Archives for the month of: February, 2019

From the Los Angeles Times:

 

The Los Angeles Board of Education has voted unanimously to place a parcel tax on the June 4 ballot in hopes of capitalizing on a recent teachers’ strike that attracted broad support for local schools.

If approved, the tax is projected to raise about $500 million a year, enough to close all or most of the gap between what the district is spending and the revenue it receives from state and federal sources.

By the way, this is a good opportunity for Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and Richard Riordan, among others, to show how much they care about the kids. Support higher taxes.

 

Whats it like to go to a school in a neighborhood where violence and murder happen often?

Sonali Kohli and Iris Lee write about kids growing up in dangerous neighborhoods. How does it affect the survivors? Some suffer physical wounds, all suffer psychological  wounds.

https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-edu-school-safety-deaths-nearby/

Gun control would help. Gun confiscation would help too. These young people need to be protected.

”Jaleyah Collier had just said goodbye to Kevin Cleveland outside a doughnut shop a few blocks from Hawkins High School on a spring afternoon in 2017. Get home safe, she told him before walking away.

“Minutes later someone drove into an alley nearby, got out of the car and asked Kevin, 17, and two others about their gang affiliation. The gunman then sprayed them with at least 10 rounds, killing Kevin and injuring the others.

“Jaleyah, then a high school sophomore, barely had time to grieve when a month later, her best friend, Alex Lomeli, 18, was shot and killed when someone tried to rob a market about a mile from the same high school, located at 60th and Hoover streets.

“In the early hours of Mother’s Day 2018, two other teens Jaleyah was close to, Monyae Jackson and La’marrion Upchurch, were walking home with friends, when they were fatally shot near Dymally High School.

“Each of Jaleyah’s friends was killed within walking distance of public high schools in Los Angeles.

“You don’t know when it’s going to be a person’s last day,” said Jaleyah, a senior at the Community Health Advocates School, one of three small schools on the Hawkins campus. “[Kevin] woke up not knowing.”

Allies who met at the Oakland conference of the Network for Public Educare are petitioning to regulate charter schools so they don’t harm public schools.

 

Dear Friend of Public Education:

On behalf of Educators for Democratic Schools, and Wellstone Democratic Club Education Committee (both active in Oakland) we are writing again to those who participated in the California Caucus of the NPE conference and others interested in Charter School reform to enlist your support for reform of the Charter School Act. We are about to launch a statewide petition for the following specific changes to the Act:

 

  1. Add adverse fiscal impact as a basis on which districts may reject charter applications.

 

  1. Give locally elected school boards the sole authority to approve and renew charter school petitions.

 

  1. Require charter schools to enroll students with disabilities, including those with the most severe disabilities, English Language Learners, and newcomers, in equal proportion to the enrollment of these groups of students in the district in which the charter operates.

 

  1. Apply to charter school board members the same prohibition of conflicts of interest as apply to public school boards.

 

  1. Require charter schools to be more accountable and transparent and not force school districts to have to cede control of their facilities to charter schools.

 

You can sign the petition today by going to CharterLawReform.com.

 

We also created a suggested cover email for you here but if you want to create your own personal cover even better: Open in Docs

 

We are hoping that tomorrow each of you will join each of us and many other organizers throughout the state to send the petition out to all your friends, families, networks and organizations and ask them to sign as well.  Once someone signs and inserts their address it will automatically be directed to their state Senator and Assembly member as well as every member of the Education Committees of both bodies and the Governor.

 

Thank you in advance for your help and support!

 

David Weintraub, on behalf of

Educators for Democratic Schools

Wellstone Democratic Club Education Committee

 

The National Education Policy Center asks whether the tide has turned against vouchers.

i would argue in response to their question that there was never a tide favoring vouchers except among politicians who took campaign contributions from voucher supporters or who ideologically hate everything public.

No public referendum on vouchers has ever endorsed them. The latest was in Arizona in 2018, where two-thirds of voters opposed vouchers while re-electing a rightwing governor funded by the Koch machine.

Vouchers lost in Florida in 2012, despite the support of Jeb Bush, and despite the fact that the referendum was deceptively called a vote on “religious liberty.”

Vouchers lost in deep red Utah in 2007, overwhelmingly.

Indiana has the nation’s most expansive voucher program, but only 3.5% of kidsebrolled and most had never attended public schools. They were religious families looking for public. Only for their religious education.

NEPC sees other reasons toquestion the appeal or feasibility of vouchers.

 

“Late last year in Montana, the State Supreme Court struck down the state’s three-year-old neovoucher program, ruling against the constitutionality of tax-credit-funded voucher law because it funded private, religious education.

