Four Pieces of Evidence from Michael Cohen Testimony, Ranked by Credibility

Analysis from Associate Blog Editor Alexandra Shiels

Cohen Evidence 1: Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.

Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.

Credibility rating (1-5)? Solid five. Check is clearly signed, amount is highlighted, and the home equity docs are there to back up. Trump also denied the payment, but hasn’t exactly been vocal on denying the act itself. Unfortunately, we have this very detailed description and Mario Bros’ toadstool is no longer a nostalgic memory of a fun video game for us 90s kids. 

Cohen Evidence 2: Deutche Bank Financial Statements
Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand. Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 

Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand.Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 

Cohen Evidence 4: Russian Trump Tower

Cohen was circumspect and did not use the word “collude” in his testimony. However he was very clear that Trump would do anything to win. Cohen stated Trump asked numerous questions about Moscow negotiations and referred to as specific meeting on June 2016 that Donald Trump, Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort attended.
Credibility rating? Put this one at a three, maybe 3.5.  There’s no recording or email threads documenting this meeting (or it’s not being released in C-Span public testimony) . Although likely and the subject of numerous long form articles, more proof is needed. Tragic, because this is one of the most important pieces in case against Trump. 
One of the most important moments of the hearing wasn’t from Michael Cohen, but from Rep Elijah Cummings (D) during his closing remarks. He said: “You come saying I have made my mistakes, but now I want to change my life,” “And you know, if we…as a nation did not give people an opportunity to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well.” Cummings may be able to offer this benediction, but I’m not that forgiving. Am I glad Cohen’s testimony exists? Sure. But let’s not kid ourselves. This is a man who only came forward because he is facing prison time, because he was caught. This is not a crisis of conscious. Cohen enabled a white supremacist, made sure a lot of hard-working people didn’t get paid, and bullied a lot of schools into keeping Trump’s test scores and grades secret.We have just begun to scratch the surface of Dumb Dumb Watergate. We’ve known for a while that the president is corrupt. But will he pay for that corruption? Does this evidence mean anything or is it just financial statements and salacious anecdotes that will just be another aspect of Trump’s terrible presidency that we’re numb to? We have the evidence. We’ve had the evidence, when do we get the conviction? 

· Topic you might like What would the US look like if liberals were allowed to enact all of their policies without opposition? Are there any existing countries like that to help us judge its long term impact?

Answered 8h ago

Martin Levine
, former Canadian Foreign Service Officer at Government of Canada (1978-2009)

Martin Levine
, former Canadian Foreign Service Officer at Government of Canada (1978-2009)

Americans who are concerned about such issues sometimes point to Canada as a kind of liberal test bed. As I have said in some other Answers this can be very deceptive. Conditions are very different here. So is the Canadian Constitution. So are attitudes. So is the economy. So are the political lobbies.

You can extract a few examples and possibilities but you have to be careful with them and not overextend them.

You’d Need A Comprehensive US Liberal Platform

At both the federal and provincial levels Canada has Liberal Parties. They put forward what their definition of what “liberal” means in the Canadian context. If they get elected they enact their liberal platform, to the extent that budgets allow.

The United States does not have this. The Democratic Party does not pretend to be a liberal party. It’s a grab bag of interests, big corporations, minority group activists, career social workers, people who believe in open borders, people who want the Second Amendment cancelled, some trade unions. etc. This does not add up to a liberal platform. The supporters of Bernie Sanders are saying just that. If it wasn’t so difficult to form third parties in the USA, they would probably be one.

The Liberal Party of Canada has, as part of its platform, things that are not necessarily part of a liberal repertoire. However, since they are the Liberal Party of Canada they have plenty of say so. The Liberal Party platform includes:

-A commitment to multilateral free trade agreements.

-A commitment to international peacekeeping.

-A legalized commitment to a very limited, defined, constrained type of ethnocultural multiculturalism.

-A legalized commitment to official bilingualism.

-A commitment to high immigration levels, with a focus on economic immigration, and provincial participation in selection.

-A commitment to recognition of the grievances of Canada’s indigenous peoples, and negotiations on a “nation to nation” basis.

-A commitment to managed agricultural supplies.

-Economic stability as a strong, strong priority, with freedom of competition curtailed in some cases, if it has to be.

-Using government-owned companies to accomplish certain economic and social objectives.

-A commitment to nation wide standards of medical, educational and social services, expressed in part by transfer payments from the wealthier provinces to the poorer ones.

Most or all provincial governments accept some of these principles, as well as the commitment to a comprehensive social safety net, expressed by government enacted social programmes.

