Comments

  1. says

    Now he’s tweeting at CNN: “Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox.”

    This is a reference to their mentioning the Gallup poll I noted just above.

    Aaaaand another: “What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?”

    Flailing.

  2. says

    “Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort wanted for questioning in Ukraine corruption case”:

    Ukrainian prosecutors want to question Paul Manafort in connection with a corruption investigation and have made repeated requests for assistance from US authorities, CNN has learned.

    Prosecutors in Kiev said they have made seven separate appeals over the past two years for help in questioning President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, including letters to FBI Director James Comey and US Justice Department officials. Ukrainian officials said the US has not responded to those requests.

    Under a “mutual legal assistance” treaty, the two countries have agreed to regularly assist each other in law enforcement efforts, such as gathering statements and other evidence for prosecutions.

    US authorities confirmed to CNN that the requests were received but declined further comment.

    The official requests from a special prosecution unit in Kiev started in December 2014, and involve a corruption case targeting Ukraine’s former Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych.

    Manafort has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors want him to testify, Ukraine’s prosecutor for special investigations Serhiy Gorbatyuk said.

    The final letter was dated September 2016: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, the equivalent of a US Attorney General, sent a letter directly to FBI director James Comey asking for clarification for why the US authorities would not help….

  3. says

    Wow. Trump is actually the worst, but the person who calls him “Fratboy Satan” in the responses is colorfully correct.

    They’re also going after the CFPB:

    The Justice Department filed a brief on Friday in a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, arguing that the consumer watchdog agency’s structure is unconstitutional.

    In the lawsuit, PHH argues that the CFPB’s structure gives it too much power.

    In its brief, the Justice Department argued that the president should be able to remove the CFPB director at will. Currently the head of the CFPB can only be removed in cases of “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office,” as stated in the Dodd-Frank Act….

    Populism!

  4. says

    Wow, Schiff should just say “We rest our case” after his 15 minute opening. This is huge. This is the first time I’ve heard the dems put together all of the publicly known evidence in one go. He’s not missing anything either. This is damning.

  5. says

    Comey just confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation of Russian interference including possible collusion of people in the Trump campaign. Says he’s briefed the two committees about it in a secure setting, but it’s classified so he can’t speak about it publicly.

  6. says

    I wish one of the Democrats would ask Comey about the Independent report claiming that Steele was giving them information into December but was frustrated, believing there was a cabal within the FBI unwilling to pursue it and wanting to protect Trump.

  7. says

    SC @498 in the previous chapter of this thread: Thanks for the link. Trump is indeed “fright-tweeting.” I see that Trump tweeted before the hearings started today. He is trying to discredit the evidence before it emerges in the hearing.

    One of the Trump tweets that you pointed out later (in comment 500) echoes the questioning we’ve heard from Republicans on the committee currently questioning Comey and other intelligence community leaders: “What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?” They keep trying to smear Clinton. And Trump is still trying to smear Clinton. Chairman Nunes is one of the Republicans who tried to insert Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation into the conversation.

    Schiff is doing a great job.

    SC @499 in the previous chapter: I appreciate Bill Browder’s response that actually lays out a path forward.

    […] This is a different type of Cold War situation, but one where we can’t let him [Putin] make another further move in the West. And we have to stop all the stuff that he’s doing, which means we need a very strong military presence on NATO countries on the border. And we need to be doing big, big investigations into the money laundering of Russians in the Western banking system. And we need to freeze the assets of the oligarchs and ban their travel for the ones who are managing Putin’s money, which is a lot of them. If we did that stuff, we would completely clip his wings and he wouldn’t become an international menace, he would stop doing what he’s doing because the West is infinitely more powerful than him if we worked together.

  8. says

    I’m still unclear – The FBI investigation began last July. Did the part of it involving possible coordination with (people in) the Trump campaign begin then or later, possibly after the election? What was the status of that part of the investigation in October?

  9. says

    Steve Benen commented on FBI director James Comey’s statement about the investigation that includes the Trump campaign:

    […] Specifically, Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, during its open hearing, that he’s been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm that “the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counter-intelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment or whether any crimes were committed.” […]

    federal investigators are exploring whether members of the president’s campaign team cooperated with a foreign adversary’s illegal scheme to influence the outcome of an American election.

    This is not, in other words, just another day for American politics. […]

    As for Trump’s recent insistence that President Obama illegally wiretapped phones at Trump Tower before the election, the FBI director did nothing to bolster those dubious claims.

    […]Comey said he “has no information that supports” Trump’s allegation that President Obama ordered surveillance of his communications in Trump Tower during the campaign.

    Comey added that courts grant permission for electronic surveillance, “carefully overseen,” and that “no individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone.”

    […] Intelligence Committee’s Republican members are effectively making the Democratic arguments for them. For much of the morning’s hearing, GOP members have shown no real interest in Russia’s attack on the American political process, and have instead focused on White House-friendly talking points about leaks. No neutral observer could watch this hearing and have confidence in Republicans handling the matter in a neutral and independent way. […]

    That reminds me of Katy Tur’s tweet referenced up-thread: “So far this hearing is making a good argument for why there needs to be an independent investigation.”

  10. says

    @28 – Is he going with the Russell’s Tea Pot Defense?

    “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.”

    “That’s 100% not what they said”

    “You can’t prove that they didn’t say it…”

  11. says

    SC @28, OMG. Trump is flailing wildly. I wonder if he is seeing conclusions like his totally off-the-wall tweet on rightwing media. I’ll look into that later.

    Trump saw what the intelligence community leaders said in the hearing, and then he tweeted the exact opposite.

    Comey also confirmed that Russia used WikiLeaks to release information.

    FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that “The Russian intelligence services hacked into a number of enterprises in United States, including the Democratic National Committee” and that Russian intelligence used “cutouts” like WikiLeaks “to cover up that they were the ones releasing” stolen information.

    Donald Trump, October 10, 2016: “I love WikiLeaks.”

    Donald Trump, July 27, 2016: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” (Referring to Hillary Clinton’s personal email.)

    Also on July 23, 2016 and January 4, 2017, Trump tweets used WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as sources of information he was spreading with enthusiasm.

    Link

  12. says

    My next thought: Clapper says no evidence of collusion as of 1/20/17, yet there was an ongoing investigation since July 2016? So no evidence of collusion was unearthed, that Clapper was made aware of, during that time?

  13. says

    Turner is shooting himself in the foot again demanding answers about why someone would be the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation. He’s pushing Comey to specify that there has to be a reasonable basis to believe a crime has been committed. He’s also coming across as needlessly hostile and dense.

  14. says

    A summary of Republican diversionary and threatening tactics:

    […] Despite the explosive nature of Comey’s statement, Republicans are suddenly interested in only one topic: low-life leakers. Reps. Devin Nunes, Tom Rooney, and particularly Trey Gowdy demonstrated that they had absolutely no interest in Russia or in wiretapping.

    Instead, all three asked Comey over and over (and over) about penalties for leaking. Gowdy—who was so “careful” that he refused to say Michael Flynn’s name, but only referred to him as a “U.S. citizen,” named a list of potential issues including former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was ousted and is testifying today. Gowdy stopped just short—by millimeters —of lapping Trump’s wiretap claims by directly accusing President Obama of leaking Flynn’s name to the press.

    All three were also blunt in threatening Comey with taking away programs if he wouldn’t give them what they wanted. So we’re getting the spectacle of a hearing on Russia and wiretapping in which Republicans are interested in neither Russia or wiretapping, but instead are badgering the FBI director to do exactly what Trump wanted by threatening programs the director just declared vital. […]

    Link

  15. says

    My next thought: Clapper says no evidence of collusion as of 1/20/17, yet there was an ongoing investigation since July 2016?

    That’s what I’m still not clear about – when the Trump-team part of the investigation began.

    So no evidence of collusion was unearthed, that Clapper was made aware of, during that time?

    I’ve seen other intelligence people on TV recently suggesting that he wouldn’t necessarily have been made aware. Not sure.

  16. says

    As was mentioned several times up-thread, Representative Adam Schiff is doing a great job. If you missed his opening statements, you can read an analysis here and watch the video here: Daily Kos link.

    The video is about 17 minutes long.

    Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) provided a calm, measured opening statement for the security hearing. In doing so, Schiff went through a list of the things we know including actions of Flynn, Gordon, Manafort, Sessions and Page. A list so long that hearing it all together sounded very much like an indictment. […]

    It was also interesting that Schiff brought up the dossier compiled on Trump by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Schiff introduced the dossier in noting the remarkable similarity between the statements made regarding a deal involving Carter Page and the Russian state oil and gas agency, and an actual deal that subsequently occurred. Even though Schiff didn’t directly raise the well-known claims the dossier makes against Trump, his example showed that information in the dossier seems to be accurate on those points we can check.

    Schiff closed with a note that everything he brought up could be only coincidence, but if so, it was certainly a long line of coincidences.

  17. says

    Good – Schiff is using the opportunity to get Comey to reiterate the criteria for opening an investigation: reasonable suspicion of a federal crime or acting as a foreign agent, and beyond that have to prioritize greatest threats.

  18. says

    Himes just asked them about Trump’s tweet. They’re politely saying No, that wasn’t what they said – they didn’t seek to analyze the impact of the Russian campaign on the electoral process.

    Castro now asking about the Steele “dossier.” Of course they can’t answer, but he’s getting the content out there, as Swalwell did with Trump’s business history.

  19. says

    […] Schiff asked Comey a question referring to Clapper’s recent remark that he had not seen any evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russia. Comey said no evidence of coordination was included in the assessment released by the intelligence community in January because the FBI’s investigation was not finished.

    Mother Jones link

  20. says

    Comey just appeared to suggest that the counterintelligence investigation did begin in July, and that they didn’t reveal it to the committees during the quarterly briefings for months due to the “sensitivity” of the investigation.

  21. says

    I actually think Nunes was expecting to hear Comey say that they had no evidence of coordination rather than that there’s an ongoing counterintelligence investigation.

  22. says

    More on Trump’s efforts to gaslight the Comey hearing:

    President Donald Trump’s official @POTUS Twitter account blasted out video clips from Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. election, complete with captions that, at best, obfuscate what was actually being conveyed during the hearing.

    In one of the tweets, Trump’s team erroneously claims that that FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers said Russia “did not influence [the] electoral process.” The accompanying video clip, however, shows a round of questioning from the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, asking specifically about whether vote tallies were tampered with or changed in certain states where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Hacking the literal ballot box, though, is different from waging an influence campaign—something that both Comey and Rogers confirmed was carried out by Russia. […]

    Daily Beast link

  23. says

    Vox writer Zeeshan Aleem was also disgusted by the use of the president’s official Twitter account to spread falsehoods about the Comey hearing.

    […] If you’re generally predisposed to give the Kremlin a pass, the exchange superficially appears to back Trump’s repeated insistence that Russian interference in the election had no effect on the outcome of the race.

    But Comey and Rogers were actually answering a very specific question — whether or not Russian hackers changed actual vote tallies in the crucial battleground states that decided the election. They were clearly not saying what Trump claims they were.

    “Do you have any evidence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in the state of Michigan?” House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes asked Rogers.

    “No, I do not, but I would highlight we are a foreign intelligence organization, not a domestic intelligence organization, so it would be fair to say we are probably not the best organization to provide a more complete answer,” Rogers replied.

    “How about the state of Pennsylvania?”

    “No, sir.”

    Nunes proceeded to ask the same question regarding Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, to which Rogers provided the same exact response.

    Then Nunes turned to Comey and asked the same question.

    “Comey, do you have any evidence at the FBI that any votes were changed in the states that I mentioned to Adm. Rogers?” Nunes asked.

    “No,” Comey said.

    Contrary to Trump’s tweet, Comey and Rogers are not denying that Russia interfered with the election. They’re instead saying they don’t have any evidence that hackers actually changed the vote counts by manipulating the machines doing the tallying or somehow casting fraudulent ballots.

    The Trump tweet is not only making a false claim about the matter being discussed in the clip; it’s also at odds with an already established fact: There’s a consensus in the intelligence community that Russia interfered with the election to help Trump win the White House. […]

    The president’s official Twitter account also had other tweets about the hearing that were just as bizarre. Linking to a clip of an exchange between Rep. Trey Gowdy and Comey, the account tweets that “Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.”

    It’s true that Comey declined to answer the question by saying that he couldn’t get into any conversations he had with Obama before Trump took office. But it’s unclear what the Trump administration is trying to get at with the tweet. It’s also not obvious what kind of political points are scored by suggesting that a sitting president was briefed on a legitimate national security concern while still in the White House. What is clear is that Trump is using a public platform to try to undermine his own FBI director by exploiting one of scores of “no comment” responses Comey gave to questions from lawmakers.

    One might expect that Trump’s official government Twitter account, mainly handled by his staff, would show a bit more restraint than the one that the president himself uses. One would be wrong.

  24. says

    Writing for Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley really ripped into Sean Spicer for trying to diminish the connections between Trump and Flynn, and between Trump and Manafort.

    I must say that is was really surreal to watch Spicer’s press briefing today as he tried to swim upstream against the flood of facts from the Comey hearing. Sean is drowning.

    […] Well, over at the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer tried out a fun new way of disavowing Manafort (and disgraced ex–national security adviser Michael Flynn, whose Russia ties are also reportedly under investigation) in response to a question about Trump’s “campaign associates.” Said Spicer:

    General Flynn was a volunteer [for] the campaign. Obviously there has been some discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.

    LOL! Now, it is actually true that Paul Manafort, who was hired as a consultant to Trump in March 2016 and put in charge of the entire Trump 2016 operation in mid-June, did not spend as much time on the campaign as some others did. But that’s because he resigned from it after his connections to Russia became a scandal.

    Flynn, meanwhile, was in fact a campaign volunteer … who then became Trump’s national security adviser before resigning amid exposure of his own sketchy Russia-related activities.

    In other words, Spicer is citing the short tenures of campaign/administration figures whose tenures were shortened by their connections to Russia to prove that the campaign/administration did not have significant connections to Russia, which is kind of like defending the Nixon administration by pointing out that the Watergate scandal really died down after he resigned because of the Watergate scandal. […]

  25. says

    The French presidential debate is happening now. You can watch the live feed, with simultaneous English translation, here. (I’m too distracted by events in the US to pay attention at the moment.)

  26. says

    John Oliver discussed Trump’s budget proposal.

    Excerpt: “That apparently means a $1.4 billion increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration, while cutting the Department of Energy’s overall budget by $1.7 billion. But to be honest, I can’t be certain because I don’t speak fluent toddler psychopath.”

    Oliver covered cuts to programs that help people in coal country, cuts that support rural airports, cuts to after school programs, and so forth.

  27. says

    More total bullshit and “help-I’m-drowning” moments from Sean Spicer’s press briefing today, as discussed by Steve Benen:

    […] In the face of reports about Trump associates with controversial ties to Moscow, Spicer told reporters, for example, “Carter Page is an individual whom the president-elect does not know.”

    It was a curious response. During the campaign, Trump personally singled out Page as one of only a handful of people who were advising him on matters of foreign policy, but as the controversy surrounding the campaign’s ties to Russia intensified, Spicer nevertheless made it sound as if Trump couldn’t pick his own adviser out of a lineup. […]

    Team Trump wouldn’t argue publicly that Trump’s campaign chairman [Manafort] is an irrelevant, peripheral figure unless it were afraid of where the scandal is headed.

    This is, in other words, a preemptive defense in the event Trump campaign officials are directly implicated in serious wrongdoing. Spicer is effectively declaring now, just in case, “Those guys aren’t our guys.” […]

  28. blf says

    This [denying Manafort et al connections] is, in other words, a preemptive defense in the event Trump campaign officials are directly implicated in serious wrongdoing. Spicer is effectively declaring now, just in case, Those guys aren’t our guys.

    This is also part of “pushing people under the bus”, a so-called strategy which can (albeit not always) spectacularly backfire.

  29. says

    Nunes insisting that the GOP platform on the Ukrain and Russia was made stronger, not weaker, was a particularly brazen bastardization of the truth. It was a monologue with a question at the end, blatant propagandizing during a serious intel committee hearing. He should be removed from the committee immediately for his obvious bias and disregard for the facts.

  30. says

    SC @58 and 60, erik @59: Nunes seems to be both willfully ignorant of the facts, and blindly loyal to Trump.

    Everyone who reads this thread knows who Carter Page and Roger Stone are. Anyone who has watched a news report on NBC, MSNBC, or any outlet other than Fox or Newsmax knows who those men are. Anyone who reads the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, etc. knows who those two men are. Other people in the Republican party know them. Why is Nunes so ignorant?

  31. blf says

    No African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California:

    Every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to the organizer of the African Global Economic and Development Summit

    An annual African trade summit in California had no African attendees this year after at least 60 people were denied visas, according to event leaders.

    The African Global Economic and Development Summit, a three-day conference at the University of Southern California (USC), typically brings delegations from across Africa to meet with business leaders in the US in an effort to foster partnerships. But this year, every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to organizer Mary Flowers.

    […]

    “I don’t know if it’s Trump or if it’s the fact that the embassies that have been discriminating for a long time see this as an opportunity, because of talk of the travel ban, to blatantly reject everyone,” Flowers said in an interview on Monday. “These trade links create jobs for both America and Africa. […]”

    […]

    Rejected participants at the trade summit came from Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, South Africa and more, according to Flowers. Trump’s travel ban covers Somalia, Sudan and Libya in Africa, and citizens from those countries did not seek visas for the event.

    “This conference puts Americans in touch with real people so they can do real business,” said Flowers, CEO of Global Green Development Group, which does economic development work in Africa.

    […]

    […] In past years, she said, roughly 40% of interested African participants were denied entry.

    […]

    She said many of the applicants who were rejected had already registered for the event and paid initial visa fees, but then were denied after short interviews — even when they brought extensive documentation, such as bank statements and property records.

    […]

    Following the visa rejections, Flowers is now also in contact with US congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents Los Angeles and is the ranking member[] of the Africa subcommittee.

    […]

      † Perhaps because I am enjoyinfg a nice saké, this term “ranking member” confused me, as Ms Bass is a Democrat, and the dummies do not control either Congressional chamber. It turns out this is a somewht common media abbreviation for “ranking minority member” (the most senior member from the minority party).

  32. says

    Wonkette covered the Comey hearing and the Spicer press briefing in bits and pieces. One bit they focused on was Spicer’s inability to adequately address the fact that, no, President Obama did not “wiretapp” Trump:

    […] CBS White House correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Spicer, with legitimate concern in her eyes, “When does this end?” (She was referring to Trump’s lying about the “wire tapps.”) And this is what she got in response: [see video at the link]

    [Spicer said] It’s not a question of a date, it’s a question of where we get answers.

    YOU HAVE ANSWERS, STUPIDASS.

    [Spicer said] You look at someone like Michael Flynn, and you ask the question, how does an American citizen who should be protected by law from having their identity unmasked, how does that happen? Because you’ve gotta think about it just like this. The FBI and all the relevant intelligence agencies have access to this document, they can figure out who it was.

    Margaret Brennan was like “wuuuuuuuut?” She specifically wanted to know what Spicer meant by “who it was,” reminding him that we are talking about Trump’s lie about getting a “wire tapp” done on his fanny, not this “waaaaaaah Michael Flynn!” pivot Trump and his dickhole minions in Congress are trying out. Spicer continued:

    What I’m getting at is that there is a lot of information that we have come to learn about what happened in terms of surveillance throughout the 2016 election and the transition. And when you look at somebody like Michael Flynn …

    AND we’re back to bitching about Michael Flynn, the foreign agent who was taking money from the Russians and the Turks, who was just treated SO UNFAIRLY. Hey, remember how Comey confirmed there is an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia? We’re just spitballing, but it’s possible Flynn is a target of that.

    Brennan again tried to clarify, by asking if Trump has evidence of some kind of illegal surveillance, and Spicer replied, “No, no, I am saying,” and continued to spew bullshit about how it’s unfair how Michael Flynn got “unmasked,” ignoring how said “unmasking” revealed to the public that Flynn is GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY. (Yeah, we bet Trump Land is pretty tired of getting “unmasked” at this point.)

    And it also revealed to the public that Trump wasn’t going to fire the dude who was taking money from Turkey AND RUSSIA until he had no other choice, because shit got leaked.

    Spicer concluded that today’s hearing was just the “first chapter” in getting to the bottom of this “wire tapp” business, which is real funny considering how, again, that issue was wholly resolved in the first 30 minutes of the hearing.

    Wonkette predicts that Flynn’s “unmasking” is but the first chapter of the story of the downfall of the Trump regime, and that half these fuckers will end up in prison. JUST SAYING. […]

    Spicer’s summary: “Nothing has changed following today’s testimony.”

  33. blf says

    Nunes seems to be … willfully ignorant of the facts

    Perhaps. It is also the case that he says he doesn’t know, &tc, which means — barring independent confirmation from a reliable source — that conclusion is based on what a thug says. Not good: Thugs lie. Frequently, and very possibly in some cases, always. Why believe them — or in this case, him, when he says he doesn’t know?

  34. says

    Wonkette covered the Comey hearing and the Spicer press briefing in bits and pieces. One bit they focused on was Spicer’s inability to adequately address the fact that, no, President Obama did not “wiretapp” Trump:

    […] CBS White House correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Spicer, with legitimate concern in her eyes, “When does this end?” (She was referring to Trump’s lying about the “wire tapps.”) And this is what she got in response: [see video at the link]

    [Spicer said] It’s not a question of a date, it’s a question of where we get answers.

    YOU HAVE ANSWERS, STUPID […]

    [Spicer said] You look at someone like Michael Flynn, and you ask the question, how does an American citizen who should be protected by law from having their identity unmasked, how does that happen? Because you’ve gotta think about it just like this. The FBI and all the relevant intelligence agencies have access to this document, they can figure out who it was.

    Margaret Brennan was like “wuuuuuuuut?” She specifically wanted to know what Spicer meant by “who it was,” reminding him that we are talking about Trump’s lie about getting a “wire tapp” done on his fanny, not this “waaaaaaah Michael Flynn!” pivot Trump and his […] minions in Congress are trying out. Spicer continued:

    What I’m getting at is that there is a lot of information that we have come to learn about what happened in terms of surveillance throughout the 2016 election and the transition. And when you look at somebody like Michael Flynn …

    AND we’re back to bitching about Michael Flynn, the foreign agent who was taking money from the Russians and the Turks, who was just treated SO UNFAIRLY. Hey, remember how Comey confirmed there is an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia? We’re just spitballing, but it’s possible Flynn is a target of that.

    Brennan again tried to clarify, by asking if Trump has evidence of some kind of illegal surveillance, and Spicer replied, “No, no, I am saying,” and continued to spew bull[…] about how it’s unfair how Michael Flynn got “unmasked,” ignoring how said “unmasking” revealed to the public that Flynn is GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY. […]

    And it also revealed to the public that Trump wasn’t going to fire the dude who was taking money from Turkey AND RUSSIA until he had no other choice, because shit got leaked.

    Spicer concluded that today’s hearing was just the “first chapter” in getting to the bottom of this “wire tapp” business, which is real funny considering how, again, that issue was wholly resolved in the first 30 minutes of the hearing.

    Wonkette predicts that Flynn’s “unmasking” is but the first chapter of the story of the downfall of the Trump regime, and that half these [effers] will end up in prison. JUST SAYING. […]

    Spicer’s summary: “Nothing has changed following today’s testimony.”

  35. says

    More meetings that Mike Flynn did not report:

    Former national security adviser Mike Flynn interacted with a graduate student with dual Russian and British nationalities at a 2014 U.K. security conference, a contact that came to the notice of U.S. intelligence but that Mr. Flynn, then the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, didn’t disclose, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Mr. Flynn met Svetlana Lokhova at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, a gathering of former intelligence officials hosted at Cambridge University, in February 2014….

    Wall Street Journal link

  36. says

    Trump World Tower is full of oligarchs.

    On the 78th floor: a Russian who once was accused of mob ties and extortion by an oligarch. On the 79th, an Uzbek jeweler investigated for money laundering who was eventually executed on the street in Manhattan. And four floors higher, a pro-Moscow Ukrainian politician whose party hired a Donald Trump adviser.

