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Friday, November 30, 2018

MARK PENN: Now We Understand MUELLER'S Endgame: GET TRUMP

The Mueller investigation has come up empty on Russia -- You won’t believe what's coming next

FILE - Special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Mark Penn

The pattern and purpose of Mueller’s investigation and the endgame is becoming clear, and yes, it’s clearly get the president at all costs.The team Mueller hired really foretold the story — Andrew Weissmann as the stop-at-nothing pit bull and a group of Democratic-leaning lawyers, including some who have represented the Clintons, had the obstruction of justice charge ready to go on day one.
Trump’s first team of lawyers with their “don’t worry and cooperate” strategy set the president back, and let the whole thing spiral out of control.
The investigation, I believe, has come up truly empty on its central charge related to the president — collusion with the Russian government. They are now trying to find someone, anyone who had any contact with Julian Assange with the aim of calling that collusion-lite.
But mostly what Mueller’s team is doing is bludgeoning witnesses on unrelated charges to piece together a case against the president. They are shaping that case through the indictments -- and threats of indictments -- that are being used to get guilty pleas to make the president seem like an obstructor or co-conspirator. They are literally creating the crimes.
Let’s review what Mueller and his team are doing:
Michael Flynn — They discovered unreported lobbying by Trump's former National Security Adviser and leveraged that to get him to plead guilty to lying to the FBI. Why? So that they can claim Trump’s comment to James Comey about letting him go was obstruction of justice. Yet no other prosecutor would ever have brought this charge.
Michael Cohen — They got Trump’s former lawyer on all sorts of financial crimes related to his businesses and loans. But he pled guilty to campaign finance violations for payments that in the past would have been ruled on as personal expenses. Now they’ve also gotten him to cop to lying about when he killed the perfectly legal Russia tower project, only it appears that Trump’s lawyers ducked that perjury trap in the written questions.
George Papadopoulos— The former member of  Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel was forced to plead to lying about the timing of his contacts. The goal was to legitimize the start of the investigation around him when all he did was pass on a surmise or a tip he received. Was the time and expense worth a 14-day sentence? Of course not. They had all the records they needed to figure out who he contacted when.
Jerome Corsi – The best-selling author was threatened with pleading to lying about his contacts with his friend and former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone. There was nothing illegal about his comments or actions, and he is a journalist, though obviously, the general rules of journalism don’t apply to conservatives like him.
Roger Stone -- The former Trump campaign adviser sent out a tweet suggesting Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta was next, and an email to Corsi asking him to get the rest of the emails. He was obviously trying to find out what was going on with these emails, and that’s not illegal in any way.
Paul Manafort – The former Trump presidential campaign chairman’s old tax and reporting cases going far back were dusted off to get him under the thumb of the prosecutor. It was revealed that he continued a joint defense agreement with the president and suddenly the prosecutor is saying he lied about his business dealings. It’s all about vengeance on him for failing to give them what they want and to make Trump look bad.
Sure, there are some anonymous Russians who will never be tried to add on top of this record. But it’s clear now Mueller is no longer looking for crimes in the presidential race of 2016. He is simply creating a narrative to delegitimize the president and to string together his words to Comey with the Flynn indictment, Cohen with Stormy Daniels payment, Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi with ties to Julian Assange, and now Cohen with underplaying Russia connections. And let’s not forget the Trump Tower meeting with the attorney who was also conveniently working with Fusion GPS.
There’s no doubt that the outline of Mueller’s report was written a long time ago and is being filled in. For those who thought Mueller would deliver a balanced and thoughtful report, these latest actions suggest that instead, we are seeing an all-out attack on the president and the presidency the likes of which we have never seen.
Get ready for the fight of the century coming soon and it will be about everything except collusion with the Russian government.

