Trump lawyer Charles Harder: both dishonest and incompetent

There’s a saying that you should never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence. Over the past month, however, Donald Trump has repeatedly shown that these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. The same observation applies to Charles Harder, a lawyer who claims to be representing Melania Trump in a lawsuit against the Daily Mail. As we’ll see below, though, Harder is probably more accurately described as one of The Donald himself's newest legal goons.

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Lawsuit over Melania Trump escort reports raises disturbing questions

Disclaimer: I wish publishing this article wasn't necessary, and nothing in it should be construed as an attack on Melania Trump. In fact, I have serious doubts about whether she is in any meaningful sense the author of the legal actions ascribed to her. This article uses phrases such as "Melania sued" and "Melania's lawsuit" only for the sake of simplicity.

Furthermore, I cannot emphasize strongly enough that I don't think there's anything wrong with sex work and do think it should be fully decriminalized.

Content warning: rape; domestic abuse; probably-consensual sex acts some readers will find squicky.

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I just e-mailed my Senators telling them to obstruct everything

I just sent both of my Senators an e-mail telling them to obstruct everything Donald Trump tries to do. This is an extreme measure, but, I believe, a necessary one. In my e-mail (posted below the fold), I explain why:

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No Senator has any excuse for confirming Sessions

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to explain why I'm writing it: to show there is not one person in the Senate who has the slightest excuse to vote to confirm Jeff Sessions as US attorney general. Everything I describe here is a matter of public record. Most people don't know it because they're not as obsessive as I am, but if you're a Senator, this is your job. And if you're too busy with all the other things you have to do as a part of your job, this is why you have staff. There is no excuse.

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Elaine Chao's financial disclosures hide de facto bribery

On Sunday, I linked to an article in The Intercept on Trump's pick for Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao. The author, Lee Fang, did an overall great job with the article, but seems to not quite get the significance of the information in Chao's financial disclosures. Key quote (emphasis mine):

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Keep calling Congress!

Thursday, there was a part of me that was afraid Trump would nuke Beijing on day one, China would retaliate, and then we'd all die. But it didn't occur to me just how surreal the last three days would be—including Trump telling CIA staff God had miraculously made it not rain during his inaugural address (spoiler: this is not true) and newly minted White House staff member Kellyanne Conway giving us a new euphemism for "lie"—"alternative facts".

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Democrats should be more freaked out about Wilbur Ross

Today's confirmation hearings for Trump Commerce Secretary pick Wilbur Ross were a colossal disappointment, in terms of how the Democrats on the committee handled them. Two committee members—Blumenthal and Udall—did an admirable job of pushing Ross for his opinions on Trump's refusal to divest his holdings. Other Democrats, however, seemed more interested in pushing their pet issues than pressing the most serious objections to Ross's appointment.

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Happy MLK Day! Trump is already imploding!

It's fortunate that Martin Luther King Jr. was born in January—it means that every four years, when a president is inaugurated, the United States has an opportunity to reflect on our country's history with race, and what it means for the new administration. In this case, it makes Trump's attack on Rep. John Lewis (who survived getting his skull fractured while marching for voting rights in the 60s) that much more catastrophic for Trump, politically. And don't believe those who say Trump can shrug off anything—the truth is he's imploding, and we should celebrate it.

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Jeff Sessions "assisted" two major civil rights cases with ill-informed devil's advocacy

When I first sat down to start writing a post on Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings for Attorney General, I thought I might do something like "ten questions for Senators thinking of confirming Jeff Sessions". But as I carefully reviewed video and transcripts of the hearings, along with the record of Sessions' 1986 judicial confirmation hearings, I realized I didn't need ten points. I just needed one: it looks an awful lot like Sessions perjured himself in the questionnaire he submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. And if not, if he really believes the things he said, he is sadly self-deluded about the nature of his own record on civil rights.

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The Senate should refuse to confirm any of Trump's cabinet nominees until he makes full financial disclosures

Yesterday evening, I was planning on writing a blog post on day 1 of Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings. But I got distracted—to put it mildly—by CNN's report that both Obama and Trump had just been briefed on rumors that Russian Intelligence had compromised Trump, immediately followed by Buzzfeed's leak of a report prepared by an ex-member of British intelligence that goes into greater detail on the rumors that have been circulating. My head is still spinning from all of this, but I do have one thought. Bear with me, because this will take some unpacking.

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