    When Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza began construction two decades ago as the tallest residential building in the country (90 stories), its most expensive floors attracted wealthy people getting their money out of what had been the Soviet Union. Trump needed the big spenders. He was renegotiating $1.8 billion in junk bonds for his Atlantic City resorts, and the tower was built on a mountain of debt owed to German banks. […]

    a third of units sold on floors 76 through 83 by 2004 involved people or limited liability companies connected to Russia and neighboring states, […]

    […] Trump World Tower ended up as a model for future developments—with money drawn from sales in Moscow.

    Two months before Trump broke ground in October 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in domestic debt, the ruble plummeted, and some of the biggest banks started to collapse. Millionaires scrambled to get their money out and into New York. Real estate provides a safe haven for overseas investors. It has few reporting requirements and is a preferred way to move cash of questionable provenance. […] Trump World Tower, opened in 2001, became a prominent depository of Russian money. […]

    Bloomberg Businessweek link

  37. says

    @66 I was about to ask how that was really relevant or important but then noticed the part about being the “Then director of the national intelligence agency.” I don’t have access to the paywall so I’m not sure if the article further elucidates why it would be a problem to not disclose it?

  38. blf says

    erikthebassist@68 re @66, I also don’t have access. However, from a mixture of memory and previous work where I had some contacts with USAbsurd intelligence-types people, there is a requirement(? convention?) to log / reveal all non-trivial or repeated contact with individuals known (or suspected) to be citizens of, or have connections-with, certain countries, organisations, and so on. Basically, don’t under-estimate the paranoia of spooks.

  39. says

    erik @68 and blf @70, yes, Mike Flynn’s position a Director of the National Intelligence Agency required him to report the contact with Svetlana Lokhova at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar.

    The Cambridge Intelligence Seminar itself has had some problems. Alleged links to Russian intelligence services led to resignations in December 2016.

    Following the unforeseen resignations of senior experts from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), questions have been raised over the forum’s alleged links with Kremlin operatives and alleged threats from the Russian intelligence services.

    The CIS is an academic forum for visiting speakers to discuss innovative intelligence research in progress.

    The resigned posts were held by former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, who has previously held the position of Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, former policy adviser at the White House Stefan Halper, and historian Peter Martland.

    According to reports, the Kremlin is allegedly behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which also provides funding to the group. […]

    The Cambridge Student link

    Here are a few more specifics about Mike Flynn’s contacts (info from an article that is not behind a paywall — it is poorly written):

    According to interlocutors of the newspaper [Wall Street Journal], we are talking about the Cambridge seminar on exploration (Cambridge Intelligence Seminar), held in February 2014 and attended by former intelligence officers. There, according to the newspaper, Flynn spoke there with Svetlana lokhova from, which at that time was a student and studied the history of Russian intelligence.

    The sources claim that Flynn did not notify employees of security service of the Pentagon about the conversation between him and lokhova. As Director of the Intelligence Directorate of the US Department of defense Flynn was obliged to inform Pentagon officials about his contacts with representatives of foreign countries.

    Flynn, who until mid-February held a post of the adviser of the President of the United States national security, was at the center of a scandal after it became known that he had concealed his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The Washington Post initially wrote that Flynn privately for a month before the inauguration of Donald trump discussed the issue of sanctions with the Russian Ambassador in the United States Sergei Kislyak. […]

    Link

  40. blf says

    The Grauniad’s quick summary of the French presidential debate (French presidential candidates debate key election issues, 23:32 mark):

    […] Very hard to say who came out on top. Here’s one succinct and view:

    […]
    The debate in a nutshell: Fillon isn’t dead, Macron needs to work on the gravitas thing, Le Pen fails to score, Mélenchon elbows Hamon out.

    […]

    Le Pen came across as shouty and angry (and seriously flakey on the economy); Fillon mostly quiet but with a few strong moments, particularly on pensions and foreign policy; Macron enthusiastic, idealistic, passionate at times.

    […]

  41. says

    @73 seems? lol, ffs, can anybody point to another example of a president of the USA who so flippantly goes after private citizens and / or companies the way this jackhole has done, multiple times now?

  42. says

    Does anybody think it’s sad that as a middle aged somewhat overweight white guy I’m growing my hair out for the first time since I was teenager just so I don’t get mistaken for a Trump voter? I’m watching CNN talking to people in line at the Trump rally today and thinking “Fuck, I look exactly like many of those people.”

    I know you can’t and shouldn’t judge on appearances but cheesus christ on rice if these people don’t fit a stereo type I don’t know who does.

  43. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    erikthebassist@76,

    Hell, from a very young age I’ve always felt that I look like a Hitler youth with short hair, so I’ve tended to wear my hair long.

  44. says

    SC @78, I noticed that. It’s about time. Well done, indeed.

    SC @76 and erik @77, Trump is using the power of the presidency to slap private citizens around. So petty of him. So clueless. So unpresidential. However, Trump is more and more unpopular with a majority of voters, and so maybe his stupidity will backfire. People will gravitate towards, and offer support to anyone that Trump bullies.

    erik, grow your hair if it pleases you. Hell, every small way of resisting trumpism counts.

    SC @82, yeah. I liked that point Dean made: suddenly well-known and close associates are “hangers on” or were only around for a short time, or had limited duties, etc. Dean heard the same kind of bullshit being slung during the run-up to Watergate. Dean had never met with President Nixon? Except for those eighty times he did.

  45. says

    Senator Elizabeth Warren’s comment regarding Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch:

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote Monday that time and again Gorsuch has shown “a remarkable ability to shape and re-shape legal arguments in ways that benefit large corporations and disadvantage ordinary people seeking justice,” repeatedly siding with the “rights” of corporations over women, consumers, and workers.

    Further, she noted in the Boston Globe op-ed that his nomination is the latest assault within “a deliberate strategy by powerful interests to turn our courts over to the highest bidder.” […]

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/20/neil-gorsuch-does-not-belong-supreme-court

    In other news: Referencing SC @81, Trump has probably been nursing hurt feelings over “Ronald Grump” and the Sesame Street Grouch Apprentice parody for years. “Ronald Grump happens to have the most trash of any grouch in the world. His name is on every piece of trash in town!” Canceling funding to PBS is probably just trumpian revenge. It doesn’t really save him enough money to fund a military buildup, nor a border wall buildup.

  46. says

    During his rally speech in Kentucky (the one that MSNBC did not air), Trump rehashed his campaign victories … again.

    Guess what he did not mention: FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. Trump did not mention that the FBI has “no information” to back up his bogus claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. “We have no information to support those tweets,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee. “And we looked carefully inside the FBI.” Trump left that out of his rally speech.

    Trump did mention North Korea:”disgraceful and not smart, not smart at all.”

    In other vague and eyebrow-raising foreign policy statements, Trump said today that we should never have left Iraq in 2011:

    “Certainly we shouldn’t have left. We should never ever have left,” Trump told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House. “And a vacuum was created, and we discussed what happened.”

    “But we’ll spend a lot of time with you, with your group, and thank you all very much for being here, we appreciate it,” Trump continued. “And we will figure something out. Our main thrust is we have to get rid of ISIS. We’re going to get rid of ISIS. It will happen, it’s happening right now.”

    In 2007, Trump said the U.S. should just “get out.”

    “Declare victory and leave,” he told CNN.

    In 2008, he told GQ, in an interview surfaced by BuzzFeed: “I’d get out of Iraq right now.”

    In 2011, according to the same BuzzFeed report, he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that he would get U.S. troops in Iraq “out real fast.” […]

    In November 2008, the United States government, under then-President George W. Bush, signed off on a Status of Forces Agreement, which specified that all U.S. forces would withdraw from Iraq “no later than December 31, 2011.”

    Talking Points Memo link

  47. says

    @lynna – I don’t think pointing out Trump’s self contradictions serves any purpose, to his supporters or to us, his enemies, at this point. He is obviously self contradictory, he obviously lies, none of that matters any more. What does matter is that he is a traitor to this country, and he is going to go down for it, along with all his compadres.

    I think we need to start looking forward to the Pence / Ryan administration, and how we Stifle their efforts between now and 11/18.

    Forgive me, I’m not saying your contribution isn’t valuable, it so obviously is, I’m only offering this tough in response to #92 specifically.

  48. KG says

    erikthebassist@93,

    I think you’re being far too optimistic about the possibility of Trump’s removal. Remember that his impeachment would require a majority in the House, then a 2/3 majority in the Senate. The vast majority of Republicans have so far completely failed to stand up to him, and voting for his removal would require risking their seats – and possibly their lives. Trump is not likely to go quietly, nor are the gang of fascists surrounding him – and his supporters in the country would be outraged by any attempt to remove him. Trump also has the ability to start a war in order to rally support, and as a last resort, to order the launch of nuclear weapons – North Korea being at present the most likely target, but by no means the only possibility.

  49. blf says

    Canceling funding to PBS is probably just trumpian revenge [for various skits on Sesame Street].

    Possibly. However, elimination of NPR, PBS, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was been a thug / loonytarian own-goal for many yonks (at least for the more crazed sorts of thugs, which nowadays seems to all of them). This is perhaps the first “realistic” chance They have to do that sort of damage.

  50. blf says

    Trump also has the ability […] as a last resort, to order the launch of nuclear weapons — North Korea being at present the most likely target, but by no means the only possibility.

    I would like to believe that “the military” would refuse to obey such an order. That is perhaps wishful thinking, and as much as I admit to disliking their profession, I also acknowledge they are, broadly speaking, neither fools nor mindless robots. (Though the former — foolishness — does get challenged disturbingly often by seemingly-stupid actions and accidents, and the seemingly-common assorted apparent cover-ups.)

  51. says

    “FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far-right news sites”:

    Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

    Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

    The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections.

    Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook….

  52. blf says

    Argentina warns Trump: ‘Nationalism will not make your economy richer’:

    Finance minister Nicolás Dujovne said recent protectionist trade strategies did more harm than good […]

    Argentina, which is poised to take over the leadership of the G20 group of developed and developing nations later this year, has warned Donald Trump that protectionist trade strategies do not work.

    […]

    “We’ve been there”, Dujovne told the Guardian . “Protectionism and nationalism will not make your economy richer and will not accelerate growth. It will increase stagnation and poverty.”

    […]

    Dujovne said that one benefit of Trump’s protectionist approach was that the EU was now much keener on finalising a free-trade deal with Mercosur, the trade bloc that includes Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

    “We are in favour of globalisation,” Dujovne said. “We see trade as a source of opportunity and not as a threat.”

    […]

  53. says

    KG @ 95 – I completely disagree. The traditional GOP hates Trump and would love any reason to oust him. Ryan has his eye on the prize and would welcome any opportunity to slip into the VP or even Prez’s spot. They are so far reluctant to piss off his supporters, but they likewise are aware that his supporters are a minority. That was true on 11/9 and it is even more true today.

    They are facing pressure at town halls and via their phone, fax and emails ever since, and certainly do fear one thing above all, being tossed out at the midterm. A new party in the white house traditionally loses seats at the mid-terms and they know it.

    We have reached the point of no return, the investigation has been acknowledged and if the American people do not get answers, at this point, heads will roll.

    I don’t think starting a war will save him, but he might try. I see the GOP turning on him long before that happens. He’s destroying their party from within and they are well aware of it. That he has some idiot zealous supporters like Nunes at this point isn’t surprising, but don’t think for a minute there isn’t a cabal of republicans that are just waiting for the right time to strike and get their party back.

  54. blf says

    A follow-up to a long-ago-ish comment (or at least I vaguely recall making one), about Israel claiming an NGO was diverting funds to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Inquiry clears World Vision Gaza of diverting funds to Hamas:

    Australian government review finds no evidence for Israel’s 2016 allegations that the NGO siphoned off millions of dollars a year to the Islamist group

    An Australian government probe has found no evidence taxpayer money was misused by the NGO World Vision in the Gaza Strip, after Israel alleged millions of dollars were diverted to Hamas.

    In August 2016, Israel accused World Vision’s Gaza head, Mohammad El Halabi, of siphoning off millions of dollars a year to the Islamist group that rules the Palestinian enclave — claims the NGO said it had seen no evidence for.

    Australia had given millions of dollars to the charity’s work in the Palestinian territories in previous years and immediately suspended its funding for their Gaza programmes, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) announcing a review.

    “The review uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government funds,” DFAT said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Halabi’s court case is ongoing, but his lawyers have accused the prosecution of refusing to hand over much of the evidence.

    […]

    The Israeli “government” is following a Russia-like path of become very paranoid about, and hostile to, NGOs.

  55. says

    Follow-up to 78 and 92.

    At that rally yesterday that was, thankfully, watched by fewer people, Trump used a new slogan: “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Placards were distributed to audience members.

    Steve Benen pointed out that the slogan is a lie.

    […] The more the White House struggles and Trump’s approval rating sinks, the more the president and his aides stick to the idea that they’re simply following through on the platform presented to voters during the 2016 campaign. Love Trump or hate him, the argument goes, he’s simply keeping the promises he made before he was elected.

    The problem, of course, is that this isn’t even close to being true.

    Trump promised Americans he’d replace the Affordable Care Act with a system that would cover “everybody.” He promised to unveil a new, secret plan to destroy ISIS. He promised to pursue budget policies that would benefit working families. He promised to eliminate the national debt. He promised to combat the opioid epidemic. He promised to stand up to Wall Street and banking giants like Goldman Sachs. He promised to “drain the swamp” and weaken lobbyists’ influence. He promised to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He promised he wouldn’t go golfing.

    How many of these promises has Trump broken so far? Well, all of them, actually.

    […] “Promises Made, Promises Kept” sounds more like an ironic joke than a credible boast.

    “Promises made, promises kept” strikes me as propaganda, and as a sort of advertising campaign for a Trump that doesn’t really exist. For his followers, I expect it is working.

  56. blf says

    Speaking of hair furor starting or egging-on a war as a distraction, No, over there! Our case-by-case guide to the Trump distraction technique:

    Some sort of problem rocking your presidency [sic]? Simple — create a distraction! [Grauniad writer] Adam Gabbatt explores Donald Trump’s apparent skills at changing the news

    In the first two months of his presidency Donald Trump has proved himself to be — if nothing else — a master of distraction.

    His critics say that Trump’s chaotic time in charge has followed a now familiar pattern. Bad — or embarrassing — news emerges, then Trump either blurts out some tweets, or makes spurious claims elsewhere, in an attempt to change the narrative.

    Here are some of the president’s finest obfuscations.

    ● Makes dubious claims about inauguration attendance, distracts with even more dubious claims about voter fraud
    […]
     Politicians from both sides of the aisle expressed scepticism over Trump’s [voter fraud] claims, and little has been heard of the investigation since. On 15 March Politico reported that prominent Republicans were “breathing a sigh of relief” that Trump had not pursued his pledge to investigate.

    ● Botches executive order on immigration, Australian PM takes a hit
    […]

    ● Michael Flynn resigns after scandal, Trump announces campaign-style rally
    […]

    ● Responds to claims administration is in chaos with chaotic 77-minute press conference
    […]

    ● Jeff Sessions misleads Senate committee, Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower
    […]

    Fortunately, to-date, most or all of teh trum-prat’s distractions have been, as noted, tweets or other claims, with nothing “physical” per se (such as issuing orders to bomb), with the possible exception of that botched raid in central Yemen (late-January). Even so, words do matter, and a considerable amount of longer-term damage is quite possible.

  57. says

    Republicans are rushing to pass their health care plan on Thursday. Passing the bill is more important to them than having a bill that actually provides health care.

    One of their many arguments for passing the bill is that “Obamacare is collapsing” (sometimes “imploding”). Translation, “Yes, we know our bill is bad, but if you think passing it is bad, think about how much worse things will be if we don’t act now.”

    As Tierney Sneed wrote:

    […] Republican leaders are scrambling to sell their Obamacare replacement bill by employing a boat loads of half-truths, inaccuracies, contradictions and metaphors.

    The legislation, the American Health Care Act, would pay for a major tax break for the wealthy with massive cuts to Medicaid, while shifting around the tax credits provided by Obamacare to the benefit of young people and middle-income earners, with the old and low-income earners bearing the burden. […]

    Obamacare is “collapsing.” […] “In CBO and JCT’s assessment, however, the nongroup market would probably be stable in most areas under either current law or the legislation,” the CBO said.

    Yes, there have been some trouble spots, but the premium spikes seen this year were predicted by many to be one-time correction after insurers had underpriced their plans when first entering ACA marketplaces. […]

    To be fair, the CBO also said that the Republicans plan was not likely to lead to a market collapse either. It would, however, produce a new system of winners and losers, with insurance being more attractive and cheaper for younger people, as older consumers are pushed out.

    “A lot of Obamacare, you really don’t have insurance because the deductibles are so high.” […] as the CBO pointed, deductible and other out-of-pocket costs will rise even higher under [Republican] legislation. […]

    “Medicaid is a program that by and large has decreased the ability for folks to gain access to care.” –Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

    The GOP line about Medicaid, which stands to see the biggest changes of all the aspects of the Republicans’ legislation, is that it’s already useless for its enrollees – an assertion thats been contradicted by numerous studies, including Commonwealth Fund’s recent finding that states that expanded Medicaid saw greater gains in health care access than those that didn’t. […]

    Not only are Republicans misrepresenting Medicaid in its current state, their proposal to overhaul Medicaid stands to make coverage worse for enrollees. […]

    The initial drop in coverage is no big deal, because “freedom.” […]

    “CBO said that after we restore the freedom for people to buy health insurance if they want it, 14 million people will choose not to buy it. It will be their choice once again, no longer a mandate in Washington D.C.,” Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) said at a mark-up of the bill last week. […]

    Healthy people will be the most likely to abandon their insurance plans without the mandates, creating sicker risk pools and driving up premiums for those who remain. […]

    The ugly coverage numbers are not to be taken too seriously because the CBO is “notoriously bad at anticipating what’s going to happen in the marketplace,” according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). […]

    Republicans can use the “regulatory apparatus” to “make certain that patients are helped and that costs are decreased.” –Tom Price

    [CBO] did not study the effects of “phase 2,” meaning the regulatory reforms the GOP has also planned to take on alongside the legislation. For one, Republicans haven’t been very clear what Price intends to do regulation-wise […]

    “Because Price can’t exclude big categories from coverage, he’ll struggle to redefine the essential health benefits in a manner that will drive down costs,” University of Michigan Law School professor Nicholas Bagley wrote on the TakeCare Blog. […].

    More details are available at the link.

  58. says

    Trump’s attempt to get Republicans to vote for the bad health care bill:

    I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don’t get this done.

    Mark Meadows, I’m coming after you.

  59. says

    Fox News is handling the Comey testimony by presenting only the soundbites they like.

    If you missed yesterday’s congressional hearing with FBI Dir. James Comey, you didn’t miss much…

    Fox video clip here: https://twitter.com/foxandfriends/status/844126949693784064/video/1

    In other words, Fox News is avoiding reporting that the FBI is investigating connections between Russian interference in the 2016 elections and Trump campaign efforts and/or personnel. The Trump campaign may have colluded with a foreign power to undermine an election in the USA. Fox doesn’t want its viewers to know that.

    Fox News interviewed Kellyanne Conway to get some more spin:

    […] Appearing on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Conway said just two points from Comey’s testimony jumped out to her: first, that there is no evidence to suggest that Russian interference resulted in the changing of actual vote totals, and second, confirmation from Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers that “all Americans should be troubled about these intelligence leaks.”

    Conway was not asked by the “Fox & Friends” panel of hosts about Comey’s and Rogers’ assertion that neither the FBI nor NSA had any evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claim, one the White House has continued to defend despite mounting pressure to either admit a mistake or present proof of the allegation. […]

    Conway said two individuals, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, Page’s supervisor on the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, had “very attenuated contacts to the campaign” and that Trump ” doesn’t know these gentlemen. He didn’t work with them.”

    “Where is the nexus? I mean, people are so quick to make that nexus,” she said. “We’ve got conclusions still in search of evidence. And that’s very dangerous, because we didn’t learn anything more yesterday to show any kind of nexus.” […]

    Politico link

  60. blf says

    @108, quoting(?) hair furor, I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don’t get this done: Is there anything there which is plausible?

    ● I honestly: That would be a first.
    ● think: Extreme rarity, possibly also a first.
    ● many of you will lose your seats in 2018: Much better would be if all thugs lost their seats — no exceptions — no matter what the office: “Represenative”, Senator, Governor, Asemblygoon, Mayor. Councilloon, &tc. Sadly, that seems much more implausible than teh trum-prat’s alleged belief.
    ● if you don’t get this done: Is it possible to be so wrong it isn’t even just completely backwards? Well, Ok, Time Cube and the Republican (thug) platform come to mind, so apparently so…

  61. says

    Paul Ryan’s spin concerning the Comey testimony:

    I don’t think we learned anything new yesterday with Comey’s testimony. […] It is very clear that we’ve seen no evidence and have been presented with no evidence that Donald Trump or his staff were involved in this with the Russians.

  62. KG says

    I would like to believe that “the military” would refuse to obey such an order. – blf@97

    Well I’d like to think so too! But I don’t. The system has been deliberately set up so that the POTUS can order such an attack, and no-one has the legal right to stop him. The Sec. of Def. has to confirm that the order does come from the POTUS, but is legally obliged to do so. The military receiving the order are legally obliged to carry it out. And it’s probably within the abilities of Trump, or at least his fascist handlers, to provoke a crisis with North Korea as a context for such an order.

    erikthebassist@101,

    Well, we’ll see. But given the total failure of almost all Republicans to stand up to Trump thus far, I’m puzzled where you think they are going to find the spine to do so now. They may hate him, but they fear him more – and they can still rely on him to sign much of the legislation they most want.

    they likewise are aware that his supporters are a minority. That was true on 11/9 and it is even more true today.

    Sure they’re a minority. But they make up a large chunk of Republican voters. If Trump’s supporters decide to desert the Republicans – say, for a new Trumpist party, which Trumplethinskin might well announce if the Republicans turn on him, Republican congresspersons up for re-election are toast.

  63. tomh says

    @ #112
    KG wrote:
    “and they can still rely on him to sign much of the legislation they most want”

    Exactly right, and that’s the key to the whole thing. Trump will rubber-stamp everything they have dreamed about for years – from taxes to health care to (most important) every regulation and oversight that has held back unfettered greed. All the rest, the Russian connections, the Trumpian rallies, the ridiculous tweets, it’s all just background noise, stuff they can put up with. In the long run it’s irrelevant.

  64. says

    Nerd @114, incompetence shows up at all levels of anything associated with Trump.

    In other news, SC mentioned a gallup poll. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also noticed that poll:

    The ratings are in, and you got swamped. Wow, now you’re in the 30s? But what do you expect when you take away after school programs for children and Meals on Wheels for the poor people? That’s not what you call Making America Great Again. Come on, who’s advising you?

    Schwarzenegger supports after-school programs, and has done so since the beginning of his political career. He sees practical and positive results: reduced delinquency and improved educational outcomes.

    The poll to which Schwarzenegger referred showed Trump’s approval rating is down to 37 percent.

  65. says

    Writing for The Daily Beast, Michael Weiss concluded that the grilling of FBI and NSA leaders proved that there is no “Deep State.” Please reference the whole article for more details.

    […] the sitting U.S. president or his surrogates may have “coordinated” with the Russian government for the purpose of swaying an American election.

    This doesn’t mean a brief encounter or 12 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It doesn’t mean a trip to Moscow to slam U.S. foreign policy and anti-Russia sanctions. And it doesn’t even mean working on behalf of pro-Putin political leaders in Europe. It means knowingly colluding with agents of the Russian government in order to spy on their behalf, to help them steal the correspondence of other Americans, or to feed them classified U.S. secrets. Former MI6 operative Christopher Steele suggested that all of the above were distinct possibilities in his dossier, which Comey believed was worth including in classified briefings of President Obama and then-President-elect Donald Trump. […]

    Life under a Trump administration is a constant exercise in the lowering of IQ and expectation. So I suppose it was fairly anti-climactic to see the president tweeting in real time that his top law enforcer and his top signals intelligence and cyberofficer, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, had exonerated the Kremlin of the now well-attested charge of influencing a democratic contest. They upheld that finding, in fact.

