About Bess Levin

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Bess Levin has created 3 blog entries.

Rudy Giuliani Announces Plans to Obstruct Justice

Despite reportedly playing a key role in Donald Trump’s effort to lean on Ukraine to investigate Democrats, and the fact that two of his Ukrainian sources were indicted by federal prosecutors last week, Rudy Giuliani has made the bold choice, announced Thursday afternoon, that he will not comply with a congressional subpoena on the matter. The ex-mayor has also canned his lawyer, Jon Sale, whose last task was to send a letter to Democrats telling them Giuliani had decided, in his infinite legal wisdom, that they should f–k off.

In the letter to the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation counsel, Sale wrote that the president’s personal lawyer would “adopt” the White House position that the impeachment inquiry is “unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate” because Nancy Pelsoi did not hold a full floor vote before launching it. Incidentally, there is no such rule that such a vote must occur before impeachment proceedings can begin, but Trump and his associates are a little rusty re: the Constitution.

Giuliani’s position, like his mental faculties, seems to have shifted over the years. During the Clinton impeachment, he insisted that no one is allowed to avoid complying with subpoenas, including the president, who he said “is not above the law.” Last month, Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Elijah Cummings wrote in their request for information that “A growing public record indicates that the president, his agent Rudy Giuliani, and others appear to have pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations,” noting that Rudy had “admitt[ed] on national television that, while serving as the president’s personal attorney, he asked the government of Ukraine to target former Vice President Joe Biden.” In light of such an insane admission, they added, “The Committees have reason to believe that you have information and documents relevant to these matters.”

Giuliani did leave open the possibility of rehiring his own lawyer, should Democrats enforce the subpoena. “If they decide to do an enforcement, I’ll need someone to go to court with and we’ll figure that out at the time,” a man who probably should’ve been stripped of his legal license some time ago told the New York Daily News on Thursday, when he was slated to attend a Yankees game in the Bronx. “I’m not worried. It’s not authorized what they’re doing in secret. It’s an abomination of due process. I can’t imagine a court would tolerate what they’ve done.”

Other former prosecutors apparently had a different point of view:

If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.

By |2019-10-16T00:13:06+00:00October 15th, 2019|

Trump: Mexicans Are a Bigger Threat Than the ISIS Prisoners I Let Escape in Northern Syria

Donald Trump has made a lot of exceedingly stupid decisions in the 78,000 dog years he’s been in office, but few compare, in impact and the speed with which they blew up in his face, than the one to withdraw troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey to invade the region and kill our Kurdish allies, leading to one (completely predictable) consequence after the next. Roughly 785 people affiliated with ISIS have escaped; an estimated 100,000 people have been displaced; at least 81 Kurdish fighters and 60 civilians have been killed; the American-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, abandoned by Trump and under attack by Turkey, have teamed up with Bashar al-Assad’s Russian- and Iranian-backed government, giving Vladimir Putin major influence over the region; and approximately 50 nuclear weapons that the the U.S. has stored in the area have now effectively become Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hostages, which isn’t a great turn of events considering the Turkish president has said as recently as last month that he would like to acquire such ammunition. To be clear, all of this was anticipated; Trump was warned by advisers for months that such disastrous outcomes would result if he followed his vaunted “instincts”—the ones he thinks tell him more than any dumb intelligence memos or briefing books can—and pulled out of Syria, telling the Kurds, who helped us defeat ISIS, that they were on their own because they sat out D-Day like a bunch of bone spur victims. And on Monday, perhaps the most predictable outcome occurred when Trump announced that he would punish Turkey for the bloody mess he created.

In a statement released on Twitter, the president said that he will “soon be issuing an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of the Government of Turkey and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” As a reminder, there’s one person in particular who made a significant contribution to Turkey’s destabilizing actions and his name rhymes with Ronald Grump. According to Axios, the president basically told Erdoğan that the U.S. was fine with him invading Syria, thinking Turkey wouldn’t do it. “Trump basically said, ‘Look, if you want it you own it, but don’t come looking to me for help. You can take it, it’s yours,’” a former senior administration official recounted to Jonathan Swan.

