We Resist: Day 147

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Sources: Mueller Is Investigating Trump for Obstruction.


Topher Spiro and Emily Gee at the Center for American Progress: The Emerging Senate Repeal Bill Eviscerates Protections for Millions in Employer Plans Nationwide.
This week Axios reported that the emerging Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will allow states to waive coverage of essential health benefits for small employer and individually purchased plans. In waiver states, this cut in benefits would be catastrophic for people who are sick or have a pre-existing condition and need prescription drugs, treatment for opioid addiction, or other services that could be excluded.

But the waivers would have a much broader impact, affecting millions of workers with employer coverage in every state—even nonwaiver states. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the waivers of essential health benefits would also eviscerate important financial protections that apply to large employer plans.

The Center for American Progress combined the results of a survey by Willis Towers Watson and census data to estimate the number of people with employer-based coverage who would be affected in each state. Nationally, we estimate that the Senate bill would erode or eliminate financial protections for about 27 million workers and their dependents.

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[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Graham Lanktree at Newsweek: Trump Tried to Convince NSA Chief to Absolve Him of Any Russian Collusion. "A recent National Security Agency memo documents a phone call in which [Donald] Trump pressures agency chief Admiral Mike Rogers to state publicly that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia, say reports." Of course he did. "The memo said Trump questioned the American intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election." Of course he did.

Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: Even Trump's Aides Blame Him for Obstruction Probe: 'President Did This to Himself'. "It's exactly the circumstance Donald Trump tried to avoid. But Trump's own actions have made an FBI investigation into the president himself a reality. Firing James Comey, the FBI director, was, by Trump's explanation, a way to stop a 'witch hunt' against his team's alleged ties to Russia. It led, within weeks, to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Comey's FBI predecessor, Robert Mueller. And now Mueller is investigating Trump himself for possible obstruction of justice — by firing Comey, who had led the FBI inquiry."

Mike Allen at Axios: Mueller's Revenge: 'Can't Fire Him Now'. "[T]he reality has White House officials and Republicans sweating profusely for several reasons: 1. They know Trump talked to countless people about ending the Flynn probe, so they assume Comey's version of events is true. 2. They assume he did, indeed, ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, if they could help derail the Flynn probe, as the WashPost reported. They also assume he said similar things to other officials. 3. Nobody has privately mounted a straight-faced argument to us that Trump didn't say this stuff to Comey or to Coats/Rogers. That's telling in itself. The fact that the Trump public position — that Comey is a perjurer — isn't being argued in private. 4. Any obstruction probe requires context, which means investigators digging into the finances of Flynn, Trump, and Jared Kushner. This is the phase of the probe many Republicans have always feared most."

Josh Marshall at TPM: The WaPo Obstruction Blockbuster and the World of Hurt to Come. "If Mueller is taking a serious prosecutor's lens to Trump's financial world and the financial worlds of Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, and numerous others, there's going to be a world of hurt for a lot of people. And that is if no meaningful level of 2016 election collusion even happened. And I don't think that's true." Yep yep yep.

Austin Wright at Politico: Jeh Johnson to Testify Publicly in House Russia Probe. "Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is set to testify publicly next Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russia's election meddling, according to a congressional source. Johnson appeared earlier this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the session was closed. ...Johnson, who served under President Barack Obama as Homeland Security chief from 2013 until earlier this year, is likely to face questions about Russian attempts to hack U.S. election systems."

Reminder: It was Johnson who recommended designating election systems as critical infrastructure last August upon evidence of attempted Russian hacking, and the Republicans said nope until after the election. I hope someone on the House Intelligence Committee asks Johnson about that. Paging Rep. Adam Schiff!

Stephanie Kirchgaessner at the Guardian: Lobbyist for Russian Interests Says He Attended Dinners Hosted by Sessions. "Sessions testified under oath on Tuesday that he did not believe he had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump's campaign. But Richard Burt, a former ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, who has represented Russian interests in Washington, told the Guardian that he could confirm previous media reports that stated he had contacts with Sessions at the time. 'I did attend two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions,' Burt said." GOOD GRIEF.

Yvette Cabrera at ThinkProgress: Trump Officials Invent a New Strategy to Dodge Questions — It Won't Stop Unless Congress Gets Tough.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' refusal to answer key questions during Tuesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing is likely part of a carefully crafted legal strategy to avoid accountability. If [Donald] Trump asserted executive privilege over his conversations with his top officials, that move could trigger potential litigation. Citing a more vague reason to not answer questions, on the other hand, likely wouldn't.

Sessions stonewalled committee members, as did national intelligence officials who testified before the committee last week, using a tactic that Constitutional law expert Stephen I. Vladeck described as the "non-privileged privilege." Officials, using this tactic, avoid the issue of executive privilege altogether but enjoy its benefits by not answering investigatory questions.

"Sessions is now the third official in the last week to use this strategy. I'm not sure this is the very first time we've ever seen it, but it certainly appears to be the first systematic invocation of the idea," said Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor. "This has all the hallmarks of a carefully crafted strategy by the White House and the Justice Department, and by smart lawyers in the executive branch."
Fuck these people. And fuck anyone who continues to insist that Trump's just a noob who doesn't know what he's doing. I'm looking at you, Paul Ryan.

Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico: Manafort Still Doing International Work. "Paul Manafort is at the center of an FBI investigation into ties between [Donald] Trump's team and the Russians, but that hasn't stopped him from doing business with international figures and companies, partly by claiming continued access to Trump, according to people familiar with his dealings. ...One of the people, a lawyer involved in the discussions, said Manafort indicated that he could convince the Trump administration to support any resulting deal, because he's remained in contact with Trump's team, and that he played a role in helping to soften Trump's tough campaign rhetoric on China. 'He's going around telling people that he's still talking to the president and — even more than that — that he is helping to shape Trump's foreign policy,' said the lawyer involved in the discussions. The White House press office did not respond to requests for comment." I'll bet they didn't!

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Jonathan Martin at the New York Times: Their Own Targeted, Republicans Want Looser Gun Laws, Not Stricter Ones. "Shaken and angry, Republican members of Congress seized on the brazen daytime shooting of their colleagues on Wednesday to demand that existing restrictions on gun access be loosened so that people facing similar attacks are able to defend themselves."

I just will never understand this. What stopped Hodgkinson's horrific attack was the presense of Capitol police, because the House Majority Whip gets a protective detail. The Capitol police are highly trained officers, and even they were injured, despite their crucial ability to stop Hodgkinson.

Loosening carry laws doesn't mean that there will be more highly trained officers around who are capable of stopping a determined mass shooter. It just means there will be more frightened people shooting who are likely to hurt more people in public shoot-outs.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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