No act of this presidency — good or bad, beneficial or detrimental — can ever be considered without first contextualizing that this presidency itself was conceived in deception and is being incubated under an extraordinary lie.
Let’s assume the worst immediate scenario for the moment. That the Vichy Republicans in D.C. — whether Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, or the big-bark-no-bite John McCain and Lindsey Graham — either block or pocket veto the Democrats’ calls for an independent prosecutor. And that somehow Trump and Jeff Sessions (who claims to have recused himself from all matters Russian, but clearly has not) ram one of their personal toadies through the Senate as the next FBI director: Rudy Giuliani perhaps, or Michael Mukasey, or, heaven knows, Jeanine Pirro. Nonetheless, the new director’s attempts to further derail the ongoing investigation will be met with revolt by the career professionals within the organization — an unwinding that may already be happening. There will be chaos. There will be leaks. There will be resignations. There will be synergy, clandestine or otherwise, with the Senate and House investigations into Trump and Russia. There will be blood. After the news of the firing broke last night, McCain called the scandal “a centipede” and made an unassailable prediction: “I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop, I can just guarantee it. There’s just too much information that we don’t have that will be coming out.”
WASHINGTON — Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.
The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.
As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.
Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.
The White House on Wednesday said this account is not correct. And Mr. Trump, in an interview on Thursday with NBC, described a far different dinner conversation with Mr. Comey in which the director asked to have the meeting and the question of loyalty never came up. It was not clear whether he was talking about the same meal, but they are believed to have had only one dinner together.
By Mr. Comey’s account, his answer to Mr. Trump’s initial question apparently did not satisfy the president, the associates said. Later in the dinner, Mr. Trump again said to Mr. Comey that he needed his loyalty.
Mr. Comey again replied that he would give him “honesty” and did not pledge his loyalty, according to the account of the conversation.
But Mr. Trump pressed him on whether it would be “honest loyalty.”
“You will have that,” Mr. Comey told his associates that he responded.
Throughout his career, Mr. Trump has made loyalty from the people who worked for him a key priority, often discharging employees he considered insufficiently reliable.
As described by the two people, the dinner offers a window into Mr. Trump’s approach to the presidency, through Mr. Comey’s eyes. A businessman and reality television star who never served in public office, Mr. Trump may not have understood that by tradition, F.B.I. directors are not supposed to be political loyalists, which is why Congress in the 1970s passed a law giving them 10-year terms to make them independent of the president.
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So it’s naïve to expect Republicans to join forces with Democrats to get to the bottom of the Russia scandal — even if that scandal may strike at the very roots of our national security. Today’s Republicans just don’t cooperate with Democrats, period. They’d rather work with Vladimir Putin.
In fact, some of them probably did.
Now, maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Maybe there are enough Republicans with a conscience — or, failing that, sufficiently frightened of an electoral backlash — that the attempt to kill the Russia probe will fail. One can only hope so.
But it’s time to face up to the scary reality here. Most people now realize, I think, that Donald Trump holds basic American political values in contempt. What we need to realize is that much of his party shares that contempt.
-Krugman for NYT
I mentioned earlier that we shouldn’t forget this simple point. Virtually everyone of note in the White House has already repeated and vouched for President Trump’s story of how and why he fired James Comey. Not only was this story a plain absurdity on day one; all the information which has emerged over the last two days has tended to confirm its falsity. Here’s the key point. Everyone who has repeated it knows it’s false. They have knowingly lied on the President’s behalf and about a matter of grave national importance. That includes the Vice President. So in the extreme scenario that the President leaves office and is succeeded by the Vice President, the sitting President will still be directly implicated in this lie and this cover-up.
But there’s an additional problem for everyone in the White House and all the President’s defenders in Congress. And it’s a big one.
It’s not only that the President has implicated all of these people in his lies and deceptions about Comey’s firing. It is that he will not even stick to his story.
oh good. smooth move exlax.