Now that the situation has descended into unstoppable chaos, Trump is naturally acting as though no one could have predicted any of this, and threatening retribution that experts say will do little to stop the unmitigated disaster he set into motion. “I think the likelihood of Turkey invading Northern Syria with U.S. troops there was zero,” Senator Tim Kaine told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Monday. “And with the U.S. pulling out now, they feel like they have a green light and they’re doing exactly what everybody told President Trump that they would do.”

In addition to vowing sanctions and other measures intended to “swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy,” Trump also spent the afternoon claiming that undocumented immigrants are a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS:

And making it abundantly clear that reports of a tiny cluster of cells in his chest resembling a human heart were a false positive; in fact, he could not give less of a fuck about living beings that are not Trumps, if this comedy routine is any indication:

If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.

By |2019-10-15T00:11:32+00:00October 14th, 2019|

Did Trump Lie (Again) About a Big Deal With China?

Last week, amid reports of ISIS prisoners escaping in northern Syria, the president’s defense attorney being criminally investigated, and the continued fallout from Ukraine/Biden/“do us a favor”-gate, markets received a rare bit of good news when Donald Trump announced that the United States had reached a “very substantial phase-one deal” with China. “The deal I just made with China is, by far, the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country,” the president tweeted. “Other aspects of the deal are also great – technology, financial services, 16-20 Billion in Boeing Planes etc., but WOW, the Farmers really hit pay dirt!” Given the negative impact Trump’s never-ending trade war has had on the economy, such news would of course be thrilling to investors, companies, consumers, and the farmers the dealmaker in chief cares so deeply for, but, as it turns out, the “greatest and biggest deal ever” doesn’t actually appear to have any basis in reality. Which is another way of saying it sure sounds like the president lied about negotiations with China, again.

Bloomberg reports that China wants another round of talks before even thinking about signing “phase one” of the trade deal, according to people familiar with the matter. Despite Trump’s all-caps claim on Sunday that “CHINA HAS ALREADY BEGUN AGRICULTURAL PURCHASES FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS & RANCHERS!,” Beijing’s state-run media said only that the two sides had “agreed to make joint efforts toward eventually reaching an agreement.” An op-ed that ran in China Daily over the weekend cautioned, “Let’s nail down ‘phase one’ before moving to the next. As based on its past practice, there is always the possibility that Washington may decide to cancel the deal if it thinks that doing so will better serve its interests.” In a statement, Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said that while progress had been made, there is still work to be done, and that he hoped “the U.S. will work with China and meet each other halfway.” Stocks opened lower on Monday after surging on Friday.

Of course, this is far from the first time Trump has lied through his caps when it comes to a trade deal. Back in December 2018, he boasted to reporters that he’d struck an “incredible” trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping that blew up in his face a mere 24 hours later. In August, a breakthrough call with China turned out to actually have never happened. So you can kind of see how there might be some distrust there.

Even before it turned out that “phase one” was only a done deal in Trump’s head, Wall Street was skeptical. “Overall, we don’t think this Phase 1 deal clears the air for global corporations to decide on what matters most – where to invest, produce, hire or source,” Evercore ISI strategists wrote in a note to investors. Credit Suisse doubts this “mini-deal” will lead to the end of the trade war, saying that it sees “daunting obstacles” to a full resolution. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, planned tariffs will go into effect in December if a deal isn’t signed, but, he told CNBC on Monday, he’s optimistic that Trump and Xi will finalize negotiations during their meeting in Chile in a few weeks, a prediction that some might characterize as delusional, given China’s insistence that the U.S. must back off tariffs first. “The U.S. must concede on its December tariff threat if they want sign a deal during APEC summit; otherwise it would be a humiliating treaty for China,” Huo Jianguo, a former Chinese commerce ministry official who is now vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told Bloomberg. “The U.S. has definitely shown some good gestures, but we shouldn’t exclude the possibility of another flip-flop.”

More Great Stories from Vanity Fair

— Impeachment fervor is causing a ruckus at Fox News
— Why Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian adventure could end his career
— Inside the stunning collapse of WeWork (and its kooky CEO)
— It’s official: Trump has met his Twitter match
— A surprise appearance by Tiffany Trump
— From the Archive: The power broker who taught Donald Trump the dark political arts

Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hive newsletter and never miss a story.

By |2019-10-14T15:14:03+00:00October 14th, 2019|