An unexpected side
We all know what Robert Mueller’s working on right now. But before we get to that, take a trip back in time for a moment to Pan Am Flight 103 and Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice. “In @vermontgmg’s latest dispatch for Wired, an unexpected side of Robert Mueller comes to light. A must read,” tweets Steve Roberts, Jr., of Garrett Graff’s new piece for WIRED. “Thirty years ago last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack,” writes Graff, who notes, “A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director and which had awoken the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.”
Plot = thicker
And on to present day, the big scoop from Peter Stone and Greg Gordon at McClatchy is that Michael Cohen’s cell phone briefly activated near Prague around the time of a purported Russia meeting (104,000+ shares). That cell phone signal puts Michael Cohen in the Prague area in late summer 2016, “leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.” And that lends new credence to part of the infamous Steele dossier. In case you need a refresher, Julia Ioffe has you covered: “According to the dossier, Michael Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague to discuss election help. No one could verify this claim. Now, cell phone signals put Cohen in Prague around the time the alleged meeting took place. Plot = thicker.” “Isn’t that something?” says John Dugan.
The “I” word
In a new column for The New York Times, Elizabeth Drew, a journalist who covered Watergate, writes about The Inevitability of Impeachment (86,000+ shares). Walter Shapiro says, “The combination of ‘Impeachment’ in a headline and the @ElizabethDrewOH byline makes this a must-read Op-Ed. I agree with the assessment that if Mueller delivers the goods, Trump is on far shakier ground than many assume. Even Republicans can jump ship.” But Cliston Brown says, “This column makes a lot of assumptions, chief among them that Republicans actually give a damn.”
So here’s a “Fascinating story about the amateur photographer and airplane enthusiast in England who helped uncover a secret presidential mission…” Josh Campbell links to How Trump’s secret trip to Iraq became not so secret, by Noah Gray of CNN, who talked to Alan Meloy, the man who noticed a special plane in the sky over Sheffield and “accidentally help[ed] uncover a highly sensitive, secret presidential trip to a conflict zone.” Tweets Richard Allen Greene, “Amazing: British #planespotter saw unusual aircraft, knew there were only two in the world ... and that they normally use the call sign #AirForceOne. Great read.”
About that secret trip...Annie Karni of The New York Times writes that the president is facing accusations that he was playing politics with the military after singling out “Make America Great Again” caps in the crowd, signing a “Trump 2020” patch and accusing Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.
An extraordinary statement
Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post says, “I interviewed lots of families whose kids were killed by an undocumented immigrant. Some turned to obsession & hatred. Others became Trump evangelists. Then there was Mollie Tibbetts’ mother, who made this extraordinary statement in the most quiet of ways.” His new piece reveals, Mollie Tibbetts’ mother listened as Trump used her slain daughter to rail against illegal immigration. Then she took a different path. In fact, Laura Calderwood took in the teenage son of Mexican immigrants who fled when Mollie’s alleged killer — who they worked with at the dairy farm — was arrested. Of this story, Nicholas Riccardi can only say, “Just wow.” “An essential read and beautiful story,” adds Ali Vitali.
Remembering World War II veterans and heroes
Paul Szoldra of Task & Purpose tweets, “The daughter of World War II hero says there’s hardly anyone left to attend his memorial service on Saturday in Georgia. ‘I’m worried nobody will come.’ Do your thing, veteran community.” Nick Bowman of the Gainesville Times has the story of Cornelius Cornelssen VII, who died on December 18.
Meanwhile, Richard Overton, the nation’s oldest man and WWII veteran, has died at 112. Stars and Stripes has the obituary by Katie Hall and Nancy Flores of the Austin American-Statesman, tweeting, “Richard Overton, the oldest-living veteran, was born on May 11, 1906, the same year as the first wireless radio broadcast, and a year before Oklahoma became a state.” In addition to being honored for his military service, Overton was “beloved for his propensity to enjoy his supercentenarian status with a cigar in one hand and a glass of whiskey in another,” note Hall and Flores.
According to a new Reuters/Ispos poll, More Americans blame Trump for government shutdown. Chris Kahn and Ginger Gibson of Reuters have all the details, including the fact that only 35% support including money for the wall in a congressional spending bill.
