It’s like finding out that your parents had a life before you came into the picture, or that your first-grade teacher doesn’t always wear sensible shoes and go by Mrs. Cooper.
Yes, even the leader of the free world had a life before handling economic crises and juggling overseas conflicts.
In President Obama’s case, that means embarrassing prom pictures, big hair, and a garish fashion sense (see, he’s just like us!). It’s available for our viewing pleasure thanks to some 1979 photos of Mr. Obama in Time magazine that show the president, then a student at Punahou School in Honolulu, with his date before the prom. The pictures show a beaming 17-year-old Barack clad in a white suit jacket, blue tie, and lei, arms around the shoulders of his date, Megan Hughes. Also in the pictures are Greg Orme and his date, Kelli Allman, who offered the photos to Time (for which, we think she should be retroactively crowned prom queen).
Also published by Time was a note Obama left in Ms. Allman’s yearbook, calling her “sweet and foxy” and declaring, “You really deserve better than clowns like us; you even laugh at my jokes!”
He might be right. After all, this was before Obama had a speechwriter, media training, and a staff at the ready to write perfectly scripted jokes for events just like this (ahem, White House Correspondents' Dinner, aka nerd prom.
“It was a really fun, happy time. We were all cracking up, and everyone was smiling,” Allman told the magazine.
Sure, Obama’s come a long way since his awkward high school years (and we’re primarily talking about his fashion sense), but we bet he’s pining for them right about now.
After enduring a modern-day version of the seven plagues, political edition – a grueling reelection campaign, an 11th-hour budget battle that pushed the nation off a cliff, a crushing defeat in the gun debate, excruciating attempts at bipartisanship, and most recently, a trio of scandals that’s prompted references to Watergate and “the second-term curse” – the prom photos probably come as a breath of fresh, Hawaiian air to the president, big hair, funny clothes and all.
Oh, to be 17, in Hawaii, and with nary a care in the world.
Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are looking at an extended vacation on Martha’s Vineyard this summer, according to a report in The Boston Globe. The Globe might have something here – it’s almost a local Vineyard paper, after all.
According to The Globe the first couple is looking at a house near Farm Neck, in Oak Bluffs, which they’ve visited in the past. The particular house they’ve stayed in previously, Blue Heron Farm, “Up Island” in Chilmark, has since been sold. So that piece of real estate is probably out.
President Obama has a lot going on, what with defending against Benghazi inquisitions and the IRS's targeting of conservative groups and other flaps, so it’s not as if he’s going to be biking the Vineyard’s idyllic paths all summer. He may come up for weekends and an extended period of time in August.
If Michelle and the kids do opt for a lengthy Vineyard stay it could become fodder for critics. First family vacations are a fraught issue, as it’s easy to portray them as insensitive in some manner. The Vineyard is an expensive and exclusive area (as well as kind of Democratic – didn’t the Clintons go there?) so it’s likely that at some point some talk radio host will go after this plan as demeaning to US workers still suffering in a slowly recovering economy.
And Michelle will go along with Barack when the president makes a swing through Africa later in the summer. There’s no word yet on whether Sasha and Malia will go there, too.
In the past conservative groups have cried “foul” over Mrs. Obama’s presence on such trips, saying that while the first couple may pay for some of the expenses, it still costs the taxpayers money for her security detail and associated stuff. The group Judicial Watch even filed a suit with the US Air Force last year, seeking records from Mrs. Obama’s trip to Spain in 2010.
For the Obamas the reality is that the White House is a gilded cage. Like virtually all residents of the US executive mansion before them they long to escape it for a semblance of normality, preferably somewhere with a climate superior to that of steamy Washington, D.C.
As a wealthy couple they can afford a Vineyard rental. Having been there before, they’ve perhaps decided it both meets their recreating needs and can be played down as a place where they’ve been before.
How's this for a paradox: US drone strikes are now declining under President Obama – the man who made drone strikes a primary element of his counterterrorism strategy.
