We Resist: Day 489

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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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Earlier today by me: This Is What a Slide into Authoritarianism Looks Like. And late yesterday, ICYMI: More on Paul Campos' Trump-Broidy Theory and Michael Cohen's Business Partner Strikes Deal with Federal Prosecutors to Avoid Prison.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Let's start with some good news, care of Andy Towle at Towleroad: Federal Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Student Gavin Grimm, Refuses to Dismiss His Case. "A federal appeals court handed a victory to transgender student Gavin Grimm in the four year battle against the Gloucester County School Board which made its way to SCOTUS before that court handed it back to the lower courts without considering it. On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia denied the school board's motion to dismiss the case. ...Wrote Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen: 'There were many other ways to protect privacy interests in a nondiscriminatory and more effective manner than barring Mr. Grimm from using the boys' restrooms. The Board's argument that the policy did not discriminate against any one class of students is resoundingly unpersuasive.'" [Background here and here.]

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With so-called allies like these...

Seriously, Democrats: Do not hand Trump and the Republicans bipartisan legislative victories. Just don't do it. And don't use your reelection prospects as an excuse for this failure, because the whole reason we want to (re)elect Democrats is so they act like Democrats. We don't vote for you to act like Republicans. Christ.

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Sabrina Siddiqui at the Guardian: Trump Escalates Attacks on FBI as He Fights Back Against Russia Inquiry.
Donald Trump has dramatically escalated his attacks on the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the US election, and his fightback against the Department of Justice reached a turning point this week with aspects of the inquiry itself now being investigated.

The president's growing frustration with special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry now appears to be having an impact at high levels.

Trump's fresh offensive came as reports indicated an FBI informant was in contact with several Trump campaign officials in 2016. Trump swiftly seized on the news to claim, without evidence, that the FBI had planted a spy within his campaign and demanded that the DoJ investigate the matter.

Now a meeting will be held on Thursday between top government officials and two senior Republican lawmakers — but no Democrats — to allow the Congressmen to review classified information relating to claims the FBI deployed a confidential source to gather information on Trump's presidential campaign, the White House said on Tuesday afternoon.
[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Justin Sink at Bloomberg: White House Bars Democrats from Meeting on Russia Investigation Records.
Two House Republican leaders — and no Democrats — will meet with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Thursday to discuss records the lawmakers have demanded related to the Russia investigation. White House officials also won't participate.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the meeting on Tuesday with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy. She said it had been arranged by Chief of Staff John Kelly, following a meeting Monday between [Donald] Trump, Wray, Coats, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

...Sanders said Democrats weren't included in the meeting because they hadn't requested the records themselves, and suggested reporters ask them why they should be "randomly invited."
[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Philip Bump at the Washington Post: There Is No Evidence for 'Spygate' — But There Is a Reason That Trump Invented It. "'Spygate' is no more robust a theory than 'tapped phones'-gate, but it's more important now because the political stakes are so much higher. Trump will stick with it for a while — unless something else pops up that might be a more effective foil for him or a better way to undercut the legitimacy of the FBI. That's really the game, of course: If the FBI is investigating him, then it's necessary to present as much evidence as possible that the FBI is biased in doing so."

Bump's piece is very good in tying together all the various threads of Trumpworld's conspiracy theory around the FBI "spying" on his campaign. If you need to understand any of the pieces or players, I highly recommend his piece.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] S.V. Date at the Huffington Post: Giuliani's New Stance on Russian Collusion: So What? It's Not Illegal. "His client insists there was 'NO COLLUSION' with Russia to win the presidency, but Donald Trump's lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has a new theory of the case: What's the big deal if he did? In a recent interview with HuffPost, Giuliani initially disputed the notion that Trump's daily citing, in the final month of his campaign, of Russian-aligned WikiLeaks and its release of Russian-stolen emails constituted 'colluding' with Russia. 'It is not,' Giuliani said. Then he switched tacks. 'Okay, and if it is, it isn't illegal... It was sort of like a gift,' he said. 'And you're not involved in the illegality of getting it.'" Except, yeah, that sort of "gift" is actually illegal, too. In the giving and the receiving.