The results of Gallup’s annual poll show that Barack Obama is America’s most admired man for the 11th year in a row. Michelle Obama is now the most admired woman (227,000+ shares), as Stef W. Kight reports at Axios.
This could be it for Sears. Lauren Hirsch of CNBC reports that the iconic retailer will likely liquidate if no bid comes in today.
A former McKinsey executive has been imprisoned and beaten by Saudis, according to people familiar with the matter, report Justin Scheck, Bradley Hope and Summer Said of The Wall Street Journal.
At The Guardian, Suzanne Wrack writes about the abuse case against the Afghan FA president. “What a horrific story - huge bravery from the players concerned and great journalism by @suzywrack,” tweets Owen Gibson.
“And suddenly @jeffsessions doesn't seem to be the very bottom of the barrel as AG,” tweets Nick Gillespie. C.J. Ciaramella of Reason got hold of consumer complaints filed to the Florida A.G. against the scam patent firm that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker sat on the advisory board of. Read the desperate emails from people scammed by A.G. Matt Whitaker’s business associates.
As Amy Carlile points out, it was “Quite a night for #energytwitter.” Also, no, it wasn’t an alien invasion (allegedly). As Jacey Fortin, Matt Stevens and Rick Rojas report at The New York Times, Sky in Queens Turns Bright Blue Amid Reports of Fire at Con Ed Substation.
If, like us, you’ve been binging on the Dr. Death podcast over the holidays, well then, this story’s really going to hit a nerve (ugh, sorry). At The Wall Street Journal, Anna Mathews and Melanie Evans give us a look at The Hidden System That Explains How Your Doctor Makes Referrals. Tweets Bob Herman, “This story by @annawmathews & @_melaevans is a showstopper. Explains the truth in clear terms: Hospitals are employing doctors to prevent patients from ‘leaking’ to competing hospitals.”
Anton Troianovski says Paul Sonne’s latest for The Washington Post is “A great story from @PaulSonne showing how Russia's foreign influence efforts aren't all Kremlin-directed but ‘also bubble up from below, or percolate on the margins.’” And really, who can resist this headline: A Russian bank gave Marine Le Pen’s party a loan. Then weird things began happening. “Meet the shady freelancers extending Moscow’s influence, courtesy of @PaulSonne,” tweets Nathan Hodge.
On Twitter, ProPublica’s Annie Waldman notes, “In rural Montana, Native students are bullied, pushed into remedial programs, cut from sports teams. And 2 kids have killed themselves after being rebuked by school staff. DeVos could investigate, but she hasn't yet.” Her new piece with Erica L. Green of The New York Times reveals a District of Despair: On a Montana Reservation, Schools Favor Whites Over Native Americans.
More from ProPublica, “A new data analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute shows more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, suffering financial damage that is often irreversible,” writes Peter Gosselin, who puts it bluntly: If You’re Over 50, Chances Are the Decision to Leave a Job Won’t be Yours.
Keith Larsen says, “This story is so damn good. The backstory behind the Jills and Kevin Tomlinson told in full color.” In his Vanity Fair piece How a Real-Estate Scuffle Turned into a True Tale of Miami Vice, Mark Seal tells the story of how “everyday greed blossomed into full-blown extortion.”
Happy Hack List!
And finally today, here’s one you don’t want to miss. At HuffPost, Alex Pareene tells us, “I asked 10 of America’s foremost thought leaders, authors and political figures to help me put together a definitive list” for HuffPost’s 2018 Year in Ideas. Also, “All of them refused.” No worries: “Undaunted, I forced a bot to review the collected writings of each person I asked, and then write essays for me. The bot instead crashed a Tesla into a Checkers.” Fortunately for us, Pareene decided to write them himself for 2018: The Year In Ideas: A Review Of Ideas. As Benjamin R. Freed tweets, “Happy Hack List! (or whatever @pareene’s calling it these days).” Check out these totally plausible (as Matt Fuller says, “This is supposed to be parody, but I don’t believe any of this is fake”) essays from “contemporary thinkers and authors.” “You'll laugh, you'll cry,” tweets Patrick LaForge. Most of all, you’ll remember, “Gawker was such a good website,” tweets Josh Sternberg.