary Tom Price for the slow pace of the health care bill, and Commerce Secretary Ross for taking victory laps.

Trump and today’s GOP are exactly like Southern slaveholders

As a historian, it is difficult if not impossible to teach American history, without at least one student each semester asking in wide-eyed incredulity, the same damning question. “How could slavery have existed and flourished in the Antebellum South, given that it was so inimical to the democratic values upon which American society was built?”

In attempting to answer that question, one finds clear parallels between Southern slaveholders who found nothing wrong with slavery, and, Donald Trump and today’s GOP.
But please don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Trump’s bungling, his treasonous ties to Russia or brutal immigration policy might in any way add up to the unspeakable evils of slavery. But what I am suggesting is this. The people who make the biggest moral claims are invariably the ones who accept the most jaw-dropping moral compromises. It was the well-mannered, genteel Southern aristocracy, who examined naked slaves on the auction block like beef heifers, sold slave children from their mothers when money was tight, or worked the field hands until they dropped dead in the cotton fields. Their Confederate Christianity accepted the status quo, as did their confederate moral sense of right and wrong. Their confederate schools taught them to disparage reason in favor of pseudo-scientific theories about racial hierarchies, where the universe placed them at the top and their slaves at the bottom. These people lived in a confederate world so jerry-built on fakery and filled with lies that they truly believed the slaves loved their station in life, and would take the Confederate’s side when the Civil War erupted.

Trump’s presidency is an abomination of a different sort. But like the confederacy of old, it too is built on fakery and flim-flam. The man is a corrupt businessman, who has bankrupted every business he started. It appears that he became entangled in money laundering for the Russian mob when American banks would no longer lend to him. International intelligence reports claim that he has been compromised by Russian President Vladimir Putin. And yet the Republicans in Congress as well as his supporters have refused ever since Trump entered the presidential campaign to demand that he release his income tax returns. The daughter and son-in-law are selling their wares from the White House porch. This is the behavior of a crime family. The “First Lady” refuses to move in, knowing that her husband, who is on tape as a “pussy grabber” will probably be serving penitentiary time before she even has a chance to hang the gold-threaded curtains in the bathroom. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell know that Trump is a pathological liar as do the other members of the GOP. They realize that he is precipitating a constitutional crisis by attempting to obstruct the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin. But they tiptoe around everything, the dishonesty, disrespecting the rule of law, compromising the government of the United States for the sake of the Russians.

My point here is that Trump’s supporters, the Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives, didn’t just pop out of nowhere. They’ve merely been in the background, waiting for an opportunity to be heard. This is neo-confederate America. Anti-immigrant nativism, plays a role and police state racism. But the larger picture is one of authoritarianism, a yearning for fascism, a strong man dictatorship. That is the true legacy. It is a fake worldview, whose means of validating what is true are whatever lies are most comforting. Politically it could hardly be compared with slavery. But in all the ways that human beings are able to distinguish what is decent and good from what is dishonest and corrupt it is the same epistemological system, that is “way of knowing” that the Confederacy used to justify slavery. America’s mistake in fighting so valiantly to end slavery was in refusing to take the next step after winning the Civil War. That would have been dismantling the Confederacy’s deeply-ingrained but fake truth system.

Let’s summarize where we are . . . and it’s ugly

Putin ordered a propaganda and intelligence campaign to influence the election. Through propaganda news reports and fake stories they manipulated public opinion and they launched cyber attacks against one party to benefit the other. If the Russians had instead done this to help the Democrats, conservatives would be prepping for civil war.

Trump had a secured server that only connected with a secure server in Moscow and a server owned by Spectrum Health (owned by Betsy DeVos’ husband and interestingly Betsy’s brother Eric Prince was meeting with the Russians as well), whose closest campaign advisors have unsavory links to the Russians.

Russian mobsters have operated out of Trump Tower, whose son said that his business interests are heavily reliant on investments from Russian oligarchs in Putin’s service.

The entire Trump family has bent over backwards to dismiss any criticism of Putin.

A Russian billionaire buddy of Putin bought for $100 million a Trump house only worth $40 while the same Russian’s plane keeps showing up all over American cities when the Trumps happen to be there.

The Trump family questions assessments from 17 of our intelligence agencies.

Trump and his businesses are in debt to Russian banks to the tune of 100’s of millions.

Trump spoke to Putin on Saturday and Putin started a new offensive in Ukraine on Sunday.

Then — either Trump or members of his family or his close associates: lifted sanctions on the FSB, weakened language in the official GOP platform regarding Russia, provided a letter claiming that he has no links to the Russians written by the law firm named “Russia Law Firm of the Year” in 2016, and continue to bend over and spread wide for Putin…

Oh, and the Steele Dossier included that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft (Russia’s state oil company) if he became president and removed sanctions (coincidentally, in December, 19.5% of Rosneft, was sold to parties unknown).. ..