"President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State."
The Americans implied that their Israeli colleagues should “be careful” as of January 20, Trump’s inauguration date, when transferring intelligence information to the White House and to the National Security Council (NSC), which is subject to the president. According to the Israelis who were present in the meeting, the Americans recommended that until it is made clear that Trump is not inappropriately connected to Russia and is not being extorted – Israel should avoid revealing sensitive sources to administration officials for fear the information would reach the Iranians.
Moreover, we’ve seen this all before. On August 3, this magazine—and this writer—announced, “The Donald Trump campaign is unraveling.” It was true, and yet it didn’t matter. Despite the turbulence, and thanks to a well-timed letter to Congress from none other than James Comey, Trump managed to win the presidential election in November, losing the popular vote but easily winning the electoral vote. The campaign showed that Trump is incredibly resilient. He survived a succession of crises that would have ended the candidacy of any other presidential hopeful—especially the release of a tape in which he bragged about committing sexual assault.
In part, Trump benefits from a double standard. Because he is not a career politician and because his reputation for crassness was well-established before he ran, he received a pass for some of his actions. This is true even now. While Hillary Clinton’s careless handling of classified information was perhaps the decisive factor in her November loss, Donald Trump appears to have handled far more sensitive information far more carelessly, even if, as he says, he was within his legal rights to do so. Yet although his position is precarious he is not finished. It is much harder to remove an elected president than it is to defeat a candidate, for reasons both legal and cultural.
The Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are not buying Mike Pence’s story that he didn’t know Michael Flynn was lobbying on behalf of the country of Turkey while he was a member of Trump’s transition team. Vice President Mike Pence was the head of Donald Trump’s transition team and most certainly should have known Flynn’s shady side work for a foreign government. In fact, all the way back in November, shortly after the election, Rep. Elijah Cummings specifically warned Mike Pence about Michael Flynn. This morning, they released the receipts showing the full letter they sent to Mike Pence and an acknowledgement from Trump’s transition team they’d received the letter. Check it out as House Democrats hand Mike Pence an anchor:
If Pence knew the truth about Flynn’s discussions, then the whole stated reason behind Flynn’s firing is a lie. If Pence didn’t know what Flynn was up to—though the events occurred during the transition that Pence was supposedly leading—he still went out and spread a lie to the public.
The very best of Mike Pence’s actions frames Pence as a guileless carrier and defender of every lie Trump wants passed along to the public. That’s the kindest view.
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
Brennan said that he first picked up on Russia's active meddling last summer and, in an August 4, 2016, phone call with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's FSB intelligence agency, warned him against further interference. Bortnikov, Brennan said, denied any active efforts in the election.
The Wall Street Journal reported that hacked information was posted on a blog run by Aaron Nevins, the political operative, and then passed along to top Trump adviser Roger Stone during the campaign. The Republican operative in Florida received a trove of Democratic documents from the allegedly Kremlin-linked hacker, Guccifer 2.0. For months, both Congress and the FBI have been scrutinizing evidence that associates of Trump may have colluded with Russia during the campaign.
I'm going a bit out on a limb with this post, as it was referred to by Palmer Report and I prefer reposting only from MSM under the current circumstances. That is my disclaimer.
It’s long been documented that a private email server inside Donald Trump’s home base Trump Tower was communicating almost exclusively with a Russian bank during the 2016 election. More recently it’s been documented that the server also had connections to Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (link). But based on new data analysis from political pundit Tea Pain, it turns out there was a whole lot more going back and forth than just email – and Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner was at the center of it.
fact checking the stated reasons for the Paris Agreement withdrawal
Seth Abramson: (THREAD) Do NOT watch tomorrow's historic Senate hearing without understanding Obstruction of Justice. This thread explains it—please share.
It was a mid-December morning in 2007 — the start of an interrogation unlike anything else in the public record of Trump’s life.
