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Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by the president and those around him was summed up by House Judiciary Committee member Jamie Raskin. “I don’t want to read the Cliff notes version of Macbeth,” observed Raskin. “I want to read Macbeth itself.”
In other words, Barr’s interpretation of the Mueller report is just that: an interpretation. It’s not the real thing
It is suspect, as such. And it is suspect because of the past partisanships and positionings of its author regarding the issues that arise from presidential obstructions of justice. Unfortunately, as former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams observed Monday, relying on Barr’s summary is “like having your brother summarize your report card to your parents.”
Trump partisans may imagine that to be a harsh critique. It’s not.
On Sunday, Barr released a subjective statement on the findings from Mueller’s investigation, which featured two takeaways. First, the attorney general wrote that the narrowly focused Mueller project “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Second, “the report sets out evidence on both sides of the [obstruction of justice] question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
Trump’s response to Barr’s response to Mueller’s report took the all-too-predictable form a caps-lock tweet: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”
That’s false. “President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration,” says Nadler. “It is unconscionable that President Trump would try to spin the special counsel’s findings as if his conduct was remotely acceptable.”
Based in part upon Barr’s statement, the president is peddling a fantasy that serves his political ends. Congress cannot permit this lie to obstruct accountability. This is why Barr must release the full Mueller report, as well as testify before the Judiciary Committee.
That second part of the equation is essential. Barr, who has a history of taking a dim view of efforts to hold presidents to account, wrote a memo last year (before Trump nominated him to replace Jeff Sessions) in which he complained about the Mueller inquiry and a “fatally misconceived” theory of how President Trump might have obstructed justice. Now, as the man Trump tapped to serve as attorney general, Barr is giving Trump a pass.
That’s an issue that cannot be allowed to get lost amid all the wrangling and pontificating over this report. As former White House counsel John Dean noted on Sunday, “Having re-read William Barr’s June 2018 Memo critiquing Mueller’s obstruction investigation and now his summary of Mueller’s Report, it is clear that Richard Nixon would not have been forced to resign his office if Barr had been Attorney General. Barr wants a POTUS above the law.”
Nadler, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chair Adam B. Schiff, and Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Elijah E. Cummings have responded appropriately. “After reading the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s findings, we reiterate our call for the release of the Special Counsel’s full and complete report and all underlying documents. We also call for Attorney General Barr to come forward to testify before the House Judiciary Committee without delay,” they announced on Sunday. “Far from the ‘total exoneration’ claimed by the President, the Mueller report expressly does not exonerate the President. Instead, it ‘sets out evidence on both sides of the question’ of obstruction—including the evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.”
The key committee chairs are right: “It is unacceptable that, after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering this evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the President in under 48 hours. The Attorney General did so without even interviewing the President. His unsolicited, open memorandum to the Department of Justice, suggesting that the obstruction investigation was ‘fatally misconceived,’ calls into question his objectivity on this point in particular.”
California Democrats are putting the finishing touches on what may be the most ambitiously liberal session in decades, offering a potential preview of the national party’s agenda ahead of the 2020 presidential contest.
The legislature’s agenda this year includes expanding access to higher education and health care, parental leave, environmental initiatives aimed at reining in carbon emissions, massive infrastructure spending and added protections for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Some measures are meant as a direct challenge to the Trump administration, as California Democrats set themselves up to be the face of the resistance. Others could have been cribbed from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, the legislature passed a bill that would make the first year of community college free for first-time students, a step toward free college proposals Sanders and others have proposed.
The Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would require most businesses to give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. And legislators passed a bill to require insurance companies and state health plans to provide information about the costs of prescription drugs.
Before adjourning on Friday, the legislature is likely to pass a bill that would limit state law enforcement officials from interacting with federal immigration officials, making California a sanctuary state for immigrants.
Senate President Kevin de Leon (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) said this week they would also allocate $30 million for legal defense funds for state residents covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump has said he will wind down.
The state Senate is likely to give final approval to a measure that would add a third gender option on birth certificates and driver licenses, alongside options for male or female. That measure would also streamline the process for changing one’s gender identity with state agencies.
“The culture wars are over in California today. It’s just no contest,” said Thad Kousser, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. “We’ve seen a real solid Democratic coalition on anything that involves the culture wars or immigration.”
The measures aimed at protecting immigrants were borne of what political analyst Dan Walters called “the anti-Trump fervor that’s sweeping the Capitol.”
