Author: Maga First News

Page: 6

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing
A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 18, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Investor caution ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting capped Asian stocks on Tuesday, while crude oil prices retreated as global growth worries overshadowed supply concerns stemming from recent Middle East tensions.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.05%.

Australian stocks added 0.1% while Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.05%.

The Fed, facing fresh demands by U.S. President Donald Trump to cut interest rates, begins a two-day meeting later on Tuesday. The central bank is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged this time but possibly lay the groundwork for a rate cut later this year.

Fresh hopes for looser U.S. monetary policy have been a tonic for risk assets markets, which were buffeted last month by an escalation in the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing. The S&P 500 has gained 5% this month after sliding in May on trade war fears.

Focus is now on how close the Fed could be to cutting interest rates amid the raging U.S.-China trade war, signs of the economy losing steam and pressure by President Trump to ease policy.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is the week’s biggest event so there will be a degree of caution prevailing in the markets,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“Expectations for a rate cut in July have increased significantly, so the markets could experience disappointment if the Fed does not send strong signals of impending easing.”

U.S. Treasury yields dipped on Monday after the New York Fed’s “Empire” gauge of business growth in the state showed a fall this month to its weakest in more than 2-1/2-years, fanning rate cut expectations.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies stood little changed at 97.507 after pulling back from a two-week high on the decline in Treasury yields.

The pound traded at $1.2542 after retreating overnight to a six-month low of $1.2532 on Monday on concerns that arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as prime minister. [GBP/]

The euro was a shade higher at $1.1224 after spending the previous day confined to a narrow range.

U.S. crude oil futures shed 0.08% to $51.89 per barrel after retreating 1.1% the previous day.

Oil prices had slipped on Monday as weak Chinese economic data released at the end of last week led to fears of lower global demand for the commodity. [O/R]

Concerns over weakening demand overshadowed tensions in the Middle East, which remained high following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

(This version of the story corrects typographical error in paragraph 5)

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Los Angeles Kings
FILE PHOTO: Mar 18, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) reacts against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period at Staples Center. The Jets defeated the Kings 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports – 12376074

June 18, 2019

The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets on Monday in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft.

Trouba, 25, set career highs in assists (42) and points (50) last season, playing in all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career. Among defensemen, he tied for ninth in the league in assists and was 13th in points.

Trouba, selected by Winnipeg with the ninth pick in the 2012 draft, has played in 408 games for the Jets in the past six seasons, with 137 assists and 42 goals.

He played last season on a one-year, $5.5 million contract awarded via arbitration, and he has one year remaining as a restricted free agent. The Rangers will need to extend a $5.5 million qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season before working on a long-term extension, as Trouba can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Pionk, who turns 24 in July, has appeared in 101 games for the Rangers in the past two seasons, with 33 assists and seven goals.

The 20th pick in this year’s draft, which begins Friday, originally belonged to the Jets before they sent it to the Rangers while acquiring forward Kevin Hayes in February.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

The conservative Parkland shooting survivor and pro-Second Amendment activist who was dropped by Harvard University after offensive remarks and racial slurs he made as a 16-year-old came to light appeared on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” Monday where he apologized and asked for forgiveness.

“I’m extremely sorry for it and I wish I could take it back but I can’t. All I can do now is seek to right the wrong. And I know forgiveness isn’t given, It’s earned. I know that the person who wrote those things is not who I am today,” Kyle Kashuv told guest host Ed Henry.

Kashuv revealed Monday on Twitter that Harvard rescinded his admission after the recent resurfacing of remarks he called “offensive,” “idiotic” and “inflammatory.”

The student said he made the comments before the mass shooting — which he says made him a different person.

FLASHBACK: PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR KYLE KASHUV EMERGES AS CONSERVATIVE ROLE MODEL, SECOND AMENDMENT CHAMPION

Harvard officials told Fox News they don’t publicly comment on the individual admission status of applications, but Kashuv posted what he said was the letter Harvard sent him, dated June 3.

“The Admissions Committee has discussed at length your account of the communications about which we asked, and we appreciated your candor and your expressions or regret for sending them,” the letter read. “As you know the Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character. After careful consideration, the Committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College.”

