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Holy mackerel! At least six of President Trump’s advisers, including Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, used private email accounts for government business

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Lock ’em up! All of them! At least, that’s the punishment they recommended for Hillary Clinton. Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman report in the NY Times:

At least six of President Trump’s closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters, current and former officials said on Monday.

The disclosures came a day after news surfaced that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, used a private email account to send or receive about 100 work-related emails during the administration’s first seven months. But Mr. Kushner was not alone. Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, also occasionally used private email addresses. Other advisers, including Gary D. Cohn and Stephen Miller, sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts, officials said.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, who is married to Mr. Kushner, used a private account when she acted as an unpaid adviser in the first months of the administration, Newsweek reported Monday. Administration officials acknowledged that she also occasionally did so when she formally became a White House adviser. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters.

Officials are supposed to use government emails for their official duties so their conversations are available to the public and those conducting oversight. But it is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts as long as they forward work-related messages to their work accounts so they can be preserved.

During the 2016 presidential race, Mr. Trump repeatedly harped on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private account as secretary of state, making it a centerpiece of his campaign and using it to paint her as untrustworthy. “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,” Mr. Trump said last year. His campaign rallies often boiled over with chants of “Lock her up!”

The F.B.I. closed its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information and recommended no charges. But even after becoming president, Mr. Trump has prodded the Justice Department to reinvestigate.

While the private email accounts spurred accusations of hypocrisy from Democrats, there are differences. Mrs. Clinton stored classified information on a private server, and she exclusively used a private account for her government work, sending or receiving tens of thousands of emails. The content and frequency of the Trump advisers’ emails remain unknown, but Trump administration officials described the use of personal accounts as sporadic. The emails have not been made public.

“All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government related work,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Monday in response to questions about the emails. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”

The acknowledgment of private email use came as the White House is responding to a wide-ranging Justice Department request for documents and emails as part of the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling. The use of private emails has the potential to complicate that effort, but the White House said it was confident in its process. . .

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Indeed the hypocrisy is stunning, but that’s the GOP for you.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2017 at 5:38 pm

Jared and Ivanka both used private email servers for official business

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Lock ’em up!!

Jared. Ivanka.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2017 at 2:42 pm

Mueller haunts the West Wing

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Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan write at Axios:

Steve Bannon provoked lots of chatter for telling Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” that President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey may have been the worst mistake in “modern political history.”

What’s intriguing is the reason he said it: the belief of some close White House allies that special counsel Bob Mueller, whose appointment was triggered by Comey’s ouster, could use events surrounding the firing to make an obstruction of justice case against Trump.

There’s a good reason that Vice President Pence has hired a lawyer, Bannon freaked out about the decision, and Mueller plans to interview a slew of current and former West Wing aides: They were with Trump during those frantic days, and know what he was saying and what was on his mind.

White House aides with legal exposure to these events have quickly reached four conclusions, according to conversations with Jonathan Swan and me:

  1. Mueller is burrowing in hard on the obstruction of justice angle.
  2. The “angry, meandering” draft White House justification for firing Comey — which was never released, but obtained by Mueller — could be used as evidence of Trump’s unvarnished thinking when venting to staff.
  3. Legal fees, with white-collar attorneys charging $1,000 an hour, get cripplingly expensive pretty quick. Watch for outside legal defense funds to pop up quickly.
  4. The investigation’s financial dimensions are worrisome. The focus on Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer and confidant whose business dealings are intertwined with the president’s, has been particularly troubling for those in Trump’s close orbit. Cohen dealt with some colorful characters. And when plans for the Trump Tower in Moscow are fully picked apart, other questionable Russian characters may be drawn in.

Republicans close to the White House say every sign by Mueller — from his hiring of Mafia and money-laundering experts to his aggressive pursuit of witnesses and evidence — is that he’s going for the kill.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports on the front page today that outside Trump lawyers “earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down … because of possible legal complications … and aired concerns about him to the president.” Kushner has since defended himself on Capitol Hill.

Be smart: Trump allies fret that . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2017 at 1:00 pm

Trump seems to believe he can order people fired

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President Trump acts as though he somehow thinks he is king and can order sports teams to fire or suspend players and order news companies to fire individual commentators. This is not a good sign.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2017 at 3:29 pm

The Cynicism Behind Graham-Cassidy Is Breathtaking

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Kevin Drum notes:

It’s hard to know how to react to the cynicism of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. For starters, of course, it’s as bad as all the other Republican repeal bills. Tens of millions of the working poor will lose insurance. Pre-existing conditions aren’t protected. Medicaid funding is slashed. Subsidies are slashed.

But apparently that’s not enough. Republican senators (and President Trump, of course) obviously don’t care what’s in the bill. Hell, they’re all but gleeful in their ignorance. Nor is merely repealing Obamacare enough. Graham-Cassidy is very carefully formulated to punish blue states especially harshly. And if even that’s not enough, after 2020 it gives the president the power to arbitrarily punish them even more if he feels like it. I guess this makes it especially appealing to conservatives. Finally, by handing everything over to the states with virtually no guidance, it would create chaos in the health insurance market. The insurance industry, which was practically the only major player to stay neutral on previous bills (doctors, nurses, hospitals, and everyone else opposed them) has finally had enough. Even if it hurts them with Republicans, Graham-Cassidy is a bridge too far:

The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill….“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

….America’s Health Insurance Plans was even more pointed. The legislation could hurt patients by “further destabilizing the individual market” and could potentially allow “government-controlled single payer health care to grow,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, the president and chief executive of the association. Without controls, some states could simply eliminate private insurance, she warned.

Literally nobody in the health insurance industry likes this bill. The chaos and misery it would unleash are practically undebatable. It’s being passed for no reason except that Republicans have screwed up health care so epically that they have only a few days left to pass something, and Graham-Cassidy is something.

If there’s any silver lining at all to this mess, it comes from AHIP’s Marilyn Taverner:  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2017 at 8:26 am

Kevin Drum has several excellent posts today

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2017 at 4:41 pm

Trump White House Reportedly Nixed Study Showing Benefits of Refugees

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The GOP seems to detest facts and ignores them whenever possible. Benjamin Hart reports in New York magazine:

Ahead of an October 1 decision on how many refugees to admit into the United States next year, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration nixed a report showing that displaced people are beneficial to the U.S. economy. Commissioned by the White House in an effort to help justify its anti-immigration policy platform, the full document never made its way to President Trump, and officials believe it was suppressed before it got there.

The Times has the details of what the never-published report found:

The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”

But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.

Rather than include the key data, the final draft limited its findings to how much money Department of Health and Human Services spends on an average refugee compared to a U.S. citizen. By that metric, it found that refugees seek government services more often, “reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years.”

Stephen Miller, the Trump team’s preeminent immigration hawk, has been arguing that the U.S. should greatly reduce the number of refugees allowed into the country. The Trump administration already halved President Obama’s refugee quota from about 100,000 to about 50,000 people this year, but Miller wants to go much further in the future. (Even the numbers Obama approved were minuscule, on a per-capita basis, compared to Canada and many European countries.) Whatever quota the Trump administration arrives at will likely be the lowest in decades.

Miller, the 32-year-old former Jeff Sessions aide, has had a hand in most of the president’s big nativist moments. He authored the infamous “American carnage” inauguration speech and other addresses that have portrayed immigrants as “animals” who commit grisly crimes. And, not surprisingly, he appears to be one of the central voices that squashed the report in question; the Times reports that Miller “personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered, according to two people familiar with the talks.” Never mind that many other studies have also shown that refugees are a benefit, not a drain, to American society. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2017 at 5:25 pm

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