I’m actually going to start optimistically and thank you for reading. The blog is getting very close and may have 12,000 hits after this post. (It’s at 11,927 as I start formatting at 7:11pm). Please, if you haven’t, subscribe with your email address or WordPress account. There are places on the right side of your desktop screen, and also at the bottom of your desktop, tablet and mobile device.
I also want to remind you I’m NOT RELATED to President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who’s being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. The Washington Post named those possibilities “according to three people with knowledge of the case.”
Nobody in my family is under investigation, as far as I know. We have no comment in English or Russian.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders now says Trump thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has “gone too far,” according to Axios.
Yesterday, FBI agents raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about his clients and personal finances. The Post didn’t mention why he needed both a home and hotel room in the same New York borough.
It did report,
“Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation.”
The New York Times went even further (I didn’t say all the way), reporting the FBI wanted info on payments to Karen McDougal, who also had an affair with now-President Trump. They were also looking for any potential role from the publisher of The National Enquirer.
The feds even collected communications between Cohen and his clients, including between the president and his lawyer.
The raids were part of an investigation referred by special counsel Robert Mueller to federal prosecutors in New York but
“the agents were acting on a warrant ‘personally signed off on’ by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Axios mentioned The Times noted. President Trump has increasingly pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the broader Mueller probe.”
“Here’s what must have happened: Mueller bumped into evidence of criminal conduct that was beyond his scope, so he referred it to the Rod. … Stormy is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg. Cohen’s lawyer said the [search warrant] was based ‘in part’ on referral by Mueller. I expect that after getting the initial referral, the SDNY (federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York) started poking around and developed independent interest for obtaining the SW (search warrant).”
A Cohen lawyer called the tactics “inappropriate and unnecessary.”
Trump repeatedly called the raid a disgrace, saying,
“I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now or longer. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense; it’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
According to The Post, the fraud allegations
“suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds. Cohen has acknowledged facilitating a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.”
Last week was the first time Trump talked about the payment. He said he didn’t know about it.
The Post also reports “Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels” and “Banks don’t usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines.”
But Cohen may have been asked about making – get this – “large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.”
He said “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed the $130,000.”
According to The Post, the payment allegation could mean investigators are looking into possible violations of election law.
“Mueller’s investigation has been drip, drip. This was a giant leap forward … a personal hit. … They were moving in inches. Today, they moved a mile.”
“yet another example of the legal walls closing in on one of the people closest to Trump — someone who may have a wealth of information about the president’s own conduct.”
He points out Mueller didn’t obtain the warrant himself, but referred it to New York prosecutors, so “Whatever the subject matter of this particular investigation, it apparently falls outside of Mueller’s jurisdiction” like a conspiracy with Russians to influence the election or related crimes such as obstruction of the special counsel’s investigation.
Also, it takes more to get a search warrant than a grand jury subpoena, so prosecutors had “to go before a federal judge to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed and evidence of that crime can be found in the premises to be searched.”
Plus, “that the raid took place at a lawyer’s office further highlights the seriousness of the investigation. Searches of an attorney’s office are extremely rare and are not favored, due to their potential to impinge on the attorney-client relationship.”
Eliason adds, “And to the extent that Cohen, part of Trump’s innermost circle, might have knowledge relevant to Mueller’s inquiry, we can’t rule out the possibility that his own legal troubles could induce him to cooperate in the Russia investigation.”
He started his column with the summary,
“When your lawyers need lawyers, it’s usually a bad sign. When your lawyers have their offices and homes raided, it’s a really bad sign.”
Sanders said she isn’t sure if Cohen still represents Trump, but Trump hasn’t spoken to Cohen since the raid and thinks he has the power to fire Mueller if he – as Sanders put it – “chooses to do so.” We’ll see if that happens and what Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ future holds.
Click here for what The Post reports Trump said, along with some fact-checking and analysis.
Again, to reiterate, no relation, but I’m sure my whole family is equally as interested as the rest of the country.
