Barr Letter. Little help for Trump. Subpoenas coming

Jerrold Nadler

Republicans tried to pretend the Barr Letter somehow exonerated Trump. It didn’t. Trump’s poll numbers are mostly unchanged. Shame on MSM which mostly, at least at first, simply echoed White House propaganda that Trump was somehow now in the clear. Several of his top people have gone to prison. Others, like Maria Butina, will be sentenced shortly. Mueller assigned prosecutions to other jurisdictions. So, this is hardly over. Especially since Republicans really don’t want anyone to see the full report. Now why do you suppose that would be?

House Committees will get the full unredacted Mueller Report. DoJ will be made to understand there are three equal branches of the federal government, and legislative is one of them

NYT OpEd this AM by Jerrold L. Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who will issue subpoenas to get the report.

We require the report, first, because Congress, not the attorney general, has a duty under the Constitution to determine whether wrongdoing has occurred. The special counsel declined to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on the question of obstruction, but it is not the attorney general’s job to step in and substitute his judgment for the special counsel’s.

That responsibility falls to Congress — and specifically to the House Judiciary Committee — as it has in every similar investigation in modern history.

He tells us, for instance, that he declined to charge the president with obstruction in part because there was no underlying crime to obstruct.

Did he discuss that conclusion with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who, while a federal prosecutor, routinely charged individuals with obstruction without charging the underlying crime? Did the attorney general forget that the special counsel indicted 37 other people, including the president’s campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman and former national security adviser, for various crimes, including conspiracy against the United States?

Given an opportunity to win over public opinion after the Barr Letter, Trump instead got defensive and threw bombs instead. It’s almost like that’s all that Trump ever knows how to do.

The public largely doesn’t trust the White House on Russia, and the White House’s attempts at spin may have backfired.

Given that the mainstream media headlines were initially quite favorable for Trump, it could have been a moment for the White House to demonstrate more magnanimity than usual, and to improve trust by appearing eager for the release of the full Mueller report.

Instead, as is often the case, the White House’s strategy in the wake of the Barr letter seemed largely aimed at pleasing their base and dunking on Democrats rather than winning over swing voters.

Reducing climate change caused by agriculture

Climate change. GHG emissions by sector

Agriculture accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and thus to contributes heavily to climate change. Deforestation for agriculture is particularly damaging. It is responsible for 11% of all GHG emissions, as it releases carbon stored in the soil and eliminates carbon sinks in forests and grasslands. GHG are also released when fertilizer, either natural or synthetic comes in contact with soil.

Obviously we have to eat. And everyone is going to become vegan, they just aren’t. Thus, new solutions are needed. The Gates Foundation is now funding and investing in multiple ways to reduce emissions per product in agriculture. They’ve already put tens of billions into eliminating malaria and improving third world sanitation. Hopefully this initiative will help create major advances in agriculture too.

Bill Gates:

I’m involved with a group called Breakthrough Energy Ventures that is backing a number of creative solutions to tackle the problem. Because every country and every culture approaches food production differently, there are a lot of different ways to do that. Here are some of the ones I find most interesting:

Microscopic nitrogen factories that replace fertilizer. Genetically modified microbes to provide plants with the nitrogen they need without the excess greenhouse gases that synthetic alternatives produce.

Longer roots that store more carbon. Kernza has developed a new strain of wheat with longer and denser roots, so it can absorb more carbon dioxide from soil
Lab-grown palm oil brewed from microbes.

Palm oil has earned its bad environmental reputation. C16 Biosciences has created an alternative to natural palm oil by using fermentation to brew a synthetic version.
An invisible barrier that helps food stay fresh longer.

Approximately one-third of all food produced gets lost or wasted every year. Apeel and Cambridge Crops—are working on protective skins that keep food fresh longer. The coating is invisible and doesn’t affect the taste at all.

Collective crop storage. Not all innovations are technological: Babban Gona is a novel business model in Nigeria that helps farmers hold onto their crops longer.

I wish agricultural innovation got as much attention as the impact on climate change from electricity, because its success is just as critical to stopping climate change. Future changes in income and population may come close to doubling the current environmental impacts of the food system. I believe creative, scalable solutions to this challenge are out there, and now is the time to invest in their R&D.

Rose Mary Woods, stonewalling presidents, rule of law

Rose Mary Woods stretch. Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum.
Rose Mary Woods stretch. Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum.

Trumplings are braying about how the Mueller Report totally exonerates Trump. Except 1) That’s not what Mueller said, 2) Barr is being super evasive about releasing the full report, which is totally not suspicious at all, 3) I think we have a Rose Mary Woods moment coming.

Rose Mary Woods was Richard Nixon’s personal secretary during Watergate. All conversations in the Oval Office were taped then. Nixon did everything he could to block release of the tapes. He stonewalled, screamed he was innocent, slimed accusers, evaded, yet in the end was forced to release them. They were damning and led to the end of his presidency. There was an 18.5 minute gap on one tape. Rose Mary Woods in a comically absurd episode, posed stretched across her desk, showing how she might have “accidentally” erased part of the tape.She was roundly mocked and ridiculed.