Nobody Knows Why the Earth Just Rang Like a Bell

                                                                     Composite: Shutterstock

Seismic sensors first picked up the event originating near an island between Madagascar and Africa. Then, alarm bells started ringing as far away as Chile, New Zealand and Canada.
Hawaii, almost exactly on the other side of the planet, also picked up the “event.”
Nobody knows what it was.
Meteorite? Submarine volcano? Nuclear test?
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it,” National Geographic reports Columbia University seismologist Göran Ekström as saying. “It doesn’t mean that, in the end, the cause of them is that exotic.”
At the center of the mystery is the tiny island of Mayotte, positioned about halfway between Africa and Madagascar. It’s been subjected to a swarm of earthquakes since May. Most have been minor, but the biggest — on May 8 — was the largest in the island’s recorded history, topping at a magnitude of 5.8.
But the earthquake swarm had been in decline before the mysterious ringing was detected earlier this month.
Ekström, who specializes in unusual earthquakes, points out much about the Nov. 11 event was weird. It was as though the planet rang like a bell, maintaining a low-frequency monotone as it spread.
Earthquakes, by their very nature, usually register as short, sharp “cracks.”
As tensions in the Earth’s crust suddenly release, pulses of clearly identifiable seismic waves radiate outward from where the slippage occurs.
The first signal is called a primary wave: high-frequency compression waves that radiate in bunches.
Then comes a Secondary wave: These high-frequency waves tend to “wiggle” more.
Only then comes the surface waves: These slow, deep rumbles tend to linger, and can circle the Earth several times.
The Nov. 11 event is notable in that no primary or secondary waves were detected.
All that registered was the deep, resonant surface wave. And it didn’t rumble as an earthquake’s surface wave tends to. Instead, it maintained a much cleaner — almost musical — frequency.
National Geographic reports the French Geological Survey suspects a new volcano may be developing off the coast of Mayotte. While the island was created by volcanic activity, it’s been dormant for more than 4,000 years.
The French believe the weird ringing may have been generated by a movement of magma some 30 miles off the coast and deep underwater. This is supported by GPS sensors detecting that Mayotte has moved some 2 inches to the southeast in less than five months.
But it’s a poorly mapped region. Exactly what’s beneath the ocean can only be guessed at.
Ekström believes the unusually pure signal could have been caused by magma sloshing about inside a chamber, or being forced through a gap in subsurface rocks.
But he’s not certain.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

SNITCH? Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To LYING About Russian Contacts

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen leaves Federal court, in New York. Cohen, President Trump's ex-lawyer, is making an court appearance before a federal judge in New York on Thursday, Nov. 29. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen leaves Federal court, in New York. Cohen, President Trump’s ex-lawyer, is making an court appearance before a federal judge in New York on Thursday, Nov. 29. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Jeff Mordock and Dave Boyer