Fox News “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz has defended the president and also his network, but something may have slipped through the cracks.
Sunday, reports “said his Sunday show mistakenly posted a graphic that showed the cable network is less trusted than its competitors.” Actually, a new poll shows that’s absolutely true, by far.
The Washington Post explained, “Kurtz had been talking about a new Monmouth University poll on ‘fake news’ and American trust in the media.”
That’s when this graphic appeared on-screen that Chris Cuomo, of CNN’s New Day, later tweeted out.
“Do the media report fake news regularly or occasionally?” Kurtz asked, according to The Post. “Seventy-seven percent say yes.”
But “Kurtz quickly noticed” and said, “This is not the graphic we’re looking for. Hold off. Take that down please.”
Yesterday, Kurtz he went on a diatribe against the A.P. on Facebook because the control room put the graphic up too early, causing the A.P. to say it created “a false impression by not mentioning that I called for the very same graphic shortly afterward.”
Kurtz wrote as part of that diatribe you can read in full, below, if you wish, “The Associated Press should be embarrassed by a story that utterly distorts what happened. … The news agency had published a story with the headline, ‘Fox News mistakenly posts graphic showing it lags in trust,’” which has since been corrected.
What Kurtz wrote matches the graphic.
The most trusted cable networks vs. Trump – in order – are CNN first, MSNBC just three percentage points behind and Fox News way behind. Another major point: Trump loses to all three cable news networks in trust. Now, let me ask: Do you trust the cable news networks?
Keep in mind that Monmouth reports the 77 percent “believe fake news reporting happens at least occasionally has increased significantly from 63 percent of the public who felt that way last year.” So trust in news reporting is down significantly and trust in Trump is even lower than that.
Click here for a link to the poll and results. The part concerning the Kurtz issue is in the “Trump versus Cable News” section.
This time, Kurtz and his network were right, and the A.P. was wrong, but let’s face it. That certainly doesn’t entitle anybody to bragging rights in this spat.
According to Axios, he apologized to lawmakers for not handling user data properly, but “didn’t waver in defending the company’s business model or its value to society.”
“He said Facebook is going through a ‘broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility as a company’” after “data firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users.”
Some other takeaways from the man at the top, and Axios:
– Facebook didn’t tell the Federal Trade Commission, with whom it has a privacy settlement, about the Cambridge Analytica situation when it occurred because it thought the firm had deleted the data. You know what happens when you assume!
– Zuckerberg didn’t know if Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Facebook, but Mueller’s team interviewed Facebook staffers.
– Why didn’t Facebook tell millions of users they’d been affected by the Cambridge Analytica incident in 2015, or ban the data firm then? Zuckerberg initially said the company hadn’t been an advertiser in 2015, but found out after meeting with his staff that in fact they had been later in that year — so they could have been banned.
– Question from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on privacy concerns. He asked Zuckerberg what hotel he’s staying at in Washington. Zuckerberg wouldn’t say.
– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others wanted to know whether Facebook handles content in a way that skews liberal. Zuckerberg denied that, and also Cruz’s suggestion Facebook might weigh job candidates’ political views.
– Some good news for many: Senators talked about regulation but Zuckerberg responded, “there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”
– Even better for some: Facebook shares climbed 4.5 percent, mostly while Zuckerberg testified. There could be three reasons, according to Axios: Zuckerberg is considered a competent leader, Congress probably won’t impose strict regulations and a possible paid product for users demanding stronger privacy protections could make money. Zuckerberg made about $2.8 billion in the market, this afternoon. What about you?
– Zuckerberg may have gotten the last word, but not the first. Senate Democrats Edward Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) did. They “introduced ‘privacy bill of rights’ legislation” – “the first concrete piece of legislation to come from the Facebook controversy, and … attempt to apply privacy to web companies like Facebook and Google,” according to Axios. “The bill would direct the FTC to require companies to get consumers’ opt-in consent before using, sharing or selling their personal information.”