President Obama has, in some ways, become known as the "drone president." His drone campaign started three days into the first term of his presidency. His national security policy has been defined, at least in part, by a penchant for targeted killings. And he has already authorized more than six times the number of strikes in Pakistan that President George W. Bush did in his entire presidency.
And yet, as the president prepares to make his case for drones in a Thursday address at the National Defense University in Washington, it turns out drone strikes are actually down considerably, according to an analysis in The New York Times.
In Pakistan, drone strikes plummeted nearly 61 percent from 2010 (117 strikes) to 2012 (46 strikes), and they’re still dropping, with a relatively scant 13 strikes so far this year, according to data from Long War Journal, a website that tracks American drone strikes. In Yemen, strikes are down from 42 in 2012 to 10 in 2013. And in Somalia, no strikes have been reported in more than a year.
Why the quiet drop-off in drone strikes? Here’s three reasons:
Fewer targets remain
That’s right, the program’s very success in efficiently eliminating scores of Al Qaeda operatives means there are, quite simply, fewer Al Qaeda targets left to kill.
“The [Obama] administration used the drone strikes aggressively and killed the top al Qaeda leaders,” an unnamed intelligence official told Pakistani news site The News International in December 2012. “Now that we have taken out most of these guys, the usage of the drone strikes seems decreasing.”
In Pakistan, it appears so many Al Qaeda targets have been killed, the focus has quietly shifted to Taliban fighters. Taliban targets account for more than 50 percent of targeted killings, compared with just 8 percent for Al Qaeda figures, according to national security analyst Peter Bergen.
No surprise, Mr. Obama’s drone program has alienated allies abroad, largely because of the number of civilian casualties incurred as a result of the strikes. Nowhere is that more true than in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiments are already high due to US actions such as the SEAL team operation to kill Osama bin Laden.
For a president who, upon taking office, vowed to improve relations with the Muslim world, the drone program is counterproductive. A Pew Research Center survey reveals that under George W. Bush, a relatively unpopular president in the Muslim world, the United States generated higher approval ratings (19 percent) than it does now (12 percent), under Obama.
“Globally these operations are hated,” Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The New York Times. “It’s the face of American foreign policy, and it’s an ugly face.”
Al Qaeda has used the Obama administration’s drone program, and particularly its sad side effect of civilian casualties, as a central part of its recruitment propaganda. Wildly unpopular in the Muslim world, the strikes are leveraged by Al Qaeda to make a case that the US is at war with Islam and to drum up sympathy for its cause.
The drone program has also been mentioned by convicted terrorists as motivation for their crimes, as the Times points out, including “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who tried to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, as well as Faisal Shahzad, whose attempted Times Square car bombing was foiled in 2010.
In other words, drone strikes may be creating as many would-be terrorists as it seeks to eliminate.
Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the storm over the agency’s targeting of conservative political groups, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination Wednesday and declined to testify at a House hearing on the matter.
Why did she do that?
Many on the right assume she did so because she is covering up criminal activity. Twitter was aflame with comments noting that she is a registered Democrat and should be fired.
“So, Lois Lerner is either a coward or a criminal, right? Tell me where I’m wrong,” tweeted conservative commentator S.E. Cupp shortly after Ms. Lerner declined to answer lawmakers’ questions.
Lerner, however, denies she did anything wrong. In brief comments before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee prior to her invocation of the Fifth, she said, “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee,” said Lerner.
The committee chairman, Rep. Darryl Issa (R) of California, said she was entitled to exercise her right to refuse to speak.
“There can be no question that we have to respect it. Additionally, her assertion is not to be viewed or used during this hearing to make any determination plus or minus as to actions that were taken,” Representative Issa said.
Lerner’s particular problem is that committee members and others have questions about her past statements as to when she found out about the IRS targeting of key words such as “tea party” when investigating the tax exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations.
Earlier this month she told journalists she had learned of the practice from news reports in early 2012. But according to the just-released Inspector General report on the issue, Lerner, head of the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations, found out her employees were targeting conservative groups in June, 2011.