    In years past, it would also be alarming to hear a senior read-in spook state, on the record, that his boss, the commander in chief, was completely and utterly full of shit and spouting lunatic conspiracy theories. But there Comey was, saying neither he nor the FBI nor the Justice Department had any “information” to substantiate Trump’s tweeted allegation that Obama ordered the U.S. government to surveil then-candidate Trump; and that that was something “no president could” do, anyway.

    I think I can also pinpoint the exact moment at which Rogers began wishing he’d gotten into animal husbandry as a career. It was when asked about Trump’s secondary allegation, that Obama got GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, to wiretap him. Rogers answered that not only would asking the British government to spy on a New Yorker be “expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes agreement that’s been in place for decades,” but also that London’s classification of Trump’s accusation was indeed “nonsense and utterly ridiculous,” as Rep. Adam Schiff, the standout star of the day’s proceedings, phrased it. […]

    […] Our president gets his news from a 9/11 truther website […] He is misinformed about covert measures allegedly undertaken by his predecessor by a legal analyst on Fox News. He thinks NATO has an Accounts Payable department. He makes a matronly German woman visibly uncomfortable in his presence. […]

    But then there have been the mutterings on the ideological fringes that any attempt to ventilate Trump’s ties to Moscow is the work of a “deep state” trying to wage a Turkish-style coup against him. […]

    Well, so much for the deep state. Here were two guardians of U.S. national security being grilled about their methodology, their conclusions, and what they knew and when they knew it. […] In even soft authoritarian states, cops trying to ferret out the crimes and corruption of their own governments wind up dead or in prison. In America, they wind up on television.

  66. says

    It’s hard now to watch this interview with Mook (which Lynna posted about on this thread at the time). Also hard to read my comments about it at the time, especially my surprise and confusion after reading through the comments of some Sanders supporters. (My anger at some of the people here and their “Trump’s no worse than Clinton and in some ways better, and you’re a paranoid scaredy cat about Russia” has also been refreshed.)

  67. says

    More bad news about the Republican health care bill is being reported by Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and others:

    […] Up to 250,000 Iowans could lose health insurance, according to a report from the Iowa Hospital Association. […]

    The Illinois Health and Hospital Association told lawmakers in capital city Springfield that the GOP plan would cost the state $40 billion in federal funding over the next decade. […]

    Policy Matters Ohio estimated 700,000 Ohioans would lose coverage under the Republican plan. […]

    In Colorado, the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute estimated that 600,000 fewer residents would be covered under the Republican plan than under the Affordable Care Act by 2030. […]

    The Oregon Health Authority and the Consumer and Business Services Department said the Republican proposal could cost almost half a million Oregonians their health insurance by 2026 and cost 23,000 healthcare workers their jobs. […]

    Liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective estimated that eliminating Medicaid expansion funds would put more than half a million Garden State residents at risk of losing coverage and cost the state about $3 billion annually.

    Connecticut’s Office of Management and Policy found the cash-strapped state would have to dole out an additional $539 million in 2020, when Medicaid expansion funds end. After 2020, the replacement bill would cost the state up to $1 billion a year. Those who receive subsidies to help pay for healthcare would see their costs rise an average of $2,155, the analysis found, while subsidy recipients over the age of 60 would see their costs go up more than double that amount.

    New York’s state health department estimated that a million state residents would see their coverage impacted, and that the state would face $2.4 billion in annual costs under the replacement plan. […]

    The Hill link

  68. says

    Stephen Colbert employed his ultra conservative avatar to comment on Trump’s budget.

    […] “[Trump’s budget] is supposedly cruel to old people for no reason,” Colbert’s conservative twin said, “when in fact there is a very good reason, which brings us to tonight’s Werd: screw unto others.” […]

    “We all know what happens when we eat food,” smirked conservative Colbert. “We are literally flushing money down the toilet.” (The Werd’s follow-up punchline: “flush with cash.”) […]

    “If you want to keep America safe,” he scoffed, “why spend money on Meals on Wheels that could be used on weapons systems?” (The Werd: “scones on drones?”) […]

    At one point, conservative Colbert also defended the fact that the budget would cut after-school lunch programs for poor kids by proposing that if we “take the food away … maybe they’ll be hungry for knowledge!” (The Werd: “less carrot, more stick.”)

    Finally, The Werd’s Colbert sighed that his ultimate fear is that disgruntled citizens might visit house.gov online, find out how to call their representatives, and contact them to voice their fears about the budget

    “If they did that,” he said, “it could derail all of Donald Trump’s compassion. And that might upset that lonely old man … so much that he just becomes a shut-in, stays in the White House, doesn’t even eat, and someone has to bring him a meal.” (The Werd: “how about a steaming bowl of **** you?”)

  69. blf says

    KG@112, Yep, thanks for summarizing the chain-of-command on a nuclear launch order. There’s been a long-identified flaw in process. I can recall discussing this sort of flaw, albeit perhaps not this specific situation, back in University decades ago: The legal procedure to stop or abort a presidential launch order is largely absent.

    The military and its people are required to disobey an unlawful order (a rule which has always(?) been something of a fig leaf, circumvented by getting a compliant lawyer to issue an opinion “it”, whatever “it” is, is legal). However — and this is entirely from memory of the situation decades ago — it then becomes murky. As I now recall, the Secretary of Defense cannot, in that capacity, declare the president is incapacitated; only(?) the VP can. Beyond a declaration of incapacity, there is not (as I now recall) any legal mechanism for disobeying; hence, it becomes a matter of one or more act(s) of “insubordination”.

    “Insubordination” does not make a stop (or abort?) impossible, just unlikely, and increasingly unlikely as the order is passed along the chain to the operational crews. At which point you get to the thing which really really scared the analysts back then, and presumably still does now: Once launched, you cannot recall SLBMs and ICBMs. You’re committed.

    Basically, there’s a gigantic “single point of failure” in the system: A bonkers president.† The current situation, with a bonkers president and bonkers VP, shows just how unrobust the one legal approach (that I can now recall) — a declaration of incapacity — is, to say nothing of how impractical (as in difficult to implement) it has always been.

    And what of Secretary of Defense James Mattis… I’ve no idea. The public signals from him and his office, to-date, are not bonkers (as far as I am aware), but I’ve no clew what would provoke him into disobeying. Resign? Possibly. Disobey? An extremely concerned *shrug*

      † At one time there were suggestions a bonkers “boomer” submarine’s captain was another “single point of failure”. I don’t recall this very well, have no idea what the current situation is, and in any case it does not seem germane to the current Wacko House situation. (Rather embarrassingly, I have no recollection if a Dr Strangelove-like situation — an attack ordered by a bonkers Air Force general — was actually possible.)

  70. blf says

    I’m a bit brown. But in America I’m white. Not for much longer:

    The US Census Bureau plans to redefine ‘white’ to exclude people with Middle Eastern and North African origins. […]

    [… T]echnically speaking, I’m a bit brown but, when it comes to my legal standing, I’m all white. Well, I’m white in America anyway. The US Census Bureau, you see, defines “white” as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa”. Being half-Palestinian and half-English I fall squarely into that box.

    But I may not be able to hang out in that box much longer. There are plans afoot to add a new “Middle East/North Africa” category to the US census. After 70-plus years of having to tick “white” or “other” on administrative documents, people originating from the Middle East and North Africa may soon have their own category.

    Whether our very own check box is a privilege or petrifying is still to be decided. Middle Easterners aren’t exactly persona particularly grata in the US right now. Identifying ourselves more explicitly to the government might not be the smartest move — particularly considering that, during the second world war, the US government used census data to send more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps.

    […]

    On one level, this is just collecting better data for relatively benign reasons (which is quite possibly the intent, as it’s been in-the-works for years, and was trialled in 2015). But with the current paranoid kooks, both in Wacko House and all-but-roaming the streets with baseball bats, more sinister usages of the data can be imagined, with a powerful historical example supporting fears.

  71. blf says

    And from The Onion:

    ● FBI Calls For Increased Surveillance Powers To Keep Pace With Evolving Threat Of Presidential Administrations: “[…] ‘Even with the vast tools we currently have, the FBI simply cannot keep up with the growing dangers posed by presidents, their cabinets, and other staffers,’ said Comey […]”.

    ● Aides Wrestle Drill From Trump’s Hands As He Tries To Remove Obama Listening Device From Skull: “[…] Obama implanted a microphone inside my head to record everything I say! […] You don’t understand, he can hear everything we’re saying! Obama can even hear my thoughts! I have to get it out! I can feel it! I can feel it! I can feel it! […]”.

  72. blf says

    Another idiotic bit of “security theatre”, US electronics ban for Middle East flights endangers passengers for profit (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Holding many large devices with lithium-ion batteries in cargo could create fire risk that has downed airplanes, as directive only affects foreign-owned carriers [ah come on Grauniad, at least try to do some proofreading and produce a joined-up synopsis! –blf]

    A new measure forcing passengers to store all their large electronics in the hold may have disastrous consequences, say airline experts — and the only security that measure will provide is financial security to American carriers.

    The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretly sent 10 foreign-owned carriers an emergency amendment via the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Monday, requiring flights inbound to the US from 10 Middle Eastern airports to ban any device larger than a cellphone from carry-on luggage. On Tuesday, the UK announced it was going even further than the US, banning in-cabin electronics on all direct flights from six Middle Eastern countries.

    Travelers have been told that they will have to pack such devices in baggage to be checked into the plane’s hold.

    But filling the hold of a commercial airliner with the lithium-ion batteries used to power most consumer electronics would create a hazard all its own, according to Robert W Mann Jr, president of the airline industry analysts RW Mann & Company.

    […]

    Fire suppression systems in the hold of a commercial aircraft […] are ineffective against metal fires, and the new regulations may actually increase the risk of fire, said Mann.

    In an age of exploding tablets, safe battery storage deeply concerns experts. “On an aircraft, how many {now-prohibited} devices are carried by, let’s say, 300 customers? How many spare batteries? How many batteries charged by unapproved chargers are in the hold?” Mann asked. “It would be harder to detect that and harder to fight an in-flight fire in the hold than it would if a fire occurred in the cabin. Most cabins have fire blankets and extinguishers that are useful against metal fires.”

    Fires in jetliner holds are extinguished automatically by halon-gas extinguishers, which are effective only against open flame and useless against overheating metal […]

    […]

    DHS also ignores its own precautionary measures with the new rule: Abu Dhabi, one of the affected airports, operates what Mann calls “a state-of-the-art US customs and border preclearance facility” so rigorous that passengers inbound to the US from that airport are cleared by US customs and treated as domestic travelers when they land.

    “It’s kind of bizarre that this state-of-the-art facility is judged inadequate to screen electronics. That seems like the primary objective of one these facilities,” said Mann.

    Forcing passengers to toss their batteries into the hold poses other problems. “Many of the customers who are inconvenienced by this in the short term won’t have battery endcaps or battery bags to inert them from short-circuiting,” Mann said.

    Instead, the regulation will probably simply hurt foreign-owned carriers and drive customers to US carriers in the name of security.

    […]

    All of the airlines affected by the US ban are foreign. The only foreign carrier not affected is Israel’s El Al, which shares its fleet with American Airlines. “A number of parties {among US carriers} have been calling for a reset on some of the Middle East aviation agreements,” Mann said. US carriers contend that state-owned luxury airlines […] compete unfairly with American carriers, which have reduced passenger amenities steadily for years.

    “It will have a competitive effect whether or not that’s the intended result,” Mann said.

    I suspect Mr Mann has put his finger on a main reason behind this silliness: As an end-run around the various agreements — previously supported by States-based airlines (if my memory is correct) — those airlines are now objecting to.

  73. says

    20 Republicans from districts Clinton won who haven’t yet come out as opposing AHCA:

    Coffman (CO), Comstock (VA), Costello (PA), Culberson (TX), Curbelo (FL), Denham (CA), Hurd (TX), Issa (CA), Knight (CA), McSally (AZ)…

    & Meehan (PA), Paulsen (MN), Reichert (WA), Rohrabacher (CA), Roskam (IL), Royce (CA), Sessions (TX), Valadao (CA), Walters (CA), Yoder (KS)

    Also important to keep pressure on 3 Republicans from HRC districts that are on list above: Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Lance (NJ), Katko (NY).

  74. microraptor says

    Lynna @119:

    The Oregon Health Authority and the Consumer and Business Services Department said the Republican proposal could cost almost half a million Oregonians their health insurance by 2026 and cost 23,000 healthcare workers their jobs. […]

    That’s out of a population of a mere 4 million.

  75. says

    “AP Exclusive: Manafort had plan to benefit Putin government”:

    President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

    Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

    “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

    Manafort’s plans were laid out in documents obtained by the AP that included strategy memoranda and records showing international wire transfers for millions of dollars. How much work Manafort performed under the contract was unclear.

    Manafort and his associates remain in Trump’s orbit. Manafort told a colleague this year that he continues to speak with Trump by telephone. Manafort’s former business partner in eastern Europe, Rick Gates, has been seen inside the White House on a number of occasions. Gates has since helped plan Trump’s inauguration and now runs a nonprofit organization, America First Policies, to back the White House agenda.

    Manafort told Deripaska in 2005 that he was pushing policies as part of his work in Ukraine “at the highest levels of the U.S. government — the White House, Capitol Hill and the State Department,” according to the documents. He also said he had hired a “leading international law firm with close ties to President Bush to support our client’s interests,” but he did not identify the firm. Manafort also said he was employing unidentified legal experts for the effort at leading universities and think tanks, including Duke University, New York University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Manafort did not disclose details about the lobbying work to the Justice Department during the period the contract was in place….

  76. says

    “Exclusive: Powerful Russian Partner Boasts Of Ongoing Access To Trump Family”:

    “I have nothing to do with Russia,” Donald Trump bellowed to thousands of frenzied supporters at a Tampa, Florida rally last October. The truth, it seems, is a bit more complicated.

    In an exclusive interview with FORBES, Emin Agalarov—a Russian pop singer, real estate mogul and son of one of the country’s richest people—described an ongoing relationship with the Trump family, including post-election contact with the president himself.

    Among Agalarov’s most striking claims: that he and his billionaire developer father, Aras, had plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would now likely be under construction had Trump not run for office; that he has maintained contact with the Trump family since the election, and has exchanged messages with Donald Trump Jr. as recently as January; and that President Trump himself sent a handwritten note to the Agalarovs in November after they congratulated him on his victory….

  77. says

    Browder is now reporting that Gorokhov is out of critical condition, conscious, and responsive. He links to this piece on the court appearance that had been scheduled for this morning:

    …Nikolai Gorokhov was scheduled to appear this morning, at 10:50 am, in front of the Moscow City Appeals Court to argue the shocking new “Pavlov Leaks” case exposing organized crime and corruption in the US$230 million fraud investigation in which all Russian officials were exonerated and Sergei Magnitsky was accused posthumously.

    The new evidence submitted by Nikolai Gorokhov in particular shows regular communications between Andrei Pavlov, lawyer for the Klyuev organized crime group who was involved in the US$230 mln fraud, and Oleg Urzhumtsev, ex Interior Ministry investigator (sanctioned under the US Magnitsky Act), who helped Pavlov and others to evade responsibility for their role in the crime that Sergei Magnitsky exposed. Certain Klyuev gang members are identified in the communications by their criminals aliases such as “The Bold” and “The Great.”

    The outcome of the hearing at the Moscow City Court today is not known.

  78. says

    “Trump Team Asked About ‘Military Tactical Vehicles’ For Inaugural Parade: Emails”:

    The month after Donald Trump won the presidential election, his staff asked the Pentagon to send photographs of military tactical vehicles that he could include in his inaugural parade, emails obtained by The Huffington Post show.

    The Presidential Inaugural Committee “is seriously considering adding military vehicles to the Inaugural Parade,” a Pentagon official wrote in an internal email dated Dec. 13, 2016. “The conversation started as ‘Can you send us some pictures of military vehicles we could add to the parade,’” the official wrote.

    The emails, which were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, corroborate HuffPost’s January report that Trump, who has spoken favorably of public displays of military prowess, looked into deploying heavy military equipment in his inaugural parade. Asked in December about plans to use military equipment during the occasion, a Trump aide refused to address the matter on the record but offered an incredulous off-the-record denial. It’s not clear whether the aide was aware of the conversations referenced in the Pentagon emails, and he did not respond to a request for an explanation.

    The author of the the Dec. 13 email, whose name was redacted, appeared uncomfortable with the request from the Trump team. “I explained that such support would be out of guidelines, and the costs associated with bringing military vehicles to the [National Capital Region] would be considered reimbursable.”…

  79. blf says

    Muslims inside FBI describe culture of suspicion and fear: ‘It is cancer’:

    Said ‘Sam’ Barodi was fired after he refused to cooperate with customs agents who he believed were targeting him because of his ethnicity and religion. His and other accounts paint a stark picture of the bureau in the era of Trump

    Muslim special agents and intelligence analysts at the FBI are reporting a climate of fear inside the agency coinciding with the political ascendance of Donald Trump, the Guardian has learned.

    FBI officials from Muslim-majority countries, a minority in a predominantly white bureau, say they are subject to an organizational culture of suspicion and hostility that leadership has done little to reform. At least one decorated intelligence analyst has been fired this year after a long ordeal which began with a routine foreign visit to see his family.

    His case and others in which Muslim agents have reported a workplace culture that includes open-ended investigations predicated on their backgrounds were brought to the personal attention of the FBI’s director, James Comey, throughout 2016.

    Muslim FBI officials are alarmed that their religion and national origin is sufficient for the bureau’s security division to treat them as a counterintelligence risk, a career-damaging obstacle that their native-born white FBI colleagues do not encounter.

    [… lots of details…]

    While the non-whites at the FBI are objects of suspicion, white staff have historically posed the demonstrated security risks. The biggest counterintelligence failure in FBI history came from Robert Hanssen, a white FBI agent who fed internal secrets to Russia for over 20 years.

    […]

    It’s quite a long story, including tales of apparent harassment and racial profiling against several FBI employees, by both the FBI and DHS. Quoting one former employee:

    “Comey, in my opinion, he’s a politician. He wants to ride the wave and look good. That was my opinion then, and what he did with Hillary, the Hillary investigation, sealed the deal. He just cares about how he looks,” said Abdel-Hafiz, now a private investigator in Houston.

    He continued: “They harass the Muslims within the bureau, and then they beg for help within the Muslim community. How hypocritical is this? At the same time they put me in the Parm program, they were asking me to recruit people for them.”

    The “Parm program” is described as:

    [… P]ost-adjudication risk management, or Parm, has been the subject of public and media scrutiny for years. It resembles what Barodi called a “one-way street”: a pathway for FBI employees of foreign backgrounds to come under suspicion and never escape it.

    An FBI employee’s foreign background is sufficient to open a Parm investigation, the Guardian has learned, if the employee is from one of 27 countries or territories, 15 of which are in the Middle East or are Muslim-majority. It includes the seven countries initially on Trump’s travel ban […].

    Visiting family in those countries is considered prima facie suspicious under Parm, even if those relatives are not themselves suspected of posing a danger. The Guardian has learned that nearly 1,000 FBI officials are involved in various stages of Parm investigations, roughly 1 in 36 of all FBI employees.

  80. blf says

    More about burnt baguette François Fillon’s latest problems (see @123), Fillon ‘got $50k to fix meeting between Putin and Lebanese billionaire’:

    […]
    The allegations of Fillon’s role in a meeting between the Russian president, the Lebanese businessman Fouad Makhzoumi and Patrick Pouyane, the chief executive of the energy giant Total, were made in the latest issue of the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé, which broke the alleged “fake jobs” scandal in January.

    The article said Fillon’s consultancy company 2F Conseil had earned $50,000 for setting up the 2015 meeting.

    Fillon’s spokesman vigorously denied the allegation, saying Canard Enchaîné’s insinuations were completely without foundation. The Kremlin dismissed the report as fake news.
    […]

    Interesting how Le Pen and Fillion, who were the two leading French presidential candidates, have connections to Russia / Putin. Perhaps the best-known le penazi connection is financial. The two leading candidates now are Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron (not an obvious loon, but something of a cipher).

  81. militantagnostic says

    Trumplethinskin’s lawyers are now threatening a 17 year old girl for mocking him with kitten punches.

    The endlessly litigious Donald Trump has sicced his lawyers on a 17 year old girl who put up a joke website to test her coding skills that had kittens batting around an image of Trump’s face. They sent her a letter demanding that it be taken down.

    She had this to say

    “I was going to just let this go, but I think it’s, pardon my French, fucking outrageous that the president of the United States has his team scouring the internet for sites like mine to send out cease and desists and legal action claims if we don’t shut down,” Lucy told the Observer in an email. “Meanwhile, he tweets about The Apprentice ratings and sends out power-drunk tweets about phone tapping. HOW ABOUT BEING THE PRESIDENT?”

  82. says

    Republicans in the House did not hold hearings before passing their health care plan out of committee. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell is also not planning on holding any hearings. Zero hearings.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] On the surface, the idea of the Senate bypassing the committee process and skipping all hearings on legislation of this significance seems insane, but McConnell doesn’t seem intent on jamming the bill through Congress; rather, he seems eager to kill the bill and move on to something else.

    There are basically two ways of looking at this dynamic: McConnell is either (a) planning to rush this bill through because he thinks it can pass, and he’s trying to limit the opportunity for opponents to marshal their forces; or (b) realizing that the legislation will never get to 50 votes, so there’s no point in dragging out failure.

    I’m reasonably confident the latter scenario is the correct one.

    Why does this matter when all eyes are on the House, where the outcome is so uncertain? Because conditions in the Senate should help dictate results in the House: GOP leaders are asking House Republicans to vote for a wildly unpopular bill that would do tremendous harm to the American health care system. For their trouble, these same House Republicans are learning that the bill, if it somehow passes their chamber, will likely die a week later in the Senate, ensuring that the House took this vote for nothing.

    For GOP House members worried about 2018 attack ads, this is an all-risk, no-reward scenario.

    One unnamed Republican senator told Politico, “Maybe the best outcome is for this to fail in the House so we can move on to tax reform. Which is what we should have done anyway.” […]

    Despite Trump’s repeated visits and phone calls to congress critters, despite Trump’s blowhard claims to be a top negotiator, it looks like the “repeal and replace Obamacare” plan is going to fail. Are we going to be able to chalk up one huge, tremendous failure for Trump?

    My take on this is that the Republican health care plan is so bad that even Republicans can’t support it. In addition to the bill’s obvious flaws, there’s also the divide between two factions of Republicans: those with no empathy and no understanding (the “fuck the poor” and “free markets solve everything” contingent), and those with a little empathy and some understanding. Totally venal Ayn Randians like Paul Ryan are in the minority.

  83. says

    I think Defense Secretary Mattis is finding out what happens when a Cabinet-level guy does not bow to trumpian dictates.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis’ unconventional choices for top Pentagon posts and his reluctance to aggressively push for dramatic increases in the defense budget have rankled Republicans on Capitol Hill who say he’s burning through political capital he needs as he begins reshaping the Pentagon. […]

    Republican lawmakers and senior congressional aides said in recent interviews they’re running out of patience with the former four-star general’s staffing decisions, which have disappointed Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee members hoping to see their ideological allies elevated to senior levels in the Defense Department. Others are grumbling about Mattis’s refusal to advocate for a bigger increase in the defense budget, […]

    “He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election,” said one aide to a GOP senator on the Armed Services Committee, who declined to speak on the record for fear of publicly alienating the defense secretary.

    “We’ve waited eight years for this, to be able to fill these posts with Republicans,” said another top GOP Hill staffer. “We know Trump isn’t part of the establishment and that it’s going to be a bit different, but it should go without saying that a Republican administration is expected to staff federal agencies with Republicans.” […]

    Politico link

    I’m beginning to lose hope that former Marine general Mattis can act as a check against Trump and Bannon’s worst policies.

  84. blf says

    Leader of group widely identified as anti-Muslim meets with White House:

    Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America, which has been classified as a hate group, posted photos from her visit and asked supporters what topics to address

    […]

    Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese American conservative, has written two books warning about the dangers of radical Islam. Act for America, the organization she founded, describes itself as the the NRA of national security and claims 500,000 members and 1,000 chapters across the country focused on advancing policies to protect America from terrorism.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, classifies Act for America as “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America”.