I couldn’t finish a blog without the name Sinclair somewhere. I’ve showed you here and here how local news organizations remain the most trusted source of information in Pew Research Center’s polling on trust in media – even though in January, a Pew Research Center report announced fewer Americans regularly rely on TV news, down to 50 percent of U.S. adults, from 57 percent a year prior.
“many TV local news stations are focusing more on national politics and have taken a rightward slant over the past year. And that move is stemming from ownership of the stations, not the demands of a local audience.”
Poynter notes, “The study comes just as many are raising concerns about a coordinated effort by one major owner of TV stations that forces its anchors to record a segment about ‘the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.’” Want to take a guess which one that is?
The researchers examined 7.5 million transcript segments from 743 local news stations and saw huge differences between other stations, and outlets owned by the nation’s largest local broadcasting chain, Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“The authors found Sinclair stations, on average, carried about a third less local politics coverage and a quarter more national politics … (including) commentaries the stations are forced to run by former Trump official Boris Epshteyn.”
Also, a summary of the findings “noted the shift to the right of new Sinclair stations: The ‘slant scores,’ based on repetition of ideologically linked phrases, increased by about one standard deviation after acquisition by Sinclair as compared to other stations in the same markets.” We know Sinclair has been trying to buy another big group, Tribune Media.
Researchers warn this programming could spur nationalistic and polarizing movements, “be expected to reduce viewers’ knowledge of the activities of local officials” — and hurt accountability, especially “given the decline of local print media,” they write.
BTW, the GOP is saying IDK when it comes to deregulating legacy media companies, like Sinclair. It would let them compete with tech companies like Facebook, which could face more regulation. Regulating industry usually takes consensus, which is one thing Congress is lacking. (FYI, BTW=By the way and IDK=I don’t know.)
WORKING WOMEN WIN: The Washington Post reports, “A federal appeals court ruled Monday that employers cannot justify paying a woman less than a man doing similar work because of her salary history — a move advocates say will help close the wage gap between the sexes.”
Why should a lower salary history apply to just women? Don’t most minorities suffer the same way, and even white men?
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, relatively liberal, would’ve done better by taking all workers into account.
A woman who trained educators on how to better teach math sued her employer of three years after learning her male colleagues made significantly more money, despite having less experience.
In court, her
“employer admitted that her salary was lower and argued that the discrepancy stemmed from her prior salary — which, it asserted, had nothing to do with her gender.”
The Post reports in the U.S., women earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to the latest Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings – up from 60.2 cents for every dollar in 1980 “but the chasm hasn’t narrowed much over the last 15 years.”
Then, the article goes into how much less minorities make, which I already mentioned.
There is one victory: Since the suit, Delaware, Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Puerto Rico all passed laws blocking managers from requesting an applicant’s prior salary.
That should go for every state. A person’s worth when they’re hired should not depend on what they made at a previous job. It’s also another reason labor unions should be more powerful.
SAUDIS VS. SYRIA: Saudi Arabia will join France, the UK and of course the US, if necessary, after Syria used chemical gas on its own people yet again. That’s according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. President Trump is warning forceful action is coming. On the other hand, Russia repeated itself and vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would further investigate and determine responsibility for Saturday’s attack. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told the council, “Russia chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people.” And Turkey is telling the 3 million Syrian refugees it took in to go home. Impeccable timing!
PRESIDENT CANCELS PERU VISIT: Friday and Saturday’s Summit of the Americas in Peru “was to be the centerpiece of President Trump’s first visit to Latin America, and the first time he met many of the region’s leaders.” Instead, Trump suddenly announced he won’t go and will send Vice President Mike Pence instead. Trump will stay in Washington to focus on Syria.
COMING AND GOING: Today, it’s official. The Trump White House has had more first-year departures than any other president in at least 40 years. The latest is White House homeland security advisor Tom Bossert. We hear he earned his freedom. But today, John Bolton started as President Trump’s new national security adviser — his third in 13 months.
P.S. Maybe a little less news and a bit more nonsense next time. 🙂