She ordered the targeting to stop, but it gradually returned with slightly broader key word searches. Members want to know why it wasn’t killed immediately.
Oversight panel members also want to know whether she misled congressional investigators about her knowledge of the targeting.
Staff members of the Issa-led panel talked with Lerner and other IRS officials in 2012 following complaints from some conservative organizations that they were having trouble with the IRS. At the time Lerner did not mention the targeting. Nor did she talk about it with staff members of a House Ways and Means subcommittee who were looking at the same issue and who questioned her early last year.
Given the contradictions between her words and the public record, it’s perhaps not surprising that Lerner declined to discuss the issue in the televised glare of a politically-charged hearing.
So why does she still have an IRS job? It might be because it’s not easy to fire her, or most other government workers that don’t fill a politically-appointed job.
As David Nather and Rachel Bade note at Politico, “Most employees involved in the targeting program are covered by protections for federal workers that could drag out the termination process.”
If the Obama administration decides it needs to ditch Lerner, its best chance might be to just ask her to resign and see if she goes along. The outgoing acting director of the agency, Steven Miller, was a career official who could have dug in if he’d wanted to. But when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked him to quit, he did.
The Internal Revenue Service’s slow-motion train wreck of a scandal just got a bit worse. That’s according to a new poll that offers fresh insight into how Americans perceive the IRS targeting scandal – and points to badly bungled damage control on the part of the agency and the administration.
According to the Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday, 56 percent of respondents believe IRS scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status was a deliberate move to target conservative groups. Only 31 percent said the targeting was an “administrative mistake.”
What’s more, 45 percent of poll respondents said the administration is trying to cover up facts about the scandal, while 42 percent said it is honestly disclosing what it knows.
For those who have watched this train wreck unfold, the findings are hardly surprising. After all, both the IRS and the Obama administration handled the mess with the grace of an elephant dancing backward in high heels.
There was the IRS’s initial decision to keep knowledge of the targeting practice, which began as early as 2010, under wraps for years.
There was its bizarre scheme to finally make the news public – not by informing Congress, issuing a press release, even leaking the news to a friendly media outlet. No, the agency planted a question in the audience of a little known law conference to get the news out.
And then there was the hastily organized press conference by a White House apparently blindsided by the news, President Obama’s unconvincing insistence that he learned of the news at the same time as the rest of the country, and the belated resignation of Acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller – six days after news of the scandal had emerged.
“When confronted with its worst scandal in decades,” as Politico put it, “the IRS broke virtually every public relations rule on the books.”
The surprise in all this, of course, is that Mr. Obama has emerged from the scandal relatively unscathed. According to the Washington Post poll, his approval rating is holding steady at 51 percent, with 44 percent disapproving – not bad for a commander in chief buffeted by political disaster from all directions.
The clear winner, if there is any, is the tea party. Sagging after its 2010 midterm election sweep, the movement got a shot in the arm from the IRS scandal, a recent poll reveals. According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, 37 percent of respondents said they see the tea party in a favorable light. While that may not seem like much, it’s up 9 points from CNN’s March poll and just one point shy of the group’s all-time high in CNN polling , 38 percent, “reached twice in 2010 during the heyday of the movement,” according to the survey.
While it’s not clear if the popularity “bump” will last for the tea party, it’s more certain is that the IRS’s slump will linger.
The agency and its new commissioner, Daniel Werfel, face a massive public relations challenge, the most difficult aspect of which will be convincing Congress and Americans that the IRS can be a trusted government agency again.
Of course, if the Washington Post’s latest poll is any indication, it will be a long road ahead.
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky thinks the US Senate is “bullying” Apple Inc. That’s what he said Tuesday during a hearing on Apple’s tax-avoidance strategies, in any case.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations convened the hearing to investigate charges that the iconic producer of the iPhone and iPad has kept its taxes low in recent years by in essence parking overseas profits in the middle of the ocean.
Senator Paul said that as far as he could tell Apple had done nothing illegal. The firm had simply taken advantage of the complexities of the US and foreign tax codes, he said.