    […]

    The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies Act for America as an anti-Muslim hate group. It cites as one example a speech Gabriel gave to the Department of Defense’s joint forces staff college in 2007, in which she reportedly said that a practicing Muslim who prays five times a day cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.

    […]

    In her first book, Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America, she wrote disparagingly of Americans who still refuse to accept that in the Muslim world, extreme is mainstream. […]

    […]

    Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said in a statement: “Brigitte Gabriel is an extreme Islamophobe and leader of a known hate group. Hate has no place in the White House and she should not have an audience with the Trump administration. There have been enough anti-Muslim people in this administration already — enough is enough.”

  85. says

    militant agnostic @144, that 17-year-old-girl is far more intelligent than Trump.

    blf, thanks for the updates on French politics. The apparent connections to Putin are … alarming.

    SC @137, I second your recommendations. Those two Maddow segments were topnotch. I was impressed by her emphasis on the ongoing nature of Russia’s information/digital warfare.

    Now that Russia has had some success, they certainly are not going to slack off of their accord.

    As you also noted, it is absolutely appalling that some Bernie supporters were moved into the anti-Clinton camp based on batshit bonkers Russian misinformation disseminated on social media sites.

    The other striking factor was the size of the huge flood of misinformation. Relentless.

  86. militantagnostic says

    Lynna 148

    that 17-year-old-girl is far more intelligent than Trump.

    That is damning with faint praise :).

  87. says

    From Josh Marshall, here’s a useful discussion of the nexus of Russian disinformation that included “Alt-right” Twitter feeds in the USA:

    […] One example came in mid-August when campaign chief Paul Manafort went State of the Union with Jake Tapper told a story about how US troops at the NATO base at Incirlik, Turkey had been repeatedly attacked by terrorists. This was part of the campaign message of Obama weakness, which Trump could repair. The only problem was that nothing like this had happened. (This was relatively soon after the failed coup in Turkey.) So where had Manafort gotten this? It turned out that the only other publications which had reported anything remotely like this were RT and Sputnikness. […]

    We know that at the time Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, which was clearly where he got a lot of his information, was positively lousy with alt-right Twitter feeds, often of the harshest racist and neo-Nazi variety. The whole Trump crew, which was still fairly small at the time, was awash in this stuff. For whatever reason these streams were filled with stories from RT, Sputiknews and other rightist-European news sites which themselves often picked up stories. […]

    Why were Trump surrogates always pitching Russian propaganda? Because it was filling their Twitter feeds. This was likely the main reason Trump kept getting in trouble for [retweeting] tweets from notorious white supremacists.

    The fact that these sites and their audiences were apparently targeted as vectors for spreading pro-Trump and anti-Hillary propaganda, although perhaps unwittingly, is probably the best explanation of why they’re coming up in these [FBI] probes. […]

    That Manafort interview above was on August 14th, 2016. We now know that only five days earlier top Trump foreign policy advisor Mike Flynn had signed a $500,000 deal to advocate for the Turkish government.[…]

    […] the use of these far-right and alt-right sites as vectors for pro-Trump Russian propaganda was clear at the time. Little surprise that is being scrutinized today.

  88. says

    From Alice Ollstein:

    […] The combination of pressure from the White House and congressional leaders and the introduction of amendments aimed at pleasing both ends of the ideological spectrum—Medicaid work requirements for conservatives and more generous tax credits for moderates—has been somewhat successful in eroding the opposition. Several former critics of the bill, like Palmer, have flipped. […]

    Others present at that White House meeting did not give a firm no, but said their concerns have not yet been fully addressed.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), when asked for his thoughts on the proposed Medicaid changes, said: “It begins to help a little bit, but I don’t know if it’s adequate. I just don’t know: Is it a Band Aid or does it really accomplish something?”

    A new CBO report could offer an answer, but Republicans won’t take the time to wait for that report.

    Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) was similarly skeptical of the changes unveiled Monday night: “They’ve altered the bill but not improved it,” he told reporters. […]

    A new analysis from the New York Times released Tuesday painted an even grimmer picture: The GOP plan would cause more people to be uninsured than simply a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act would.

    24 million versus 23 million, not much difference, but still, that’s damning!.

    Adding to the pressure ahead of the votes are demands from powerful conservative groups—including Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and Americans for Prosperity—that lawmakers oppose the bill. And congressional offices continue to receive a flood of phone calls from constituents concerned about the impact of the bill on their families.

    Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) told TPM she has received an earful from her constituents over the past couple weeks. “They’re concerned about the possibility of losing coverage,” she said. “And I’m concerned about that, too.”

    Still, the Senate’s Republican leadership is plowing ahead, operating on the assumption that the bill will pass the House on Thursday and land in their laps next week. Against the protests of many Democrats and a few Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested Tuesday that he plans to bring the bill straight to the Senate floor without holding any hearings. […]

  89. says

    Today, while Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing was still ongoing, the Supreme Court overturned one of his past decisions. The overturn by SCOTUS was unanimous.

    […] Under Gorsuch’s opinion in Luke P., a school district complies with the law so long as they provide educational benefits that “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’”

    “De minimis” is a Latin phrase meaning “so minor as to merit disregard.” So Gorsuch essentially concluded that school districts comply with their obligation to disabled students so long as they provide those students with a little more than nothing.

    All eight justices rejected Gorsuch’s approach. IDEA, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “is markedly more demanding than the ‘merely more than de minimis’ test applied by the Tenth Circuit.” Indeed, Roberts added, Gorsuch’s approach would effectively strip many disabled students of their right to an education.

    Think Progress link

    Gorsuch’s aw-shucks and bland responses during the hearing hide a history of decisions that tend to fuck with the rights of ordinary people. The opinion related to the Individuals with Disabilities Act is just one example.

  90. says

    The Wall Street Journal has been a reliably conservative-leaning voice for years. The editorial board now seems to have had it up to here with Trump:

    If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.

    The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.

    Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.

  91. says

    Good news:

    […] On Monday, the Baltimore city council passed legislation that will raise its wage floor to $15 an hour by 2022. It’s the first such victory for the Fight for 15 movement this year. […]

    Link

    Bit by bit, cities and states are going around the doofuses in Congress to raise the minimum wage.

    Other cities that took action earlier to raise the minimum wage: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C.

    States that later raised the minimum wage: New York, California.

  92. says

    Yikes. South Carolina has some truly bonkers end-times preppers in the state legislature:

    Two Republican state representatives in South Carolina are encouraging people to create communities that ignore laws and court rulings they don’t agree with as part of their “Virtue Solution Project,” […]

    Reps. Josiah Magnuson and Jonathon Hill both represent “tiny towns in the Upstate Bible Belt,” reports The Post and Courier’s Andrew Brown. Both are home-schooled sons of pastors who “are working to counteract the current political system in the House of Representatives by trying to nullify laws they determine are unconstitutional or morally evil.” They praised the jurors who refused to convict the Bundy brothers over their occupation of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. […]

    Right Wing Watch link

    Charleston Post and Courier link

    For those concerned about societal collapse or impending disaster, two South Carolina lawmakers have a plan. It includes community ammo depots and tactical weapons training. […]

  93. says

    Follow-up to comments 2, 40, 52, 57, 58, 82, 113, 134 (good reference), and 150.

    Roger Stone claimed that Paul Manafort had no ties to Russia:

    […] Trump adviser Roger Stone […] has repeatedly claimed that Manafort, his longtime friend and former business partner, has “no Russian ties” and “never” worked for the Russians. […]

    Stone said on August 15 edition of The Alex Jones Show that Manafort “has never worked for the Ukrainian government or for the Russian government.”

    Stone said on the August 18 edition of Breitbart News Daily that the claim that Manafort is in bed with Putin is a “conspiracy theory.” He made similar remarks defending Manafort during an August 18 appearance on C-SPAN.

    During an August 19 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone claimed that “Manafort has not worked for the government of Ukraine or Russia.”

    Stone wrote an August 19 piece for his website denying that Manafort is “somehow in bed with Putin and the Russian’s when Trump has never met or communicated with Putin and Putin dislikes Manafort”:

    The entire spin by the Clintonistas that Trump and Manafort are somehow in bed with Putin and the Russian’s (sic) when Trump has never met or communicated with Putin and Putin dislikes Manafort because of the latter’s pushing of [Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych] to have Ukraine join the EU. This is the “New McCarthyism[.]” The Clinton’s (sic) and their vassals essentially accuse Trump and Manafort of treason against their own Country when in fact it’s Bill and Hillary who have profiteered in the Ukraine as well as taking millions from oligarchs and interests aligned with Putin.

    […] Stone tweeted on October 31 that “@PaulManafort has NO Russian ties to investigate” and that contrary claims are “100% made up horseshit.”

    Stone also wrote a January 13 op-ed for The Daily Caller in which he claimed that there’s “no evidence” that Manafort was “working for the Russians”. […]

    Media Matters link

  94. says

    There are many injuries, some very serious, and unconfirmed reports of two people killed in the London attacks. The French government is saying two French students are among the injured.

  95. blf says

    Sort-of by accident, I happened to visit the current(?) RT story on the hearing and Russian involvement. At least part of the spin is (paraphrasing) since no evidence was produced it didn’t happen. I wonder if the usual loons will pick up on that loopy angle now…

  96. says

    Nunes looks to be a lying lackey. He’s throwing smoke bombs. Also, Nunes has already proven himself to be ill-informed concerning the subject(s) of the very investigation he is supposedly heading. And Nunes has already been seen cherry-picking facts and/or misinterpreting facts. That man cannot be trusted.

    He needs to be investigated tool. It now looks like he is interfering in an ongoing investigation.

    As erik noted in 165, Schiff (the ranking member on the committee) was not informed of Nunes’ plans to run to Trump with bogus info. We’ll see what comes of this, but I expect an official complaint from Schiff.

    Nunes is probably miffed that his plan to focus on leaks and supposed nefarious acts by Obama-administration holdovers didn’t work.

  97. says

    @166 OTOH, it’s also possible that there was sloppy work done in the investigation so this makes me nervous. If any of the collection turns out to be done improperly, or the evidence handled improperly, it could fuck the whole thing right up.

  98. says

    @166 OTOH, it’s also possible that there was sloppy work done in the investigation so this makes me nervous. If any of the collection turns out to be done improperly, or the evidence handled improperly, it could fuck the whole thing right up.

    I think the Nunes lying/bullshitting/mischaracterizing/… is far more likely. Especially because Sally Yates and the FBI contacted the transition team about the Kislyak conversations. If that information had been collected improperly I can’t imagine they would have done that.

  99. KG says

    SC@164,

    The four dead include the alleged attacker. BBC’s live updates here. Despite earlier reports, there appears to have been only one attacker. (Has there been any such “high visibility” attack by a single person recently in which it has not been reported early on that more than one perpetrator was involved?)

  100. says

    I believe Nunes was shaken by the hearing on Monday and is acting out of fear. If he’s doing this in any way at the behest of Trump he could be in big trouble. (Even if freelancing, he could be in trouble. In any case, he’s put his committee or at least his role in it in serious jeopardy.)

  101. blf says

    Speaking of the French presidential election, here is an interesting look at one of the le penazi problems, ‘We feel very close to her’: can ‘fake feminist’ Marine Le Pen win the female vote?:

    Women are crucial for the far-right leader’s bid to become France’s first female president, but can she avoid scaring them off?

    […]

    Female voters are crucial for Le Pen’s bid to become France’s first female president. Polls currently show Le Pen reaching the final round in May, but unable to get the 50% needed to win the presidency. It is female voters who could boost her score. Traditionally, more women register to vote than men in France, but they are also more likely to abstain. Le Pen, who avoids the word feminist, is now pushing her feminine side in campaign videos and special pamphlets designed for female voters. […]

    The Front National [le penazis –blf] has a tricky history with female voters. For decades under Le Pen’s father, the macho ex-paratrooper Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party suffered from a gender gap. Far fewer women than men voted for a party which from the start vehemently opposed abortion rights — it called the legalisation of abortion an anti-French genocide — and pushed a traditionalist view of women as childbearers and homemakers. […]

    Le Pen has toned down the party’s stance on abortion and no longer wants to roll back its legalisation — even if her popular [sic†] niece, the MP Marion Maréchal Le Pen, is staunchly pro-life and has talked about cutting subsidies for family planning. […]

    The courting of young women’s votes is all about not scaring them off — one recent survey showed more women than men still believed the far right was “dangerous for democracy”. […]

    [… T]he key focus of Le Pen’s wooing of women is to push her anti-immigration stance — emphasising what she calls the threat of creeping Islamist fundamentalism that is rolling back women’s rights in France.

    […]

    […] Le Pen has said she would like to ban the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, from all public spaces. On International Women’s Day this week, she said that every woman must be protected in their right, if they chose, to wear shorts or a miniskirt. [And burkinis –blf]

    On a visit to Lebanon last month, Le Pen refused to wear a headscarf to meet a senior Muslim official and pointedly cancelled her meeting — sending a signal to her voters.

    […]

    Among the female voters who choose Le Pen, retail workers stand out. She has gained a significant share of the vote among women in this sector, including supermarket cashiers and shop assistants, who often face poor pay and conditions.

    In recent weeks, Le Pen has been ambushed by feminist campaigners outside events. At the Paris farm show, two feminists seeking to award her a prize “for being an impostor for the so-called defence of women” were removed by Le Pen’s security team. Last month, a topless campaigner from the Femen group stormed a Le Pen conference on foreign policy shouting: “Marine: fake feminist!”

    The historian Valérie Igounet, whose recent book L’Illusion Nationale covers two years of research in towns currently run by Front National mayors, said: “Just as with other topics, when the Front National tackles the issue of women, it is really talking about immigration. It is immigration that underlies everything.” She added: “The Front National is far from a party that is feminist and respects all rights of women.”

    [… A] secondary school teacher who worked in a diverse neighbourhood of Paris said she felt more female teachers around her were becoming open to the Front National. […]

    That last quoted paragraph sounds like trouble is being stored up regardless of who is elected: nazi teachers are simply not a good idea.

      † The niece, Marion Maréchal Le Pen, is said to be even more of a vicious loon than Jean-Marie Le Pen. This dynasty — Jean-Marie, his daughter Marine, and her niece — is why I call their party the “le penazis”.

  102. says

    Nunes is doing a press conference and admitting that he has no idea whether the collection or unmasking was legal or proper, hasn’t taken it up with the agencies, and hasn’t spoken to Schiff, so he thought it was totally appropriate to run to Trump, Ryan, and the press first.

  103. says

    Also, if the information allegedly came through “proper channels,” how could it possibly have come only to him and not to Schiff? There’s nothing remotely proper about anything Nunes has done.

  104. says

    SC, Malcolm Nance had a hard time describing what he just saw in the Nunes press conference. It was, basically, off the wall. Nunes looked scared and bonkers.

    A point was made that even if he saw Trump’s name in a report, that could mean nothing. Trump’s name is everywhere, including in foreign newspapers etc. Whether it means anything or not, it is not Nunes’ place to brief Trump on an investigation that may include Trump and/or his administration.

    General conclusion is that Nunes just compromised the investigation, and that his fellow committee members will be appalled.

  105. says

    Another conclusion regarding the Nunes press conference, he wanted to be on TV. He could have entered the White House unseen. He didn’t have to announce his intentions. He didn’t have to take questions from the press. He took about six more questions after he told the press he had to go.

    Theater. Absurd. Possibly a sanctionable action. Comey is not going to like that.

  106. says

    Jeremy Bash and Malcolm Nance seem to be under the impression that what Nunes saw was just regular, common intelligence reports that included Trump’s or his team’s names. He’s alarmed because he doesn’t understand how they work.

  107. says

    SC @179, that would make sense. Nunes has already shown himself to be remarkably stupid and unable to read for comprehension. The thing is, if he didn’t understand, he could have asked for guidance.

    I also would not reject the idea that Nunes may have been used (possibly by Bannon) to throw smoke that might obscure the real issues that Comey brought up during his testimony.

    I notice that more people are now saying that Nunes himself should be under investigation, if he is not already. He worked for team Trump during the transition.

  108. says

    Yeah, as expected Trump thinks Nunes’ stupidity vindicates Trump.

    […] “Do you feel vindicated by Chairman Nunes?” a reporter asked the President.

    “I somewhat do. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, but I somewhat do,” Trump responded.

    Link

  109. says

    I also would not reject the idea that Nunes may have been used (possibly by Bannon) to throw smoke that might obscure the real issues that Comey brought up during his testimony.

    I notice that more people are now saying that Nunes himself should be under investigation, if he is not already. He worked for team Trump during the transition.

    Absolutely. They called him to try to knock down the media reports just a few weeks ago, and he actually did it. He should have been forced to recuse himself then (at the very latest).

  110. says

    A new wrinkle in weaponizing the conservative media to punish people who may not be completely onboard with the Trump agenda, singling out individual government employees for criticism:

    Conservative news outlets, including one with links to a top White House official [Breitbart], are singling out individual career government employees for criticism, suggesting in articles that certain staffers will not be sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump by virtue of their work under former President Barack Obama.

    The articles — which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review, and other outlets — have alarmed veteran officials in both parties […]. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump’s agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies. […]

    Washington veterans say they can’t recall similar targeting of government employees, who are required to stay apolitical and generally shun the spotlight.

    “It’s deeply unfair to single people out and question their loyalty,” said William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former longtime diplomat, “It’s demoralizing for institutions. It’s demoralizing for professionals, and it’s offensive.” […]

    Politico link

    This move stinks to high heaven of Steve Bannon.

  111. says

    SC @184, Nunes engaged in a bit more of the “knock down” of media reports about the Russia connections during his press conference today by saying that, “It [the incidental collection of communications] had nothing to do with any criminal investigation.” Nunes also said today that the surveillance was not related to Russia.

    He’s probably lying, but that comment “not related to Russia” certainly looks like Nunes continuing to follow orders to knock down reports of team Trump being connected to Russians.

    More on the press conference:

    […] Nunes revealed to the press that legal American surveillance picked up communications by Trump’s team. At one point he said that President Trump’s own communication had been swept up; at another, he insisted that this was merely “possible.”

    In other words, Nunes contradicted himself within a matter of seconds.

    This raises the question of whether Nunes leaked classified information about surveillance without authorization.

    “If he didn’t get authorization, he just released classified information without authorization. Two days after we just a hearing filled with rants about leaks of classified information,” Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, told The Daily Beast. “That type of information is not public knowledge, one way or another. That’s classified.”

    Nunes’s spokesman did not respond directly to a question regarding whether Nunes got the green-light from the intelligence community or the White House to reveal the existence of these surveillance activities, but said, “Chairman Nunes deliberately avoided discussing any details that would be classified.” […]

    Link

    Looks to me like he did discuss classified material.

  112. says

    Nunes just did a long interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. He’s really lost it. It took him a while, but he got to (something close to) “The bottom line is that the president* was right – his name and those of others on the transition team [I have to wonder if this included himself] made it into intelligence reports.” Of course a) that wasn’t what Trump claimed, as Tapper pointed out, and b) no one has disputed that. He conceded again that the information could very likely have intelligence value and that the use of the names could well have been proper, but instead of looking into that he thinks he should go on TV. At this point, I almost hope Putin or Trump do have something on him – otherwise, he’s just a pathetic hack.

  113. says

    From Aaron Rupar, writing for Think Progress:

    […] After talking to the president, Nunes again faced the media and contradicted himself about what his evidence means, seeming to both support and refute Trump’s wiretap allegations in the same breath. He was also evasive about where the alleged surveillance occurred, who it targeted, and what form it took.

    Like Trump, Nunes never provided any evidence to substantiate his claim. Nonetheless, right-wing outlets like Breitbart rushed to cover the development as though it validated Trump.

  114. says

    ok, I’ve seen the rightwing media do some mental gymnastics before obviously, but this is a new all time level of ludicrousness. How anybody looks at what Nunes did today and they are jumping on it as if this vindicates Trump and makes the “MSM” look stupid is just unreal. They have to be living in an alternative universe.

    Are they all on the same payroll or something?

  115. says

    From Schiff’s official statement, which I haven’t found a text version of yet to copy from, he basically says that Nunes told him: (paraphrasing) “The names were masked, but I could figure out who they were.”… But in his earlier statement, his first to the press before going to see the WH, he stated that names were unmasked and that he wanted to know who was responsible for unmasking them. So which is? Nunes has contradicted himself dozens of times throughout the day already.

  116. says

    From Schiff’s statement:

    […] If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been. Indeed, it appears committee members only learned about this when the Chairman discussed the matter this afternoon with the press. The Chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the Chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.

    As to the substance of what the Chairman has alleged, if the information was lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials, that would mean that U.S. persons would not have been the subject of surveillance. In my conversation late this afternoon, the Chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identities of the parties. Again, this does not indicate that there was any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. Person’s name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the content of collected foreign intelligence information.

    In a press conference this afternoon Schiff blasted Nunes, questioning his independence and stating that Nunes “will need to decide if he is the chairman of an independent investigation or if he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House.”

  117. says

    There was an FBI wiretap in Trump Tower. It was not ordered by nor place by Barack Obama. It did not target Donald trump.

    […] Between 2011 and 2013 the FBI had a court approved warrant to eavesdrop on a Russian organized crime and money laundering operation out of the 63rd floor of Trump Tower.

    […] For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower.

    The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” Tokhtakhounov was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

    Five months after the April 2013 indictment and after Interpol issued a “red notice” for Tokhtakhounov, the fugitive appeared near Donald Trump in the VIP section of the Moscow Miss Universe pageant.

    Trump had sold the Russian rights for Miss Universe to a billionaire Russian shopping mall developer. […]

    On the one hand this may seem like guilt by association. Trump has a bunch of buildings. Some tenants must be crooks. But the context is important. When you start piecing together the Trump story, basically everywhere you look, whether it’s residents in his Trump-branded buildings, or his business associates or investors in his projects, Trump is – there’s simply no other way to put it – tied up with it not just Russians but in many cases Russians tied to the criminal underworld and money laundering. […]

    Link

    This legal wiretap appears to have nothing at all to do with what Nunes was throwing around today.

  118. says

    Follow-up to comments 180 and 182.

    Here is a transcript of Jeremy Bash’s comments:

    Brian, I served as chief counsel of the House intelligence committee, and I think in 40 years of the committee’s existence, since the post-Watergate era reforms with the Church and Pike committees that emerged from those scandals, I have never heard of a chairman of an oversight committee going to brief the president of the United States about concerns he has about things he’s read in intelligence reports.

    The job of the committee is to do oversight over the executive branch. Not to bring them into their investigation or tip them off to things they may be looking at.

    And I’ve got to believe that other members of the committee are horrified at what they just witnessed. This is a chairman who is supposed to be doing an impartial, bipartisan investigation of the president and his inner circle. Instead, he goes and basically tells the president and his team everything he knows.

    It’s very concerning, particularly when what he is saying is that the collection was lawful, it was court ordered by lifetime federal judges against valid foreign intelligence targets, that the reports generated by the nonpartisan, nonpolitical intelligence community were of foreign intelligence value.

    And then he goes and tries to make this into a political cover story for the president’s tweet storm two Saturdays ago and potentially reveals to the president things about the committee’s existing investigation.

    This is a true breakdown, Brian, in the entire oversight process. ​

  119. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m very impressed with Rep. Schiff. I’m not sure about his politics (Bernie liberal or Obama/Clinton moderate), but if he wants it, higher offices look probable.

  120. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] So now, less than 48 hours after the conclusion of Monday’s hearing, we are supposed to believe Nunes has found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, finished the investigation ALL BY HIS-SELF, and cleared the Trump regime of any and all charges.

    You might be wondering if Nunes mentioned to his partner on the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, that he had found all this exculpating evidence and would be jizz-sploding it all over the place today. Nyet, as they say in the Trump team’s homeland

    Be sure to watch for Adam Schiff on TV for the rest of the day absolutely losing his fucking mind. […]

    But this shit is not going away. Not by a long shot. Good try, shithead, but literally everybody who’s actually investigating this is better and smarter, and the truth WILL come out. […]

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    (I didn’t see the actual interview.)