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress and, according to court documents, now says the president’s business empire was pursuing a deal with Russia even during the heart of the 2016 campaign.
Cohen reached the plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of collusion between the Russia and members of the Trump campaign.
Cohen had previously told Congress that his attempts on behalf of the Trump organization ended in January 2016 and that he had never talked about having Mr. Trump travel to Moscow.
But in court documents Thursday, Mr. Mueller presented evidence Cohen continued to pursue what was known as the “Moscow project” through at least June 2016, he did plan a Moscow trip himself and was working on one for Mr. Trump for later in 2016.
Cohen agreed with a federal prosecutor’s statement that he had a 20-minute conversation with a spokesman for the Kremlin. Prosecutors said Cohen minimized to lawmakers his contact with Russia.
“I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual-1,” Cohen said in court. Based on comparing his previous public statements to the court documents, it’s clear “Individual 1” is Mr. Trump.
After the plea Mr. Trump told reporters Cohen was “a weak person and not a very smart person.”
The president said he canceled the Moscow project, which was to be a Trump Tower built in Russia, but said it would have been fine if he’d gone ahead with it anyway, since he was running a business while running for president.
“What he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence so he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about,” Mr. Trump said.
The plea agreement marks the second time Cohen has struck a deal with prosecutors on charges that arose from the special counsel investigation into allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to making illegal campaign contributions for facilitating payouts to porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal.
Both women have alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, a claim he denies, though he has acknowledged the payments were made.
Cohen has been cooperating with the Mueller probe. He has reportedly spent more than 70 hours with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors answering questions about contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials during the election. Cohen has also spoken to Mr. Mueller’s team about Mr. Trump’s business ties to Russia and possible pardons, ABC News reported.
Cohen served as Mr. Trump’s personal fixer for more than a decade, working with real estate mogul-turned-president on highly sensitive personal and business matters.
Solomon Wisenberg, a Washington lawyer who served as independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s deputy during investigations into President Clinton, said he doesn’t view the details disclosed in the Cohen agreement as particularly devastating to Mr. Trump.
“In terms of criminal liability, the special counsel would have to show that Trump knew of and approved Cohen writing a false letter to Congress,” he said.
Mr. Wisenberg said a presidential candidate conducting business with a foreign government may be good fodder for the pundits, but it is not illegal. And it’s likely not going to be a political liability for the president, he said.
“Add this to the list of stuff that would be devastating, historically, to any other candidate but doesn’t seem to affect Trump,” he said. “We are talking about a guy who just said he wouldn’t take a pardon off the table for [Paul] Manafort. What do optics mean at this point?”
Jacob S. Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor in New Orleans and now a Washington white-collar defense attorney, warned Mr. Mueller’s team may know much more than what’s contained in the Cohen deal.
“I think to suggest that a narrow plea agreement means that is all that occurred gives a false sense of security or interpretation,” he said. “By its very nature, a plea deal reflects a set of parameters in this type of an investigation that enables the prosecutor to add another puzzle piece to the story yet still keep substantive evidence close to the vest.”
Mr. Frenkel said Mr. Trump’s defense of running of his business while a presidential candidate may be good public relations, but doesn’t amount to much of a legal argument if it comes to that.
“Legal defenses and public relations are very different, whether it is a court of law or whether it is proceedings before the United States Congress,” he said. “Most lawyers would prefer a client not comment at all.”
As Cohen’s cooperation with the special counsel moves forward, experts said they could see Mr. Trump’s legal team reviving their argument that his dealings with his longtime attorney are privileged.
The issue was raised in Cohen’s legal proceedings in New York, but resolved when Special Master Barbara Jones declared more than 7,000 items privileged among the more than 1 million documents seized from the attorney.
Mr. Frenkel expects the fight began anew, but believes Mr. Mueller’s team is prepared for the battle.
“Barbara Jones did conduct a review and analysis, but that doesn’t eliminate the issue altogether,” he said.
“It is reasonable to believe the special counsel’s office was diligent in its analysis of the applicability of privilege because it would not want a court throwing out evidence for violating the privilege,” he said.
Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Cohen’s latest guilty plea increases the need for him to return to Congress for another testimony.
“There seems to be a trend here among so many of the president’s closest allies, that they don’t tell the truth,” Mr. Warner told reporters.
The senator also stressed that the latest development emphasized the importance of Mr. Mueller’s independence, but didn’t feel that acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has “the temperament” to oversee that investigation.
• Gabriella Munoz contributed to this report.

2 California Teens KILLED Execution-Style in Triple SLAYING In Mexico

Christopher Alexis Gomez, 17, and Juan Suarez-Ojeda, were reportedly killed execution-style in Mexico.
Christopher Alexis Gomez, 17, and Juan Suarez-Ojeda, were reportedly killed execution-style in Mexico. (GoFundMe)

Katherine Lam

Two California teens and their Mexican friend were reportedly tortured, stripped to their underwear and killed execution-style early Sunday at an apartment complex in Mexico -- and authorities have no idea why.
Christopher Alexis Gomez, 17, and Juan Suarez-Ojeda, along with their unidentified 18-year-old friend, were found dead at the Lomas Verdes housing complex in Tijuana, The San Diego-Union Tribune reported. Local Mexican reports stated police found the three teens’ bodies in front of an apartment door after shots were reported to have been fired around 5 a.m. Sunday.
Gomez’s cousin, Katheryn Garcia, told the San Diego-Union Tribune that police said the teens were tortured before their killers shot them in the head. Citing local reports, an initial investigation showed the teens were held at gunpoint and forced to kneel before being shot execution-style.
“We’re all in disbelief that this happened,” Garcia told the newspaper on Wednesday. “This was his [Gomez's] first time going over to Tijuana or Ensenada.”
Gomez, Suarez-Ojeda and their Tijuana friend met up Friday and went to a barbecue in Ensenada, about 50 miles south of Tijuana, their family said. Gomez and Suarez-Ojeda were expected to return to the U.S. that night -- but they never made it back.
The Tijuana friend reportedly called his mother to say the group was safe but had lost their cellphones, Garcia told the newspaper.
By Sunday, the families received notice that the bodies were discovered at the apartment complex. Gomez’s uncle traveled to Tijuana and confirmed the 17-year-old’s identity.
“I know how this story sounds, like something that people hear on the news: You go to Tijuana and this happens,” Garcia said. “But he was the most selfless, kindest boy ever…This shouldn’t have happened to him.”
Gomez and Suarez-Ojeda had both attended O’Farrell Charter Schools, according to the Union-Tribune. Gomez was a senior at O’Farrell Charter High School and played football, while Suarez-Ojeda graduated from Ingenuity Charter School in San Diego’s Encanto neighborhood earlier this year.
“It’s been pretty devastating for students and staff,” Superintendent Jonathan Dean said Wednesday night. “It’s a tough situation.”
Garcia said her cousin’s family is struggling to bring the teen’s body back to the U.S. She set up a GoFundMe page to help Gomez’s family with expenses.
“He was just 17 years old, a goofy, loving and hardworking football player at O’Farrell High School, that wanted to give his family the world. At the moment the details of this horrific crime are even still unclear to his family,” she wrote on the fundraising site.
GoFundMe page was created for Gomez and Suarez-Ojeda’s families.

