Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay Trump Nearly $300,000 in Legal Fees

Judge says the sum is reimbursement for money spent defending against a meritless defamation suit

Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, and his firm sought a higher payback but Judge Otero docked their request by 25%, faulting the amount of time spent researching motions to transfer and throw out the case. Mr. Harder, who charged Mr. Trump $842 an hour, defended his firm’s hours in court last week and said that when the president is being sued, one errs on the side of being safe.

.. Ms. Clifford continues to press against the president and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement

.. Mr. Avenatti distributed a sketch over social media on April 17 of a man Ms. Clifford said threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, a few weeks after she’d discussed her alleged sexual encounter with the president in a celebrity magazine. Mr. Trump tweeted the following day, “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Ms. Clifford argued in the defamation suit that the tweet attacked the veracity of her account and suggested she was falsely accusing someone of committing a crime against her.

.. Judge Otero said he declined to impose anything more significant because Ms. Clifford’s “unwillingness to resort to litigation” in light of Mr. Trump’s “continuing use of rhetorical hyperbole” suggests she’s already been deterred from filing more meritless defamation claims aimed at curbing free speech.

Trump’s Idea of Arming Teachers Is Crazy but Clarifying

the exchanges between Trump, Inslee, and several other governors were overshadowed by the President’s laughable claim that even unarmed, he would have tackled the Parkland school shooter.

.. It vividly illuminates the collective madness that beckons when you have an unprincipled man like Trump in the White House, the G.O.P. in control of Congress and the majority of states

.. Inslee .. brought up a program in his home state that gives the family members of disturbed or depressed individuals the ability to obtain court orders to seize their guns.

.. I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law-enforcement agents, which takes about six months.

.. Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, who explained how his state has already adopted a “school-marshal program,”

.. “They will have signs out front, a warning sign that, be aware, there are armed personnel on campus.”

.. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas and a former U.S. Attorney who once developed a school-safety program for the N.R.A.

.. “Essentially, what you are saying is that when a sick individual comes into that school, they can expect major trouble, right, major trouble. The bullets are going to be going towards him, also. . . . You know what’s going to happen, nobody’s going into that school.”

.. In making this argument, which follows the logic of the jungle, and of failed states like Yemen and Iraq, Trump seemed blissfully, or purposely, unaware of the fact that many school shooters end up shooting themselves, and, therefore, might well be immune to the logic of deterrence. 

  • .. Adam Lanza, who killed twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot himself in the head before the police arrived. Similarly,
  • Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine shooters, made no effort to escape after carrying out their massacre, and they shot themselves after the police arrived.

.. he asserted that arming educators would be cheaper and more effective than hiring more armed guards, or relying on local police officers, such as the ones who failed to stop Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. “They don’t love the students; they don’t know the students,” Trump said dismissively. “The teachers love the students. They want to protect the students.”

 .. he is putting his own unhinged spin on this decivilizing agenda.
.. “The bad guy has to understand that there is a big price to pay when they mess around with our students. You can’t just say we are going to harden our schools. . . . You have to let people know they are going to suffer the ultimate price. And you know what? And I said it before, you’re not going to have incidents, they are not going to do it because they are innately cowards.” 

Nolte: Lisa Bloom Accused of Shady Tactics to Shield Amazon’s Alleged Sexual Harasser

The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters is now claiming that Bloom engaged in highly unethical tactics to shield yet-another high-powered executive accused of sexual harassment, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price.

.. her biggest stumbling block was Bloom, who, according to Masters, went so far as to threaten crippling lawsuits:

In my case, one of Bloom’s tactics was to try to kill the story by telling multiple outlets that I had approached Price and Amazon for money to support my radio show. There was no truth to this, as I had never asked either for funding.

.. In her zeal to protect her client …  Boom claimed that I had turned on Price after he rebuffed my demand to have Amazon underwrite The Business, the public-radio show that I host on KCRW. I can’t guess who concocted that allegation, but I assume the idea was to establish a potential argument that I had behaved unethically and had a personal grudge against him and therefore didn’t care what the facts were.

.. Over the weeks that would follow, as I began searching for a home for my scoop, [attorney Charles] Harder and Bloom convinced every publication that considered my story that they weren’t just threatening legal action but would indeed sue.

.. After Masters dropped her Thursday bomb on Price, Deadline reported that Bloom was no longer representing the Amazon exec. “My representation of Roy Price has concluded,” she said.“It concluded before the producer went public.”

.. she knew to dump Price before the allegations hit the fan, something she was not smart enough to do with Weinstein.