HARVARD RESCINDS OFFER TO KYLE KASHUV, PRO-SECOND AMENDMENT PARKLAND SURVIVOR, DUE TO PAST REMARKS, HE SAYS

At one point during the interview Kashuv Brough up Harvard’s history comparing himself to the university, saying they have founded by slave owners and because they had a dark history that didn’t mean the institution was “irredeemable.”

Henry gave Kashuv a “time-out” noting that there was a big difference between Harvard’s history and Kashuv’s more recent comments.

10 STUNNING DISPUTES OVER FREE SPEECH BETWEEN STUDENTS, FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS

“You mentioned they had slave owners in the 1600s. You used the n-word what, a year, year and a half ago?” Henry said.

Henry pressed Kashuv on “what specifically has changed” for him over the last two years between his past remarks and now.

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“It’s because I matured tremendously. I am no longer am in the friend group where we act immaturely like idiotic children. It’s the fact that I have condemned racism in every opportunity that I can in this public life I didn’t really ask for,” Kashuv said.

“I never wanted and never quite frankly wanted to be in the position. I’m not an entertainer, I’m not an actor. I’m a kid who went through a tragedy who saw the suffering that the community went through and doesn’t want to see it for any other community.”

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex this month to await trial on a separate state case.

But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York.

And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers.

Instead, he will await his trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for wide-ranging financial schemes, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A senior Justice Department official said that the department believed Mr. Manafort’s treatment was appropriate, but several former and current prosecutors said the decision was highly unusual. Most federal inmates facing state charges are held on Rikers Island.

The intervention of Mr. Rosen was just the latest twist in the case of Mr. Manafort, whose campaign work for Mr. Trump and political consulting in Ukraine put him in the cross hairs of a two-year investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

He was convicted of financial fraud in two separate federal cases that came out of the investigation, which was led by the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

While that might have been the end of his criminal problems, in March, he was indicted on 16 New York state felonies, including mortgage fraud and falsifying records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The charges, which are based on some of the same actions in the federal cases, were brought by the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Mr. Manafort is expected to be arraigned next week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

He has been slated to be held on Rikers Island, which has long been plagued by violence and mismanagement, prompting efforts to close it. Officials there had said Mr. Manafort likely would have been held in protective custody for his own safety, isolated from the general population and under heavy guard.

He is now likely to be held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal detention center in Lower Manhattan, while he awaits trial. He may also remain at the federal prison in Loretto, Penn., where he is serving his sentence, and brought to New York for hearings, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.

The former Justice Department officials and current state prosecutors, who regularly handled the transfer of federal inmates to state custody, said they were surprised that the second-highest official in the Justice Department would take an interest in the case. The decision is usually made by the warden at the prison where the inmate is being held.

Justice Department officials were unable to say who made the decision in Mr. Manafort’s case; the Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department, did not respond to a request for comment.

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort, acknowledged that the involvement of the deputy attorney general and the decision not to hold his client at Rikers was atypical. But he said the case itself was also unusual: Mr. Manafort, he argued, should not be facing state charges for behavior that was the subject of two federal convictions.

“You’ll find no example of someone like Mr. Manafort being prosecuted by the feds and then by the district attorney for exactly the same conduct,” Mr. Blanche said.

As early as last month, Mr. Blanche had objected to his client being held at Rikers. In a May 17 letter, he asked the warden at the federal prison in Pennsylvania not to approve New York’s request that Mr. Manafort be transferred, citing his age and health issues.

In the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Blanche also criticized the charges against his client, arguing that they were “a blatant violation” of New York’s double jeopardy laws and calling the case “politics at its worst.” The district attorney’s office has said it is confident the charges will stand.

Mr. Blanche also said in his letter that the New York prosecutors were “insisting that Mr. Manafort remain on Rikers Island, likely in solitary confinement, pending trial.” New York prosecutors have said they had taken no position on where Mr. Manafort is held.

While Mr. Blanche’s letter indicated that copies were sent to Mr. Vance by email and registered mail, other correspondence and people with knowledge of the matter indicated Mr. Vance did not receive the letter.