Trump had brought it on himself. He had sued a reporter, accusing him of being reckless and dishonest in a book that raised questions about Trump’s net worth. The reporter’s attorneys turned the tables and brought Trump in for a deposition.
For two straight days, they asked Trump question after question that touched on the same theme: Trump’s honesty.
The lawyers confronted the mogul with his past statements — and with his company’s internal documents, which often showed those statements had been incorrect or invented. The lawyers were relentless. Trump, the bigger-than-life mogul, was vulnerable — cornered, out-prepared and under oath.
Thirty times, they caught him.
let's go ahead and update that list of lies. few days skipped and many days with multiple lies.
"Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office." - nyt
Vladimir Putin gave direct instructions to help elect Trump, report says
mind boggling that some people are still yammering about HRC's fitness for office.
The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
from a year ago :
As he ponders what to do, Sanders might want to consider what happened in 1968, when Eugene McCarthy—the democratic insurgent of his time—failed to rally behind establishment figure Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The parallels are significant: McCarthy had the support of a young, progressive, angry base, while Humphrey appealed to the party elites and older voters who preferred the status quo—and the two did not get along. When McCarthy failed to win the nomination, he was conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. He did finally endorse Humphrey just days before Election Day, but his statement was tepid.
Blame for the ongoing destruction wrought by the Trump administration will always attach to Donald Trump. But Trump cannot help himself. He is a pathogen, doing what pathogens do, and as surprised as anyone to have found himself replicating in the nation’s bloodstream. Equal blame will attach to a small group of experienced and seemingly rational politicians who knew exactly what Trump was like; who had cause to loathe and distrust him; who understood firsthand that he knew nothing about government and did not care to know anything; who could see clearly that he was dangerous, brutal, and corrupt; and who nonetheless decided, after occasional protests, to help him achieve and hold power. These are people who have been repeatedly belittled and mocked by Trump, who have sometimes been forced to voice their disgust at his words and actions, and who—for reasons that range from ambition and fear to denial and moral blindness—not only have declined to stand in his way but continue to prop him up. One or more of them may ultimately decide to defy him, but nothing will absolve them of the damage already done.
The figure carrying out the operation in question was Peter W. Smith, who died at the age of 81 earlier this year. Smith is hardly a lone kook. He’s an established Republican donor with a demonstrated history in financing ethically murky investigations, such as paying Arkansas state troopers for stories of Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances.
Smith surfaced earlier in the week in an explosive Wall Street Journalreport by Shane Harris, which Harris followed up on Friday night. What really underscores the significance of Harris’s reporting, though, is a detailed account, also published Friday night, by Matt Tait, a British cybersecurity expert who dealt extensively with Smith. Tait’s report makes it clear that Smith had access to Michael Flynn, at the very least, and was working not only to obtain stolen Clinton emails but also to hide the Trump campaign’s involvement.
Tait had established some expertise analyzing Clinton’s emails; Smith, who said he had been contacted by someone who possessed a cache of emails from Clinton’s private server, wanted help validating them. As Tait explains, he warned Smith that Russia had been conducting an attack on the U.S. elections, but Smith appeared completely unconcerned about it. Smith tried to hire Tait for his project and showed him a document creating an independent-looking organization to try to acquire the stolen emails. The document, Tait reports, “detailed a company Smith and his colleagues had set up as a vehicle to conduct the research: ‘KLS Research’, set up as a Delaware LLC ‘to avoid campaign reporting,’ and listing four groups who were involved in one way or another.” This certainly appears like an attempt to mask the Trump campaign’s involvement in the plot.
An insider describes the Bayrock Group, its links to the Trump family and its mysterious access to funds. It isn't pretty.
The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Investigators are looking into whether Trump supporters and far-right websites coordinated with Moscow over the release of fake news, including stories implicating Clinton in murder or paedophilia, or paid to boost those stories on Facebook.