“I think California did establish itself as a center of resistance in rhetorical terms, but not especially so in real terms,” said Walter, a former columnist at the Sacramento Bee who now contributes to the nonprofit political site CALmatters.
The rush to finalize the progressive wish list comes after Democrats passed a measure earlier this year extending the state’s cap and trade program, and another that raised the gas tax to fund infrastructure projects. At the same time, legislators set aside extra money for Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who has hired new lawyers for his legal battles against the Trump administration.
Brown has said he will approve the sanctuary state bill and the new funding for legal assistance for DACA recipients. He has not commented on several other measures pending his signature, though he vetoed a parental leave bill last year.
Republicans, relegated to the sidelines by Democratic super majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate, say the Democratic agenda has made California too expensive.
“Starting from the gas tax increase to now, you’re going to have someone pay more at the gas pump, their electricity bills are going up, they can’t afford a home,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican serving his first term in Sacramento. “You’ve got more taxes, more regulations, more fees.”
But Democrats faced a major schism over the top priority for liberals in California, a proposal to establish a single-payer health care system. The measure passed the state Senate earlier this year, but Rendon shelved it over the summer over concerns about funding mechanisms.
The bill is backed by the California Nurses Association, the largest union that backed Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign. Don Nielsen, the union’s government relations director, said the issue is becoming a “litmus test” for Democrats in Sacramento.
“California is going to lead the way, and we’ve led the way up to this point,” Nielsen said. “This is mainstream.”
“There are still limits to California’s liberalism, and that was best shown earlier this year when the Speaker, at great personal peril, had to put to death the unfunded single-payer bill,” Kousser said. “We’re not yet Bernie Sanders’s America.”
Sixteen Democratic senators, including California’s Kamala Harris, co-sponsored a similar single-payer bill Sanders introduced on Wednesday. Kousser said the difference between the Senate’s version and California’s version is that the California bill actually has a chance of becoming law — and that chance is what raised concerns in Sacramento.
In the U.S. Senate, Democrats “know it’s a free vote. They know it’s not going to become reality in any kind of near-time horizon. Whereas Democrats in California had to say ‘no’ to a similar measure when faced with the challenges of implementing and taking responsibility for it,” he said. “There are things you can do when the politics are symbolic, and you have to pull back from them when it’s going to be your party that’s responsible for putting it into policy.”
Some Assembly Democrats predicted the measure, which could cost as much as $400 billion to implement, would make a comeback next year.
“We will, out of the Assembly, have a solution for California that we’ll be able to pay for, and more importantly that Californians will accept,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), who heads the progressive caucus.
The Chino Valley Democratic Club has agreed to partner with Senator Connie Leyva SD20 to collect clothing and sundry items to help the homeless in the region. Club members are encouraged to bring clothing items, socks, canned food, and blankets to the Holiday Potluck Party event on Dec. 10. Location available on request.
The receiving organizaton, T.O.U.C.H Ministries of Ontario, is recognized by Senator Leyva as “non-profit of the year”. T.O.U.C.H. Ministries provides hot meals and backpacks with food, clothes, hygiene items and other important items to homeless persons. The ministry also focuses on providing services to seniors, at-risk youth, recently released inmates and the working poor. Contact Marian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-591-1864 for more info.
Congressional District 35- Norma Torres
Congressional District 39- Gil Cisneros
CA Assembly District 52- Freddie Rodriguez
Melissa Fazli — whose accusation of sexual misappropriateness (not illegality, not even misconduct) against CA-39 candidate Gil Cisneros has been the lifeline of Young Kim’s campaign in that district — has withdrawn those accusations after a meeting they held with Cisneros’s former top rival for the nomination Andy Thorburn and Democratic activist Mirvette Judeh. As OJB concluded at the time, the exchange between them seems to have been a misunderstanding over the political, as opposed to sexual, meaning of the phrase “what will you do for me?” — at a time when Fazli’s endorsement could have been critical to Cisneros’s candidacy and it was clearly an endorsement, rather than a fling , that was on Cisneros’s mind.
I don’t doubt Fazli’s sincerity in her interpretation of what was said to her, nor her courage in bringing it forward if that’s what she believed — all I can say is that sometimes it pays to check with a few more people prior to making an incendiary accusation without the a sufficiently compelling factual foundation to back it up. (The contrast between what Fazli said happened, and the factual allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez against Brett Kavanaugh, could not be more stark.) There are worse things that can be said about someone that they’re perhaps a bit too innocent to recognize the difference between a sexual proposition and a political one — and even if she was mistaken it testifies to Fazli’s character that she had the spine to bring it up if she believed it was wrong.