Instead, Mr. Rosen wrote to Mr. Vance last week, asking whether his office was going to respond.

The question of Mr. Manafort’s detention was one of the first high-profile matters to be undertaken by Mr. Rosen, who was confirmed as the deputy attorney general one day before Mr. Manafort’s attorney asked the Bureau of Prisons to keep his client out of Rikers.

A senior Justice Department official said that the Bureau of Prisons had been keeping the Justice Department apprised of Mr. Manafort’s situation, given the high-profile nature of his case. Mr. Rosen sought Mr. Vance’s response largely because of these briefings, the official said.

Mr. Rosen did not ask Mr. Vance about safety at Rikers Island or whether it was suitable for other prisoners, according to a copy of the June 11 letter, which was reviewed by The Times.

The State Department announced Monday it will cut new foreign aid to the “Northern Triangle” countries — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — unless their governments take “concrete action” to stem the flow of migrants towards the United States.

The aggressive move came less than two weeks after the Trump administration reached a last-minute deal with Mexico, which called for the country’s deployment of more troops to its own southern border and tighter asylum protocols. The U.S. and Mexico reached the accord shortly before the White House was set to impose a series of escalating tariffs on its southern neighbor.

President Trump previously pushed in March to cut $615 million in aid to the Northern Triangle, noting that the nations have been home to some of the migrant caravans that have marched through Mexico to the U.S. border to claim asylum, in some cases fraudulently.

On further review, the State Department said the administration has decided to continue to provide $432 million for anti-gang and health initiatives. That aid came from the fiscal year 2017 budget, and the State Department said it was logistically challenging to cancel some of the initiatives.

MEXICO VOWS TO HELP CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS AMID CRACKDOWN

However, the latest plans showed roughly $370 million from the fiscal year 2018 budget will no longer be spent on the Northern Triangle and approximately $185 million in funding from the 2017 budget will be withheld, at least for now.

A State Department official told Fox News a re-evaluation would be concluded no later than April 2020.

Mexican law enforcement stopping a migrant caravan that had crossed the Mexico-Guatemala border, near Metapa, Mexico, earlier this month. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Mexican law enforcement stopping a migrant caravan that had crossed the Mexico-Guatemala border, near Metapa, Mexico, earlier this month. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

“We will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied that the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of migrants coming to the U.S. border,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. “This is consistent with the president’s direction and with the recognition that it is critical that there be sufficient political will in these countries to address the problem at its source.”

She added, “Working with Congress, we will reprogram those funds to other priorities as appropriate.”

Ortagus noted that “previously awarded grants and contracts will continue with current funding.”

Many Democrats called the decision callous and unproductive.

“As feared, a presidential tantrum will limit our nation’s ability to actually help address the challenges forcing people to flee to the U.S.,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., tweeted.

The Northern Triangle’s immigration policies have long rankled the Trump administration. Last December, the U.S. pledged more than $10 billion in aid to Central America and Mexico to help keep migrants put. Later that month, Trump tweeted: “…Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money.

“Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it,” Trump added. “We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries — taking advantage of U.S. for years!”

The State Department in March then notified Congress that it would look to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to the trio of nations.

Meanwhile, Mexico has offered refuge to migrants with credible fears as thousands remain in the country while they await court dates for asylum petitions in the U.S. The understaffed and underfunded Mexican refugee commission has faced a backlog of cases.

But, in recent months, police and immigration have stepped up enforcement in southern Mexico, setting up highway checkpoints, raiding a caravan of mostly Central American migrants and trying to keep people off the northbound train known as “the beast.”

At the same time, Mexicans have grown increasingly intolerant of the large numbers of migrants passing through their country in an attempt to reach the United States.

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A June poll in Mexican newspaper El Universal showed that Mexicans are less receptive to allowing undocumented migrants to come in, or to stay on permanently as refugees, than they were in October, when caravans with thousands of Central American migrants were winding their way north.

Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of Odebrecht is seen inside of one of its offices in Mexico City, Mexico
FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of Odebrecht is seen inside of one of its offices in Mexico City, Mexico May 4, 2017. Picture taken on May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

June 17, 2019

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA filed on Monday for bankruptcy protection, aiming to restructure 51 billion reais ($13 billion) of debt in what would be one of Latin America’s largest-ever in-court debt restructurings.

The bankruptcy filing comes after years of struggles for Odebrecht, the biggest of the Brazilian engineering groups caught in a sweeping political corruption investigation that has rippled across Latin America.

In the filing, the company asks the judge to bar the group’s seven largest creditors – six banks and an investment fund – from taking possession or selling shares in the group’s crown jewel, its controlling stake in petrochemical company Braskem SA.

Shares in Braskem are pledged as collateral to the creditors. But Odebrecht says the Braskem stake is essential to its restructuring, as the petrochemical company was responsible for nearly 80% of the conglomerate’s revenues in 2018.

Odebrecht said the bankruptcy protection was the best way to conclude its debt restructuring as creditors have sought to seize assets pledged as collateral for unpaid loans.

The debt restructuring relates to the parent company Odebrecht SA and a network of holding companies.

The group’s main operating businesses are excluded, including Braskem, construction unit OEC, oil company Ocyan, shipbuilder Enseada, Odebrecht Transport and homebuilder Incorporadora OR. Sugar and ethanol subsidiary Atvos Agroindustrial Participacoes SA, which already filed for a separate bankruptcy protection, is also excluded.

Odebrecht said its total debt reaches 98.5 billion reais, including intercompany loans and debt that is not subjected to in-court restructuring.

FALL FROM GRACE

Odebrecht expanded from its construction roots into one of Brazil’s biggest conglomerates but began its fall from grace in 2014, when it became a principal target of the country’s largest-ever corruption probe.

Former chief executive Marcelo Odebrecht, grandson of the founder, was arrested in 2015 and later sentenced to 19 years in jail for corruption. He has been under house arrest since 2017, barred from having any say in the company’s running.

In 2016, Odebrecht agreed to the world’s largest-ever corruption leniency fine with prosecutors in Brazil, the United States, and Switzerland, paying at least $3.5 billion. The scandal over bribes for public works contracts spread to other countries where Odebrecht did business, including Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.

Since then, the group has been selling assets to raise cash as borrowing costs climbed. It sold Brazilian sanitation company Odebrecht Ambiental to Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management for $800 million and Peruvian hydroelectric plant Chaglla to China Three Gorges Corporation for $1.4 billion.

Still, some of the group’s businesses have been forced to restructure debts as their revenues dwindled.

Odebrecht’s construction unit OEC is in talks to restructure $3 billion of debt with bondholders. The company proposed a 70% haircut, which was rejected by its creditors.

After a failed attempt to negotiate an out-of-court solution with its creditors, ethanol unit Atvos filed for bankruptcy protection in May.

Odebrecht had been negotiating a sale of Braskem to LyondellBasell Industries NV for a year and a half, but talks ended with no deal earlier this month.

The conglomerate’s largest creditors are Brazilian state-owned lenders Banco do Brasil SA, Caixa Economica Federal and BNDES, as well as private-sector lenders Banco Bradesco SA, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Santander Brasil SA and an investment fund, totaling 33 billion reais in debt.

The group is being advised by financial restructuring firm RK Partners and law firm E. Munhoz Advogados.

(Reporting by Aluisio Alves, Carolina Mandl and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington
FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

June 17, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it had settled antitrust charges with CBS Corp, Cox Enterprises Inc, E.W. Scripps Co, Fox Corp and Tegna Inc, which were accused of sharing competitively sensitive information.

“All five companies are alleged to have engaged in unlawful information sharing among their owned broadcast television stations,” the department said in a statement.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

Why haven’t efforts to impeach President Trump gained Watergate-style momentum? The lack of energy has created a sense of bafflement and disappointment among some of the president’s most determined adversaries. But there are some simple reasons for it. Here are three:

1.) The facts are different. In Watergate, the underlying crime was a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters, perpetrated by burglars paid by President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. The scandal proceeded from there. In Trump-Russia, the underlying crime was the hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails — a crime committed by Russians in Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted a number of Russians and Russian entities for their actions, spent two years trying to find conspiracy or coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign. He failed.