The head of the Trump digital camp, Brad Parscale, has reportedly been summoned to appear before the House intelligence committee looking into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US election. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee carrying out a parallel inquiry, has said that at least 1,000 “paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia” were pumping anti-Clinton fake news into social media sites during the campaign.
1) Why don’t Trump supporters turn against Trump even though he is doing things that hurt them? (like taking away their healthcare)
2) Why do Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act, and why are they so transparently acting to give wealthy people a tax break by making healthcare unaffordable?
Here is the short answer: All politics is moral. Supporting Trump – and gutting public healthcare resources in order to provide tax cuts for the wealthy – fits perfectly within the strict conservative moral worldview, which is hierarchical in nature. Voters don’t vote their self-interest. They vote their values.
The longer answer requires a deeper explanation.
President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.
One of the more remarkable political developments of the last six months — the culmination in some ways of the last 18 months — is the transformation of the Republican Party into the Party of Trump.
Think back to early last year. Close to every major Republican politician regarded Trump as an excrescence that would eventually go away. Today, the GOP owns Trump completely and Trump owns the GOP. In Gallup, he receives around 85 percent support of Republicans, with only some minor softness around the edges. At his inauguration, he had 86 percent support. That’s the key reason why his general approval ratings have leveled off at around 40 percent. That seems to be the floor.
nyt (opinion) recap
Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was “voter disengagement” and “to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home”: a profoundly disquieting tactic. It has previously been claimed that suppression tactics were used in the campaign, but this document provides the first actual evidence.
Second, it claims that Cambridge Analytica also played a critical role in the other 2016 vote that shocked the world: The successful Brexit campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Both that result and Trump’s election achieved the key strategic goal of Russia: Destabilizing the Western alliance. That’s no proof of collusion, of course. But you can see why investigators are stepping up their probes. In the case of hacking, we know that the Trump campaign was seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Democrats and that dirt — courtesy, it is alleged, of Russian hackers — appeared just weeks later. In the case of data, we know that Jared Kushner wanted to target specific voters and the Russians set up an operation to create “fake news” content for exactly those readers. Either it’s the world’s greatest coincidence, or something darker was going on. This take by the Guardian’s writer Carole Cadwalladr is as dark as it gets:
There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.
To say it more simply: Follow the data.
This raises once again the question of just what was going on in the Republican Party during this period. After all, it wasn’t just Donald Trump who benefited from Russian hacking. The GOP-dominated House majority was a major beneficiary as well.
Remember, the congressional leadership knew in 2015 that it was happening. Reuters has reported that the so-called Gang of Eight (Republican leaders in Congress) was told that Russian hackers were attacking the Democratic Party but that the information was so top secret they could not share it. As we know, hackers attacked the Democratic National Committee and the personal email of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. But they also hacked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and information gleaned from that hack was put to use in some 2016 campaigns for Congress.
Also recall that one month before Donald Trump Jr. took that meeting with the Russian lawyer, House Majority Leader Kevin “loose lips” McCarthy was talking about Trump’s connections to Vladimir Putin in a room full of Republicans:
Seven Theories of the Case: What Do We Really Know about L’Affaire Russe and What Could it All Mean?
After a string of bankruptcies in his casino and hotel businesses in the 1990s, Mr. Trump became somewhat of an outsider on Wall Street, leaving the giant German bank among the few major financial institutions willing to lend him money.
Now that two-decades-long relationship is coming under scrutiny.
Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, which caters to an ultrarich clientele, according to three people briefed on the review who were not authorized to speak publicly. The regulators want to know if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risks.
The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.
The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.” We agree.
The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.
The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.
Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller at WaPo report from a US intelligence source that former Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, told Moscow that he had discussed campaign-related matters with Jeff Sessions twice in the summer of 2016. This revelation directly contradicts Sessions’ testimony before Congress. If the allegation is correct, Sessions is guilty of a crime, perjury, the same crime of which the Republicans in the House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton. Only, like, Sessions may actually have committed, like, a crime.
