Author Archive | Opinion

Rudy Giuliani Isn’t the Big Trump Legal Story

By David A. Graham

Sometimes the biggest news items on a given day aren’t the most telling ones.

Consider three stories on Thursday about President Trump’s legal issues. First, Bloomberg reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the president last week that he is not a target of either special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation nor of a separate investigation in Manhattan that produced a raid on his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen.

A few hours later, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, U.S. Attorney, and presidential candidate, said he was joining Trump’s legal team, telling The Washington Post, “I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller.”

Both of these stories were flashy, especially the Giuliani hire. More interesting and relevant, perhaps, was an announcement that Jay Sekulow, who heads Trump’s personal legal team, made at the same time he announced the Giuliani hire. Sekulow said that Marty Raskin and Jane Raskin, a husband-and-wife team of criminal-defense lawyers, would also be added to the president’s team.

The first two stories both suggest swagger on Trump’s part. The White House has …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Will Andrew McCabe Be Prosecuted?

By Adam Serwer

Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director and frequent target of President Trump, who was recently fired days short of retirement, has been referred for criminal prosecution by the Justice Department Inspector General. Although former prosecutors described the referral as routine, it comes in the context of McCabe’s extraordinary status as a frequent scapegoat for the president’s legal woes.

“Any IG report that includes conduct that anyone could ever think is criminal or worrisome will get referred for the U.S. Attorney to take a look. I would be quite surprised if the U.S. Attorney presses charges here, but the more important point here is it’s a routine referral,” Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general and a law professor at UCLA, said. “It follows as a matter of course from an IG report finding a certain kind of fault that could have any potential criminal conduct involved.”

A recent IG report found that McCabe “lacked candor” in his conversations with internal investigators about a fall 2016 story, which confirmed the existence of an ongoing probe of the Clinton Foundation during the presidential election. McCabe has said he was acting to defend the Bureau’s reputation, but the IG report …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Baby Steps

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

  • The Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, to serve as the new NASA administrator. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, the first sitting senator to give birth while in office, brought her newborn baby to the floor to cast her “no” vote.

  • The Justice Department’s inspector general reportedly referred its findings on former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office for possible criminal charges.

  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post that he has joined Trump’s legal team dealing with the special counsel’s investigation.

  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s official portrait will cost taxpayers $85,000, which is more than his three predecessors combined.

  • Miguel Díaz-Canel will succeed longtime leader Raúl Castro as Cuba’s president.


Today on The Atlantic

  • The Buck Doesn’t Stop There: Dumping President Trump won’t actually get rid of the GOP’s problems. Here’s why. (Conor Friedersdorf)

  • Why Do Trump’s Defenders Assume He’s Guilty?: Allies of the president have made some peculiar comments over the past few days. (David A. Graham)

  • A Shared Problem: The focus on James Comey, Michael Cohen, and Stormy Daniels might pose a serious threat to Republicans in the midterms, but Trump’s personal …read more

    From:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/h4lp7rIorvI/ target="_blank" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Baby Steps” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

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The Future of Elite Schools, Continued

By James Fallows

Last week I quoted a long dispatch from a Harvard graduate now living in New Haven, on why he thought the Trump era held more perils for elite-level schools like Harvard and Yale than they might be anticipating. Readers chimed in to agree, disagree, and share parallel experiences here.

I’ve received a flood of mail since then—supportive, angry, provocative in various ways—which I’ll work through and quote as circumstances allow. But for real-time reasons, I want to quote one of them today. It’s from Justin Kaplan, a current graduate student at Harvard, who is originally from southern Virginia and went to college at the University of Virginia. (He points out that he is one of a set of triplets, which has affected his parents’ ability to support his higher-education costs.)

Kaplan, whose name I am using with his permission, writes about a vote for graduate-school unionization at Harvard that is winding up today. As he points out, his experience should obviously not be taken as representative of elite universities in general, or Harvard in particular, or even his own graduate department. But accumulations of individual  experience have their weight, and this is his account:

Regarding your piece on “The Future of …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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NASA Finally Gets a New Leader

By Marina Koren

After an unprecedented wait, the nation’s space agency has a Trump-picked, Senate-approved, permanent leader at last.

Lawmakers voted 50–49 on Thursday to approve the nomination of Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, for NASA administrator, following months of debate over his qualifications and growing uncertainty over leadership at the agency.

The vote was split along party lines, and for a few tense moments it seemed like maybe one Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, would join Democrats in their opposition. Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat from Illinois, who has been away from the Hill after having a baby earlier this month, came to the Senate floor to cast her vote in case Flake didn’t flip, with her daughter in tow.

The confirmation comes 15 months after Charles Bolden, the administrator under former President Barack Obama, stepped down as the new administration was sworn in. This was longest NASA has been without a permanent chief—who is nominated by the president and must be approved by Congress—in the transition between two administrations. Previously, the largest gap was six months, between the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

NASA has been steered by an acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, since Bolden left …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Why Do Trump’s Defenders Assume He’s Guilty?

By David A. Graham

The presumption of innocence is essential to the American legal system. Sometimes prosecutors and the press need to be reminded of this. It’s not as often that the allies of a defendant, or even a prospective defendant, forget.

Yet allies of President Trump have made some peculiar comments over the last few days, as Jonathan Chait, Josh Barro, and Orin Kerr note. Anthony Scaramucci says Michael Cohen would not flip on Trump because he is “a very loyal person.” Alan Dershowitz, enjoying a strange encore act as Trump’s most prominent legal defender, told Politico, “That’s what they’ll threaten him with: life imprisonment. They’re going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings.”

Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump in the 1990s and 2000s, told Trump that he needs to be concerned that Cohen will not protect him. “You have to be alert,” Goldberg said. “I don’t care what Michael says.” (The president’s armada of former lawyers, and Trump’s reluctance to ever fully banish anyone, mean that sort-of-former lawyers keep popping up left and right, with advice solicited or not.)

Even Cohen, in his frantic effort to demonstrate his …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Is It Too Late to Stop the Rise of Marijuana, Inc.?

By Reihan Salam

The marijuana wars are entering a new phase. The first phase, over whether or not to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, is over. The partisans of legalization have won the battle for public opinion. Soon, I suspect, marijuana legalization will be entrenched in federal law. At this point, to fight against legalization is to fight against the inevitable. The only question now is what form America’s legal marijuana markets will take. Will they be dominated by for-profit business enterprises with a vested interest in promoting binge consumption? Or will they be designed to minimize the very real harms caused by cannabis dependence, even if that means minting fewer marijuana millionaires? I fear that the burgeoning cannabis industry will win out—but their victory is not yet assured.

Why am I so convinced that legalization is a fait accompli? In short, the industry’s opponents have proven spectacularly incompetent. In January, the Justice Department issued new guidance on its marijuana enforcement efforts, reversing an Obama-era policy that, in essence, gave state governments wide berth to regulate marijuana policy as they saw fit. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long opposed marijuana legalization, so this move was not entirely surprising. What Sessions failed …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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The GOP’s Problems Are Bigger Than Trump

By Conor Friedersdorf

Conventional wisdom holds that Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party. That’s been the conclusion of articles in The New Yorker, Mother Jones, New York, The Washington Post, The Hill, Politico, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Telegraph, USA Today, Time, the New York Post, The Boston Globe, and beyond.

Most recently, the PBS show Frontline titled an episode “Trump’s Takeover.” In its telling, President Trump wasn’t yet in control of the GOP as recently as his failed effort to get a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare through Congress. Then, he succeeded in signing a tax-reform bill into law. In the celebration that followed, he was praised by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Orrin Hatch, even as critics like Senator Jeff Flake were preparing to step away from politics.

“What the Republican establishment now knows,” Corey Lewandowski proclaimed, what they’ve “learned in the last year,” is that Trump is the GOP’s leader. “He is the one who sets the tone of what takes place in Washington, he is the leader of our country … both politically and from a legislative side of things.”

But is …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kobach Yellow

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump confirmed that CIA Director Mike Pompeo met secretly with North Korea Leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month, and said “a good relationship was formed.”

  • White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said his office will investigate Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending of $43,000 on a phone booth for his office.

  • Three men from rural Kansas were found guilty in a plot to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees.

  • The Senate advanced the nomination of Representative Jim Bridenstine to be the new NASA administrator, after Arizona Senator Jeff Flake switched his vote to support the nomination.

  • A federal judge ordered that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach be held in contempt of court for ignoring her orders in a proof-of-citizenship voter registration case.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Why the Statue Had to Come Down: J. Marion Sims was known as the “father of gynecology.” But his medical advances were made through experimentation on enslaved women. (Adam Serwer)

  • Why Aren’t Disadvantaged Students Going to Elite Colleges?: Well, for starters, they aren’t even applying. (Adam Harris)

  • Snark and Sick Burns: In the past two years, one thing in American politics has become particularly clear: …read more

    From:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/yNEmsfm_hf4/ target="_blank" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kobach Yellow” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

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Barbara Bush Changed With Her Country

By Timothy Naftali

Some famous people are much less interesting in person than you would expect. Some are more interesting. And a few—a very few—rock your world. For me, Barbara Bush, who left us on Tuesday, occupies that last category, almost by herself.

Many of the tributes to the former first lady portray her as a throwback to an earlier era of American politics, the silver-haired doyenne of a political dynasty. But I came to value her for an additional reason. Her country changed dramatically during her long, full life. But even as some in her Republican Party recoiled from those shifts, Barbara Bush never ceased questioning, learning, and adapting—changing along with the nation that she and her family served.

I met Barbara Bush in October 2015, at the Bush compound at Walker’s Point. I was tagging along with the historian Jon Meacham, who had come to thank the Bushes for their help with his biography of the 41st president. Vascular Parkinson’s disease had limited the president’s use of his voice, so over the course of a four-hour visit, his wife carried much of the conversation.

With two historians visiting, she started recalling the great and near-great that she and her husband had known. Her comments …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Madeleine Albright: Trump Is ‘The Least Democratic President of Modern History’

By Isabel Fattal

“I am an optimist who worries a lot,” Madeleine Albright said Monday night when asked about the future of democracy. It’s a quotable phrase, but the former secretary of state is serious—both about her belief in the power of democracy and the fact that today, there’s substantial reason to worry about it.

In a wide-ranging conversation with The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg in Washington, Albright spoke about the 20th-century history of fascism that she details in her new book, Fascism: A Warning. Albright, whose family was driven out of Czechoslovakia twice (once at the start of World War II, and again by the Communist regime in 1948), discovered late in life that 26 members of her family were murdered in the Holocaust. This personal history, as well as Albright’s long career as a diplomat and politician, have helped inform her understanding of fascism—both what it is and what it’s not.

Albright, who served as secretary of state in the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001, acknowledged that fascism is hard to define. She pointed to a few signifiers: identification with a tribe or group and discrimination against those who aren’t members; a lack of attention to democratic institutions; the …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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