.. The connection between Weinstein and Price, obviously, is a gateway into the bright lights of Tinseltown. Bloom had a miniseries deal with Weinstein, and Price has been Mr. Greenlight as Amazon Studios expands exponentially.

Trump Knows How to Push Our Buttons

The Trump administration hopes “Democrats will react by defending immigration and look ‘soft on gangs,’ ” aware that “if they push the envelope on this issue they can get coverage for their efforts and drown out Democratic efforts to change the topic.”

.. Brodnitz described Trump’s tactics as offering “ideas that sound really outlandish but that they believe have popular support — at least with their core voters” and that the Long Island speech was based on “the hope that Democrats would look more concerned about criminals than about crime and its victims.”

.. it has been difficult for the Democrats to recruit key white voters to consider an economic agenda in the face of concerted efforts by the Trump campaign and his administration to shift the focus to crime.

.. the percentage of Americans who said they had “great respect” for the police had risen from 64 percent in 2015 to 76 percent in 2016.

.. I think, yeah, a lot of people, whites anyway, think that the police are too constrained. When I watch the anarchists tear up Oakland, which happens pretty regularly, a part of me thinks “where are the 1968 Chicago police when we really need them?” These thugs behave the way they do in part because there are no consequences. Also, we see a lot of cases on TV where someone is resisting arrest, the police wrestle him down and hit him a few times, and then there are complaints about excessive force. Heavens’ sakes, if someone doesn’t comply with an order, what are the police supposed to do?

.. “Trump is endorsing the lex talionis — an eye for an eye,” Jonathan Haidt, the author of “The Righteous Mind” and a professor of ethical leadership at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, wrote in an email. In his own surveys, conducted at YourMorals.org, “only a subset of people on the right endorse such beliefs; it’s basically the authoritarians, not the Burkean or ‘status quo’ conservatives.”

.. One question Haidt’s survey asks respondents is whether they agree or disagree with the idea that “a criminal should be made to suffer in the same way that his victim suffered.”

Haidt said “progressives strongly reject it, and it correlates fairly well with politics — the farther right you are, the more you endorse it.”

.. It appeals to one of our worst angels, the desire for “rough justice” — quick and brutal revenge inflicted on a suspected wrongdoer. The ultimate evolutionary rationale for revenge, vendettas, blood feuds, mob violence, summary justice, lynching, vigilantes, deadly ethnic riots, the code of the streets, and other forms of rough justice is deterrence: if a person anticipates getting beaten up for exploiting people, he’ll think twice about exploiting them.

Trump, in Pinker’s view, has focused on the most primitive and regressive emotions among voters:

.. Pinker sees this as part of an ongoing struggle.

The appeal of regressive impulses is perennial. The forces of liberalism, modernity, cosmopolitanism, the open society, and Enlightenment values always have to push against our innate tribalism, authoritarianism, and thirst for vengeance.

And yes,

at times in history the darker forces prevail — the two world wars, the American crime wave from the 1960s to early 1990s, the rise of civil war in the developing world over that same period. These darker forces, moreover, are not just raw instincts, but often rationalized in ideologies.

.. This puts the Democrats in a dangerous position. The more they succeed in pushing Trump up against a wall, politically speaking, the more they risk the possibility that the he will inflict real damage, whether it is hostile engagement abroad or increasingly aggressive attacks on democratic institutions at home.

..  In an excerpt that was published by Politico, Flake describes

the strange specter of an American president’s seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians created such a cognitive dissonance among my generation of conservatives — who had come of age under existential threat from the Soviet Union — that it was almost impossible to believe.

.. What Flake recognizes, and what Democrats are only coming to realize, is that Trump represents a systemic assault on the legitimacy of America’s democratic processes, an attack that needs to be countered by far more that a modest collection of economic policies organized under the rubric “a better deal.”

Kim Jong-un Is Not a Freakish Buffoon

North Korea is not a problem that can be solved. As much as the West may engage in wishful thinking about a revolution, the Kim family regime has survived far longer than almost anyone predicted. Even today, it shows no signs of collapsing, and the North Koreans show no signs of rebelling en masse.

Does anyone actually think that with another round of sanctions the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, will suddenly give up power and North Koreans will all become liberal democrats? Or that somehow Washington could brandish enough aircraft carriers that the North Korean military and political establishment will surrender?

.. The widespread mocking of Kim Jong-un as a freakish buffoon is a sign of our misguided approach. Viewing him as a joke is a mistake not because it’s rude, but because it contributes to a dangerous underestimation of his power. Mr. Kim has managed to rule for almost six years as a brutal totalitarian dictator. He may be many things, but he is not a lightweight.

