Everything lawmakers needed to know about Trump and Russia was in the public record!

Robert Mueller
YURI GRIPAS / REUTERS

No matter what Attorney General William Barr reveals—or doesn’t—about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, everything Congress needed to know about Donald Trump and Russia was already clear.

October 7, 2016, was the near-death experience of the Trump campaign. That Friday afternoon, David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post reported on an Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasts of grabbing women. The shock battered the campaign. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan declared publicly that he was “sickened” by Trump, canceled a joint appearance with him, and declined to answer whether he still supported the Trump candidacy.

Less than one hour later, WikiLeaks dumped its largest and most damaging trove of hacked emails to and from Democratic operatives. It included two emails sent years before to the future Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The messages criticized the teachings of the Catholic Church on women and sexuality. The Trump campaign instantly seized on them as proof of the Clinton campaign’s supposed anti-Catholic animus—a useful weapon to help erase memories of Trump’s Twitter attacks on the pope earlier in 2016.

The huge dump took a while to be analyzed and absorbed. It did not immediately displace the salacious Access Hollywood story from the top of the news.

But by the second week of October, WikiLeaks was profoundly engaging the U.S. voting public. Using the Google Trends tool, the website Five Thirty Eight tracked how public interest in the hacked emails surged. Not coincidentally, it seems, Clinton’s poll lead over Trump peaked on October 17, and steadily shrank thereafter. FBI Director James Comey’s October 28 letter reopening the Clinton email case delivered the final blow to the reeling Clinton campaign.

This timeline is one thing to keep in mind as details emerge from the Mueller report.

It’s not a theory but a matter of historical record that Vladimir Putin’s Russia hacked American emails and used them to help elect Trump to the presidency.

It’s not a theory but a matter of historical record that agents purporting to represent Putin’s Russia approached the Trump campaign to ask whether help would be welcome, to which Donald Trump Jr. replied, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

It’s not a theory but a matter of historical record that Donald Trump publicly welcomed this help: “I love WikiLeaks!”

It’s solid political science that this help from Russia via WikiLeaks was crucial, possibly decisive, to Trump’s success in the Electoral College in November 2016.

Mueller was asked to investigate how much the Trump campaign knew in advance about this Russian help. Along the way, the special counsel also apparently became interested in the question of why Putin was so eager for a Trump presidency. Did Putin have some kind of prior hold over Trump, financial or otherwise?

For two years, Americans and the world have speculated and argued about the inquiry. But along the way, we have often lost sight of the core truth of the Trump presidency: For all its many dark secrets, there have never been any real mysteries about the Trump-Russia story.

The president of the United States was helped into his job by clandestine Russian attacks on the American political process. That core truth is surrounded by other disturbing probabilities, such as the likelihood that Putin even now is exerting leverage over Trump in some way.

Along the way, we have also lost sight of something that I warned about here in The Atlantic in May 2017: It’s very possible that Trump himself broke no criminal law in accepting campaign help from Putin. This ultra-legalistic nation expects wrongdoing to take the form of prosecutable crimes—and justice to occur in a courtroom.

But many wrongs are not crimes. And many things that are crimes are not prosecutable for one reason or another—for instance, when a statute of limitations expires.

Mueller served his country by advancing the inquiry into Trump-Russia at a time when Trump’s enablers in Congress sought to cover up for the president. Since the midterm elections, Congress has regained its independence and can recover its integrity. Mueller’s full report will surely inform and enlighten Americans about many details of what exactly happened in 2016. But the lack of further indictments by Mueller underscores that the job of protecting the country against the Russia-compromised Trump presidency belongs to Congress. It always did.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. In 2001 and 2002, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

The Case For Obstruction of Justice Against Trump!

Robert Reich
March 24, 2019

Despite what Trump and his enablers claim, there’s strong evidence that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. Here are the facts.

The Case For Obstruction of Justice Against Trump

Despite what Trump and his enablers claim, there's strong evidence that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. Here are the facts.

Posted by Robert Reich on Sunday, March 24, 2019

Barr’s summary not only glosses over the findings and leaves holes in Mueller’s report!

