One of the few possibly good things to come out of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 was a government entity that existed solely to protect people from predatory businesses. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and it’s new Trump-appointed leader, Mick Mulvaney is unsurprisingly, a real piece of shit.
ProPublica’s Paul Kiel:
Last week, it dropped a lawsuit against a group of payday lenders that charged interest rates that touched 950 percent. The companies were associated with a Native American tribe, a common dodge the industry has used because it allows lenders to evade state interest-rate caps.
But in an email to CFPB staff today, Mulvaney laid out what the bureau’s new approach should be. He had “no intent in shutting down the Bureau,” he wrote, but said that his leadership would contrast sharply with Cordray’s approach of aggressive enforcement. The CFPB worked for all taxpayers, he wrote, and that includes “those who take loans, and those who make them” and “bringing the full weight of the federal government down on the necks of the people we serve should be something that we do only reluctantly.” Going forward, he wrote, there would be “more formal rulemaking on which financial institutions can rely, and less regulation by enforcement.”
Mulvaney also received big campaign contributions from the predatory lending industry. Of course.
If this pisses you off, too, you might consider joining a local DSA chapter.
Chuck Jones writing in the Washington Post:
At the Carrier plant on the west side of Indianapolis, we’re coming up on a bitter anniversary. One year ago this week, President-elect Donald Trump stood before hundreds of cheering workers and declared that he had saved our jobs from moving to Mexico. It was a symbolic moment that cemented Trump’s campaign image as a working-class champion — a blue-collar billionaire who would stand with workers, not CEOs.
I have been a worker at the Rexnord plant in Indianapolis for 48 years, and president of United Steel Workers Local 1999 for more than 30. As the leader of the union representing the Carrier workers, I was part of the negotiations with the company regarding the coming layoffs when Trump intervened. Standing in front of the president-elect at Carrier during Trump’s first victory rally after the 2016 election, I realized that he was delivering a powerful message of hope not only to Carrier workers, but also to all working people in America: You finally have a president who will fight for the interests of ordinary workers, Trump seemed to say.
A year later, we feel betrayed. Carrier has announced that more than 600 workers are being laid off, with the last line scheduled to work their final shift right after the holidays.
The workers at Carrier aren’t the only ones who feel victimized by Trump’s false promises. United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, is laying off another 700 workers right up the road from the Carrier plant in Huntington. And Rexnord, another plant in Indianapolis, just closed its doors, too. Workers at both plants hoped that Trump would come to the rescue, but he never showed up.
For the first time the only controversy around a Wolfenstein game isn’t about the violence, nobody cares about that anymore. It’s from the republicans who feel like they’re being attacked for supporting fascists like Trump.
GQ’s Joshua Rivera:
In moving the action to America, Bjork and MachineGames weren’t really out to comment on the current political climate. Work on The New Colossus began in 2014, and it’s a sequel to a game that began development in 2011. But current events have conspired to give the themes The New Colossus sets out to explore an uncomfortable relevance.
The game is reviewing well too, although I am not sure if this means that this is the end of Bethesda’s experiment with denying pre-release access to writers for review.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out now for Steam on Windows as well as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
This is the single most important issue for many Americans today. The Russian interference into our elections is bad, but this could be imminently devastating to anyone who needs their health care to actually function. Ezra Klein:
If all this sounds a bit in the weeds, here’s the bottom line: Low-income Americans get less money to buy crummier insurance. In the GOP bill, the measure of what is affordable has gone up and the definition of what counts as decent insurance has gone down.
Gene B. Sperling and Michael Shapiro go over how this version of the health bill could destroy coverage for pre-existing conditions in The Atlantic:
As they argue for the bill, Republicans are going to claim that it will not allow insurance plans to discriminate against people because they have a pre-existing condition. But that just isn’t the case. The Republican plan may not allow insurers to discriminate against a pre-existing condition through the front door, but they’ve created a backdoor way in.
Call your senators.
David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson:
Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.
There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.
Great work, I’d love to see everything from the campaign as well but I’m very happy to see a major news organization calling the Liar-in-Chief a liar instead of using mealy-mouthed words to pretend that it isn’t intentional.
Dan Alexander with Forbes:
The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.
That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.
Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.
And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
Our days aren’t complete without the latest aside in the ongoing disaster. This time it’s a secret phone line that Trump’s son-in-law wanted to set up between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin using Russia’s technology. Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller for the Washington Post:
Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.
The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.
The Post’s Robert Costa also has the scoop on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request for “…all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch…” from the Trump campaign:
The request to Trump’s political operatives represents the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. That investigation is separate from the federal probe being led by the Justice Department’s special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.
Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg for the Times:
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
This morning, the Times’ Michael S. Schmidt reported that Comey left a fantastic paper trail before he was fired:
President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
There’s also this incredible buried lede:
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
Absolutely insane series of events.
Yesterday the Washington Post’s Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe reported that Trump gave classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in front of the Russian press during their jovial meeting at the White House:
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.
“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
This isn’t the first time the embarrassment has mishandled classified information, but the follow-up was so flawed.
The LA Times’ Michael A. Memoli and Noah Bierman quoting the national security advisor:
McMaster said Trump “wasn’t even aware” of the source of the information and again called “the premise” of a Washington Post report that Trump had improperly shared highly classified intelligence “false.”
This morning, the embarrassment confirmed the original article:
That isn’t how that works. The president casually gave classified information to a foreign adversary in front of their state media.