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Prosecutions for death threats against US politicians spiked last year

Three cases of defendants who threatened the life of political figures came to various stages of resolution in federal courtrooms last week. In one, an upstate New York man was convicted of threatening to kill former president Barack Obama and congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Democrat. In another, a California man was sentenced for threatening the lives of Obama, former presidents George H.W. A Secret Service spokesman declined to say how many open threats they are investigating against the president and the other individuals the agency protects. He noted that in the weeks, months and years following the 9/11 attacks of 2001, there was a surge in prosecutions of defendants with links to Muslim-majority countries. “These arrests subsided in the Obama years as US strategy changed focus, and Obama shifted focus to extrajudicial assassinations overseas,” Loadenthal tells Quartz. It’s the highest rate in the past two years, but down 8% as compared to 2013. “You go backwards and look at past incidents—problems at work, behavioral problems, does this person have access to firearms?” Agents then assign a risk rating to each person who make a threat that is discovered. That’s when Trump fans began appearing at Harrigan’s San Diego, California home, threatening to kill him and his family. A few days later, the Secret Service showed up.

Anyone else feeling the Mueller report blues?

We should have learned from the time that we believed we were on the verge of the first female president – the derivative T-shirts, the chilling champagne – only to find that our hopes had been dashed by a racist misogynist demagogue. Yet here we are again, a mass of deflated blue balloons, as the Monday morning headlines confirming our worst fears. Robert Mueller has issued his report. Sometimes, I was: as the investigation dragged on and on, with no indictments of the Trump family and no interviews with the president himself, it was hard to hold on to hope that the release of the report would be Trump’s Watergate. But had he uncovered that the president was treasonous it seemed unlikely that he’d go through all of the evidence before alerting the nation. Two years was a very long time to maintain a heartfelt belief in the possibilities of the Mueller report. Optimism flagged. We all saw his conduct in his Finland press conference with Vladimir Putin, and we all know as well that he’s worked to obfuscate the details of their other meetings. But even if the Mueller report had turned out to indicate impeachable culpability on the part of the president, the complex problems at the heart of our current political crises would remain. Regardless of the role of Russia in the last election, Trump’s success is symptom of a racist and corrupt nation.

Ex-Trump adviser takes aim at Alexander Downer after Mueller report

“The witch-hunt is over,” Papadopoulos said. Declassification of surveillance material is paramount.” Alexander Downer's secret meeting with FBI led to Trump-Russia inquiry – report Read more Papadopoulos was one of Mueller’s first prosecutions. The 31-year-old from Chicago pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 14 days’ prison for lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian nationals and Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud. Downer, in an interview with The Australian newspaper last year, claimed Papadopoulos had told him Russia might use “damaging” material they had on Trump presidential rival Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election. Downer said he passed the information back to Canberra “the following day or a day or two”. Papadopoulos’s book, Deep State Target, will be released on Tuesday and details his account of dealings with Downer, Thompson, Trump and others. In September last year Trump wrote on Twitter “key allies” had asked him not to release classified FBI documents related to the probe into Russian influence. “While the (Mueller) report is likely mired in classified material, and most will likely never be revealed to the public, I do hope what is public is what Alexander Downer’s and Erika Thompson’s roles were and why Downer has become so protected,” Papadopoulos said. Downer, Thompson and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was contacted for comment on Papadopoulos’s claims. Downer has previously shrugged off Papadopoulos’s spying accusation, telling BBC radio last year: “I’m not going to get into these sort of allegations.”

On Politics: With Mueller Inquiry Over, Trump Goes on the Offensive

Good Tuesday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today. _____________________ • President Trump and his Republican allies vowed to pursue and even punish those responsible for the Russia investigation now that the special counsel’s inquiry has concluded without implicating him. Mr. Trump said some of them had done “treasonous” things. • The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, reached no conclusion about whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice — it was Attorney General William P. Barr who cleared him of that offense. Democrats seized on that, portraying Mr. Barr’s decision as a hasty, dubious intervention on behalf of the president who installed him. • The tight-lipped Mr. Mueller is poised to return to civilian life, still a figure of mystery and fascination. • The outcome of the special counsel’s inquiry means the 2020 race is likely to revolve around Mr. Trump’s performance in office, not how he won in the first place. • Democrats won control of the House largely by arguing that Congress needs to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and lower the cost of health care. Today, Democratic leaders are set to unveil an incremental approach to fulfilling those promises.

Russia on Mueller report: ‘It has proved what we already knew’

Russian officials have welcomed the results of the Mueller report, which found that neither Donald Trump nor any of his aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 US election, but said they doubted relations between Russia and the west would improve as a result. “The long-awaited Mueller report has proved what we in Russia knew long ago: there was no conspiracy between Trump or any member of his team and the Kremlin,” wrote Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Federation Council’s committee on foreign affairs. Blaming US media bias and anti-Russian sentiment, Kosachev and other senior officials said that they expected the United States to increase pressure on Russia and were bracing for new sanctions. No collusion, plenty of corruption: Trump is not in the clear | Richard Wolffe Read more “We in Russia have nothing to celebrate, the [meddling] accusations against us remain,” Kosachev wrote, saying he expected US officials to argue: “Yes, there was no collusion, but sanctions against Russia still need to be strengthened.” Russia was ready to improve relations with the US, Kosachev wrote, but the question remained: “Is Trump ready to take that risk?” He said Russia hawks, including the national security adviser, John Bolton, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, made that unlikely. Kosachev’s remarks were echoed by other senior lawmakers. But Democrats will still scream that there was collusion.” The head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee said: “All of these myths about the infamous Russian meddling was simply invented as a pretext to continue pressure against our country.” The Kremlin declined to comment on the report on Monday. “We haven’t seen the report itself,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the situation would “get worse before it gets worse”, with focus shifting from elections meddling to other points of conflict such as Ukraine and Venezuela. “Too much has been said about the Kremlin to back down now. Instead, other issues will become more pronounced, from US election meddling to Crimea to Ukraine to Venezuela.” “Sanctions will follow in spades from US Congress,” he added.