Me, I’m angry. I’m angry because the US intel community had this information in summer of 2016 and they’re only leaking it now. You mean they could have blown the whistle on the Trump gang over the Russian contacts and they didn’t bother? It is too late now. Getting rid of Sessions won’t change anything. Trump will just appoint another stealth white supremacist.
But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. “They saved his bacon,” says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s.
THE NEAR-DAILY BARRAGE of news and revelations, big and small, about the Trump campaign and its metastasizing ties to Russia can be hard to keep track of, even for people following the scandal closely. Story lines and players appear and disappear, sometimes for weeks or even months at a time.
While there remain big, overarching questions about whether there was active conspiracy between Trump, his associates, and Russia—or merely opportunistic collusion—the answers to those questions could be amorphous and long in coming.
More simply and immediately, there’s plenty of information that we know we don’t yet know about what went on in the campaign, from cyber meddling to clandestine meetings surveilled by US and other intelligence agencies—missing puzzle pieces that we can discern from the revelations that have come out so far. As Donald Rumsfeld famously said in the early days of the Iraq War, “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.”
As the Trump campaign’s onetime chairman Paul Manafort—a key figure in the scandal—makes his way toward the Senate Judiciary Committee, we thought the time was right to, in Rumsfeldian terms, present a nonexhaustive list of 15 of the most pressing known unknowns in the Trump/Russia investigation: holes and unanswered questions that you can bet Special Counsel Robert Mueller is digging into.
A little-noticed health care provision slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.
The attack stems from two years of effort by Senator Marco Rubio and others in Congress to undermine a key financing mechanism in the law. So for all the Republican talk about dismantling the Affordable Care Act, one Republican presidential hopeful has actually done something toward achieving that goal.
Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law have hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.
DAMN THE TORPEDOES
We now have our first clear evidence that President Trump’s threats to blow up Obamacare — whether or not he actually intends to make good on them — are going to hurt a lot of people here in the real world. In Trump’s mind, these threats are supposed to force Democrats to make a deal on repeal, but minimal logic reveals that this is extremely far-fetched — meaning the only impact his threats will likely have is a destructive one, for no evident purpose whatsoever.
That was the headline on a piece last week from the Washington Post, whose reporters continued the herculean task of debunking wave after wave of President Donald Trump’s lies. (It turned out there was a 30th Trump falsehood in that time frame, regarding the head of the Boy Scouts.) The New York Times keeps a running tally of the president’s lies since Inauguration Day, and PolitiFact has scrutinized and rated 69 percent of Trump’s statements as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire.”
Trump’s chronic duplicity may be pathological, as some experts have suggested. But what else might be going on here? In fact, the 45th president’s stream of lies echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the “Firehose of Falsehood.”
3 1/2 Years 2 GO......away
Who Hacked the Election? Ad Tech did. Through “Fake News,” Identify Resolution and Hyper-Personalization
20 min video / vice imbedded white nationalist rebellion
todays press conference. that is all.
As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.
Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia's interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Donald Trump.
about that Arpaio pardon
Like the men and women of Vichy France who began their collaboration with the Nazis seventy-seven years ago, from now on, every senator and House member of either party who continues to remain silent about this president’s unconstitutional acts is directly complicit in the high crimes and misdemeanors of Donald Trump.
I know very serious students of American justice who already were convinced last night that the pardon of Arpaio has fatally undermined Robert Mueller’s investigation by killing the incentive for anyone to testify against this president. Personally, I am not yet that pessimistic. I still believe that any pardon of Flynn or Manafort or Jared Kushner will produce a large enough firestorm to end Donald Trump’s presidency, either through impeachment or the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which would allow his removal by a majority vote of his cabinet.
But if there is a majority of Republican senators and House members who wish to avoid a full-blown constitutional crisis worse than anything we have seen since the secession of the Confederate states, they must speak loudly and act clearly right now. They must immediately pass the bill introduced by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Senator Tillis of North Carolina that would shore up the independence of the special prosecutor, and they must pass it with veto-proof majorities.
