House Republicans cannot be allowed to obstruct justice

Former U.S. district judge John S. Martin, writing in The Post to debunk the baseless proposal by House Freedom Caucus members to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, observes:

The actions of the Freedom Caucus members are not only baseless, they are also shameful. While they call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Rosenstein, it may be more appropriate to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate an attempt to corruptly obstruct justice by members of Congress who so obviously use their office to intimidate the deputy attorney general and to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

.. Their inexcusable acts include:

  • The caper by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in which he scurried over to the White House to review classified documents and then tried to push the fake “unmasking” scandal;
  • Nunes’s memo falsely stating that information about the Christopher Steele dossier’s origins was omitted from the Foreign Intelligence Security Court warrant application to conduct surveillance on suspected spy Carter Page;
  • The outing of a confidential intelligence source;
  • The badgering of Rosenstein for documents from an ongoing investigation and the bogus impeachment articles cooked up by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio);
  • False accusations against the FBI (e.g. accusing FBI officials of aiding Hillary Clinton in the campaign) that were discredited by the inspector general’s report; and
  • Refusal to obtain relevant documents (e.g. the blocked phone number that Donald Trump Jr. called in close proximity to the Russia meeting in June 2016).

.. Congressmen, Trump lawyers and White House aides conferring with intent to mislead investigators and the public, to disable the inquiry and/or to discredit law enforcement sounds an awful lot like obstruction of justice. Conversations or documents relating to that sort of conspiracy are in no way privileged.

.. Norman Eisen, Laurence Tribe and Caroline Frederickson wrote in February: “Endeavoring to stop an investigation, if done with corrupt intent, may constitute obstruction of justice. Plotting to assist such action may be conspiracy to obstruct justice. Normally, what is called ‘speech or debate immunity would provide a strong bulwark against any such liability for Mr. Nunes or his staff.” However, they argued, “Mr. Nunes and company may have ranged so far afield that those protections no longer apply. Under the clause, mere peripheral connection to legislative acts cannot serve as a fig leaf to shield criminal conduct.” They argued that if “a member or staff employee of the House Intelligence Committee engaged with the White House to stifle the special counsel inquiry, it would be difficult to see how such collaboration would be” protected by the speech or debate clause.

.. An investigation into Republican House members’ antics is critical if we want to hold them responsible for actions injurious to our criminal justice system. It is also necessary in order to uncover who if anyone they were colluding with on the White House side of the operation. Any White House official and/or lawyer — with or without the president’s knowledge — scheming to obstruct the investigation in concert with members of Congress needs to be investigated and held accountable.

.. Rather than simply play defense on behalf of Rosenstein and the Russian investigators, defenders of the rule of law need to go on offense, demanding Nunes, Meadows and Jordan come clean on their actions in support of a president trying to thwart a legitimate investigation. It all needs to come out.

Why “America First” Means “Europe United”

despite the formation of an anti-establishment coalition government in Italy, and the rise of populist parties across Europe, opinion polls suggest that support for the EU is now higher than it has been in decades. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, if a referendum on EU membership were held today, 83% of Europeans would vote to remain in the bloc; and a record-high 60% regard EU membership as a “good thing” for their country.

.. In other words, while populism can certainly sow political divisions within the EU, there is little evidence that Brexit itself has caused a domino effect.

The Brexit ringleader Nigel Farage might like to think that Italy’s new populist government represents a success for his brand of go-it-alone nationalism, but it turns out that Europe’s populists are of a different breed than those in the UK. Though financial markets have  at the prospect that Italy’s new leaders could drive their country out of the eurozone, polling conducted after the election in March showed that 60-72% of Italians would not support such a move.

.. Just 32% of citizens believe that “things are going in the right direction” for the EU

.. Trump’s tariffs have thus provided a perfect opportunity for Germany’s grand-coalition government to meet Macron halfway on his ambitious proposals to reform the EU and the eurozone.

.. Trump revels in the chaos he sows. He regards international relations as a zero-sum game of winners and losers, and, to the extent that his foreign and trade policies make any sense at all, they are transactional. By contrast, the EU’s modus operandi is one of collaboration and compromise. And now that these two worldviews are colliding, each is likely to be emboldened.

 

Trade Wars Are Destructive. Of Course Trump Wants One.

.. as with so many other policies he has supported, he appears to have little understanding of this one.

.. Many White House aides, including Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, appeared to be caught off guard by the decision; on Wednesday, Mr. Cohn had warned that he might resign if Mr. Trump went through with the tariff plan.

.. The stock market fell sharply after the announcement because investors feared that the move was the first of several that could result in escalating disputes

.. The steel and aluminum tariffs are ostensibly aimed at punishing China, which has been driving down prices for those commodities by producing far more metal than the world can use. But Mr. Trump’s move will have a limited effect on China because much of the steel and aluminum the United States imports actually comes from allies like Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico.

.. the move could hurt American businesses that use these metals, including auto and construction companies

.. If Mr. Trump were truly interested in getting China to reduce its excess production, he would have worked with the European Union, Canada, Japan, South Korea and other countries to put pressure on Beijing. Those nations tend to be closely aligned with the United States and have also been hurt by China’s mercantilist economic policies.

.. threatening to retaliate forcefully against the new Trump tariffs. They could do so by bringing cases against the United States at the World Trade Organization, or by doing what Mr. Trump did and unilaterally imposing new tariffs on American exports like soybeans and Boeing planes.

.. Canada imports more American Steel than it exports to the United States, giving it the ability to hurt the very industry Mr. Trump claims to want to help.

.. Chrystia Freeland, says Canada buys about half of American steel exports.

.. for every new job at a steel mill or aluminum smelter that is created by this trade decision, the country could lose as many or more jobs at businesses that use those metals, which will now cost more. This is one of the reasons that trade wars are, in fact, not easy to win.

.. Mr. Trump clearly sees trade as a zero-sum game.

.. He and some of his most protectionist advisers, including Peter Navarro, think that if China and Mexico sell the United States more things than they import from America, they are winning.

 

Commit together with co-authors

.. it’s easy to see why more developers than ever are writing code collaboratively.

.. Commit co-authors makes it easy to see who has contributed to every commit, regardless of how many contributors there are—and every author gets attribution in the pull request and in their contribution graph.

How it works

To add co-authors to a commit, just add one or more “Co-authored-by” trailers to the end of the commit message:

Commit message

Co-authored-by: Joel Califa <602352+califa@users.noreply.github.com>
Co-authored-by: Matt Clark <44023+mclark@users.noreply.github.com>

Include your trailers at the end of your commit message, and have at least one line of white space before them.