He complained that instead of celebrating the firm’s success, senators were “dragging in” Apple executives and berating them.
“Apple has done more to enrich people’s lives than politicians will ever do,” said the Kentucky lawmaker, a favorite of the tea party. “To the Apple executives here I apologize for this theater of the absurd.”
Paul’s rant sent a jolt of tension through a session that otherwise was focused on what many lawmakers perceived as Apple’s use of tax gimmicks.
The firm avoided taxes on money earned overseas by assigning it to three subsidiaries based in Ireland, according to information developed by subcommittee staff.
Under US law, profits held by those subsidiaries would be taxed in Ireland, where the subsidiaries are incorporated. Under Irish law, the profits would be taxed in the US, the country from which the subsidiaries are controlled and where they hold board meetings.
So they weren’t taxed at all. (If the money were repatriated to the US, it would then face corporate income taxes.)
Through this maneuver Apple withheld at least $76 billion in profits from taxation between 2009 and 2012, according to subcommittee investigators. In 2012 alone this cost Uncle Sam $12 billion in receipts, according to subcommittee figures. Two other Apple subsidiaries incorporated in Ireland pay taxes there.
Many senators expressed outrage at Apple using overseas subsidiaries to avoid taxes at a time when the government is struggling to reduce the federal deficit.
“Apple is exploiting an absurdity,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, subcommittee chairman, at the beginning of the hearing.
Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona began his statement praising Apple for creating great products. But he decried Apple’s “scheme” to avoid taxation.
“In my view, loopholes like these are harmful in that they allow large corporations huge advantages over domestic companies, who can’t use overseas corporations to lower their domestic burdens,” said Senator McCain. “The American people will not tolerate it. Our tax system is broken and not modern, but I won’t let that excuse be used by Apple to explain why it’s OK for companies to not pay what they owe.”
Apple was unapologetic about its use of what it termed legal maneuvers to lower its tax burden as much as possible for its shareholders.
“Apple complies fully with both the laws and the spirit of the laws,” said a company statement prepared in advance of the hearing.
Should Attorney General Eric Holder quit his office? Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas called for just that Sunday during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Why? There’s no written evidence that Mr. Holder actually recused himself from the Justice Department’s AP leak case, as he claims he did, said Senator Cornyn.
“I think it’s past time for him to go and for the president to appoint somebody who the public can have confidence in,” said Cornyn.
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Nor is Cornyn's a lone voice. Many Republicans – and some liberal Democrats – are calling for Holder’s replacement these days. The broad Justice Department subpoena of AP phone records is the main reason they cite.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, for instance, issued a statement last Tuesday calling for Holder to go.
“Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution,” said the Priebus statement. “Because Attorney General Holder has so egregiously violated the public trust, the president should ask for his immediate resignation.”
Wow, that’s pretty harsh. Is there any chance it will actually happen?
Well, you can never say “never” in partisan politics. But the chance of Holder losing his job anytime soon is not very high, absent any further disclosures.
Why’s this? One reason is that it’s mostly (though not exclusively) Republicans who are calling for Holder’s ouster, and the Obama White House does not want them to get a political win.
The animus between Holder and some Republicans is palpable during his appearances before congressional committees. It’s been that way for years. Cornyn, in fact, first called for Holder to resign last June. At the time, he cited Fast and Furious, as well as the fact that Holder would not appoint a special prosecutor to look into leaks of classified security information.
“With all due respect, senator, there’s so much that’s factually wrong with the premises that you started your statement with,” Holder told him at the time. “It’s almost breathtaking in its inaccuracy.”
The second reason is that President Obama probably agrees with the AP subpoena. His administration has prosecuted more leak cases than any in history. It’s tough to fire a guy for doing what he knows you want.
The last is the Fast and Furious connection. That’s last year’s scandal. If Holder were going to lose his job over that, it would have happened by now. For what it’s worth, Mr. Obama defended Holder vehemently last week during a press appearance.
“I have complete confidence in Eric Holder as attorney general,” said Obama.