"Things like false disclosures on forms that Mr. Manafort or Michael Flynn made or Jared Kushner; things like obstruction as to the firing of James Comey. For the first time here, what we've learned -- assuming that The Wall Street Journal's report about a search warrant is correct -- is that Bob Muller went to a federal judge and presented evidence and convinced the judge that a crime was committed involving foreign individuals contributing to a political election here in the United States through their actions on Facebook," Mariotti told CBS News' Elaine Quijano.
Koch network 'piggy banks' closed until Republicans pass health and tax reform
Koch officials said that the network’s midterm budget for policy and politics is between $300m and $400m, but donors are demanding legislative progress
Four decades ago, Richard Nixon lived out the fantasy many liberals harbor about Donald Trump, stepping down in the face of possible impeachment over a slow-moving scandal long before his term was up. Before that happened, however, Nixon was reelected by a resounding margin, in large part because progressives made strategic errors that Democrats today appear hellbent on repeating.
In 1968, as in 2016, Democrats narrowly lost the White House after nominating a relatively moderate, establishment candidate instead of a more liberal alternative who had inspired a raging enthusiasm among younger voters. Democrats spent much of the next four years arguing about what direction the party should take. White working-class voters—traditionally a Democratic bloc—were sluicing away, and progressives, convinced the party needed to change both its policy direction and its coalition of supporters, demanded a new approach: a “loose peace coalition” of minorities, young voters and educated white Democrats, as strategist Fred Dutton wrote in his 1971 book, Changing Sources of Power. One year later, the party’s presidential nominee, the ultra-liberal Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, went on to lose 49 states in one of the most lopsided victories in American history.
During the campaign, the fundamentals of the Russia scandal emerged and were confirmed: Vladimir Putin’s regime mounted a covert campaign to subvert the election by cyber-attacking Democratic targets. Private cybersecurity companies declared that Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee as soon as that assault was publicly disclosed in June 2016. By early October, the Obama administration officially attributed to the Moscow government the hacks and subsequent dumps of stolen documents and emails and noted this operation had been orchestrated by Russia’s “senior-most officials.” That was easy-to-read code for “Putin.”
Yet this received far less attention than other key campaign stories. A study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard examined media references during the campaign and found nearly 70,000 references to Clinton and emails—an important story, to be sure—but just over 5,000 to Trump and Russia. Mentions of “Trump” and “women,” including reporting on his history of sexual harassment and assault, registered just 10,000.
None of this was news. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, did extensive stories about the investigation into Mikerin. So the Hill performed an elaborate and creative repackaging exercise — marshaling already-known information into a newsy-sounding headline: “FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow.” It worked, at least as far as Fox News was concerned. The leading cable-news network lent a great deal of programming to the Hill piece, all rigged to engineer further suspicion of Clinton. In an interview with Hill Editor in Chief Bob Cusack last Thursday, Fox News host Jon Scott said, “Obviously your outlet has done some digging but it seems like a huge story that ought to be blared from the mountaintops and it has not gotten a lot of attention.”
Maybe that’s because mainstream outlets have smoked out the preposterous conspiracy-mongering in the Hill’s story. Over a few paragraphs, the story managed to suggest that the Justice Department, which successfully prosecuted Mikerin for his crimes, somehow sought to play down its achievements on this front — perhaps to suppress the news and prevent Clinton from suffering embarrassment over the Uranium One transaction (and it appears she was not personally involved).
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters.
After resisting opportunities to take Trump's line on Russia, the Wall Street Journal editorial page goes all in.
Manafort, Stone, Trump timeline starts in 1973 with Roy Cohn.
Papadopoulos' ties to Russian Agents
Bkln bloggers assist on the Manafort ca$h for brownstone matter.
This thread offers comments on—and analysis of—Carter Page's recent testimony before the House Intel Committee (transcript, 243pp). - Seth Abramson
Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.
Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.
The transparency organization asked the president’s son for his cooperation—in sharing its work, in contesting the results of the election, and in arranging for Julian Assange to be Australia’s ambassador to the United States.
For some reason, our year-long project analyzing, categorizing and tracking every false or misleading claim by President Trump had seemed like quite a burden in the past month. Well, the numbers are in and now we know why: In the past 35 days, Trump has averaged an astonishing nine claims a day.
The total now stands at 1,628 claims in 298 days, or an average of 5.5 claims a day. That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month.
Looking good for some action Bill!!!
"There is not going to be a neat ending," New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin says of the investigation into Russian meddling. A central issue is whether a sitting president can be criminally indicted.
The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.
Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.
WASHINGTON — Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, plainly enraged.
Five months before, Mr. Trump had dispatched federal officers to the nation’s airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States in a dramatic demonstration of how he would deliver on his campaign promise to fortify the nation’s borders.
But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.
More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
“There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections,” the pair wrote. “But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election, and they continue to this day.”
During one week in early December, for example, roughly 20 percent of the activity from accounts tied to Russian intelligence for propaganda was focused on undermining faith in Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the successful campaign of Donald Trump, according to research by The Alliance for Securing Democracy.
The most recent social media push mirrors what Russia did during the election, creating social media posts often based on factually inaccurate statements that were designed to shift voters’ views of Trump and Clinton. One post claimed that 69 percent of veterans disapproved of Clinton, a number with no source, saying that Clinton should not gain authority as commander-in-chief even if she won the election.
Meanwhile, Mercer has leaped into statewide political operations in Arizona and Massachusetts. Surely there’s more to come.
What does it matter? To put matters bluntly — and to cast no further aspersions upon endangered species — as did Jonathan Chait in New York magazine recently: “Trump is fashioning an American oligarchy.” But to understand the Mercers and their importance, we need to place them among other oligarchs. Especially since the Citizens United decision, American politics teems with high rollers. Most famously, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch rank high in political influence, perhaps even more at the state level than nationally. (Thanks to Jane Mayer’s reporting at The New Yorker and her book Dark Money, their republic-buying works are less dark than before.) But there’s more than one oligarchy at work in the donor class.
There’s the industrial crowd who have yanked America’s power strings since the Civil War — the oilmen, railroaders, steelers, automakers and chemicals joined by the telecom crowd and, after World War II, the military-industrial tycoons. The interests of these groupings are not always identical but tend to converge on deep and shared desires: to arranging for government giveaways, suppress competition, carve out market power for themselves and warp the tax system to their advantage. In an age of Progressive and New Deal reform, reformers worked to tame them with regulations and government supervision, leading to the stage we now inhabit, for which the anodyne expression is “regulatory capture” — worming into and taking over the federal and state agencies whose ostensible purpose was to tame them. In other words, regulating the regulators.
And by the way, I didn’t deal with Russia. I won because I was a better candidate by a lot. I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the Electoral College. And you know, it is a totally different thing, Mike. You know the Electoral College, it’s like a track star. If you’re going to run the 100-yard dash, you work out differently than if you’re going to run the 1,000 meters or the mile.
And it’s different. It’s in golf. If you have a tournament and you have match play or stroke play, you prepare differently, believe it or not. It’s different. Match play is very different than stroke play. And you prepare. So I went to Maine five times, I went to [inaudible], the genius of the Electoral College is that you go to places you might not go to.
There has been an inclination over the past year in both politics and journalism to separate Trump’s tweets and other outbursts from the realities of governing. The idea is that his eruptions are either (a) largely irrelevant forms of his letting off steam or (b) signs of a brilliance beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. What looks to most of us like madness is cast as genius in setting up enemies, signaling his base or distracting us from one thing or another.