The House is going to get the full Mueller Report. And since Trump and Barr are trying so hard to prevent its full release, I’m guessing something quite damning is in it. Just like with the Watergate tapes. The ending will be the same.

Fiercely loyal to Nixon, Woods claimed responsibility in a 1974 grand jury testimony for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes of the 18?1?2 minute gap in a June 20, 1972, audio tape. Her demonstration of how this might have occurred—which depended upon her stretching to simultaneously press controls several feet apart (what the press dubbed the “Rose Mary Stretch”)—was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate. The contents of the gap remain unknown. Later forensic analysis in 2003 determined that the tape had been erased in several segments—at least five, and perhaps as many as nine.

In late July 1974, the White House released the subpoenaed tapes. One of those tapes was the so-called “smoking gun” tape, from June 23, 1972, six days after the Watergate break-in. In that tape, Nixon agrees that administration officials should approach Richard Helms, Director of the CIA, and Vernon A. Walters, Deputy Director, and ask them to request L. Patrick Gray, Acting Director of the FBI, to halt the Bureau’s investigation into the Watergate break-in on the grounds that it was a national security matter. The special prosecutor felt that Nixon, in so agreeing, had entered into a criminal conspiracy whose goal was the obstruction of justice.

Barr letter is misdirection, evasion, will be challenged in House

The Barr letter seems a masterful piece of misdirection which won’t hold up under serious examination once the report is made public. And it must be made public. In an extraordinary statement House chairs Schiff, Nadler, and Cummings said “The shortcomings in [Barr’s] letter are the very reason our nation has a system of separation of powers.” Pelosi and Schumer were even more blunt; Barr “is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.” These statements are as blunt as DC ever gets. They are saying Barr is biased in favor of Trump and cannot be trusted.

In a truly deranged twisting of justice, the Barr letter says Trump could not commit obstruction of justice if the underlying conspiracy wasn’t shown to be true. This is complete rubbish. Nixon was forced to resign and members of his inner circle went to prison because of obstruction. Barr also takes a deliberately narrow view of what constitutes the Russian government.

This is headed to the House Judiciary Committee. It and other committees will open massive ongoing investigations into Trump and associates. Schiff says he expects Trump family members will be indicted. At the very least, the investigations will badly weaken Trump if he runs in 2020 (I don’t think he will) and could topple him before that if it can demonstrate Trump’s obvious corruption.

As for Barr’s weasley report:

Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report on the Russia investigation, and Republicans are gloating. They claim a four-page letter from Attorney General William Barr, purporting to summarize the report, exonerates President Donald Trump. They’re wrong. The letter says the Justice Department won’t prosecute Trump, but it reaches that conclusion by tailoring legal standards to protect the president. Here’s a list of Barr’s weasel words and what they’re hiding.

Read the article.

Other contacts between Trump associates and Russians, such as Trump’s Moscow tower project and Michael Flynn’s secret talks about easing sanctions, have been set aside.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” That’s Barr’s opinion, not Mueller’s.

Barr simply defines whatever Trump did as nonobstructive, as long as an underlying conspiracy with Russia isn’t proved. If Trump asked then–FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of Flynn, that’s fine.

Colorado River drought contingency plan done, minus one member

Salton Sea

As is only fitting for Colorado River drought planning, a ginormous deal has been agreed upon even as its biggest user water, the Imperial Irrigation District in California was ignored. What’s that you say, how can an agricultural water user in California be entitled so much Colorado River water, and why were they ignored? Well, welcome to the convoluted politics of the “Law of the River” which governs who gets what Colorado River water.

The IID uses about 20% of all Colorado River water because its water rights are so ancient that they outrank all other users. Farms and ranches in the area have been dumping agricultural waste into the Salton Sea for decades because, hey, it’s a fine place for toxic runoff. Except it’s not. The Salton Sea is a large salt water inland lake and it’s in perilous shape. It routinely has huge fish kills and if it keeps degenerating then it could dry up. That would mean toxic dust would then blow all over southern California.

So, the IID decided to stonewall saying they wouldn’t agree to a Colorado River contingency plan that impacts 40 million people in multiple states unless someone came up with $200 million to fix the Salton Sea. In other words, after decades of reckless behavior, they banged their rattle on the high chair and demanded someone else clean up their mess. Their bluff didn’t work. The enormous Metropolitan Water District of southern California intervened, said they’d contribute to voluntary water cuts. The deal was agreed upon, and IID can go suck their agricultural fumes.

Am I being harsh on IID? Yes. However they absolutely have a point. Something needs to be done to save the Salton Sea and they don’t have the cash to do it.

The Imperial Irrigation District was written out of California’s plan when another powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, pledged to contribute most of the state’s voluntary water cuts.

Imperial had said it would not commit to the drought plan unless it secured $200 million in federal funding to help restore a massive, briny lake southeast of Los Angeles known as the Salton Sea. The district also accused others in the Colorado River basin of reneging on a promise to cross the finish line together.

“IID has one agenda, to be part of a DCP that treats the Salton Sea with the dignity and due consideration it deserves, not as its first casualty,” Imperial board President Erik Ortega said.