”In November in Arizona, voters rejected the proposed expansion of Empowerment Scholar- ship Accounts, state tax dollars that parents can use for home schooling, private schooling and other educational expenses. An audit by the state’s attorney general subsequently found that parents had misspent or attempted to misspend the funds on such expenses as cosmet- ics, non-educational music albums, and entry into a seasonal haunted house.

“A couple years before that, the Supreme Court in Nevada concluded that the state’s “Educa- tion Savings Account” voucher plan violated the Nevada constitution because of a funding mechanism that drew money away from public schools.

”In Colorado, in 2017, a slate of school board candidates funded by the American Federation of Teachers ousted a set of Koch-backed opponents who introduced a pilot school voucher program in a conservative Denver suburb.

“And at the national level, the Republican-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may have the (almost certainly unintended) consequence of substantially reducing federal tax benefits for wealthy donors to neovoucher programs. Internal Revenue Service guidance on the matter is expected any day now, according to Carl Davis, a tax policy expert who is the research di- rector at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.”

 

Academic research has converged on a consensus: Kids who take vouchers get lower test scores.

Vouchers are on life support but they hang around because state courts packed with rightwing judges decided to ignore the plain language of their state constitutions.

They aren’t dead. But they drain money from public schools where there are certified teachers and where kids are not indoctrinated to Bible Belt theories.

 

 

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The newly appointed chair of the California State Board of Education Linda Darling-Hammond spoke to the national conference of the American Association of School Administrators (the School Superintendents Association) and denounced the American reliance on high-stakes testing as a reform strategy.

If America wants to be the world leader in education, then it should look to other countries as a model for success, says Linda Darling-Hammond, a leading educational researcher, in her Thought Leader session Thursday at the AASA national conference.

Countries such as Finland and Singapore have been among the highest-scoring countries in international comparisons. Unlike the United States, these countries provide broad support for children’s welfare, said Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto, Calif.

“They take care of children. Health care is usually universal. There is income security and (state-paid) preschool,” she told a room full of superintendents, education advocates and business leaders at the AASA conference. In effect, those countries educate “the whole child,” she said.

Darling-Hammond was the keynote speaker for the AASA Sobol Lecture, named for the late New York education leader Thomas Sobol, a vehement supporter of equity in education and for involving parents and teachers in policymaking decisions affecting classrooms. Sobol passed away in 2015.

With more than 25 books and research articles on education, Darling-Hammond is influential in policymaking circles. Once rumored to be a potential candidate to lead the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration, Darling-Hammond this week was named by Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead the California State Board of Education. The board’s responsibilities range from school financing to testing requirements and teaching standards. She is the first African-American woman to take the helm.

Darling-Hammond noted that economic conditions for many families and schools nationwide worsened in the post-No Child Left Behind policy era, particularly in the wake of the 2007 Great Recession. Wages stagnated. Poverty is on the rise and more families are homeless now, she said. Such factors contribute to poor educational outcomes.

The Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind policy, passed by Congress in 2002, increased testing requirements for schools nationwide and set penalties for schools that failed to demonstrate improvements in student achievement, she contended. Proponents then said the policy would hold teachers, schools and school districts accountable for closing gaps in student achievement, or they would risk federal funding cuts or even closure of failing schools.

The fallout is apparent. Schools began testing children more frequently. They music, art and even recess — despite neuroscientific research demonstrating that they are critical for a child’s emotional and social development, Darling-Hammond said.

“If all of that testing had been improving us, we would have been the highest achieving nation in the world,” she said.

Now, that’s the Linda Darling-Hammond we all know and love!

 

If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that little children need less screen time, not more.

In this alarming post, blogger Wrench in the Gears quotes from transcripts where some deep thinkers (including Nobelist James Heckman) discuss ways to lure the little ones online, to give them digital badges, and scheme to come up with the right ways to sit them in front of computers.

She begins:

“This is another post with clips culled from talks given at the Center for the Economics of Human Development’s working group, Measuring and Assessing Skills: Real Time Measurement of Cognition, Personality and Behavior. It was held at the University of Chicago in February 2018. I previously shared a segment called from “Math to Marksmanship” with Nobel Prize economist James Heckman, Gregory Chung of UCLA-CRESST and Jeremy Roberts consultant to PBS Kids.

“Below are ten additional excerpts from that talk. I watched all two hours and pulled highlights, so you don’t have to.  Topics covered include: game-based learning for pre-schoolers; how to get pre-readers to create online accounts; how digital games can be used to identify “Big Five” behavior traits; and a real doozy, Dr. Heckman’s half-joking suggestion that gamification and incentives of pornography for adults could encourage parents to have their children use online games more often. No, really.”

 

https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/06/30/incentivizing-pre-k-online-gaming-with-digital-sticker-books-and-pornography-for-the-adults-says-heckman-half-joking/

 

 

TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL D. COHEN COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

FEBRUARY 27, 2019

Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.