But now there has to be a reckoning — and we need apologies from House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, whose PAC has unleashed vicious and distorted attacks on Cisneros, and Cisneros’s opponent Young Kim. who has stood silently ready to benefit from them.
Republicans have been getting hammered this year over sexual scandals — wait, let’s not call them “sexual,” but “sexual violence and assault” scandals — from Donald Trump to Brett Kavanaugh and beyond. Polling and voting results have shown that it has been killing them particularly among suburban women — that is, women in districts like CA-39, which centers on Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, and Chino Hills. So Fazli’s accusations have been like manna from heaven for them. But let’s be very clear what those accusations are — and what the Republican campaign twisted them into.
Fazli said that Cisneros tried to invite himself into her hotel room at the state party convention (true) ,she believed seeking sex (not true, it was to talk to her about an endorsement), and that when she asked him for a campaign contribution his answer was that he conditioned such a contribution on either her giving him sexual access or spying for him (not true at all).
In its widely distributed ads in support of the Young Kim campaign , Paul Ryan’s PAC interprets this with these words: as “sexually harassing a fellow California Democrat, inviting himself to her hotel room and demanding sex in exchange for campaign funds.”
The word “demand” is carefully chosen there. In law, a “demand” is “an indication of what one will accept in exchange for an offer.” If Cisneros said “I will donate to your campaign if you endorse me, he was in that limited technical sense issuing a “demand” — but it was not a “you do this OR ELSE” kind of a demand, it was a “you do X and in return I will do Y” kind of demand, something that was entirely benign.
Paul Ryan — with Young Kim’s complicity — cunningly made this sound like “an attempt to extort sex from her — in other words, “sexual assault.”
Get it? Sex was supposedly part of the “demand” in a quid pro quo bargain — and therefore (some repulsive political advertiser realized) they could technically accuse Cisneros of “demanding sex.”
You know, “demanding sex” — like putting a knife to someone’s throat and demanding sex from them. That’s what they were (with some evident success!) implying to suburban voters.
All I can say to that is:
By saying that Cisneros “demanded sex” from Fazli — knowing that people would not construe that phrase in its non-contractual bargaining sense, but as in “YOU GIVE ME SEX NOW!” — Paul Ryan’s team trumped up not only a #metoo accusation out of nothing, but an accusation of violent sexual assault. (That Cisneros is Mexican, and therefore this would evoke Donald Trump’s infamous claim that “Mexicans are rapists,” Paul Ryan’s team no doubt saw as just a subtle racist bonus.
And — LET’S NOT FORGET — Young Kim sat there silently in implicit approval of it all!
Here’s what has to happen now:
(1) Paul Ryan’s team has to fire whoever in his PAC came up with and approved the disgusting “he demanded sex from her” assertion.
(2) They must IMMEDIATELY cancel all ads making this vile and bogus claim.
(3) They should run ads retracting and apologizing for that claim.
(4) Young Kim has to apologize for sitting idly by while someone was defamed in one of the worst possible ways just so she could win an election by their lying to voters.
Young Kim’s campaign office’s phone number is 562-448-3003. You can call her and ask her if she will apologize and demand that the PAC cancel the vile and bogus ads it has been running to help her. You can also ask her to do this on Twitter: @YoungKimCD39. (And if you’d like to ask her if she believes the women accusing Brett Kavanaugh, given the standard used in accepting Fazli’s accusations of actors that at their worse were magnitudes less serious, please do that too.)
[Cisneros’s press release appears in the first comment below.]
Updated June 06, 2018 02:27 PM
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory speech promised plenty as he moved into position Tuesday to become California’s next Democratic governor.
As it became clear that he and Republican John Cox would face off in November, he called for a universal health care system.
In outlining a broad plan for helping Californians struggling with the high cost of housing, he evoked American efforts after World War II to stabilize Western Europe.
“Guaranteed health care for all. A ‘Marshall Plan’ for affordable housing,” Newsom said. “A master plan for aging with dignity. A middle-class workforce strategy. A cradle-to-college promise for the next generation. An all-hands approach to ending child poverty.”
Newsom launched his political career in San Francisco as a moderate, business-friendly Democrat, but during his campaign to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, he has seized the left flank of the California Democratic Party.
He says he wants to take “audacious” and “bold” action on major issues affecting California, especially its housing affordability and homelessness crisis.