    I did. MTP Daily on MSNBC. And he did admit it was more than circumstantial.

  122. says

    Paul Ryan is all heart. He ordered Capitol Police to remove a bunch of disabled protestors, many of them in wheelchairs. 54 of the protestors were arrested (41 of those arrested were females).

    Members of the group ADAPT, which organizes disability rights activists, were protesting against the American Health Care Act currently being debated in Congress and proposed cuts to Medicaid.

    “I want the Medicaid,” the protesters yelled and held signs that carried statements like “Medicaid= life 4 disabled.” The protest started around 2 p.m. […]

    Just before 3 p.m., the police removed each protester by either wheeling them out of the room or helping them up off the floor.

    Capitol Police made arrests and are still processing the scene, according to their office.

    Roll Call link

    Daily Kos link

  123. says

    SC @205 and Nerd @207, I think Schiff is ready to take the gloves off. He has been cool, calm, collected, reasonable, logical, polite etc. up until now.

    I think he’s fed up with Nunes.

  124. says

    Something is very odd to me. Manu Raju is reporting that the content of the intel Nunes is referring to is centered around discussions between Trump Transition Team members and is about members of Trump’s family, possibly about how they fit in to the campaign.

    How is any of that related to the trump/russia investigation, and how could that be picked up incidentally when surveilling foreign intelligence targets as part of a FISA warrant?

    Did Nunes accidentally let the cat out of the bag that there is also a domestic criminal investigation happening? Above and beyond the investigation in to the Trump Campaign’s ties to Russian efforts to affect the outcome of the election?

  125. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    How is any of that related to the trump/russia investigation, and how could that be picked up incidentally when surveilling foreign intelligence targets as part of a FISA warrant?

    Incidental means that properly surveiled foreign operatives can talk about US Citizens, and the fact that they were talking about US citizens will be noted, but the names will be masked (redacted in my old job), unless there are specific reasons to unmask their identity.

  126. says

    @211, right, I get that, but that’s not what we’re talking about with Nunes today. Again, reread what I said about what Manu Raju is reporting. These were conversations between transition team members about members of Trump’s family, no foreign operatives involved… unless..

    a) A member of the transition team was considered a foreign operative

    or

    b) There is a non-FISA issued domestic investigation happening.

    Those are the only two possibilities right? Assuming Manu’s reporting is accurate?

  127. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Those are the only two possibilities right?

    Nope, a properly FISAed foreign operative could be talking to a transition team member. The foreign operative is the target, not the transition team. But talking to the transition team, and the names of those contacted and the resulting discussions are now part of the intelligence record.

  128. says

    Nerd I love ya man but you are not reading what I’m writing, try again. Manu Raju is reporting that the conversations took place between transition team members. Not between a transition team member and a foreign operative.

  129. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not between a transition team member and a foreign operative.

    Based on information shown to date, show me any reason why the CIA/FBI shouldn’t consider Flynn and Manafort as foreign operatives based on their past dealings (and with money from questionable sources), and under surveillance.

  130. says

    Based on information shown to date, show me any reason why the CIA/FBI shouldn’t consider Flynn and Manafort as foreign operatives based on their past dealings (and with money from questionable sources), and under surveillance.

    Manafort was not part of the transition team. But yeah, Flynn definitely is / was a foreign operative, so thus my point, one of my 2 possibilities. Someone on the transition team is considered a foreign operative and is targeted by a FISA warrant. (Flynn, presumably).

  131. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    McCain is now calling for an independent select committee.

    Yes, get it above the political hacks like Rep. Nunes, and into the hands of states(wo)men, whose only interest the the country and the Truth, not politics.

  132. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Coming out on Hardball on MSNBC, that intelligence reported that Manafort received millions from the Russians today, and the whole Nunes bullshit might be another distraction.

  133. blf says

    Manafort was not part of the transition team.

    Officially, and/or after the election. But these nazis lie, obfuscate, and try to wrap reality. Whilst it is certainly possible he really was not involved with any phase of the transition, this requires independent confirmation by reliable sources; a mere set of dates and known events is not-sufficient with these liars. The fecker could be dead and that still wouldn’t exclude the possibly, however slight, he set in motion (had some influence) on later events. These feckwits are absolutely untrustworthy slime, making it dangerous to discount on the basis of circumstantial evidence (such as dates). That does seem to mean “proving a negative”, which is very much a problem.

  134. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    erikthebassist,

    Raju didn’t say that the discussions wee between Trump transition team members, but just that said Trumpkins were discussing Trump’s family. He doesn’t specify with whom they were discussing; iit could well have been Russian officials (which in my mind is more damning).

  135. says

    Manafort was not part of the transition team.

    Olivia Nuzzi just said on Chris Hayes that she had reported back in November in the Daily Beast that he was very involved behind the scenes, including with personnel choices, and talking with Mike Pence pretty much daily. I didn’t know/remember that.

  136. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes on MSNBC was being mean. He discovered somebody, a rethug county asshole, who complained that voter fraud was only committed by democrats, and at the moment is the only voter fraud case in Colorado since it appears he submitted his ex-wife’s ballot for inclusion in the general election. *snicker*

  137. blf says

    Olivia Nuzzi just said on Chris Hayes that she had reported back in November in the Daily Beast that [Manafort] was very involved behind the scenes [during(?) the transition]

    Like I warned in @225, dates and “official” bellowing is insufficient with these lying feckwitted nazis: Independent reliable confirmation — in this case, that Manafort was neither involved-in nor had influenced the transition — is necessary.

  138. says

    !!!“US Officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians”:

    The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

    This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

    The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

    One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests “people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.” But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it’s premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it’s largely circumstantial.

    The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.

    The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates — Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page — for contacts with Russians known to US intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts and CNN has not confirmed any of them are the subjects of the information the FBI is reviewing….

  139. says

    I wonder if Manafort’s daughters will be subpoenaed? (ty spell check, never woulda got that one). At least one of them seems to have a conscience and a lot of knowledge.

  140. blf says

    I’ve never seen a Committee Chairman come out, pour gasoline all over himself, then light himself on fire

    Ancient romans used ancient xians as living candles (when not using them as lion feed), I assume these goofballs are trying to recreate that technology…

  141. says

    This is the story the tweet in #242 referred to:

    On Monday night, a 28-year-old white man named James Harris Jackson stabbed a 66-year-old named Timothy Caughman to death near Times Square in New York City. Jackson told police he attacked Caughman at random because Caughman was black. Authorities say that Jackson, who is reportedly a member of a “documented hate group” in Maryland, carried out his attack in New York “because it is the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement.”

  142. says

    “Trump’s approval rating craters in poll — and his base is the culprit”:

    President Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 37% — a new low, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released on Wednesday.

    The poll found that the president is losing crucial support among Republicans, men, and white voters.

    The survey of 1,056 voters from across the country found that Trump’s approval among Republican voters dropped to 81%, from 91% of those surveyed in a similar Quinnipiac poll two weeks ago. His disapproval rating jumped from 5% to 14%.

    The poll showed those in Trump’s most supportive demographics — male and white voters — are increasingly unhappy with his performance….

  143. says

    From the link provided by SC in comment 250:

    I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. When everyone said I wasn’t going to win the election, I said well I think I would. You know it is interesting, somebody came up to me and said the other day, gee whiz, the New York Times and other people, you know other groups, had you down at one percent, well, I said no I think I am going to win, and people smiled, George Stephanopoulos laughed, you remember. He thought it was very cute, and very funny. Other people smiled. And some people, the smart people or the people that know me didn’t laugh at all. There are people that know me, like Carl Icahn and many others, that didn’t laugh at all, they thought I was going to win, because they understand how I, they understand me. They get it. But you take a look and guess what, I won, and I won easily. I predicted Brexit. Remember they said there was no way to get to 270? Well I ended up at 306. I had election night, 306. But there was no way to get to, in fact I went to Maine four times, four times I went to Maine, because I had to get one vote, because there was no way to get to 270, but I ended up getting to 306. Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, no, Brexit is going to happen, and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many many things. They turn out to be right. And now today, Devin Nunes, just had a news conference.

  144. says

    Also from the link in SC’s comment 250:

    Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.

  145. says

    @251 – Fascinating article that hits very close to home for me, as a middle aged divorced white male with no kids, no college degree (plenty of actual education but all centered around music so not particularly useful in today’s economy), a heart condition, borderline diabetic with a history of suicide, it hits really close to home.

    From my perspective, what landed me in the hospital in a coma for two weeks and another ten days in psyche was exactly the sense of hopelessness as described in the article. As I was aging, and after two failed relationships, hope for a brighter future became harder and harder to hold on to, especially as economic opportunities began to dwindle.

    Luckily I survived it and have a different view of life and whether it is worth living or not, but I remember vividly the time before when it was not. It’s very interesting to see it studied like this though. Thank you for posting it.

  146. says

    Doofuses and dunderheads are lining up to back Trump’s misinterpretation of Nunes’ rambling press conferences. The NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) topped their latest fundraising email with this: “Confirmed: Obama spied on Trump.”

    In other news, Rep. Beth Fukumoto from Hawaii has officially resigned from the Republican Party. She will switch to the Democratic Party:

    […] This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women. So, when I listened as our now top office holder refused to condemn the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, speaking out didn’t seem like a choice. […]

    In serving my district at the Legislature, I’ve found significant common ground with my Democratic colleagues. Enough common ground that I believe that we can fit comfortably in the same tent. For me, I think the Democratic Party of Hawaii allows enough diversity of opinion that the values and ideas that I’ve always held can find a home there. Democrats that want to change the status quo in Hawaii are still fighting to do it, and I want to help them.

    NBC News link

  147. says

    From SC’s link to Schiff’s Twitter account, comment 252.

    .@POTUS: Obama wiretapped me!
    FBI: Nope.
    NSA: Nope.
    DOJ: Nope.
    Brits: Nope.
    @POTUS: I feel partially vindicated!

  148. says

    From SC’s link in comment 256, Trump tweeted:

    You were given many lies with #Obamacare! Go with our plan! Call your Rep & let them know you’re behind #AHCA

    Desperate and ill-informed … and that’s putting it politely.

    Looks like the bill is going to fail anyway.

  149. says

    “Trump’s Vegas Partner Says Business Is Not Dividing Profits From Foreign Governments As Promised”:

    Two months ago Donald Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon stood in Trump Tower and announced that the president would donate all profits from foreign governments at his hotels to the U.S. Treasury—part of an effort to resolve concerns that the he would be in violation of a little-known clause in the U.S. Constitution the day he took office. Now Phil Ruffin, who owns the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas in a 50-50 joint venture with the president, says that’s not happening.

    “I don’t know anything about that,” said Ruffin, sitting in his office inside the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, which he owns separately from the president. Is there a plan in place to hand over the profits at Trump’s Las Vegas property eventually? “They have to pay like everybody else,” Ruffin said. But if he did chop away the profits from foreign dignitaries, would that affect the value of the hotel? “They’re not going to do that,” Ruffin said, before repeating: “They’re not going to do that.”…

  150. says

    Steve Benen’s analysis of Trump’s inability to separate fact from fiction:

    […] Trump said he was personally targeted, and Nunes said the opposite. He said the surveillance was illegal, and Nunes said the opposite. He said Obama was personally involved, and Nunes said the opposite. He said the surveillance was before the election, and Nunes said the opposite. He said this was all part of a campaign-related scheme, and Nunes said the opposite.

    In other words, Trump was “vindicated” to the extent that the president got literally every detail wrong. […]

    [In reference to the Time magazine interview] He [Trump] started by arguing that Hillary Clinton’s emails were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, the Democratic primary race was “rigged against Bernie Sanders,” and that he was “totally right” about Brexit. All three of these claims are plainly and demonstrably wrong.

    Trump went on to say his conspiracy theory about Barack Obama conducting illegal surveillance of him has merit because, “I have articles saying it happened.” He does not actually have articles saying it happened.

    This exchange soon followed:

    TIME: One of my ideas here is that throughout the campaign and now as president, you have used disputed statements, this is one of them that is disputed, the claim that three million undocumented people voted in the election…

    TRUMP: Well I think I will be proved right about that too.

    TIME: The claim that Muslims celebrated on 9-11 in New Jersey…

    TRUMP: Well if you look at the reporter, he wrote the story in the Washington Post.

    When the conversation turned to Trump’s conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination, the president said, “Well that was in a newspaper…. I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper…. Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper.”

    The “newspaper,” in this instance, was the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid with which Trump has an eerily friendly relationship.

    It’d take hours to go point by point, fact-checking every error of fact and judgment, but Trump’s final comments stood as especially interesting: “I inherited a mess, I inherited a mess in so many ways… I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder. But that’s the story. Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

    And that’s amazing. In Trump’s mind, he’s the president, and he’s doing well, because he’s the president. That’s his response to questions about his uncontrollable lying and elusive credibility. As part of an interview in which the president expressed a tenuous understanding of the world around him, pointing to self-satisfying mirages that exist only in his mind, Trump’s final thought was, “I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

    New York’s Jon Chait added, “This small line is an important historical marker of the bizarre and disconcerting reality into which American politics has plunged. Trump is not merely making an attack on truth here. He is attacking the idea of truth. His statement is a frontal challenge to the notion that objective reality can be separated from power.”

  151. says

    Spicer is holding a briefing on the AHCA right now, and he said that removing provisions for mandatory coverage of maternity services isn’t unfair towards women because why should older people who won’t be having babies have to pay for someone who should?

    So everything is supposed to be ala carte? Only pay for what you need? How is that any different then just paying for it directly? How is that insurance? Insurance exists to spread risks and costs. They simply fail to understand the point of insurance.

  152. tomh says

    @ 262
    If they don’t have the votes, I’m guessing they will delay the vote to give them time to buy off some of the Freedom Caucus gang. They only need a few.

  153. says

    “US Senate votes to let internet providers share your web browsing history without permission: Just what no consumer asked for”:

    The US Senate has voted to overturn consumer-friendly internet privacy rules that would have prevented internet providers from sharing your web browsing history without permission.

    The privacy rules, passed last year by the FCC, required internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to get each customer’s permission before sharing personal information like which websites they visit. But internet providers want to be able to sell that data and use it to target ads, so they’ve been vocal about opposing the rules since around the time President Trump took office.

    This vote uses the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress strike down recently passed rules by federal agencies, to block the FCC’s action. It now heads to the House, where it’ll need another vote before the rules are wiped out.

    What makes this reversal particularly damaging is that it won’t just undo these privacy rules, but it’ll prevent the FCC from passing similar privacy rules in the future. That means that the FCC won’t be able to pass strict privacy rules again, even if opinions change in Congress….

  154. blf says

    The nasty part of a bill now being proposed in Maine to “protect” AGW-deniers is not the headline bit about protecting free speech — AGW-denial is already protected speech — but forbidding the state from “making decisions on buying goods or services or awarding grants or contracts based on a person’s climate change policy preferences.” Maine lawmaker seeks discrimination protection for climate change deniers.

    The doofus who introduced the bill, State representative Larry Lockman (who is himself an AGW-denier), apparently has a history:

    He once dressed as a vampire outside a federal building in Bangor to protest against the Internal Revenue Service. He also once accused liberals of assisting the Aids epidemic, saying they assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.

  155. says

    Nunes still hasn’t told the other committee members where he got the documents he talked about yesterday (and when asked by reporters he wouldn’t rule out that they could have come from the White House), and won’t provide them to the rest of the committee until some time tomorrow:

    …After the Thursday morning meeting, Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.), one of the committee’s Democrats, told reporters that Nunes had apologized to committee members. Another committee source confirms that Nunes did express his regrets but adds that Nunes would not tell committee members where the information he cited had come from. Nunes did promise, according to this source, that he would share the material with his colleagues on Friday.

    This is an important point. According to the committee source, Nunes did not tell his staffers about this information prior to his Wednesday press conferences. He went rogue. That would suggest that the information was given to him directly—which would be an unusual occurrence. In most cases involving an intelligence community official or employee bringing information to the committee, a staffer would handle the matter first. There has been widespread speculation among intelligence world observers that the White House may have sent the material Nunes’ way. So its origins could be a telling piece of information….

  156. blf says

    From @271, “What makes this reversal particularly damaging is that it won’t just undo these privacy rules, but it’ll prevent the FCC from passing similar privacy rules in the future.” This sort of damage-by-reversal is not restricted to the FCC, it is possible for Congress, with the President’s signature, to reverse all “recently”-enacted rules and regulations. Then, the really nasty bite chomps, “the [Congressional Review Act] also prohibits the reissuing of the rule in substantially the same form or the issuing of a new rule that is substantially the same, ‘unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law [afterwards]’.”

    Also see How Republicans Will Try to Roll Back Obama Regulations (NYT), and The obscure law allowing Congress to undo Obama regulations […] in a matter of days (Washington Post).

  157. says

    I have a couple of suggestions for the reporters doing the daily press briefings:

    1) Never offer Spicer the Trump spin or lies as a prelude to asking about it or suggesting it’s incorrect.

    2) Instead, turn your questions into a means to get the truth out there – “Paul Manafort has been friends/colleagues with Trump since the 1980s, worked on the campaign for several months including as its chair, ran the convention, lives in Trump Tower,… Trump said X about him during the campaign, you yourself tweeted Y about him, there are reports of his continued involvement after he officially left the campaign,… My questions are: Was Paul Manafort involved in the transition, officially or unofficially? How frequently have Donald Trump or Mike Pence been in contact with him since he left the campaign? Do you think his record makes him an “associate” of Donald Trump’s?”

  158. blf says

    And a contestant in today’s edition of Oh For Feck’s Sake!
    Sebastian Gorka says London attack is proof travel ban is needed: “Trump’s national security aide says Westminster attack proves ban is necessary, despite the fact that the British-born attacker wouldn’t have been affected by it”.

    Yet as No surprise that London attacker Khalid Masood was born in UK notes:

    A vast proportion of attacks over the 16 years since 9/11 have involved local volunteers attacking local targets

    The news that the London attacker was born in Britain and inspired by extremist Islamist ideology was entirely predictable, as was his criminal record.

    The standout detail from the sketchy profile we have of Khalid Masood is his age: 52, nearly twice that of most contemporary attackers.

    […]

    And, of course, other nazis are bellowing similar nonsense, Anti-immigration politicians link London attack to migrant policy: “Marine Le Pen calls for tighter borders, while Nigel Farage says London attacks prove Trump’s hardline policies are right”.

  159. says

    Another one: “A Former Student Says UC Berkeley’s Star Philosophy Professor Groped Her And Watched Porn At Work: A lawsuit alleges UC Berkeley professor John R. Searle sexually harassed, assaulted, and retaliated against a former student and employee — and that the university did nothing to stop him.”

  160. blf says

    Russia & Putin (and his cronies) yet again— Trump’s commerce secretary oversaw Russia deal while at Bank of Cyprus:

    Questions raised over Trump appointee Wilbur Ross and his ties to politically connected Russian oligarchs

    Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration’s new commerce secretary, presided over a deal with a Russian businessman with ties to Vladimir Putin while serving in his previous role as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus.

    The transaction raises questions about Ross’s tenure at the Cypriot bank and his ties to politically connected Russian oligarchs. […]

    In 2015, while he served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, the bank’s Russia-based businesses were sold to a Russian banker and consultant, Artem Avetisyan, who had ties to both the Russian president and Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. At the time, Sberbank was under US and EU sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Avetisyan had earlier been selected by Putin to head a new business branch of the Russian president’s strategic initiative agency […].

    Avetisyan’s business partner, Oleg Gref, is the son of Herman Gref, Sberbank’s chief executive officer, and their consultancy has served as a “partner” to Sberbank, according to their website. Ross had described the Russian businesses — including 120 bank branches in Russia — as being worth “hundreds of millions of euros” in 2014 but they were sold with other assets to Avetisyan for €7m (£6m).

    Ross has not been accused of wrongdoing and there is no indication the Russian deal violated US or EU sanctions. Ross resigned from the Bank of Cyprus board after he was confirmed as commerce secretary last month.

    Democrats raised questions about Ross’s tenure at the Bank of Cyprus before his confirmation, but Ross has said the White House has refused to allow him to respond to the queries. […]

    As the article goes on to point out, the sale for only €7m could be quite legitimate, albeit at the time Cyprus “was seen as a place that could help Russian entities evade sanctions, imposed as a result of the conflict over Crimea.” And there is the usual tangle of individuals (not all mentioned in the above excerpt).

  161. snuffcurry says

    Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.

    Chevy Chase must be furious.

  162. tomh says

    No surprise they delayed the vote. Now they’ll cut out a whole lot more services, to placate the Freedom Caucus, which will sink whatever chance it had in the Senate.

  163. blf says

    erikthebassist@285, Possibly relevant. At the current time the cause is unknown, albeit there apparently are (unconfirmed?) reports(? speculations?) this was also a drone-launched attack. And the local authorities are saying “sabotage”, albeit on the basis of what evidence I don’t know (I smell knee-jerk, possibly self-protecting, reaction there). If it is deliberate, then given where the incident is, a suspicion of political connections would be very understandable, making it relevant for this thread.

  164. says

    Here are a few passages from the Steele memos worth noting because they’ve received less attention:

    “Russians receiving intel from TRUMP’S team on Russian oligarchs and their families in US”; “Source close to TRUMP campaign however confirms regular exchange with Kremlin has existed for at least 8 years, including intelligence fed back to Russia on oligarchs’ activities in US. TRUMP and his associates duly had obtained and supplied the Kremlin with this information.”

    “Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries”; “…Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.”

    In August: “Educated US youth to be targeted as protest (against CLINTON) and swing vote in attempt to turn them over to TRUMP”; “Kremlin engaging with several high profile US players, including STEIN, PAGE and (former DIA Director Michael Flynn), and funding their recent visits to Moscow.”

    “PUTIN had been receiving conflicting advice on interfering from three separate and expert groups. On one side had been the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei KISLYAK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with an independent and informal network run by presidential foreign policy advisor, Yuri USHAKOV (KISLYAK’s predecessor in Washington) who had urged caution and the potential negative impact on Russia from the operation/s.”

    “The two St Petersburg figures cited believed an Azeri business figure, Araz AGALAROV (with offices in Baku and London) had been closely involved with TRUMP in Russia and would know most of the details of what the Republican presidential candidate had got up to there.”

    “Speaking in confidence to a longstanding compatriot friend in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s lawyer, Michael COHEN, in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership. COHEN’s role had grown following the departure of Paul MANNAFORT as campaign manager in August 2016. Prior to that MANNAFORT had led for the TRUMP side.”

    “Things had become even ‘hotter’ since August on the TRUMP-Russia track. According to the Kremlin insider, this had meant that direct contact between the TRUMP team and Russia had been farmed out by the Kremlin to trusted agents of influence working in pro-government policy institutes like that of Law and Comparative Jurisprudence. COHEN however continued to lead for the TRUMP team.”

    “In terms of practical measures to be taken, it was agreed by the two sides in Prague to stand down various ‘Romanian hackers’ (presumably based in their homeland or neighbouring eastern Europe) and that other operatives should head for a bolt-hole in Plovdiv, Bulgaria where they should ‘lay low’. On payments, IVANOV’s associate said that the operatives involved had been paid by both TRUMP’s team and the Kremlin, though their orders and ultimate loyalty lay with IVANOV, as Head of the PA and thus ultimately responsible for the operation, and his designated successor/s after he was dismissed by president PUTIN in connection with the anti-CLINTON operation in mid August.”

  165. says

    Schiff says they have enough evidence now for a grand jury!!

    Well,…

    Asked to explain his comments earlier in the week

    It was yesterday!

    when he said there was more than just “circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said, “I do think that it’s appropriate to say that it’s the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.

    “It’s not the kind of evidence that you take to a trial jury when you’re trying to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. But we’re at the beginning of an investigation, and given the gravity of the subject matter, I think that the evidence certainly warrants us doing a thorough investigation.”

    (Schiff is a former prosecutor.)

  166. says

    @293

    The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is claiming that he has been presented with new information on collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia that would merit a grand jury investigation.

