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Sessions Needs to Recuse Himself on Trump Foundation Probe

Another point perhaps lost in the welter of news coming out today is this. The New York State Attorney General’s suit against the Trump Foundation, President Trump, and his children contains substantial evidence that Trump and his family violated numerous federal laws. These are laws which are often dealt with as civil offenses, fines, etc. But here they seem sufficiently egregious and systematic that I think there would be solid arguments for criminal prosecution. (I’d be curious what people with relevant legal experience make of that question.)

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Major Point

Most of the commentary I hear is whether 95% of the IG Report fails to vindicate Trump or 97%. Good Lord. Everything we know so far has a clear message. James Comey made major mistakes and those mistakes dramatically damaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Democrats have been saying this for two years. They said it in July. They screamed it in October. They are totally vindicated. It may not have been political bias per se (I don’t believe it was) but James Comey probably did more than any other single individual to make Donald Trump President. Irony! Sad! Hillary’s vindicated. Democratic partisans are vindicated. She was wronged, cheated, mistreated. She has a very legitimate beef. That is overwhelmingly the verdict of all the information we’ve heard so far from the IG Report.

Open Letter to Nielsen and Sessions

Before we get caught up in today’s cacophony of news, I wanted to direct your attention to this open letter to DHS Secretary Nielsen and Attorney General Sessions organized by Physicians for Human Rights. It’s signed by a crazy long number of physicians and other experts. But I’m publishing this link to it because it collects together a wealth of clinical evidence for the permanent mental health, cognitive and other damage caused by traumatic events like separation of children from parents. Most of us realize this is morally wrong. It’s wrong in policy terms. We can imagine because we’re human, the emotional pain involved. But there’s a lot of evidence that these actions do serious and permanent damage to the children who are separated from their parents. Having experienced a very different kind of traumatic event as a child this resonates with me because I know how these events can impact and ramify through the decades of adult life. Here’s the letter.

Harmonic Convergence

Buried in a footnote of page 19 of the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation and Trump family is this interesting note. One of the organizations that received the Foundation’s largesse was The Mission Continues, the vets charity founded by disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. The Mission Continues came up in the Greitens scandals because Greitens got the group’s donor list which he then used for political fundraising. May would have been the period when Trump had numerically sealed up the nomination but was facing deep resistance from GOP stakeholders. Spreading money around had a strong logic.

The Best People

Just to be clear, the New York attorney general has sued the President and three of his children, each in their individual capacities, for alleged wrongdoing in the operation of what was supposed to be a charity, the Trump Foundation. The foundation itself is also a defendant in the lawsuit, but the alleged (and to be honest pretty obvious) self-dealing and mismanagement of the foundation by the Trumps, including Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, now has them potentially on the hook personally. It’s no less remarkable just because we already knew about some of the wrongdoing via great reporting by the Post.

The IG Report and the James Comey Myth

There will probably be many findings in the IG report slated to be released this afternoon. One already seems clear. It should be no surprise. James Comey broke dramatically with DOJ guidelines and precedent to take actions which damaged Hillary Clinton. He did so not out of political bias per se (I never thought that). He did so because he wanted to inoculate himself from aggressive Republican harassment over pro-Hillary bias. They worked the refs and they got terrible calls in their favor, which helped them win the election. As I’ve written a few times, this happened because James Comey himself is the greatest devotee of the James Comey Myth. (I discuss it more fully in that link.)

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What's The Story Here?

A simple, short quotation from a piece today in Vanity Fair about Michael Cohen.

“The breakup was also spurred by a disagreement over payment, and how much the Trump Organization was expected to foot on Cohen’s behalf, according to two sources with knowledge of the dispute.”

Then there’s this from the Times: “The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family.”

It speaks for itself. The Trump Organization is Donald Trump. Full stop. Why is the President paying any of Michael Cohen’s legal bills? How much is he paying and has he paid? We knew that the Trump campaign paid money last year. But that was supposedly tied to answering questions before the Russia committees which is at least notionally tied to the campaign. But this is Trump personally. Why is President Trump paying Michael Cohen’s legal bills?

Big Announcement: Series on Voting Rights and Democracy

I wanted to let you know that beginning next month we’re going to kick off the biggest editorial series we’ve ever undertaken at TPM. It will run for five months, from July through the first weeks after the November midterm election. The topic will be voting rights and democracy, an issue that has been a central focus of what we do at TPM for going on 20 years. It’s particularly timely in the coming months for obvious reasons.

We’re coming up on one of the most critical midterm elections in years, perhaps in our lifetimes. (It sounds like hyperbole. People say stuff like that a lot. But I truly believe it.) So it’s voting season. But it’s more than that. Voting rights and democracy itself are under siege. But not only under siege. They’re under siege but also in some places resurgent. There are growing pushes for voter purges, voter ID, various restrictions or rollbacks of early voting and efforts to make voting easier and simpler for more people. But you also have a number of states moving toward automatic voter registration. There are efforts afoot not only to resist the worst of the assault on the franchise but to expand it, to get off the defensive and go on the offensive. Activists are also beginning to turn the tide on the kind of extreme gerrymandering that became the norm after 2010.

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The Worst People

Make sure to read this. It is an example, among many other things, of the kind of people, really the worst people, who make up this administration. Mari Stull is a former food and beverage lobbyist turned wine blogger who goes by the name “Vino Vixen.” Somehow she drew an appointment as a “senior advisor” to the State Department and has apparently focused her time on compiling lists of which employees at the Department or seconded to various international organizations are in fact loyal the President. Here’s more.