“No family should ever lack a roof over their heads,” Newsom said. “No child should ever be raised below the poverty line. No patient should ever be denied access to basic health care. And no Californian should ever have to choose between the three.”
Should the former San Francisco mayor fulfill expectations and become California’s next governor, he would bring with him a policy agenda more liberal than any other blue-state governor.
He wants health care for everyone, including immigrants in the country illegally. He supports universal preschool and at least two years of tuition-free community college. He wants to get rid of California’s cash bail system. He would seek to run the state’s energy grid solely on renewable energy.
Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, also wants to take on major policy initiatives, including ending early childhood poverty, ensuring access to affordable child care and working to end the gender pay gap.
It would not be the frugal path pursued by Brown, who over his last two terms leading the nation’s most populous state has brought California back from a recession, built a strong state budget with $9 billion in reserves and shepherded a booming economy that is now the fifth largest in the world.
Newsom’s biggest goals, on homelessness, health care and education, would be expensive, and Brown has warned the state can expect an economic downturn. To pay for government-financed single-payer health care alone, for example, Californians would be on the hook for huge tax increases to cover the estimated $400 billion price tag.
Cox was unapologetic about running with President Donald Trump’s endorsement in a heavily Democratic state.
“It wasn’t Donald Trump who made California the highest-taxed nation in the country, it was Gavin Newsom and the Democrats,” Cox told his supporters on Tuesday evening. “It wasn’t Donald Trump who piled on the fees, taxes, the regulations, the delay that has made our housing the most expensive in the country …”
Newsom acknowledged in an interview with reporters last week that tackling his full platform would be costly, saying about his health care goals that “you can’t do that in your first legislative session.” He said he’d first establish a blueprint outlining the direction he wants to take California on universal health care, early childhood education, homelessness and housing, and build a budget around those priorities over time.
On homelessness, he said he’d first start by appointing a secretary-level “homelessness czar” to coordinate the delivery of mental health, welfare and other services to the needy, fund jail programs to prevent inmates from becoming homeless upon release and support so-called homelessness “navigation centers” — centrally located hubs across the state where homeless people could access a broad spectrum of services.
Newsom also wants to establish a more business-friendly environment for homebuilders to help spearhead his goal of constructing 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. A core part of his goal is creating incentives for developers to put new projects near public transit, further transforming major metropolitan areas into job centers where people don’t have to rely on car travel for work.
“I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Newsom said last week. “I think demonstrably you’ll see what those priorities are when that budget is submitted to the Legislature, and that process happens days after you get sworn in.”
Editors Note: When this story was originally published, there were 12 propositions on the November ballot. The California Supreme Court blocked Proposition 9, the Three Californias initiative, from the ballot on July 18.
Californians will vote on a dozen ballot measures this fall, a decline from the 17 that appeared during the last presidential election — but still a testament to the fact that “citizens love” the initiative process, according to one expert.
“Poll after poll shows that not only citizens support strongly the initiative process, but they believe they do a better job making policy then the Legislature and the governor,” said Wesley Hussey, an associate professor of political science at Sacramento State.
Lawmakers finalized the Nov. 6 propositions on Thursday, and state voters will decide on everything from rent control and the transportation tax to splitting the Golden State into three and even getting rid of daylight saving.
As usual, getting up to speed on a dozen measures will be a heavy lift for voters. But the scope of the propositions isn’t likely to diminish in future years. As Hussey explained, the way that initiatives get on the ballot likely won’t change any time soon, because voters “are pretty much against any major, or even somewhat minor, reform to the process.”
Here’s a roundup of Nov. 6 propositions:
Affordable Housing And Home-Purchase Assistance For Veterans: If passed, Proposition 1 would authorize the sale of $4 billion in bonds to finance existing housing programs, as well as infrastructure work and grants to match a local housing trust fund dollar-to-dollar. One-quarter of this $4 billion would help veterans purchase farms, homes and mobile homes.
Using Mental Health Dollars For Low-Income Housing: Proposition 2 would free up $2 billion in bonds to pay to build housing that includes mental health services for chronically homeless people. The original bonds are part of the Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004 to provide mental health services to Californians. Legislators tried to appropriate this money two years ago, but that law has been tied up in courts ever since.