You Need Political Parties, Not A Bunch of People Shouting

What political party would be prepared to advocate this in the USA, to the extent it is applicable? And, you need a political party, not a bunch of individuals and groups grandstanding, blogging, expressing passionate views, decrying enemies, etc.

At the United States federal level, that political party would have to commit itself to a “core” standard liberal programme, basically a capitalist social democracy with social justice created via social programmes. Then they would have a menu of alternatives like the above and would have to choose some. It wouldn’t be much different at the state level.

The Supreme Court Would Have A Field Day

The default position of the United States Constitution is that powers not specified as federal belong to the states. The Canadian Constitution is the reverse. Canadian law and cultures don’t have the same concept of society being subservient to the untrammelled rights of the individual. A federal or state political party that tried to approximate Canadian liberalism would face a barrage of lawsuits and court challenges. The decisions would establish how far American liberalism could go, without constitutional amendments. This would play out over time as standards are established by legal precedent.

So, Liberal America Takes Charge

Say, for example, revulsion against the excesses and failures of the Trump Administration opens a window of liberal opportunity. The Sanders faction and its allies take over the Democratic Party at the federal and most state levels. This liberalized Democratic Party continues much of the Sanders platform, with some add ons. The Democratic Party wins the Presidency and one or both houses of Congress. Similar things happen at the state level.

Various permutations and constitutions could arise. Here is just one scenario:

We’re Broke

The new Democratic administrations look at the books and choke a little bit. They are taking over after a Trump administration that wasn’t fiscally conservative. Rather, the Trump Administration made deep tax cuts without creating countervailing sources of government revenues. (Except tariffs, which are a tax paid by American consumers and consumers to the United States Government. In Canada, the federal government at one point was virtually addicted to these tariffs.) They have to do the same exercise that new administrations in Canada customarily do. That is, announce a fiscal crisis, blame it entirely on the previous administration, and use it to justify cancelling their campaign promises.

Then the new administration looks for spending freezes and cuts that won’t cause a public uproar. The go-to is freezing civil service salaries and reducing the civil service by attrition . (Civil services have unions and contracts with the governments. You can’t just fire people.) Then, the new administration looks to creep taxes up. Start with higher “sin taxes”, liquor, tobacco, and in Canada as of October 17, weed. Then, raise the gas tax a few cents. Raise income taxes on higher income people. Reduce tax rebates. Look for ways to tax Internet-base transactions.

Some of the Social Programmes Are Already There

The USA is far from being without some social programming. That’s what social security and medicare are about. The new Liberal governments will have to squeeze out enough money to augment them and make them more universal. Social security benefits get raised but people may have to pay more payroll taxes until they retire. Obamacare gets expanded. However, the new Democratic federal administration hits a medical wall. The American medical system is among the most costly in the developed world, without producing population wide superlative results. In Canada, doctors bill the provincial health insurance plans. Hospitals are controlled by the provincial governments. Canadian citizens and permanent residents don’t get hospital bills. The hospitals get provincial government support and also bill the provincial medical plans fee for service, for services covered by those plans. (Many Canadians buy supplementary coverage from private health insurance plans, or their employers provide it.) This system is cheaper, although you don’t get many celebrity millionaire doctors. Those new Liberal governments either need to procrastinate or bite a very hard bullet.

Then, The Really Hard Part Begins

I believe these new American Liberal administrations would stumble over the a la carte parts of liberalism. Canada got through the stumbling stage a long time ago. The Liberal Party of Canada decided on the menu options a long time ago, and stuck with them.

In the United States, developing that stock Liberal platform will cause pain. A lot of Americans who present themselves as progressives will be very disappointed. However, the liberalized Democratic Parties of the USA will have to reach out to swing voters or else get another Trump-type, rewave.

No Open Border

You can’t maintain bearable labour market conditions for your less-skilled workers unless you keep your borders under control. Maybe you even construct parts of the Trumpian wall. You enhance investigations and prosecutions against those who illegally hire undocumented workers. You shift the focus of legal immigration quotas away from family members and specified nations, to skilled worker and business immigration. Maybe states get invited to use their local labour market expertise and participate more aggressively in selection. Some legitimate labour needs get supplied by legal temporary Work Permit programmes. Canada has one for seasonal agricultural workers.

Eat Multilateral Trade

The Trump Administration is doing the American people a great service by showing them that economic nationalism doesn’t work. Trade wars aren’t good and easy to win at all. The trade struggles become protracted, America’s trade rivals take reprisals against working class Americans and farmers, unite against the USA and look to do business with each other. Average Americans get hurt, badly.