Robert Reich

March 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr has released a 4-page summary of Robert Mueller’s report. Barr’s summary not only glosses over the findings and leaves holes in Mueller’s report, but it also buries a critical detail. Barr has decided not bring obstruction of justice charges against Trump for trying to impede in the investigation. This despite the fact that Trump himself admitted he fired FBI director James Comey to stop the Russia investigation.

Here’s the bottom-line: 1) The full report must be made public. 2) Mueller’s records must be preserved. 3) Congress must have unfettered access to all the findings. 4) Congress must investigate when Barr decided not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. The American people deserve more than a summary released on a Sunday afternoon.

The sugar industry has contributed to the demise of the Everglades for decades!

Everglades Trust is  asking for donations.

March 22, 2019

The sugar industry has contributed to the demise of the Everglades for decades, using the ecosystem as a giant septic tank and blocking the natural flow of water from Lake O. To save them, and all who call them home, we must reestablish the southern flow and get clean freshwater sent to the right place at the right time.

Meet the residents of America’s Everglades

The sugar industry has contributed to the demise of the Everglades for decades, using the ecosystem as a giant septic tank and blocking the natural flow of water from Lake O. To save them, and all who call them home, we must reestablish the southern flow and get clean freshwater sent to the right place at the right time.

Posted by Everglades-Trust on Friday, March 22, 2019

Trump EPA Rule Would Free Corporations to Pollute Nation’s Water!

“As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development.”

by Jake Johnson, Staff writer       December 7, 2018

“As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development,” The Intercept’s Sharon Lerner reported on Friday. (Photo: wonderisland/Shutterstock)

In a move environmentalists are warning will seriously endanger drinking water and wildlife nationwide, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reportedly gearing up to hand yet another gift to big polluters by drastically curtailing the number of waterways and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act.

“The rollback will take us backward. And most people don’t remember just how bad that was.”
—Daniel Estrin, Waterkeeper Alliance

“As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development,” The Intercept‘s Sharon Lerner reported on Friday, citing an analysis by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “The new Trump administration rule imposes the most substantial restrictions on the Clean Water Act since its passage in 1972.”

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said if the new rule—which is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday—takes effect, corporations will be free to “dump as much crap into” rivers and streams as they want.

“For some parts of the country, it’s a complete wiping away of the Clean Water Act,” Hartl concluded.

The Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which the Trump administration has long been aiming to roll back, was designed to limit pollution in most of the nation’s large bodies of water in an effort to protect drinking water from contamination.

The Trump EPA is attempting to reinterpret the WOTUS rule in a way that allows oil giants, real estate developers, and golf course owners to freely pollute rivers and streams. Critics have pointed out that Trump’s businesses may stand to profit from any weakening of the WOTUS rule.

According to E&E News, which obtained a copy of EPA talking points, the Trump administration’s rule “will erase federal protections from streams that flow only following rainfall, as well as wetlands not physically connected to larger waterways.”

“The exact number of wetlands and waterways losing federal protections won’t be known until the full, detailed proposal is released,” E&E News reported on Thursday.

Daniel Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director at Waterkeeper Alliance, argued that the success of the Clean Water Act—while far from complete—has led many to forget how contaminated and visibly polluted the nation’s water supply was before the law.

“The rollback will take us backward,” Estrin warned of the EPA’s proposed rule. “And most people don’t remember just how bad that was.”

Finland, the happiest country in the world!

Veterans Against the GOP

March 24, 2019

Amazing what a country can do with long term vision and goals of caring for its citizens first, before subsidizing its industries. From what I’ve seen most of the industrial funding goes into university R&D, with industry’s having to buy into the research to get benefits from it. Works really well, with many jointly funded university chairs and labs.

Finland is the happiest country in the world

So what's their secret? 📕 Read more: https://wef.ch/2ulOGUB

Posted by World Economic Forum on Thursday, March 21, 2019

Trump’s Defense Dept. spent millions on lobsters, booze, and golf carts!