Trump Threatens To Declassify ‘DEVASTATING’ Documents About Democrats

                                                           Getty Images

Marisa Schultz and Nikki Schwab

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with The Post, President Trump said Wednesday that if House Democrats launched probes into his administration — which he called “presidential harassment” — they’d pay a heavy price.
“If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me. I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,” he said during a 36-minute Oval Office sitdown.
The commander-in-chief said he could declassify FISA warrant applications and other documents from Robert Mueller’s probe — and predicted the disclosure would expose the FBI, the Justice Department and the Clinton campaign as being in cahoots to set him up.
“I think that would help my campaign. If they want to play tough, I will do it. They will see how devastating those pages are.”
But Trump told The Post he wanted to save the documents until they were needed.
“It’s much more powerful if I do it then,” Trump said, “because if we had done it already, it would already be yesterday’s news.”
Trump revealed his playbook just as Democrats are set to take over House committeesin January where they are poised to investigate his potential business conflicts of interests, tax returns, Russia dealings and more.
With the GOP losing power in January, its congressional investigations into alleged Department of Justice misconduct in launching the Russia probe is expected to fizzle out.
In September, a group of Trump allies in the House – led by Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York – called on Trump to declassify scores of Justice Department documents they believe undercut the start of the Russia investigation and show bias against Trump.
The documents include Justice officials’ request to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and memos on DOJ official Bruce Ohr’s interactions with Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier that alleged Trump ties with Russia.
Trump initially agreed to declassify the documents, including text messages sent by former FBI officials James Comey, Andrew G. McCabe as well as Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Ohr. Trump allies believe the revelations will show favoritism toward Hillary Clinton and a plot to take down Trump.
Trump then reversed course, citing the need for further review and concern of US allies.
Trump added Wednesday that his lawyer Emmet Flood thought it would be better politically to wait.
“He didn’t want me to do it yet, because I can save it,” Trump said.
The president also pushed back on the notion that all the Justice Department documents should eventually be released for the sake of transparency.
“Some things maybe the public shouldn’t see because they are so bad,” Trump said, making clear it wasn’t damaging to him, but to others. “Maybe it’s better that the public not see what’s been going on with this country.”

Migrants at BORDER Battle TB, LICE, HIV as Tijuana Officials Decry Soaring Expenses

One-third of migrants in caravan are being treated for health issues, Tijuana health official says

Migrants stranded at border battle tuberculosis, lice, HIV as Tijuana officials decry soaring expenses

 Lukas Mikelionis, Griff Jenkins

Migrants who came with the caravan are suffering from respiratory infections, tuberculosis, chickenpox and other serious health issues, Tijuana's Health Department warned on Thursday morning.
The spokesman told Fox News that out of 6,000 migrants currently residing in the city, over a third of them (2,267) are being treated for health-related issues.
There are three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, four cases of HIV/AIDS and four separate cases of chickenpox, the spokesman said.
At least 101 migrants have lice and multiple instances of skin infections, the department’s data shows.
There’s also a threat of Hepatitis outbreak due to unsanitary conditions, the spokesman said. The thousands of migrants are being sheltered at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex near the San Ysidro U.S.-Mexico Port of Entry, despite the place being capable of providing for 1,000 people.
The location also has only 35 portable bathrooms. A sign reading “No Spitting” was put up, as coughing and spitting by migrants are rampant in the shelter.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said Tuesday that the city has enough money to assist the migrants only for a few more days, with the city saying it’s spending around $30,000 a day.
“We won’t compromise the resources of the residents of Tijuana,” Gastelum said during a press conference. “We won’t raise taxes tomorrow to pay for today’s problem.”
Amid the problems and dire living conditions, some migrants are reportedly self-deporting. Approximately 80 self-deported Tuesday while another 98 were deported by Mexican immigration officials for their involvement in Sunday’s demonstrations that turned violent.
Others have chosen to accept offers of temporary work and asylum from Mexico, yet most still remain committed to entering the U.S.
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