The new federal Democratic Administration folds down the trade disputes, returns trade discussions to professional negotiators and diplomatic interchanges, and accepts that multilateral trade agreements will stay a fact of American political life and sometimes, the USA will lose.

A Little Bit of Multiculturalism And That’s It

Race isn’t the same as ethnicity. The USA has been somewhat successful at integrating various races into American culture, at least enough.

However Spanish has emerged a de facto second language in the Southwest and a few major cities in other regions. The federal Democratic Party discusses the situation with the state governments. The probable result? English gets declared the sole official, national language of the USA. Areas with sufficiently large Spanish speaking populations get legislative guarantees of a limited range of Spanish-language services, maybe including school bilingualism, the publication of Spanish-language versions of some municipal, state and federal laws, bilingual signage at some federal buildings, and that’s it and that’s all.

Spreading False News and Incitement

Canada has worked at enforcing against this for a long time. Yes, Canadians have freedom of speech but not freedom of threatening behaviour. So, if you want to express your views that us Jews are out to replace you, you can. However, creating false facts like the Jewish replacement plan and saying, we are acting in self-defence so let’s go get “em”, is hate speech that incites to violence and, at least, discrimination. The federal and state Democratic Parties enact laws that criminalize that behaviour. Then they fight it out in the Supreme Court.

The Right to Bear Arms

This right is in the United States Constitution. Nowhere enough states will agree to a constitutional change that eliminates the Second Amendment. BULLSHIT The liberalized Democratic Parties of the USA don’t even waste effort at trying. The better effort is to increase school security and increase pre-sale checks on gun buyers. You can’t win them all.

I could go on and on with this list.

Learn To Love Your Bureaucracy, Tough Love

In Canada the Liberal Parties have to work really hard to keep their bureaucrats on the level. There is a saying here, “The pigs are always at the trough.” English-speaking Canadians are generally adverse to public displays of emotion. However a hot news story about public servants behaving badly, will justify throwing a total fit at your local sports bar. Liberal governments have to reply heavily on social programmes and strict law enforcement. Never assume that your civil servants will be competent, place the public interest over their careers or do the right thing.

So, that’s your Liberal, quasi-Canadian, America. Disbursements, taxes, functioning bureaucracies, realism, national humility, you can’t win ’em all and nobody even gets a full win, eat the hit and move on, there’s no free lunch. If you need passion and victory, look for it in a sports competition or in your romantic life.



Who won the battle for the hearts of El Paso (Thu Feb, 12) President Trump or local Beto O’Rourke?

Geoffrey Wright, lives in El Paso, Tx

This is really provocative stuff from a man on the scene in El Paso where the wall crisis was trumpeted by trump.~   FLS BLOGGER

By casual (non-scientific) observation, based on television and social media reports, not first-hand verification, it appears that the crowds at each of the rallies (Trump v. O’Rourke) were comparable in size.

Among my associates and friends, it is considered common knowledge that claims of a “crisis at the border” Are unfounded, on the American side at least. The border fence does seem to have had an effect in stopping petty crimes in El Paso by desperate people from the Mexican side from availing themselves of the personal property of Paseños (citizens of El Paso). Also the murder rates of the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez are noticeably different with Juárez having about 90 times more homocides than El Paso over the past 3 years despite having only about twice the population. El Paso has regularly ranked as one of the safest large cities in the US for several years running.

Its safety is actually not attributable to the fence but came about in the ‘90s when the border patrol incredibly began for the first time to station agents along the Rio Grande to discourage Mexicans from wading over the shallow river unimpeded. This was the “hold the line” policy of the local border patrol chief Silvestre Reyes who was later elected congressman from El Paso (and after several terms defeated by Beto O’Rourke). Prior to that time the policy had been not to enforce the border but to let everyone cross more or less freely and then try to pick up undocumented Mexican citizens off the streets of El Paso. The fence (wall) was installed later, and then further reinforced around 2006 under the George W Bush administration.

El Paso is overwhelmingly Hispanic with over 80% of Latin heritage. I have heard it said that 70% of El Pasoans speak Spanish at home. Most of our population is bi-lingual. It is a peaceful city of immigrants. Many of us are offended by the characterization of our peaceful borderland being crime-ridden. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

It is the case, however, that the cordial relationship between our sister cities Juárez/El Paso of my youth is gone forever. That went by the wayside largely due to NAFTA which drew thousands of rural poorly prepared Mexicans to Juárez factories looking for a better opportunity. They landed squarely on the US border, most with lack of education and with a ring-side seat to the land of opportunity.

Gone are the days when we El Pasoans could drive across the river for a fantastic lunch, dinner, or shopping. 911 magnified the separation. It can take up to two hours to cross the border now, depending on the hour and day.

As a resident of 60 years, I love living in El Paso. I only wish the sharing and conviviality we once enjoyed with our sister city of Ciudad Juárez were still possible.


Nicolás Maduro

Venezuela: Juan Guaidó says Venezuela opposition ‘has met military’

Self-declared interim president makes claim as Nicolás Maduro says Trump could turn country into a new Vietnam

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent and Andrew Roth in Moscow

Thu 31 Jan 2019 00.07 ESTFirst published on Wed 30 Jan 2019 06.10 EST


Nicolás Maduro speaking in the video
 Nicolás Maduro speaking in the video: ‘If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imagined.’ Photograph: Reuters

The Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, has claimed he has had held “clandestine” meetings with the military as he attempts to force Nicolás Maduro from power.

Writing in the New York Times, Guaidó said: “The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country’s recent travails are untenable.”

Guaidó, a 35-year-old former student leader and head of Venezuela’s opposition-run national assembly, has been in the forefront of a renewed attempt to force Maduro from power since last week when he declared himself Venezuela’s rightful interim president in a daring challenge to the incumbent.

The latest major Trump resignations and firings

 Read more

Maduro has accused Donald Trump and a “group of extremists around him” of plotting to topple him in order to seize Venezuela’s oil, and warned he risked transforming the South American country into a new Vietnam.

In a four-minute Facebook video – published as Venezuela prepared on Wednesday for a day of fresh pro-opposition protests – Maduro said the leaders of the US “empire” were conspiring “to get their hands on our oil – just like they did in Iraq and in Libya”.

Unable to accuse Venezuela’s government of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, they were instead waging a media campaign of fake news to justify intervening in a country that boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves, Maduro said.Advertisement


“We will not allow a Vietnam in Latin America. If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imagined. We do not allow violence. We are a peaceful people,” Venezuela’s embattled leftist leader added.

“I ask that Venezuela be respected and I ask for the support of the people of the US so there isn’t a new Vietnam, least of all here in our America.”

In Maduro’s video, he painted himself as an “admirer” of the US who had visited Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington and wanted closer relations with the White House. “The United States is so much bigger than Donald Trump, so much bigger,” he said.

But Maduro looks unlikely to repair relations with the Trump administration, which has thrown its full weight behind his rival to the presidency, Juan Guaidó.

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Trump reaffirmed his support for Guaidó, and the two men agreed to stay in regular contact, according to the White House.

On Monday, Trump stepped up his battle against Maduro by announcing sweeping sanctions against the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

Maduro also said on Wednesday he was willing to negotiate with Guaidó. “I’m willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future,” he said.

Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other countries, naming Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia.

Later on Wednesday, Moscow repeated its offer to mediate. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Russia could offer more balanced conditions for dialogue than the west.

Lavrov called on Guaidó to agree to talks without preconditions.

What next for Venezuela? The four most likely outcomes

 Read more

“We welcome the Venezuelan president’s willingness to accept such international efforts,” he said at a press conference in Moscow, according to Interfax. “We call on the opposition to display an equally constructive approach, retract the ultimatums, and act independently, guided above all by the Venezuelan people’s interests.”

Moscow has so far offered full-throated support for the Venezuelan leader. Russia has invested an estimated £13bn in Venezuela by refinancing the country’s debt, as well as through oil and arms deals.

Venezuela’s supreme court has imposed a travel ban and financial restrictions on Guaidó, including freezing his bank accounts.

At the start of a two-hour protest on Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of students gathered outside the gates of the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. Professors gave civics lectures to the assembled students, while riot police who almost matched their numbers, watched from a distance.

Among the protesters was Rafaela Requesens, a student activist whose brother Juan, an opposition politician, was arrested after an attempted drone attack on Maduro. Amnesty International has described his detention as “arbitrary.

“This is the moment to fight for democracy,” she said. “We do not seek confrontation, but rather that the police and military join this struggle. This is not a fight between Chavistas and the opposition; this is a fight for Venezuela.”

More protests are planned on Saturday.

Additional reporting by Patricia Torres in Caracas

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The New York Times

Not good, Mr. Vice PresidentLast week, I urged Joe Biden to run for president, arguing that Democrats would benefit from a diverse field and that Biden’s experience made him unique among the potential candidates. If he ran a strong campaign and seemed right for the moment, he could be the best person to take on President Trump. If Biden didn’t run a strong campaign, he wouldn’t win the nomination anyway.Yesterday brought a reminder that Biden doesn’t have a good history of running presidential campaigns.Alexander Burns of The Times broke the news that during last year’s midterm campaign, Biden accepted $200,000 to a give a speech in Michigan during which he praised Fred Upton, a Republican House candidate locked in a rough re-election campaign. The $200,000 came from a local group with ties to Upton’s family. Biden’s comments ended up in advertisements that helped defeat the Democratic candidate.The episode seems accidental, not corrupt. Biden apparently made the comments off the cuff, motivated by Upton’s work on a bill to support cancer research. And it certainly shouldn’t be a political crime for people to praise members of the other party.But given the money Biden received, he should have been more thoughtful. Instead, he reminded a lot of Democratic voters about a problem with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign: her paid speeches. Biden also offered a reminder that his previous two presidential campaigns — in 1988 and 2008 — struggled from the very start. If he runs this time, he will need to become less careless.


Note to my Facebook friends: most of you are from the South: Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama leading; a few are from other states Donald Trump also won in 2016: Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania (all of these are embarrassed by this fact As Are a few from the Southern states); many are from foreign countries (e.g., Brazil, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Japan). It is to this last group that I have to explain that people in this country who support Mr. Trump have reasons for doing so. They have trouble understanding this.

In any case this blog waited for two years before taking much of a vigorous Personal stand on the Trump presidency, preferring simply to post articles from various journals and newspapers that had some critical views on this “Individual- One.” Now before this more focused approach to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, begins I want to say a word on his behalf: the Politifact checkers, Washington Post, New York Times, and many others who accuse Trump of from 4000 to 7000 lies since Jan 20, 2017 may be exaggerating.

Here’s how: if you lie, and repeat the same lie 50 times, I’m not sure you have told 50 lies. You have told one lie 50 times. So let’s be super-fair and say that Trump has probably told more than 100 lies, although some many times.

Here are documented examples of just 4 lies that many find offensive:

  1. Donald Trump criticized military veteran and Senator John McCain, saying, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured(Video: Reuters, Photo: AFP/Getty)

~  ~  Mc Cain was in prison and being tortured (although less than some) while Trump was getting a deferral for painful “bone spurs” (a condition easily correctible and one that has not proved to be a problem on the golf course)

2. “Since 2001, 63,000 of us were murdered by illegal aliens.”  ​

— PolitiFact Facebook fact-checks on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 @,

Says Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2014 “helped put together and signed a $25 billion deal to fund a border wall” and now opposes Trump’s $5 billion request for a border wall “just because he’s a Republican.” ​

~ ~No record of anything like this, although Schumer and Democrats have supported fencing, drones, enhanced Border Patrol personnel. This and the next two accounts are from NBC (“fake”) [sic] news.


“You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” the president told NBC News’ Lester Holt on May 11.

“This Russia thing” is very real.

The U.S. intelligence community confirmed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a interagency report released in early January,and the FBI was investigating Russian efforts to aid the president before the outcome of the election was decided, The New York Times reported. A probe is being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller — in which four former Trump campaign officials have already been charged — while the House and Senate intelligence committees continue to investigate as well.

What’s more, Trump was warned by the FBI in the weeks after he secured the Republican nomination that Russians would try and infiltrate his campaign.

And despite the Trump team’s insistence that they had no ties to Russia, The Washington Post reported that at least nine people in his circle had contact with Russians during the campaign and transition.

Those include Flynn (who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI); a foreign policy adviser named George Papadopoulos (also charged as part of Mueller’s probe); former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (charged on multiple counts, including conspiracy against the U.S.); Trump’s oldest son, Donald Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner; Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was an adviser and U.S. senator during the campaign.

4   Misstatements about Democrat support for border security

Trump’s Speech to the Nation: Fact Checks and Background

President Trump addressed the country on Tuesday, the 18th day of the government shutdown, about border security. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer delivered the Democratic response.0

Trump Pushes Border Wall, Democrats Respond

As the government shutdown grinds on, President Trump laid out his case for the border wall. Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were not convinced. Published On Jan. 8, 2019 NY TIMES

Here’s what the president said, and how it stacks up against the facts.

“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”


Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in funding for border security measures like enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing. They do not support Mr. Trump’s border wall.

5 things to know for January 9: Shutdown, Manafort, suspicious mail, R. Kelly, cancer

Updated 6:05 AM ET, Wed January 9, 2019



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1. Presidential address

President Trump made the case for a border wall last night during his first Oval Office address. He warned of a “crisis” on the border with Mexico but didn’t declare a “national emergency,” a controversial move that might have led to him bypassing Congress and trying to build the wall with Defense Department funds. The President backed up his crisis claims with lots of misleading statements and fuzzy facts that were almost immediately debunked by reporters and Democrats. You can watch Trump’s full speech here.

How Trump and his opposition talk about the border issue

Play VideoHow Trump and his opposition talk about the border issue 01:46None of what the President said seemed to change any minds or get the nation any closer to ending the 19-day-old partial government shutdown, now the second-longest in US history. And the pain’s about to get real for the 800,000 federal workers who won’t get a paycheck Friday. There don’t seem to be any serious negotiations going on between the White House and Democratic leaders. And now, even some Republicans appear to be losing patience for an extended shutdown battle, with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining a few other Republican senators in calling for the government to be reopened while the battle over the border wall continues.

Lisa Murkowski breaks with Trump government shutdown vpx_00002514

Play VideoGOP senator breaks with Trump on opening government 01:08

2. Russia investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller believes Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Russian closely linked to that country’s military intelligence while he was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This bombshell revelation came to light because Manafort’s lawyers screwed up redacting parts of a court filing that was publicly released yesterday. This is a big deal in Mueller’s long-running investigation because it’s the clearest public evidence yet of coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Does Manafort disclosure build collusion case?

Play VideoDoes Manafort disclosure build collusion case? 03:39

3. Australian suspicious packages

Suspicious packages were delivered to a dozen consulates and seven embassies in Melbourne and Canberra. The British, American, Croatian, New Zealand and Swiss consulates in Melbourne all got suspicious items in the mail. A Croatian official told CNN that a package containing three little packets arrived at the consulate through the mail. Australian police and fire officials aren’t providing many more details, but they don’t believe the packages “pose an actual threat.”

4. R. Kelly

R&B singer R. Kelly could be under investigation in Georgia. A lawyer for Joycelyn Savage, one of the women featured in the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” said an Atlanta-area district attorney is looking into sex abuse allegations against the singer, though the DA’s spokesman had no comment. The six-part docuseries — which aired last week to much buzz on social media — looked at longstanding claims of abuse and pedophilia against Kelly and featured accounts from his accusers. A lawyer for the singer said the allegations in the documentary are false.

R. Kelly has faced these allegations for over two decades

Play VideoR. Kelly has faced these allegations for over two decades 03:10

5. Cancer

Cancer deaths in the US have been falling steadily for a quarter century, a new study says. The US cancer rate dropped by 27% from 1991 to 2016, according to a study from the American Cancer Society. That means there were about 2.6 million fewer cancer death than there would have been had death rates stayed the same. That’s heartening for sure, but there was still some bad news mixed in. The disparities between rich and poor patients and black and white patients remain, although the racial gap appears to be closing somewhat.

michael buble son cancer carpool karaoke james corden orig llr_00000306

Play VideoMichael Bublé opens up about son’s cancer 01:03


Headed outDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will leave the Justice Department in the coming weeks once a new attorney general is confirmed, a source familiar with his thinking told CNN. Rosenstein has been overseeing the Russia investigation.

The man who oversees Mueller's investigation

Play VideoThe man who oversees Mueller’s investigation 01:02


Helping handsFederal workers hit by the shutdown have some backup. Restaurants are offering free meals, and Jimmy Kimmel is giving them jobs on his show.

Late night takes on government shutdown

Play VideoLate night takes on government shutdown 01:37Size mattersBigger is never big enough, at least when it comes to TVs. Samsung is showing off a 219-inch (!!) television this week at the CES show in Las Vegas.

Musical mash-upChildish Gambino. Phish. Brandi Carlile. Looks like there’s a little something for everybody at Bonnaroo, which just announced this year’s lineup.Final frontierWell, that was fast. NASA’s new planet-hunting telescope has only been on the job for three months, and it’s already found three new exoplanets.Walk right in …Why create a car that simply rolls down the road when you can make one that “walks?” Hyundai did.

Hyundai's latest concept car can 'walk'

Play VideoHyundai’s latest concept car can ‘walk’ 00:54

Jimmy Carter dismisses Donald Trump’s wall lies with short and sweet statement

Walter Einenkel  Daily Kos StaffMonday January 07, 2019 · 4:12 PM EST Recommend 363  Share 5594 Tweet268 Comments 268 new



Donald Trump has cornered himself by insisting that the wall he promised his base—the one that Mexico was going to pay for—must be paid for… by his base. Because Trump is an insane liar person, he’s doing what he always does: spouting insanely dumb and easily verifiable lies. A couple of days ago he made the statement, “This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me, and they all know it Some of them have told me that we should have done it.” Really? Really. For real? Yes. That’s what he said. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush quickly told people that no, no, they did not tell Trump anything regarding an expensive and pointless wall on our southern border. A short while ago, President Jimmy Carter made a statement going one further.

The Carter Center@CarterCenter


President Carter has been an honest critic of Trump’s garbage fire corruption circus show, and probably still cannot believe he has to answer questions about possibly agreeing with him on anything. Traditional news outlets are considering whether or not to air Trump’s immigration windbag of lies Monday night. The rest of us have yet to hear a single truth come out of this dirtbag’s mouth.



This is worth reading carefully. The ideas are not new but they are somewhat “In your face” in an era that equates more taxation for the rich as somehow controversial. As the article may make clear Rep. Octavio Cortes is really only proposing a return to something like the taxation levels of the 1950’s when their was considerably more income Equality (or less Inequality!) in the United States. It has more visibility because it is coming from one of the few “Millennial” members of Congress– So Far.~ F.L. Shiels



Ocasio-Cortez wants higher taxes on very rich Americans. Here’s how much money that could raise.


With the help of tax experts, we produced some back-of-the-envelope estimates.

What is the ‘Green New Deal?’

An ambitious platform seeking to combat climate change is being championed by progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.). 

January 5 at 7:30 AM

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) floated a 60 to 70 percent tax rate on the richest Americans in an interview with CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that was released Friday, arguing higher taxes on multimillionaires could help pay for the “Green New Deal” she and other left-wing members of the Democratic Party have proposed.

Talking to Anderson Cooper, the new House member suggested the new tax rate apply to Americans earning more than $10 million a year, noting that similar rates existed in America a few decades ago. The top tax rate was above 90 percent during the 1950s, and while it has slowly descended, it remained as high as 50 percent for much of President Ronald Reagan’s tenure in the 1980s.

American households that earn more than $600,000 annually currently pay a 37 percent tax rate, down from the 39.6 percent rate they paid before the Republican tax law passed in 2017. Conservatives have pushed for lower taxes on the rich as a spur to economic growth, while liberals see potentially untapped revenue that could fund their key social spending priorities, such as Medicare for all and free college tuition.

“There’s an element where, yeah, people are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes,” Ocasio-Cortez told “60 Minutes.”

How much revenue could new taxes on the rich really raise? We looked at the numbers, enlisting the help of a number of tax experts, including Mark Mazur, a former Treasury Department official now at the Tax Policy Center, a centrist think tank; Joel Slemrod, a tax expert at the University of Michigan; and Ernie Tedeschi, an economist who served in President Obama’s Treasury Department.

1. $720 billion/decade: Ocasio-Cortez’s suggestion for nearly doubling taxes on people earning more than $10 million

In 2016, the latest year for which government data is available, approximately 16,000 Americans earned more than $10 million each. These are not in fact “the 1 percent” many on the left like to talk about — they are a much smaller slice, fewer than 0.05 percent of all U.S. households.


It’s difficult to estimate precisely how much more in taxes the government could wring from this ultra-elite. Collectively, their total taxable income amounted to $405 billion in 2016, and they paid about $121 billion in federal income taxes. They also face state and local taxes, which raise their overall tax burdens.

As she noted to “60 Minutes,” Ocasio-Cortez’s idea for a 70 percent tax rate on those earning more than $10 million would only kick in beyond the first $10 million in income. So, this new tax rate would do nothing to add to the amount of federal revenue on the first $160 billion (16,000 people multiplied by $10 million) in taxes this group paid.

But that leaves about $244 billion in taxable income for those earning more than $10 million a year. If this entire pool was taxed at 70 percent instead of the 39.6 percent they paid in 2016, the federal government would bring in an additional $72 billion annually — or close to $720 billion over 10 years, according to Mazur. The real number is probably smaller than that, because wealthy Americans would probably find ways around paying this much-higher tax.

“You’d certainly see some people under that system change their behavior to avoid the higher rate, which could significantly impact how much revenue it generates,” Mazur said, adding that the effect would be hard to estimate. (The exercise also assumes capital gains would be taxed at this much higher rate.)

This $720 billion in a decade is not nearly enough to fund Medicare for all, which has been estimated to increase government outlays by about $30 trillion over a decade (while also zeroing out premiums and deductibles paid by Americans).

Still, it could fund a number of other measures. It could come close to funding the entirety of Sanders’s free college tuition plan ($800 billion), fund President Barack Obama’s plan to get close to universal prekindergarten ($75 billion over a decade), forgive more than half the student debt in America ($1.4 trillion), cover Democratic leaders’ plan for boosting teacher pay and school funding ($100 billion), or come close to funding a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

And of course, higher income tax rates on the top 16,000 households is not the only way to raise taxes on rich Americans.

2. $3 trillion/decade: A wealth tax on the top 1 percent similar to those in Europe

The American government currently raises tax revenue primarily through payroll taxes and income taxes, and gets a smaller chunk from estate taxes and corporate taxes. It has not adopted a kind of tax that exists in some European countries: a wealth tax, wherein the federal government takes a chunk based on household wealth rather than income.

Norway, for instance, in 2016 taxed at a rate up to 0.70 percent for all wealth over 1.4 million kroner ($162,568). France’s wealth tax in 2017 hit assets above 1.3 million euros ($1.4 million).

Slemrod, of the University of Michigan, said in an email that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans own roughly one-third of the $107 trillion in wealth in America. This group collectively holds about $20 trillion in wealth above $10 million per household.

From there the calculation of wealth tax is simple: a 1 percent wealth tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of households above $10 million could raise about $200 billion a year, or $2 trillion over 10 years. Tedeschi, the former Obama official, found a 0.5 percent wealth tax on the top 1 percent could raise at most $3 trillion over 10 years.

But this, too, would probably change Americans’ behavior and perhaps lead them to try shifting their wealth overseas, and the economists say the actual amount of revenue is likely lower than their estimates suggest. And this is assuming there are no exemptions to what is considered wealth, such as housing assets.

Plus, this approach would require Americans to give the Internal Revenue Service a full accounting of all the assets they own under law — something that could be required under law but may prove difficult to evaluate. In 1990, the federal government did try something similar by placing excise taxes on sales of yachts, expensive automobiles, jewelry and other things consumed by rich people. But that effort came right before a minor recession, leading to the repeal of the taxes.

“The difficulties of monitoring and compliance are huge,” Mazur said of the wealth tax. “But it could be done and raise a lot of money.”

3. $3 trillion/decade: Doubling income taxes on the top 1 percent

In 2012, the economists Peter Diamond of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley published a paper arguing the optimal top tax rate is 73 percent. In 2018, that would raise the tax rate on income above $600,000 from 37 percent to 73 percent, but back then it meant increasing the top rate from 39.6 percent to 73 percent.

The IRS says that Americans earning more than $600,000 annually compose the richest 0.9 percent of families, so we’ll use that for shorthand for the 1 percent.

In 2016, this richest 0.9 percent earned about $1.7 trillion in taxable income and paid about $530 billion in taxes. These Americans would have to pay an additional $320 billion every year in taxes if the top tax rate went up to 70 percent, according to calculations based on IRS data. Mazur, the former Treasury official, noted this estimate was probably high because the wealthy would probably find ways to try to shelter themselves from higher taxation, such as by buying tax-exempt bonds.

Other economists found similar results. Tedeschi, the former Obama economist, put the number at about $300 billion annually. Meanwhile, raising tax rates for the top 1 percent to 57 percent would raise about $1.7 trillion over a decade, while raising it to 83 percent would raise $3.8 trillion over that period, Tedeschi found.

“You can get a hell of a lot of a money from taxing the 1 percent,” said Edward Wolff, a tax expert at New York University.

The Congressional Budget Office also recently estimated that raising taxes on the two highest income brackets by 1 percentage point would net $123 billion over 10 years. That would be for everybody who earns more than $200,000 annually.

The CBO also found that a 0.1 percent financial transactions tax on Wall Street would raise an additional $780 billion over 10 years, while returning the corporate tax rate to 35 percent would raise an additional $1 trillion over a decade. (The Republican tax law of 2017 lowered that rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.)

But Americans outside the top 1 percent would probably pay at least part of both these taxes, Tedeshi said. Overall, just including a new wealth tax and significantly higher income taxes, the federal government could probably raise an additional $2 trillion to $3 trillion a decade by taxing the 1 percent alone, according to Tedeschi.

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