Robert Mueller’s spokesperson speaks!

Updates

  1. Originally published, January 20, 1:09 am.
  2. January 20, 6:53 am:
    • Harbin Hot Springs has re-opened. Some, anyway. And as long as we’re badly misappropriating tired clichés for headlines,[1] let’s try “Rick and Ilsa might always have Paris. California has Harbin.” No?
  3. January 21, 12:39 am:
    • Nothing really, yet. I just finished looking at my Twitter feed; even it’s relatively quiet. I’m wondering if it is the calm before the storm and thinking almost certainly, it must be. Between Brexit and the Robert Mueller investigation, there is much that is pending. I’m adding some analysis to the commentary under the latter.
  4. January 21, 2:26 pm:
    • Iran’s PressTV reports that the U.S. Army has concluded that Iran was the only victor in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[2] PressTV is subject to Iranian government control.
    • Ilya Somin visits Donald Trump’s eminent domain problem with the border wall.[3] (Unauthorized migration)
  5. January 21, 8:10 pm:
    • Amid local resentment at the latest regulations permitting Marijuana delivery to any address in California, the California Highway Patrol has been exploiting arcane regulation to increase its seizures.[4]
    • I worried about the PressTV story about the Army saying Iran was the only winner of the Iraq war.[5] It turns out the Wall Street Journal had the story a few days ago, though it does not repeat the specific claim about Iran being the sole victor.[6]
  6. January 22, 12:29 am:
    • Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B looks a lot like her Plan A. And underwhelms accordingly.[7] Meanwhile, the Telegraph has a report on ways forward, including that Jeremy Corbyn has backed down from his opposition to a second referendum.[8]
  7. January 22, 1:58 pm:
    • Is it really news that Kim Jong Un pulled the wool over Donald Trump’s eyes? Of course not. This wasn’t even news during the summit. Which is why I’ve held back on what I viewed as “I told you so” stories. But an occasional reckoning is nonetheless in order. Yes, we know Trump is a delusional raging narcissist, an easy mark for any foreign leader worth his or her salt. But twenty undisclosed nuclear missile sites? Twenty? In North Korea?[9] Are you fucking kidding me?
  8. January 23, 11:00 pm:
    • Round one to Nancy Pelosi as Donald Trump abandons effort to give State of the Union Address at the regularly scheduled bat-channel, at the regularly scheduled bat-location, at the regularly scheduled bat-time, or even one or two of the three.[10]
  9. January 24, 5:17 pm:
    • An appeals court has ruled that legislation that protects against Ageism bias does not cover job applicants.[11]
    • Take this with more than a grain of salt, but allegedly, Republican senators’ patience is wearing thin with the shutdown.[12] Meanwhile, Donald Trump is apparently returning to his idea to declare a national emergency on the border.[13] (Unauthorized migration)
    • So, um, here’s a fire Pacific Gas and Electric actually might not be liable for. The Tubbs Fire, one of three that devastated Sonoma County in 2017. The folks who are suing PG&E over the fire are still suing and the utility is still planning to file for bankruptcy.[14] (Sonoma County Wildfires)
  10. January 25, 3:40 pm:
    • Donald Trump historically blinks and gets revenge—sometimes even petty revenge—later.[15]
    • And Donald Trump blinked and appears to be staggering.[16] The government will reopen for at least three weeks and there is no money for the border wall. Round two to Nancy Pelosi. She’s having an easier time of this than I expected.
    • The Doomsday Clock remains at two minutes before midnight.[17]
  11. January 25, 11:19 pm:
    • Donald Trump’s capitulation to Nancy Pelosi is now official. He has signed the bill ending a record government shutdown. It is unclear when or if he will give his State of the Union Address. He denies capitulating and still threatens to attempt to use emergency authority,[18] but he now has zero leverage for his fucking wall.