You can be sure that Giuliani actually knows this, by the way. This is just fodder for the base, who don't know or understand the law and thus readily believe that Trump is just being pursued unfairly ("WITCH HUNT!") by Bob Mueller.

Margaret Hartmann at NYMag: Leaks Suggest White House Plan to Purge Leakers Won't Go as Planned. "Nearly two weeks ago, a White House communications staffer dismissed Senator John McCain's concerns about the incoming CIA director's stance on torture by quipping, 'It doesn't matter, he's dying anyway.' Since [Donald] Trump is opposed to apologies — particularly when they involved his war hero political foe — the White House refused to publicly acknowledge that it's not cool to make fun of a senator battling brain cancer. Instead, they focused on admonishing communications staffers for leaking a remark made during a private meeting, and embarked on a quest to figure out who shared the comment with reporters. Both of these efforts were promptly leaked to the press."

I think it's worth considering, ahem, that the McCain "leak" was deliberately leaked like many of the other leaks about which Trump pretends to be angry. What evidence on Maude's green earth is there that Trump wouldn't be delighted for the world to know his White House's position on John McCain is "we're glad he'll die soon"? That sounds 100% like something Trump would proudly say himself, except that he would have added some eugenics-soaked bullshit about his own good health and virility.

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Tami Abdollah at the AP: Critics See No End to Foreign Favors to Trump Businesses. (I'm pretty sure that the people who want the favors see no end to it, either, much to their delight.)
Ethics watchdogs and political adversaries called last week's events a blatant case of Trump appearing to trade foreign favors to his business for changes in government policy, exactly the kind of situation they predicted would happen when the real estate mogul turned politician refused to divest from his sprawling business interests."

And they say that such dealmaking will likely become business as usual, unchecked by a Republican-led Congress, court cases that could take years, and a public that hasn't gotten too excited about the obscure constitutional prohibition on the president accepting emoluments, or benefits, from foreign governments without congressional approval.

"It's an issue that seems highly technical and complex, and is difficult to link to everyday lives," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is heading up an emoluments lawsuit brought by about 200 or so members of Congress.

"But when you bring it home to the reason for the emoluments clause, namely to prevent conflicts of interest, so the president will act only for the benefit of the United States, not for his own self-interest, then people should understand that his taking that benefit compromises his priorities," Blumenthal said.
And potentially compromises the safety, security, and very sovereignty of the nation.

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Israeli Intel Company Worked with Cambridge Analytica to Win Business with U.S. Government. "An Israeli intelligence company called Psy-Group formed a partnership with [Donald] Trump's campaign data firm, the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica, in order to win business deals with the U.S. government after the election, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Psy-Group — which is owned by Joel Zamel, a person of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe — signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2016 with Cambridge Analytica, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ. The plan was for the two firms to work together to share intelligence and social media services, while also helping each other win government contracts." Oh.

[CN: Sexual assault; rape culture]

[CN: White supremacy]

Francella Ochillo at Colorlines: Why the Marriage of Sinclair and Tribune Is a Credible Threat to Our Democracy.
If it succeeds, the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media could change dinner-table conversations across the country. Harkening back to a time when a few broadcasters controlled the airwaves, this merger would give one entity direct access to over 70 million Americans who still rely on free television and local news as a primary resource.

When we are constantly bombarded with stories about corrupt cabinet officials, felony indictments, abuse of taxpayer dollars, and a total disregard for the rule of law, it is hard to appreciate the significance of this merger. Lawmakers have repeatedly asked regulators to explain how it would serve the public's interest. They are also concerned that this deal will result in higher prices for consumers.

If approved by antitrust regulators, the Sinclair merger would create the largest broadcast company in history. Here are the staggering statistics: Sinclair would own or operate 215 stations in 102 markets, giving the company a broadcast presence in 72 percent of U.S. households.

Considering Sinclair's history of acquiring local stations and centralizing news operations, the new broadcast behemoth would be able to determine which community efforts receive media attention, harden political viewpoints, and define what constitutes a terrorist threat—all from its Maryland headquarters. Couple that unprecedented market power with Sinclair's standard operating procedure to feature stories through a conservative lens, and the proposed merger is a direct threat to journalistic integrity and promises to widen the chasms of partisanship even deeper.

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

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