I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.

I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee’s questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.

I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.

Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a
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campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.
I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.
I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.
I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.
I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist.
He is a conman.
He is a cheat.
He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.
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I will explain each in a few moments.
I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:
• A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;
• Copies of financial statements for 2011 – 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;
• A copy of an article with Mr. Trump’s handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself – he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and
• Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.
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I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.
***
Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.
The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.
Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.
In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell
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me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project.
You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.
And so I lied about it, too – because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it
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clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.
****
Over the past two years, I have been smeared as “a rat” by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Dean Cohen.
I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, “you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe.” To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect you.
I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion – qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm’s way to do what they knew was right.
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That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad…I am sorry that I let you down.
As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3AM if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children’s friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.
Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.
For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.
It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.
For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.
***
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Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.
I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself — that you were somehow changing the world.
I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.
Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.
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Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”
He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.
I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.
But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.
A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.
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As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.
In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”
Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”
In private, he is even worse.
He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.
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While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.
And yet I continued to work for him.
Mr. Trump is a cheat.
As previously stated, I’m giving the Committee today three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.
It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.
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As I noted, I’m giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.
And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
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Mr. Trump is a conman.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.
I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford’s attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.
I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.
As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank
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account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.
The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
So picture this scene – in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I’m visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It’s truly awe-inspiring, he’s showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of…Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were Fed- Exed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.
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When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.
As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.
The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared “Let him show his records” after calling President Obama “a terrible student.”
The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.
When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back.
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During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now. And yet, I continued to work for him.
***
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.
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Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.”
What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the
world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.
I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on
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Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day — and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good…let me know.”
***
Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.
To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.
To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.
For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your “fixer,” Mr. Trump.
I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family. My testimony certainly does not diminish
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the pain I caused my family and friends – nothing can do that. And I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.
And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a “rat” for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.
As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family – only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.
I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family – and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.
I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent
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Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.
I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life.
But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.
Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee’s questions.
#####
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http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2019/02/oh-lorain-ceos-purge-announcement.html

Peter Greene wrote a brilliant essay about Ohio’s response to the economic collapse of Lorain, which wa to put a czar in charge of the public schools, with unlimited power to do as he wished without any oversight. That czar—David Hardy—has limited education experience, having gotten his start in TFA.

The teaching staff doesn’t like Mr. Hardy. They voted no-confidence in him.

He doesn’t like them either. He brought in another TFA guy and told the teachers in the high school that they had to reapply for their jobs.

In short, the staff is being purged.

if he fires everyone, do you think that TFA would staff the whole school? The whole district?

Wow, real disruption! TFA teachers know more than anyone else.

The big problem in Lorain seems to be democracy and experienced teachers.

Here is an excerpt:

Hardy’s public comments continue to be word salads of corporate gobbledegook.“It was a conversation that we had as a team to talk about the future to give our teachers space to ask questions and think through things they’re grappling with and make sure they understand the process that ensued,” Hardy said. “And to ensure we have a space to understand what challenges we’re facing and move forward.”

And

“We know that their lives and days are extremely busy, so we wanted to make sure it is something that allows them to showcase the wonderful things they already do and have conversations with the leadership team about being a part of this transformation,” he said. “Or maybe there are folks who decide they would like to be somewhere else in the district, then we would invite folks who are external to be a part of that selection process.

“But not until we have exhausted all of our opportunities to really talk to our teachers, to understand our teachers who are in this high school and ask them to be a part of what is necessary to move to the next level. At that point, our school leadership team will make decisions on who they would like to see be a part of Lorain High going into the 2019-2020 school year.”

It’s an astonishing parade of baloney, and it makes me angry for the teachers of Lorain just to read through this. Though it appears that there may be nobody madder than School Board President Mark Ballard, who argues in a letter sent Friday that Hardy should have to reapply for his own job. Nor did Ballard mince words when talking to the paper.

“Grades got worse, morale got worse, enrollment got worse,” Ballard said the district since Hardy took over 18 months ago. “… I think there’s probably about 60,000 people in the city of Lorain and he’s probably No. 60,001 that deserve that job based on how he’s been doing it.”

“What I think is he’s just going to go through his games,” Ballard said. “And the people who’s not buying into his program and dancing to his music, whether they’re right or wrong or whether they’re good at their jobs or not, he just wants them out of there so he can have additional puppets to do what he wants them to do.”

The state takeover of Lorain schools is turning into a clusterfarphegnugen of epic proportions. The idea of giving a CEO all the powers of a superintendent and a school board is a dumb idea. Giving that position to someone who lacks the experience and skills to even sort of manage it makes things exponentially worse. For Reformsters who think the corporate takeover CEO model has potential, Lorain is shaping up to be a model for how bad an idea that is, a sort of disproof of concept. We’ll keep following this tale as we wait to see just how bad things can get.