Revisiting Daylight Saving: California lawmakers have flirted with ditching seasonal time changes for years. Proposition 7 itself would not make permanent or abolish daylight saving time. The measure repeals a 1949 voter-approved proposition that established Daylight Saving Time in California. This would leave it up to the Legislature to decide how the state’s time should be set. The Legislature could then establish year-round Daylight Saving Time in California with a two-thirds vote and Congressional approval. The driving force behind the measure, San Jose Democratic Assemblymember Kansen Chu, has been fighting to end spring-forward/fall-back time changes for the past few years with no success — until his bill ended up on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk this week. Brown signed it, and now, it’s up to the voters to decide whether or not the Legislature gets the chance to end seasonal time changes.
Authorizing Bonds for Safe Drinking Water and Water Infrastructure: With Proposition 3 voters will decide whether to authorize $8.87 billion in state bonds for water infrastructure. The majority of the revenue would go to safe drinking-water projects and watershed and fishery improvements, with money also going to habitat protection, dam repairs and other programs. The proposition also gives priority to disadvantaged communities, and would require some projects to come up with matching funds from non-state sources.
Granting Property Tax Break to Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons: Proposition 5 would grant a property tax break to property owners who are over 55 years old or severely disabled. The measure would allow them to transfer their property tax to a replacement property of equal or lesser value in a specific county.
Limiting Dialysis Clinic Revenue: If passed, Proposition 8 would put a cap how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge patients, and would impose penalties for excessive bills. The measure would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on their method of payment. In a push for accountability, clinics would also be required to report annually to the state costs, revenue and charges
Update: The California Supreme Court blocked this measure from appearing on the ballot on July 18, 2018.
Proposition 9 is just the first step in a long — many say improbable — process toward potentially splitting California into three separate states. If passed, the measure would require the governor to send the proposal to Congress for a vote, and only with congressional approval would California be allowed to split itself. The proposed divisions would create three new states: Northern California, which would encompass Sacramento, San Francisco and the 40 northern counties of California; Southern California, which would include the counties along the Eastern and Southern borders, and California, which would be made up of Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The measure is the brainchild of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, who previously tried (and failed) to get a measure proposing to split California into six states on the 2016 ballot. Both of California’s two gubernatorial candidates have said that they oppose the initiative.
Increasing Requirements for Farm Animal Confinement: Proposition 12 bans the sale of meat derived from animals and their food products that are confined within certain areas. By 2021, the measure would also require that all eggs sold in California be from hens raised according to the United Egg Producers’ 2017 cage free guidelines. California passed a similar measure in 2008, Proposition 2, which banned the sale of certain animal products if the animals were confined in spaces that left them unable to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Prop. 12 would take this one step further by laying out specific square footage requirements.
Repealing the Gas Tax: Lawmakers’ increase to the gas tax has been contentious since the moment it passed last year. Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman was recalled in June in part over his “yes” vote on the tax. Proposition 6 would allow voters to repeal the gas tax increase that currently generates revenue to pay for improvements to local roads, state highways and public transportation. Prop. 81 would also require that the Legislature submit any future tax or fee on gas or diesel fuel, or on those driving a vehicle on public highways, to voters. Gov. Jerry Brown came out hard against the measure when it qualified for the ballot, calling it “flawed and dangerous” in a tweet.
Allowing Local Authorities to Enact Rent Control: A measure seeking to give local authorities more freedom to enact rent control policies will be on the November ballot. Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and its ban on certain types of rent control, including protections for tenants of single-family homes, condos and apartments built after 1995.
Requiring Ambulance Employees To Be On-Call During Breaks: If passed, Proposition 11 would require ambulance workers at for-profit medical-response companies to be on-call during meal and rest breaks, meaning that they would need to be reachable by mobile device in case of emergency. Workers would be required to be paid at their regular rate during these breaks, and interrupted breaks would not be counted toward the breaks a worker is required to receive per shift. The measure also requires companies to provide additional specialized training to ambulance workers, and to offer mental health services to employees. Companies would be required to either offer 10 paid mental health services per year, or to offer medical insurance that covers long-term mental health care, if the company provides health insurance.
Authorizing Bonds for Children’s Hospitals: Proposition 4 would approve $1.5 billion of bonds to build, expand, renovate and equip qualifying children’s hospitals. The majority of funds would go to private nonprofit hospitals that provide services to children who qualify for certain government programs. This includes children with special needs who qualify for the for the California Children’s Services program. The rest of the funds would be allocated to the University of California’s acute care children’s clinics, and public and private nonprofit hospitals that serve qualified children.
Correction: Previous versions of this story misnamed Proposition 12, which establishes space requirements for farm animals, and misstated some of the details of Propositions 7 and 12. The story has been updated with the correct information.