James Comey

We still don’t know—really—what specifically was so exceptional about this Buzzfeed story that Robert Mueller’s team felt it necessary to comment when they’ve let so much speculation, some of which has to have been erroneous, go by before.[19]

I see a couple ways to interpret this. I embrace neither of them:

  1. To some degree, and not necessarily in the sense of factuality of reporting, the story may have been more wrong than others that preceded it. The Washington Post reports that “[i]nside the Justice Department, the statement [denying the Buzzfeed story] was viewed as a huge step, and one that would have been taken only if the special counsel’s office viewed the story as almost entirely incorrect.”[20] Notice the structure of the implication in that quotation. Other stories might have been as incorrect but the decision-making process may have relied on contingencies that are different now.
  2. This story, uniquely of all the coverage to date, somehow threatens the Mueller investigation. Well, um, Donald Trump does think he can fire Mueller. I suppose there might be other problems as well, like that the report might prejudice potential jurors. Or that it is somehow impacting an active area of the investigation. I don’t know.
  3. Some combination of the above.

Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html

Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/inside-the-mueller-teams-decision-to-dispute-buzzfeeds-explosive-story-on-trump-and-cohen/2019/01/19/d89dba5b-fa0f-445b-9fd3-72f0e911e28d_story.html


Brexit

unnamed
Via the Telegraph, January 21, 2019, fair use.

Christopher Hope, “Second Brexit referendum: Official Government guidance says it will take a year to organise, Telegraph, January 18, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/17/revealed-official-government-guidance-saying-will-take-year/

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B leaves Parliament underwhelmed,” Washington Post, January 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/theresa-mays-brexit-plan-b-leaves-parliament-underwhelmed/2019/01/21/1b7e43bc-1b5b-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html

Steven Swinford and Jack Maidment, “Where next: With Theresa May losing control of Brexit which rival plans have a chance of success?” Telegraph, January 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/21/next-theresa-may-losing-control-brexit-rival-plans-have-chance/


Harbin Hot Springs

Kurtis Alexander, “New Age nudist retreat Harbin Hot Springs rises from embers in Lake County,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/New-Age-retreat-rises-from-embers-13546291.php


Sonoma County Wildfires

Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2019, Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds


Iraq

PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm


Unauthorized migration

Ilya Somin, “To build the wall, Trump might make thousands of Americans suffer,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-build-the-wall-trump-might-make-thousands-of-americans-suffer/2019/01/19/fd39abe6-150e-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html

Priscilla Alvarez and Tammy Kupperman, “White House preparing draft national emergency order, has identified $7 billion for wall,” CNN, January 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/24/politics/trump-border-wall-emergency-draft/index.html

Alexander Bolton, “GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes,” Hill, January 24, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/426896-gop-senators-read-pence-riot-act-before-shutdown-votes


Nancy Pelosi

Jeremy Diamond, Sarah Westwood, and Kevin Liptak, “Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft for war zone trip,” January 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/17/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-trip-cancel/index.html

Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, “Pelosi tells Trump: No State of the Union address in the House until government is reopened,” Washington Post, January 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-hell-deliver-state-of-the-union-at-the-capitol-despite-pelosis-request-to-postpone/2019/01/23/d171dfae-1f33-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html

Kevin Liptak, “Pelosi denies Trump use of House chamber for State of the Union,” CNN, January 23, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-state-of-the-union/index.html

Jennifer Haberkorn and Noah Bierman, “Trump agrees to temporarily end government shutdown without any border wall money,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-shutdown-talks-20190125-story.html

Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Vivian Salama, “Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History,” Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-considering-agreeing-to-sign-three-week-spending-bill-as-early-as-friday-11548439078


Donald Trump

Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html


Marijuana

Andrew Sheeler, “Marijuana is legal in California. So why is the CHP arresting delivery drivers?” Sacramento Bee, January 21, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article224079655.html


North Korea

Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee, “Report finds another undisclosed North Korea missile site, says there are 19 more,” NBC News, January 21, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/north-korea/report-finds-another-undisclosedth-korea-missile-site-says-there-n958801


Donald Trump

Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html


Ageism

Jonathan Stempel, “Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court,” Reuters, January 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-labor-age-bias/age-bias-law-does-not-cover-job-applicants-u-s-appeals-court-idUSKCN1PI02N


Doomsday Clock

Julian Borger, “Doomsday clock stays at two minutes to midnight as crisis now ‘new abnormal,’” Guardian, January 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/24/doomsday-clock-2019-two-minutes-midnight-nuclear-war-new-abnormal