 

 

The New York Times published a remarkable piece of investigative reporting about Trump’s obsession with the Russia investigation and his efforts to stop it. The article is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. After it appeared, Trump tweeted that the Times is “the true enemy of the people.” The only media he likes are sycophants. He hates the First Amendment.

It is behind a pay wall. To read the whole story and see the graphics, you must subscribe. It is worth it.

 

WASHINGTON — As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.

Trying to install a perceived loyalist atop a widening inquiry is a familiar tactic for Mr. Trump, who has been struggling to beat back the investigations that have consumed his presidency. His efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump’s public war on the inquiry has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Mr. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Mr. Mueller is on a “witch hunt” and has adopted the language of Mafia bosses by calling those who cooperate with the special counsel “rats.” His lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. The president’s allies in Congress and the conservative news media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to subvert a democratically elected president

An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

White House lawyers wrote a confidential memo expressing concern about the president’s staff peddling misleading information in public about the firing of Michael T. Flynn, the Trump administration’s first national security adviser. Mr. Trump had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about a campaign to attack the Mueller investigation. And there was the episode when he asked his attorney general about putting Mr. Berman in charge of the Manhattan investigation.

Mr. Whitaker, who this month told a congressional committee that Mr. Trump had never pressured him over the various investigations, is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for possible perjury.

On Tuesday, after The Times article published, Mr. Trump denied that he had asked Mr. Whitaker if Mr. Berman could be put in charge of the investigation. “No, I don’t know who gave you that, that’s more fake news,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s a lot of fake news out there. No, I didn’t.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday that the White House had not asked Mr. Whitaker to interfere in the investigations. “Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,’” said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”

The story of Mr. Trump’s attempts to defang the investigations has been voluminously covered in the news media, to such a degree that many Americans have lost track of how unusual his behavior is. But fusing the strands reveals an extraordinary story of a president who has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and who has turned the effort into an obsession. Mr. Trump has done it with the same tactics he once used in his business empire: demanding fierce loyalty from employees, applying pressure tactics to keep people in line and protecting the brand — himself — at all costs.

It is a public relations strategy as much as a legal strategy — a campaign to create a narrative of a president hounded by his “deep state” foes. The new Democratic majority in the House, and the prospect of a wave of investigations on Capitol Hill this year, will test whether the strategy shores up Mr. Trump’s political support or puts his presidency in greater peril. The president has spent much of his time venting publicly about there being “no collusion” with Russia before the 2016 election, which has diverted attention from a growing body of evidence that he has tried to impede the various investigations.

Trump Has Publicly Attacked the Russia Investigation More Than 1,100 Times

President Trump has publicly criticized federal investigations, opening him up to possible obstruction of justice charges.

Julie O’Sullivan, a criminal law professor at Georgetown University, said she believed there was ample public evidence that Mr. Trump had the “corrupt intent” to try to derail the Mueller investigation, the legal standard for an obstruction of justice case.

But this is far from a routine criminal investigation, she said, and Mr. Mueller will have to make judgments about the effect on the country of making a criminal case against the president. Democrats in the House have said they will wait for Mr. Mueller to finish his work before making a decision about whether the president’s behavior warrants impeachment.

In addition to the Mueller investigation, there are at least two other federal inquiries that touch the president and his advisers — the Manhattan investigation focused on the hush money payments made by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and an inquiry examining the flow of foreign money to the Trump inaugural committee.

The president’s defenders counter that most of Mr. Trump’s actions under scrutiny fall under his authority as the head of the executive branch. They argue that the Constitution gives the president sweeping powers to hire and fire, to start and stop law enforcement proceedings, and to grant presidential pardons to friends and allies. A sitting American president cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department policy.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers add this novel response: The president has been public about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and other federal inquiries, so he is hardly engaged in a conspiracy. He fired one F.B.I. director and considered firing his replacement. He humiliated his first attorney general for being unable to “control” the Russia investigation and installed a replacement, Mr. Whitaker, who has told people he believed his job was to protect the president. But that, they say, is Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

In other words, the president’s brazen public behavior might be his best defense.

The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign aided the effort presented the new White House with its first crisis after only 25 days. The president immediately tried to contain the damage.

It was Feb. 14, 2017, and Mr. Trump and his advisers were in the Oval Office debating how to explain the resignation of Mr. Flynn, the national security adviser, the previous night. Mr. Flynn, who had been a top campaign adviser to Mr. Trump, was under investigation by the F.B.I. for his contacts with Russians and secret foreign lobbying efforts for Turkey.