But we are past the time when we can believe any of this. Trump is, without question, doing enormous damage to the United States’ standing in the world, and his strategy for political survival is rooted in a willingness to destroy our institutions.
CASTRO: And some of this is—a lot of this has been made public already and so of course I can't talk about what I heard in the interview, but I can tell you that my impression after sitting through those hours of that interview is that the president should be concerned about issues of money laundering, of collusion, and of obstruction of justice. I say that, that's my impression not only from hearing that witness but also many of the other witnesses that have come before the committee. So this White House should be nervous about what has been told to the committee.
REID: And do you believe, while as you said you can't necessarily tell us exactly what you heard in those hearings, do you believe that you heard evidence of crimes committed by members of this administration?
Early on, some speculated that this would be a temporary alliance – that establishment Republicans would use Trump to get what they wanted, then turn on him. But it’s now clear that won’t happen. Trump has exceeded everyone’s worst expectations, yet Republicans, far from cutting him loose, are tying themselves even more closely to his fate. Why?
The answer, I’d argue, is that they’re stuck. They knowingly made a deal with the devil, and can’t back out.
More specifically, Trump’s very awfulness means that if he falls, the whole party will fall with him. Republicans could conceivably distance themselves from a president who turned out to be a bad manager, or even one who turned out to have engaged in small-time corruption. But when the corruption is big time, and it’s combined with obstruction of justice and collaboration with Putin, nobody will notice which Republicans were a bit less involved, a bit less obsequious, than others. If Trump sinks, he’ll create a vortex that sucks down everyone involved.
And so we now have the Republican party as a whole fully complicit in Trump’s crimes – because that’s what they are, whether or not he and those around him are ever brought to justice.
What this means, among other things, is that expecting the GOP to exercise any oversight or constrain Trump in any way is just foolish at this point. Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.
Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders. And thanks to changes in campaign finance laws, the political contributions are legal. We have allowed our campaign finance laws to become a strategic threat to our country.
My familiarity with building organic engagement put me in a position to notice that something strange was going on in February 2016. The Democratic primary was getting under way in New Hampshire, and I started to notice a flood of viciously misogynistic anti-Clinton memes originating from Facebook groups supporting Bernie Sanders. I knew how to build engagement organically on Facebook. This was not organic. It appeared to be well organized, with an advertising budget. But surely the Sanders campaign wasn’t stupid enough to be pushing the memes themselves. I didn’t know what was going on, but I worried that Facebook was being used in ways that the founders did not intend.
A month later I noticed an unrelated but equally disturbing news item. A consulting firm was revealed to be scraping data about people interested in the Black Lives Matter protest movement and selling it to police departments. Only after that news came out did Facebook announce that it would cut off the company’s access to the information. That got my attention. Here was a bad actor violating Facebook’s terms of service, doing a lot of harm, and then being slapped on the wrist. Facebook wasn’t paying attention until after the damage was done. I made a note to myself to learn more.
Meanwhile, the flood of anti-Clinton memes continued all spring. I still didn’t understand what was driving it, except that the memes were viral to a degree that didn’t seem to be organic. And, as it turned out, something equally strange was happening across the Atlantic.
"As I process the Fusion GPS transcript, I'll post significant points here in individual tweets. For starters: NO, Fusion GPS doesn't do hatchet jobs to try to get government agencies to start investigations against people."
Trump made the comments during an immigration meeting with Durbin and six Republican lawmakers: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), according to MSNBC.
During the 2015–2016 election season, I was concerned about the quality (or lack thereof) of coverage the NYT was giving to the grave risks Donald Trump posed to our democracy. Throughout it all, I continued subscribing.
Then, about six months ago, some friends and I began a deep dive into your “star reporter,” “Trump Whisperer” Maggie Haberman. We grew increasingly concerned about her lack of journalistic objectivity and her familial/financial conflicts of interest with the Trump and Kushner families.
The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.
FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.