Current Events and Bob Mueller’s Second Act

Today the Senate extended the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, which I wonder would have happened had Jon Stewart not so thoroughly and publicly shamed them into doing it.

On the other hand, the “administration” has announced it wants to change eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program.

It is the administration’s latest step to clamp down on the food stamps program, which covers 38 million Americans, and other public assistance services. It wants to require more poor people to work for SNAP benefits, and it is looking to change the way the poverty threshold is calculated, a move that could strip many low-income residents of their federal benefits over time.

This change could take benefits away from 3 million people. The “administration” says this is for their own good.

The administration claims the proposal will move participants “towards self-sufficiency,” a common refrain among Republicans when citing reasons for slashing security net benefits.

It always amuses me when people who inherited wealth, or married into it (see Mitch McConnell), or otherwise became financially comfortable without having to work all that hard for it decide the problem with the poor is that they’re lazy. See also Trump’s new food stamp proposal weaponizes government against poor people by Paul Waldman.

Speaking of wastes of protoplasm — the creature invoked Article II again.

President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that Article 2 in the Constitution gives him carte blanche to do anything he wants.

Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.

“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”

It’s like Article II is his new favorite toy. He’s so happy that there’s a section of the Constitution that explicitly spells out his powers, but he’s too stupid to read it to find out that it barely gives him any.

Tomorrow Robert Mueller is supposed to testify publicly to Congress. Even though I think it’s necessary, I am ambivalent about what it might achieve. On one hand–Greg Sargent thinks Mueller’s testimony really could damage Trump.

He [Trump] and his aides keep robotically repeating that Democrats want a “do over” of the Mueller probe, thus pushing the idea — which Trump just tweeted — that the report didn’t produce any damning revelations.

The obvious game here is to frame the hearings as leaving Democrats with only the last ditch hope of prodding Mueller into revealing new information — and to spin any failure to make that happen as a fizzle for Democrats and a victory for Trump.

In reality, if Democrats can simply bring to life what Mueller did document — and convey that to a national audience — that alone will be a real victory, and an important public service.

What might that look like? Former FBI director James B. Comey has suggested asking direct questions designed to get Mueller to reiterate his findings.

This would create video and new headlines to bring the findings of the report back to public attention, and that alone would be helpful. And I suspect that’s the best we can hope for.

an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, writes that Congress need only ask three simple yes-or-no questions:

Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”

First, did your report find there was no collusion?

Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?

Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

That’s it. That’s the ballgame. It makes no difference if there are 20 questioners or two when Mr. Mueller appears before two House committees on Wednesday. All of this speculation about whether Mr. Mueller will go beyond the four corners of his report is largely a waste of time, with one asterisk. The report itself is deeply damning to Mr. Trump, elevating him to the rare president who has been credibly documented as committing federal crimes while sitting in office.

But this is Congress we’re talking about. You can’t trust any of them to not blow it.

You’ve probably head that the Justice Department has told Mueller he is not allowed to say anything not already stated in the report. People who know Mueller say he will probably adhere to this. I know that if I were in the same situation I’d be telling the Bill Barr to kiss my ass, but that’s me.