 

  1. [1]Kurtis Alexander, “New Age nudist retreat Harbin Hot Springs rises from embers in Lake County,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/New-Age-retreat-rises-from-embers-13546291.php
  2. [2]PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm
  3. [3]Ilya Somin, “To build the wall, Trump might make thousands of Americans suffer,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-build-the-wall-trump-might-make-thousands-of-americans-suffer/2019/01/19/fd39abe6-150e-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html
  4. [4]Andrew Sheeler, “Marijuana is legal in California. So why is the CHP arresting delivery drivers?” Sacramento Bee, January 21, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article224079655.html
  5. [5]PressTV, “US Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was ‘the only victor,'” Global Security, January 20, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2019/iraq-190120-presstv01.htm
  6. [6]Michael R. Gordon, “Army Releases a Critical History of the War in Iraq,” Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/army-releases-a-critical-history-of-the-war-in-iraq-11547768863
  7. [7]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Theresa May’s Brexit Plan B leaves Parliament underwhelmed,” Washington Post, January 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/theresa-mays-brexit-plan-b-leaves-parliament-underwhelmed/2019/01/21/1b7e43bc-1b5b-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html
  8. [8]Steven Swinford and Jack Maidment, “Where next: With Theresa May losing control of Brexit which rival plans have a chance of success?” Telegraph, January 21, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/21/next-theresa-may-losing-control-brexit-rival-plans-have-chance/
  9. [9]Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee, “Report finds another undisclosed North Korea missile site, says there are 19 more,” NBC News, January 21, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/north-korea/report-finds-another-undisclosedth-korea-missile-site-says-there-n958801
  10. [10]Jeremy Diamond, Sarah Westwood, and Kevin Liptak, “Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft for war zone trip,” January 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/17/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-trip-cancel/index.html<; Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, "Pelosi tells Trump: No State of the Union address in the House until government is reopened," Washington Post, January 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-hell-deliver-state-of-the-union-at-the-capitol-despite-pelosis-request-to-postpone/2019/01/23/d171dfae-1f33-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html; Kevin Liptak, “Pelosi denies Trump use of House chamber for State of the Union,” CNN, January 23, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/politics/donald-trump-nancy-pelosi-state-of-the-union/index.html
  11. [11]Jonathan Stempel, “Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court,” Reuters, January 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-labor-age-bias/age-bias-law-does-not-cover-job-applicants-u-s-appeals-court-idUSKCN1PI02N
  12. [12]Alexander Bolton, “GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes,” Hill, January 24, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/426896-gop-senators-read-pence-riot-act-before-shutdown-votes
  13. [13]Priscilla Alvarez and Tammy Kupperman, “White House preparing draft national emergency order, has identified $7 billion for wall,” CNN, January 24, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/24/politics/trump-border-wall-emergency-draft/index.html
  14. [14]Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2019, Private power lines, not PG&E, caused wine country fire that killed 22, investigation finds
  15. [15]Marc Fisher, “Bluster, bombast, backing down: What happens when someone says no to Trump?” Washington Post, January 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bluster-bombast-backing-down-what-happens-when-someone-says-no-to-trump/2019/01/24/359df148-1f66-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html
  16. [16]Jennifer Haberkorn and Noah Bierman, “Trump agrees to temporarily end government shutdown without any border wall money,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-shutdown-talks-20190125-story.html
  17. [17]Julian Borger, “Doomsday clock stays at two minutes to midnight as crisis now ‘new abnormal,’” Guardian, January 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/24/doomsday-clock-2019-two-minutes-midnight-nuclear-war-new-abnormal
  18. [18]Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Vivian Salama, “Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History,” Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-considering-agreeing-to-sign-three-week-spending-bill-as-early-as-friday-11548439078
  19. [19]Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html; Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen,” Washington Post, January 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/inside-the-mueller-teams-decision-to-dispute-buzzfeeds-explosive-story-on-trump-and-cohen/2019/01/19/d89dba5b-fa0f-445b-9fd3-72f0e911e28d_story.html
  20. [20]Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, “In a rare move, Mueller’s office denies BuzzFeed report that Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/01/18/b9c40d34-1b85-11e9-8813-cb9dec761e73_story.html

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