    ^ That’s what I was basing my caption on. For a grand jury, all you need is to prove that there’s enough to warrant an indictment, not that you have enough to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

    The problem is, who makes the call on convening that grand jury? Session’s deputy AG. I still think it will be months before we get there and only after a lot of leaking and a lot of anger by the american people.

  167. says

    That’s what I was basing my caption on.

    But it appears to misstate what he actually said. I agree that it’s on the line, but Schiff is more careful with his words than they are.

  168. says

    Manu Raju: “NUNES tells me he won’t tell Schiff who gave him the intel he revealed yesterday BC he is protecting his source. protecting Trump and his cronies”

  169. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Have been trying to follow up on the trial of Cliven Bundy and his armed insurrection against the BLM.
    See nothing but the 2/9/17 start of the trial, and vague reports from 3/16/17. It’s almost like the judge imposed a gag order, and everybody, even the RW thugs, are following it.

  170. says

    @300 – While I agree with you, generally, don’t think for a minute this bill doesn’t fuck everyone equally, unless you are wealthy and can afford top of the line care.

    It’s not a bill by white men aimed against just women, or just minorities, it’s a bill by the wealthy and powerful aimed at keeping themselves wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

    I will be financially devastated and unable to see my cardiologist or afford my meds if this shit passes.

  171. says

    @300 – While I agree with you, generally, don’t think for a minute this bill doesn’t fuck everyone equally, unless you are wealthy and can afford top of the line care.

    Jesus Christ, my comment wasn’t about this specific bill.

  172. says

    Bradd Jaffy: “Mulvaney told House Republicans that Trump is done negotiating and wants a vote on health care tomorrow, per @AlexNBCNews …Mulvaney told House GOP Trump is done negotiating & wants a vote tomorrow; if not he’ll move on & leave Obamacare in place, per @AlexNBCNews.”

  173. says

    @312 – Given my recent comment in regard to the study posted about the downtick in life expectancy for uneducated white men in America, I did my best to not take it personally, and don’t think I did. My reply to 300 wasn’t meant to be a “what about the menz” comment, and I hope it wasn’t taken as such. I also despise with every fiber of my being the power structure in this country and elsewhere that puts white men front and center. I despise with every fiber of my being those white men who support this jackass and the republican party in general, because they represent and continue to propagate that disgusting sort of tribalism that seeks to subjugate and abuse those they deem to be “less than” they are. We are absolutely on the same team, I just happen to be a middle aged white guy, so maybe I got a little defensive. I apologize.

  174. says

    @314 – no it hadn’t made it into thread yet so thank you. I’m going to say something really sexist. It might really piss off a lot of people…

    I really hope more women DO get into politics. I really hope they take the whole god damned thing over. I know there are exceptions to the rule like Thatcher, DeVos, Mercer, the list goes on and on of course, but I honestly believe that women are in general more empathetic and go into professions where they can help people more often. I want more women in public service, the more the merrier. I think the world would be better for it.

    On that note, we need campaign finance reform, and we need to get corporate and foreign money out of politics. Buying the government should not be a thing. The government is for the people and by the people, not fuck the people and buy the power, which is what we have right now. This is going to take a revolution. Bernie Sanders was on Maddow tonight and that’s basically what he said. The people need to take their government back, not tomorrow, now, today.

  175. Ichthyic says

    no it hadn’t made it into thread yet so thank you.

    It was the first good news I had seen all week, frankly.

    more people need to run for office, period, and to see women getting more involved at a local level is fantastic news.

  176. says

    @317 – A good friend of mine who is behind the billboards in WNY calling out Chris Collins for not having town halls, recently posted this to FB:

    “I am two degrees from Putin! Two degrees! Follow this: Michael Caputo, mentioned in today’s Congressional hearings on Russia due to his ties to Putin and work on Trump campaign, recently put up a pro-Chris Collins billboard to counter the billboards that Citizens Against Collins put up. He also called the organizers of Citizens Against Collins (redacted and I) “violent leftist activists.” That’s right people, Putin’s man is now working to bring down my Facebook group! Two degrees!”

    I want her to run for office. Myself and several other friends are trying to goad her into doing so. So far she’s ignored our pleas. I can’t dox her here but it’s frustrating. I can only imagine the decision… How will it affect my family? What type of harassment will I have to deal with?

    What do I say to her to convince her to run? I’d like to see her go right for Collin’s seat.

  177. Ichthyic says

    What do I say to her to convince her to run?

    the immediate future entirely depends on everyone getting more involved in politics now, before there is simply no chance left to.

  178. blf says

    And the latest from a cesspool of nazis rarely mentioned in this thread, Hungary threatens to ban Heineken’s red star as communist:

    Viktor Orban’s government proposes tit-for-tat measure after Dutch beer maker won trademark case against similarly named brand favoured by Hungarians

    The famous red star logo of Dutch beer Heineken could be banned in Hungary under a government proposal seeking to prohibit the commercial use of totalitarian symbols.

    The draft law was introduced this week by the ruling Fidesz party of hardline rightwing prime minister Viktor Orban, ostensibly to outlaw merchandise featuring symbols like the Nazi swastika or the communist five-pointed red star.

    But it is seen as a tit-for-tat reaction to Heineken winning a trademark dispute over a beer that is sold in Romania to ethnic Hungarians.

    […]

    Heineken’s trademark red logo first appeared in the 1930s.

    When the symbol became associated with communism after the second world war, the brewery swapped it for a white star before reverting back to the original after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    In the Romanian dispute, a court ruled that the locally brewed “Csiki” beer, popular with ethnic Hungarians, was too similar to Heineken’s Romanian-language “Ciuc” range and infringed trademark rights.

    Budapest had slammed the decision as undignified, unjust and anti-Hungarian and supported calls to boycott Heineken products.

    […]

    Observers say the bill has little chance of becoming law given a number of big brands use red stars such as Italian mineral water San Pelligrino.

    The Hungarian Olympic fencing champion Tamas Kovacs quipped he would return his medal of honour because it features a red star. “I don’t want to risk two years in prison,” he wrote on Facebook.

    Is having a public temper tantrum over even minor things a common characteristic of present-day nazis?

  179. blf says

    Trump administration orders increased scrutiny for visas:

    Diplomatic cables provide insight into how the government is implementing what Trump has called extreme vetting of foreigners entering the US

    US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has directed US diplomatic missions to identify populations warranting increased scrutiny and toughen screening for visa applicants in those groups, according to diplomatic cables seen by Reuters.

    He has also ordered a mandatory social media check for all applicants who have ever been present in territory controlled by Islamic State, in what two former US officials said would be a broad, labor-intensive expansion of such screening. Social media screening is now done fairly rarely by consular officials, one of the former officials said.

    Four cables, or memos, issued by Tillerson over the past two weeks provide insight into how the US government is implementing what Donald Trump has called extreme vetting of foreigners entering the United States, a major campaign promise. The cables also demonstrate the administrative and logistical hurdles the White House faces in executing its vision.

    […]

    The flurry of cables to US missions abroad issued strict new guidelines for vetting US visa applicants, and then retracted some of them in response to US court rulings that challenged central tenets of Trump’s executive order.

    The final cable seen by Reuters, issued on 17 March, leaves in place an instruction to consular chiefs in each diplomatic mission, or post, to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.

    Applicants falling within one of these identified population groups should be considered for higher-level security screening, according to the 17 March cable.

    Those population groups would likely vary from country to country, according to sources familiar with the cables, as the 17 March memo does not explicitly provide for coordination between the embassies.

    […]

    Advocates and immigration lawyers said the guidance could lead to visa applicants being profiled on the basis of nationality or religion rather than because they pose an actual threat to the United States.

    “Most posts already have populations that they look at for fraud and security issues,” said Jay Gairson, a Seattle-based immigration attorney […].

    “What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion.”

    […]

    Reuters could not determine to what extent the cables departed from guidance given to consular officers under previous administrations, since this type of guidance is not made public.

    Some consular officials suggested some of the 17 March guidance — aside from identifying particular populations and doing more social media checks — differed little from current practice, since vetting of visa applicants is already rigorous.

  180. says

    “Toronto schools will no longer allow student trips to US”:

    Canada’s largest school system announced it will no longer allow student or staff trips to the US, citing uncertainty over the travel ban.

    Toronto District School Board expressed concern over how the US immigration policy could affect students on school trips.

    “We strongly believe that our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border,” the board’s director of education, John Malloy, said in a statement.

    Its decision is similar to one made earlier this month by the Girl Guides of Canada, which is a Canadian version of the Girl Scouts.

    The Girl Guides had announced it would no longer authorize trips to the United States and that it would avoid connecting flights through the country….

  181. rorschach says

    That new mandatory social media check order for visa applicants should go down well with overseas tourists, and people considering attending scientific meetings/congresses/exhibitions/sporting events in the US.
    The tourism industry is bleeding big bucks already. Next will be the collapse of international conferences.
    This is the damage Trump’s kleptocracy is causing(not to mention his actual policies), that Anderson Cooper and Maddow are ignoring because they are mesmerised by the shiny wiretap diversion.

  182. says

    Rachel Maddow noted this last night – “AP Exclusive: US probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus”:

    The U.S. government investigation of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, crossed the Atlantic earlier this year to the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, once known as a haven for money laundering by Russian billionaires.

    Treasury agents in recent months obtained information connected to Manafort’s transactions from Cypriot authorities, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. The request was part of a federal anti-corruption probe into Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe. The Cyprus attorney general, one of the country’s top law enforcement officers, was also aware of the American request….

  183. says

    This is the damage Trump’s kleptocracy is causing(not to mention his actual policies), that Anderson Cooper and Maddow are ignoring because they are mesmerised by the shiny wiretap diversion.

    Sigh.

  184. rorschach says

    “Sigh.”

    Not good times eh. Teen Vogue and the Merriam-Webster dictionary to the rescue.

  185. says

    “Trump Administration Orders Tougher Screening of Visa Applicants”:

    The Trump administration is making it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States by demanding new security checks before giving visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.

    Diplomatic cables sent last week from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to all American embassies instructed consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny. It was the first evidence of the “extreme vetting” Mr. Trump promised during the presidential campaign.

    The new rules generally do not apply to citizens of 38 countries — including most of Europe and longstanding allies like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea — who can be speedily admitted into the United States under the visa waiver program. That program does not cover citizens from any country in the Middle East or Africa.

    Even stricter security checks for people from six predominantly Muslim nations remain on hold because federal courts have temporarily blocked President Trump’s travel ban.

    But Mr. Trump and his national security team are not waiting to toughen the rules to decide who can enter the United States. Embassy officials must now scrutinize a broader pool of visa applicants to determine if they pose security risks to the United States, according to four cables sent between March 10 and March 17.

    The cables from Mr. Tillerson, which were reported by Reuters, make clear that the Trump administration wants a more intense focus on the potential for a serious threat when making decisions about who should receive a visa.

    “Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns,” Mr. Tillerson wrote in the cables, titled “Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications.”

    “All visa decisions are national security decisions,” the secretary of state added.

    Most people seeking entry to the United States, for family, business or tourism reasons, must apply for a visa. Embassy officials can deny a visa for anyone suspected of being a threat, conducting fraud or planning to stay longer than allowed.

    The seven-page unclassified cable that Mr. Tillerson sent on March 15, which was provided to The New York Times, makes clear that the process of securing an entry visa is about to get harder and longer at diplomatic posts around the globe.

    “Consular chiefs must immediately convene post’s law enforcement and intelligence community partners” to develop what Mr. Tillerson described in the cable as “sets of post-applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.”…

  186. says

    Not good times eh. Teen Vogue and the Merriam-Webster dictionary to the rescue.

    Fuck you. Next time, try making a productive contribution without mischaracterizing and insulting other people’s work.

  187. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    From the quote in SC’s 329:

    “Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns,” Mr. Tillerson wrote in the cables,

    And we all know exactly how that will play out. For career bureaucrats, letting someone through who then engages in anything that could be construed as remotely related to terrorism and that civil servant will lose not only hir job, but also pension, health care, everything. Which means that the standard operating procedures will now be to deny visas to anyone that might raise the eyebrows of a supervisor or, worse, the ire of a political appointee. And who will get the blame when this causes business chaos? when this creates issues in the medical field? when someone dies because they are denied entry to the US for an operation? The bureaucrat. Not Trump. Not the political appointees. It’ll be the poor schlub on the front line trying to not get fired and follow the ever changing rules of the 12-dimension game of chess that is being a federal worker.

  188. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ugh, I hate listening to the liberturds on the news panels. They have no concept of health (or any) insurance, which involves the pooling of everybody’s money to cover all people who paid in when shit happens to any of them. All I hear is “me me me”.

  189. says

    “Marine Le Pen Calls for Closer France-Russia Ties on Moscow Visit One Month Ahead of Elections”:

    French far-right leader Marine Le Pen met with Russian diplomats in Moscow on Friday in a trip that comes just a month before the French presidential elections.

    The National Front leader met with Russia’s State Duma International Affairs Committee and said she would adopt a more positive approach toward Russia if elected, state-owned Russian news agency TASS reported.

    Le Pen is currently expected to make the second round of voting in the French presidential election, but pollsters predict that she will lose to centrist Emmanuel Macron, the current frontrunner.

    It is not clear whether Le Pen will meet with Vladimir Putin during her visit, which is her fourth to Russia since 2011.

    Le Pen has expressed pro-Russian views and favors closer integration between France and Russia. The far-right politician has publicly stated that she sees the disputed region of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as part of Russia and wants the European Union to remove sanctions on Moscow….

    In completely unrelated news

  190. says

    @336 – Pretty amazing that the only place on the internet (that I saw) that reported the murder of Denis Voronenkov yesterday was Occupy Democrats (which I linked to at 287.)

    Maddow lead with the story last night so I’m going to offer a second “fuck you” to rorschach @ 325. Maddow has been doing an incredible job following #russiagate and informing the world about this scandal and the heinous acts of the Russians / Republicans to cover it up.

  191. blf says

    SC@334: “Apologies, blf. I didn’t notice that your post [@323] about the visa cables above covered the exact same territory [as @329 / @332].”

    No problems! The two comments cover much of the same territory whilst still complementing & expanding each other, perhaps especially with the additional insightful input of Ogvorbis@332.

  192. blf says

    Pretty amazing that the only place on the internet (that I saw) that reported the murder of Denis Voronenkov yesterday was Occupy Democrats (which I linked to at 287.)

    Thank You for the “that I saw” qualifier. It makes a refreshing change from the “the main- / lame-stream media did not…” with a usually-implied “all [MSM]”, a distortion that I admit to repeatedly ranting about.

    As something of an aside, the Grauniad also covered it yesterday, Denis Voronenkov: ex-Russian MP who fled to Ukraine killed in Kiev.

  193. says

    Maddow lead with the story last night so I’m going to offer a second “fuck you” to rorschach @ 325. Maddow has been doing an incredible job following #russiagate and informing the world about this scandal and the heinous acts of the Russians / Republicans to cover it up.

    She also spent the first two thirds of her show talking about health care and the resistance to the AHCA, which I would expect rorschach, who’s a doctor, to recognize as important.

  194. militantagnostic says

    Ogvorbis @332

    It’ll be the poor schlub on the front line trying to not get fired and follow the ever changing rules of the 12-dimension game of chess Calvinball that is being a federal worker.

    Chess has known and consistent rules.

  195. blf says

    CLARIFICATION on @340, I did not mean to imply erikthebassist commits the “all MSM” fallacy, that was a general observation not aimed at any specific individuals.

    (I typing this in a bar where the only other customer is being quite loud. He’s just a naturally loud person, with a volume control stuck on 11… it is, however, very distracting.)

  196. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    militantagnostic @342:

    No, I don’t think Calvinball is appropriate, either. When I play Calvinball, I get to help make up the rules. Being a bureaucrat is more like being a Christian. Yeah, there are rules that I am supposed to follow, but they are fuzzy rules, and someone else makes the determination what the rules mean today, and I am expected to know how the rule is being interpreted today by the people up above me who won’t actually tell my what the new interpretation is for weeks or months but I am still in trouble if I interpret the new interpretation too liberally but not if I interpret it too strictly. So, yeah, not chess. But also not Calvinball.

    ============

    Last night, while walking on the treadmill at the gym, CNN was covering the Ukraine political murder. They were not connecting the dots the way that Maddow has, but they were covering it. Fox was interviewing some conservative talking head lamenting how the Democrats forced the ACA through congress with no negotiations and didn’t tell anyone about it but it still passed while the GOP has been completely open about their AHCA and it might not pass.

  197. blf says

    Photo of woman in hijab passing attack victim on bridge ‘misappropriated’ (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Anti-Islam blogs claim that photograph taken in Westminster is evidence for Muslims’ indifference to suffering

    [… One of a series of pictures shows] a woman wearing a hijab and looking at her phone on Westminster Bridge as people gathered around an injured person, was held up by some on social media as evidence of her lack of concern. It was widely republished and commented on.

    Jamie Lorriman, who took the photo […], told Australia’s ABC the [full] series of images he took showed the woman’s distress. “The people who took on that picture are being rather selective,” he said. “In the other picture in the sequence she looks truly distraught{…} personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures.

    “It’s wrong it’s been misappropriated in that way.” […]

    There is more discussion, including two of the images, at the link. I concur with Mr Lorriman, the lady seems quite distressed in both images.

    (Damnit, I really do wish the other guy (see @344) would get and use a volume control!)

  198. says

    Now Schiff’s doing a sole press conference. He’s saying Nunes is trying to make hearings closed-door after the scheduled witnesses agreed to testify publicly, wants to “choke off public information.” And he’s going through a timeline of Nunes’ totally inappropriate and bizarre behavior over the past several days.

  199. says

    So did CNN – I linked to it @ #245

    My bad, I missed that. I think maybe because when glancing at that CNN article he was portrayed as a “Putin Critic” more so than a key witness in a trial that is tied to Manafort’s shady dealings in the Ukraine so I hadn’t put 2 + 2 together yet.

  200. says

    As noted upthread, Republicans delayed a vote on the health care plan last night because it would have failed. They plan to try again today, with some extra threats from Trump thrown in to pressure the no-votes to become yes-votes.

    It looks like the bill still may fail. If it does pass the House, it will certainly fail in the Senate.

    Meanwhile, moderate Republicans are also being pressured to back the bill and/or to back it more strongly. A one-time $15 billion “stability fund” (translate as “slush fund for insurance companies”) was added to the $100 billion “stability fund” (translate as “even bigger slush fund for insurance companies”).

    Moderate Republicans should not be fooled by this:

    […]No one should fall for it — a one-time $15 billion investment with little direction on how to spend the funds wouldn’t come close to offsetting the enormous damage that the underlying House bill would do to millions of people who would lose these important categories of care.

    That’s because the underlying House bill would increase the number of people without health insurance by 24 million by 2026, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, and it would have particularly harmful effects on access to treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders (SUDs).

    Specifically, it effectively ends the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, which has dramatically improved access to treatment; convert Medicaid to a per capita cap; and roll back requirements that health plans in the individual and small-group markets cover a list of “essential health benefits” that include behavioral health care, which encompasses treatment for mental illness and SUDs. […]

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities article by Judith Solomon

    Call your congress critter.

  201. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Via some searching, I ran across this . The money quote (referencing Trump)?

    And this man thought he should be president. I never thought I’d see someone hunting for that office who was dumber and more evil than George W. Bush, and there he is…which probably means he’ll get elected sometime in my lifetime, given my track record on these things.

    Without looking at the link, who do you think wrote this?

  202. says

    Rorschach @325 was correct, I think. Trump’s efforts to tighten up the visa application process will result in a significant downturn not just in the tourism industry, but also in attendance at scientific conferences and even at some sporting events.

    Some journalists have already documented a downturn in medical staff who are willing to travel from other countries to the USA.

    Trump’s desperate attempts to stop or slow down immigration by hook or by crook will have far-reaching negative effects. Trump has no idea what he’s doing.

    In another example of Trump’s ignorance, Chris Hayes recently pointed out that Trump was not in a good position to negotiate with congress critters about the health care bill because he doesn’t know how it works. Trump knows so little that he doesn’t even know what he can promise or what can be amended. Furthermore, Trump is such a serial liar that most people, even congress critters, don’t believe a thing he says.

    Basically, Trump sullies everything he touches. The one thing he is good at is painting himself as a winner even when he is not. He will do a good job of laying all health care failures at Paul Ryan’s feet.

    On another subject, I second the opinion that Maddow’s coverage of the recent assassinations and attempted assassinations by the Russians is excellent.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/russia-s-dark-dealings-a-split-screen-scandal-905306179638

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/being-a-putin-opponent-is-dangerous-business-905321539740

  203. says

    Here’s an excerpt from today’s press briefing in which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer disses SlutCare, sort of:

    “Is the president concerned that without having those essential benefits you will have a situation where women are de facto paying higher insurance? Obviously they would be paying for maternity leave,” the reporter asked as a follow up.

    “No, you could have a family plan,” Spicer replied.

    At best, Spicer’s answer is extraordinarily dismissive of single mothers — the reality is that not every woman who needs maternity care is going to be on a family plan, which are designed for couples and those with children or other dependents. At worst, it’s a tacit endorsement of only married women having access to affordable maternity care.

    Even if they got their insurance through a family plan, that family plan would still cost more if they wanted it to include maternity care. And, not all pregnancies are planned—which is why Obamacare treats it as an unexpected medical expense like any other.

    Think Progress link

  204. says

    Rorschach @325 was correct, I think. Trump’s efforts to tighten up the visa application process will result in a significant downturn not just in the tourism industry, but also in attendance at scientific conferences and even at some sporting events.

    Of course he was correct about that, as we all were when we talked about it here in the past (Henry Rousso was detained when he was arriving to speak at a Texas university). No one was taking issue with that.

  205. says

    Another Republican explained his “no” vote on Trumpcare. House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (from New Jersey), said this:

    Seven years after enactment of Obamacare, I wanted to support legislation that made positive changes to rescue healthcare in America.

    Unfortunately, the legislation before the House today is currently unacceptable as it would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents in New Jersey. In addition to the loss of Medicaid coverage for so many people in my Medicaid-dependent state, the denial of essential health benefits in the individual market raise serious coverage and cost issues.

    I remain hopeful that the American Health Care Act will be further modified. We need to get this right for all Americans.

  206. says

    SC @358, I understand. I didn’t mean to step into the middle of the other part of the debate. My apologies for not being clear.

    Other news: In a follow-up to comment 359, I hope that the statement from the House Appropriations Committee Chairman will provide cover for other moderate Republicans. They can all vote “no.”

  207. says

    I’m torn when I see these poll results. On the one hand, I’m glad these ideas are actually unpopular (though I don’t understand why they’re not far more unpopular). On the other, who the fuck is voting for Republicans? They always want to cut rich people’s taxes, take away social services, and let banks and other corporations get away with murder. Always.

  208. KG says

    Could Trump’s untimatum to House Republicans to pass the TrumpDoesntCare Bill today or he’ll give up on repealing Obamacare be an unexpected sign of political nous on his part – i.e., that he recognises that repealing Obamacare would be politically disastrous, and wants his Bill to fail?

  209. KG says

    On the other, who the fuck is voting for Republicans? – SC@361

    Bigots of various stripes. They know Republican politicians share their bigotry, and that outweighs everything else.

  210. says

    @363 also single issue voters on gun control, abortion, separation of church state and gay marriage, the good ol’ “Gays, God and Guns” strategy that helped the GOP win the south to begin with.

  211. says

    Nunes is definitely a trumpian lackey, and he wants us to know it:

    House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) said on Thursday night that he felt an obligation to tell President Donald Trump about “incidentally collected” information on Trump and his associates from the intelligence community because the President has been criticized in the media.

    “It’s clear that I would be concerned if I was the president, and that’s why I wanted him to know, and I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him because, as you know, he’s taking a lot of heat in the news media,” Nunes told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/nunes-duty-trump-heat-media

  212. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    So it seems like Republicans are coming to realize that people actually like having affordable health care, especially if it isn’t tied to their job.

    So perhaps they can start working with Dems to make sure that more people are covered….

  213. tomh says

    @ #373
    “perhaps they can start working with Dems”

    hehe, that’s a good one. We need to bring a little humor to the whole mess.

