News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Kavanaugh Cleared, Flynn Berated, First Step Taken, and Much, Much More

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Happy Wednesday morning!

So, remember how the week before Christmas is supposed to be uneventful? Yeah… not so much.

Kavanaugh cleared.

Okay, so technically he wasn’t cleared, but the charges against him were dropped. The Hon. Timothy Tymkovich, writing for the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit, wrote that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could not be charged under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act because he is now a Supreme Court justice.

The allegations contained in the complaints are serious but the Judicial Council is obligated to adhere to the Act.Lacking statutory atuhority to do anything more, the complaints must be dismissed because an intervening event—Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court—has made the complaints no longer appropriate for consideration under the Act.

The matter revolved around 83 complaints that the then-judge had voiced inappropriate partisan statements in his confirmation hearings this past September, according to CNN. The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act has never been applied to a Supreme Court justice, and the Tenth Circuit wasn’t about to change that.

He dared call it treason.

So… former national security adviser Michael Flynn was NOT sentenced yesterday. Instead, this evident non-traitor was berated as a traitor. And Bloomberg’s Eli Like said Flynn was owed an apology — before the hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing was ugly thanks to comments from Judge Emmet Sullivan, and in my (insufficiently humble and legally uneducated) opinion, remarks like the ones coming from Judge Sullivan yesterday should be grounds for a mistrial, had Flynn not pleaded guilty.

According to CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Tara Subramaniam, and Marshall Cohen, Sullivan asked Flynn if he believed he wasn’t guilty. He asked Flynn if he thought he was entrapped by the FBI. He asked Flynn if Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team considered charging him with other crimes, including TREASON.

This bit particularly stood out to me:

Flynn responded, “No,” to all of these questions.

Flynn lied even “in the presence of the White House,” Sullivan added. “You can’t minimize that.”

“I am not hiding my disgust, my disdain for your criminal offense,” Sullivan said, pausing between each statement. “Yes, your honor,” Flynn said. He was not asked a question.

At one point, Sullivan wrongly suggested Flynn had acted as an illegal agent of a foreign government while serving as national security adviser. “That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said. Later, the judge walked that comment back, acknowledging that Flynn’s unregistered lobbying for the Turkish government ended in November 2016, while Flynn worked on the Trump campaign and transition and before they took the White House.

As much of the hearing unfolded and the tension in the room grew, there was little obvious reaction from members of the Flynn family, some of whom have embraced and amplified unfounded claims of FBI misconduct on their social media accounts. Many of them sat in the front row of the courtroom, and when the judge rhetorically asked if his “treason” implication was incorrect, some of Flynn’s supporters loudly said, “Yes.”

Flynn wasn’t sentenced on Tuesday, but he was flogged. He deserves many apologies indeed.

One small step for Congress…

One giant leap for criminal justice reform. Last night, the U.S. Senate passed the First Step Act, a seminal piece of reform legislation striking a blow against mandatory minimums.

This represents a huge step forward for the issue, which Kanye West mentioned in his meetings with President Donald Trump. The legislation is expected to pass the House of Representatives and may have the president’s John Hancock by Christmas.


And don’t ever steal my packages. If you do…

Picture of the day.

This look of smug resignation captures the spirit of William Jefferson Clinton as he was impeached on this day (December 19) in 1998. Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, something Donald Trump has not done. Those lies took place in the context of Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern in the Oval Office. Trump, for all his past sexual foibles, has never stooped that low.

All the same, expect this moment to be discussed ad nauseam next year as Democrats debate whether or not to impeach Trump. Yes, Trump seems to have paid off porn stars, but so far as we know (and in this White House, we would know) he hasn’t strayed from his wife while in office.

President Bill Clinton looks on as Vice President Gore addresses members of congress outside the Oval Office after the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president, Saturday Dec.19, 1998. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Other morsels.

2 Students Explain Why They Defended Teacher Fired Over Transgender Pronouns

SPLC Demands Zuckerberg, Sandberg Leave Facebook Board Over ‘Hate Groups,’ Anti-Semitism

Sorry, Marco Rubio, We’re Far Better Off Today Than When You Were A Kid

WATCH: Reporter Screams At Sarah Sanders As She Leaves Press Briefing

The Liberal Arts Weren’t Murdered — They Committed Suicide

Penny Marshall’s undeniable talent helped her conquer TV and film

No Surprise Boy Scouts Headed for the Ash Heap

The Left Lends Cover to Anti-Semitism

Science Article Castigates “Human Supremacy”

Google Search ‘Filter Bubbles’ Politically Divide Americans, Study Says

Sam Harris Drops Patreon, Citing ‘Political Bias’ Likely Inspired by SPLC’s ‘Hate Group’ List