🎧 ‘The Daily’: The C.I.A.’s Moral Reckoning | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The C.I.A.’s Moral Reckoning by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Gina Haspel, President Trump’s pick for C.I.A. director, faced the Senate Intelligence Committee for the first time on Wednesday as her confirmation hearings began. Lawmakers addressed her with an unusual line of questioning: What is your moral character?

On today’s episode:

• Matthew Rosenberg joins us from Washington, where he covers intelligence and national security for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Ms. Haspel defended the C.I.A.’s torture of terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks, but vowed that she would not start another interrogation program.

• Among the issues raised in the hearing were Ms. Haspel’s involvement in a black site in Thailand where Qaeda suspects were tortured, her role in carrying out an order to destroy videotapes of C.I.A. interrogations, and her willingness to defy a president who has supported waterboarding.

We’ve recently seen the head of the F.B.I. be ousted because he ostensibly wouldn’t take a loyalty oath and refused to close an investigation. Could this happen again? Could it be far worse?

They stopped far too short here in opening up questions of harkening back to the Third Reich and Hitler and his government commanding people to commit genocide. We all know there’s a line one can’t cross and use the defense that “I was commanded to by the authorities.”

So the real question is: will Haspel stand up to Trump to prevent moral atrocities which Trump may want to inflict, whether this may extend to areas like torture or, perhaps, far worse?

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👓 Here’s More Evidence Broidy May Have Been Covering for Trump in Playmate Affair | Daily Intelligencer | NY Magazine

Read Here’s More Evidence Broidy May Have Been Covering for Trump in Playmate Affair (Daily Intelligencer)
A bombshell AP report establishes that there was a highly suspicious meeting between the two men.

The plot continues to thicken. What’s worse is that the corruption seems to be spreading instead of the swamp emptying as was promised. Teapot dome anyone?

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: The Breakdown of the Iran Nuclear Deal | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The Breakdown of the Iran Nuclear Deal by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “decaying and rotten.” Why did President Barack Obama sign it in the first place?

On today’s episode:

• Mark Landler, a White House correspondent for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Mr. Trump’s decision creates a rift between the United States and its European allies, who have committed to honoring the nuclear deal but whose involvement in Iran may be affected by U.S. sanctions.

• The withdrawal is a risky display of Middle East brinkmanship from the Trump administration that exacerbates economic and political fissures within Iran and may set off a military confrontation.

• Here’s an overview of what is likely to change as a result of the United States’ exit from the deal.

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👓 Is America on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis? | The Atlantic

Read Is America on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis? (The Atlantic)
As the Trump presidency approaches a troubling tipping point, it’s time to find the right term for what’s happening to democracy.

Some great definitions and structure laid out for something that may be more necessary in the near future.

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📺 “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” Iran Deal | HBO

Watched "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" Iran Deal from HBO
With Alivia Clark, David Kaye, Thomas Kopache, John Oliver. 'Iran Deal' is the worst deal of all time in Donald Trump's Eyes. But John Oliver Explains Why It Is Better Than No Deal. Because this deal strictly forbade Iran to develop any sort of nuclear weapons. And all of their declared nuclear sites have close monitoring, as well as any suspected site could be monitored within 24 days of the request. The sad part is, top advisers of Trump administration are also against the deal. That is why John prepared a new ad with catheter cowboy to explain the matter to Trump and scheduled it on his favorite Sean Hannity's show.

This would be funny if it weren’t so painfully true. The idea of placing ads on Hannity is pretty intriguing though.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: The Return of Rudy Giuliani | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The Return of Rudy Giuliani by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Since joining President Trump’s legal team, Rudolph W. Giuliani has repeatedly made attention-grabbing TV appearances in which he has antagonized Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. The strategy is reminiscent of one that Mr. Giuliani has used before — 30 years ago, as a prosecutor in New York City taking on the Mafia.


On today’s episode:

• Michael Winerip, who covered Mr. Giuliani’s rise as a Manhattan prosecutor in the 1980s for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Mr. Giuliani’s revelation that President Trump reimbursed his personal lawyer for a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, may expose the president to new legal and political troubles.

• In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Giuliani suggested it was possible that other women had received hush money on behalf of Mr. Trump and that the president might invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the Russia investigation.

