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By Robert A. Vella

Twas three nights before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for a very big louse.

Trump’s ire

From:  Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President’s actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.

The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign — something Trump fiercely maintains isn’t an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn’t being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

From:  Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve chairman Powell: Bloomberg

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing sources.

Trump’s frustration with the U.S. central bank chief intensified after this week’s interest rate increase and months of stock-market losses, the news agency said, citing four unidentified people familiar with the matter.

[…]

The Dow had the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, while the Nasdaq <.IXIC> sank into bear market territory.

Any attempt to fire Powell could be seen as undermining the central bank’s independence from the administration.

Asylum ruling

From:  Supreme Court Won’t Revive Trump Policy Limiting Asylum

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused on Friday to allow the Trump administration to immediately enforce its new policy of denying asylum to migrants who illegally cross the Mexican border.

The Supreme Court’s two-sentence order revealed a new dynamic at the court, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the four-member liberal wing in refusing to immediately reinstate the administration’s asylum policy.

North Carolina election fraud

From:  North Carolina asked feds to open vote fraud case last year

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s top elections official issued an urgent plea nearly two years ago for the Trump administration to file criminal charges against the man now at the center of ballot fraud allegations that have thrown a 2018 congressional race into turmoil.

N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned in a January 2017 letter obtained by The Associated Press that those involved in illegally harvesting absentee ballots in rural Bladen County would likely do it again if they weren’t prosecuted. Josh Lawson, the top lawyer for the elections board, said Friday that Strach’s memo was followed less than a month later with the first of several in-person meetings during which state investigators provided FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence accusing Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. and others of criminal activity.

[…]

At the time, there was only an acting U.S. attorney in office. Later in 2017, President Donald Trump’s appointee arrived, but took no action to prosecute the matter. Instead he focused on a different priority — prosecuting a handful of non-citizens who had allegedly voted.

A spokesman for Robert J. Higdon, Jr., who took over as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in September 2017, has declined to comment on why no charges were filed following the state’s criminal referrals against Dowless and other Bladen County political operatives.

Veterans Affairs privatization mess

From:  The VA’s Private Care Program Gave Companies Billions and Vets Longer Waits

Here’s what has actually happened in the four years since the government began sending more veterans to private care: longer waits for appointments and, a new analysis of VA claims data by ProPublica and PolitiFact shows, higher costs for taxpayers.

Intelligence report on 2018 midterm elections

From:  Intelligence agencies see no sign midterms were compromised by foreign actors

The intelligence community has not found any indication that US election infrastructure was compromised during this year’s midterm elections, but countries like Russia, China and Iran continued to target the US with influence and messaging campaigns meant to further their strategic interests, the director of national intelligence said Friday.

10 thoughts on “Saturday blurbs: Trump’s ire, Asylum ruling, NC election fraud, VA privatization mess, Intel rpt on midterms

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