  214. blf says

    Could Trump’s untimatum [sic] to House Republicans to pass the TrumpDoesntCare Bill today or he’ll give up on repealing Obamacare be an unexpected sign of political nous on his part […]

    Very unlikely. Hair furor lies so frequently — interspaced with, among other things, bellicose threats and diversions / distractions — it’s not much of a rhetorical stretch (more of a tautology) to say he lies all the time. Why believe him?

  215. tomh says

    @ 375
    Exactly right. As though he wouldn’t sign any bill that comes to him that repeals the ACA. Who would believe that?

  216. blf says

    Follow-up to @347, the lady whose picture was circulated by nazis as a completely false slur against Muslims has responded, Woman photographed in hijab on Westminster Bridge responds to online abuse:

    Muslim woman shocked at those who ‘draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia’ after anti-Islam blogs circulated her image

    A woman whose image became an Islamophobic meme after the Westminster terror attack has told of her horror and distress at the incident and the abuse she suffered afterwards.

    The picture shows the woman wearing a hijab and looking at her phone on Westminster Bridge as people gathered around an injured person nearby. It was circulated on Twitter and by anti-Islam blogs as supposed evidence of her lack of concern. […]

    Another picture in the sequence made clear that she was distressed when it was taken. Now the woman has approached Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, and asked them to circulate a statement on her behalf in response.

    “I’m shocked and totally dismayed at how a picture of me is being circulated on social media,” she said. “To those individuals who have interpreted and commented on what my thoughts were in that horrific and distressful moment, I would like to say not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.”

    […]

    She sent her gratitude to Jamie Lorriman, who took the picture, for speaking in her defence.

    Tell Mama said the woman was distraught and that the use of the image “has undermined the confidence of an innocent young woman who was also caught up in the melee after the attacks”.

    The woman has requested that the media stop circulating the image. She agreed to the Guardian’s use of the picture to illustrate a story clarifying the circumstances under which it was taken.

    […]

  217. says

    I don’t subscribe, either, but I think everyone gets one or two free articles a month:

    Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey, according to former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey, who attended, and others who were briefed on the meeting.

    The discussion late last summer involved ideas about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup, to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process, according to Mr. Woolsey and those who were briefed.

    Mr. Woolsey told The Wall Street Journal he arrived at the meeting in New York on Sept. 19 in the middle of the discussion and found the topic startling and the actions being discussed possibly illegal.

    Mr. Woolsey said the idea was “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” The discussion, he said, didn’t include actual tactics for removing Mr. Gulen from his U.S. home. If specific plans had been discussed, Mr. Woolsey said, he would have spoken up and questioned their legality.

    Mr. Woolsey said he attended the Sept. 19 meeting at the urging of the Flynn Intel Group’s chairman and president, Bijan Kian. Mr. Woolsey said he had agreed to be on the group’s advisory board and was offered a consulting fee for his work, but turned it down because of what he heard at the meeting. He held no stake in the firm.

    “It seemed to be naive,” Mr. Woolsey said about the discussion. “I didn’t put a lot of credibility in it. This is a country of legal process and a Constitution, and you don’t send out folks to haul somebody overseas.”*

    The meeting, held at the Essex House hotel in Manhattan, included Mr. Cavusoglu and Berat Albayrak, Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law and the country’s energy minister, according to the disclosure documents. Also present were Messrs. Alptekin and Mr. Kian.

    * This is actually bullshit – see for example Zelaya, Aristide.

  218. says

    Several reports that Comey is at the White House.

    Interesting. Something has to come out of that. Was he called there? Did he go of his own volition? Are Trump / Bannon Trying to muscle him or squeeze him for info (illegal), or are they firing him? (legal but would cause a shitstorm of epic proportions).

  219. says

    From Representative David E. Price (from North Carolina):

    I tallied up calls to my office about #TrumpCare, the Republican ACA repeal plan:

    217 support Trumpcare
    3298 oppose it

    That’s 93% opposed.

  220. says

    From David Cicilline, congressman from Rhode Island:

    For the record, I’ve received:

    1,241 calls, emails, and letters asking me to oppose Trumpcare

    1 call asking me to support it.

  221. says

    Joan McCarter’s analysis of the current situation now that the Trumpcare vote has been pulled:

    Seven years they [Republicans] had to come up with some kind of bill to replace it [Obamacare]. Seven years they had every conservative policy wonk (the real ones, not Paul Ryan) providing advice and offering ideas. In seven years they did squat.

    Well, not entirely squat. They had over 60 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole. Every one of those votes was estimated to cost $1.45 million dollars—each vote—of taxpayer money. That’s not counting all the staff time, the committee time, the opportunity cost of everything that was postponed or just not done because of their single-minded obsession on this one thing. […]

    Seven years. They had seven years. And all they had to show for it a crappy cut-and-paste job from the original law. A bad bill that destroyed Medicaid (Paul Ryan’s frat-boy “dream”, destabilized Medicare, and threw 24 million people off of healthcare).

    All for the tax cuts for the wealthy. […]

    They’ve destroyed any hope they had of proving that a united Republican government could actually govern. And they did it for an incredibly cruel bill that demonstrated to the American people just how craven they could be in pursuit of those tax cuts. […].

  222. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A new Quinnipiac poll showing only 17% of the people approve of TrumpCare, compared to 56% who disapprove. 61% Approved of Trump’s handling of healthcare, while 29% disapproved. 20% say ACA should be repealed, 50% say repeal parts, and 37% say keep it as it is. Apparently improving it wasn’t an option for the poll.

  223. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s being reported on MSNBC that Ryan has pulled the AHCA from being voted on.

  224. blf says

    Via The week in patriarchy: who needs prenatal and newborn care, anyway?:

    Teenagers will save us all. When a city department of education official called high school journalists in Queens, New York, fake news for doing their job, they doubled down with more great journalism.

    The linked-to story, The DOE Called This Queens School Newspaper Fake News. The Students Responded With Journalism (DOE here means NY city Dept of Education, not the federal one) is worth a read. Some excerpts (the Village Voice’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Last week, the staff of the Classic, the student newspaper at Flushing’s Townsend Harris High School, gathered in a third-floor hallway to discuss a plan of attack for reporting on a decision that could change their school forever. Following allegations that interim principal Rosemarie Jahoda had berated individual teachers, ignored students with disabilities at her previous high school, and bungled the handling of an Islamophobic incident at Townsend Harris, the New York City Department of Education was bringing in candidates who might replace her. The staff of the Classic, which had reported for months on the controversy, had decided to take it upon themselves to meet the contenders.

    […]

    “How are you going to help the students of this school move past the controversy of the past few months?” [Classic news editor Aly] Tantawy asked [a candidate]. The candidate, who had come from the Bronx, answered confidently — perhaps he’d been warned of an ambush from this fastidious team of student journalists, whose dogged reporting on their own school’s alleged dysfunction had hurried the process of which this candidate was now a part.

    [… W]ith Jahoda’s appointment, the very nature of the school appeared to be imperiled, and the paper’s staff decided it was time to step in. “The seriousness of the allegations {against Ms Jahoda} kept on building up,” Ahmad told me. “We needed some answers from Ms Jahoda, and she kept not responding to our requests. So we needed to pursue and continue to investigate so we could write stories that evoke a response not only from Ms Jahoda, but from the community as well.”

    Jahoda had arrived at Townsend Harris at the beginning of the school year […]. The DOE [installed] Jahoda as the interim principal after her rocky nine-year tenure as an assistant principal at Bronx Science, another elite public high school, which had culminated in an official complaint in which twenty teachers referred to Jahoda as a “dictator.”

    Immediately, she made her presence known at Townsend Harris with a crackdown on lax regulatory enforcement. The school consistently earns high national rankings, reflecting heavy student workloads and nearly nonexistent misbehavior. So administrators and teachers did not follow procedures as strictly as their counterparts at other schools — essentially a perk for the high-performing, constantly stressed student body. Jahoda disagreed, abruptly canceling an after-school field trip over missing paperwork and aggressively clashing with faculty about the minutiae of other regulations. Frustrations reached a head in December, when students staged a sit-in in a hallway outside of classrooms while a deputy superintendent, Leticia Pineiro, toured the school following the complaints against Jahoda. When Pineiro got into an argument with protesting students, the Classic was there to livestream the encounter. From there, the story took off.

    […] The Daily News and the Post picked up Ahmad and [Sumaita] Hasan’s reporting. Local politicians and alumni grew alarmed that Jahoda was poised to lead a school known for its diverse student body. In response, the DOE put the process “under investigation,” then announced a complete restart after a pointed demand from the PTA, promising to “continue to listen to feedback from this school community.”

    But it did not react kindly to the Classic‘s coverage. According to a letter written by State Assembly Members David Weprin and Nily Rozic, at a recent District Leadership meeting a DOE representative called the Classic fake news while defending Jahoda. The paper’s editors were astonished to hear a representative from the city’s supposedly inclusive school system parroting Donald Trump. “We both felt very disparaged,” Hasan told me. “While we’re still students, I think what we’re doing is real reporting, and it shouldn’t be belittled in any way.”

    “Being called ‘fake news’ just motivates us,” Ahmad added. “We now have even more questions than we began with, and we want to prove ourselves even more.”

    […]

    This is an ongoing story. According to the Village Vice, the Classic has just had a FOIA request turned down.

  225. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oops, in my 394, have Trump’s handling numbers reversed. 61% disapprove, only 29% approve. My mistake.

  226. says

    blf @396, give those students a seat in Sean Spicer’s press briefing room. Ha!

    Nerd @397, thanks for the correction. I was confused.

    In other news, here’s a schadenfreude moment. This is what Paul Ryan said 17 days ago:

    We will have 218 votes. This is the beginning of the legislative process. We’ll have 218 when this thing comes to the floor. I can guarantee you that.

    I do so love seeing the guy that wanted to strangle Medicaid being shut down.

    A few highlights from the healthcare debacle:

    – Paul Ryan wrote an unbelievably bad bill.

    – Paul Ryan didn’t hold hearings to listen to other stakeholders.

    – Trump did not take the time to learn anything about healthcare, nor about Ryan’s bill.

    – Trump failed bigly as a deal-maker.

    – Progressive activists made sure more people knew how awful the bill was.

    – You, your friends, and a lot of other people stepped up and pressured their representatives to act like adults.

    – Unreasoning hate for Obamacare got the fringe rightwing no-fucking-where.

  227. says

    “I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced,” Ryan said at a press conference after the meeting.

    “We did not have the votes to replace this law. And so, yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how long it will take us to replace this law.”

    He has a sad, and he is embarrassed.

  228. says

    Trump also called the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman to discuss the decision to pull the bill. He indicated to Haberman that he is done working on health care policy for the time being, and The Washington Post’s Costa also told MSNBC that Trump told him a repeal bill would not come up again in the near future.

    Trump told the Times that Republicans would work on a deal in a year when Obamacare “explodes.” He said that he did not blame Ryan for the bill’s failure this week, but “maintained that he was merely going along with the House bill,” per the paper.

    Link

    So Trump told both Robert costa and Maggie Haberman that he doesn’t blame Ryan. Knowing Trump, that is probably his way of keeping the “blame Ryan” meme alive.

    Also, please note that Trump still expects Obamacare to “explode.” He should know, he’s the the one that signed an executive order directing the IRS not to enforce fines for people who do not sign up for Obamacare insurance — he took a hammer to the mandate portion of Obamacare. He’ll try other “make sure Obamacare explodes” tactics, I’m sure.

  229. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ll offer a clenched fist salute to all those grassroots people who showed up to tell their congressmen and senators to oppose this bad bill as it would hurt them. I didn’t have to worry about the votes of my congressman, Brad Schneider (D, 10th district IL), and my senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth (both D, IL).
    *Clenched fist/tentacle salute*

  230. says

    Trump took credit for creating 20,000 jobs that he did not create, Obama should get the credit.

    The White House today took credit for 20,000 new American jobs that were actually created in 2015, as part of assurances made to an Obama-appointed FCC chair to help pass a big money merger.

    Charter Communications first announced the commitment to insourced jobs in an August 2015 SEC filing, three months after their $56.7 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.

    “Together, the Trans-Canada and Charter Communications announcements demonstrate the new economic model by what the president calls ‘the American model,’” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his daily press briefing Friday. […]

    According to Tim Karr of the nonpartisan open internet watchdog FreePress, however, those new jobs may have never appeared if it weren’t for the FCC and its then-chairman, Barack Obama-appointee Tom Wheeler.

    “This was planned well in advance as an enticement [Charter] put together to get that merger through, and it’s been repackaged by Charter to get press attention,” said Karr. “[Charter was] trying to allay merger concerns that there would be a loss of jobs, or ‘synergies,’ as they’re often called, and demonstrate that they were committed to sizable investments in the United States.” […]

    Daily Beast link

  231. says

    Ah, yes, those were the days. Trump was on the campaign trail in October when he said this at a rally in Florida:

    Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first. That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy!

    And this is from February 2016:

    We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!

    Eat your word, Trump.

  232. says

    Republican legislators in Kansas defied Trump and did a good thing for the people of Kansas:

    On the same day the House was supposed to pass a bill dismantling Medicaid, Kansas Republicans took a big step toward expanding the program in their state.

    In a voice vote Thursday morning, a committee in the Kansas Senate approved legislation that would enable the state to take advantage of an Obamacare provision offering Medicaid health insurance coverage to a wider group of poor people. […]

    […] a new bloc of moderate Republicans in the state […] have teamed up with Democrats to push Medicaid expansion. They point out that the state has given up, to date, nearly $2 billion in federal funds that could have helped both improve the health of the state’s low-income communities while also boosting its economy.

    The Kansas House overwhelming passed Medicaid expansion earlier this year. The full state Senate is expected to vote on the issue Monday, according to KCUR. But they would likely need to cobble together a veto-proof majority, since Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has vocally opposed to adopting the program.

    In fact, Brownback released a letter Thursday, signed with seven other Republican governors, asking Congress to pass the repeal of Obamacare, which would eventually end funding for new sign-ups in the Medicaid expansion and would prevent states such as Kansas signing up in the meantime. […]

    Mother Jones link

  233. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    So evidently the ACA is going to both “explode” and “implode”. That’s quite a feat. Could it be that it’s reached a state of equilibrium?

  234. says

    Ultra rightwing doofus and god-addled Christian, Pat Robertson, will also have to eat his words.

    Yesterday, Pat Robertson kicked off “The 700 Club” by declaring that the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, “is going to pass” and “they’re going to give Trump a victory.” […]

    Robertson said that “he knew that the Lord was going to give Trump victory” and that God is using the president to do great things.

    “They’re going to get it,” he said. “They’re going to give it to the president. Mark my word: it will pass. They will get those extra votes. It will go through. They’re going to work together to give us tremendous health care.”

    Right Wing Watch link

  235. blf says

    Some snarking in the Grauniad, Trump tried to burn down Obamacare. He set his hair on fire instead:

    It was a humiliating defeat, which Donald Trump tried to blame — unbelievably — on the Democrats

    Burning Obamacare to the ground was always a House Republican obsession that Trump, in the heat of the campaign, took up to spite the president while tossing a little red meat to Republicans. Repeal and replace is alliterative, after all: it sounds nice enough on an arena stage. It’s harder to pull off in the real world, as Donald Trump found out this Friday.

    Blessed with total control of government, Republicans can only think of how best to burn the house down — and they’re not even doing a good job at doing that. […]

    […]

    Ryan’s Trumpcare was a horrendous concoction and should disabuse fawning congressional reporters of the notion that the speaker is a man of deep intellect and self-reflection. Had the bill not fallen flat on its face this Friday, it would have had little chance of passing the Senate, anyway.

    What remains is the fact that Donald Trump couldn’t close the deal. He is hoping everyone blames Ryan, and Trump is lucky that his supporters might do just that. The die-hards, inhabiting his post-factual universe, will simply write Ryan off as a loser — they hated him anyway — and hail their king for the bounties he’s still promising.

    […]

    Were Trump the deal-making genius his ego tricked himself into believing he was, he would never have taken up this healthcare venture. […]

    […]

    Trump rages with all the hate of Le Pen and none of the savvy. Blaming Ryan for Trumpcare’s failure will not absolve him of trying to do a very stupid thing. If he chooses to weaken healthcare in other ways — to somehow prove Obama left the country with a self-destructing system — he’ll still be the president when premiums skyrocket as insurers struggle to adapt to this instability.

    In 2018, 2019, and 2020, screaming Obama’s name won’t matter anymore. The country will just know President [sic] Trump and the damage being done.

  236. blf says

    Before reading the following, please fasten, check, and double-check your safety gear. Extra impact cushions on the desk, floor, keyboard, and basically anything else within reach of an exploding head are strongly advised.

     

    Ready…?
    No, you, over there, yeah, you! Your helmet is clearly not securely attached… Ok, good! (Takes deep breath…)

    Breitbart’s James Delingpole says reef bleaching is fake news, hits peak denial:

    […]
    It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef fake news.

    You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

    […]

    So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is the biggest scam in the history of the world.

    Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

    Delingpole wrote [triple-check safety gear! –blf]:

    Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

    […]

    Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed? asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

    Have they been out there personally — as I have — to check. No of course not, says Delingpole.

    Yes. James Delingpole has been out there personally to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. […]

    So here’s the rhetorical question — one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.

    Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken [in late April 2012,] 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy (takes breath) and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

    I mean, come on? Why can those two things — Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise — not be the same?

    […]

    Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation [Ozland’s nazis –blf] climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else.

    This is like trying to disprove to a doctor that you have two broken legs by showing him an MRI scan of your head (which may or not reveal the presence of a brain), and then being annoyed when he doesn’t accept your evidence.

    […]

    Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

    They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in [Australia]’s history.

    That’s some more hubris right there.

  237. Alex the Pretty Good says

    So … trump is looking for somebody to blame for the failure of Ryancare?
    Well, if people grow tired of him trying to blame the Democrats, he can always Blame Canada.

  238. says

    Hillary Clinton commented:

    Today was a victory for the 24,000,000 people at risk of losing their health insurance, for seniors, for families battling the quiet epidemic of addiction, for new moms and women everywhere.

    Most of all, it’s a victory for anyone who believes affordable health care is a human right. We cannot forget: This victory happened because people in every cover of our country committed their time and energy to calling their representatives, showing up at town hall meetings, and making their voices heard.

    The fight isn’t over yet. Wwe will have to push back on future bad ideas and embrace good ones to make health care more affordable.

  239. says

    “Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

    Holy shit, he really does include those:

    I’ll lay money that if you asked this question to your kids’ biology teacher or to Bill Nye the Junk Science Guy or to that nice Richard Osman off Pointless or to Matt Damon or anyone else who would have voted for Hillary Clinton or to any Labour (and a good many Conservative) politicians or anyone who works for the ABC in Australia, the BBC, the Guardian, MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times or comedy Senator Al Franken or Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem science at Oxford University or pretty much any other science prof from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale or any marine biologist or a lawyer from a big City law firm or anyone who voted Remain in the EU Referendum, you’d get the same answer: “Yes.”

  240. says

    blf @413, that was some weapons grade stupid on the part of James Delingpole. Of course he works for Breitbart, of course he does. The article was terrific. Well-written, funny. Properly putting Delingpole in his place.

    In healthcare news, Philip Klein said:

    Obama dedicated 13 months to passing Obamacare. Trump has been working on it for few weeks & WH is touting how he left everything on field.

    Yeah, Sean Spicer did say that “left everything on the field” thing. Give me a break.

    Maybe that’s good in way? Maybe that’s all Trump’s got? We’ve seen his best effort and that’s all there is?

  241. says

    So now, now that the American people have received an education about how nefarious the GOP and Trump are, how they tried their best to strip them of access to affordable healthcare, now that the dems have some momentum, now is the time to fight harder than ever and insure that no matter what happens with #russiagate, that the dems win back the government at every level in the next 20 months, from local city council, to state legislatures and state government, to the house and senate, the dems have a chance to swing this pendulum right back in the faces of the tea party and the alt-right.

    To quote John Paul Jones “I have not yet begun to fight”

    (Not that JPJ is some hero to be revered, it’s just an appropriate quote lol)

  242. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] It’s never been altogether clear that Trump knows what a “deal” is, in a literal sense. He’s accustomed to private-sector agreements in which he leverages his celebrity status to make money, but can anyone think of a situation – from any point in his entire career – in which Donald J. Trump has set a goal, delved into complex details, and persuaded a variety of groups to work cooperatively along mutually agreed upon terms? […]

    From Ezra Klein:

    President Donald Trump is supposed to be the dealmaker-in-chief. He’s supposed to get the deals his predecessors couldn’t get, the concessions they couldn’t make, the wins they couldn’t find.

    Instead, Trump signed onto the first health care bill Paul Ryan came up with only to watch it go down in flames. […]So what the hell happened?

    The answer can be found in Trump Steaks. And Trump University. And Trump Vodka. And Trump Suits. And Trump’s fragrance line, his board game, his ghostwritten books, his energy drink, his eyeglasses, and his chocolate bars.

    Yes, these are all real Trump products. And they expose the reality of Trump’s dealmaking. Trump is not a guy who makes particularly good deals so much as a guy who makes a lot of deals — many of which lash his name and reputation to garbage products.

    Trump, a lifelong teetotaler, didn’t scour the globe to find the very best vodka. No — someone offered him an opportunity to make a quick buck by putting his name on a product he wouldn’t ever touch and he took it. Trump University was a far darker scam. Trump Steaks were, and are, a joke.

    This is Trump’s pattern: He licenses his brand and lets others worry about the details of the products. Trump’s partners often end up going out of business and his customers often end up disappointed, but Trump makes some money, and he gets his name out there, and it’s all good.

    This was Trump’s approach to the health care bill, too. He let someone else worry about the product and he simply licensed his name, marketing support, and political capital. Trump didn’t know what was in the American Health Care Act, and he didn’t much care. […]

  243. Chris J says

    Obama dedicated 13 months to passing Obamacare. Trump has been working on it for few weeks & WH is touting how he left everything on field.

    Sounds like Obama worked hard and got it done while Trump either gave up or burned out. How is this supposed to look good for Trump even in propaganda land?

  244. says

    A lot of people on Twitter having fun with Trump’s failure:

    Trump has done everything possible to repeal Obamacare including 5 visits to Mar-a-lago, 9 trips to the golf course & sitting in a big truck.

  245. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just saw All In with Chris Hayes, with Micheal Moore as his guest. Moore was pressing for the democrats to start a “medicare for all” agenda, and actually take the concept down to the state level, where leading states like California and New York, enact it at the state level before the feds get on board.

  246. says

    Wow.

    Things that are true:

    – This is an enormous victory, affecting hundreds of millions of people, and deserves to be celebrated. That isn’t complacency or resting on laurels. Lives were saved. The Right lost big.
    – The momentum for repeal has vanished, and the momentum for health care as a right/single payer is building and can be pushed ahead.
    – There’s still work to be done in states.
    – It’s a hugely important issue, but not the only issue.
    – Insurance companies haven’t changed.
    – It’s possible/probable that Trump and the Republicans will work to sabotage the ACA through HHS and other administrative action. Everyone needs to be attentive to this and publicize these efforts if they happen, just as we need to keep pointing to the fact that Trump and the Republican Party pushed this cruel and evil bill.
    – The fight continues, but major progress has been made today.

  247. says

    So Rachel Maddow is reporting that people in Trumpworld are wiping their cell phones, etc., in the face of ongoing investigations. Puts #s 64, 323, and 329 in a different light.

  248. militantagnostic says

    NOR @428

    Moore was pressing for the democrats to start a “medicare for all” agenda, and actually take the concept down to the state level, where leading states like California and New York, enact it at the state level before the feds get on board.

    That is basically what happened in Canada – the NDP implemented a single payer system in Saskatchewan and then several years later, the Liberals implemented it nationally.

  249. says

    From SC’s link in comment 426:

    Shortly after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the Republican health-care plan on March 6, President Trump sat in the Oval Office and queried his advisers: “Is this really a good bill?”

    And over the next 18 days, until the bill collapsed in the House on Friday afternoon in a humiliating defeat — the sharpest rebuke yet of Trump’s young presidency and his negotiating skills — the question continued to nag at the president.