• Mr. Giuliani’s recent criticism of law enforcement has come as a surprise to those who have known him as one of its fiercest advocates.

So the implication here is not so much that Trump is bringing in someone who has been a champion for him, but that he’s brought in someone with experience prosecuting massive corruption and criminal enterprise similar to the mafia.

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👓 Donald Trump’s Business Empire Is No Longer Growing | Mother Jones

Read Donald Trump’s Business Empire Is No Longer Growing by Russ Choma (Mother Jones)
The art of not making deals.

Hard to grow when so many begin hating you. And if suggestions of money laundering are true, then it’s even harder to grow while under such scrutiny.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Mueller’s Questions for Trump | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Mueller’s Questions for Trump by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

The New York Times has obtained the list of questions that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel looking into Russia’s election interference, wants to ask President Trump. The wide-ranging queries offer a rare view into an investigation that has been shrouded in secrecy.


On today’s episode:

• Michael S. Schmidt, who has been covering the Russia investigation for The Times.

Background reading:

• The Times reports that Mr. Mueller’s team shared with the president’s lawyers a list of at least four dozen questions, the majority of which focus on possible obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation.

• Here are the questions, along with a look at their context and significance.

If his attorneys couldn’t have guessed all of these questions by themselves, they should be fired. The real secret is to know the hidden questions to things they’re aware of, but no one knows they’re privy to.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Travel Ban Goes to the Supreme Court | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Travel Ban Goes to the Supreme Court by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

After being blocked for months by lower courts, President Trump’s executive orders that restricted travel from several predominantly Muslim nations have finally reached the Supreme Court. The justices seem focused on one question: Should the president’s authority have anything to do with his personal beliefs?

On today’s episode:

• Adam Liptak, who covers the Supreme Court for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• The Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared poised to defer to the president’s national security judgments and discount his campaign promises to impose a “Muslim ban.”

• Read annotated excerpts from the arguments before the Supreme Court on the travel ban.

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👓 A New Facebook Feature Shows Which Pro-Trump Facebook Pages Are Run From Overseas | BuzzFeed

Read A New Facebook Feature Shows Which Pro-Trump Facebook Pages Are Run From Overseas by Jane Lytvynenko, Craig Silverman (BuzzFeed)
The feature is called "Page History" but now it's gone.
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👓 Trump is no longer the worst person in government | Washington Post

Read Trump is no longer the worst person in government by George F. WillGeorge F. Will (Washington Post)
Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.

George Will writes a searing and blistering take down of Vice President Mike Pence–not that there are nice things to be said about Trump.

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👓 Stop saying the Trump era is ‘not normal’ or ‘not who we are.’ We’ve been here before. | Washington Post

Read Stop saying the Trump era is ‘not normal’ or ‘not who we are.’ We’ve been here before. by Carlos Lozada (Washington Post)
Review of 'The Soul of America' by Jon Meacham and 'Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America' by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows
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👓 “People Get Subpoenas, Shit Gets Real”: What John Edwards Should Teach the Media About Covering Trump | The Hive

Read “People Get Subpoenas, Shit Gets Real”: What John Edwards Should Teach the Media About Covering Trump (The Hive)
If you were in Las Vegas and could win $1 million by placing a simple prop bet on whether Trump enjoyed some pee play with Russian hookers in Moscow in 2013, would you bet yes or no? You know where you’d put your money. Even Mitch McConnell would take that bet.
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👓 Why Mueller Has to Expose Trump’s Crooked Business Empire | Daily Intelligencer | New York Magazine

Read Why Mueller Has to Expose Trump’s Crooked Business Empire by Jonathan Chait (Daily Intelligencer)
If Trump is laundering money, and he probably is, the Russians know about it. So do Michael Cohen’s gangster friends.

I read the story about Trump’s empire the other day and remarked about how screwwy the situation seemed and wondered where the investigation into his businesses and taxes was and why we hadn’t heard much about it. Well it seems to be coming out in more force.

In this article, Chait indicates what is only incredibly obliquely implied in that Washington Post article: Trump is likely laundering money for Russian concerns for he can’t honestly have the native cash flow from honest dealings to be spending the way he has. This is a much more stark take on this recent financial reporting.

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