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Ted Nugent’s brother is in favor of expanded background checks for gun purchases. We know this because the bro in question, Jeffrey Nugent, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Saturday arguing that the National Rifle Association is wrong on this issue and that the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., requires the nation to reexamine what the Second Amendment really means.
“I believe strongly that expanding and improving mandatory background checks will keep a lot of people who aren’t entitled to Second Amendment rights from having easy access to guns,” this Nugent wrote.
Ted Nugent himself has a different opinion here, in case you didn’t know. He’s an NRA board member and an avid hunter who supports firearm rights. The Motor City Madman attended President Obama’s State of the Union address in person. Afterward, a CBS reporter asked for his reaction to Mr. Obama’s proposal of expanded background checks and other new gun-control measures in the speech.
“My reaction? I’m not allowed to do that because I’m supposed to keep my pants on,” he said.
So here’s the obvious question: Will there be a family explosion? Will Thanksgiving now be awkward, and Christmas cards go unexchanged? Will Nuge and bro Nuge maybe even come to blows?
No. It looks as if they’ll try to settle this the old-fashioned way – by writing.
First, we’ll note that Jeffrey Nugent is not really that much different in most of his attitudes here than Ted. The older Nugent – yes, he’s the older brother, you figured that didn’t you? – describes himself as a former Army officer and an NRA member and hunter himself. His op-ed is illustrated with a picture of Jeffrey and Ted and a wild boar they shot.
(By the way, he was president and chief executive of Revlon. Lip gloss and “Cat Scratch Fever,” all in the same family.)
J-Nuge, as we’ll call him, also emphasizes a way to possibly reduce gun violence that his brother would support: more effort in general to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and convicted felons.
And J-Nuge writes that his brother can make good points when they argue about guns.
Then he makes a perceptive observation: “Ted is someone who speaks in extremes to make his points. It reflects who he is, and it works for him and his audience.”
It’s true – Ted Nugent is not insane. He just feigns insanity on stage. The Nuge’s attitudes toward guns are not fringe so much as mainstream GOP. Slate columnist Dave Weigel has noted that if Nugent ran for Congress and won, he would not be the most conservative Republican in the House, by any means.
So Ted has responded to J-Nuge with rhetorical, not actual, fired shots. He’s written his own opinion piece for the conservative website NewsMax that lauds his “loving brother” and celebrates free expression.
Then he enlists that extreme thing his brother talked about to explain that he does not support expanded background checks because criminals will just ignore such restrictions.
“Paroled thugs or bug-eyed psychotics could not care less about any gun laws. The bold and ugly reality is that they will always gain access to a weapon. I believe at his core, my brother knows this,” Ted Nugent writes.
Here’s a prediction: This is a news show waiting to happen. “Crossfire,” with Nugent and Nugent. Talk about (word) lock and load. Or at least, it’s a news segment, with both bros on, say, “Hannity” at the same time. A booker is probably working on that right now.
North Korea on Monday continued to fire short-range projectiles from its east coast into the ocean, according to South Korean and US officials. The North Korean military has now launched six such weapons over the past three days.
US officials and experts outside government aren’t sure exactly what the projectiles are. They could be short-range missiles, or they could be rockets fired from a large-caliber gun. Both would travel similar ballistic paths.
Either weapon could reach Seoul and other important targets in South Korea. Over the weekend, the US urged North Korea to stop test shots and other provocative actions, saying they will only further isolate the hermit-like Pyongyang regime.
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“We continue to urge the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations,” said National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden.
What’s North Korea up to? Are the tests just routine weapon development?
That’s possible. If the weapons are indeed a new type of rocket-propelled artillery, North Korea could be test-firing projectiles to see how they work.
But given the tensions on the Korean Peninsula it’s also possible that North Korea is engaging in a little flexing of its military hardware. Missile launches are a common North Korean reaction to what it considers to be threats from its neighbor to the south and the US.
In particular, Pyongyang has seemed peeved about the recent presence of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and its battle group in South Korean waters. The Nimitz reportedly engaged in a naval exercise with regional allies.