The Justice Department had already raised questions that Mr. Flynn might be subject to blackmail by the Russians for misleading White House officials about the Russian contacts, and inside the White House there was a palpable fear that the Russia investigation could consume the early months of a new administration.

As the group in the Oval Office talked, one of Mr. Trump’s advisers mentioned in passing what Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, then the speaker of the House, had told reporters — that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Flynn to resign.

It was unclear where Mr. Ryan had gotten that information, but Mr. Trump seized on Mr. Ryan’s words. “That sounds better,” the president said, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Trump turned to the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, who was preparing to brief the news media.

“Say that,” Mr. Trump ordered.

But was that true? Mr. Spicer pressed.

“Say that I asked for his resignation,” Mr. Trump repeated.

“This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn,” Mr. Trump said over lunch that day, according to a new book by Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and a longtime Trump ally.

Mr. Christie was taken aback. “This Russia thing is far from over,” Mr. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Trump, who responded: “What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who was also at the lunch, chimed in, according to Mr. Christie’s book: “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing.”

As Mr. Trump was lunching with Mr. Christie, lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office met with Mr. Spicer about what he should say from the White House podium about what was a sensitive national security investigation. But when Mr. Spicer’s briefing began, the lawyers started hearing numerous misstatements — some bigger than others — and ended up compiling them all in a memo.

The lawyers’ main concern was that Mr. Spicer overstated how exhaustively the White House had investigated Mr. Flynn and that he said, wrongly, that administration lawyers had concluded there were no legal issues surrounding Mr. Flynn’s conduct.

Mr. Spicer later told people he stuck to talking points that he was given by the counsel’s office, and that White House lawyers expressed concern only about how he had described the thoroughness of the internal inquiry into Mr. Flynn. The memo written by the lawyers said that Mr. Spicer was presented with a longer list of his misstatements. The White House never publicly corrected the record.

Later that day, Mr. Trump confronted the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, in the Oval Office. The president told him that Mr. Spicer had done a great job explaining how the White House had handled the firing. Then he asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mr. Flynn, and said that Mr. Flynn was a good guy.

By March, Mr. Trump was in a rage that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from the Russia inquiry because investigators were looking into the campaign, of which Mr. Sessions had been a part. Mr. Trump was also growing increasingly frustrated with Mr. Comey, who refused to say publicly that the president was not under investigation.

Mr. Trump finally fired Mr. Comey in May. But the president and the White House gave conflicting accounts of their reasoning for the dismissal, which served only to exacerbate the president’s legal exposure.

A week after the firing, The Times disclosed that the president had asked Mr. Comey to end the Flynn investigation. The next day, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller, a Republican, as special counsel.

Instead of ending the Russia investigation by firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump had drastically raised the stakes.

Mr. Mueller’s appointment fueled Mr. Trump’s anger and what became increasingly reckless behavior — setting off a string of actions over the summer of 2017 that could end up as building blocks in a case by Congress that the president engaged in a broad effort to thwart the investigation.

On Twitter and in news media interviews, Mr. Trump tried to pressure investigators and undermine the credibility of potential witnesses in the Mueller investiga

He directed much of his venom at Mr. Sessions, who had recused himself in March from overseeing the Russia investigation because of contacts he had during the election with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The president humiliated Mr. Sessions at every turn, and stunned Washington when he said during an interview with The Times that he never would have named Mr. Sessions attorney general if he had known Mr. Sessions would step aside from the investigation.

Privately, Mr. Trump tried to remove Mr. Sessions — he said he wanted an attorney general who would protect him — but did not fire him, in part because White House aides dodged the president’s orders to demand his resignation. The president even called his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, over the Fourth of July weekend to ask him to pressure Mr. Sessions to resign. Mr. Lewandowski was noncommittal and never acted on the request.

Trump’s Public Attacks Against the Russia Investigation

President Trump has publicly criticized dozens of people and groups related to federal inquiries into contacts between his campaign and Russia, according to a New York Times analysis of nearly every public statement or Twitter post that he has made while in office.

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers also reached out that summer to the lawyers for two of his former aides — Paul Manafort and Mr. Flynn — to discuss possible pardons. The discussions raised questions about whether the president was willing to offer pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller investigation.

The president even tried to fire Mr. Mueller himself, a move that could have brought an end to the investigation. Just weeks after Mr. Mueller’s appointment, the president insisted that he ought to be fired because of perceived conflicts of interest. Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who would have been responsible for carrying out the order, refused and threatened to quit.

The president eventually backed off.

Republican Representatives Lee Zeldin, left, Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan launched an offensive against the Mueller investigation.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

Sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge during a layover at Atlanta’s airport in July 2017, Representative Matt Gaetz, a first-term Republican from the Florida Panhandle, decided it was time to attack. Mr. Gaetz, then 35, believed that the president’s allies in Congress needed a coordinated strategy to fight back against an investigation they viewed as deeply unfair and politically biased.