White Liberals 'PATRONIZE' Minorities: Study

Liberals Present Themselves as Warmer, Less Competent to Minority Audiences

Sen. Elizabeth Warren poses for a selfie while greeting supporters before a debate with her Republican opponent Geoff Diehl in Boston, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

 White liberals present themselves as less competent when addressing minorities, while conservatives use the same vocabulary no matter what the race of their audience, according to a newly released study.
Yale and Princeton researchers found that both white Democratic presidential candidates and self-identified liberals played down their competence when speaking to minorities, using fewer words that conveyed accomplishment and more words that expressed warmth.
On the other hand, there were no significant differences in how white conservatives, including Republican presidential candidates, spoke to white versus minority audiences.
“White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other Whites—that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent,” according to the study’s abstract.
Cydney Dupree, Yale School of Management assistant professor of organizational behavior, said she was surprised by the findings of the study, which sought to discover how “well-intentioned whites” interact with minorities.
“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Ms. Dupree said. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
The study flies in the face of a standard talking point of the political left—that white conservatives are racist—while raising questions about whether liberals are perpetuating racial stereotypes about blacks being less competent than whites.
The paper, which is slated for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, first examined speeches by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to mostly white and mostly minority audiences dating back 25 years.
Ms. Dupree and Princeton’s Susan Fiske analyzed the text for “words related to competence,” such as “assertive” and “competitive,” and “words related to warmth,” such as “supportive” and “compassionate.”
“The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences,” said the Yale press release. “The difference wasn’t statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates.”
Ms. Dupree noted that Republicans also gave fewer speeches to minority audiences.
The researchers then set up an experiment in which white liberals were asked to respond to hypothetical individuals named “Emily” and “Lakisha.”
“[L]iberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white,” said the release. “No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner.”
Ms. Dupree said the “competence downshift” could indicate a greater eagerness by white liberals to connect with those of other races.
“My hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides,” said Ms. Dupree. “There is a broader need to include them in the conversation.”

Some Migrant Caravan Members Self-DEPORTING

Caravan migrants packing up and going home even as new ones arrive

 Griff Jenkins

A little after 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, a large white truck pulled up to the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in Tijuana as 57 new migrants climb out to join the more than 6,000 being sheltered here near the San Ysidro U.S.-Mexico Port of Entry.
That’s in addition to the more 2,000 in nearby Mexicali who are expected to make their way toward Tijuana this week, according to local officials.
At present, officials say the total number of migrants in Tijuana alone break down this way: 6,062 total, comprising of 3,877 men, 1,127 women and 1,058 children.
These migrants are tired, restless and growing frustrated by the reality that it’s proving much more difficult to get across the border than they had anticipated.
And the journey, which began for most of them in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, is also taking a physical toll.
Local health officials said that more than half of them are suffering from respiratory conditions – and walking between the jam-packed tents, a cacophony of coughing can be heard day and night.
But yet more are arriving every day, and Tijuana’s local government is bearing the cost of it all.
"We need help. This is very costly,” said Delegate Genaro Lopez Moreno. “This is costing us $30,000 to $40,000 dollars a day to keep these people here and all those funds have to come from some place – and it is municipal funds.”
Now, the fear among Tijuana residents is that a protracted situation could ultimately lead to higher taxes to pay for it all.
Delegate Moreno also lays much of the blame on the caravan organizers who he believes sold the migrants a lot of false hope.
"The leaders that were promising them the great American Dream aren't coming through,” Moreno said, adding, “they know they're going to be better off going back home."
And some have left. Approximately 80 self-deported Tuesday while another 98 were deported by Mexican immigration officials for their involvement in Sunday’s demonstrations that turned violent.
Others have chosen to accept offers of temporary work and asylum from Mexico.
But most are committed to the original goal as the prospects for asylum in the U.S. grows dimmer.
Some migrants, like Luis Conde from Guatemala, vow to cross the border regardless – legally, or not.

“It doesn't matter,” Conde said. “I got no choice. I got to work for a living.”