Last week a state-run North Korean newspaper complained that the appearance of the Nimitz was meant “to escalate the tension and ignite a nuclear war.”
There’s also a third possibility: North Korea is trying to toy with the United States.
Recall that in April Pyongyang appeared set to test-fire a new type of intermediate-range missile, the Musudan. Musudans were loaded onto launchers and all ready to go on North Korea’s east coast, said South Korean and US reports at the time.
Then, crickets. The Musudan or Musudans were not fired around April 15, the date North Korea celebrates the birth of founder Kim Il-sung. They were unloaded from their launchers and packed away, according to some reports from the region. Or they were still ready and waiting for launch, according to others.
The Korea Times reported in mid-April that Pyongyang was shuttling the missiles around in an attempt to evade US and South Korean surveillance.
The recent spate of short-range launches could be North Korea’s way of thumbing its nose at a world that was expecting something bigger. Or it could be North Korea’s way of distracting adversary intelligence forces from preparations for (finally!) a Musudan launch.
“I suppose one possibility is that the North Koreans are – and I am going to use a term of art here – jerking our chain,” wrote nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, in a post on the North Korea blog 38 North, as to whether Pyongyang will ever fire a Musudan.
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The famous Washington Post reporter and former antagonist of President Richard Nixon said the US government’s editing of talking points used by public officials in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is “a very serious issue.”
“I would not dismiss Benghazi,” Mr. Woodward said.
Woodward’s own main talking point was that he believed there are similarities between the process used to produce the Benghazi talking points and Nixon’s release of edited transcripts of the White House tapes.
Citing the lengthy e-mail chain detailing the production of the talking points, released by the Obama administration earlier this week, the Watergate press hero said that in the wake of the Libyan tragedy “everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to Al Qaeda. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings.’ ”
Forty years ago, Nixon went line by line through his tape transcripts and made his own edits.
“He personally went through them and said, ‘Let’s not tell this, let’s not show this,’ ” said Woodward on “Morning Joe."
Nixon, of course, was trying to deflate the increasing public and congressional pressure for him to release the tapes themselves. He wasn’t successful. The tapes revealed the extent of his involvement with the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover up.
As to Benghazi, Woodward concluded that the edits “show the hydraulic pressure that was in the system not to tell the truth.”
Is Woodward right to make this comparison? After all, he is the media’s official arbiter of all things Watergate, and his words here carry special weight.
Well, it’s certainly possible that he’s hit upon the reason the talking points got changed around. But having read the 100 pages of e-mails on the editing process ourselves, we’d say it’s also possible that he’s jumping to conclusions. For at least some of the officials involved in the process, the reason to take out references to terrorists and Al Qaeda was not to hide the truth, but because they did not know what the truth was.
For instance, early in the editing process Stephen Preston, the CIA’s general counsel, e-mailed talking-point participants that “in light of the criminal investigation, we are not to generate statements with statements as to who did this, etc. – even internally, not to mention for public release.”
And the scrubbed “warnings” Woodward referred to were fairly vague references to past CIA internal statements. The Post journalist may be right that the public should have heard about them. State Department officials, though, were transparently annoyed that the spy agency was trying to cover its rear end at their expense.
Look, things don’t have to be as bad as Watergate to be important malfeasance. Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein made that point earlier this week on his A Plain Blog About Politics.
But loosely comparing current scandals with Watergate is to forget the full extent of the Nixon-era scandal, wrote Mr. Bernstein in a post titled, “You Call That a Cover-Up?”
In Watergate the cover-up was essentially personally directed by the president, overseen by the White House chief of staff, and run by the White House counsel, Bernstein writes. They concocted a false story, destroyed important evidence, and raised hush money used to attempt to buy the silence of underlings who were facing jail time.
By the way, the Watergate hearings began 40 years ago on this date. Bernstein has been writing a fascinating series of pieces outlining the unfolding of the Watergate scandal day by day, as if it were occurring in real time. You can read that to catch up on the bad old days and decide if today compares.