He called Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio, and told him the party needed “to go play offense,” Mr. Gaetz recalled in an interview.

The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr. Mueller, had been beaten into a defensive crouch by the unending chaos and were leaving Democrats unchecked to “pistol whip” the president with constant accusations about his campaign and Russia.

So they began to investigate the investigators. Mr. Trump and his lawyers enthusiastically encouraged the strategy, which, according to some polls, convinced many Americans that the country’s law enforcement apparatus was determined to bring down the president.

Within days of their conversation, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan drafted a letter to Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, the first call for the appointment of a second special counsel to essentially reinvestigate Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails while secretary of state — the case had ended in the summer of 2016 — as well as the origins of the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mr. Flynn and other Trump associates.

The letter itself, with the signatures of only 20 House Republicans, gained little traction at first. But an important shift was underway: At a time when Mr. Trump’s lawyers were urging him to cooperate with Mr. Mueller and to tone down his Twitter feed, the president’s fiercest allies in Congress and the conservative news media were busy trying to flip the script on the federal law enforcement agencies and officials who began the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan began huddling with like-minded Republicans, sometimes including Representative Mark Meadows, a press-savvy North Carolinian close to Mr. Trump, and Representative Devin Nunes of California, the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Nunes, the product of a dairy farming family in California’s Central Valley, had already emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s strongest allies in Congress. He worked closely with Mr. Flynn during the Trump transition after the 2016 election, and he had a history of battling the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, which he sometimes accused of coloring their analysis for partisan reasons. In the spring of 2017, Mr. Nunes sought to bolster Mr. Trump’s false claim that President Barack Obama had ordered an illegal wiretap on Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Using Congress’s oversight powers, the Republican lawmakers succeeded in doing what Mr. Trump could not realistically do on his own: force into the open some of the government’s most sensitive investigative files — including secret wiretaps and the existence of an F.B.I. informant — that were part of the Russia inquiry.

House Republicans opened investigations into the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton email case and a debunked Obama-era uranium deal indirectly linked to Mrs. Clinton. The lawmakers got a big assist from the Justice Department, which gave them private texts recovered from two senior F.B.I. officials who had been on the Russia case. The officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump in their texts, which were featured in a loop on Fox News and became a centerpiece of an evolving and powerful conservative narrative about a cabal inside the F.B.I. and Justice Department to take down Mr. Trump.

The president cheered on the lawmakers on Twitter, in interviews and in private, urging Mr. Gaetz on Air Force One in December 2017 and in subsequent phone calls to keep up the House Republicans’ oversight work. He was hoping for fair treatment from Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump told Mr. Gaetz in one of the calls just after the congressman appeared on Fox News, but that did not preclude him from encouraging his allies’ scrutiny of the investigation.

Later, when Mr. Nunes produced a memo alleging that the F.B.I. had abused its authority in spying on a former Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, Mr. Trump called Mr. Nunes a “Great American Hero” in a tweet. (The F.B.I. said it had “grave concerns” about the memo’s accuracy.)

The president became an active participant in the effort to attack American law enforcement. He repeatedly leaned on administration officials on behalf of the lawmakers — urging Mr. Rosenstein and other law enforcement leaders to flout procedure and share sensitive materials about the open case with Congress. As president, Mr. Trump has ultimate authority over information that passes through the government, but his interventions were unusual.

By the spring of 2018, Mr. Nunes zeroed in on new targets. In one case, he threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even try to impeach him if the documents he wanted were not turned over, including the file used to open the Russia case. In another, he pressed the Justice Department for sensitive information about a trusted F.B.I. informant used in the Russia investigation, a Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper — even as intelligence officials said that the release of the information could damage relationships with important allies.

The president chimed in, accusing the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a spy in his campaign. “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Mr. Trump wrote, turning the term into a popular hashtag.

Most Senate Republicans tried to ignore the House tactics, and not all House Republicans who participated in the investigations agreed with the scorched-earth approach. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and a former federal prosecutor who had led Republicans in the Benghazi investigation, felt that figures like Mr. Gaetz and, in some cases, Mr. Nunes, were hurting their own cause with a sloppy, overhyped campaign that damaged Congress’s credibility.

Former Representative Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, a Republican who sat on the Intelligence Committee and retired last year, was similarly critical. “The efforts to tag Mueller as a witch hunt are a mistake,” he said in an interview. “The guy is an American hero. He is somebody who has always spouted the rule of law in what our country is about.”

But Mr. Gaetz makes no apologies.

“Do I think it’s right that our work in the Congress has aided in the president’s defense?” he asked, before answering his own question.