NowThis Politics

March 24, 2019

Trump’s Defense Dept. spent millions on lobsters, booze, and golf carts to avoid future budget cuts

Trump Defense Department Blew Millions To Avoid End of Year Budget Cuts

Trump's Defense Dept. spent millions on lobsters, booze, and golf carts to avoid future budget cuts

Posted by NowThis Politics on Sunday, March 24, 2019

Firefighting Goats!

Mental Floss posted an episode of 60 Second Docs Animal Style. 

March 7, 2019

Stop a fire, employ a goat. [via 60 Second Docs Animal Style]

Firefighting Goats

Stop a fire, employ a goat. [via 60 Second Docs Animal Style]

Posted by Mental Floss on Thursday, March 7, 2019

This is how a real president should act!

NowThis Politics

March 24, 2019

‘That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power.’ — Listen to Obama’s moving tribute to John McCain

Barack Obama Urges Americans To Follow John McCain's Example

'That's perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power.' — Listen to Obama's moving tribute to John McCain

Posted by NowThis Politics on Saturday, March 23, 2019

How much does it cost to buy organics at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Walmart?

CNBC – make it

Here’s how much it costs to buy organics at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Walmart

Megan Leonhardt         March 22, 2019

Source: Megan Leonhardt | CNBC

Almost half of Americans buy organic food at least some of the time, according to a recent poll by organic produce company Earthbound Farm. And millennials are particularly enthusiastic, with one in five saying they purchase organic products all the time, the poll finds.

But organic food can be a lot pricier than the conventional kind. Last year, shoppers paid roughly 7.5 percent more for organic items, according to Nielsen Research. For example, the company found, organic milk sells for $4.76 on average, almost double the average cost of regular milk at $2.59.

So which stores generally have the lowest prices for organic food? CNBC Make It worked with grocery price comparison app Basket to determine the average national cost of organics at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods. We compared store brands wherever possible.

After crunching the numbers on 19 everyday grocery items — ranging from bananas and canned tomato sauce to white bread and peanut butter — Aldi came out ahead in more categories where all four retailers sold a similar product.

Aldi offered store-brand organic versions of 13 of the 19 items we sought, and its prices were competitive. Its whole frozen strawberries, for example, cost $.17 an ounce, significantly less than frozen strawberries at the other three stores.

Overall, those 13 organic products would set you back a total of $37 at Aldi, compared to $50 for comparable items from Whole Foods.

Why Aldi narrowly beats out the competition

Whether you’re shopping at your local grocery store or a big box store, you’re probably looking for value — good quality at a good price, says John Karolefski, grocery store analyst and editor of Grocery Stories. If you shop at Aldi, you know the grocery chain often delivers.

“Aldi, happily, has a lot of good quality, good-tasting products at good prices,” Karolefski tells CNBC Make It. “It’s one of the reasons they’ve been so successful in the U.S.”

“The best place you can buy organics, and they’re continuing to roll out even more, is probably Aldi,” agrees Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru.

Part of the secret to the store’s low prices is that the vast majority of their products are private label, so you’re not paying for the marketing and advertising that many brands must use to attract customers.

It’s a strategy similar to the one used by fan-favorite Trader Joe’s, which also offers a lot of good prices on the organic products we compared. It’s worth noting that Aldi U.S. and Trader Joe’s are independently operated companies with distinct but once-related corporate parents. It could be said that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are “estranged cousins.”

“Aldi, happily, has a lot of good quality, good-tasting products at good prices.”-John Karolefski, editor of Grocery Stories

Aldi’s SimplyNature brand offers shoppers great value on organic products. Elsewhere, those “can be pricey, but you can get them for a good value at Aldi,” Karolefski says.

In addition to being organic, frugal shopping expert Lauren Greutman reports, the SimplyNature products do not contain over 125 ingredients that experts have deemed questionable, including artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids, nitrates and propylene glycol.

Yet Aldi’s selection of organic products, while growing, remains somewhat limited. So if you’re shopping at this grocery chain, you may need to visit another store to get everything on your shopping list.