    Even as he thrust himself and the trappings of his office into selling the health-care bill, Trump peppered his aides again and again with the same concern, usually after watching cable news reports chronicling the setbacks, according to two of his advisers: “Is this really a good bill?”

    In the end, the answer was no — in part because the president himself seemed to doubt it.

    “We were a little bit shy — very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said Friday afternoon in an interview with The Washington Post.

    For Trump, it was never supposed to be this hard. As a real estate mogul on the rise, he wrote “The Art of the Deal,” and as a political candidate, he boasted that nobody could make deals as beautifully as he could. Replacing Obamacare, a Republican boogeyman since the day it was enacted seven years ago, was Trump’s first chance to prove that he had the magic touch that he claimed eluded Washington. […]

    The bill itself would have violated a number of Trump’s campaign promises, driving up premiums for millions of citizens and throwing millions more off health insurance — including many of the working-class voters who gravitated to his call to “make America great again.” Trump was unsure about the American Health Care Act, though he ultimately dug in for the win, as he put it.

    There were other problems, too. Trump never made a real effort to reach out to Democrats, and was unable to pressure enough of his fellow Republicans. He did not speak fluently about bill’s details and focused his pitch in purely transactional terms. And he failed to appreciate the importance of replacing Obamacare to the Republican base; for the president, it was an obstacle to move past to get to taxes, trade and the rest of his agenda. […]

    The article is by Robert costa, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker

  250. snuffcurry says

    Allow me to big-up Teen Vogue for the resident adult misogynoirists, once again bringing light to stories white-bros-in-the-know don’t care about: more than a week before any mainstream press identified and explicitly named the crisis, they compiled some coverage, from similarly maligned sources (I am shocked, just shocked! by the absence of Jacobin and Intercept here!), on missing black and Latinx teenagers in the DC area and contextualized why this is a social justice problem at the intersection of law enforcement and timely local journalism.

  251. rorschach says

    Hm I wasn’t being facetious about Teen Vogue or Merriam-Webster, Lauren Duca is exceptional, and the dictionary is doing a marvellous passive-aggressive job on the Trump madness. These are important contributions to the resistance. Not sure how that got misconstrued.

  252. blf says

    SC@430: “people in Trumpworld are wiping their cell phones, etc., in the face of ongoing investigations. Puts #s 64, 323, and 329 in a different light.”

    Huh? Those three comments are all about getting visas to visit the States; one incident of numerous visas being denied, and two similar reports about forthcoming visa-issuing chaos. At the moment, I am failing to see what those commenets have to do with “people in Trumpland” wiping mobiles, either in a rational universe or in Bannon’s paranoiverse.

    Yes, part of the forthcoming visa-issuing chaos is apparently so-called social media checks, and some people use mobiles for social media, and some people are known to have wiped their mobiles (at least) before(?) or during a States visit, but, um— How does that (if that is what is meant) “put things in a different light”?

  253. says

    rorschach:

    Hm I wasn’t being facetious about Teen Vogue or Merriam-Webster, Lauren Duca is exceptional, and the dictionary is doing a marvellous passive-aggressive job on the Trump madness. These are important contributions to the resistance. Not sure how that got misconstrued.

    I think it’s safe to say thee vast majority of people read it that way. It was preceded by a comment in which you knocked the work of Maddow and Cooper, the online dictionary and a teen fashion magazine are unlikely resistance figures, and “to the rescue” carries a strong whiff of condescending mockery. But I’m happy to hear that wasn’t your meaning, and rescind my “Fuck you.”

    blf:

    Huh? Those three comments are all about getting visas to visit the States; one incident of numerous visas being denied, and two similar reports about forthcoming visa-issuing chaos. At the moment, I am failing to see what those commenets have to do with “people in Trumpland” wiping mobiles, either in a rational universe or in Bannon’s paranoiverse.

    Yes, part of the forthcoming visa-issuing chaos is apparently so-called “social media checks”,…

    That’s what what I was referring to. Simply because of their race/ethnicity/country of origin, many people who just want to visit or study in the US are being made to give up their entire communications and social media history for the past 15 years. Meanwhile, people under investigation for coordinating with a foreign government which wants to bring the US down, the ones secretly imposing this policy, are reportedly trying to erase their own contacts and communications. Trump, Flynn, and Bannon would never pass even a mildly stringent examination. And it was reported last week that Tillerson, who sent the visa memos, himself used an alias email account for several years as part of his company’s quest to destroy the environment. By “new light,” I just meant that it puts into relief how unjust, perverse, and wildly hypocritical this all is – not that there was a necessary connection between the two.

  254. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    chigau @417:

    Sorry. I hadn’t seen it brought up since the election. I guess I just wasn’t paying attention.

    In other words, condition normal.

    From Lynna @419:

    In healthcare news, Philip Klein said:
    Obama dedicated 13 months to passing Obamacare.

    And yet, when the ACA was passed the right-wing media, the main-stream media, kept bringing on talking conservative heads who claimed that the evil Democrats had rammed this down their throats, had given them no time to actually study the proposal, had not allowed adequate time for hearings, had not allowed any changes, etc, etc, etc. Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of talking with one of our volunteers (he is an ex-public school teacher from New Jersey, who went to college on the GI Bill and with federal student loans, who gets his school pension and social security, and Medicare, and constantly complains that people want handouts while he did everything for himself) and he said that liberals have nothing to complain about — the GOP has been working on this bill for seven years, everyone knows how good it is, everyone knows what is in it, there were seven years of hearings, seven years of input from all parties, so we need to shut up and let it pass. I confess to experiencing great joy yesterday when I told him that the vote had been pulled. His response? Fake news wins again.

    Chris J @422:

    How is this supposed to look good for Trump even in propaganda land?

    Well, if a person’s only contact with the news is right-wing conspiracy web sites, or Faux Newz, then you get people like the volunteer I (luckily only occasionally) work with. He most likely (I’ll find out next week) will portray this as the evil media unfairly influencing lawmakers to go against what the majority wants so even a defeat is a win.

  255. says

    And yet, when the ACA was passed the right-wing media, the main-stream media, kept bringing on talking conservative heads who claimed that the evil Democrats had rammed this down their throats, had given them no time to actually study the proposal, had not allowed adequate time for hearings, had not allowed any changes, etc, etc, etc.

    And they continued to claim it through yesterday, with little pushback in the media (just like there’s little pushback against the claim that the ACA is imploding/exploding). And this is the reality. They’ve been lying to people for seven years.

  256. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Alexandra Petri explains Il Douchebag.

    President[*] Trump has come unstuck in time.

    Years pass, and his hair grows blonder and the women around him grow younger and younger. He is a paradox.

    Or maybe he is cursed. Everything he says is true, just not necessarily at the moment he says it.

    Past and future bend around him. In 2018, he sees a system of health insurance that is in terrible shape, collapsing, in need of help — and Friday, if Trump is lucky, that very system will pass.

    He sees a president golfing every weekend and spending too much money on travel. He criticizes him, but it has not happened yet.

    Trump is a creature of non-linear time. (If I had seen “Arrival,” I might understand this better.)

    Perhaps Trump is Merlin, living life backwards through time.

  257. says

    Alexandra Petri explains Il Douchebag.

    That is excellent. (Did you know her name is pronounced “Peetreye”? Someone interviewing her asked, and I was like “Really?” but she confirmed it.)

  258. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    I did not know that. All these years I’ve been pronouncing her name as if she were a distant cousin of Rob and Laura.

  259. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Alexandra Petri explains Il Douchebag.

    I thought that Obama was the time traveler? In conversations, Wife and I have both heard people claim he was on vacation in Hawaii when the WTC came down and not in the White House where he belonged. Others have blamed Obama for deregulating banks and causing the recession which began before he was in office.

  260. blf says

    SC@436, Ok thanks for the explanation. That makes it clear what was confusing me was the phrase “people in Trumpland”, which I tended to read “members of hair furor’s dalekocracy” or, sometimes, as “hair furor’s supporters”, or, even rarer, “people in the States”.

    However, people applying for visas are not, by and large, in any of those categories. Some might be Trump supporters, and some are (perhaps) in the States trying to renew an existing visa, but it’s not unreasonable to think “people in Trumpland” and “people applying for visas” are essentially mutually disjoint.

    Which is why I was completely baffled as to what was meant.

  261. says

    That makes it clear what was confusing me was the phrase “people in Trumpland”,

    Right – I meant administration officials. I hate dignifying this collection of illegitimate, corrupt, bumbling, lawless interlopers with the “administration” label, so I tend to use workaround terms that can create confusion.

  262. says

    It was bad enough before Trump, but he’s now managing to kill even more civilians and interfere with the battle against ISIS and drive more people toward terrorism and make any peace, if it’s somehow achieved, far harder to sustain.

    He is pathologically destructive.

  263. blf says

    I hate dignifying this collection of illegitimate, corrupt, bumbling, lawless interlopers with the “administration” label

    Right. That collection is broadly what I mean by hair furor’s dalekocracy (or just dalekocracy, which was informally originally defined years ago as “rule by Daleks”), albeit with two notable distinctions: The dalekocracy also includes people like Bannon, Ivanka, Stone, Manafort, Trump Jr, et al., and tends to not-include career people who are not supinely going along with the diktats.

    (And to avoid confusing the Daleks in Doctor Who with those in hair furor’s dalekocracy, the latter are deliberately spelt “daleks”.)

  264. says

    @433 snuffcurry – as a side note to the fact that this and the murder of Timothy Caughman (#sayhisname) are being grossly under-reported, the pizzagaters are active on Twitter claiming that the DC disappearances are further evidence for the their bat shit insane conspiracy theories.

    And white people wonder why Black Lives Matter needs to exist…

  265. says

    From SC’s link in comment 444:

    In considering the Affordable Care Act, House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses & accepted 121 amendments

  266. chigau (違う) says

    militantagnostic #431
    Universal healthcare was implemented in Saskatchewan by the CCF.
    The the CCF morphed into the NDP sometime later.

  267. says

    Right. That collection is broadly what I mean by hair furor’s dalekocracy (or just dalekocracy, which was informally originally defined years ago as “rule by Daleks”), albeit with two notable distinctions: The dalekocracy also includes people like Bannon, Ivanka, Stone, Manafort, Trump Jr, et al., and tends to not-include career people who are not supinely going along with the diktats.

    I’m not sure if we’re agreeing or disagreeing here. I assumed from Maddow’s report that (if the story is true, which is an open question – Mitchell was told this by just one source) the people purging their phones in anticipation of being subpoenaed are staffers with something to hide. Would be a big risk for just a career person who’s not involved with anything nefarious. Also, Mitchell seemed to be referring specifically to transition team members, and I think all transition staff are hand-picked Trumpists.

  268. says

    Link

    Did former NatSecAdvisor Flynn’s ties to Turkey affect the plan to seize ISIS’s capital Raqqa? It is a question worth exploring…

    As has been widely reported, in the final days of the Obama Admin, DoD presented a plan to train&equip Syrian Kurds/YPG to seize Raqqa.

    The plan had been in the works for months, but became ripe for decision as Syrian Democ Forces (SDF, Arabs+YPG forces) approached Raqqa. […]

  269. says

    Trump looks even worse, both as a negotiator and as an informed leader, when you hear the details of his closed-door meeting with congress critters:

    […] The report described a meeting that Trump had with members of the Freedom Caucus, in which members pelted him with “wonkish concerns” about specific aspects of the Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump cut them off, according to the report, wanting to keep it simple.

    “Forget about the little shit,” Trump said, unnamed sources told Politico.”Let’s focus on the big picture here.”

    That reportedly did not sit well with members in attendance.

    “We’re talking about one-fifth of our economy,” an unnamed member told Politico’s Tim Alberta.

    The report is in line with others that have said Trump does not like to be bogged down with many details and prefers short intelligence briefings made up of bullet points.

    Members of the Freedom caucus reportedly also took issue with Trump when he apparently “called out” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) during a meeting earlier that week with the GOP conference, joking that he may have to “come after” Meadows if he didn’t vote for the bill. He then reportedly said that he thought Meadows, a longtime Trump ally would “get on board.”

    “That was the biggest mistake the president could have made,” an unnamed Freedom Caucus member told Politico. “Mark desperately wanted to get to yes, and Trump made it impossible for him. If he flipped after that he would look incredibly weak. […]

    Trump’s elevation of ignorance to a virtue did not work, nor did his bullying tactics.

    Talking Points Memo link

  270. says

    Ha! More schadenfreude moments connected to the Republican health care bill.

    The decision to pull the Republicans’ health care bill Friday […]
    made for some unfortunately-timed TV spots.

    A Republican-supporting PAC ran ads during basketball games and sports coverage Friday night thanking several Republicans for voting to repeal and replace Obamacare. The only problem? A vote didn’t happen.

    The American Action Network PAC ran the ads, reported first by Deadspin, during NCAA March Madness games and coverage, thanking members of congress including Rep. David Young (R-IA), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for voting for the American Health Care Act. That, of course didn’t happen.

    Additionally, Young had also apparently pledged to vote against the bill if it came to a vote.

    “Republicans are keeping their promise, with a new plan for better health care,” one advertisement said. “More choices and lower costs, putting doctors and patients in charge again. Thank Congressman Will Hurd for keeping his promise and replacing the Affordable Care Act with the better healthcare you deserve.”

    The American Action Network PAC has kept mum about the ads, keeping them up on its YouTube page, so it’s not clear if the ads ran accidentally or if there was not time to change it. The group did not respond immediately to TPM’s request for comment, but the group did release a statement about the GOP’s pulling of the bill.

    “President Trump and Speaker Ryan deserve tremendous credit for their leadership and fortitude in taking this issue head on knowing at the outset that it would be extremely challenging, but required action because of the skyrocketing health care costs under the disastrous Obamacare law, which is hurting millions of hardworking American families,” the statement reads “Moving forward, AAN will continue to work aggressively to promote the center-right policies of the President and conservatives in Congress because we believe that is what makes our country more prosperous and more secure.” […]

  271. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    . . . AAN will continue to work aggressively to promote the center-right policies of the President and conservatives in Congress . . .

    Obama’s policies WERE the centre-right. You asswipes are so far into neonazilalaland that Ronald Reagan would be too liberal for you.

  272. blf says

    SC@463, You were explaining (in the quoted @453) why you didn’t use the term “administration”, and I (in @456) was saying I also do not use that term, the term I use is “dalekocracy”.

    That particular exchange — @453–456 — is derived from my confusion about what your original comment alluding to visas and (what is now understand to be) the daleckocracy was driving at. As such, alternative terms for “administration” — something we both say we use — isn’t really connected to the irony you were trying to highlight.

    That irony, of course, is visa applicants having to undergo social media checks ordered by teh daleks, whilst those very same daleks are wiping their own phones to circumvent any such checks on themselves.

  273. KG says

    “Forget about the little shit,” Trump said – Lynna, OM, quoting a report@265

    He told them to forget about him? Or was he referring to Don Jr.?

  274. KG says

    Nazi scumbags held a pathetically small rally in Edinburgh today. Around 20 of the “Master Race”, with banners including the fascist symbol of the Celtic Cross, and the flag of the “Golden Dawn” Greek Nazis, were outnumbered around 20:1 by counter-demonstrators, of whom I was one. and had to be protected by police. These pathetic but vile and violent lowlifes must be opposed whenever they show up, but are probalby less dangerous in the UK than the “respectable” racists of UKIP, the Tories, and right-wing self-styled “think tanks” such as Policy Exchange, which seek to normalise racism.

  275. blf says

    “Mark [Meadows] desperately wanted to get to yes, and Trump made it impossible for him. If he flipped after that he would look incredibly weak.”

    I love the sound of circular firing squads. The curses of the members are so pleasing as they complain about the aim.
    (With apologies to Douglas Adams.)

  276. says

    Yes, those 60-plus previous votes by Republicans to repeal Obamacare were all a fraud.

    Reporters asked why, after Republicans held dozens of nearly-unanimous votes to repeal Obamacare under President Obama, they were getting cold feet now that they control the levers of power.

    “Sometimes you’re playing Fantasy Football and sometimes you’re in the real game,” he said.

    “We knew the president, if we could get a repeal bill to his desk, would almost certainly veto it. This time we knew if it got to the president’s desk it would be signed.”

    That’s Republican Congressman Joe Barton (from Texas) speaking.

    Guess what, Republican voters, you were conned.

  277. says

    what in the ever living fuck!!!

    Everyday this monster occupies the white house more innocent people die and more radicals are created. #russiagate investigation can’t move fast enough and if the rethugs are successful in running blocker for him, we may have to consider massive protest to the point of revolt. This can not stand.

  278. blf says

    A follow-up of sorts to @126 on the ban on carry-on electronics which is weirdly specific to Middle Eastern airlines that are successfully competing with US-based airlines, The Arab airlines using Trump’s bans for marketing: “Arab carriers use electronics ban for clever marketing ads, garnering thousands of clicks and reactions online.”

  279. says

    erik @474, that is such an expression of evil. Hopefully, we can reverse that stupid decision even before the investigation into connections with Russia hobbles or ends the Trump era. We need action now.

    In other news, here’s more evidence that Steve Bannon was also a bully and a wannabe dictator pushing the Republican health care bill:

    Trumpcare went down in flames yesterday, and the flames smelled faintly of burning Trumphair. But the president’s personal humiliation was shared with adviser Steve Bannon, according to reports, whose behavior around conservative Republicans made a joke of Trump’s ultimatum.

    Mike Allen (from Politico) quotes him thus:

    “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

    Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset.

    One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

    Link

  280. says

    Ivanka Trump’s family is irritating the neighbors:

    Residents of a posh Washington neighborhood say the Trump clan doesn’t make for very good neighbors, hogging parking on an already crowded street and leaving trash bags rotting on the curb. A big part of the complaint: a huge security presence, with even a trip to the playground requiring three vans.

    Neighbors of Trump, her husband Jared Kushner and their three children have groused that sidewalks have been closed, public parking overrun and that the family and their staff can’t even be bothered to learn the trash pickup schedule outside their $5.5-million home.

    “It has been a three-ring circus from the day that they’ve moved in,” said Marietta Robinson, who lives across the street, speaking with The Associated Press. “They’ve completely ruined the neighborhood.” […]

    On Friday morning, District transportation crews were outside the house, removing “No Parking” signs.

    The department said no permits had been sought for parking exemptions or sidewalk closures on the street since Trump moved in. Yet vehicles associated with the Trump-Kushner house have been seen parking in the restricted areas for hours at a time, and barriers have been erected on the sidewalk in front of the house, forcing pedestrians to cross the street, next-door neighbor Rhona Wolfe Friedman said. […]

    Link

    Sounds like the Trump family tried to make their own rules, but the neighbors weren’t having it.

  281. says

    Rightwing media seems to be certain that none of the failure of the Republican health care bill was Trump’s fault. Trump will love that bogus analysis. Not his fault. Point the finger of blame elsewhere. (Whatever happened to Trump’s campaign claims, and to his boast that he was the only one who could get it done?)

    […] Most publications and commentators were clear on one thing: None of this was Trump’s fault. To the contrary, it might well be a mark of his genius.

    Maintaining an idea that he had pushed in the past, Sean Hannity continued to assert that Trump had done “everything in his power to get this bill across the finish line.” He promised, however that “snowflake Democrats … would not be smiling for long” and reiterated a claim supported by the president, warning that premiums would continue to skyrocket:

    The exemplar of the Trump-as-master-strategist line came, however, not from Hannity, but from a Breitbart essay arguing that Trump had acted according to principles he laid out in The Art of the Deal. Facing “irreconcilable factions,” it proposed, the president knew that he had to “bring them together — to ‘deliver the goods,’ a key rule in The Art of the Deal. But first he must show them ‘the downside’ — and convince them they will fail on their own.” […]

    A Gateway Pundit post suggested that the debacle had been deliberate, a reminder that Trump is a true artist of the deal:

    Did Trump give Paul Ryan just enough rope to hang himself? It is no secret that Paul Ryan has contempt for President Trump and is working to sabotage him. This may [be] Trump’s plan to have Paul Ryan ousted and replaced.

    Many outlets also reported uncritically on the president’s suggestion that Democrats were at fault. Fox News, for example, headlined one article “Trump Blames Democrats for GOP Health Care Bill Failure, Says ObamaCare Is ‘Imploding’ ” and Breitbart ran a post titled “Donald Trump Blames Democrats for Health Care Failure, Promises Better Plan in the Future.”

    […] In a lengthy, reported “exclusive,” Breitbart suggested that Ryan might be on the way out as speaker and claimed that White House sources indicated Trump was upset with Ryan: “House Republicans are also questioning whether Ryan can remain as Speaker after this abysmal failure.”

    LifeZette also featured Ryan on its list of the effort’s most prominent losers, writing, “In the biggest test of his leadership, Friday’s outcome is a big, fat failure.”

    Gateway Pundit, meanwhile, took the opportunity to identify an unusual comparative metric:

    Compared to President Trump, Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives looks stagnant! The President has signed 38 game changing executive actions to six rather insignificant pieces of legislation signed into law since the President’s inauguration.

    […]

  282. says

    This is a great point. I had noticed those couple of lines in the WSJ story about Woolsey telling Biden through a friend about the Flynn meeting in September, but had somehow passed over them as a detail that didn’t fit with the main story. But it’s true – that means the government was alerted to it from like September on, and could well have been watching Flynn for that reason. Also, when Flynn met with Turkish government officials at a breakfast in January, Devin Nunes was present.

  283. snuffcurry says

    rorschach, 434

    Hm I wasn’t being facetious about Teen Vogue or Merriam-Webster, Lauren Duca is exceptional

    Duca’s editorial certainly caught unfamiliar eyes, but the rise in quality and substance of Teen Vogue is down to its editor, Elaine Welteroth.

  284. says

    Multiple sources now are saying Flynn has flipped, and my mind is overheating trying to come up with puns surrounding Flyynn being a flipper, like Fin, Flipper, dolphins something, oh here it is:

    “How many flips would a Flynn flipper flip if a Flynn flipper could flip Fynns?”

    Copyright 2017 erikthebassist

  285. says

    Not to get too heavy after 490 and 491, much needed levity in dark times…. but… Does it strike anyone as possible that both Russia and the US can now start indiscriminately bombing civilians in the middle east, forcing even more refugees into Europe, further destabilizing NATO relations, all with the intent of committing mass genocide while blaming it all on the other and conspiring to blur the truth?

    I was just watching CNN report on the bombings and civilian deaths and there seems to be some confusion about who bombed who and given we can’t believe a word that either the Putin or the Trump says, they now can point to each other for plausible deniability, which is very convenient for both of them.

  286. says

    So I’ve been thinking a bit about Flynn the past few days (while rewatching “The Assets” on Netflix, which is less than stellar in many ways and mawkishly/hilariously pro-CIA, but actually better and quite interesting on second viewing). He seems to hit three of the four MICE criteria:

    Money – He’s extremely greedy. So greedy that rather than being flashy about it, he makes a point of projecting it onto other military people who made money after their service, while claiming to be personally too principled for that. Since he couldn’t go the usual retired-general route, what remained was work for sleazy authoritarian regimes.

    Ideology – He subscribes to (a number of other kooky conspiracy theories and) an extremist anti-Muslim ideology that could easily lead him to join with governments that share or claim to share his project of defending civilization from Muslim invaders. (Money does appear to outweigh ideology in the Turkish case.)

    Compromise/Coercion – I haven’t seen any evidence of this in his case.

    Ego – He’s terribly bitter after being fired by Obama in a humiliating fashion, and was determined to return to power and get vengeance on his enemies.

    He also has a history of revealing classified information. What all of this could mean if he has been up to something and perceives that he’s being made a scapegoat, I don’t know. Seems like it would be an explosive situation.

  287. says

    Ugh. I have the greatest respect for Masha Gessen, but she’s missing the point. No one is denying that Trump is an authoritarian product of the US. We own him – no doubt about it. That’s not what this is about. He’s rotten and corrupt to the deepest core. That makes his attraction to the corrupt and authoritarian Putin completely predictable. Following the evidence doesn’t require denying Trump’s character or pedigree; his character and pedigree lead us to predict his political and financial corruption.

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