Meanwhile, Trump’s moronic followers, including the GOP and Republicans in Congress, do back flips to pretend that they are “patriots.” If there was even a rumor of Obama having just one of these links, the hypocrites would be calling for investigations, impeachment and public execution.

Those that abet treason are traitors themselves.

Did the Trump White House lean on prosecutors to drop Russian money-laundering case??

New York (CNN)  A major US investigation into Russian money laundering has come to an abrupt end.

The case aimed to expose how Russian mobsters allegedly stole $230 million and hid some of the cash in New York City real estate. Also sure to come up was the suspicious death of the Russian lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, though US prosecutors weren’t alleging that the defendants were behind it.
The trial was set to start on Monday, but late Friday night, federal prosecutors in New York announced they settled the case with Prevezon, the company accused of buying up “high-end commercial space and luxury apartments” with laundered money.
The abrupt conclusion has some involved in the trial wondering why this Russian investigation had been cut short.
“What most concerns me is: Has there been any political pressure applied in this?” asked Louise Shelley, an illicit finance expert who was set to testify in support of the US government on Tuesday.
Shelley — who founded George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center — said the alleged money launderers got off easy.
“I think they won something. There’s no recognition of wrongdoing,” she said.
The US Attorney’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In the settlement, Prevezon and its business associates did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, and the government agreed to “release” them all from any future lawsuits in connection with this case.
The case against Prevezon was a civil matter, so the federal government’s inherent goal was to recover money. That it did.
The $5.9 million settlement is three times the value of the $1.9 million in supposedly laundered money tied to funds stolen from the Russian state coffers. But it’s far less than the value of Prevezon’s real estate in Manhattan — which Shelley estimates at $17 million — that had been partially acquired with those allegedly laundered funds.

Russia’s largest ever tax fraud

The alleged fraud behind the Prevezon case goes back a decade. According to US investigators, corrupt Russian government officials allegedly teamed up with a powerful Russian organized crime organization to pull off that country’s largest ever tax fraud.
Russian crime rings often use identity theft to file fake tax refunds. In this case, the government says that the defendants essentially did that on a grand scale: allegedly stealing the corporate identity of Hermitage Capital Management, an investment firm in Russia. According to the complaints, the defendants then allegedly created fake losses, claimed fake tax refunds — and made off with the stolen rubles.
Hermitage’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, exposed the alleged fraud — and was later jailed by the very investigators he fingered in the plot. He was tortured and killed in prison, according to Russia’s own Presidential Human Rights Commission. The Russian government insists that Magnitsky, age 37, died of a heart failure with no signs of violence.
The conspirators allegedly laundered the illicit cash through shell companies, luxury cars, real estate around the world, and international bank accounts.
But without a trial, the illicit money trail remains unproven to the public.
The settlement allowed both sides to still claim a victory.
Prevezon said this is proof it did nothing wrong. In a statement, the firm said: “From the outset, Prevezon and its owner Denis Katsyv have maintained their innocence and have repeatedly stated that they had no involvement in or knowledge of any fraudulent activities and never received any funds from any criminal activity.”
Prevezon claimed prosecutors “brought this case without conducting any independent investigation, relying exclusively on the claims of William Browder,” the head of Hermitage.
Meanwhile, American prosecutors claimed this served as a deterrent for future money launderers.
“We will not allow the U.S. financial system to be used to launder the proceeds of crimes committed anywhere — here in the U.S., in Russia, or anywhere else,” acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement.
The case had initially been brought by US Attorney Preet Bharara, but he was fired by President Donald Trump in March.
Bharara congratulated the prosecutors on Twitter late Friday night: “Congrats to Joon & team in Russian money laundering case (underlying fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, died suspiciously in Moscow jail).”
There was one witness set to testify at the trial who had a very personal connection to the case: Jamison Firestone, whose law firm partner was Magnitsky.
On Saturday, Firestone lamented that details about the Russian government, mobsters and investors who allegedly received these funds won’t be aired at trial.
“I wanted this all to come out,” he told CNN on Saturday. “The embarrassing stuff exposes the Russian government’s entire money laundering machine.”
But Firestone said this settlement is one step closer to justice. Estonia, the UK, and the US have already adopted “Magnitsky laws” to sanction Russians connected to the fraud. This settlement is the first time a court in the West has forced someone allegedly involved in the money laundering to pay up.
“We’re just going to keep doing this until we expose them all,” he told CNN. “These people may escape prosecution as long as the Putin government stands, but it won’t stand forever. Putin is going to die before they do, and hopefully they will die in tiny prison cells like Sergei Magnitsky did.”