“Yeah, I think it is right.”

Ultimately, his strategy was successful in softening the ground for a shift in the president’s legal strategy — away from relatively quiet cooperation with Mr. Mueller’s investigators and toward a targeted and relentless frontal attack on their credibility and impartiality.

Last April, Mr. Trump hired Rudolph W. Giuliani, his longtime friend and a famously combative former mayor of New York, as his personal lawyer and ubiquitous television attack dog. A new war had begun.

In jettisoning his previous legal team — which had counseled that Mr. Trump should cooperate with the investigation — the president decided to combine a legal strategy with a public relations campaign in an aggressive effort to undermine the credibility of both Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department.

Mr. Mueller was unlikely to indict Mr. Trump, the president’s advisers believed, so the real danger to his presidency was impeachment — a political act that Congress would probably carry out only with broad public support. If Mr. Mueller’s investigation could be discredited, then impeachment might be less likely.

Months of caustic presidential tweets and fiery television interviews by Mr. Giuliani unfolded. The former mayor accused Mr. Mueller, without evidence, of bias and ignoring facts to carry out an anti-Trump agenda. He called one of Mr. Mueller’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, a “complete scoundrel.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Giuliani was getting help from a curious source: Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort. Mr. Manafort, who had been Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, had agreed to cooperate with the special counsel after being convicted of financial crimes in an attempt to lessen a potentially lengthy prison sentence. Mr. Downing shared details about prosecutors’ lines of questioning, Mr. Giuliani admitted late last year.

It was a highly unusual arrangement — the lawyer for a cooperating witness providing valuable information to the president’s lawyer at a time when his client remained in the sights of the special counsel’s prosecutors. The arrangement angered Mr. Mueller’s investigators, who questioned what Mr. Manafort was trying to gain from the arrangement.

The attacks on the Mueller investigation appeared to have an effect. Last summer, polling showed a 14-point uptick in the percentage of Americans polled who disapproved of how Mr. Mueller was handling the inquiry. “Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game,” Mr. Giuliani said during an interview in August.

“So I think we’ve done really well,” Mr. Giuliani added. “And my client’s happy.”

But Mr. Giuliani and his client had a serious problem, which they were slow to comprehend.

In April, the F.B.I. raided the Manhattan office and residences of Mr. Cohen — the president’s lawyer and fixer — walking off with business records, emails and other documents dating back years. At first, Mr. Trump was not concerned.

The president told advisers that Mr. Rosenstein assured him at the time that the Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him. In the president’s recounting, Mr. Rosenstein told him that the inquiry in New York was about Mr. Cohen’s business dealings, that it did not involve the president and that it was not about Russia. Since then, Mr. Trump has asked his advisers if Mr. Rosenstein was deliberately misleading him to keep him calm.

Mr. Giuliani initially portrayed Mr. Cohen as “honest,” and the president praised him publicly. But Mr. Cohen soon told prosecutors in New York how Mr. Trump had ordered him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of women who claimed they had sex with Mr. Trump. In a separate bid for leniency, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors about Mr. Trump’s participation in negotiations during the height of the presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Mr. Trump was now battling twin investigations that seemed to be moving ever close to him. And Mr. Cohen, once the president’s fiercest defender, was becoming his chief tormentor.

In a court appearance in August, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty and told a judge that Mr. Trump had ordered him to arrange the payments to the women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Mr. Cohen’s descriptions of Mr. Trump’s actions made the president, in effect, an unindicted co-conspirator and raised the prospect of the president being charged after he leaves office. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who in January became the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the matter, said the implied offense was probably impeachable.

The president struck back, launching a volley of tweets that savaged Mr. Cohen and his family — insinuating that Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law had engaged in unexamined criminal activity. He called Mr. Cohen a “rat.” The messages infuriated Democratic lawmakers, who claimed the president was trying to threaten and intimidate a witness before testimony Mr. Cohen planned before Congress.

“He’s only been threatened by the truth,” the president responded.

As the prosecutors closed in, Mr. Trump felt a more urgent need to gain control of the investigation.

He made the call to Mr. Whitaker to see if he could put Mr. Berman in charge of the New York investigation. The inquiry is run by Robert Khuzami, a career prosecutor who took over after Mr. Berman, whom Mr. Trump appointed, recused himself because of a routine conflict of interest.

What exactly Mr. Whitaker did after the call is unclear, but there is no evidence that he took any direct steps to intervene in the Manhattan investigation. He did, however, tell some associates at the Justice Department that the prosecutors in New York required “adult supervision.”

Second, Mr. Trump moved on to a new attorney general, William P. Barr, whom Mr. Trump nominated for the job in part because of a memo Mr. Barr wrote last summer making a case that a sitting American president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for acts well within his power — like firing an F.B.I. director.

