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Mid-Morning Briefing: Mueller Officially Going After Trump's Financials Transactions

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 5, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 5, 2017 |

— The big news today is that Special Counsel Bob Mueller has subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank. This is a big deal for a number of reasons, chiefly that it means Mueller is looking into Trump’s financial history, which is exactly what Trump insisted that he not do over the summer. Deutsche Bank is also known for being friendly to money laundering, and both Trump and Kushner are up to their eyeballs in Deutsche Bank transactions. Completely aside from Russia, Trump doesn’t want anyone looking through his finances, see e.g., his refusal to release his taxes.

— K. T. McFarland, who was briefly a White House deputy national security adviser brought in by Michael Flynn, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee back in July that she was not aware of any contacts between Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, but the NYTimes has obtained an email proving the opposite. That’s a perjury! It could also make it difficult for her to be confirmed as Ambassador to Singapore.

— McKay Coppins has a great story up over on The Atlantic, which details Mike Pence’s efforts to basically overthrow Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape and run at the top of the ticket with Condoleeza Rice as his running mate. Trump, however, refused to step aside, and he said that if he goes down, he would take the entire GOP down with him. That does appear to track with what he is doing now.

My favorite line from the piece, however, is this: “Karen [Pence] in particular was ‘disgusted,’ says a former campaign aide. ‘She finds him reprehensible—just totally vile.’” So do we all, Karen. So do we all.

I do wonder how much Trump knew about the behind-the-scenes machinations to boot him from the ticket, and whether he’ll find out about this story, and how it will affect his relationship with Pence?

— I don’t know how serious this is, or how plausible, but the fact that Trump is even discussing it is terrifying. He’s talking about creating a private spy network with Blackwater founder Erik Prince (Betsy Devos’ brother) and Oliver North, which would “circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering ‘deep state’ enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.”

In other words, he’s trying to create a fake-news spy agency. This is terrifying, dictator bullshit, and I guess our hope is that Congress would never fund this, although they are trying to get Trump donors to pay for it.

— John Conyers announced from his Detroit hospital bed that he is retiring today amid a number of sexual harassment allegations. Good. He has endorsed his son to replace him.

— Some on Trump’s legal team are continuing to plow ahead with this idea that Trump cannot obstruct justice because he is the President, which is basically a defense they would only raise if Trump obstructed justice. Senate Republican Richard Burr says that defense won’t fly, and for what it’s worth, Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued in 1999 that Clinton should have been removed from office for obstruction of justice.

This is a bullshit argument advanced by Alan Dershowitz, who I swear to God used to be a good guy. I think maybe allegations that he slept with minors arranged by Jeffrey Epstein may have corrupted him. I dunno. It’s bizarre as hell that he’d be advancing so many of these arguments when he supposedly shares nothing in common with Trump politically.

— A Doug Jones PAC has released an ad that is misleading, but I bet it’s effective. It basically says, “Your vote is public record, and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore.” That’s not true, actually. Voting rolls are kept secret, but your conscience will know! That’s probably why the ad is getting a lot of complaints.

— Who says Twitter is worthless? Here’s a fun exchange: