Robert Mueller has finished his investigation, but that may be the least of the U.S. president’s worries.


All the Legal Trouble in Trumpworld

Robert Mueller has finished his investigation, but that may be the least of the U.S. president’s worries.


The looming conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump may be dominating the conversation in Washington. But Trump faces a long list of other ongoing inquiries, some of which may ultimately cause him far more trouble. Here are the 10 most pressing investigations into the president, his campaign staffers, and his inner circle.

Violation of campaign finance laws

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and longtime fixer, has testified that Trump ordered him to pay hush money to silence adulterous scandals that could have hurt his presidential campaign.

Who’s Implicated: Michael Cohen

Danger for Trump: This case directly implicates the president.

Status: Cohen has pleaded guilty to “felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with” Trump. Additionally, in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, Cohen showed off personal checks signed by Trump, which Cohen testified were to reimburse him for the payoffs. Cohen added that Trump was involved in other illegal activities but said he could not comment because of the ongoing nature of the investigations.

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Irregular spending by Trump’s inaugural committee

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office

Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration, but investigators have little idea where the money went. Prosecutors are investigatingan array of troubling maneuvers that include allegedly booking rooms at the Trump Hotel at inflated prices and mail and wire fraud and money laundering. WIS Media Partners, a firm run by a friend of first lady Melania Trump, was the highest paid contractor for the inauguration, earning$26 million.

Who’s Involved: Trump’s inaugural committee, Ivanka TrumpEric TrumpDonald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, and WIS Media Partners

Danger for Trump: Trump is facing intense scrutiny across three jurisdictions as a result of his inaugural committee’s behavior.

Status: In February, courts subpoenaed the inaugural committee for documentation, though no one has been charged with any wrongdoing. The case is ongoing.

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Unregistered foreign lobbying

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort used a shell organization to lobby for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, enlisting white-shoe lobbyists Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, as well as the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, without properly registering as a foreign agent.

Who’s Implicated: Paul Manafort’s lawyer Gregory Craig, and lobbyists Vin Weber and Tony Podesta

Danger for Trump: The case shows the pro-Russian tilt of his campaign manager and his allegedly illegal operations. It also shows Mueller’s ability to work closely with other prosecutors to investigate a broader range of potential wrongdoing than he can as special counsel.

Status: Skadden, which allegedly advised Mercury not to register as a foreign agent, settled its case for $4.6 million, representing the amount it earned from its shadowy work in Ukraine. Skadden, Mercury and the now defunct Podesta Group have all registered retroactively as acting on behalf of a foreign government.

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Irregular super PAC finances

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

Paul Manafort lied about a $125,000 payment he received from the Trump super PAC “Rebuilding America Now” in 2017. Coordination between political action committees and campaigns is illegal. Manafort’s associate, Sam Patten, has pleaded guilty to FARA violations and his testimony shed light on the details of how foreign actors worked to gain access to Trump’s inauguration. Patten revealed that he secured tickets to the event on behalf of an oligarch from Ukraine by organizing a U.S. citizen to act as a proxy buyer.

Who’s Implicated: Paul Manafort, Sam Patten, and Rebuilding America Now

Danger for Trump: The case shows how those close to Trump misused campaign money and facilitated improper access to the president by foreign influencers from Ukraine and Russia from the very start of his term.

Status: Manafort is behind bars for violating his plea deals with Mueller and will face sentencing on March 13 for conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. Patten has pleaded guilty to violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and faces sentencing in April; he is cooperating with investigators.

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Allegedly illegal operations by the Donald J. Trump Foundation

The New York Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

The lawsuit skewers the Trump Foundation for alleged “extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign” as well as “repeated and willful self-dealing transactions” and “violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.” The alleged misconduct of the Trump Foundation includes using funds to buy a portrait of the president at a fundraiser in an effort to burnish his image, as well as allegedly using its money to funnel resources into organizing a campaign fundraiser in Iowa that raised millions of dollars.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.

Danger for Trump: This case is especially damaging for the president. Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the Trump Foundation functioned as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” and Letitia James, who took the case over when she was sworn in as Attorney General is seeking a 10-year ban on Trump and his adult children from running nonprofits, as well as repayment of $2.8 million.

Status: The case is ongoing, but the Trump Foundation has been dissolved, and its remaining funds are set to be distributed to other nonprofits.

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Allegations of tax fraud and tax evasion by the Trump family

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Following a New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s finances, city and state officials said they were investigating allegations that the Trump family may have committed tax fraud and tax evasion over the course of several decades.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump and the Trump Organization

Danger for Trump: Evidence of systemic tax evasion could strike a major blow to Trump’s credibility. Trump’s unreleased tax returns have been a high-profile departure from U.S. political norms. The House Ways and Means Committee has the power to demand the release of Trump’s tax returns, something that Democrats are now calling for with renewed energy after Michael Cohen told Congress that he believed Trump had failed to release his tax returns because he did not want tax experts to “run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces” and feared “taxable consequences [and] penalties.”

Status: The investigation is ongoing.

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United States v. Maria Butina

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Justice Department

Maria Butina is the first Russian to be prosecuted directly for attempting to influence the U.S. political landscape in the Trump era. Butina posed as a gun rights activist and gained influence in the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, all while allegedly working as a Russian agent.

Who’s Implicated: Maria Butina

Danger for Trump: The case is an additional indication of Russia’s interest in advancing Trump’s candidacy. Butina also managed to directly askTrump a question about Russia and sanctions at the start of his run for president. “What will be your foreign politics … and do you want to continue the politics of sanctions?” Butina asked. Trump responded, “I believe I would get along on very nicely with [Vladimir] Putin.”

Status: Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring against the United States. In late February, the court declined to set a date for her sentencing, as she continues to cooperate with U.S. authorities. She will likely be deported to Russia at the conclusion of any time she serves.

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Russian disinformation campaigns

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

“Project Lakhta,” a Russian disinformation campaign that used social media to interfere in the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections,worked to “sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” according to prosecutors.

Who’s Implicated: Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, allegedly the chief accountant for Project Lakhta

Danger for Trump: The case provides insight into the inner workings of Russian efforts to boost Trump’s electoral chances, as well as prosecutors’ determination to hold foreign actors accountable for interfering in U.S. elections.

Status: Khusyaynova has been indicted, and the case is ongoing.

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Improper Turkish influence inside Trump’s campaign and administration.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his business partner Bijan Kian allegedly served as unregistered lobbyists for Turkish interests and were paid to undermine Turkish cleric and regime gadfly Fethullah Gulen as a part of a 90-day campaign against him that was dubbed “Operation Confidence.”

Who’s Implicated: Michael Flynn, Bijan Kian, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, who created the firm Inovo that allegedly hired the Flynn Intel Group to launch an anti-Gulen campaign

Danger for Trump: The president’s efforts to get the FBI to stop investigating Flynn during the early days of his administration led directly to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.

Status: Kian and Alptekin were indicted in December 2018, and Kian pleaded not guilty. Alptekin has yet to appear in a U.S. court, and his location is unknown. Flynn is cooperating with the Mueller investigation and will serve as a principal witness when Kian goes on trial in July.

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Alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause

The attorneys general’s offices for Maryland and the District of Columbia

The Constitution bars the president from using his office to profit from foreign states. The Washington Post reported in December 2018 that Saudi lobbyists had paid for an estimated 500 nights in Trump’s D.C. hotel over a three-month period so that military veterans could come to Washington and lobby against a bill the Saudi government opposed. Profits from the Saudi government going to a Trump-owned hotel would seem to violate the emoluments clause.

Who’s Implicated: Donald Trump and the Trump Organization

Danger for Trump: He is directly implicated. A clear constitutional violation could raise the question of impeachment.

Status: The court rejected Trump’s initial efforts to shut the investigation down. The case is ongoing.

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Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism

She makes sense, for sure. Is she enough of a brawler? Eugene Debs, Robert LaFollette, Henry Wallace, maybe Raph Nadar, also and sense. But the destiny of the Republic requires, this once, a tough guy (he can have a VP of any combination of genders and colors as long as they are really good and can balance the macho chieftain who can knock Trump (or Pence, should Trump step down) of the pedestal.

She has big ideas for repairing the American economy. The other Democratic candidates should too.

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt NEW YORK TIMES

Opinion Columnist

Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a platform that aims to reform American capitalism.CreditFrank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

  • March 15, 2019
Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a platform that aims to reform American capitalism.CreditCreditFrank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

Bill Clinton had a consequential presidency when it came to the economy. He brought down the Reagan-era deficits, helping spark the strongest economic boom in decades, and he made the tax code more progressive.

Barack Obama had an even more consequential presidency. He halted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He did so in part by signing a stimulus bill full of spending on education, wind energy and other programs with lasting benefits. He also put in place new regulations for Wall Street and extended health insurance to almost 20 million people.

Yet for all that both men accomplished, neither changed the fundamental direction of the American economy.

By the end of Obama’s eight years, G.D.P. growth was still disappointing. Middle-class and poor families were still receiving less than their fair share of that growth. Median household wealth was lower than it had been two decades earlier. In the most shocking sign of struggle, average life expectancy has declined in recent years. Rich Americans, on the other hand, continue to thrive, amassing Gilded Age-level concentrations of wealth. The resulting frustration helped make possible the rise of Donald Trump.


This history suggests that the Democratic Party’s economic agenda needs to become more ambitious. Modest changes in the top marginal tax rate or in middle-class tax credits aren’t enough. The country needs an economic policy that measures up to the scale of our challenges.RelatedOpinionOne-on-One With Elizabeth Warren An interview with the Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential contender.March 13, 2019

So far, only one candidate among the 2020 contenders has an agenda with this level of ambition: Elizabeth Warren. Her platform aims to reform American capitalism so that it once again works well for most American families. The recent tradition in Democratic politics has been different. It has been largely to accept that big companies are going to get bigger and do everything they can to hold down workers’ pay. The government will then try to improve things through income taxes and benefit programs.

Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards — to end the era of “shareholder-value maximization,” in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.

Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax, on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.

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“Sometimes, bigger ideas are more possible to accomplish,” Warren told me during a recent conversation about the economy at her Washington apartment. “Because you can inspire people.”

Before I go further, I want to offer two caveats. One, Warren’s grasp of the country’s problems does not necessarily mean that she should be the Democratic nominee for president. Politics is not an expertise competition. The nominee should be, and most likely will be, the candidate who best inspires voters. Maybe that will be Warren, or maybe it will be someone else.

Two, I don’t agree with all of Warren’s proposals. Her plan to break up the big technology companies seems too uniform, for example. Her plan to put workers on corporate boards may not be as practical as, say, a big federal push to increase workers’ bargaining power.

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Paul Krugman did explanatory journalism before it was cool, moving from a career as a world-class economist to writing hard-hitting opinion columns.SIGN UPSenator Warren’s proposals include a universal child-care and pre-K program, and a wealth tax.Credit Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Senator Warren’s proposals include a universal child-care and pre-K program, and a wealth tax.CreditGabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

But whatever my — or your — specific objections, Warren is identifying the right problems and offering a coherent vision for a post-Obama Democratic agenda. “Clinton and Obama focused on boosting growth and redistribution,” Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has advised Warren, says. “Warren is focusing on how pretax income can be made more equal.”

She isn’t simply proposing larger versions of Obama’s (worthy) tax cut for middle-class and poor families, as several 2020 candidates have. Her plans are also much more detailed than those of Bernie Sanders (who, to his credit, pushed the party to become bolder). And she has avoided getting trapped in the health insurance wonkery that too often dominates progressive policy debates. The future of the republic does not actually depend on the relative sizes of Medicare, Medicaid and the private market.


It may, however, depend on whether Americans’ incomes and living standards are consistently rising.

In the months to come, I hope that every other 2020 candidate offers answers to the questions that Warren has taken on: How can corporate America again help create a prosperous, growing middle class, as it did from the 1940s through the 1970s? How can the power of giant corporations — over consumers, workers and smaller businesses — be constrained? How can the radical levels of wealth inequality be reversed? How can the yawning opportunity gaps for children of different backgrounds be reduced? How can the next president make changes that will endure, rather than be undone by a future president, as both Obama’s and Clinton’s top-end tax increases were?

It is not surprising that Warren has jumped out to an early lead in the ideas primary. The main theme in her life, both professional and personal, has been economic opportunity. Her father was a carpet salesman at Montgomery Ward in Oklahoma City in the 1960s, until he had a heart attack. He had to switch to lower-paying work as a janitor, and her mother got a minimum-wage job, answering phones at Sears.

Warren’s three older brothers all went into the military. “That was their chance to make it into the middle class,” she told me. Warren went to college and became a teacher, until the school chose not to renew her contract rather than give her maternity leave. She then went to a public law school — for $450 per semester — and became a bankruptcy expert, early on at the University of Houston and ultimately at Harvard.

“The way I see it is, I have lived opportunity,” she said. “I’ve lived the kind of opportunity that comes from a government that invests a little in its kids, a government that tries to keep the playing field a little bit level for folks like my family.”

Her theory of political change has been shaped by two experiences — one failure and one success. As a professor in the 1990s, she served on a federal bankruptcy commission and fought against legal changes that favored banks over borrowers. The fight went on for a decade, and Warren’s side lost. The defeat left her believing that a technocratic legislative debate — “the inside game,” as she calls it — almost always favors industry lobbyists.

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

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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.