That single fact has shaped every other aspect of the Trump-Russia affair. In Watergate, the cover-up flowed from Nixon’s desire to conceal his campaign’s involvement in the break-in and other political dark acts. It formed the bulk of the obstruction of justice case against Nixon, which in turn served as the basis for articles of impeachment. In Trump-Russia, Mueller did not charge, although he clearly suggested, that Trump obstructed the investigation of an event — conspiracy/coordination — that did not happen. That meant the simplest, most plausible motive for obstruction — Trump, knowing he was guilty, tried to cover up his campaign’s conspiracy with Russia — was off the table. Given that, Mueller’s obstruction case veered all over the map. He conceded that Trump had many motives to act as he did — anger at being wrongly accused, concern over his ability to govern, a desire to defend the legitimacy of his election — and that none of them involved covering up conspiracy or coordination with Russia.

That’s a very different set of facts from Watergate. Consider the single most explosive episode of Watergate — the Saturday Night Massacre, in which Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Trump’s opponents say his desire to fire Mueller was Nixonesque. But try to imagine the Saturday Night Massacre with a Trumpian set of facts: What if Nixon told his White House counsel to tell the attorney general to fire Cox, but the counsel ignored the order? Nixon called again, and the counsel ignored him again. Nixon then let the matter drop, and Cox completed his investigation. No Saturday Night Massacre. That alone shows there is simply no comparison between Watergate and Trump-Russia.

2). The press is different. Just as the facts of Trump-Russia are quite unlike Watergate, so the media environment of 2019 is quite unlike what existed in 1974. Back then, there were three 30-minute broadcast network newscasts, CBS, NBC, and ABC. There were two big newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, and TV network executives sat down each day, within a few blocks of each other in Manhattan, to produce newscasts that basically illustrated the papers’ latest stories. There was no Internet, no cable news, no podcasts, no social media, and no talk radio. Nixon, even if he had had strong defenses, faced a solid wall of media opposition.

Today, the situation is much, much different — and infinitely better. There is far more diversity of opinion in the media writ large, and, importantly, popular access to primary sources. That troubles some media figures who miss the old days of news monopoly. “During the Watergate era … there were three networks,” Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote recently. “Now, cable news, talk radio, thousands of websites and social media create a polluted firehose-blast of information mixed with disinformation.”

“Back then, what was said on those three networks … was largely believed,” Sullivan added. “Much more than now, there was a shared set of facts.”

But it was a limited set of facts — just the ones selected by those network producers in Manhattan. Today’s media diversity, in terms of the Trump-Russia affair, means more facts see the light. And people inclined to support the president, or just be skeptical of the government’s investigative targeting of the Trump campaign, have a way to make their case beyond what anyone had 40-plus years ago.

3.) Congress is different. Differences in the facts of the cases and differences in the media’s ability to report those facts have had a profound effect on lawmakers. They’re better informed, if they want to be, and can make a better defense of the president of their party. And having a significant number of constituents supporting the president makes representatives more likely to support him, too. (Also unlike today, in 1974, opposition party Democrats controlled all of Congress, with 243 seats in the House and 56 in the Senate.)

So, this is a new world. It is perhaps not surprising to hear Democrats wish they could somehow turn today’s Trump-Russia affair into yesterday’s Watergate. If they could just hold televised hearings, they say, that could capture the nation’s attention and give Trump-Russia a Watergate-like urgency. Americans would turn against the president by the millions.

Others believe they just need time. It took Watergate years to grow big enough to oust Nixon, they say. But look at the numbers. The break-in was in June, 1972, and Nixon resigned in August 1974 — a period of two years and two months. In Trump-Russia, the FBI began its investigation nearly three years ago, in July 2016. The Senate began investigating in January 2017. And Mueller took office in May 2017. It’s been a long time.

Trump-Russia could go longer still, and it would not change the basic facts of the case. It is simply a different case in a different world. Try as they might, the president’s opponents can’t make it 1974 again.


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