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‘There is a real danger’ Bill Barr could get the courts to make Trump totally immune from oversight: Ex-DOJ official

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On Monday, The New Yorker profiled Attorney General William Barr, and identified him as the key figure behind the Trump administration’s ideological drive to concentrate power within the executive branch — a battle that has intensified as impeachment proceedings have heated up and is gearing up to play out in federal courts.

“Barr maintains that Article II of the Constitution gives a President control of all executive-branch agencies, without restriction,” wrote The New Yorker‘s David Rohde. “In practice, this means that Trump would be within his rights to oversee an investigation into his own misconduct.”

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Republican attorney Chuck Cooper argues that Barr’s ideology is the culmination of a drive that began during the Reagan years. “He is building and extending on a foundation. It was popularized and very robustly advanced by the Meese Justice Department,” said Cooper. Meese, a controversial attorney general who also had a broad view of executive power, was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Trump.

Some legal experts, like Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes, believe Barr’s moves to weaken congressional oversight of executive power will be largely repudiated by the courts, particularly the administration’s stance on executive privilege. “The idea that the President gets to assert executive privilege over material that has already been made public is laughable,” said Wittes. “I think they are very likely to lose a lot of this.”

But others, like George W. Bush’s former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, believe Barr has a chance of victory. “The ultimate question is what happens when these reach the Supreme Court, which has two Trump appointees,” said Ayer. “There is a real danger that he succeeds … This, I believe, was his opportunity — the opportunity of a lifetime — to make major progress on advancing his vision of an all-powerful Chief Executive.”

And NYU Law professor Stephen Gillers warns that this battle is not just playing out in the courts, but in the staffing of the FBI and Justice Department itself — by creating such a hostile environment for the old guard of career public servants that they leave and make room for partisan loyalists. Gillers fears this trend will accelerate if Trump is re-elected in 2020.

“One way that Trump seeks to maximize control is minimizing the disclosure of information and undermining the credibility of information,” said Gillers. “The Congress needs information to do its job, and the President has frozen it out — especially in the impeachment investigation. Another check is the media, and the President’s use of the term ‘fake news’ can cause people to lose faith in the media. What remains are the courts, which are slow and cumbersome.”

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Paul Krugman debunks Trump’s bogus claims about the ‘Obama economy’

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that his policies alone are responsible for the economic recovery in the United States, claiming that he inherited a broken economy from his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. But Trump’s claims are wildly misleading, and economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman debunked some of them this week in a Twitter thread.

Krugman tweeted, “So, I see that Trump is bad-mouthing the Obama economy. Two points. First, there was absolutely no break in economic trends after the 2016 election.”

The 66-year-old Krugman posted a chart showing GDP (gross domestic product) from 2010 (when Obama was serving his first term) to 2020 (three years into Trump’s presidency). GDP, the chart shows, gradually improved during Obama’s eight-year presidency.

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Right-wing extremists using Facebook to recruit for ‘boogaloo’ attacks on liberals and cops: report

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A right-wing extremist movement is recruiting on social media to target liberals and law enforcement in a violent uprising called the "boogaloo."

The loosely organized movement is trolling for members on mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter, in addition to 4chan and other fringe sites, to promote a second Civil War, reported NBC News.

“When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police, and public officials, we need to take their words seriously,” said Paul Goldenberg, of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

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2020 Election

Bernie Sanders was so close to a primary against Obama in 2011 that Dems were ‘absolutely panicked’: report

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In an article for The Atlantic this Wednesday, Edward-Isaac Dovere recounts the time that Bernie Sanders tried to primary Barack Obama -- a move that Sanders was close to achieving that former Democratic Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.

The event, which hasn't been previously reported, took place in the summer of 2011 and reportedly had the Obama campaign "absolutely panicked"

While Sanders' Obama plan never went through, the relationship between the two has been strained ever since. "Now Obama, the beloved former leader of the Democratic Party, and Sanders, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, are facing a new and especially fraught period in their relationship," Dovere writes. "To Obama, Sanders is a lot of what’s wrong with Democrats: unrelenting, unrealistic, so deep in his own fight that he doesn’t see how many people disagree with him or that he’s turning off people who should be his allies. To Sanders, it’s Obama who represents a lot of what’s wrong with Democrats: overly compromising, and so obsessed with what isn’t possible that he’s lost all sense of what is."

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