What We're Reading

Daily Reads: JPMorgan Paid Fines with “Phony Mortgages”; Will Trump Pardon Cliven Bundy?

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Will Trump Pardon Cliven Bundy?

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Descending into madness –> More details have emerged about Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s state of mind. Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz report for ABC News that investigators say that his “mental state was deteriorating in the weeks before” the shooting and he’d shown “significant weight loss, an increasingly slovenly physical appearance and an obsession with his girlfriend’s ex-husband.”

We mentioned yesterday that the “bump-stock” Paddock used to attain machine-gun-like rates of fire from semi-automatic rifles were flying off the shelves of gun stores. Today, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Tiffany Hu report for The New York Times that congressional Democrats are proposing to ban them, and Republicans “signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to” such a measure.

Fraud on top of fraud –> David Dayen reports for The Nation that the country’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase, paid a portion of the fines it incurred after the 2008 crash for committing mortgage fraud by writing down the value of mortgages it had already sold off. Dayen calls it “an elaborate shell game.” Given the lack of high-level prosecutions in the mortgage crisis, the most interesting aspect of this story may be that “there is strong evidence that Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO and chairman, knew about and helped to implement” the scheme.

Secession –> Angus Berwick and Sonya Dowsett report for Reuters that “Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain after holding a banned referendum, pushing the European Union nation toward a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy.”

A well-oiled machine –> Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a press conference on Wednesday to reaffirm his loyalty to Donald Trump after it was reported that he had called the president a “moron,” and had to be talked out of resigning. Carol Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer have more at NBC News.

Meanwhile, Nik Steinberg, who served in the US Mission to the UN under Obama, writes for Politico that Tillerson is “running the State Department into the ground,” as “skilled and patriotic diplomats are leaving like never before in an exodus that is damaging the United States.”

And Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is not running for re-election, defended Tillerson, telling reporters that the former ExxonMobil CEO and Gens. Kelly and Mattis were the only things standing between “our country” and “chaos,” according to Aaron Blake at The Washington Post.

Hypocrisy –> Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a staunch opponent of abortion, announced on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election after it was reported that he urged his mistress to have an abortion. The district favors Republican candidates by 11 points, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index. NPR’s James Doubek has more on that story.

At Salon, Amanda Marcotte explores Murphy’s stated rationale behind a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Marcotte calls the legislation Murphy co-sponsored and which the GOP-led House passed this week “pure anti-woman propaganda.”

Casualties in a war most don’t know we’re fighting –> Three US Green Berets were killed and two others were injured when their routine patrol was ambushed in Niger, Africa on Wednesday. Eric Schmitt has the details at The New York Times.

Revolt in the West –> Cliven Bundy is going to trial next week in connection with the standoff he led against the federal government in 2014, but Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones reports that Trump is being urged to pardon the scofflaw-turned-conservative-folk hero.

So much for that idea –> When Donald Trump mentioned that all of Puerto Rico’s debt might have to be forgiven, lots of people rejoiced but Wall Street “freaked out,” according to Politico’s Ben White and Colin Wilhelm. Shortly afterward, the White House moved “swiftly to clean up Trump’s seemingly offhand remarks,” with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney saying “I wouldn’t take it word for word.”

Chutzpah –> The New York City police officer who “slammed tennis star James Blake to the ground in 2015 before wrongfully arresting him” is now suing Blake, the NYPD and others for defamation and emotional distress. Apparently, the furor surrounding the incident has made the officer’s life “a living hell.” Rachel Leah has more at Salon.

That “dodgy dossier” may not be so dodgy after all –> Special counsel Robert Mueller “has taken over FBI inquiries into a former British spy’s dossier of allegations of Russian financial and personal links to President Donald Trump’s campaign and associates,” reports Mark Hosenball for Reuters.

The leading members of the Senate Intelligence Committee held a rare press conference on Wednesday to affirm the intelligence community’s findings that Russia did interfere with last year’s election and warn that we can expect more in the future. Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said that whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians remained an “open question.” Julian Borger has more at The Guardian.

Almost too good to be true –> The PBS show Finding Your Roots conducted DNA tests which revealed that Sen. Bernie Sanders and his Saturday Night Live doppelganger Larry David are in fact distant cousins. Jay Willis has a clip of the moment when the men found out about the connection at GQ.

Better not pout –> “Turkish archaeologists have dashed the hopes of millions of children by claiming to have uncovered the likely burial place of Saint Nicholas,” reports Kareem Shaheen for The Guardian.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

 


 

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