Takeaways from the Mueller report summary

Trump and his allies are already seizing on that line of the summary released Sunday, and it's undoubtedly a major headline pushing back on two years of Democrats claiming they had evidence of collusion. Barr's summary includes a footnote that explains how Mueller defined coordination: an "agreement -- tacit or express -- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference." The Justice Department decided not to prosecute the President for obstructing justice with his behavior -- both public and in private -- but Trump isn't fully cleared. Mueller said he thoroughly investigated the obstruction question, though he didn't interview Trump. CNN reported Sunday that Mueller had deliberated at length about subpoenaing Trump before deciding not to make a formal request within the Justice Department. "In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before ‪@HouseJudiciary‬ in the near future," the New York Democrat tweeted Sunday. The four-page summary Barr released on Sunday is written in a lawyerly way in many cases, especially when it comes to the decisions made over the probe into obstruction of justice. Of course, Republicans have also said they want Mueller's report to be released and several have said the report should be out so that Democrats cannot claim the Justice Department is hiding anything. There are still many pages of documentation of Mueller's work -- plus discussions of his and the attorney general's decisions and findings -- that aren't yet public. (The ongoing investigations are "several" and other prosecutorial offices will be considering "further action," Barr wrote.)

Bruno Latour on Politics in the New Climatic Regime

In his new book, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity), Latour argues that climate change, by calling into question the once-universal dream of “development” and globalization, is leaving a huge void in our consciousness. How to orient yourself in politics?” Humanity no longer has a shared framework of “becoming modern,” says Latour. The remaining nation-states of the world, meanwhile, have no clear path in a fractured, divided world for constructing a shared vision. As the claims of modernity and globalized capitalism fall apart, revealed as ecologically and economically catastrophic, it has opened up an empty space that we don’t know how to fill. It is also shattering the idea of the Local as a haven of sequestered safety, morality, and order. The earth can no longer be ignored as a powerful autonomous, living force in human affairs. Latour argues that a new “third attractor” is gradually arising to harness political energies and revamp political alignments.The new attractor is based on a commitment to healing the earth and changing the dynamics of politics itself. In short, climate change is mooting many of the premises of modern consciousness itself. This attractor escapes the fantasies of the Global and Local by frankly recognizing the biophysical realities of the living earth as our destiny and mission. Throughout the book, he cites the need for humanity to find “a place to land” – a way to escape the fantasies of modernity and to become more entangled with the biophysical life of the earth.

The great political parachute

Sure, the market for Democratic presidential candidates is getting a little saturated. Because there's almost never a downside to running. The candidates of the crowded fields in the last few presidential elections — even the also-rans — almost always came out ahead or, at worst, ended up in the same place. No Democrat will say they're running for something else, like vice president or cabinet secretary. But that's where some of them will end up, if the Democratic nominee beats President Trump. If Trump wins, some of them are young enough to give it another try in four years. And if that doesn't happen, they can always become a cable news talking head. A quick look at the "whatever happened to them" file: Hillary Clinton (2008) became Barack Obama's secretary of state before moving on to that other presidential race. Joe Biden (2008) became his vice president. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul (2016) all went back to the Senate.

Kushner, Inc review: Jared, Ivanka Trump and the rise of the American kakistocracy

As the reality that Kushner received his White House security clearance the same way he got into Harvard sinks in – “Daddy” pulled some very expensive strings – his popularity will not be rebounding anytime soon. Ambition. In Ward’s telling, Charlie Kushner, Jared Kushner’s father, dreamed of becoming America’s Jewish Joe Kennedy, Ivanka Trump fantasizes about being president and Donald Trump almost wishes Ivanka could have been his first lady. Unlike Jared, Josh comes across as possessing a light touch, talented and ready to defy his parents. Like Ivanka Trump, Kloss converted to Judaism. Trump and Kushner were having none of that. Bannon resisted, and noted that if Trump fired Comey the director would come to look like J Edgar Hoover, a legend. The Book of Genesis tells the story of Isaac and Rebekah’s sons, Esau and Jacob. Fathers can get things wrong. Josh and Kloss must be smirking.

The politics of “collusion delusion”

With Robert Mueller's delivery of his report, and word from the Justice Department that he would have no more indictments, President Trump's legal team believes the immediate threat to the presidency has passed. What we’re hearing: "Sounds like it's over for us but of course it’s not over until it’s over," Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers, texted me. "Cautious optimism. Still watchful waiting." No one named "Trump" will be indicted by the special counsel. But remember that, as Axios has outlined, what Mueller revealed in the course of his investigation was "highly damning and highly detailed." And remember that Trump's campaign chairman is behind bars, perhaps for life, and his longtime political fixer is going to prison. And numerous other federal state investigations are picking up steam. Over on MSNBC, Neal K. Katyal, acting solicitor general under President Obama, told Brian Williams: "Today what happened was the end of the beginning." There are two forms of "collusion delusion": The Trump/Fox victory dance because no one new was indicted for collusion or corruption involving Russia — and therefore claims of "witch hunts" and innocence were vindicated.
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