.. North Korea isn’t unpredictable; rather, it is the most predictable country on earth.

.. The North Koreans are also very calculating. By aiming test missiles at Japan, Pyongyang is sending a clear signal: Take a preventive shot at our missile sites, and we will take a shot at Japan, most likely at the roughly 50,000 American military personnel stationed at United States bases there. It would not be the start of a second Korean War, but rather a poke for a poke. Would the United States really want to up the ante a second time?

.. Twenty years ago, there might have been an opportunity for the two sides to reach a deal. But both Washington and Pyongyang have had years of evidence to back their claims that the other side will never live up to its word.

.. North Korea poses almost no threat to South Korea as long as the United States-South Korea alliance remains ironclad. Kim Jong-un may be many things, but he is not suicidal. Deterrence will continue to work.

.. For the United States, making steady progress in alleviating the humanitarian and economic problems, while maintaining strong deterrence against the nuclear program, is the only way forward.

Who Likes Trump’s Tweets and Why

We know who he alienates by this behavior — and that includes many mainstream Republicans as well as Democrats. But who is the audience he is playing to?

.. Mr. Trump and his die-hard followers delight in the shock value of violating social and political norms. They revel in the thumb in the eye. It’s intrinsic to the president’s appeal to his base, and it’s increasingly clear that either deliberately or impulsively, both his conduct and his policies are aimed at that base and not beyond it.

.. There is something about his swagger, his unabashed embodiment of a time when women were eye candy and arm candy. And there is something about the way he strikes back at women who anger him that seems to resonate for some men.

.. The uncomfortable larger question is whether this president’s behavior is encouraging and unmasking resentments about women’s place in society.

.. “A subset of men whom Trump appeals to is threatened by women in power,” she said. “They feel their dominance in society is threatened. This is not coming — generally — from college-educated men or those in suburban or urban centers with strong economic prospects.”

.. unless other political leaders address class grievances, Mr. Trump’s appeal will continue to resonate.

.. “Trump’s persistent insults to high-profile women play to that part of his base that has long been incensed at a definition of political correctness that includes women, L.G.B.T.Q. people, immigrants and other groups — but leaves out working-class whites nursing the hidden injuries of class,” she said. “So long as class remains unacknowledged as a key source of social disadvantage, Trump’s insults will feel to some of his supporters like a delicious poke-in-the-eye of elites.”

.. Mr. Trump has in fact turned politics into performance art. Some have likened what he does to insult comedy of the type practiced by Don Rickles. But insult comics are quick to point out that there is a crucial difference. “Insult comedy underneath it all is about affection,”

.. “I saw Trump be a roastmaster at the Friars Club, but he doesn’t have the skill to do this kind of thing with the right intention underneath it. Is it entertaining to some? I don’t find these tweets entertaining in the least. It’s off-putting and it gets to a scary bully level.”

.. Others were overjoyed that Mr. Trump was upsetting “snowflakes,”

.. others believed that the president was justifiably striking back against attacks on him from Ms. Brzezinski and her co-host, Joe Scarborough. Some insisted there was no sexism involved, that women aren’t exempt from criticism and have to learn to take it, just as men do.

.. Ms. Matthews thinks Mr. Trump’s reaction is more visceral than strategic. “He can’t stand to be criticized, especially by a woman, and he can’t stop himself from lashing out,” she said. “There is no strategic audience he is winking and nodding to. However there is a segment of his base that enjoys his political incorrectness — even at this extreme — and I would say his misogyny.

.. Yet criticism, even from Republicans, has not deterred Mr. Trump and some of his supporters in the past — witness how many denounced him over the Access Hollywood tapes. The president has paid no discernible political price for his actions. So that leaves the question very much open whether behavior once ruled unthinkable is again permissible in America today.

Ex-acting CIA chief: Trump is making North Korea situation worse

President Donald Trump would be best served to simply ignore the provocations of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a former acting director of the CIA said Friday, and is “making it worse” by replying with a show of force.

.. “We have a new president and Kim Jong Un is trying to challenge him, is trying to get him back to the negotiating table,” former CIA acting Director Mike Morell said Friday on “CBS This Morning,” praising former President Barack Obama for largely ignoring the North Korean regime’s efforts at saber rattling. “Kim Jong Un wants to get back to a situation where we give them gifts when they do something bad. And then we are also making it worse, right? With our bluster and by sending aircraft carriers in there, we’re raising the crisis.”

.. “It’s best to just ignore this guy and to deter him from ever using these weapons or selling them and to build our defenses,” said Morell