A president cannot be found to have broken the law, Mr. Barr argued, if he was exercising his executive powers to fire subordinates or use his “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding.”

The memo might have ingratiated Mr. Barr to his future boss, but Mr. Barr is also respected among the rank and file in the Justice Department. Many officials there hope he will try to change the Trump administration’s combative tone toward the department, as well as toward the F.B.I.

Whether it is too late is another question. Mr. Trump’s language, and allegations of “deep state” excesses, are now embedded in the political conversation, used as a cudgel by the president’s supporters.

This past December, days before Mr. Flynn was to be sentenced for lying to the F.B.I., his lawyers wrote a memo to the judge suggesting that federal agents had tricked the former national security adviser into lying. The judge roundly rejected that argument, and on sentencing day, he excoriated Mr. Flynn for his crimes.

The argument about F.B.I. trickery did, however, appear to please the one man who holds great power over Mr. Flynn’s future — the constitutional power to pardon.

“Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,” Mr. Trump tweeted cheerily on the morning of the sentencing.

Katie Benner contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Inside Trump’s Angry War On Inquiries Around Him. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

 

This is not a well-known secret: every distribution will always have a bottom 5%.

In D.C., under the control of the Mayor, the school system had adopted a rating system that is guaranteed to produce winners and losers. The losers are set up for privatization.

Parent activist and blogger Valerie Jablow thinks this stinks. She’s right.

 

She writes:

It’s not merely that the relativity of the STAR rating means that we will always have 1-star schools–which is unbearably cruel, given what’s at stake. It’s also that it purports to be neutral. After all, who can argue with test scores? They’re numbers–and everyone knows numbers don’t lie! Numbers are neutral!

But the reality is that the STAR rating and others like it are most definitely notneutral. Rather, these ratings were created out of deeply political motivations to determine school winners and losers. And without infusions of real resources tied to those 1- and 2-star ratings (and not merely listening sessions mediated by private advocacy group PAVE), DC schools with low ratings stand to lose a lot.

Moreover, if the STAR rating were about ensuring quality in our schools, we would know exactly how far those Anacostia high school teachers moved their students every single year. And we would also know what resources they got–and the resources they needed–in doing so.

But these ratings not only don’t tell us any of that, but teachers at Anacostia will be penalized to the extent that their students do not score well on PARCC. Not to mention that those teachers get only a few years to move that bar. (See p. 35 of our ESSA plan to see what happens when a school doesn’t move that bar fast enough: privatizing.)

We thus find ourselves in a very interesting place–wherein we have a school ratings system that cannot really tell us about school quality, all the while it purports to do just that.

Soooo: why do we have this rating system?

It would appear to be about choice–but even then, in a very limited context.

While all our charter schools are about choice, and now educate about half our students, most families attending DCPS also engage in choice of some sort, whether through the out of boundary process or through selective high schools. In fact, according to school analyst Mary Levy, about 25% of our high school students currently attend selective high schools–which makes DCPS’s choice to invest in a new one (Bard) and expand another (Banneker) on trend.

Except that the trend is a little concerning…

So, let me ask again: why do we have this rating system?

We have just spent a considerable amount of civic money and effort not only making it easier for families to reject schools with low test scores (the star rating appears on our lottery website), but also investing in tests that make it easier for schools with some of the city’s highest test scores to select out an already limited pool of high-scoring students.

All the while we learn nothing from the resulting ratings about the resources provided (or needed) at our schools or, for high schools, growth that teachers have been able to effect for their students–who more likely than not start out at or below grade level everywhere except for a relatively small number at only a small subset of our high schools.

Perhaps the worst part is how these ratings enable a grotesque educational bait and switch.

That is, the underlying assumption appears to be that the ratings enable parents to choose and thus helps students and makes schools better, presumably through competition. But the only competition herein is pitting public against the public, such that the public loses every time it wins, since our public schools are a system of, for, and by the public. Not to mention that “winning” in this context is very strange indeed: is it a slot at a selective high school for your child? Or your school not being closed down or privatized? All the while this so-called competition neither informs us about what is really going on inside our schools nor helps schools support the students they have.

So, gotta ask again:

Why do we have this rating system if it’s not really about quality or helping schools or truly informing parents or ensuring we have adequate resources for the majority of our schools that do not now (and may never) have many students getting a 4+ on PARCC?

Maybe this rating system, which appears so ill-suited for what it purports to do, is really about something else entirely–say, resources?

That is, because 1-star schools will always be with us (how convenient!), our city will thus ensure a steady flow of resources from closed or privatized 1-star schools (buildings, students, personnel, furniture, supplies) for, well, whoever would like to have them.

Now who’s winning?